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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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5 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

The math works out in such a way that it turns out to be way more efficient to launch to deep space from LEO than where LOP-G will be. 

The reason for this is the lack of deep space infrastructure. Of course investing in such infrastructure would change this dynamic, but considering that Mars missions are likely to be flags and footprints and occur at intervals of years... well it's not worth it for Mars. Maybe for the Moon, but again with a launch cadence of 1 every 2 years, or even 1 every year, you're not getting enough use to really justify the kind of deep space infrastructure we would need to really make in-depth lunar exploration practical. And of course you're not getting nearly enough launches to even build the infrastructure in the first place... though building it in LEO and sending it to deep space with an electric propulsion bus could work. Honestly that'd be a better way to build Gateway than SLS.

Hence why NASA is building that infrastructure. At the moon. Yes, LEO could be used and maybe be better, but it wouldn’t be multipurpose and multifunctional. LOPG can function as an earth-moon portal and a Earth-Mars portal. Is there more efficient and effective places (like LEO) for E->Mars, of course. Can it also function for moon missions? Not as well (if it did, I have no doubt NASA would overhaul the ISS to do so if it could).

Just now, Bill Phil said:

There's no indication that such vehicles will ever be developed.

We already have the DST. Which is about as real as any interplanetary vehicle proposed by any other organization as of present.

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SLS won't be building LOP-G though. It can't co-manifest substantial enough payloads prior to block 2. 

So we're talking about 3rd party boosters anyway. Falcon can send both the payloads and the crew, separately, within a short enough space of time to be useful. Dragon2 will be able to go to the moon.

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Just now, ZooNamedGames said:

Hence why NASA is building that infrastructure. At the moon. Yes, LEO could be used and maybe be better, but it wouldn’t be multipurpose and multifunctional. LOPG can function as an earth-moon portal and a Earth-Mars portal. Is there more efficient and effective places (like LEO) for E->Mars, of course. Can it also function for moon missions? Not as well (if it did, I have no doubt NASA would overhaul the ISS to do so if it could).

NASA isn't building that infrastructure. NASA is being ordered to do so, but they aren't doing it right now. As such there's a good chance it won't ever be built. And of course that infrastructure is impossible to build without SLS Block 1b unless NASA uses commercial vehicles or an electric delivery system. Block 1 just can't really build it. And SLS can't really do it even with Block 1b because the launch cadence will be far too low. 

LEO infrastructure can easily be multi-purpose and multi-functional. We need both LEO and lunar infrastructure for a comprehensive program. But the proposed LOP-G is not the kind of lunar infrastructure we actually need for extended lunar missions. LOP-G is just a station in a terrible orbit. It doesn't expand our capability. If it was planned to be equipped with a propellant depot that'd be something, but there's no indication that the plan calls for that, especially considering that the TRL of orbital depots is quite low. 

The point is that we need infrastructure. LOP-G isn't infrastructure. It's just a building in a hard to reach spot that provides no benefit. Double launch missions would work better, but of course SLS can't launch twice in short succession.

Quote

We already have the DST. Which is about as real as any interplanetary vehicle proposed by any other organization as of present.

We do not have the DST. The DST was originally planned with the DSG architecture, and even then it was just a proposal. More of an idea even. Heck, the DST is nowhere near as developed as dozens of other vehicles that have been studied and investigated over the history of NASA (and even longer), namely the DRA vehicles, but many others have been researched as well. The DST requires Block 1b if NASA will use SLS to launch it. And Block 1b may be cancelled (as it uses the EUS, we'll have to wait and see though). Even if DST is under development now (and I doubt it since the current administration is shifting focus back to the Moon) it will be under threat of cancellation every single year. LOP-G will be under threat of cancellation every year as well.

We are not building deep space infrastructure and we do not have DST. We don't even have SLS right now...

4 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

SLS won't be building LOP-G though. It can't co-manifest substantial enough payloads prior to block 2. 

So we're talking about 3rd party boosters anyway. Falcon can send both the payloads and the crew, separately, within a short enough space of time to be useful. Dragon2 will be able to go to the moon.

Block 1b can co-manifest 14 tonnes to TLI with Orion, and about 20 when going to L-2. In fact that was why L-2 was a good idea... but then someone decided to put LOP-G in NRHO...

