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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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24 minutes ago, tater said:

Very, very little. Look at how little Crew Dragon needs (forgetting the abort motors).

No, a boilerplate Orion flew in 2014. The heatshield has changed. It had no SM, no ECLSS. It's about as close to Orion (real) as Dragon is to Crew Dragon (actually, less close, Dragon is actually a 100% functional spacecraft).

OK, you're right, the missions are roughly a month, starting many years from now (assuming Gateway is there), only EM-2 is 9 days. There's a few days of transit each way, then 2-3 weeks at Gateway, possibly more.

Not enough for any long term study at all, in other words (as if we'd want to destructively test humans in that radiation environment, anyway).

What's the goal, exactly? What data is gathered out by the Moon for a few weeks with people? How quickly they are irreparably damaged?

I'm a little unsure how they can possibly pay for this. ISS and SLS/Orion take about the same amount of money/yr once operational. Gateway will take yet more, and a lander program?

 

The point of a lunar space station is the same as the intentions for a lunar surface colony; to learn how to operate further away from home in a situation where help isn’t a 60 minute cruise back to Earth where you’re safe and sound. As well as learning how to develop and assemble a way point for Mars and Moon missions. I won’t argue that it is less efficient but it’s still more efficient than a surface colony which cannot support Mars mission architecture and would require more development to make the same missions possible. Singular minded focus is what killed Apollo. After the program concluded, the Saturn V and Apollo CSM had very limited uses. It’s one of the reasons why Congress was so behind a shuttle vehicle, and it’s why it got backed even when there wasn’t a space station for it to make. The shuttle could be used for a range of purposes, and although the design was compromised by design choices, it still had leagues of more potential uses than Apollo. The Space Shuttle could do all of these various missions were little change to the actual flight vehicle. Apollo would need newly designed fairings, extended stages, etc. 

5 minutes ago, tater said:

I wonder if the CST-100 or Crew Dragon pressure vessels could be used as landers? Strip all the aeroshell off, maybe even flip them over, if needed, or sideways (keeping window openings, but making sure they point the right way to visualize landing area).

Probably. But like trying to land the CSM, it’d probably be more useful to use a dedicated lander. Especially if it could be refueled and reused, that would be vastly more practical than moving crew and cargo with CTVs. 

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5 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

The point of a lunar space station is the same as the intentions for a lunar surface colony; to learn how to operate further away from home in a situation where help isn’t a 60 minute cruise back to Earth where you’re safe and sound. As well as learning how to develop and assemble a way point for Mars and Moon missions.

This is a pointless distinction. Every single thing on Gateway could be done in LEO. The only thing lunar orbit adds is danger. The constant danger of radiation exposure, and extra failure modes that decrease the chances of survival. There's nothing to "learn" about being farther away. If they really wanted, they could test in LEO, and simply say, "If something critical happens, they have to fix it themselves, or we just let them die."

The waypoint aspect is also not important.

It is only useful if it is useful, say a propellant depot, but then they critical tech is ZBO tanks and refilling operations, something they don;t even have on paper for it yet.

5 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I won’t argue that it is less efficient but it’s still more efficient than a surface colony which cannot support Mars mission architecture and would require more development to make the same missions possible.

Mars is not happening via NASA. They don't have the money, and won't.

5 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Singular minded focus is what killed Apollo. After the program concluded, the Saturn V and Apollo CSM had very limited uses.

They had plans to use many Apollo elements for longer term stays on the surface. What they lacked was budget moving forwards, and political will (they did the thing, and public interest waned).

5 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

It’s one of the reasons why Congress was so behind a shuttle vehicle, and it’s why it got backed even when there wasn’t a space station for it to make. The shuttle could be used for a range of purposes, and although the design was compromised by design choices, it still had leagues of more potential uses than Apollo. The Space Shuttle could do all of these various missions were little change to the actual flight vehicle. Apollo would need newly designed fairings, extended stages, etc. 

Shuttle never did the things cost effectively, so bespoke solutions, even thrown away would have made more sense. Most of what Shuttle did was make-work. They had a hammer, so they designed nail-like problems to solve.

