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Codraroll

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Everything posted by Codraroll

  1. There's still the Chinese space station, which appears to be slated for continuous habitation. Russia is also dreaming of a space station of its own, although it's still mostly on the "please give us more money so we can make the dream more detailed" stage. And I think ESA, JAXA, and CSA would like to maintain some sort of collaboration about a destination station too, even if they don't have crew rockets of their own to go there.
  2. That is the takeaway, and one you should really take to heart. Also that the merits of the Orion are extremely few, it is useful for only a very specific use case, and there are vast drawbacks. Literally the best answer to any question that involves Orion outside its original use case is "ditch the Orion and never look back". Any technology required to improve it would also make it obsolete. I think that is, essentially, the synthesis of this whole thread, and the answer to most questions you could formulate about it. As for SSTOs, you're at the opposite end of the spectrum. Or rather, in a different corner of the triangle. SSTO is, essentially, "magic" technology, and if you want to make it work, you must cut a lot of anchors to reality. It requires handwaving, and lots of it. Within any level of realism you must forget anything about payloads, there won't be any mass to spare for them. Which brings me to the third corner of the triangle: Realism. You can combine Orion and SSTOs to your heart's content for sci-fi, but it will not hold up to any examination of the cold, hard facts. None whatsoever. Keep it in mind, because you bring the question up a lot. Just, no. It works if you don't care about realism, but it does not combine with hard sci-fi. Again, like improving horseback riding by putting the horse on powered rollerskates. There is no possible way that is a good idea in real life, but it's a good gag for a kids' comic series. So, in the end you have a triangle: Orion, SSTO, Realism. You get to pick two, but you must forget the third one. MUST. If there is a "but what if ...", chances are, the answer is "Nope" with a big N. Just like the rules for the "Cheap, Strong, Light" triangle in materials science. Any combination of two of those properties is going to be deeply negative for the third. We clear?
  3. @Spacescifi, it appears to me like you are trying, on a conceptual level, to answer two questions: 1) Is there any use case that would justify using an Orion drive in hard sci-fi? 2) Would there be a way to improve the efficiency/effectiveness of the original concept? However, it seems like the answer to 2) is quite clear every time: ditch the Orion drive and make a rocket. Practically any technology that could improve the Orion drive would also make it obsolete. It's like trying to make horseback riding faster by putting the horse on powered roller skates. Whatever propulsion method you come up with for the roller skates would make the horse no longer necessary. I think this is basically what @sevenperforce is trying to find new ways to say every time. Orion is an epitome of "cool, but impractical". In hard sci-fi, it could only be justified by having no better alternatives, and as soon as you make a better alternative, you no longer need the Orion. The pusher plate concept is literally the first thing that goes when you try to improve it. That, I think, is the essence of the answer you will get no matter how you formulate the question. Come to think of it, something similar could probably be said about SSTOs, but maybe there are more nuances there.
