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PTNLemay

The original Orion capsule was going to be even bigger than it currently is?

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I stumbled upon a news article (which for the life of me I cannot find anymore) that basically gave an overview of the Orion capsule's development and what it's gone through before reaching where it is now. Something that surprised me was that it was apparently meant to be even bigger/heavier than it is now, but they had to dial it back several times due to shortcomings with the Ares I launcher. The original design would have been too heavy for it to reach orbit or some such thing.

q7EehBx.png

This surprises me because as is, the Orion is already pretty freaking huge. 5 meters across and heavier than anything we've had since the space shuttle. I'm curious to know just how much they cut back, how big was it going to be originally. But I can't find any data. Does anyone know know the details?

Edited by PTNLemay

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I stumbled upon a news article (which for the life of me I cannot find anymore) that basically gave an overview of the Orion capsule's development and what it's gone through before reaching where it is now. Something that surprised me was that it was apparently meant to be even bigger/heavier than it is now, but they had to dial it back several times due to shortcomings with the Ares I launcher. The original design would have been too heavy for it to reach orbit or some such thing.

http://i.imgur.com/ZwtTOnv.png

This surprises me because as is, the Orion is already pretty freaking huge. 5 meters across and heavier than anything we've had since the space shuttle. I'm curious to know just how much they cut back, how big was it going to be originally. But I can't find any data. Does anyone know know the details?

It was. Orion was originally going to have CST-100 style reusability, a larger service module, and other 'extras', all scrapped b/c of Ares I's inability to launch it, and were not added back, as SLS was BEO-only. They actually considered reducing the acceleration of the LES on the crew to allow it to be used for extra delta-v.

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The real requirement, methinks, was to make it heavy enough that it couldn't be lifted by the then-existing launchers. Short of like the current "plan" is to assemble a mission in an orbit no other rocket but the SLS can reach. You wouldn't want an option that doesn't force you to burn billions in a development program, after all. ;)

That's what happens when you have to find a way to justify the unjustifiable, you look for artificial requirements that force your already chosen path. Michoud was going to build a giant rocket, and Lockheed Martin get a never-ending development program, no matter what... politics demanded it.

Rune. Otherwise we could actually accomplish stuff in space, and Congress forbid that should happen!

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Rune. Otherwise we could actually accomplish stuff in space, and Congress forbid that should happen!

"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

Until decades, maybe centuries more R&D are done, we will never be able to gather non-negligible quantities of raw materials, make anything really complex in space, or use the sunlight for power, etc. Even communication satellites are becoming increasingly useless as we need more bandwidth than they can possibly provide due to fundamental physics limitations.

I know it isn't popular to say this, especially here, but it's the truth. If we want to really accomplish stuff in space, we need to first dump trillions into more close to home topics like medical science, artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, and so forth so we have the infrastructure and the means to do it on non-negligible scales.

So since space is a waste, might as well rob the government for all you can. That's how Lockheed sees it.

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You're acting as if 'space' is mostly crewed efforts; the majority of launches are commercial communications and imaging payloads, and most of the rest are military versions of roughly the same.

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[...] originally going to have CST-100 style reusability [...]

That reminded me, I should add the Starliner to the list. I looked it up but I can't find any hard data on the capsule mass or internal volume. There are mentions of the entire assembly (including fuel tanks and thrusters) weighing 13 tons, but I'm looking more for the actual capsule, not the rest of the nicknacks that come with it.

Also, I'd still like to include a pre-cut Orion to the list, to see how it compares. But I'm also missing the numbers on that one. If anyone has them I'd be quite grateful. I mean... I'm checking on wikipedia and in the history section it says "The capsule was to be 8,9 metric tons" which is exactly in line with what we're seeing in the current design. The article I had read made it sound like they shaved off several tons. Which means the old Orion would have had to be at least 11 tons, no?