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Say what you want about Shuttle, but it did provide some capability that only one other vehicle provided (Buran). Of course that capability (specifically bringing satellites back from orbit) wasn’t used that often, but at least there was something it could be useful for. SLS is too small for Moon missions and too big to be practical. Even the Shuttle Program could maintain a launch cadence of something like 3 or 4 launches per year. But at least there were payloads for it. Right now the only payload for SLS is Orion, and maybe Europa Clipper (but that’s probably not gonna happen with SLS).

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17 minutes ago, tater said:

This is a pointless distinction. Every single thing on Gateway could be done in LEO. The only thing lunar orbit adds is danger. The constant danger of radiation exposure, and extra failure modes that decrease the chances of survival. There's nothing to "learn" about being farther away. If they really wanted, they could test in LEO, and simply say, "If something critical happens, they have to fix it themselves, or we just let them die."

The waypoint aspect is also not important.

It is only useful if it is useful, say a propellant depot, but then they critical tech is ZBO tanks and refilling operations, something they don;t even have on paper for it yet.

Mars is not happening via NASA. They don't have the money, and won't.

They had plans to use many Apollo elements for longer term stays on the surface. What they lacked was budget moving forwards, and political will (they did the thing, and public interest waned).

Shuttle never did the things cost effectively, so bespoke solutions, even thrown away would have made more sense. Most of what Shuttle did was make-work. They had a hammer, so they designed nail-like problems to solve.

If there’s nothing to learn from being far away then what’s the point of Mars? We can do some soil research but there’s little that man can do that rovers and probes can’t. In the long term for manned space exploration, Mars is a terrible goal. So frankly we can shoot holes in all of our plans but so far LOP-G is the most open ended.

I think the waypoint aspect is the whole point in the long term and in the short term we can learn how to operate away from home. Further away, and in direct solar radiation as opposed to being protected by Earth’s magnetic field. Simply put, if we can’t learn to live around the moon, we can’t go much further. 

LOP-G could be a refueling depot but going with the DST design, the goal is very highly efficient travel between Earth-Mars. With the intention that the first transport vehicle will be deployed from LOPG. Allowing for the DST to be launched and then have a crew be launched later. Helping the SLS seeing as it doesn’t have to lift both just one of the other. 

Mars can happen when the technology needed to has become cheaper by innovating current technology to the point that NASA can afford it. Unlike the 60s, NASA can’t brute force technology into existence as they don’t have the budget to. However when all the development and research has been completed and all is left is to just launch and go, that is when NASA will go to Mars. Painfully slow? Yes. Beatable by Musk? Possibly, if he can follow through to his BFR Moon mission I have full confidence that the first humans on Mars will be flying SpaceX. 

Funding is one element as to why we canned Apollo. The other aspect was “why keep going”, with our level of understanding and technological equipment to analyze what we had was still knowingly limited and unable to do all we needed to learn from the moon. Posing the earlier issue of why send a man to do a probes job (a job that had a price tag that would only rise with ever more ambitious missions). 

I still laugh when people say that the space shuttle was “too expensive”. Ignoring the entire Apollo program and the LM’s costly budget hikes. All of which get a free pass because “man on moon” and “end of decade” crap. A program that costed way too much and only provided 2 major accomplishments. Man on the moon and Skylab. That’s it. The Shuttle carried the largest crew to its destination multiple times a year (and the most carried to space on one mission, 8), helped to create the largest manned space station in history, which also has the honor of being the longest operated single manned spacecraft in history. With 18 years of operation to date. Longer than the entirety of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs combined. And even mentioning all of that, the shuttle STILL has more accomplishments that are yet unmentioned. 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

If there’s nothing to learn from being far away then what’s the point of Mars? We can do some soil research but there’s little that man can do that rovers and probes can’t. In the long term for manned space exploration, Mars is a terrible goal. So frankly we can shoot holes in all of our plans but so far LOP-G is the most open ended.

Human spaceflight is a stunt. It's a stunt I love, but it's a stunt. Planetary science is better done with robots, full stop. I don't care about Mars one way or another, except that it would be cool to watch humans there. For the photo ops, gravity wells beat deep space.

