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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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43 minutes ago, Nivee~ said:

EDIT: Oh yes, one more thing! Has there been any sort of investigation done, or documents released by SpaceX to prove that reusing the core stage of F9 indeed reduced costs? If yes, please point me to the general direction. I will try to understand the big words with my thesaurus :D

The only investigation will be SpaceX pursuing reuse. If it was not cost-effective, they'd stop. Ditto Blue Origin. Any meaningful change in cost to orbit requires reuse, how that is achieved is certainly up to experiment, but it is a self-evident fact, and has been since forever.

 

The lack of understanding about the capability of FH (or any LV) is pretty annoying. Even Zubrin fails to have internalized this when he came up with a FH architecture to the Moon (a "Moon Direct" concept he floated). The payload of any LV is almost always volume, not mass limited to LEO. Atlas looks like it has a huge fairing, but often the payload under that huge fairing is a centaur upper stage (propellant), not a satellite. If the biggest mass that fits under the fairing is 7 tons, then that's what gets lofted to space. Any excess capacity allows the orbit to be different than LEO, nothing more. The point of FH is to reuse the boosters, and still insert the largest mass that fits under the fairing to GTO/GEO, nothing more. Tory Bruno at ULA drives this home often because he likes to discuss the C3 of their vehicles. Mass to LEO doesn't matter, even if it's a decent ballpark to compare similar LVs (similar in fairing size, basically).

SLS block 1, should there ever be a cargo version, can actually put something a lot closer to the LEO delivery mass to orbit than FH, even if the latter looks to be 93% as good on paper, since what's really delivered is props.

Block 2, while only rated at 130t, is 130t under a 10m fairing (1b is 105t under a 8.4m fairing). Even those numbers are deceiving, since most payloads that large are crew parts, and mostly open space. Propellant is certainly a valuable cargo, but only with a vehicle system capable of transferring props (or long term storage). SLS will never be this, since they can only fly once a year, you can't put together a mission in Earth (or lunar) orbit with launches a year apart.

 

1 hour ago, Nivee~ said:

As for the SLS: It will fly, for the sake of justifying the cost. It will definitely fly.  2030s, it will fly. And so will the BFR(in 2030s) .Because do you seriously think that a proud government will allow a private company to fly before them? Look what they are doing to CCDev! Delaying it constantly, until Orion is developed, and all of a sudden Dragon and Starliner are not needed anymore. The "American" spacecraft that will take NASA astronauts to space will be Orion and nothing else. (But, eh..thats just speculation)..

Orion does not obviate CST-100 and Crew Dragon. Orion as it stands can only fly once a year. If anything the opposite is true. Commercial crew could make Orion unnecessary. Say ULA flies ACES. ACES would make an awesome tug to bring Starliner or Dragon to the Moon. As they plan on having them refillable, it need to throw Starliner into a direct entry, but it could return it to an Earth orbit that CST-100 could safely reenter from. Such a tug ACES could have a small habitat pod that the Commercial Crew vehicles dock to, making them more comfortable for the trip to the Moon. There are many possibilities using systems under development.

3 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

Surely a smaller version of ACES, with more manoeuvring capacity could do that. ACES is already in development, and ULA certainly has enough money to do it,=.

ACES really needs to be a thing. Centaur is arguably the best rocket stage, ever, and ACES would be a great follow-on.

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4 hours ago, tater said:

SLS is terribly managed, and the OIG is now auditing the whole program (after savaging their management of the core stage of SLS). It's not just late and over budget, it's very, very badly managed (the OIG report is online, I suggest reading it). It's also poorly designed, since it literally does little that is useful. It's not big enough to go to the Moon (in a meaningful way), and it's too big to go to orbit. It;s also grossly overpriced. It will never fly more than once a year, and the fixed program costs are a couple billion dollars, so while the marginal launch cost might only be X hundred million, the actual cost is closer to 3 billion per flight. SLS is never getting us anyplace unless commercial space does most of the work.

 

 

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The reason you can point to the SLS and say it's "terribly managed" is that the project is public. There is a level of transparency. Where waste and incompetence is found it gets scrutinized, harshly. This leads to corrections. This is all good.


And how is the BFR being managed? Well, we don't know. Is money being wasted? Is it going over budget? We don't know. Is the BFR project falling behind schedule? Well, we don't know that either. We don't know anything about the BFR project except what Elon Musk wants to tell us because SpaceX is a private company and doesn't have to tell us anything except what he wants to. The BFR project could be a total disaster, and you'd never know. It's soooooo easy to point to NASA and its SLS project and throw stones at what a trainwreck it is. How the clowns are running the circus. But I don't see that happening at all. I see mistakes being made. Mistakes being corrected. Like any other enormous project.  

