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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, tater said:

Starship is an upper stage. The cargo it carries is a cargo it carries that fits in a 9m payload bay.

Drool* 

so much volume... @_@! Could make some damn nice missions with that volume. 

14 hours ago, tater said:

Gateway by itself is make-work. It serves no useful function at all, and does nothing that could not be done better by robots in terms of exploring the Moon. The only point at which Gateway becomes useful (and it's not really even useful for this) is to the extent it allows surface missions--

I’ve been experimenting a bit with different lunar exploration architectures (in Kerbal lol) and while I wasn’t a fan of the gateway in the past, I think I can see some logistical benefits over purely direct point to point missions. But these seem to be reduced considerably as soon as there are any decent ground based ISRU facilities. I guess there is somethings to be said for making use of systems that have already had a lot of time and money sunk into them. 

For all that, when equipped with landers and tugs, it would seem to give the capability of (relativity) rapid response. To what and for what reason I duno really... but they will be able to get there XD

Edited by Dale Christopher

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3 hours ago, Wjolcz said:

61526main_image_feature_189_jwfull.jpg

How massive are we talking?

Starship and Cargo Starship. Rip the wings off of the shuttle and you could fit it inside Cargo. So that kind of big.

Also as I mentioned in my original post- one of those vehicles are largely immobile. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Also as I mentioned in my original post- one of those vehicles are largely immobile. 

More fragile too. Why does the mobility matter? If two starships were docking it's not like they would smash into each other at dozens of meters per second. One would use the RCS to approach the other while the other would keep, as you call it, 'immobile'.

BTW: The Starship will be only slightly larger than the Shutle orange tank. And there were plans to make stations out of those.

 

stsetst1.jpg

Edited by Wjolcz

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8 minutes ago, Wjolcz said:

More fragile too. Why does the mobility matter? If two starships were docking it's not like they would smach into each other at dozens of meters per second. One would use the RCS to approach the other while the other would keep, as you call it, 'immobile'.

BTW: The Starship will be only slightly larger than the Shutle orange tank. And there were plans to make stations out of those.

 

stsetst1.jpg

Planned to- but never attempted such a station.

As I said before, small changes in momentum and the inertia of the other vehicle, pushed or pulled by RCS, microatmospheric drag or movement of crew can cause a massive amount of strain on docking ports. Such a docking mechanism would need to be very strong. Since docking isn’t about one vehicle- but 2. Both have movement and their own velocities that are affected by a great many things. Most of which can be damped with springs and pads but on larger scales, that may not work.

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S-IVb plus the SLA (lunar module adapter) was about 26m long, and 6.6m in diameter. The CSM managed to dock with that no problem. That's exactly what a distributed, EoR would look like for lunar missions.

It's not going to experience loads of stress, they dock, then leave after maybe 1 orbit. Shuttle to ISS had to be about the worst case you could imaging given the cross sectional area of ISS, and the fact it is not a single unit.

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Docking's a solved problem. Being bigger doesn't make it harder. Potentially it makes it easier as more minute corrections are possible.

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1 hour ago, ZooNamedGames said:

Planned to- but never attempted such a station.

As I said before, small changes in momentum and the inertia of the other vehicle, pushed or pulled by RCS, microatmospheric drag or movement of crew can cause a massive amount of strain on docking ports. Such a docking mechanism would need to be very strong. Since docking isn’t about one vehicle- but 2. Both have movement and their own velocities that are affected by a great many things. Most of which can be damped with springs and pads but on larger scales, that may not work.

Are you telling me that a cylinder made out of steel is wobblier and more noodle-like than the ISS?

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Still absurd it's not an all up test, though. Wasted opportunity.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/30/2019 at 12:07 PM, tater said:

It's still amazing to me that we know that the cost for the core stage includes ~$708,000,000 in engines alone (the 50M$ we paid for each RS-25 already for Shuttle, plus the 127M$ AJR got paid to refurbish each of the SLS engines to be used.

It would be bad enough at 200 M$, but that would be for simply reusing engines just sitting around. The fact that reusing them cost almost 3 times buying them new borders on criminal, IMO.