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6 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

SLS won't be building LOP-G though. It can't co-manifest substantial enough payloads prior to block 2. 

So we're talking about 3rd party boosters anyway. Falcon can send both the payloads and the crew, separately, within a short enough space of time to be useful. Dragon2 will be able to go to the moon.

How can we know D2 can support lunar missions. What’s the maximum duration of LS on it’s SM? Is it shielded from solar radiation (since it’ll be experiencing more than in LEO)? Can it’s systems handle the increased load of radiation? How is it’s navigation and tracking systems? As a miscalculation on the way to the moon (or worse, a fault caused by solar radiation!) could kill the crew as the slam into the moon instead of fly past it. Not every vehicle can just be repurposed into any role. There’s more to vehicle design than DV margins and checklists.

3 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

NASA isn't building that infrastructure. NASA is being ordered to do so, but they aren't doing it right now. As such there's a good chance it won't ever be built. And of course that infrastructure is impossible to build without SLS Block 1b unless NASA uses commercial vehicles or an electric delivery system. Block 1 just can't really build it. And SLS can't really do it even with Block 1b because the launch cadence will be far too low. 

LEO infrastructure can easily be multi-purpose and multi-functional. We need both LEO and lunar infrastructure for a comprehensive program. But the proposed LOP-G is not the kind of lunar infrastructure we actually need for extended lunar missions. LOP-G is just a station in a terrible orbit. It doesn't expand our capability. If it was planned to be equipped with a propellant depot that'd be something, but there's no indication that the plan calls for that, especially considering that the TRL of orbital depots is quite low. 

The point is that we need infrastructure. LOP-G isn't infrastructure. It's just a building in a hard to reach spot that provides no benefit. Double launch missions would work better, but of course SLS can't launch twice in short succession.

We do not have the DST. The DST was originally planned with the DSG architecture, and even then it was just a proposal. More of an idea even. Heck, the DST is nowhere near as developed as dozens of other vehicles that have been studied and investigated over the history of NASA (and even longer), namely the DRA vehicles, but many others have been researched as well. The DST requires Block 1b if NASA will use SLS to launch it. And Block 1b may be cancelled (as it uses the EUS, we'll have to wait and see though). Even if DST is under development now (and I doubt it since the current administration is shifting focus back to the Moon) it will be under threat of cancellation every single year. LOP-G will be under threat of cancellation every year as well.

We are not building deep space infrastructure and we do not have DST. We don't even have SLS right now...

Block 1b can co-manifest 14 tonnes to TLI with Orion, and about 20 when going to L-2. In fact that was why L-2 was a good idea... but then someone decided to put LOP-G in NRHO...

Nothing will be built if we wait for SpaceX to do it and SpaceX folds. 

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1 minute ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Nothing will be built if we wait for SpaceX to do it and SpaceX folds. 

That isn't my argument.

Nothing will be built if we keep the systems we have. NASA is a political football. It's not really going to do all that much for manned spaceflight without some serious political will. 

There's a reason that a lot of people think NASA shouldn't develop launchers anymore, but just payloads. 

SpaceX isn't the be all end all. Currently there's BO with New Glenn and ULA with Vulcan. Vulcan-ACES may even qualify as a super-heavy, depending on some things. Even if it's short of that margin, once operational both New Glenn and Vulcan will be capable of lofting tens of tonnes to LEO. Combining this with orbital depots (which need some serious development) would result in a better architecture than SLS/LOP-G for both Moon and Mars missions. Add in Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy and there's some serious launch vehicle diversity in the near future, and some serious launch capability. If ULA can launch Vulcan-Centaur Heavy at a similar cadence to Atlas V that's 314 tonnes of potential payload (minus some margin for other extraneous stuff) in LEO, though most of that capability will likely go towards GTO/GEO launches. If New Glenn can keep up with Falcon 9 at 21 launches per year then that's potentially 945 tonnes per year. Falcon 9 could provide another 400 tonnes or so. Atlas V and Delta IV could add another few hundred tonnes.

Even if those numbers are wildly off (they probably are, but whatever) and only some of the launches are used for NASA missions, that can still be more total mass in LEO than SLS can provide. Easily. And considering that Falcon 9 is already operational...