Edited by PTNLemay

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The real requirement, methinks, was to make it heavy enough that it couldn't be lifted by the then-existing launchers. Short of like the current "plan" is to assemble a mission in an orbit no other rocket but the SLS can reach. You wouldn't want an option that doesn't force you to burn billions in a development program, after all. ;)

That's what happens when you have to find a way to justify the unjustifiable, you look for artificial requirements that force your already chosen path. Michoud was going to build a giant rocket, and Lockheed Martin get a never-ending development program, no matter what... politics demanded it.

Rune. Otherwise we could actually accomplish stuff in space, and Congress forbid that should happen!

All versions of the Orion could have been launched by an Atlas V Heavy, which was, and is, available for order with a 2 year lead time. Of course, the Atlas also needed to be man-rated, but there was literally no point for the Ares I in the first place.

- - - Updated - - -

That reminded me, I should add the Starliner to the list. I looked it up but I can't find any hard data on the capsule mass or internal volume. There are mentions of the entire assembly (including fuel tanks and thrusters) weighing 13 tons, but I'm looking more for the actual capsule, not the rest of the nicknacks that come with it.

Also, I'd still like to include a pre-cut Orion to the list, to see how it compares. But I'm also missing the numbers on that one. If anyone has them I'd be quite grateful. I mean... I'm checking on wikipedia and in the history section it says "The capsule was to be 8,9 metric tons" which is exactly in line with what we're seeing in the current design. The article I had read made it sound like they shaved off several tons. Which means the old Orion would have had to be at least 11 tons, no?

No idea. The design was constantly changing in the Constellation days.

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

Until decades, maybe centuries more R&D are done, we will never be able to gather non-negligible quantities of raw materials, make anything really complex in space, or use the sunlight for power, etc. Even communication satellites are becoming increasingly useless as we need more bandwidth than they can possibly provide due to fundamental physics limitations.

I know it isn't popular to say this, especially here, but it's the truth. If we want to really accomplish stuff in space, we need to first dump trillions into more close to home topics like medical science, artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, and so forth so we have the infrastructure and the means to do it on non-negligible scales.

So since space is a waste, might as well rob the government for all you can. That's how Lockheed sees it.

Building up affordable space infrastructure should be the goal. SLS doesn't really help with that.

I'm not sure why you hold such a negative view of space exploration. It's incredibly exciting and has helped to spawn tons of new technologies.

And ultimately, space is the only place where we can truly expand.

But I suppose this went off-topic, sorry about that.

Edited by Karriz

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

There are three fundamental reasons for doing anything. The activity can be necessary to keep us from dying right now, it can be interesting/fun/cool/something, or it can indirectly help us doing something we already consider worth doing. Most science and almost all good science belongs to the second category.

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

Until decades, maybe centuries more R&D are done, we will never be able to gather non-negligible quantities of raw materials, make anything really complex in space, or use the sunlight for power, etc. Even communication satellites are becoming increasingly useless as we need more bandwidth than they can possibly provide due to fundamental physics limitations.

I know it isn't popular to say this, especially here, but it's the truth. If we want to really accomplish stuff in space, we need to first dump trillions into more close to home topics like medical science, artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, and so forth so we have the infrastructure and the means to do it on non-negligible scales.

So since space is a waste, might as well rob the government for all you can. That's how Lockheed sees it.

Rather than moaning about how the 0.4% spent on spaceflight stops other things such as medical research, you may want to look at certain other areas which eat up 40% of the budget...

Military could afford to be cut massively to support actually useful scientific research. Spaceflight is important in the long run and so should be funded much more and not less.

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

Until decades, maybe centuries more R&D are done, we will never be able to gather non-negligible quantities of raw materials, make anything really complex in space, or use the sunlight for power, etc. Even communication satellites are becoming increasingly useless as we need more bandwidth than they can possibly provide due to fundamental physics limitations.

I know it isn't popular to say this, especially here, but it's the truth. If we want to really accomplish stuff in space, we need to first dump trillions into more close to home topics like medical science, artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, and so forth so we have the infrastructure and the means to do it on non-negligible scales.