Quote

Regarding BFR, you seem to have a strong bias against it. It's under construction now.

Not really.

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The guy that your bolding (you could use all caps, too, if you like!) is talking about is the same guy who is putting money into BFR, instead.

I'm comfortable being a minority saying the BFR will never fly people to Mars or the Moon. It doesn't bother me at all because I know I'm right and time will vindicate my position. 

Edited by Kerbal7

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10 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

 Not really.

 

From Wikipedia:

Quote

Around 2015, SpaceX was scouting for manufacturing facility locations to build the large rocket, with locations being investigated in California, Texas, Louisiana,[54] and Florida.[55] By September 2017, SpaceX had already started building launch vehicle components.

 

From SpaceNews:

Quote

Construction of the first prototype spaceship is in progress. “We’re actually building that ship right now,” [Musk] said. “I think we’ll probably be able to do short flights, short sort of up-and-down flights, probably sometime in the first half of next year [2019].”

 

 

Edited by Confused Scientist
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5 hours ago, sh1pman said:

 Strap those SSMEs to ET instead, add a second stage on top, and you've got SLS.

...Hmm, why then SLS Block 1 doesn't have 130t+ throw to LEO?

It appears that the core stage of SLS is way overweight.  The core stage is pretty close in size to the ET, which was about 26.5t empty.  Each RS-25 is about 3.5t, so the theoretical attach 4 RS-25s to the ET should weight around 40.5t.  However, the SLS core stage weighs 85t, which seems quite ridiculous to me, even accounting for all the extra structure you would need.  Also, the throw weight of shuttle include the SSMEs, and SLS does not, which accounts for some of the mass difference.  

2 hours ago, Kerbal7 said:

The reason you can point to the SLS and say it's "terribly managed" is that the project is public. There is a level of transparency. Where waste and incompetence is found it gets scrutinized, harshly. This leads to corrections. This is all good.


And how is the BFR being managed? Well, we don't know. Is money being wasted? Is it going over budget? We don't know. Is the BFR project falling behind schedule? Well, we don't know that either. We don't know anything about the BFR project except what Elon Musk wants to tell us because SpaceX is a private company and doesn't have to tell us anything except what he wants to. The BFR project could be a total disaster, and you'd never know. It's soooooo easy to point to NASA and its SLS project and throw stones at what a trainwreck it is. How the clowns are running the circus. But I don't see that happening at all. I see mistakes being made. Mistakes being corrected. Like any other enormous project.  

Not really.

I'm comfortable being a minority saying the BFR will never fly people to Mars or the Moon. It doesn't bother me at all because I know I'm right and time will vindicate my position. 

It doesn't matter if BFR is terribly managed because it is an order of magnitude cheaper and unquantifiably more capable.  SpaceX literally can't afford to be as bad as SLS.  We know from Falcon 9 that SpaceX is far more money efficient than NASA/Boeing b/c it took them $400 million to do a project NASA expected to cost $4 billion.  Elon Musk is behind his schedule and exceeds his cost estimations, but this is disingenuous b/c his schedules are at least 3x more aggressive then anyone else's and his cost estimations are at-least 10x more smaller than anyone else's.  Even if Elon does 50% worse than he plans, he still does 2x better than anyone else in the aerospace industry.  If you can actually meet your cost and time plans, than you aren't working at your full potential, your plans aren't challenging enough.

The mistakes being made by Boeing are similar in magnitude to the entire SpaceX Falcon 9 Project.

If you like space travel, why go against SpaceX.  They are not hurting anyone unless you think SLS is so garbage that it risks cancellation, which basically says you think SLS is worse then BFR.  If SLS is any good, BFR is not a threat so you should want BFR to succeed because it never hurts to have more rockets and it might make space travel massively better.

Edited by ment18
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6 hours ago, Xd the great said:

See, spaceX forced a whole new generation of rockets.

It hasn't. Everyone - every credible rocket design program out there - is chugging along at its own pace with expendable boosters. Vulcan's initiating event, for example, was the push for RD-180 replacement and not competition from SpaceX.

Really makes you wonder, eh?

1 hour ago, Barzon Kerman said:

Surely a smaller version of ACES, with more manoeuvring capacity could do that. ACES is already in development, and ULA certainly has enough money to do it,=.

They won't do it at their own expense. Expect another quagmire. Hell, ACES may be getting cancelled if I'm reading this thread right.