 

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I think the waypoint aspect is the whole point in the long term and in the short term we can learn how to operate away from home. Further away, and in direct solar radiation as opposed to being protected by Earth’s magnetic field. Simply put, if we can’t learn to live around the moon, we can’t go much further. 

There's no reason we need to expose humans to that before we figure out how to protect them, if that is required. There's nothing to learn. We can dock (and Gateway requires this, in an automated fashion since Orion can't get the job done, because... we've been over that). The ECLSS either works, or it doesn't. Being far away doesn't matter, better to test a new system in LEO, so the crew can head home rather than be harmed.

ULA/Bigelow proposed exactly this, recently. Build B330, loft to LEO. Check it out over a year. Attach ACES, refill ACES, then send it to the Moon. That is a better Gateway model, IMHO.

 

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LOP-G could be a refueling depot but going with the DST design, the goal is very highly efficient travel between Earth-Mars. With the intention that the first transport vehicle will be deployed from LOPG. Allowing for the DST to be launched and then have a crew be launched later. Helping the SLS seeing as it doesn’t have to lift both just one of the other. 

DST is a pipe dream. Building Gateway to build DST is silly, IMO. Nothing about that concept is mature.

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Mars can happen when the technology needed to has become cheaper by innovating current technology to the point that NASA can afford it. Unlike the 60s, NASA can’t brute force technology into existence as they don’t have the budget to. However when all the development and research has been completed and all is left is to just launch and go, that is when NASA will go to Mars. Painfully slow? Yes. Beatable by Musk? Possibly, if he can follow through to his BFR Moon mission I have full confidence that the first humans on Mars will be flying SpaceX. 

NASA is too risk averse, and Mars is too hard right now. They'd have to send spares of everything ahead. The recent LockMart concept for a Mars outpost, along with their cool, reusable lander, is exactly the sort of thing NASA would go for. It takes some large multiple of possible annual SLS launches in rapid succession to do, hence it can never happen. If you only fly once a year, you need to be able to fly the entire mission in 1 stack, or it can't happen. If you can fly once a day, then you can build a mission out of 1 day sized pieces.

 

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Funding is one element as to why we canned Apollo. The other aspect was “why keep going”, with our level of understanding and technological equipment to analyze what we had was still knowingly limited and unable to do all we needed to learn from the moon. Posing the earlier issue of why send a man to do a probes job (a job that had a price tag that would only rise with ever more ambitious missions). 

I still laugh when people say that the space shuttle was “too expensive”. Ignoring the entire Apollo program and the LM’s costly budget hikes. All of which get a free pass because “man on moon” and “end of decade” crap. A program that costed way too much and only provided 2 major accomplishments. Man on the moon and Skylab. That’s it. The Shuttle carried the largest crew to its destination multiple times a year (and the most carried to space on one mission, 8), helped to create the largest manned space station in history, which also has the honor of being the longest operated single manned spacecraft in history. With 18 years of operation to date. Longer than the entirety of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs combined. And even mentioning all of that, the shuttle STILL has more accomplishments that are yet unmentioned. 

Shuttle didn't have a real mission, and the requirements for the AF effectively killed it as the vehicle it was supposed to be. We needed the real STS. Shuttle, tug, ferry.

The shuttle did little that could not have been done with big, dumb rockets. ISS have the volume of ~3 Skylabs. So it could have been launched in maybe 4-5 launches (assuming we had the tug there to stick it together (there's the arm on a spacecraft, loft it once, then leave it in space where it belongs). Heck, loft something akin to the Shuttle crew compartment, spacelab, and canadaarm (ie: tug) in one flight, then leave it in space. Subsequent Shuttle (smaller shuttle for crew) brings crew to tug, tug does work, instead of dragging all that up from Earth. Every. Single. Time.

Reuse in space needs (and needed) to be a thing. That's in effect what ISS is, once finished.

Apollo ended for a number of reasons, and I'm fine with that. The stuff I wanted is all the "never flew" stuff that they were looking at to follow Apollo, when instead we got Shuttle.