The point is that EOR using commercial vehicles will probably be the best option moving forward. SLS was never needed for missions BLEO.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Nothing will be built if we wait for SpaceX to do it and SpaceX folds. 

Though I think it not likely, there is indeed a non-trivial probability that SpaceX could fail. The argument of market uncertainties becomes less effective when one considers that SpaceX is not the only company developing heavy launch vehicles. Bezos has effectively unlimited capital for Blue Origin and New Glenn. ULA's proven record and government connections will help it to push Vulcan along. The concern that SpaceX could fail is perfectly reasonable; however, the concern that SpaceX, Blue Origin, and ULA could all fail seems a bit far-fetched.

 

[EDIT]

Well, looks like I was just a bit too slow...

Quote

SpaceX isn't the be all end all. Currently there's BO with New Glenn and ULA with Vulcan. Vulcan-ACES may even qualify as a super-heavy, depending on some things. Even if it's short of that margin, once operational both New Glenn and Vulcan will be capable of lofting tens of tonnes to LEO. Combining this with orbital depots (which need some serious development) would result in a better architecture than SLS/LOP-G for both Moon and Mars missions. Add in Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy and there's some serious launch vehicle diversity in the near future, and some serious launch capability. If ULA can launch Vulcan-Centaur Heavy at a similar cadence to Atlas V that's 314 tonnes of potential payload (minus some margin for other extraneous stuff) in LEO, though most of that capability will likely go towards GTO/GEO launches. If New Glenn can keep up with Falcon 9 at 21 launches per year then that's potentially 945 tonnes per year. Falcon 9 could provide another 400 tonnes or so. Atlas V and Delta IV could add another few hundred tonnes.

 

Edited by Silavite
Ninja'd!

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Can anyone with RO+RSS do a mockup and a couple of screenshots of Dragon 2, still attached to a Falcon 9 upper stage, mating with Orion and its service module in elliptic orbit?

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3 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

It’s still more productive than waiting for two companies to make a SHLV as they could stop or end up going bankrupt and then we go an additional 10+ years without a launch capability. 

“It ain’t ok”, then do something. You’re literally complaining it’s not acceptable despite people working to rectify it. Either get into politics and do something about what NASA can do or just accept that 2 years longer than apollo-Shuttle is actually commendable considering the scale up. Orion will carry the most crew ever BEO. Needless to say NASA is being careful to not design another Shuttle level hazardous spacecraft, and just blindly screaming past safety checks is a sure way to kill someone. 

The Delta/Atlas cancellation comes after the arrival of Vulcan which is built on the reliability and effectiveness of those two rocket families. While also bringing a drop in cost with the change of the RD-180s and introduction of SMART. 

My problem is mostly with Musk, who keeps putting the whole industry down because he can’t sit still for more than a year. He keeps making promises and claims that he can’t keep. As a result, he blows 1 accomplishment into a claim that he can suddenly create a reusable Saturn V (in scale) that will go to the moon and back. SpaceX has proven to land and refurb boosters, that’s it. Soon he’ll have crew to add, but that isn’t a huge addition seeing as he’s been talking about D2 since Falcon 9 Heavy (the predecessor to the current FH). I’m currently looking for a link, but memory says that Musk promised launch D2’s to Mars by 2018/2019. Clearly not feasible nor happening.

Okay, I'm not seeing a great deal of consistency here. On the one hand NASA is going to build (or have built if one's feeling pedantic) all this great stuff at some unspecified date - and their delays so far are actually commendable. On the other hand, Musk gets slammed for broken promises and two of his company's most significant achievements are treated fairly dismissively. I might add that one of those achievements wasn't taken at all seriously by the industry until it was too late, leaving them scrabbling to catch up, and the other has only been accomplished by three organisations to date (that I'm aware of), all of them national space agencies.

Starship - well let's see. It's a big ask and it may well not happen. Although the concrete progress that we've seen to date (Raptor) is a pretty darn impressive piece of rocket engine technology which, by itself, counts as a significant achievement in my book. Other opinions may differ of course.

