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[New] Space Launch System / Orion Discussion Thread


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Just now, jadebenn said:

I chat with someone who works at MSFC on another website, and he says that in the wake of Gerst's reassignment, all of the HEOMD projects are getting their schedules re-baselined. So I don't find a slip to 2021 all that unbelievable, as I'd imagine you'd want a schedule estimate you don't constantly have to preface with, "Well, if everything goes perfectly..." Now, I haven't heard anything to this effect yet, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Yeah, the guy I know there is with nuclear thermal propulsion, so not really in the loop.

Just now, jadebenn said:

It's the late 2021 estimate that doesn't gel with me. As far as I can tell, that's entirely of Berger's creation.

I have no idea where he got that from, I suppose we'll have to wait and see until Bridenstine picks someone to replace Hill, and gets a milestone chart that's not pure fantasy. Remember the 2016 chart has EM-1 already done by now.

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6 minutes ago, tater said:

Yeah, the guy I know there is with nuclear thermal propulsion

He must be having a fun time with the surprise inclusion of funding for an NTR prototype in the latest NASA budget bill! :cool:

5 minutes ago, adsii1970 said:

Humanned flight...?

IMO, the obsession with moving away from words like 'manned' is silly and unnecessary, but I don't really care all that much, and it's not worth starting fights over. I typically just use whatever term I heard last or is more common. So I usually call them 'man-rated' rockets, but I often alternate between using 'crewed' and 'manned.'

Edited by jadebenn
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1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

IMO, the obsession with moving away from words like 'manned' is silly and unnecessary, but I don't really care all that much, and it's not worth starting fights over. I typically just use whatever term I heard last or is more common. So I usually call them 'man-rated' rockets, but I often alternate between using 'crewed' and 'manned.'

Me, too. (pun sort've intended, lol)

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1 hour ago, tater said:

I am paying several hundred bucks a year for SLS (based on their % of Federal spending, and the tax bill the accountant presents me with every year). As such, I have a right to care about SLS in a way I don't have a right to care about BFR.

Well as long as it's progressing it's all fine ?

 

I mean, heck, to us it's not even affordable in the first place. Our yearly national budget is only 10x of the costs SLS has incurred so far. If it were to happen here then yes it'd be much more worrying. But compared to your yearly budget it's peanuts.

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28 minutes ago, YNM said:

Well as long as it's progressing it's all fine ?

It's literally that it's one of the few parts of Fed government that I'm sort of interested in. I don;t notice what they waste on some other aspect of government, because I don't pay attention. It's a version of the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect, I suppose.

28 minutes ago, YNM said:

I mean, heck, to us it's not even affordable in the first place. Our yearly national budget is only 10x of the costs SLS has incurred so far. If it were to happen here then yes it'd be much more worrying. But compared to your yearly budget it's peanuts.

The entire NASA budget is about 1/3 less than the New York City public school system.

 

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2 hours ago, jadebenn said:

IMO, the obsession with moving away from words like 'manned' is silly and unnecessary, but I don't really care all that much, and it's not worth starting fights over. I typically just use whatever term I heard last or is more common. So I usually call them 'man-rated' rockets, but I often alternate between using 'crewed' and 'manned.'

Oh yer it’s not out of a social justice perspective that I was wondering about it. I have very little patience for a lot of that stuff these days actually >_<, but I do like language and vocabulary etc... I actually love it when people correct my grammar lol.

From a perspective of actual terminology it just struck me that referring to being crewed or a crewed mission as manned or a manned mission seemed lacking in some way, so was just musing about it. But I think crewed fits the bill nicely. 

Another thing I think about sometimes in the same grammatical/space vein is how it tends to feel more natural to refer to the moon as “the moon” rather than it’s actual name O_O... it’s the same number of syllables but saying Luna instead of the moon feels strange to me for some reason.

 

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34 minutes ago, Dale Christopher said:

Another thing I think about sometimes in the same grammatical/space vein is how it tends to feel more natural to refer to the moon as “the moon” rather than it’s actual name O_O... it’s the same number of syllables but saying Luna instead of the moon feels strange to me for some reason.

Technically its name is 'the Moon' (with a capital 'm') as it's the original one we knew about. 'Luna' is just an alternative name, just like 'Earth' can also be called 'Terra,' or 'the Sun' (with a capital 's') can also be called 'Sol.' I often forget to capitalize it though, as it's easy to forget when when you're talking about our specific Moon versus moons in general.

Edited by jadebenn
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Some very interesting news here: NASA outlines plans for lunar lander development through commercial partnerships.

In particular, I think this quote is quite telling:

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[Bridenstine] added that some unidentified companies had offered to pay 30 percent or more of the total cost of landers because of their interest using those landers for non-NASA customers.

I am very confident that said "unidentified company" was Blue Origin. They're the only ones I know of who have plans to offer lunar landing craft commercially.

There's also some clarification involving design requirements. For one, the lander for the "demonstration mission" must be able to support a surface stay of six-and-a-half days. For reference, the longest Apollo stay was only a little over three

It's also stated that NASA considers an initial expendable design A-okay for the 2024 "demonstration mission," but that landers for later missions must be at least partially reusable.

IMO, as someone who's not a Blue Origin fanboy: this contract is theirs to lose. They have a significant head-start over the competition, something that will serve them well in a program with such a time-oriented goal.

Edited by jadebenn
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Yeah, Bridenstine mentioned that in his testimony (the 30% or more of dev costs). I agree, almost certainly Blue, and Blue recently did a full duration burn of Be-7. They better get cracking on NG, or NASA might decide to launch Blue Moon on FH, lol.

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I was reading Reddit and I saw someone point out that MAF could produce nearly 20 Space Shuttle external tanks in a year and since the SLS core stage is largely based on the external tank design- I can’t see why they can’t reach a point they produce at least a year. May be 2024 before routine production begins but that still helps SLS. SRBs are easy to produce comparatively, so the large limited on production speed in the future for SLS is Orion, and seeing as there exists 2 mock ups and work on the real first crewed article, coming up to 3- I can’t see this being a huge set back either.

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12 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

I was reading Reddit and I saw someone point out that MAF could produce nearly 20 Space Shuttle external tanks in a year and since the SLS core stage is largely based on the external tank design- I can’t see why they can’t reach a point they produce at least a year. May be 2024 before routine production begins but that still helps SLS. SRBs are easy to produce comparatively, so the large limited on production speed in the future for SLS is Orion, and seeing as there exists 2 mock ups and work on the real first crewed article, coming up to 3- I can’t see this being a huge set back either.

The tanks are completely different now, and the Shuttle employees are gone for the most part. They also never flew that many tanks, did they actually build that many in a year, ever?

They are changing the SRBs in the future, as well (they have enough for 8 flights I think).

SLS never, ever flies more than 2X a year, and even if it could, there is nothing for it to do, as it is way, way too expensive. The marginal cost is certainly well in excess of the claim years ago of 500 M$---the RS-25s alone cost almost that much so far. Call the marginal cost a billion and it's probably much closer to the truth, and that is on top of fixed program costs of 2.5 B$/yr. So something on the order of 2 B$/flight assuming they ever launch 2 inside of a year---and that's assuming some payload worth flying (and a Block 2 to fly it on, which won't be a thing until after there are other options).

Remember back to the very first days of SLS. Even when we assumed it would happen on schedule (first crew on Block 1b, BTW, with cargo comanifested, and Block 2 coming online basically at the same time), the problem was at that time not the rocket itself, but what the heck we'd do with it. There were no missions on the books for it at all. Can't go to the Moon proper, can't go anywhere else, no cargoes worth spending billions just for launch. None of that has changed, except at least the move to try and go to the lunar surface (a task SLS was never designed to accomplish, else it would have the the ability to do it)

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6 minutes ago, tater said:

there is nothing for it to do

So a Lunar landing program is "nothing"? Ok then.

6 minutes ago, tater said:

it is way, way too expensive

SLS has cost way less to develop than Saturn V, and will cost at least half the price per launch, so its not exactly "way too expensive", especially considering it will return us to the Moon.

SLS costs only 700 million, as it only needs to pay off the costs of materials, and not development costs, unlike a commercial LV, such as Falcon 9, or DIVH

Edited by Barzon Kerman
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23 minutes ago, Barzon Kerman said:

So a Lunar landing program is "nothing"? Ok then.

I said that the move to lunar surface exploration has changed that since when SLS was first put out there, but it is also not designed to do that job.

How does SLS get humans to the lunar surface? Be specific. It can't get humans to LLO, and it can't get a lander anywhere (since there is no block 2 on the horizon). If yo want to argue that commercial vehicles can get landers to the Moon, sure, they can get all thge things to the Moon, and if NASA is going there in the next decade or so, most of the real work is being done by "not SLS" or it isn't happening. (Note that if you start reading that .gov link I posted above, NASA's own graphics show 4 FH launches to prep for 1 SLS Orion flight, lol, and those 4 launches, sending literally everything but Orion will cost in total ~10% of the single Orion flight (just that year's cost for SLS/Orion, I'm not folding in any dev costs).

Quote

SLS has cost way less to develop than Saturn V, and will cost at least half the price per launch, so its not exactly "way too expensive", especially considering it will return us to the Moon.

Apollo actually got humans to the surface and back. SLS simply cannot do this. 2 current SLS launches cannot do this. Block 2 is block 1b with a fairing, not Orion, so it gets ~37t tons to TLI. In order to meet Orion, however, those 37t end up in NRHO, not LLO, so they then need to go from NRHO, to LLO to the surface, then back to NRHO to meet up with Orion to go home. If block 2 and 1b were a thing (they haven't even started on EUS), then maybe the 11t cargo on the 1b/Orion is in fact props (and engines) to get Orion home, and you could do a 2 SLS flight to the Moon, straight to LLO, the 2 vehicles meet there, crew descends, then back to LLO, and home. So a 2 SLS lunar surface mission is possible, but that requires 2X SLS launched days apart. That's not a thing (both would need the new MLP, and both stacked in the VAB).

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5 hours ago, tater said:

How does SLS get humans to the lunar surface? 

By being the vehicle that can get humans to cislunar space. The Apollo CSM didn't get humans to the surface all by itself, but it was an integral part of the Apollo missions. The only difference is that with the SLS the CSM and LM equivalents will launch separately.

There are only two other vehicles in-development that claim to be able to do what SLS+Orion can do. One is the Russian's Federation spacecraft, which has been delayed constantly for lack of funding. The other is SpaceX's Starship, which is in a preliminary design phase, and is insanely technically ambitious.

You are also incorrect about what Block 2 is. Block 2 is not a name for a cargo version of SLS - any Block of SLS can be used in a cargo configuration, even Block 1 (as-is the plan for Europa Clipper). Block 2 is simply the name for the SLS variant after the Block 1B SRBs are replaced with the Advanced Boosters - something not likely to happen until a hypothetical Mars campaign.

If an extra cargo SLS is needed for a lander, there are actually four SLSes currently in the pipeline. Three are for Artemis. One is for Europa Clipper. You could just bump it off to a commercial launcher and use that extra cargo SLS if necessary.

Edited by jadebenn
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1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

By being the vehicle that can get humans to cislunar space. The Apollo CSM didn't get humans to the surface all by itself, but it was an integral part of the Apollo missions. The only difference is that with the SLS the CSM and LM equivalents will launch separately.

My question was about SLS, not the CSM.

The Apollo CSM did not get humans to the surface, Saturn V, OTOH, did.

SLS will not, not ever.

1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

There are only two other vehicles in-development that claim to be able to do what SLS+Orion can do. One is the Russian's Federation spacecraft, which has been delayed constantly for lack of funding. The other is SpaceX's Starship, which is in a preliminary design phase, and is insanely technically ambitious.

You are also incorrect about what Block 2 is. Block 2 is not a name for a cargo version of SLS - any Block of SLS can be used in a cargo configuration, even Block 1 (as-is the plan for Europa Clipper). Block 2 is simply the name for the SLS variant after the Block 1B SRBs are replaced with the Advanced Boosters - something not likely to happen until a hypothetical Mars campaign.