I lived through all of that. Shuttle is what put me off of being excited about space, honestly (after initial excitement when it was first being constructed). I was incredibly interested/active. I've spent time with tons of astronauts (not watching talks, though that, too, I mean talking over a table). I know people who were high level NASA admins, or who still work on NTRs, I went to the conferences. I learned in the 80s/90s that nothing would ever change/progress. Going anywhere past LEO in a meaningful way would be forever 20 years away. When Musk complains we should have a Moon base by now... I viscerally agree, that's perhaps when I like him most, because I wish that was the world we lived in. Ditto similar comments by Bezos. After being continually burned, my hope is that Musk and Bezos get the job done, since I don't have any faith NASA (and old space) will.

 

Edited by tater

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Human spaceflight is a stunt. It's a stunt I love, but it's a stunt. Planetary science is better done with robots, full stop. I don't care about Mars one way or another, except that it would be cool to watch humans there. For the photo ops, gravity wells beat deep space.

 

There's no reason we need to expose humans to that before we figure out how to protect them, if that is required. There's nothing to learn. We can dock (and Gateway requires this, in an automated fashion since Orion can't get the job done, because... we've been over that). The ECLSS either works, or it doesn't. Being far away doesn't matter, better to test a new system in LEO, so the crew can head home rather than be harmed.

ULA/Bigelow proposed exactly this, recently. Build B330, loft to LEO. Check it out over a year. Attach ACES, refill ACES, then send it to the Moon. That is a better Gateway model, IMHO.

 

DST is a pipe dream. Building Gateway to build DST is silly, IMO. Nothing about that concept is mature.

NASA is too risk averse, and Mars is too hard right now. They'd have to send spares of everything ahead. The recent LockMart concept for a Mars outpost, along with their cool, reusable lander, is exactly the sort of thing NASA would go for. It takes some large multiple of possible annual SLS launches in rapid succession to do, hence it can never happen. If you only fly once a year, you need to be able to fly the entire mission in 1 stack, or it can't happen. If you can fly once a day, then you can build a mission out of 1 day sized pieces.

 

Shuttle didn't have a real mission, and the requirements for the AF effectively killed it as the vehicle it was supposed to be. We needed the real STS. Shuttle, tug, ferry.

The shuttle did little that could not have been done with big, dumb rockets. ISS have the volume of ~3 Skylabs. So it could have been launched in maybe 4-5 launches (assuming we had the tug there to stick it together (there's the arm on a spacecraft, loft it once, then leave it in space where it belongs). Heck, loft something akin to the Shuttle crew compartment, spacelab, and canadaarm (ie: tug) in one flight, then leave it in space. Subsequent Shuttle (smaller shuttle for crew) brings crew to tug, tug does work, instead of dragging all that up from Earth. Every. Single. Time.

Reuse in space needs (and needed) to be a thing. That's in effect what ISS is, once finished.

Apollo ended for a number of reasons, and I'm fine with that. The stuff I wanted is all the "never flew" stuff that they were looking at to follow Apollo, when instead we got Shuttle.

I lived through all of that. Shuttle is what put me off of being excited about space, honestly (after initial excitement when it was first being constructed). I was incredibly interested/active. I've spent time with tons of astronauts (not watching talks, though that, too, I mean talking over a table). I know people who were high level NASA admins, or who still work on NTRs, I went to the conferences. I learned in the 80s/90s that nothing would ever change/progress. Going anywhere past LEO in a meaningful way would be forever 20 years away. When Musk complains we should have a Moon base by now... I viscerally agree, that's perhaps when I like him most, because I wish that was the world we lived in. Ditto similar comments by Bezos. After being continually burned, my hope is that Musk and Bezos get the job done, since I don't have any faith NASA (and old space) will.

 

If there’s no point to launching them to the moon, then even LEO isnt worth the cash as we can do the simulations down here on earth (in fact we already have isolation camps and places where we are practicing Mars Operations in the safety of home. The point is practicing knowing that the risk is real. This is literally the entire point of the early Apollo program. Apollo 10 was literally just the landing, without the landing. They didn’t need to launch that mission. They could’ve just fully fueled the LM and called it day but they didn’t because they wanted to prove that the machinery functioned and operated safely in the environment it would be used. And to experience failures and faults in the real environment- a situation that cannot be replicated by any sim and won’t be fully explored playing it overtly safe in LEO. 