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3 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

My problem is mostly with Musk, who keeps putting the whole industry down because he can’t sit still for more than a year. He keeps making promises and claims that he can’t keep. As a result, he blows 1 accomplishment into a claim that he can suddenly create a reusable Saturn V (in scale) that will go to the moon and back. SpaceX has proven to land and refurb boosters, that’s it. Soon he’ll have crew to add, but that isn’t a huge addition seeing as he’s been talking about D2 since Falcon 9 Heavy (the predecessor to the current FH). I’m currently looking for a link, but memory says that Musk promised launch D2’s to Mars by 2018/2019. Clearly not feasible nor happening.

This makes no sense at all.

Promises and claims? So what? What claims has he made to the US taxpayer as customer that have no come through? Dragon is providing a service to NASA, and indeed is the only downmass from ISS, and has been. NASA got this capability for 360 million in dev money (a few months of Boeing SLS core cost overruns). They have also received a few billion for the actual service provided (something like 133 million per CRS flight for the first 12, I think it's up some for the next 12).

Commercial Crew? Test flight flawless, they are gonna fly people, and they got less than Boeing did---and they had to make the human rated F9 with the money (Boeing just spent theirs on Starliner).

Promised launch to Mars? Costing the taxpayer? Right, nothing at all. Making promises with his own money costs the rest of us nothing. Boeing promised (and it was actually in the law that gave them funding) SLS to have launched a few years ago. That was a legal promise, and in return for failing, utterly, we have given them MORE money. Red Dragon cost us... nothing. Starship? Nothing. FH? Nothing.

Argue for SLS/Orion, stop with the anti-SpaceX nonsense, we're not even pushing SpaceX in this thread, except where NASA has specifically said commercial LVs would loft Gateway payloads (and when they recently investigated such LVs for Orion). If you want to mention failed promises relative to that, or to NASA missions, where checks have been written, go ahead. I don't care even a little about "failed promises" of possible, free (to us) tech, when they move sideways to a better solution. Their ultimate goal is in fact identical to what NASA said during the heyday of the late 1960s---the only way to do what we want to do in space is to massively reduce the cost to get there.

This is uncontroversial to anyone who has been paying attention, or who has at least read up on the history of the space programs of various countries. The point of the initial call for Shuttle (by Nixon), was to reduce cost. The initial designs were ALL predicated on reducing cost to LEO below ELV costs. Flight rates were quoted in the 10s per year. If you want humans to go anywhere past LEO, the gateway is not LOP-Gateway, it's a lower price to orbit, everything else follows.

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Heinlein put it right when he said that LEO is halfway to anywhere. That’s the real gateway to space. Once in LEO the energy to get to the vast majority of the solar system is less than the energy to get to LEO.

I’d rather have a couple 70 tonne modules on a LEO station than a few small modules on a deep space station... 

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2 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

Heinlein put it right when he said that LEO is halfway to anywhere. That’s the real gateway to space. Once in LEO the energy to get to the vast majority of the solar system is less than the energy to get to LEO.

I’d rather have a couple 70 tonne modules on a LEO station than a few small modules on a deep space station... 

Operationally, the trick is getting there for a sustainable amount of money. One 95t cargo in LEO per year (new value for Block 1) is not nearly as useful as 33 60 ton cargoes to LEO for the same money (33 FH launches costs the 3 B$ of 1 SLS flight)

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2 minutes ago, tater said:

Operationally, the trick is getting there for a sustainable amount of money. One 95t cargo in LEO per year (new value for Block 1) is not nearly as useful as 33 60 ton cargoes to LEO for the same money (33 FH launches costs the 3 B$ of 1 SLS flight)

That’s certainly true.

But even SLS could do more if it was building stations in LEO.

Maybe something like a spacedock to build spaceships.

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The Bigelow/ULA concept to build a lunar base in LEO, then move it is not a bad one. Alternately, loft a BA330, and the PPE (already supposed to be launched to LEO to test, before slowly moving to the Moon), test those together in LEO, and they can either be sent with something like ACES, or they could be sent with ion propulsion, since timing is not critical.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, RCgothic said:

SLS won't be building LOP-G though. It can't co-manifest substantial enough payloads prior to block 2. 

Does it need to co-manifest? I'm certain that if it proves necessary, NASA will develop a pure-cargo version of the rocket.

