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NASA SLS/Orion/Payloads

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17 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

The most difficult aspect of rocket development is funding, followed by rocket engines. It just so happens that the Raptor is well on its way on its development and they'll probably make a bunch of cash off government contracts and commercial launches. If they want to develop BFR, and they do (at this point in time), then they'll develop it.

One of my engineer acquaintances who works at MSFC has repeatedly told me about how screwed SLS's development has been. The core is underpowered, the RS-25s are inconsistent, and they're trying to eek out extra performance from Block 1, about ten tonnes. They're even having issues with potentially damaging the Orion's solar panels with the thrust from the upper stage. It's getting pretty bad...

And I just read that the $1b Mobile Launch Structure for the SLS has begun to tilt. No more than 1 launch max from the current structure.

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Well, they did modify it from the Ares 1 MLS. Though I am worried as well about it tilting (They do mention the desire to make another MLS so they don't have to wait so long between launches to fix the lean)

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Leaning tower of SLS, marvelous. Kinda symbolic, too.

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15 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

Vehicles that can land hundreds of tons of whatever to Mars do not exist and are not about to exist.

It's just making things bigger, it's not complicated. This has been known since the 1960s. Bigger is better with rockets.

 

15 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

 A giant rocket that can launch satellites. Sure, that can be done. But it will not reliably land using supersonic retro-propulsion. And using a giant rocket to launch satellites is just dumb at all levels to begin with.

That's silly, a medium size rocket lands using supersonic retorpropulsion pretty much every month. This year, likely a couple times a month.

It is not dumb, do the math. All that matters is cost. If you need big for reuse (upper stage) because that improves the ballistic coefficient, then you go big. Part of big for both SpaceX, and BO, is the choice of propellant, BTW, which is also why SLS is big. NG is basically between F9 and FH, but it's nearly as big as SLS. Why? Methane.

Landing is a solved problem. If SLS design started today, it would land the booster, or be silly. Since design started over 10 years ago... no landing.

15 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

 An engine and a composite tank is not a functioning rocket. Especially one that plans on using cutting edge technology that hasn't been made reliable yet. 

The engine is fine. The composite vehicle is certainly a huge question mark, I never said it was a functional rocket. They don't have a rocket, obviously, but you said, "a pipe dream." A pipe dream doesn't include making anything, it is by definition unattainable. A powerpoint presentation might be a pipe dream. As soon as you start actually working on it, it's not a pipe dream any more. It might fail, rockets are hard, but it's not a pipe dream.

 

15 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

In one post the SLS is being criticized for using archaic but reliable technology from the 1970s. now it's being slammed for being a new design. At least keep the hate angles consistent please. 

It can be both. Rockets are not legos. I've not slammed the technology, actually. But components having been used before on an entirely different vehicle architecture doesn't make it safe. The whole stack needs to work together, it's a complicated beast.

 

15 minutes ago, Kerbal7 said:

Hehe! :D They're just repeating the man. You know the man. 

He's nutty for Mars. Shotwell is not. She has said that BFR is their next generation LV, just as NG is the next gen vehicle for BO. She said they now have a plan to actually build it (technical, and the money). Both will be built. Both will be adjusted as needed to make them work, unless the designs are fundamentally flawed, in which case they will be abandoned summarily, and a new design will come out of the lessons learned. That's how you advance.

7 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

And I just read that the $1b Mobile Launch Structure for the SLS has begun to tilt. No more than 1 launch max from the current structure.

It has/had to be entirely rebuilt after EM-1, anyway, as does the rigging in the VAB. SLS block 1 is a 1-off, never to fly again, and all the ground systems need to be changed (taking 33 months if it is 100% on schedule to do).

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3 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

Guarantee SLS is not landing on the moon or Mars. 

Doesn't have cargo space for a lander or a lander designed for it even if it had the throw weight to include one, which it doesn't. 

Doesn't have life support capacity to reach Mars, or cargo space for a hab module or a hab designed for it even if it had the throw weight to include one, which it doesn't.

Doesn't have the on-orbit it linger time to construct a mothership in leo, even if it had a design for one, which it doesn't. By the time the next SLS upper stage gets into orbit in a year's time the original second stage's dregs will have evaporated, leaving the newly arrived upper stage unable to throw the weight of the combined mothership anywhere useful.

SLS has precisely 3 uses: 

1) Large probes on high energy trajectories. But NASA can't afford to build any large probes whilst operating SLS, and other rockets becoming operational can throw multiple smaller probes to the same places for much less.

2) Large cargos to LEO. Gets spanked on a $/kg basis by currently operational rockets. It's a matter of time before a cheaper rocket with comparable volume comes along.

3) Orion to LLO. But currently operational rockets have a high enough launch cadence to support rendezvous missions and even a landing.

And it's not cheap. The components it uses haven't flown in their current specification before. It's too expensive to do an all up test for.

It will get cancelled the moment the public starts laughing at it, which will be round about the time Blue Origin or SpaceX demonstrate their next gen launchers. 

I have issue with cancelling any project, regardless of its issues, for future developments. As that’s the very wishful thinking that got NASA here in the first place.

NASA had plans to extend lunar operations during Apollo. They were scrapped. Russia wanted to use the Energia as a SHLV, scraped (granted due to government collapse but regardless), ESA wants to propose reusable means for boosters, haven’t heard from them. 

And, until the competition exists in a format that is reliable (and I’d like to point out the F9’s struggling start) for BFR or NG; SLS will continue to fly. As costly as the SLS is, it’s more costly to bank on a solution that barely exists, and could very well not be developed.

All it takes for BFR/NG to slip off the table is a wealthy contract for something different to land at their doorstep or a major shift from company shareholders. SLS is guaranteed, however flawed to receive money. SpaceX/Blue Origin is not (outside of NASA paid contracts).

NASA cancelled Apollo in hopes that the AAP would be ready. It wasn’t. Grumman had fallen so far behind on development of the LM, that NASA had to make a mission to fill time. History repeats itself. Fantastic promises like Musk is making is not new. He just has lots of money, which gives him a bigger voice and currently a one-trick pony with SpaceX and landing boosters. That’s the only major feat beyond the competition they’ve achieved.

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It's always been bizarre to me that they every thought they'd "save money" by using the existing ICPS. The use of that 1 time upper stage means that they delay 33 months, AND it cost all the money to change the mobile launcher, VAB, etc. All that on top of then not actually testing the real stack.

Also, you'd think they'd at least go "all up" on the Orion CSM for EM-1. They could have tested a real, flight article capsule. It;s closer to a capsule than a boilerplate, but it's not the real thing, either.

3 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

And, until the competition exists in a format that is reliable (and I’d like to point out the F9’s struggling start) for BFR or NG; SLS will continue to fly. As costly as the SLS is, it’s more costly to bank on a solution that barely exists, and could very well not be developed.

I agree with this, completely.

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3 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I have issue with cancelling any project, regardless of its issues, for future developments. As that’s the very wishful thinking that got NASA here in the first place.

NASA had plans to extend lunar operations during Apollo. They were scrapped. Russia wanted to use the Energia as a SHLV, scraped (granted due to government collapse but regardless), ESA wants to propose reusable means for boosters, haven’t heard from them. 

And, until the competition exists in a format that is reliable (and I’d like to point out the F9’s struggling start) for BFR or NG; SLS will continue to fly. As costly as the SLS is, it’s more costly to bank on a solution that barely exists, and could very well not be developed.

All it takes for BFR/NG to slip off the table is a wealthy contract for something different to land at their doorstep or a major shift from company shareholders. SLS is guaranteed, however flawed to receive money. SpaceX/Blue Origin is not (outside of NASA paid contracts).

NASA cancelled Apollo in hopes that the AAP would be ready. It wasn’t. Grumman had fallen so far behind on development of the LM, that NASA had to make a mission to fill time. History repeats itself. Fantastic promises like Musk is making is not new. He just has lots of money, which gives him a bigger voice and currently a one-trick pony with SpaceX and landing boosters. That’s the only major feat beyond the competition they’ve achieved.

It's worth cancelling something when it's clear it's going to fail. The ongoing cash could be better spent on something else. The only mission for SLS that I highlighted that can't be done by another currently operational rocket is volume to LEO. That's a pretty niche requirement.

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And even if SLS is cancelled due to BFR or NG competition, I have a feeling something else will rise up from Congressional orders. Better the porkbarrel project we know and has hardware than the boondoggle we don't know and exists only on some higher-up's napkin.

Edited by T-10a

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4 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

currently a one-trick pony with SpaceX and landing boosters. That’s the only major feat beyond the competition they’ve achieved.

This is unfair.

They have a cargo capsule (reusable). They are soon to have a crew capsule.

They are close to recovering fairings (small, but non-trivial---and something every single LV could copy, and indeed ULA plans something similar with their engines, this is a proof of concept for them). Their work on landing is scalable, and pretty important (as a 1 trick that's not bad). Their pricing is changing the entire market. They've captured a huge % of the launch market. Most importantly, I think they innovate. Iterative design, on short timescales allows them to be agile in a way that the old providers have not been. Also a good trick.

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Better to take a chance on ripping up the current design and trying again than to continue to spend money on a design that certainly won't.

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2 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

It's worth cancelling something when it's clear it's going to fail. The ongoing cash could be better spent on something else. The only mission for SLS that I highlighted that can't be done by another currently operational rocket is volume to LEO. That's a pretty niche requirement.

It’s still the only SHLV that’s begun large scale testing. The alternative is a concept.

I don’t trust concepts. As someone else said they are a dime a dozen. I’ve seen many big business boil up within 10 years. SpaceX is not exempt from this. If they vanish, so does the BFR And it’s fantastical promises.

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2 minutes ago, T-10a said:

And even if SLS is cancelled due to BFR or NG competition, I have a feeling something else will rise up from Congressional orders. Better the porkbarrel project we know and has hardware than the boondoggle we don't know and exists on some higher-up's napkin

Constellation got too big and expensive, so we ended up with SLS. When SLS gets too big and expensive, it’ll be replaced by something else. Not necessarily more sensible.

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2 minutes ago, T-10a said:

And even if SLS is cancelled due to BFR or NG competition, I have a feeling something else will rise up from Congressional orders. Better the porkbarrel project we know and has hardware than the boondoggle we don't know and exists on some higher-up's napkin

In a perfect world, LVs might be commercially acquired, and NASA could concentrate on spacecraft and exploration. A return to von Braun's (and Korolev's) original idea of Earth Orbit rendezvous. If ULA, SX, and BO all compete to throw stuff to LEO, NASA could build craft in orbit to go elsewhere. Or work on advanced propulsion, etc.

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2 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

Better to take a chance on ripping up the current design and trying again than to continue to spend money on a design that certainly won't.

That’s exactly the logic everyone had for Ares. Now it’s 2018 and nothing has flown.

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And despite SpaceX's successes, Musk's heavily pushing money into Tesla to keep it afloat. If Tesla collapses, there may be a rippling effect that affects SpaceX's financial success.

Edited by T-10a

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3 minutes ago, tater said:

This is unfair.

They have a cargo capsule (reusable). They are soon to have a crew capsule.

They are close to recovering fairings (small, but non-trivial---and something every single LV could copy, and indeed ULA plans something similar with their engines, this is a proof of concept for them). Their work on landing is scalable, and pretty important (as a 1 trick that's not bad). Their pricing is changing the entire market. They've captured a huge % of the launch market. Most importantly, I think they innovate. Iterative design, on short timescales allows them to be agile in a way that the old providers have not been. Also a good trick.

It’s still one trick. Polishing used hardware isn’t new either. The shuttle was a mess, but it had many assets that could just be reused.

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Even without BFR or NG, sheer launch cadence and cost effectiveness allows Falcon Heavy (hell, even Falcon 9) to fill 90% of SLS's brief.

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Just now, T-10a said:

And despite SpaceX's successes, a lot of money is being pulled out by Musk to keep Tesla afloat. If Tesla collapses, there may be a rippling effect that affects SpaceX's financial success

I have an odd feeling Tesla will sink before SX, but he could side with Tesla and sink SX

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4 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

It’s still the only SHLV that’s begun large scale testing. The alternative is a concept.

I don’t trust concepts. As someone else said they are a dime a dozen. I’ve seen many big business boil up within 10 years. SpaceX is not exempt from this. If they vanish, so does the BFR And it’s fantastical promises.

I agree here as well. That said, SLS is a SHLV that is not really the right size for anything. It needs to be bigger, if anything. We should have killed the Shuttle Orbiter, and kept Shuttle infrastructure, and done Shuttle-C. That could actually have happened quickly, with little dev time. Crew then sent via Orion/CST-100 (as per Constellation).

Edited by tater

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Just now, RCgothic said:

Even without BFR or NG, sheer launch cadence and cost effectiveness allows Falcon Heavy (hell, even Falcon 9) to fill 90% of SLS's brief.

Again, a rocket that’s been used once. By that standard the Ares I also flew.

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Keeping crew and cargo separate makes sense, IMO.

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6 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

That’s exactly the logic everyone had for Ares. Now it’s 2018 and nothing has flown.

Ares V wasn't even close to being in as hopeless a situation as SLS is now. ARES I was certainly a daft idea, but the idea of flying the capsule up separately was not.

Edited by RCgothic

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2 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I have issue with cancelling any project, regardless of its issues, for future developments. As that’s the very wishful thinking that got NASA here in the first place.

NASA had plans to extend lunar operations during Apollo. They were scrapped. Russia wanted to use the Energia as a SHLV, scraped (granted due to government collapse but regardless), ESA wants to propose reusable means for boosters, haven’t heard from them. 

And, until the competition exists in a format that is reliable (and I’d like to point out the F9’s struggling start) for BFR or NG; SLS will continue to fly. As costly as the SLS is, it’s more costly to bank on a solution that barely exists, and could very well not be developed.

All it takes for BFR/NG to slip off the table is a wealthy contract for something different to land at their doorstep or a major shift from company shareholders. SLS is guaranteed, however flawed to receive money. SpaceX/Blue Origin is not (outside of NASA paid contracts).

NASA cancelled Apollo in hopes that the AAP would be ready. It wasn’t. Grumman had fallen so far behind on development of the LM, that NASA had to make a mission to fill time. History repeats itself. Fantastic promises like Musk is making is not new. He just has lots of money, which gives him a bigger voice and currently a one-trick pony with SpaceX and landing boosters. That’s the only major feat beyond the competition they’ve achieved.

NASA wasn't the one to scrap these plans. You can thank Congress for that. Continued funding for SLS, by the way, isn't guaranteed: only EM-1 and EM-2 have been funded by Congress.

Furthermore, I can't really think of anything that needs SLS, save maybe Europa Clipper. It might be a different story if it could perform a standalone lunar landing mission, but it can't. Because of that, you'd need multiple launches.

The issues with using multiple SLS launches are manifold. First, there's the interval between flights. Right now, they're looking at 2-year intervals, maybe 1 year if they push it. That means that whatever half-of-a-mission you send up, it has to use strictly storable propellants and survive a year in perfect working order in LEO: no damage from MMOD, etc.

Second, if you're going to need to assemble it anyways... why not use commercial HLVs/SHLVs? Delta IV Heavy and Falcon Heavy are proven. New Glenn and Vulcan are likely to fly. The BFR... maaaaaaaybe though I'm kinda skeptical.

2 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

That’s exactly the logic everyone had for Ares. Now it’s 2018 and nothing has flown.

That's because SLS is Constellation with a new coat of paint. It's conceptually the same thing: an expendable SHLV using legacy technology and legacy contractors. Nothing addressed the key flaws that killed Constellation in the first place. Nothing addresses the fact that any sort of ambitious manned space program using Shuttle-legacy technology on an expendable launch vehicle would need far more money thrown at it than Congress is willing to spend. The only reason SLS got this far in the first place is pure and utter porkbarrel, and that only goes so far.

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Yeah, sticking the crew on the SRB was an odd idea, lol.

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41 minutes ago, Bill Phil said:

The most difficult aspect of rocket development is funding, followed by rocket engines. It just so happens that the Raptor is well on its way on its development and they'll probably make a bunch of cash off government contracts and commercial launches. If they want to develop BFR, and they do (at this point in time), then they'll develop it.

One of my engineer acquaintances who works at MSFC has repeatedly told me about how screwed SLS's development has been. The core is underpowered, the RS-25s are inconsistent, and they're trying to eek out extra performance from Block 1, about ten tonnes. They're even having issues with potentially damaging the Orion's solar panels with the thrust from the upper stage. It's getting pretty bad...

I'm not surprised that things aren't as simple as putting KSP LEGOs together.  Seemed that plenty of smart people were concerned about Falcon Heavy, even though every part of it was flight proven (in usage much closer to Falcon Heavy than anything seen in SLS).

10 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

It's worth cancelling something when it's clear it's going to fail. The ongoing cash could be better spent on something else. The only mission for SLS that I highlighted that can't be done by another currently operational rocket is volume to LEO. That's a pretty niche requirement.

You're forgetting that it lands money in all the right congressional districts.  Even with NG being made in Marshall, AL I doubt that the money would go into the "right" hands.  Tonnage to orbit was never SLS's specialty.

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