  4. Thing is, though, that Russia is not the Soviet Union anymore, and it isn't even anywhere close to what the Soviet Union was, relative to its competition, back in the days. It is also no longer a command economy, that can pick the best and brightest out of the universities and send them to the space program to work for peanuts. Instead, the space program of modern Russia is notoriously underfunded, corrupt, and inefficient (That's not to say the US doesn't have similar problems, before Kerbiloid comes with another whataboutist rant, but the US can afford to throw enough money into one end of the program for some results to come out of the other end, despite the massive losses in between). The result is that the Russian space program has mostly "hobbled along" since the fall of the Soviet Union, but even in times of peace and prosperity the gap between ambitions and deliveries has kept increasing, and the budget keeps getting tighter. And now, well, peace and prosperity seem not to be at the table. Even if peace is achieved, there will either be a continuation of the quite harsh sanctions, or tremendous war reparations to pay. Second, I don't think tacking a military mission on will help matters much, because it's not like the military will have money to spare either. The Russian army has essentially been obliterated in Ukraine. Thousands upon thousands of pieces of equipment have been destroyed, including several expensive aircraft and a few quite large ships. Stores of ammunition, spare parts, and various other supplies are being emptied. The deficiencies of materiel in long-term storage (that it's dang near impossible to produce a single working tank from parts salvaged from a hundred rusting husks in a storage yard, never mind that it gets blown up five minutes into battle) have been laid bare. And it is revealed that the air force is incapable of flying complex missions in even lightly contested airspace, effectively implying the bulk of its planes can only be used as expensive airfield decorations. In short, the Russian military will have more than enough on its shopping list for the foreseeable future if it wants to restore even a semblance of what it was four months ago. Being asked to fund a space station in addition to all that would be a very tall order. There might be some funds for satellites and missiles, but a manned space station? Those don't come cheap, and they're not on the "need to have" list by a very long shot. The problem is quite simple: Just Not Enough Money. A space program is expensive, having a large military is expensive, and Russia's economy used to be the size of Spain's before it leapt off a cliff in February. This does not appear to be the right time to try to expand its space program, considering the state it has been kept in for the past couple of decades, even when the country's economy was booming. As you say, the future is very fluid, but it's hard to imagine a path where Russia manages to restore a level of prosperity where it can fund everything a country needs plus a manned space program of its very own. Its behaviour in Ukraine might cause it not to be invited to participate on the ISS' successor. Some cooperation with China might be possible, but as far as I know, Tiangong orbits on a too low inclination to be reachable by spacecraft launched from Russia. A future partnership may thus involve cosmonauts launched on Chinese spacecraft from China, as part of Chinese missions whose main mission language won't exactly be Russian, to put it like that.
  5. Again with the "ooh, our country did great things decades ago while ..." Look at the situation today, and its prospects for improving whatsoever any time soon. Details may be to politics-y to be discussed here, but it seems pretty likely that Russia may not be able to afford a space station of its own at the moment, not with everything else that also has to be paid for somehow.
  6. I guess it's healthy to have ambitions, at least. But colour me a little skeptical of the idea that Russia can sustain a space station as a solo project with things going the way they currently do.
  7. Genuinely wondering if they will ever complete it, never mind launching anything from it.
  8. What even is there money to build these days? Or if the current hodgepodge continues, next year? Or even if the hodgepodge doesn't continue. I wouldn't expect the space program to be very high on the priority list overall.
  9. For a while, I've found the expansion of the universe easier to imagine in one dimension. Imagine, if you will, a telescopic antenna like the one found on portable radios: (from Wikipedia) Imagine you're standing somewhere in the middle, on a telescopic segment that's slowly being pulled out of its neighbouring segment. So are all the other segments, at the same speed. That means that any given points on the segment in front of you and the segment behind you are slowly moving away from you, but the segments next to them again are moving away from you even faster. The segments at the ends of the antenna are moving very fast relative to you, and for that matter, so are you relative to them. The universe is sort-of like that, only the individual segments are infinitesimal but infinitely many. And also the entire thing is in three dimensions, of course.
  10. Dragon scales. You need 16 of them to craft a Dragon Spacecraft.
  11. Capturing a picture of a person from 400 km away is impressive enough in its own right. But when that distance is straight up, and the person moves sideways 7.6 kilometers per second, it's really mind-blowing.
  12. Really cool to see how SpaceX has evolved in the past decade or so. From a fledgling launch provider around 2010, to surpassing Roscosmos for the first time in 2017, to leaving it in the dust in recent years. If launches continue at the same pace for the remaining two thirds of 2022, Roscosmos is slated for 21 launches while SpaceX might surpass 50. Roscosmos, meanwhile, seems to be fairly stable around 20-25 launches per year until now (a number that might be affected by the unmentionable, it's too early to tell how much). Rogozin's plan to increase the number of launches beyond 40 after 2019 seems not to have come into fruition. I think the years ahead will be exciting, one way or the other.