50 minutes ago, ment18 said:

If you like space travel, why go against SpaceX.  They are not hurting anyone

Their failure will. A hype train is a double-edged sword; their failure will jeopardize public interest in spaceflight for generations to come.

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45 minutes ago, DDE said:

Their failure will. A hype train is a double-edged sword; their failure will jeopardize public interest in spaceflight for generations to come.

Since public interest is currently barely a skosh above absolute zero...  I seriously doubt any failure that doesn't involve the death of an astronaut or passenger will have much impact on public interest or any other significant lasting effect.  The folks you want to avoid annoying overmuch are the folks that pay the bills (private customers and governmental funding bodies).  The former doesn't really give a rat about whatever speculative technologies fail to pan out so long as they can still buy rides.  (Especially since they aren't footing the bill.)  The latter doesn't give a rat either, unless it's hardware or speculative technology they paid for.

There's a lot of talk here about hype trains and hating particular vehicles...  But that's nothing but a tempest in the closed bubble universe that is space fandom.  In the real world, there's not a term strong enough to express how utterly and completely irrelevant space fandom is.

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2 hours ago, tater said:

The lack of understanding about the capability of FH (or any LV) is pretty annoying. Even Zubrin fails to have internalized this when he came up with a FH architecture to the Moon (a "Moon Direct" concept he floated). The payload of any LV is almost always volume, not mass limited to LEO. Atlas looks like it has a huge fairing, but often the payload under that huge fairing is a centaur upper stage (propellant), not a satellite. If the biggest mass that fits under the fairing is 7 tons, then that's what gets lofted to space. Any excess capacity allows the orbit to be different than LEO, nothing more. The point of FH is to reuse the boosters, and still insert the largest mass that fits under the fairing to GTO/GEO, nothing more. Tory Bruno at ULA drives this home often because he likes to discuss the C3 of their vehicles. Mass to LEO doesn't matter, even if it's a decent ballpark to compare similar LVs (similar in fairing size, basically).

What if someone wanted to put a 60t solid slab of metal in LEO? FH will be able to do it, everything else - not so much, except maybe SLS. It can be then used as a material to 3D-print a space habitat or whatever else. I think I read about several companies doing R&D to eventually print things in space.

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54 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

The reason you can point to the SLS and say it's "terribly managed" is that the project is public. There is a level of transparency. Where waste and incompetence is found it gets scrutinized, harshly. This leads to corrections. This is all good.

It’s a little late for this to be discovered. They’ve already blown 10s of billions. Nothing about this project will ever be cost effective. If SLS is our ride past LEO, we’re basically never going anywhere.

SpaceX doesn’t need to be transparent on BFR, they’re not spending my money. They also have a far better control, the market. If it doesn’t work, they will pivot or die.

 

11 minutes ago, sh1pman said:

What if someone wanted to put a 60t solid slab of metal in LEO? FH will be able to do it, everything else - not so much, except maybe SLS. It can be then used as a material to 3D-print a space habitat or whatever else. I think I read about several companies doing R&D to eventually print things in space.

3D printing stock would likely not be solid, but rolls of something. Unsure if sintering techniques can work in vacuum (ie: the metal is a powder, since you have to get the metal to the print head without blowing it all over the place). Still, this is about as close as you can get to a full mass use case, so worth considering.

Also:

 

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1 hour ago, DDE said:

It hasn't. Everyone - every credible rocket design program out there - is chugging along at its own pace with expendable boosters. Vulcan's initiating event, for example, was the push for RD-180 replacement and not competition from SpaceX.

Really makes you wonder, eh?

The commercial market has certainly been undercut. SpaceX was 0% a few years ago, now it's a leader in commercial launches. Other companies tend to be slower moving (from a corporate culture standpoint), hence the lack of serious thoughts about reuse---except from Jeff Bezos, who comes from the same sort of tech culture as Musk. Regardless, the pace of expendables is slow. The usual suspects have reliable vehicles that are already fairly cheap as throw aways. We have yet to see SpaceX leave serious money on the table, so lower costs may be quite a ways down the road. When BO starts flying NG I fully expect this to change.

To be fair, while you are right about ULA's motivation (Congress seems to have forgotten why we started buying engines in the first place), Vulcan is supposed to reuse the BE-4 engines (by catching them).

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They have to keep testing those already flight tested RS-25s, I guess. Might as well, it's costing $127,000,000 for each engine we reuse. Such saving. Much wow.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Vulcan is supposed to reuse the BE-4 engines (by catching them)

Expendable rocket, expendable helicopter :sticktongue:

All those airborne captures... and you call us reckless?