You’re right- it would take multiple launches, and as you said they can’t do rapid launches. So, clearly the alternative is they stockpile. Build 2 SLS’ and roll them out one after the other. Just sacrifice a year’s launch and put the two needed launches together. That is, if NASA doesn’t want to spend a month or two analyzing the vehicle as is their tendency first. A practice that would only help with SLS’ slow launch rates.

The shuttle still achieved the most of any American launched spacecraft to date. Whether it’s liked or despised, that’s just the realistic perspective. Apollo accomplished a bigger task but the shuttle DID more. I already said that I acknowledge it could’ve done more, but again, even Apollo could’ve done more. So it’s hogwash to say that it was entirely a failure. Not even the cost side is a fair argument as again, Apollo blew up in costs. Time to launch? We were tasked to launch before the end of the decade and only managed to achieve 1 goal 6 months before the goal was missed. 

Also the transport version of STS was innovative but frankly we weren’t ready for it- the engineering was sound but we were barely ready for the moon in 1970, much less intending to expand on the moon or go to Mars. Thinking that we were ready was wishful thinking. We struggled to get probes successfully to Mars, much less the far more complicated task of crew or larger payloads. As I said before Apollo worked because the US threw money at the technical problems until they were solved. There  was no practical efficiency in anything the US did, and even assuming that Congress suddenly become inspired by Carl Sagan and von Braun, there was still a huge gap in experience. As you said yourself, we needed multiple launches in a year and we peaked at 4 manned launches in 1969. With two of those missions nearly ending in disaster and the first mission of 1970 literally being mere breaths away from being the first fatalities in space! We weren’t ready. Simple fact is if we tried to commit to 1965-STS, we would’ve killed crews as we burned our way to get the system to work. The program no doubt was what we could’ve done- but it’s a good thing we didn’t as we weren’t ready.

I totally understand why those who have been waiting and watching are so irritated but there’s some simple facts; we weren’t ready for moon bases (hell we’re only barely ready TODAY much less 40 years ago), we didn’t WANT to go to the moon anymore (I say as a whole nation), and we couldn’t afford to. As I said before, the entire Apollo program was just a case of dumping more and more cash to get it to work by a set time- there was no practical plan to get anything to work long term. So having lost our need to go to space, but holding onto the general approval of space, we stayed in low earth orbit. A place where we could learn how to work and live in space. Tasks we’d be expected to do on the moon. Only without the potential dangers of another Apollo 13 on route or a Apollo 11 where crews could be stranded without a way home. And undoubtedly the only reason we didn’t lose crew on the moon is the fact we called it quits early. We would’ve killed a crew, trying to continue without at the time adhoc technology. Technology that was sound, but not practical long term. With each AGC’s programming literally being woven by hand, the more times it’s created, the increased chance there is for failure- and it only takes 1 failure in the right place in the code to end up with the computer aborting the mission in a black zone during lunar descent and kill the crew as the ascent stage cannot decelerate in time.

So I can understand why you’re frustrated- but that doesn’t change that sometimes things end up working out for the best, even serendipitously; maybe even if not readily apparent. And I certainly do feel that our withdrawal from Apollo was the right thing to do. The shuttle’s final form was not perfect, but it was a sight better than no manned spacecraft at all, which, during the recession of the 70s and with growing pains in the nation, I’m certain was a serious consideration. 

Besides, for all the “we should’ve done”, it’s strange how no one else has stepped up to the plate instead. Not Russia, China, Japan or any other major world economy, and not even a corporate entity could until only very recently. Perhaps this is because the technology was still so new and our understanding of how or why they worked, were still too primitive for them to be solved, economically. The problems instead had to be solved by those who had deep enough pockets to learn from failure and use seemingly brute force and inefficient designs to get the job done. 

And I refer to a comment I made a while back about the fact that there hasn’t been a single spacecraft that hasn’t been affected by government interests.

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Maybe it's true we weren't ready to build bases on the moon immediately post Apollo. But the only reason we're still not ready is because for 40 years we haven't been making any serious effort in that direction.

We've flown the same crafts conservatively long past the time we should have been doing something new and boundary breaking, and SLS/Orion is more of the same.