So since space is a waste, might as well rob the government for all you can. That's how Lockheed sees it.

That is one of the most short-sighted comments you can see about space exploration. The worst thing is that it is actually a common one! Let's see if I can't get it addressed in a single sentence: Sooner or later, Earth is toast, so either we learn to live elsewhere, or no more humans, ever.

Does that sound like a good enough reason to spend, say, 1% of public budget for any given country, survival of the species? Take into account that defense usually eats from 5 to 50% of the budget of most countries, and the figure for the good old US of A is... ~20%? Higher? Wouldn't really know right now, but however much the world spends, it's to basically to blow stuff up and kill people. If find that to be much more of a waste than space exploration, no matter which way you look at it.

Or I could dredge up the figure for the world annual lipstick budget... I guarantee you it'll be at least an order of magnitude higher. Note as comparison, Americans spend about 0.4% of its budget on NASA, and NASA outspends the rest of the space agencies of this world, combined. For the nth time, we don't spend in space. Not even change. Seems rather irresponsible to waste the few pennies that actually get budgeted to it.

All versions of the Orion could have been launched by an Atlas V Heavy, which was, and is, available for order with a 2 year lead time. Of course, the Atlas also needed to be man-rated, but there was literally no point for the Ares I in the first place.

Yup, but that rocket also didn't physically exist when Ares I and V were appropriated. Which in Congressional speak means they would both be a "similar endeavour". And before you say it, yeah, Delta IV heavy could also do it (maybe? Orion was really fat at first), but that would require "man-rating it", as you say. One of the funniest pseudo-engineering expressions, but you wouldn't believe the kind of stuff Congress can pass as a rational argument. Did you see the last hearing on the presidential NASA budget proposal? They actually claimed the White House was the one underfunding NASA, and they bravely restored the cuts every time. I won't even comment on that, my blood pressure doesn't allow it... And here I go further on the off-topic road.... Sorry!

Rune. So basically, what Frozen_Heart said.

Edited by Rune

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It was. Orion was originally going to have CST-100 style reusability, a larger service module, and other 'extras', all scrapped b/c of Ares I's inability to launch it, and were not added back, as SLS was BEO-only. They actually considered reducing the acceleration of the LES on the crew to allow it to be used for extra delta-v.

It is reusable. Which suggests that the other stuff may have been added back as well.

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It is reusable. Which suggests that the other stuff may have been added back as well.

You mean it is reusable after it ditches its service module with its propulsion capabilities, drops chutes that can't be repacked, and burns through its heatshield so it needs replacing, right? Not to mention the whole "being dunked into salt water". So the "reusable" part is the pressure hull, ECLSS, and avionics, basically. And of course you have to inspect them before bringing the capsule back to the facility where it was built to bolt back on most of its systems. Yeah, a great reusability potential, I'm sure it'll save big bucks...

Most of Orion's mass comes form an oversized diameter, BTW, dictated by a very mass-inefficient conical design and the initial requirements of 6 astronauts for 14 days, for the Constellation lunar missions. But it had to look like Apollo...

Rune. Seriously, the Orion program is the perfect example of what not to do.

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I think I remember reading at some point (a long time ago) that Orion was going to be 5.5 meters in diameter and was reduced to 5.01.

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You mean it is reusable after it ditches its service module with its propulsion capabilities, drops chutes that can't be repacked, and burns through its heatshield so it needs replacing, right? Not to mention the whole "being dunked into salt water". So the "reusable" part is the pressure hull, ECLSS, and avionics, basically. And of course you have to inspect them before bringing the capsule back to the facility where it was built to bolt back on most of its systems. Yeah, a great reusability potential, I'm sure it'll save big bucks...

Most of Orion's mass comes form an oversized diameter, BTW, dictated by a very mass-inefficient conical design and the initial requirements of 6 astronauts for 14 days, for the Constellation lunar missions. But it had to look like Apollo...

Rune. Seriously, the Orion program is the perfect example of what not to do.