  13. In addition to what has previously been mentioned, it's also a matter of exposure time. If you just flew fast enough by the rocket plume (although not necessarily through it, as it would involve a rather painful collision with the ejected matter), you might survive to go much closer than you would if you approached it at walking pace. Then the question partially becomes a matter of how fast you can survive gliding through the air at atmospheric pressure, before the addition of exposure to a rocket plume makes things unsurvivable. I'm pretty sure this can be calculated somehow, but it is probably the kind of calculation that would involve your WolframAlpha account being soft banned.
  14. This close to midnight (on the side where the distance keeps increasing), I forget where I heard it, but Starship can really be a game changer for Moon exploration. Mass constraints and a very high launch cost makes the space programs go to greath lengths to shave off a little bit of mass. It means custom-machined titanium parts, assembled by hand, to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars, if it makes the equipment a few hundred grams lighter. All worth it because you only get to launch so many kilograms, at such a high cost, which means you get to do more stuff if you can fit more parts within the mass limit. And the high launch cost means that optimizing your equipment to do two things will almost always be cheaper than sending two different sets of equipment. But if Starship lets you launch a few tons to the moon in one go, for a comparably low price, then suddenly it makes less sense to spend a fortune on the hardware. No need to make a Moon excavator from scratch using custom-machined titanium parts, just modify some Caterpillar equipment off the shelf. If it doesn't work, buy another (cheap) and send it up (also cheap). Well, cheaper than doing it all from scratch yourself. Best thing is, Caterpillar itself might be capable of building it for you. Several terrestrial machine manufacturers already make equipment rated for extremely harsh conditions. Bores for deep-underground mines at boiling temperatures, rovers that inspect pools of corrosive chemicals, devices that poke into nuclear storage sites to collect practically-glowing debris, swimming robots that traverse thermal vents on the seafloor, extinguisher robots that crawl into hydrocarbon fires, injection pumps for oil wells rated to push soap into porous rock underneath a kilometer of salt water ... The Moon may be a harsh mistress, but there are some fiendishly tough environments on Earth as well, and we build equipment that work just fine in them. Building for the Moon wouldn't be an insurmountable challenge, if mass isn't a concern. The problem with space equipment at the moment is that payloads are built to match the limitations of the launch vehicles, and they have to be optimized around those limitations to give the greatest bang for the (considerable) buck it takes to buy a launch. But make it all cheaper, and suddenly the limits for what can be a payload changes dramatically. That makes payload manufacturing a lot more accessible, and it opens up space for a host of new ventures.
  15. Problem is, none of them presently have the technology to send people to the Moon. It will have to be developed first. And by the current rate of development, it won't be Russia that develops all that technology. I think it's even a fair assumption that the Russian equipment will be the same in ten years as it is today (which is to say, pretty much the same as in 1980), if they even retain the knowledge about how to build it. A Moon project will be a Chinese solo run. What would they then need Russia for? (or to be even more sinister: what do they need Russia for at all, that they can't just waltz in and take for themselves?) My point is, the total funds and industrial capacity available to current Russia is less than what was available to the Soviet Union, in absolute and relative terms. It is a smaller country and economy these days, less self-sufficient (in a world with lesser opportunities for self-sufficiency for any countries, really), without the same option to commandeer the best and brightest to work in the sectors where the state needed people. These days, the good engineers go to the oil industry, or move abroad. It also seems to me that the Soviets didn't waste such large fractions of their space budget on, er, lets-be-generous-and-call-it-"management" (the aforementioned sports cars and offshore property). The space program is coasting on inherited wealth, designs, and know-how from much richer days, and all they can do is to maintain it. But it seems Russia does not have the necessary funds or skill base to take it out of stagnation. Not planning the funeral yet, but I'm curious to see what way forward could possibly cause matters to improve. Russia can't turn back into the Soviet Union, and reach a similarly dominant position. It's smaller on its own this time 'round, with less international support, and its peers have evolved. The government strategy of "we'll appoint my good buddy to this well-paid position and let his underlings sort out the practical details, how hard can it be?" is unlikely to change under the current government, and a new government might not have superficial national pride so high on the priority list that they will continue to fund such a luxury endeavour as a space program that can't keep up with its peers. I don't think there's any way I could respond to this while staying within the forum rules.