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5 hours ago, RCgothic said:

Maybe it's true we weren't ready to build bases on the moon immediately post Apollo. But the only reason we're still not ready is because for 40 years we haven't been making any serious effort in that direction.

We've flown the same crafts conservatively long past the time we should have been doing something new and boundary breaking, and SLS/Orion is more of the same.

Do we have to use 100% new hardware for new missions? If we don’t need to waste time using brand new hardware.

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Do we have to use 100% new hardware for new missions? If we don’t need to waste time using brand new hardware.

No, but a program like SLS/Orion, that will have spent on the order of 40 Billion Dollars by the time crew climb aboard should have done something new. Shuttle was absolutely a new idea as built. I wish they had iterated the design more, and really used that to grow, but the original vehicle was incredibly groundbreaking.

SLS literally does nothing new at all. The whole point was to do nothing really new, and reuse Shuttle tech to "save money." Just like knocking my adobe house down, and reusing the bricks to save money would be a thing, even though reusing fragile adobes would literally cost some large multiple of the cost of buying new bricks.

 

Edited by tater

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55 minutes ago, tater said:

No, but a program like SLS/Orion, that will have spent on the order of 40 Billion Dollars by the time crew climb aboard should have done something new. Shuttle was absolutely a new idea as built. I wish they had iterated the design more, and really used that to grow, but the original vehicle was incredibly groundbreaking.

SLS literally does nothing new at all. The whole point was to do nothing really new, and reuse Shuttle tech to "save money." Just like knocking my adobe house down, and reusing the bricks to save money would be a thing, even though reusing fragile adobes would literally cost some large multiple of the cost of buying new bricks.

 

Perhaps but NASA never received the funding necessary to make larger more ambitious vehicles feasible.

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2 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Perhaps but NASA never received the funding necessary to make larger more ambitious vehicles feasible.

Assume that Starship flies. In any form, even if only the booster manages to get reused. It will not have cost anything remotely approaching 40 billion.

Assume New Glenn ever flies (a virtual certainty). 2 Stage NG is more than half of SLS Block 1 capability. Total cost will have been a fraction of 40 billion. Even combined with New Armstrong (assuming they build that at some point), way less than 40 billion, with 100% certainty.

SLS has never suffered from lack of funding. SLS is 100% effective at doing what it is designed to do. It's a jobs program for Shuttle contractors, that's what it's for.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

SLS has never suffered from lack of funding. SLS is 100% effective at doing what it is designed to do. It's a jobs program for Shuttle contractors, that's what it's for.

And even then, it's doing a terrible job of that. lol.gif

I predict that they'll fly SLS exactly once. Then they'll go back to the drawing board and start all over again with a "clean-sheet" design that'll be a rehashed Ares V/SLS concept, spend absurd amounts of time and money on development, and fly that exactly once.

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1 hour ago, tater said:

Assume that Starship flies. In any form, even if only the booster manages to get reused. It will not have cost anything remotely approaching 40 billion.

Assume New Glenn ever flies (a virtual certainty). 2 Stage NG is more than half of SLS Block 1 capability. Total cost will have been a fraction of 40 billion. Even combined with New Armstrong (assuming they build that at some point), way less than 40 billion, with 100% certainty.

SLS has never suffered from lack of funding. SLS is 100% effective at doing what it is designed to do. It's a jobs program for Shuttle contractors, that's what it's for.

Issue is SLS and NASA doesn’t have the funding to spend through potential RnD for new hardware that makes more practical designs viable. Last time NASA was building a heavy lift rocket, they had a large enough portion of the US GDP to just pay to fix problems. Don’t have that option now with their reduced budget in comparison.

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17 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Issue is SLS and NASA doesn’t have the funding to spend through potential RnD for new hardware that makes more practical designs viable. Last time NASA was building a heavy lift rocket, they had a large enough portion of the US GDP to just pay to fix problems. Don’t have that option now with their reduced budget in comparison.

Shuttle was a heavy lift LV, and it was post-Apollo, and truly groundbreaking in every way.

While the internal cargo was only 25t, the entire vehicle with cargo was pretty close to what SLS Block 2 can put in LEO.