Is there anything to suggest that it was ever part of the plan to make the service module or heat shield re-usable?

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That is one of the most short-sighted comments you can see about space exploration. The worst thing is that it is actually a common one! Let's see if I can't get it addressed in a single sentence: Sooner or later, Earth is toast, so either we learn to live elsewhere, or no more humans, ever.

Does that sound like a good enough reason to spend, say, 1% of public budget for any given country, survival of the species? Take into account that defense usually eats from 5 to 50% of the budget of most countries, and the figure for the good old US of A is... ~20%? Higher? Wouldn't really know right now, but however much the world spends, it's to basically to blow stuff up and kill people. If find that to be much more of a waste than space exploration, no matter which way you look at it.

Or I could dredge up the figure for the world annual lipstick budget... I guarantee you it'll be at least an order of magnitude higher. Note as comparison, Americans spend about 0.4% of its budget on NASA, and NASA outspends the rest of the space agencies of this world, combined. For the nth time, we don't spend in space. Not even change. Seems rather irresponsible to waste the few pennies that actually get budgeted to it.

Yup, but that rocket also didn't physically exist when Ares I and V were appropriated. Which in Congressional speak means they would both be a "similar endeavour". And before you say it, yeah, Delta IV heavy could also do it (maybe? Orion was really fat at first), but that would require "man-rating it", as you say. One of the funniest pseudo-engineering expressions, but you wouldn't believe the kind of stuff Congress can pass as a rational argument. Did you see the last hearing on the presidential NASA budget proposal? They actually claimed the White House was the one underfunding NASA, and they bravely restored the cuts every time. I won't even comment on that, my blood pressure doesn't allow it... And here I go further on the off-topic road.... Sorry!

Rune. So basically, what Frozen_Heart said.

Actually, Delta IV Heavy was slightly underpowered for the original Constellation Orion, so they would probably have to develop 2 service modules for it- one with only 200 or so m/s delta-v, and the lunar version, with a lot more.

- - - Updated - - -

"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

Until decades, maybe centuries more R&D are done, we will never be able to gather non-negligible quantities of raw materials, make anything really complex in space, or use the sunlight for power, etc. Even communication satellites are becoming increasingly useless as we need more bandwidth than they can possibly provide due to fundamental physics limitations.

I know it isn't popular to say this, especially here, but it's the truth. If we want to really accomplish stuff in space, we need to first dump trillions into more close to home topics like medical science, artificial intelligence, molecular manufacturing, and so forth so we have the infrastructure and the means to do it on non-negligible scales.

So since space is a waste, might as well rob the government for all you can. That's how Lockheed sees it.

I am wondering why you are in a space discussion discussion forum like this then.

- - - Updated - - -

Rather than moaning about how the 0.4% spent on spaceflight stops other things such as medical research, you may want to look at certain other areas which eat up 40% of the budget...

Military could afford to be cut massively to support actually useful scientific research. Spaceflight is important in the long run and so should be funded much more and not less.

Sadly, welfare is an even bigger issue financial-wise, and one of the first places that must be cut to balance the budget.

- - - Updated - - -

You mean it is reusable after it ditches its service module with its propulsion capabilities, drops chutes that can't be repacked, and burns through its heatshield so it needs replacing, right? Not to mention the whole "being dunked into salt water". So the "reusable" part is the pressure hull, ECLSS, and avionics, basically. And of course you have to inspect them before bringing the capsule back to the facility where it was built to bolt back on most of its systems. Yeah, a great reusability potential, I'm sure it'll save big bucks...

Most of Orion's mass comes form an oversized diameter, BTW, dictated by a very mass-inefficient conical design and the initial requirements of 6 astronauts for 14 days, for the Constellation lunar missions. But it had to look like Apollo...

Rune. Seriously, the Orion program is the perfect example of what not to do.

The shape is to allow for skip-reentry, I'm pretty sure.