EDIT: Oh god damn it. Does anyone know why the stuff I write in the text box just disappears after a bit? I had a whole section of responses before this, and they all just vanished into thin-air.

Ah, found it:

17 hours ago, tater said:

Back when it started, they talked about being able to fly twice a year. This reminds me of Shuttle. When first discussed, NASA said Shuttle would break even vs expendable LVs if they could fly at least 28 times a year. Their upper limit of flights was 55/yr, in which case the Shuttle looked really rosy as a vehicle. They only fell short of their lowball launch estimate by around 10X. Even at 2X/year, the cost (including program costs) per launch of SLS are so excessive, that the payloads need to be similarly valuable. No one is going to launch a 250 million probe for 3 billion $ launch cost. The payload is supposed to cost MORE than the rocket. There are no 10 billion dollar payloads, and no money to buy them if there were.

All per-launch costs are theoretical at this point, and there a tons of different methodologies to measure them. Do you just measure the marginal cost of the parts and labor that goes into a single launch? Or do you divide the total costs of keeping all the supporting infrastructure and staff operational per-year among the number of launches you plan? Or even more radically, do you do all that and include in R&D costs? Each one of these metrics has their uses, no doubt, but they're not comparable.

NASA, for example, thinks the SLS will cost $500M per-launch. I am skeptical of this number - even just as a "per-hardware" measure - for the early missions. Though I do think costs will likely go down with later launches, I cannot say if they will ever reach that point.

However, I am also skeptical of the $1B+ estimates I see thrown around often, because the Saturn V was a $1.2B rocket, and I struggle to see any metric (aside from maybe non-inflation-adjusted spending) that the S-V wouldn't be more expensive than the SLS on a per-launch basis.

So I have no idea where you're getting that $3B figure, unless you're rolling the entire program's costs into one figure and dividing it by launch, at which point neither Apollo or the STS program are going to look very good either.

17 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

Also. it flew tonight.

A test article flew. Is that significant? Yes. But that's like saying Orion's ready-to-go because a test article flew on a Delta IV and re-entered a few years ago.

17 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

The low cadence of Falcon Heavy isn't a limitation of design or facilities like SLS. The limitation there is just a lack of customers. Meanwhile, SLS could not possibly launch more than about once per year without major infrastructure improvements.

Nah, there's no way that's true. Pad 39B is going to be empty 90% of the time. Literally the only 'pure infrastructure' thing I can think of that would bottleneck the process is the lack of converted high-bays in the VAB, which can be fairly easily remedied considering that there's three currently sitting empty. Maybe you'd also want another super-crawler? I don't think you'd need one, though. One crawler could easily take care of two flights per-year. And there's going to be two MLPs, so there's a backup in-case one blows up.

If NASA had the money, they could easily move to two flights per-year with very little infrastructure change. They'd have to pay their contractors LOADS OF MONEY to set up redundant assembly lines, but it could be done.

17 hours ago, Starman4308 said:

Please stop it with the blatant lies. The Falcon Heavy always had a purpose: booster reuse when SpaceX would otherwise need to expend a Falcon 9. There was a business case established from day 1.

The Falcons are good rockets with an interesting (though not conclusively proven) business case. But does BFR have a business case? I can't see one. The super-low prices SpaceX quotes are only possible with an incredibly frequent launch cadence, and to meet those you'd need to increase the total amount of launches per-year by at least an order of magnitude. I believe it's possible in the way that the Concorde was possible: technically feasible, but not economically viable.

 

Edited by jadebenn

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

NASA, for example, thinks the SLS will cost $500M per-launch. I am skeptical of this number - even just as a "per-hardware" measure - for the early missions. Though I do think costs will likely go down with later launches, I cannot say if they will ever reach that point.

However, I am also skeptical of the $1B+ estimates I see thrown around often, because the Saturn V was a $1.2B rocket, and I struggle to see any metric (aside from maybe non-inflation-adjusted spending) that the S-V wouldn't be more expensive than the SLS on a per-launch basis.

The program costs are said to be ~2.5B$/year for SLS/Orion going forward (once operational). Combined with the (rosy) 500 million marginal cost, this makes each year cost 3 B$, for one launch. If they could manage 2, then it's 1.75B$/flight, if they fly every other year, it's 5.5 B$/launch.