2015_landing_1.jpg

September 2015. Russian military personnel retrieve film from Kosmos-2505, the last known Kobalt-M spysat.

Edited by DDE
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1 hour ago, tater said:

The commercial market has certainly been undercut. SpaceX was 0% a few years ago, now it's a leader in commercial launches. Other companies tend to be slower moving (from a corporate culture standpoint), hence the lack of serious thoughts about reuse---except from Jeff Bezos, who comes from the same sort of tech culture as Musk. Regardless, the pace of expendables is slow. The usual suspects have reliable vehicles that are already fairly cheap as throw aways. We have yet to see SpaceX leave serious money on the table, so lower costs may be quite a ways down the road. When BO starts flying NG I fully expect this to change.

To be fair, while you are right about ULA's motivation (Congress seems to have forgotten why we started buying engines in the first place), Vulcan is supposed to reuse the BE-4 engines (by catching them).

I've seen some more "checkbox engineering" that claims to add reuse to next generation rockets (doesn't Boeing and/or ULA have a plan involving snatching parachuting engines?), but I still don't expect government and/or military rockets to be cheaper than expendable Spacex rockets with or without reuse.

Reuse is simply one technique to reducing costs.  It is a blindingly obvious one, but it isn't some sort of magic trick that makes space travel suddenly cheap: the Shuttle proved that.

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3 minutes ago, wumpus said:

Reuse is simply one technique to reducing costs.  It is a blindingly obvious one, but it isn't some sort of magic trick that makes space travel suddenly cheap: the Shuttle proved that.

Except, of course, SpaceX absolutely does repeat the same promises of a quick check-up, refuel, and relaunch.

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2 minutes ago, wumpus said:

I've seen some more "checkbox engineering" that claims to add reuse to next generation rockets (doesn't Boeing and/or ULA have a plan involving snatching parachuting engines?), but I still don't expect government and/or military rockets to be cheaper than expendable Spacex rockets with or without reuse.

Reuse is simply one technique to reducing costs.  It is a blindingly obvious one, but it isn't some sort of magic trick that makes space travel suddenly cheap: the Shuttle proved that.

Reuse is the only technique to bring costs down by orders of magnitude. Phil Bono said this in the introduction to his 1969 book (and his reusable designs date 6 years earlier than that).

It was true in the 1960s, and it is true now.

Shuttle was never reuse at the level required (obviously). Rebuilding craft at costs that rival expendables doesn't cut it. Stack it, refill it, relaunch it. That's why quick turn around matters---not because SpaceX needs to turn a booster around in 24 hours, there's not enough market to justify that, but because that means there's almost no labor, hence almost no cost in turning it around.

Shuttle-derived vehicles were supposed to be cheaper, since much work was already done. SLS managed to destroy that concept completely. I still think Constellation had the right idea of separating crew and heavy lift. Orion was supposed to be a multi-tasker, instead of something that will only rarely fly.

3 minutes ago, DDE said:

Except, of course, SpaceX absolutely does repeat the same promises of a quick check-up, refuel, and relaunch.

Yeah, and they will dump that if it turns out to not be worth it, they have a bottom line to deal with.

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1 minute ago, tater said:

Yeah, and they will dump that if it turns out to not be worth it

Meh... don't be too sure. Companies can easily fall into irrationality - especially when their internal culture revolves around a supposed higher purpose, which is a key strength, but cuts both ways.

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1 minute ago, DDE said:

Meh... don't be too sure. Companies can easily fall into irrationality - especially when their internal culture revolves around a supposed higher purpose, which is a key strength, but cuts both ways.

Things they've killed:

Flying Falcon 1 with customers.

Falcon 5/Falcon4/Air

Dragon propulsive landing.

Red Mars.

FH/Dragon lunar tourist flight.

BFR 2016 ---> BFR 2017 ---> BFR 2018 (all different)

 

Reuse is different, however. It is, without any question, the only possible way to significantly reduce cost to orbit. Costs can be reduced incrementally, or massive expendables can drop the cost/kg (assuming you can find large enough payloads to justify it), but for order of magnitude level changes reuse is the only way forward. NASA (and contractors) were 100% on board with this over 50 years ago.

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@DDE Where did u get the impression that ACES development is being stopped?

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13 minutes ago, tater said:

Reuse is different, however. It is, without any question, the only possible way to significantly reduce cost to orbit. Costs can be reduced incrementally, or massive expendables can drop the cost/kg (assuming you can find large enough payloads to justify it), but for order of magnitude level changes reuse is the only way forward. NASA (and contractors) were 100% on board with this over 50 years ago.

