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Old 07-31-2009, 12:39 PM   #46
Donamy
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There may have been more failures with commercial launches. I think (cost aside) that having humans aboard, was a major factor in the success of the ISS.
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Old 07-31-2009, 01:09 PM   #47
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 There may have been more failures with commercial launches. I think (cost aside) that having humans aboard, was a major factor in the success of the ISS.
I don't mean unmanned assembly. There would be enough chances to save the day IF something failed. But most problems for the ISS happened on the ground so far.

Also, currently all launch vehicles in the class are pretty reliable, only the Proton had seen some bad days.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:11 PM   #48
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That's true, I think most problems these days tend to be with the payloads, as the current stable of US launchers is very reliable, especially the Delta II and Atlas V.

But you mentioned on-orbit integration: that is exactly why you need a super-heavy launcher. A Skylab-sized vehicle could not be launched in parts and assembled, since each part has the diameter of an S-IVB.

You could build a very large Tinker Toy-like vehicle, ISS-style, but it will suffer from the mass penalty of having lots of joints which must be able to take the strain of acceleration once you decide to boost out of LEO.

And at some point, the cost of all those 30-ton launches will make it worth your while to build an uprated Saturn-class launcher that only gets used maybe 3 times a year.

Expensive, sure, but as they say, no bucks, no Gil Gerard.

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Old 07-31-2009, 07:15 PM   #49
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That's why the big ones should be launched from the moon.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:20 PM   #50
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 But you mentioned on-orbit integration: that is exactly why you need a super-heavy launcher. A Skylab-sized vehicle could not be launched in parts and assembled, since each part has the diameter of an S-IVB.
Well, I disagree - you have two options. Develop and build an expensive super launcher for every bigger payload so you can do assembly on Earth. Or you have to learn to assemble the same payload in space (Which is again development costs, but even if it would be more expensive than developing the superbooster, it could in the end be cheaper). There is no reason to say that you can't do it, we can't do it now.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:55 PM   #51
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What are everyones thoughts on the proposal to change Constellation to a "Flexible path", i.e. not focusing on the Moon or Mars, but on the ability to visit a variety of destinations - Lunar orbit, NEOs, Venus orbit, Mars orbit (Phobos), etc? So no actual landings, but plenty of actual travel. Frees up the need to develop landers, and you gain experience in actually travelling to these far away places.

It seems to be a bit of a Marmite idea, some really love the idea of just being able to explore the inner solar system without fixating on the landing. Some think it'll kill public interest, and manned exploration as a result. Would it just be an expensive way of doing what a probe could achieve? Or a necessary step on the way to becoming a civilisation able to travel in person around the solar system?

Personally, I'd been looking forward to the new Moon landings, but they seem a distant goal, dwindling under the pressure of budget cuts and technological setbacks. I'd settle for just going *anywhere* now. Some would say going all the way to Mars without landing would be the most pointless thing imaginable. Would it? Phobos is supposedly a good possibility for ISRU, has no need for a lander to reach it (at least I'd think not), would potentially provide an outpost for future missions, and would just provide some darned spectacular photos. I have no idea whether it is a viable option, though. If it'll allow humans to visit Mars by about 2030 though, even if just orbitally (n.b. I have no idea whether that's a realistic date, pure assumption), I'm all for it. I also like the idea of being able to really gain experience in humans travelling outside earth orbit. It's only been done, what, 9 times? 40 years ago?

My overriding hope for this commission though is to just kill off Ares I/V. As hopeful for them as I was initially, both have drifted far, far away from their initial requirement to be "Shuttle Derived", and the Moon itself is probably less expensive. Ares I can't even get an extremely watered down version of the original Orion into orbit. I'm not in any way educated in the field, just a fan, so it's possible that I'm just missing something, but I can't for the life of me work out why NASA is persisting with them.

Also - Propellant depots?
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:16 PM   #52
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Why can't NASA just man-rate an EELV to bypass all the Ares I obstacles and build something other than an Apollo-on-steroids capsule?
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:32 PM   #53
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It's an option I believe, but not a particularly favoured one due to the politics/job losses involved. I also don't think it's the capsule that's the problem. It's the continual removal of its initial features to save weight so that Ares I has a hope of surviving.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:07 PM   #54
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And Ares I was mike griffin's little pet project BEFORE he became NASA Administrator. When he got in and they needed a new rocket, that's what he chose.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:15 PM   #55
Orbinaut Pete
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 And Ares I was mike griffin's little pet project BEFORE he became NASA Administrator. When he got in and they needed a new rocket, that's what he chose.
This is a letter by Mike Griffin to Norm Augustine, chairman of the Augustine Commission:

www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=31932
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:41 PM   #56
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> You have to understand that not only governments aren't willing to pay the enormous costs for all the space stuff Andy44 mentioned.
Of course not: But ask them to give 90 years of NASA budget to save banks some turmoil and they are right there for you.

I realize it isn't that simplistic, but they could fund a robust mars program for what falls into the cracks of the bank waiting room sofas.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:45 PM   #57
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 > You have to understand that not only governments aren't willing to pay the enormous costs for all the space stuff Andy44 mentioned.
Of course not: But ask them to give 90 years of NASA budget to save banks some turmoil and they are right there for you.

I realize it isn't that simplistic, but they could fund a robust mars program for what falls into the cracks of the bank waiting room sofas.
It is tremendously frustrating to hear them talk about how tight money is and how NASA has to make due or take more cuts, then turn around and GIVE AWAY that kind of money to private banks.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:51 PM   #58
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What's funny is that I actually agree with a lot of what he says in that statement. And I think the committee, judging from what I've read of what's been said (some others might have more in depth knowledge of that), have agreed too. The only thing I have contention with is this desire to stay with Ares I, despite the constant problems with it. He says that you can't do these things on the cheap, which is true. You also don't need to do them in a cripplingly expensive manner either. That's what Ares seems to be. Designing two, vastly different, rockets, a lot of which for both has to be developed from scratch, with vastly different infrastructures supporting them, just baffles me.

Apologies if this is treading over old ground.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:17 AM   #59
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I feel like the Ares launchers are just that: Vastly different launch systems. They are roughly based on the idea of a Shuttle Derived launch system, like Direct, but they are a hybrid. They include the SRB's, and were originally intended to use the SSME, but that has gone by the wayside.

The idea of a truly shuttle derived launch vehicle, Direct, is a great idea, using an ares capsule. The studies have been done. It's not going to happen though. That is unfortunate.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:52 AM   #60
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Sorry Pete, but if that letter was to convince me otherwise, then it failed miserably. It is highly unlikely that he'll ever admit he just shoehorned his pet project through.
If it was to strengthen my argument, then I feel it did that quite well. I'll have to take a better look later, but from my fatigued point of view, it appears that Griffin is basically saying "we're already part way down this path, just keep going" while simply dodging the big question which is highly technical in nature. Sure that statement isn't an Ares vs. Direct vs. EELV, but that's exactly what it's going to take by someone smart enough in order to make an appropriate decision. At this point, I really don't think the question is if we should go, or if we should try, it's just how do we get there and how safely, cheaply and quickly can it be done? Ares has waaaaaayyyyyy too much political backwash which typically indicates a flawed pet-project being pushed through.
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