1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

f NASA had the money, they could easily move to two flights per-year with very little infrastructure change. They'd have to pay their contractors LOADS OF MONEY to set up redundant assembly lines, but it could be done.

Very likely true, and this is pretty much required to make it look even halfway decent as a function of cost/total annual program cost. The old-school problem (from when first proposed), is that there is nothing for it to do 2X/year, since they have no mission goal.

Also, to be fair, they have not even penciled in the notion of 2X per year, even when they have notional Mars vehicles being built penciled in to the schedule (LOL, like that's a thing).

That said, as of the other day, they do have a mission goal, humans to the Moon in a sustained way at the pole. For once, a real goal, and one that is possible to achieve within NASA budgets. This is a good thing.

The trouble of course, is that SLS was written in stone before this was the goal. It was never designed around achieving that goal, so it cannot do it, and honestly, until Block 2 (the 8.4m fairing cargo variant), it can hardly participate.

Edited by tater

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45 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

Does it need to co-manifest? I'm certain that if it proves necessary, NASA will develop a pure-cargo version of the rocket.

EDIT: Oh god damn it. Does anyone know why the stuff I write in the text box just disappears after a bit? I had a whole section of responses before this, and they all just vanished into thin-air.

Ah, found it:

All per-launch costs are theoretical at this point, and there a tons of different methodologies to measure them. Do you just measure the marginal cost of the parts and labor that goes into a single launch? Or do you divide the total costs of keeping all the supporting infrastructure and staff operational per-year among the number of launches you plan? Or even more radically, do you do all that and include in R&D costs? Each one of these metrics has their uses, no doubt, but they're not comparable.

NASA, for example, thinks the SLS will cost $500M per-launch. I am skeptical of this number - even just as a "per-hardware" measure - for the early missions. Though I do think costs will likely go down with later launches, I cannot say if they will ever reach that point.

However, I am also skeptical of the $1B+ estimates I see thrown around often, because the Saturn V was a $1.2B rocket, and I struggle to see any metric (aside from maybe non-inflation-adjusted spending) that the S-V wouldn't be more expensive than the SLS on a per-launch basis.

So I have no idea where you're getting that $3B figure, unless you're rolling the entire program's costs into one figure and dividing it by launch, at which point neither Apollo or the STS program are going to look very good either.

A test article flew. Is that significant? Yes. But that's like saying Orion's ready-to-go because a test article flew on a Delta IV and re-entered a few years ago.

Nah, there's no way that's true. Pad 39B is going to be empty 90% of the time. Literally the only 'pure infrastructure' thing I can think of that would bottleneck the process is the lack of converted high-bays in the VAB, which can be fairly easily remedied considering that there's three currently sitting empty. Maybe you'd also want another super-crawler? I don't think you'd need one, though. One crawler could easily take care of two flights per-year. And there's going to be two MLPs, so there's a backup in-case one blows up.

If NASA had the money, they could easily move to two flights per-year with very little infrastructure change. They'd have to pay their contractors LOADS OF MONEY to set up redundant assembly lines, but it could be done.

The Falcons are good rockets with an interesting (though not conclusively proven) business case. But does BFR have a business case? I can't see one. The super-low prices SpaceX quotes are only possible with an incredibly frequent launch cadence, and to meet those you'd need to increase the total amount of launches per-year by at least an order of magnitude. I believe it's possible in the way that the Concorde was possible: technically feasible, but not economically viable.

 

I would like to point out that the biggest customer for SpaceX’s BFR/Starship... is SpaceX. I’ve not yet even heard a non-SpaceX source claim any interest in utilizing Super Heavy booster.

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10 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

um. what about Yusaku Measawa? or whatever his name is? y'know, they guy who paid for DearMoon?

He’s a passenger. Not providing a payload.

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1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I would like to point out that the biggest customer for SpaceX’s BFR/Starship... is SpaceX. I’ve not yet even heard a non-SpaceX source claim any interest in utilizing Super Heavy booster.

Which is great. It costs no one else anything at all. NASA has just said that all options are on the table. Assuming they get this flying, NASA will reevaluate.

 

42 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

He’s a passenger. Not providing a payload.

He IS the payload. He's paying for the crew version.