So strange to see people here demanding proof of commercial viability of reuse. As if it wasn’t self-evident. Why would Bezos, the richest person on the planet, design his orbital rocket with reusability in mind? I mean, he knows a thing or two about running business, no?

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33 minutes ago, tater said:

Reuse is the only technique to bring costs down by orders of magnitude. Phil Bono said this in the introduction to his 1969 book (and his reusable designs date 6 years earlier than that).

It was true in the 1960s, and it is true now.

Falcon 9 is doing reuse at least as well as the Shuttle was sold on, and likely doesn't reduce costs by more than 2/3rds, hardly "orders of magnitude".  The army it takes to launch any major rocket is still an issue, making re-use merely "one technique of many" needed to reduce costs to your level.  It still isn't clear that a "big dumb booster" couldn't be just as inexpensive.  It isn't obvious how you would do such a thing, but then again retropropulsive landing didn't seem obvious a decade ago either.

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51 minutes ago, wumpus said:

Falcon 9 is doing reuse at least as well as the Shuttle was sold on, and likely doesn't reduce costs by more than 2/3rds, hardly "orders of magnitude". 

I never said F9 reduces costs by orders of magnitude. I said that true, operational reuse of a vehicle with little effort could result in such a reduction (if anything ever does). (not F9, I was thinking BFR/etc)

F9 was not designed to be reusable as a clean sheet design, and even so, it was said that if the fairings can be caught, AND S2 can ever be reused, costs could in fact drop by an order of magnitude (their cost, they'd likely just pocket the money, no reason to drop prices yet). Fairings likely happen, S2 seems unlikely.

On topic, the only way SLS could ever do any sort of reuse would be to throw the boosters away, and keep the upper stage. EUS has been shelved now, what would make more sense would be a huge ACES. Deliver Orion to Gateway, then dock itself. Other ACES could then refill it, and serve as tugs for getting anywhere interesting. The conference today where some of those quotes up thread came from also showed a lander architecture that uses a 3 stage lander. Ascent stage, Descent stage, and a Transfer stage. The latter (sounds just like ACES) moves the vehicle to a useful orbit (ie: where SLS/Orion cannot go), then the remaining 2 stages land. The Ascent comes back alone, and gets reused, along with the transfer stage (each surface sortie requires a new Descent stage to be delivered).

Edited by tater
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12 hours ago, Canopus said:

@DDE Where did u get the impression that ACES development is being stopped?

 

11 hours ago, tater said:

EUS has been shelved now, what would make more sense would be a huge ACES.

Slap me, @Canopus.

12 hours ago, sh1pman said:

So strange to see people here demanding proof of commercial viability of reuse. As if it wasn’t self-evident. Why would Bezos, the richest person on the planet, design his orbital rocket with reusability in mind? I mean, he knows a thing or two about running business, no?

That’s an appeal to authority. He could have a whole bunch of ulterior motives, from fast turnaround at any cost to protoyping for a reborn Project Ithacus.

Hell, between Bezos landing a $600 mil CIA contract right after purchasig WaPo, and CIA naturally having fingers in the pie of SpaceX’s bankroller Alphabet, the demand for tinfoil is pretty high.

Edited by DDE

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Well EUS hasn‘t been cancelled either. Last i read about it they where changing it quite a bit trying to improve its capacity, necessitating the two extra block 1 flights.

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2 hours ago, Canopus said:

Well EUS hasn‘t been cancelled either. Last i read about it they where changing it quite a bit trying to improve its capacity, necessitating the two extra block 1 flights.

Yeah, not cancelled, backburner (since 3 block 1 flights puts EUS out in the mid 2020s).

ICPS/EUS are Delta stages, writ large, seems like moving to an ACES version would make more long term sense to me (in space reuse). Unsure why they went with the design they have instead of a common bulkhead like Centaur (and Centaur is an awesome stage).

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On 11/15/2018 at 11:09 AM, Nivee~ said:

Because do you seriously think that a proud government will allow a private company to fly before them? Look what they are doing to CCDev! Delaying it constantly, until Orion is developed, and all of a sudden Dragon and Starliner are not needed anymore.

SpaceX has a contract with NASA for the Dragon delay.  It does not have a contract for the BFR.  

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The NASA Associate Adminstrator said (at a meeting this weekend) that if commercial companies can obviate SLS, they’ll stop it and buy launches instead.

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