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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

Robot Guy Weighs in on the VSE

Robot Guy gives his response on how VSE should be implemented. I can't disagree with much of what he says. I am a big proponent of using Hardware we already have (live the EELV, for instance) instead of building a bunch o' shiny new rockets.


Anonymous said...

EELVs are crap, and robot guys aren't big into manned spaceflight anyway.

It will take five to six Delta IVs (expending 15-18 RS-68s!) with no engine-out to launch what Ares V can orbit in one launch WITH engine out--expending only five such engines.

Imagine the worst of ISS assembly options--using the failed DART system. That's what Robot guy wants.


Griffin is a real engineer, and I trust his judgement.

Dan Schrimpsher said...

Technically the Ares V can't lift anything since it is still on paper and will be for at least 7 years.

Five Deltas IV's in the hand are worth one Ares on the drawing board.

We are all real engineers. The problem with the ISS assembly is it's hard link to the Space Shuttle. An any system going to Mars is going to have at least some assembling. We might as well start now.

It may be safe, but it sure aint' simple or soon. Imagine the worst of the Shuttle and Apollo. That's what Griffin and you want.

Anonymous said...

I don't think of Apollo as 'worst.'

EELV was on paper too. Delta IV is awkwardly sized compared to Atlas, yet too thin to use high volume LH2.

And Delta IV is a real pad-sitter.

How many successful Delta IV 'heavy' launches have worked?


Delta IV is the 'thud' of LVs, has disposal issues, black zones and what have you.

Assembly is NOT something we should start now. HLLVs limit assembly to large space stations and Mars ships.

Five Ares Vs and ISS would have been finished years ago. With EELV, ISS assembly would have been even more tedious. An idea that must have come from a group home.

Dan Schrimpsher said...

I said the worst of Apollo. I didn't say Apollo was worst. The problem with Apollo was it was unsustainable. It was good to get there, but it wasn't going to form a long term solution to cis-lunar travel.

The Ares program has the same problem. It is hardware designed around a short term mission. Any use for Mars or Asteroids is in my opinion an afterthought.

The Shuttle is obscenely expensive. I think Ares is taking the parts of the Shuttle program that cost so much. The Saturn was inexpensive compared to the Shuttle.

With 5 Ares V and a huge redesign of the modules, ISS maybe was finished years ago. The current ISS modules were designed to only fit in the shuttle cargo bay.

Now I will agree we should have keep the Saturn V, and a heavy lifter would have been useful over the years. But I don't see the need to spend billions on Ares when you could spend a fraction of that on finishing up the Delta IV.

Why shouldn't we start orbital assembly now? What does it buy us to get to the Moon without making it easier and cheaper to get there in the future? We need to start thinking off the shelf, not customized acquisition.

Ed said...

This particular robot guy is big into manned spaceflight. I want to go up there myself. I recognize that it shouldn't be an either/or proposition; human beings and robots each have strengths and weaknesses, and the strengths of one tend to overlap with the weaknesses of the other. Using both gives synergy.

Mainly what I object to is the idea that NASA has to do the whole thing themselves, designing and building special-purpose vehicles and rockets that will never be used for anything else.

At least with what I've put up in my "ok smart guy" post, the various classes of vehicle involved can have multiple instantiations, and NASA doesn't have to do all of it. And, by the time that the first manned mission back to the moon is completed, there is an infrastructure in place that has no single-point-of-failure chokes, and multiple other types of uses of space become available, with trivial additions.

For instance, the step from a space infrastruture as I described to a Mars mission requires very little additional hardware, and would be able to draw on lessons learned at every stage of the development of that infrastructure. I'd be willing to wager that by following the steps I outlined, that NASA could do a Mars mission for *less* than what they are planning for the return to the moon, and rather than ending up with just a flag and footprints they would have an entire space-based infrastructure and economy in their wake.

Ed said...

I should clarify that a little. I think that NASA could do a Mars mission in addition to the planned moon missions, for less than they are budgeting for just the first moon mission, and be left with an expandable infrastructure capable of many other utilizations of cislunar space. Such a system would make things like earth-orbiting space hotels, asteroid missions, and so forth trivial in comparison to the way that such things are planned now.

Ed said...

And one final thing. EELVs may indeed be crap as anonymous says. So what? Who says that there has to be EELVs involved? If Virgin and SpaceX and RpK can develop reusables that will do the job, then good. It doesn't matter who does it or how, so long as the job gets done.

Ray said...

Probably of more importance that which plan is better for getting NASA to the Moon is "which plan results in more useful things along the way"? The current NASA Moon plan is scheduled to actually get a base on the Moon built so long from now that that particular result becomes less important. The importance shrinks even more when you consider the chance of delays or technical, political, financial, or management problems along the way that cause a change in goals before the Moon base is built and starts producing results.

Giving higher weight to results that can be achieved sooner, and considering the possibility that the overall program will be cancelled in mid-stride, which plan builds, or provides incentives to build, cheaper (or better in some other way) space access that can be used by comsats, the DOD, NOAA, the NASA robotic programs, Bigelow and other new commercial space ventures, etc? The same question should also be asked for each other phase that can be used for other applications than the NASA Moon base.