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10 minutes ago, tater said:

Which is great. It costs no one else anything at all. NASA has just said that all options are on the table. Assuming they get this flying, NASA will reevaluate.

 

He IS the payload. He's paying for the crew version.

Tourism flights don’t push forward exploration. Tourism flights will always be one step behind

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14 minutes ago, tater said:

He IS the payload. He's paying for the crew version.

Speaking of space tourism, if we say that Starship misses its cost mark by 10x and crew capacity mark by 5x, you can still send 20 people to Low Earth Orbit for 5 million dollars each (60M total) and around the moon for 10 million dollars each (initial DearMoon projections showed no refueling trips but I'm assuming it doesn't reach that mass fraction and needs one tanker flight). According to one googled article, there are ~75,000 Americans with more than 30 million dollars. If 0.5% of those would consider a flight around the moon, then that's 375 tourists and 19 flights. The actual percentage of the ultra wealthy wanting to go to space may be less (or even more), but America is not the only country either.

If Starship, by some miracle, hits its cost and crew estimates (I do not believe this will happen, 6m is insanely optimistic and 100 people in something that size is really crowded), that's 60k per LEO flight and 120k per circumlunar flight (1 refueler), which significantly opens up space. Suborbital tickets are currently selling for twice the best case scenario circumlunar tickets, so if it can get down to within even a few times the best case scenario cost, tourism may be a large market, and will at least be a market.

Also @ZooNamedGames and @tater I must complement you on your debate. You have not, to my knowledge, expressed visible anger towards each other in text yet. Pretty much anywhere else on the internet, this would have long since disintegrated into a shouting match. I have no wish to get involved in the debate myself, as I would probably start shouting, but I do agree with parts of what both of you are saying.

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22 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Tourism flights don’t push forward exploration. Tourism flights will always be one step behind

They have in the past, in this case he's paying (likely something like 500 M$) to help build a new capability.

3 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

I must complement you on your debate. You have not, to my knowledge, expressed visible anger towards each other in text yet. Pretty much anywhere else on the internet, this would have long since disintegrated into a shouting match. I have no wish to get involved in the debate myself, as I would probably start shouting, but I do agree with parts of what both of you are saying.

We're debating ideas, not people :D

We'd pretty much certainly get along in RL, I'd wager, we have similar interests, etc. This is like arguing over sportsball teams, lol.

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2 hours ago, jadebenn said:

Does it need to co-manifest? I'm certain that if it proves necessary, NASA will develop a pure-cargo version of the rocket.

EDIT: Oh god damn it. Does anyone know why the stuff I write in the text box just disappears after a bit? I had a whole section of responses before this, and they all just vanished into thin-air.

Ah, found it:

All per-launch costs are theoretical at this point, and there a tons of different methodologies to measure them. Do you just measure the marginal cost of the parts and labor that goes into a single launch? Or do you divide the total costs of keeping all the supporting infrastructure and staff operational per-year among the number of launches you plan? Or even more radically, do you do all that and include in R&D costs? Each one of these metrics has their uses, no doubt, but they're not comparable.

NASA, for example, thinks the SLS will cost $500M per-launch. I am skeptical of this number - even just as a "per-hardware" measure - for the early missions. Though I do think costs will likely go down with later launches, I cannot say if they will ever reach that point.

However, I am also skeptical of the $1B+ estimates I see thrown around often, because the Saturn V was a $1.2B rocket, and I struggle to see any metric (aside from maybe non-inflation-adjusted spending) that the S-V wouldn't be more expensive than the SLS on a per-launch basis.

So I have no idea where you're getting that $3B figure, unless you're rolling the entire program's costs into one figure and dividing it by launch, at which point neither Apollo or the STS program are going to look very good either.

A test article flew. Is that significant? Yes. But that's like saying Orion's ready-to-go because a test article flew on a Delta IV and re-entered a few years ago.

Nah, there's no way that's true. Pad 39B is going to be empty 90% of the time. Literally the only 'pure infrastructure' thing I can think of that would bottleneck the process is the lack of converted high-bays in the VAB, which can be fairly easily remedied considering that there's three currently sitting empty. Maybe you'd also want another super-crawler? I don't think you'd need one, though. One crawler could easily take care of two flights per-year. And there's going to be two MLPs, so there's a backup in-case one blows up.

If NASA had the money, they could easily move to two flights per-year with very little infrastructure change. They'd have to pay their contractors LOADS OF MONEY to set up redundant assembly lines, but it could be done.

The Falcons are good rockets with an interesting (though not conclusively proven) business case. But does BFR have a business case? I can't see one. The super-low prices SpaceX quotes are only possible with an incredibly frequent launch cadence, and to meet those you'd need to increase the total amount of launches per-year by at least an order of magnitude. I believe it's possible in the way that the Concorde was possible: technically feasible, but not economically viable.

 

1) There are several reasons why SLS would turn out more expensive than the Saturn V. There was significant political pressure to make the Saturn V succeed and make it succeed fast, where there is no such urgent, pressing drive for SLS. The S-V used relatively simple gas generator engines (F-1, J-2) rather than the insanely complicated RS-25 engine. Its operational tempo was much higher than SLS, and shared an entire stage with the Saturn 1B. The military-industrial complex was not quite as entrenched, and not quite so practiced in sucking every possible drop of money out of cost-plus contracts.

2) It's not like the Shuttle was a roaring success of cost-effective launch either. The best thing that can be said about it is that it was an attempt to push down the cost of space access, whereas no such claim can be made about SLS.

3) Redundant assembly lines are infrastructure.

4) Even though that post of mine you quoted had nothing to do with Starship/Superheavy, it's still nonsensical. There is a very clear business case for it: rapid and total reusability. It might not work. Its operational costs are almost certainly going to be higher than what Musk predicts. But: even if Starship/Superheavy costs 10x more than claimed, it's still cheaper than F9, Atlas V, etc, while clearly having far more capability. SpaceX doesn't even need to come close to Musk's estimates to obsolete anything currently out there save the cheapest light LVs (e.g. Electron). Just because it's not a guaranteed business case doesn't mean there's clearly a business case for it.

What you're claiming there would be that Concorde was doomed by economics... if Concorde was actually predicted to be over 10x cheaper, faster, quieter, and safer than its subsonic competition. It might not pan out, but if there was a decent chance you could make a supersonic plane 10x cheaper, faster, and quieter than its subsonic competition... why not give it a try?

2 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I would like to point out that the biggest customer for SpaceX’s BFR/Starship... is SpaceX. I’ve not yet even heard a non-SpaceX source claim any interest in utilizing Super Heavy booster.

This is not the SpaceX thread. It's the SLS thread. Your extreme dislike and skepticism of Starship/Superheavy has nothing to do with the trainwreck that is SLS.

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14 minutes ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Also @ZooNamedGames and @tater I must complement you on your debate. You have not, to my knowledge, expressed visible anger towards each other in text yet. Pretty much anywhere else on the internet, this would have long since disintegrated into a shouting match. I have no wish to get involved in the debate myself, as I would probably start shouting, but I do agree with parts of what both of you are saying.

It’s important to know we both have our own POVs and experiences that made them. We both have points. I definitely think the truth is in the middle. SpaceX has done an amazing thing for the industry, and NASA is doing some good engineering work. Tater is right in that it isn’t groundbreaking but fantastic work nonetheless. It’s a reliable and safe rocket. Cost is a mess but it’s better to see NASA working towards a goal than not, but still, they’re work is a mess admittedly. We can’t expect any one group to send us to Mars. So in that me and Tater both have legitimate points and most importantly, we don’t deserve to be attacked personally. We have lives. This discussion is a small part of them. Besides, Tater deserves respect like everyone else.

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Ok, I didn’t really want to participate in this debate, but... @ZooNamedGames, come on. First you say this:

2 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I’ve not yet even heard a non-SpaceX source claim any interest in utilizing Super Heavy booster.

Then, when you’re told about Yusaku Maezawa and his flight, you dismiss it as “not pushing exploration forward”.

1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Tourism flights don’t push forward exploration. Tourism flights will always be one step behind

He is a person that has an interest in utilizing Starship/Super Heavy rocket. Here’s your answer, there is a demand for such a rocket. Why bringing up exploration here? That’s a very different topic which doesn’t help you support your original statement (that SS/SH has no commercial customers).

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