  16. Bold of Rogozin to assume there will be funds to run Roscosmos for even a year from now in the first place. Jokes(?) aside, I really wonder how Russia's space program will be affected long-term by the ongoing unmentionable. It was not in a good shape before, and it was always questionable whether Russia would have the economy to sustain a domestic space program in the face of competition from the East and the West (especially considering how funds had a certain tendency to shrink along the way between the budget office and the launchpad). I think it wouldn't be too controversial to say that the Russian space program has not managed to innovate at a competitive rate. The Soyuz, while reliable, doesn't quite have the capabilities or the economic efficiency to give it an edge over comparable systems in the US or China. The development of successors has been troubled, to say the least. The global launch market is too small for Roscosmos to sustain itself on the crumbs left over when those two have finished gobbling up their shares. And now several customers have shut it out entirely (Europe), build their own systems instead (India), or they give too little business to provide much revenue anyway (the rest of the world). There has always been some discrepancy between how expensive a space program is and how small Russia's economy is (approximately the same GDP as Spain - before the unmentionable, now it's roughly on par with the Netherlands, but with nine times as many people to provide for). The Soviet Union could afford it, because they had a huge economy. Russia itself, on the other hand? It will have to be done on a shoestring budget, and you can't compete on a shoestring budget, especially when the management takes half the shoestring away to buy sports cars and offshore property.
  17. Gotta wonder if the Russians will switch to metric artillery calibers eventually too. Due to the ongoing hullaballoo, Ukraine is running out of 152 mm shells, and the neighbouring ex-Soviet countries are emptying their stores to support Ukraine. But now everyone is running out of those, and NATO is re-supplying with 155 mm artillery ammo (and by necessity, guns) instead. Effectively, 152 mm ammo is phased out all over Europe, which means Russia is left having to maintain a supply chain for 152 mm ammo only for their own use, or make the switch themselves as well. There are a few other countries that still use 152 mm artillery, but those are being phased out all over the place too. 155 mm is emerging as the global standard, and recent events only serve to accelerate it.
  18. More like a fanfic extension of Breaking Bad where the characters sample their goods a bit too generously and get the bright idea of expanding their organization to Mars.
  19. Then what does it need an Orion for? Such a device would be a vastly superior propulsion system to the heavy and clunky Orion drive. You seem to have a strange fixation for trying to fit the Orion-shaped peg into any hole no matter the size. Also, the answer to your question: two missiles attacking simultaneously from different directions.
  20. You could also turn that argument on its head, however, by noting that post-USSR Russia never came anywhere close to developing a space station or a reusable spacecraft or a heavy-lift rocket even when the economy was doing reasonably well. A lot of money went into ICBMs, though, but one can question whether it all got to be used for its intended purpose.
  21. But you can't get a space station built in three months, though ...
  22. Yes, but will it work at a time when the government itself is out of cash to give, the entire military is screaming for their share of what scant funds are left, and foreign components can't be sourced anymore? Unless the exchange above ends with the government handing Rogozin more than a shoe string, the space station won't get any closer to reality. They will probably reveal some grandiose plans and pretty drawings, but it doesn't help if there isn't any money to actually make a flight.
  23. According to Wikipedia, Tu-141 were produced between 1979 and 1989, so by definition it would seem correct to call it Soviet-made.
  24. Russia's future ability to construct and operate a space station.
  25. As always, one can't fault Rogozin's optimism, at least.
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