Where are you getting the $127M figure from? There must be a misunderstanding here, because there's absolutely no way that's correct.

14 hours ago, Wjolcz said:

61526main_image_feature_189_jwfull.jpg

How massive are we talking?

It may have never met its lofty goals and been a bit of a white elephant, but when I see a picture like this, all I can remember is: God, the shuttle was beautiful.

Capsules and service modules may have won the battle versus space-planes and orbiters, but I'm a bit sad we'll not see images like this again for at least a very long time.

Edited by jadebenn

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, jadebenn said:

Where are you getting the $127M figure from? There must be a misunderstanding here, because there's absolutely no way that's correct.

It's absolutely, 100% correct. AJR was given 2.x billion dollars for the initial 16 RS-25 SLS engines.

It works out to 127 M$ each. That's per NASA OIG:

https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf

Aerojet Rocketdyne	16 RS-25 engines	6/2/2006–9/30/2018	$2,047,347,059

 

I guess I was slightly inaccurate, it was $127,959,191.19 each, so closer to 128 million (not of course counting what the Shuttle program already paid for the ones SLS is using, which varies with sources from 40-50 M$ each).

You know, to save money by recycling Shuttle parts lying around.

(EDIT: that only goes for the date range shown, BTW, they've done work/testing since last September, and they don't do anything at all without being paid, so that number keeps increasing, and will do so until all 16 fly)

Edited by tater

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Just a personal shot of Orion on the 46.

8d6TxK9h.jpg

 

About 8 km/5 mi away, so not really great :(

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Orion abort test in 5 minutes:

 

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Good test

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I don't know if anybody is interested, but here is the video I've taken of it.

 

 

Thanks to the "wonderful" pier, I was not able to catch the SR118 splashdown  :mad:

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, tater said:

It's absolutely, 100% correct. AJR was given 2.x billion dollars for the initial 16 RS-25 SLS engines.

It works out to 127 M$ each. That's per NASA OIG:

https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-001.pdf


Aerojet Rocketdyne	16 RS-25 engines	6/2/2006–9/30/2018	$2,047,347,059

 

I guess I was slightly inaccurate, it was $127,959,191.19 each, so closer to 128 million (not of course counting what the Shuttle program already paid for the ones SLS is using, which varies with sources from 40-50 M$ each).

You know, to save money by recycling Shuttle parts lying around.

(EDIT: that only goes for the date range shown, BTW, they've done work/testing since last September, and they don't do anything at all without being paid, so that number keeps increasing, and will do so until all 16 fly)

Are you certain that's not including the costs of starting-up RS-25E production? If I remember correctly, the two tasks (refurbishment of old engines and production of new ones) are part of the same contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne.

Edited by jadebenn

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2 hours ago, jadebenn said:

Are you certain that's not including the costs of starting-up RS-25E production? If I remember correctly, the two tasks (refurbishment of old engines and production of new ones) are part of the same contract with Aerojet Rocketdyne.

So the refurb should cost some small fraction of the 50M$ we already paid for them, and yet 2 B$ doesn't buy us the next 40 engines outright?

Anyway, there was a separate contract to restart production as I recall for 1.16B$.

So if we assume the OIG report somehow includes this, then the 16 engines only cost 62.5 M$ each to refurbish. Still more than they cost new. You know, to save money. Also, that doesn't include a penny of spending after the fall of 2018, and they will no doubt test all the engines up through the 4th flight, so add several hundred million more.

 

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Posted (edited)

@tater There's clearly something off with your estimate though, because the contract is listed as starting in 2006. That was not only before shuttle retirement, but it was way before the SLS was even a thing. Not all the costs can be related to SLS.

Edited by jadebenn

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35 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

@tater There's clearly something off with your estimate though, because the contract is listed as starting in 2006. That was not only before shuttle retirement, but it was way before the SLS was even a thing. Not all the costs can be related to SLS.

That is the NASA OIG's office, not me. What do they know about how they spend money?

Constellation initially looked at RS-25, before they switched to RS-68. Some of the money likely related to that, which is simply an alternate version of SLS/Orion.

Doesn't matter, though. Do you think the refurb cost more or less than the 40-50 M$ the engines already cost the taxpayers? If the refurb cost was more, we were ripped off.

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7 minutes ago, tater said:

Doesn't matter, though. Do you think the refurb cost more or less than the 40-50 M$ the engines already cost the taxpayers? If the refurb cost was more, we were ripped off.

As someone who works for a government contractor, let me assure you that we MAY have been ripped off. Or, maybe not.

Government contracts are tricky beasts. Sometimes what it looks like you are paying for is not what you are really paying for. Of course contractors are happy to take all the profit the government lets them take, but sometimes the real problem is that the government accounting is screwy. Maybe all the overhead of the space program is assigned to that one screw that you need to buy. Or that a $10 screwdriver would have been fine, but the contract specified that the screwdriver has to be tested for operation in vacuum and also seven miles deep under the ocean, so it costs $200,000.

Or maybe the company was told to store these rocket engines for 20 years and never got paid for it, so now the government has to pay for 20 years of storage costs. Or maybe ... whatever.

So yeah, it *could* be that we got ripped off, or it could be mystery accounting, or it could just be that because of all the requirements these engines actually do cost that much.

1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

@tater There's clearly something off with your estimate though, because the contract is listed as starting in 2006. That was not only before shuttle retirement, but it was way before the SLS was even a thing. Not all the costs can be related to SLS.

Maybe this contract is actually just an update to another, existing, contract. Perhaps the cost you are seeing is mostly money that was spent years ago. Just a guess -- I don't know.

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25 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

Maybe this contract is actually just an update to another, existing, contract. Perhaps the cost you are seeing is mostly money that was spent years ago. Just a guess -- I don't know.

Right, that's what I was trying to get at. Government contracting is a eldritch realm that will drive all but the most experienced accountants insane. :P

More seriously, to use another example of confusing contract relations from the current program: For whatever reason, it was decided to begin SLS development under contracts awarded for the Constellation program. While this was functionally equivalent to just giving those same contractors new contracts for an entirely new system (well, almost entirely new; there are some CxP survivors in SLS, but there's not many), legally speaking, they are still the same contracts awarded under the Constellation program.

This means that if there's a contract out there that says it's for the "Ares I first stage," and then halfway through it there's an amendment saying the contractual equivalent of, "lol jk ignore all that crap and build us this thing instead," that's still the Ares I contract, legally speaking. There could be a similar situation going with the RS-25s. We'd need more information on how the OIG derived those figures to know for sure, and unfortunately, they don't seem to explain their methodology in that report.

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Posted (edited)
45 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

So yeah, it *could* be that we got ripped off, or it could be mystery accounting, or it could just be that because of all the requirements these engines actually do cost that much.

I think the problem was that the supposed 40-50M$ cost was likely just the entry cost, and they probably got a chunk of the 4B$/yr shuttle program on top of that to maintain the engines. Regardless, though, the engines are ridiculously expensive---a fact mitigated by the Shuttle program which used each engine multiple times. For SLS... it makes no sense whatsoever.

Also, from a planning standpoint, the part of the point of RS-25 was to save money/schedule by reusing Shuttle tech (that was the sales pitch, anyway). They should have stuck with RS-68, and kept SLS as a HLV, not a crew LV, and lofted Orion another way (even a 300M$+ DIVH and another launch for a transfer stage would be cheaper than SLS).

45 minutes ago, mikegarrison said:

Maybe this contract is actually just an update to another, existing, contract. Perhaps the cost you are seeing is mostly money that was spent years ago. Just a guess -- I don't know.

I presume the date range the NASA OIG gives is the contract period, and relates to the crossover period when Constellation was a thing.

18 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

This means that if there's a contract out there that says it's for the "Ares I first stage," and then halfway through it there's an amendment saying the contractual equivalent of, "lol jk ignore all that crap and build us this thing instead," that's still the Ares I contract, legally speaking. There could be a similar situation going with the RS-25s. We'd need more information on how the OIG derived those figures to know for sure, and unfortunately, they don't seem to explain their methodology in that report.

True, but unlike other elements of SLS, the RS-25 is the same thing. It cannot change that much, or it would have to be rerated for crew. So it's fair to lump literally any post-Shuttle RS-25 work into SLS, cause that's what it is.