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7 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

And thats why shuttle-c was such a great idea.

Yeah, it put something like 77 tonnes to LEO (beating SLS Block 1).

Seems like Shuttle-C could have been done very quickly by comparison, and while it eliminates the AJR jobs refurbing SSMEs at great expense, along with tile replacement, it also would require making new engines for every launch. Then we would have just needed a crew version of something like Dream Chaser (or the X-37), or a LEO crew vehicle, and we're done.

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I wish we had done that instead of SLS. And it would still provide the all important jobs for congress.

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17 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

I wish we had done that instead of SLS. And it would still provide the all important jobs for congress.

Jupiter DIRECT would have worked too.

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Posted (edited)

There are two good ways to start a program like this, and infinite bad ways.

The good ways are:

1. Start with a well-defined mission objective (or set of objectives), then build the launch/spacecraft system to meet that objective within the predicted budget, and realistic launch cadence.

2. Without a well defined mission objective or objectives, design a system so broadly useful and cost effective, that it can accomplish any mission that you might see coming in the future within its budget and launch cadence possibilities.

SLS/Orion meets neither of these criteria.

In the world of concept vehicles, many of the reusable super heavy lift vehicles proposed in the 1960s and 1970s meet case 2. With a 100% reusable vehicle, that is none the less not insanely expensive to operate, you can literally do whatever mission you like, since you have 450 tonnes in LEO to play with---every single relatively inexpensive launch.

If the LV moved much less to LEO, say SLS amounts, or even SLS Block 1/1b amounts, then it needs to be inexpensive, with rapid cadence. Then you can still build what you like. In F9 wasn't so skinny, it would totally fit that role. NG will absolutely fit that role. Huge fairing, decent mass to LEO, and every expectation of high launch cadence at reasonable prices.

Did SpaceX and Blue present NASA with a feeling like that was an option when SLS started? No way, not even close. Do they now? Yeah, they do.

Edited by tater

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Posted (edited)
On 4/2/2019 at 8:11 PM, tater said:

This is a pointless distinction. Every single thing on Gateway could be done in LEO. The only thing lunar orbit adds is danger.

"This is a pointless distinction. Every single thing on a manned mission could be done with robots. The only thing humans add is danger."

You yourself admit this is an entirely arbitrary line to draw.

21 hours ago, tater said:

Assume that Starship flies. In any form, even if only the booster manages to get reused. It will not have cost anything remotely approaching 40 billion.

So you oppose LOP-G because it doesn't do the exact kind of mission you want?

9 hours ago, tater said:

Assume that Starship flies. In any form, even if only the booster manages to get reused. It will not have cost anything remotely approaching 40 billion.

Are you serious? We know literally nothing about how much Starship's R&D will cost - they're nowhere near close to completing CDR, and they're changing essential design decisions every year or so, like when they ditched carbon fiber for aluminum. People who actually think it'll fly before SLS are deluding themselves.

6 hours ago, tater said:

1. Start with a well-defined mission objective (or set of objectives), then build the launch/spacecraft system to meet that objective within the predicted budget, and realistic launch cadence.

Not a luxury NASA's had since Apollo - and even then, neither the Saturn V nor the shuttle were ever used at the launch cadences the KSC complex was built to support.

6 hours ago, tater said:

 2. Without a well defined mission objective or objectives, design a system so broadly useful and cost effective, that it can accomplish any mission that you might see coming in the future within its budget and launch cadence possibilities.

This contradicts point one. If a system is "broadly useful" it must be able to complete multiple design objectives, thus there is no singe one objective it follows. Just like a certain other rocket, which has been proposed to do anything from a Mars landing to a lunar space station...

6 hours ago, tater said:

Did SpaceX and Blue present NASA with a feeling like that was an option when SLS started? No way, not even close. Do they now? Yeah, they do.

NASA would be taking an extremely large risk cancelling the SLS and hoping some other company will provide it with a working SHLV before 2030 at a cheaper price. Is it possible for that to happen? Yes. It's also possible that the economy crashes tomorrow and the new space companies have to fold up all SHLV development to not go under.

No cancellation without direct replacement. That's how we got the debacle of the shuttle-transition era. NASA neither needs nor wants a repeat of that.

 
Edited by jadebenn

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7 hours ago, tater said:

Yeah, it put something like 77 tonnes to LEO (beating SLS Block 1)

Uh, no. SLS Block I does 95 to LEO.

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16 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

No cancellation without direct replacement. That's how we got the debacle of the shuttle-transition era. NASA neither needs nor wants a repeat of that.

It is getting ludicrous that after almost eight years the USA still can’t launch a crew to orbit. Hopefully by the end of the year...

The big problem was not having the funding to fly the Shuttle and develop its replacement at the same time 

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12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:
 

"This is a pointless distinction. Every single thing on a manned mission could be done with robots. The only thing humans add is danger."

You yourself admit this is an entirely arbitrary line to draw:

I was replying to a comment regarding doing planetary science.

It's not arbitrary, for a given dollar, or kg delivered to the surface of any planet in the solar system, robots will do a better job. If a human Mars mission requires several hundred tons in LEO, that's a lot of robots and sample return missions. Even a single large mission delivers more, since no crew, no ECLSS, not consumables, etc.

 

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:
 

So you oppose LOP-G because it doesn't do the exact kind of mission you want?

I oppose it because it doesn't do anything useful at all.

What, aside from radiation damage to actual humans does Gateway do that could not be tested more efficiently/cost effectively in LEO?

 

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

Are you serious? We know literally nothing about how much Starship's R&D will cost - they're nowhere near close to completing CDR, and they're changing essential design decisions every year or so, like when they ditched carbon fiber for aluminum. People who actually think it'll fly before SLS are deluding themselves.

They aren't using Al, they are using steel.

They don't have 40 billion dollars to spend, they cannot possibly spend as much as SLS/Orion. Hence, if it flies, it will certainly have cost less. They don't even have close to as much money to spend as just Orion has cost so far (not even up to actual flight).

 

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

Not a luxury NASA's had since Apollo - and even then, neither the Saturn V nor the shuttle were ever used at the launch cadences the KSC complex.

So? My point is that a LV system needs to have a purpose. There are 3 choices, a definite purpose, a useful, general purpose, or 3, don't bother building it at all.

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

This contradicts point one. If a system is "broadly useful" it must be able to complete multiple design objectives, thus there is no singe one objective it follows. Just like a certain other rocket, which has been proposed to do anything from a Mars landing to a lunar space station...

I said it has to be one or the other (or not be built). A purpose-built rocket system would be Saturn V/Apollo. It was designed to land humans on the Moon, and return them (sortie mission style). A general purpose LAUNCH vehicle that could achieve this goal (among others), would be a SHLV that could loft at least as much to LEO as would be required for a sortie style lunar mission. Such a vehicle---assuming it was cost effective (a requirement I set)---could also assemble a Mars spacecraft in LEO out of pieces. Cadence matters.

SLS cannot ever build anything to even go to the Moon by itself, since it can only launch at most once a year. It cannot assemble larger vehicles, and it cannot ever launch a single stack anyplace.

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

NASA would be taking an extremely large risk cancelling the SLS and hoping some other company will provide it with a working SHLV before 2030 at a cheaper price. Is it possible for that to happen? Yes. It's also possible that the economy crashes tomorrow and the new space companies have to fold up all SHLV development to not go under.

SLS is not a SHLV that provides any utility at all. The lift capability doesn't allow lunar landings, and it cannot assemble a Mars vehicle over many years (since the props will all boil off).

What can SLS actually do that people want done? Be specific.

12 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

No cancellation without direct replacement. That's how we got the debacle of the shuttle-transition era. NASA neither needs nor wants a repeat of that.

 

A direct replacement for what capability? Sending humans around the Moon without achieving even a distant, useless orbit?

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5 minutes ago, StrandedonEarth said:

It is getting ludicrous that after almost eight years the USA still can’t launch a crew to orbit. Hopefully by the end of the year...

The big problem was not having the funding to fly the Shuttle and develop its replacement at the same time 

Well that’s about to change so don’t panic. Plus there was a 6 year gap between the last Apollo mission (ASTP) and STS-1. So a slightly longer gap is actually completely fine. 

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