Discussion A contingency plan for fast return of the U.S. to space.

Urwumpe

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Also, there is actually no hard evidence that the cabin even lost pressure.

But there is also no reason to assume, that there should be much cabin left after a 22g acceleration. Its way beyond what the various components in the cabin had been designed for. It is even very likely, that some overhead panels had been ripped out of their frames at that acceleration.

And the collapsible seats had likely also failed beyond 15g. Likely leaving only the commander and pilot capable of doing anything useful.

Even if the crew very likely was alive before impacting the ocean, it could easily have been different. There was a lot of work involved to turn the Shuttle cabin into an escape capsule. Much more then just sticking some KSP parachutes to it and hope that all will work fine until free fall.

The same also applies to re-entry capsules BTW. You have to design everything in them for the task and make sure it really keeps its promises.
 

Evil_Onyx

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What? The B-58 Hustler had one, and I'm pretty sure it was operational.



B-58_Escape_Capsule.jpg

Convair_B-58_Ejection_Capsule_3-4_front_view_061101-F-1234P-012.jpg


Interestingly, the images refer to a "ejection pod" and a "ejection capsule", so this might be a moot point if the two are distinct. Also moot if a delta-wing is not "fixed-wing".


My bad, forgot about that one, but i would still consider the Hustler's ejection system as seats, as it did not contain multiple crew, and those seats where never that reliable and not a Zero-zero system.

The second image you posted was of a rocket sled used to evaluate and develop the crew pods.
http://wikimapia.org/26651922/B-58-Hustler-Rocket-Sled

To clarify why I quotation-ed "fixed wing" both F-111 and B-1A are variable geometry winged (swing wing) aircraft.
 
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ISProgram

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In a completely different turn of events, I found a interesting quote from a cosmonaut by the name of [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oleg_Kotov"]Oleg Kotov[/ame] in this article a few years ago.

If it had been extended to a crewed system, in what ways would Buran have differed from NASA's shuttle orbiter?
In terms of escape systems it would have allowed all of a crew to escape at any stage of the flight; even on the launch pad there was an escape pod. The NASA shuttle crew does not have this opportunity. Buran had ejector seats for all crew members. And that includes those sitting in the mid-deck, who had seats that ejected sideways.

Very interesting, I would say...
 

kamaz

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But there is also no reason to assume, that there should be much cabin left after a 22g acceleration. