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[New] Space Launch System / Orion Discussion Thread


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5 hours ago, RCgothic said:

SLS will never have the flight rate to work unsupported. And this must have been known from the start. I just... I just don't understand how such a crititical component of a crewed BLEO programme gets missed. 

I think the problem goes in part because they partly prefer to do all of it in successes. I mean, sure you can do that, look at some other space agencies that has done so (Japan's an interesting example), but given tight budgeting vs. the scale that they're aiming for, they're simply going to end up lacking in experience at all. SpaceX works partly because it rakes up experience - Crew Dragon (with actual crews) only went up a good decade after the first capsule went up, but that's a decade's worth of experience on their hands. We haven't even mentioned their fails, either on test articles or landing attempts. Meanwhile, only one Orion capsule has went up (no SM at that), one SRB, and no SLS launches at all.

They should've tried to put one RS-25 under some intermediate launcher or something, then launch stuff with it, also test the new upper stages that way. Orion should've been tested more from DIVH, maybe one mission to ISS.

But oh well. I think the hardest problem of all is simply no commitment from the backers themselves (like Ares vs. SLS etc) - in this case, the US Government. It's a massive difference compared to CCDev, despite having the exact same backers...

Edited by YNM
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Just now, YNM said:

I think the problem goes in part because they partly prefer to do all of it in successes. I mean, sure you can do that, look at some other space agencies that has done so (Japan's an interesting example), but given tight budgeting vs. the scale that they're aiming for, they're simply going to end up lacking in experience at all. SpaceX works partly because it rakes up experience - Crew Dragon (with actual crews) only went up a good decade after the first capsule went up, but that's a decade's worth of experience on their hands. We haven't even mentioned their fails, either on test articles or landing attempts. Meanwhile, only one Orion capsule has went up (no SM at that), one SRB, and no SLS launches at all.

That capsule was in fact a boilerplate, not close to a flight article.

 

Just now, YNM said:

They should've tried to put one RS-25 under some intermediate launcher or something, then launch stuff with it, also test the new upper stages that way. Orion should've been tested more from DIVH, maybe one mission to ISS.

DIVH is not crew rated, and Orion cannot do self-docking, so they can't test Orion that way, either.

 

Just now, YNM said:

But oh well. I think the hardest problem of all is simply no commitment from the backers themselves (like Ares vs. SLS etc) - in this case, the US Government. It's a massive difference compared to CCDev.

It's the way they do things.

Look, we can't blame them for going about Orion and SLS the way they go about things, and we can't second-guess them throwing money at their usual contractors vs a company that was just starting when SLS was created. I'm not one of those people who will say, "they should have given that money to SpaceX," such a statement makes no sense, it's unconnected to reality.

Still, it's none the less shocking to see how very much money is burned doing something the old way, and for so very little return. Not actual return in this case, measured in flights—I would say little return even if Orion had been flying since 2016. Why? Because it was not designed with any useful mission in mind.

After 2-3 times the total money spent by SpaceX since it began we're going to have a launch vehicle and spacecraft incapable of doing anything useful at all.

The lesson to me is: pick a mission goal first, then design to achieve that goal with margin.

If your mission goal is ridiculously aggressive, then at least you are capable of lesser missions.

The cost, etc almost doesn't matter, it still comes down to, "What's it for?"

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The really ridiculous thing is that for the first half of its development SLS was primarily intended to ultimately send crew to Mars.

HOW

How do you possibly construct a crewed Mars architecture based around SLS and its flight rate. Sure they put out a few fancy graphics, but there's no hope in hell they were ever fuelling that mothership for departure. It's total fantasy.

Nobody could have predicted SpaceX's success without perfect foresight, but with complete sincerity, SLS Block 1B should be expendable Superheavy with an expendable raptor upper stage and Orion  stuck on top.

SpaceX could throw together an expendable upper stage *far* faster than EUS will come to pass, and NASA can afford to expend the hardware.

Edited by RCgothic
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1 hour ago, tater said:

It's the way they do things.

I mean, CCDev works... and it's something they made as well... We also see H-3 from JAXA, albeit it wasn't as grand, you should know that they're shifting up a gear, esp. after Artemis co-op. They're even thinking about putting back the manned spacecraft thought - even though their astronaut roster isn't looking great. Point is that they're committed. Same goes to CCDev, same goes to JAXA and MHI. Don't see that with whatever or whoever had SLS.

21 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Jupiter DIRECT. 'Nuff said.

If it's one of the odd ones where they are putting 3 SSME at a slant, probably not. Maybe something with DIV tankage but with SSME on the bottom, and maybe a smaller DCSS...

20 minutes ago, RCgothic said:

How do you possibly construct a crewed Mars architecture based around SLS and its flight rate. Sure they put out a few fancy graphics, but there's no hope in hell they were ever fuelling that mothership for departure. It's total fantasy.

I guess they'd try to put up two at a time or something ? But yeah if it's that low then it's total fantasy indeed... idk, in the 60s and 70s Shuttle made to flew a few times a year, so maybe 3-4 at once tops after a whole year of waiting.

1 hour ago, tater said:

The lesson to me is: pick a mission goal first, then design to achieve that goal with margin.

Kind of hard when we've switched from Constellation to whatever that made SLS to Artemis. God I hope Artemis wouldn't be thrown away.

 

Maybe we need CLPS to switch up a gear or something. That'd shock enough...

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4 minutes ago, YNM said:
37 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

Jupiter DIRECT. 'Nuff said.

If it's one of the odd ones where they are putting 3 SSME at a slant, probably not. Maybe something with DIV tankage but with SSME on the bottom, and maybe a smaller DCSS...

No, that was Shuttle-C, which was proposed in 1984 and mothballed in the early 90s but revived as the Shuttle-Derived HLV in 2009. The SDHLV actually would have been a reasonably good idea if we had needed expendable super heavy lift capabilities with Shuttle hardware. It would have been far more cost-effective than the Ares V: 89% of the LEO payload at 20% of the cost. However, we never really did need expendable super heavy lift after Constellation was canceled.

Nasansc.JPG

Jupiter DIRECT would have taken a standard Shuttle stack, removed the Orbiter, and slapped adapters on the top and bottom of the external tank: a lower adapter to mount the three SSMEs and an upper adapter to mount Orion. Orion would have continued servicing the ISS all this time, using its service module to complete the orbital insertion and maneuver to the ISS. By now we would have had almost a decade of legacy experience with Orion. The concurrent evolution from the Jupiter-130 to the Jupiter-246 would have had significant heavy-lift capacity without the need to develop 5-segment SRBs.

1280px-Jupiter_Family.jpg

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8 hours ago, YNM said:

I think the problem goes in part because they partly prefer to do all of it in successes. I mean, sure you can do that, look at some other space agencies that has done so (Japan's an interesting example), but given tight budgeting vs. the scale that they're aiming for, they're simply going to end up lacking in experience at all. SpaceX works partly because it rakes up experience - Crew Dragon (with actual crews) only went up a good decade after the first capsule went up, but that's a decade's worth of experience on their hands. We haven't even mentioned their fails, either on test articles or landing attempts. Meanwhile, only one Orion capsule has went up (no SM at that), one SRB, and no SLS launches at all.

...lots of other words...

 

If memory serves correctly, it wasn't even a full SRB stack either. It was a left over 4 segment with a dummy fifth segment added on top, and maybe a different nozzle. 

Added on top of all this that the total impulse of the SLS is greater than STS, but somehow can't launch near as much to orbit (in the currently only funded version) and is more expensive and wasteful per launch is mind boggling.

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22 hours ago, sevenperforce said:

Jupiter DIRECT would have taken a standard Shuttle stack, removed the Orbiter, and slapped adapters on the top and bottom of the external tank: a lower adapter to mount the three SSMEs and an upper adapter to mount Orion. Orion would have continued servicing the ISS all this time, using its service module to complete the orbital insertion and maneuver to the ISS. By now we would have had almost a decade of legacy experience with Orion. The concurrent evolution from the Jupiter-130 to the Jupiter-246 would have had significant heavy-lift capacity without the need to develop 5-segment SRBs.

I guess the key point is that these all would've taken place from all the way back in 2000... whereas SLS is such a late idea in that it was only conceived in 2010 (despite being barely any different compared to Ares or DIRECT really) and it only started so late in.

Honestly I question DIRECT would've taken any faster - think one of the problems with either Ares or SLS has been due to Shuttle tankage not designed to have loads on top of them. If they bolted an RS-25 (or two) instead of RS-68 under a DIV tankage then maybe they'd have thought of how to make the RS-25 much more cost-effiecient and powerful, and at the same time they'd have thought how to enlarge the tankages etc. This is basically how JAXA/MHI went away with H-I, then H-II (immediately replaced with H-IIA and they even made H-IIB), and now they're getting in H3...

But oh well now that we're this far off we can just hope SLS would fly at some point...

 

EDIT : On further readings, I do read about how RS-68 itself was an attempt at producing cheaper RS-25s, but it clearly failed to be applied in certain areas ie. multi-engine stages (and was one of the problems with Ares rockets). My own thinking would go more like how JAXA went with cost-reducing the LE-7 ie. different manufacturing, different sizes etc. LE-9 that'll be flown on H3 is an entirely different design indeed, but they've only stepped on the new territory thanks to their experience with the old engine. (then again LE-9 is being delayed so it remains to be seen if it will be truly cost-efficient.)

Edited by YNM
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https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/2020/12/17/artemis-i-orion-progress-update/

Quote

During their troubleshooting, engineers evaluated the option to “use as is” with the high-degree of available redundancy or remove and replace the box. They determined that due to the limited accessibility to this particular box, the degree of intrusiveness to the overall spacecraft systems, and other factors, the risk of collateral damage outweighed the risk associated with the loss of one leg of redundancy in a highly redundant system.  Therefore, NASA has made the decision to proceed with vehicle processing.

 

Sensible, it's just a boilerplate, anyway.

Wake me when SLS/Orion flies some actual flight article hardware.

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10 hours ago, tater said:

 

Is there any significant part of "US old space" now that  isn't owned by ULA directly or by Boeing or Lockheed Martin?  I'm sure they both have subcontractors, some with visibility at the contract level, but nothing that would change any of NASA's decisions.

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11 minutes ago, sevenperforce said:

God the pace

It's like watching paint dry

On an SLS core tank

Which isn't even supposed to be painted because they changed the design back in 2015

It's the combined force of all government inefficiency in one handy rocket development program!

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6 minutes ago, RealKerbal3x said:

It's the combined force of all government inefficiency in one handy rocket development program!

It does the job it is designed to do with incredible efficiency.

It transfers money from the taxpayers to the contractors and subcontractors. That's what it is for. That is the only "mission" it was actually designed to accomplish.

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15 minutes ago, tater said:

It does the job it is designed to do with incredible efficiency.

It transfers money from the taxpayers to the contractors and subcontractors. That's what it is for. That is the only "mission" it was actually designed to accomplish.

I'm reminded of that old Buddy Davis song from my creationist years...

"It's designed to do what it does do;
What it does do, it does do well!
Doesn't it? Yes it does.
I think it does. Do you? 
I do. Hope you do too. Do you?"

Spoiler

 

 

Edited by sevenperforce
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On 12/3/2020 at 11:47 AM, tater said:

Early November.

https://blogs.nasa.gov/artemis/2020/12/17/artemis-i-orion-progress-update/

Last Friday.

So call it 5-7 weeks to make the decision to not fix the problem as they have redundancy.

SN9 fell over 12 days ago. It rolled out 8 days late.

Obviously very different concern levels due to cost, and flight profile, but extremely telling. SS program is hardware rich, they could have pulled the Raptors, scrapped SN9, ad had SN10 to the pad not much later than they got SN9 out, honestly. Like Orion, these are test articles to validate the design, not a flight article vehicle capable of the mission.

 

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26 minutes ago, tater said:

Obviously very different concern levels due to cost, and flight profile, but extremely telling. SS program is hardware rich, they could have pulled the Raptors, scrapped SN9, ad had SN10 to the pad not much later than they got SN9 out, honestly. Like Orion, these are test articles to validate the design, not a flight article vehicle capable of the mission.

And according to Musk, to validate the design of the factory as much if not more than the design of the rocket.  After having issues scaling up Tesla model 3, he's trying to be more like Henry Ford (as interested in the factory design as the car itself.  He might even have to increase the "crank level" a bit to match Ford).

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