- - - Updated - - -

Is there anything to suggest that it was ever part of the plan to make the service module or heat shield re-usable?

No. It was never the case.

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about a dead planet going to help people on earth? Manned mission life support and planning may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, aging, disease, and death.

"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about the sun going to help people on earth? Gravity and orbits may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, arrow wounds, gun powder, and the plague.

The ramifications of today's discoveries reach far into tomorrow.

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"Accomplish" what? What is learning more about the sun going to help people on earth? Gravity and orbits may sound cool, but in what concrete way will it help people on earth, versus researching, oh, I dunno, arrow wounds, gun powder, and the plague.

The ramifications of today's discoveries reach far into tomorrow.

I think my analogy could be described more aptly as "let's research better guns" instead of "let's research the stars". You know, if the year were the time where the plague, arrow wounds, and gunpowder were all unknowns.

I would be right. I ain't even saying not to research the stars eventually, I'm saying that it's not the time for it. Knowledge of relativity would not have helped during the industrial revolution. Similarly, yes, for humans to continue to exist they do need to leave the planet, but it's not the next step on the tech ladder. Before worrying about whether some humans can exist 1000 years from now, maybe we should worry about whether we personally can exist in 1000 years. Maybe it's impossible, but it's where the research funding should go.

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The shape is to allow for skip-reentry, I'm pretty sure.

Nope, the conical section was chosen mainly because it was Apollo's. The skip re-entry myth is also one I've heard before, but you know, Soyuz was also meant to fly that same profile (and Zond actually did fly it), only with a much more volumetrically efficient pressure hull with that characteristic weird lamp-like shape... exactly the same one as Dragon, or Shenzhou. But in the US during the space race they were in a real hurry and didn't trust complicated aerodynamic modelling, so they went with the tried and true conic shape that posed the least aerodynamic risks. 40 years later, for some arcane reason that I've only seen half-explained as "there is more data for conic capsules", NASA decided that their new "Apollo on steroids" just had to be a cone. Have you seen Lockheed's original proposal for the CEV? You know, the one that actually won the competition? It's short of a weird cross between Soyuz and the HL-20.

Rune. Really, the whole Apollo program was quite a mess of mismatching pieces of unrelated technology.

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Nope, the conical section was chosen mainly because it was Apollo's. The skip re-entry myth is also one I've heard before, but you know, Soyuz was also meant to fly that same profile (and Zond actually did fly it), only with a much more volumetrically efficient pressure hull with that characteristic weird lamp-like shape... exactly the same one as Dragon, or Shenzhou. But in the US during the space race they were in a real hurry and didn't trust complicated aerodynamic modelling, so they went with the tried and true conic shape that posed the least aerodynamic risks. 40 years later, for some arcane reason that I've only seen half-explained as "there is more data for conic capsules", NASA decided that their new "Apollo on steroids" just had to be a cone. Have you seen Lockheed's original proposal for the CEV? You know, the one that actually won the competition? It's short of a weird cross between Soyuz and the HL-20.

Rune. Really, the whole Apollo program was quite a mess of mismatching pieces of unrelated technology.

Apparently Boeing and Lockmart liked the cone too.:P (Look at their CCDev proposals.)

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Apparently Boeing and Lockmart liked the cone too.:P (Look at their CCDev proposals.)

Lockheed didn't bid on CCDev, so I don't really know where you are coming form there. The only cone in there was Boeing's, and you know, Boeing... they actually built the Apollo CSM (well, not them, North American, but they bought that), and they had to whip up a proposal for NASA. Yup, the guys that had passed over their last proposal, then forced a conic capsule down LM's throat. I think they saw where the political wind blew the safest... if you squint even Dragon looks like a cone, it's quite well disguised.

Rune. Unless you count Excalibur-Almaz, which actually bid with a capsule built by the soviets, then never flown.

Edited by Rune

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Sadly, welfare is an even bigger issue financial-wise, and one of the first places that must be cut to balance the budget.

Actually, its not unless you're opposed to welfare in general anyway (and thats a whole other discussion).

The real issue as far as the budget goes actually has more to with what is called discretionary spending, which is essentially what our government can spend on, well, whatever (Welfare and Social Security comprise most of the other portion of the budget, the mandatory spending, which the government is required by law to spend on). And of this amount of the budget, the government decides to spend over 56% of it on the military and such a comparatively small amount on both NASA that it comes out to less than half of a percent. And on actual scientific research? The amount doesn't even register as a percentage.

When we talk about the US' budget and where cuts must be made, its the discretionary portion of the budget that needs more of the attention. And it goes without saying that it would be vastly simpler to re-appropriate that spending.

we should build say, real self replicating robotic factories?

We don't spend much on science period, and spaceflight is a part of that. Nor do we spend much on education for that matter. All 3 areas (including others) should see an increase in their budgets, even if it means taking a set amount and splitting it 3 ways. Presuming you had reallocated funds to work with, NASA wouldn't see too much of a boost (though really it doesn't comparatively need much to do far more than it has or can do) but education and scientific research would see huge and much needed boosts.

I ain't even saying not to research the stars eventually, I'm saying that it's not the time for it.

I don't think the peers of the first person to play around with harnessing fire thought it was time for it either. Science (including spaceflight) is a direct investment in the future. Getting hung up on the practical aspects of research is just demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of the point of doing research in the first place. By coming to understand the thing you're researching, you gain the ability to apply that knowledge again and again and again. We learned to harness fire, then we learned how to cook. We learned to cook, then we learned how to melt metal. We melted metal, and we made nearly everything you see today.

We learned to fly, and in 50 years, we were walking around on the Moon. Imagine what we could do in time if we learned to live on Mars.

The point is, when it comes to research, you can't just arbitrarily say spaceflight deserves less than robotics or medicine. Research deserves exactly what it needs to be done, if not more than it needs. But never less.

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You genuinely believe that, say, researching ancient basket weaving techniques or the mating habits of porcupines is equally important to researching human tissue senescence or nanoscale gear train prototypes?

Yes. As I said, you do not understand the point of research if you're focusing on the practical aspects.

And "ultra-expensive" isn't particularly accurate because you don't actually understand how much is being spent or would be spent. RE, you don't understand money in terms of national spending. And thats not a slight against you, very few people do understand money at that scale.

You see, to you, 30-70 billion dollars is a lot. Its enough to make sure that your entire family doesn't have to work a day in their lives for several generations. But to the government, 70 billion dollars is a little less than 4 years worth of paying NASA to do what its already doing. And when put up against military spending? 70 billion is quite literally chump change that can and is thrown around very easily.

When you look at how much the government is spending, you can't look at it from the perspective of what a dollar means to you, because the scale at which you the typical tax payer spends money is immensely smaller than that of the government. You deal in dollars. The government deals in billions of dollars.

The proper way to look at it is to look at what percentage of your single tax dollar goes to what. By doing so, you bring government spending down to a scale that's actually comparable to your spending as a single citizen. And at this scale, you are quite literally spending half a penny out of every tax dollar on spaceflight. And even less on other scientific research.

Are you really that upset that out of say, $500 in taxes, you're spending $2.50 on NASA?

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Some posts with off topic personal attacks have been removed. Please keep it to discussing Orion itself and keep it civil.

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Lockheed didn't bid on CCDev, so I don't really know where you are coming form there. The only cone in there was Boeing's, and you know, Boeing... they actually built the Apollo CSM (well, not them, North American, but they bought that), and they had to whip up a proposal for NASA. Yup, the guys that had passed over their last proposal, then forced a conic capsule down LM's throat. I think they saw where the political wind blew the safest... if you squint even Dragon looks like a cone, it's quite well disguised.

Rune. Unless you count Excalibur-Almaz, which actually bid with a capsule built by the soviets, then never flown.

Yeah, Lockmart did- It was a pairing of "Orion lite" with ATK's Liberty rocket.

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