Whatever, call it 1bC then. Block 1 with a fairing is pretty useless, as it's just a 5m fairing, and like other LVs Falcon 9/FH, for example) you can't actually put enough mass under the fairing to reach the throw weight, so it's just excess props in stage 2 and a regular sized payload (good for high C3, but for ciclunar that doesn't matter). Counting on advanced boosters makes b2 even more useless from a planning standpoint.

 

1 hour ago, jadebenn said:

If an extra cargo SLS is needed for a lander, there are actually four SLSes currently in the pipeline. Three are for Artemis. One is for Europa Clipper. You could just bump it off to a commercial launcher and use that extra cargo SLS if necessary.

They will not fly multiple SLSes close together. That's about as likely to plan around as Starship. So far the hopper/SS tests are now what, a month behind schedule? SLS is running how many years behind schedule now (base it on the most optimistic EM-1 you like)?

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BTW, I’ll believe SS as a crew vehicle when I see one fly with crew in it. My thoughts about SLS have exactly nothing to do with SpaceX or Starship, I think it’s a poor design. Too small for missions to anywhere by itself, and the sustainer/srb architecture means that it’s pretty much uselessly large for LEO at all (designed to launch directly to an elliptical orbit). 

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42 minutes ago, tater said:

The Apollo CSM did not get humans to the surface, Saturn V, OTOH, did.

 SLS will not, not ever.

I don't understand your argument. The Saturn V didn't bring people directly to the lunar surface either. It brought the equipment and people to TLI, whereupon the CSM brought the LM and itself into LLO, and the LM brought people to the surface. The only difference from SLS is that the lander didn't launch separately. Neither the Saturn V or SLS have brought or will bring people to the lunar surface by themselves, but each performs the vitally important task of getting a crewed spacecraft near the Moon in the first place. Can't have a human landing without the humans, after all.

42 minutes ago, tater said:

Whatever, call it 1bC then. Block 1 with a fairing is pretty useless, as it's just a 5m fairing, and like other LVs Falcon 9/FH, for example) you can't actually put enough mass under the fairing to reach the throw weight, so it's just excess props in stage 2 and a regular sized payload (good for high C3, but for ciclunar that doesn't matter). Counting on advanced boosters makes b2 even more useless from a planning standpoint.

I don't get your last statement. Block 2 isn't useless from a planning standpoint, it's just not relevant to the near-term.

42 minutes ago, tater said:

They will not fly multiple SLSes close together. That's about as likely to plan around as Starship. So far the hopper/SS tests are now what, a month behind schedule? SLS is running how many years behind schedule now (base it on the most optimistic EM-1 you like)?

Just to clarify: It's not an option now, but it is an option for the future, one that's built into the spec. The SLS is actually meant to have a fairly minimal on-pad presence. In fact, it can only sit on the pad for 7 days before some of the batteries in it go dead, and a rollback is required.

Problem is that you'd need to "stockpile" them (i.e. hold one until the other's complete), and the VAB and ML aren't currently configured for that. It would only really come into play with a Mars campaign, not a lunar one, and without the second ML, it's just not possible to stack SLSes simultaneously. So, yeah, limited to a 6-month launch cadence until ~2024, when ML-2 comes online.

Edited by jadebenn
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34 minutes ago, tater said:

I think it’s a poor design. Too small for missions to anywhere by itself

How so? A SS fully refuelled in orbit would seem to have a huge range of destinations it could reach. And the internal cargo/passenger volume seems quite impressive compared to anything we’ve had so far.

Edited by Guest
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2 minutes ago, Dale Christopher said:

How so? A SS fully refuelled in orbit would seem to have a huge range of destinations it could reach. And the internal cargo/passenger volume seems quite impressive compared to anything we’ve have so far.

This discussion is outside the scope of this thread.

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10 minutes ago, Dale Christopher said:

How so? A SS fully refuelled in orbit would seem to have a huge range of destinations it could reach. And the internal cargo/passenger volume seems quite impressive compared to anything we’ve had so far.

So would a fully fueled SLS core, assuming you could relight the RS-25s. Surprise surprise, refueling any vehicle with the ability to reignite the engines, is a big boost to DV

Also a photo from Rocket Emporium Discord

Render15.png

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