 

https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2016/01/nasa-defends-restart-rs-25-production/

 

This ars article says that for SLS 72% of the money they spend is overhead (goes to NASA, not contractors). 56% to NASA for Orion.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/03/new-report-nasa-spends-72-cents-of-every-sls-dollar-on-overhead-costs/

Edited by tater

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Posted (edited)
18 minutes ago, tater said:

Also, from a planning standpoint, the part of the point of RS-25 was to save money/schedule by reusing Shuttle tech (that was the sales pitch, anyway). They should have stuck with RS-68, and kept SLS as a HLV, not a crew LV, and lofted Orion another way (even a 300M$+ DIVH and another launch for a transfer stage would be cheaper than SLS).

The transition from the RS-68 back to the RS-25 was almost entirely a cost-saving measure. The RS-68 is an ablatively-cooled engine, with a tendency to cause some, uh, interesting conflagrations on launch. Not a problem for lifting cargo.Bit of a problem for lifting people.

Now, the hydrogen fire issue was solvable, as well as adding "health monitoring" to the engine (so the flight computer would know when it'd need to compensate for engine failure or trigger an abort and GTFO of dodge). It'd require some redesigns and add some expense to the engine, but it was possible. The CCrew people had to do much the same thing for their vehicles (which, incidentally, saved the SLS program from a major bind when they realized that the ICPS could be very easily man-rated thanks to all the work ULA had done to that end on the common avionics shared between the Atlas V and the Delta IV). 

The thing that ultimately did-in the RS-68 wasn't a human-rating issue, but the aforementioned ablative cooling. When they were doing preliminary design work on Ares V, they realized the heat of the cluster plus the heat of the two SRBs would "cook" the engines. No matter how much they tried to spread them out, this remained an issue. The only way to fix it would be to design a variant of the RS-68 that used regenerative cooling, which, when factoring in development costs, completely defeated the cost advantage of the engine compared to the RS-25. Thus the switch back with the SLS.

Edited by jadebenn

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2 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

The transition from the RS-68 back to the RS-25 was almost entirely a cost-saving measure. The RS-68 is an ablatively-cooled engine, with a tendency to some, uh, interesting conflagrations on launch. Not a problem for lifting cargo.Bit of a problem for lifting people.

Yeah, because the NASA dev cost spreadsheet told them developing a clean sheet engine would cost ~40B$ vs using RS-25. Because that;s what it costs to make a huge new engine like Be-4, or Raptor, 40 billion do... oh, wait.

Regardless, that's why I explicitly said minus crew. The issue with RS-68 was crew rating, which is why Ares V didn't have crew on top. Separating crew from heavy lift was smart, adding crew back was... not smart.

2 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

The thing that ultimately did-in the RS-68 wasn't a human-rating issue, but the aforementioned ablative cooling. When they were doing preliminary design work on Ares V, they realized the heat of the cluster plus the heat of the two SRBs would "cook" the engines. No matter how much they tried to spread them out, this remained an issue.

There was a simpler solution, stick with true shuttle-derived LVs, and do Shuttle C, or one of the Jupiters, not SLS.

Still RS-25, but at least the rest (particularly Shuttle C) could have used all the existing infrastructure. Shuttle C could have seamlessly transitioned, seems to me (there were a few proposed versions I recall seeing).

Commercial Crew then does the crew bit.

2 minutes ago, jadebenn said:

The only way to fix it would be to design a variant of the RS-68 that used regenerative cooling, which, when factoring in development costs completely defeated the cost advantage of the engine compared to the RS-25. Thus the switch.

I wonder what the dev cost for that would actually be, vs the possibly 3.5 B$ AJR will have gotten for 16+6 engines?

Also, this goes to the design strategy, they can't use RS-68 because of the heat from the SRBs, which they used to use them, so it would use, you know, Shuttle stuff.

Sticking the crew on top wrecked it, frankly, since Orion is too bloated for most other LVs (~35t with the LAS), but not bloated enough to actually be able to do anything (SM is crap).

PS-wasn't earlier Ares OK with RS-68, but as it got bigger and bigger, there were more engines required?

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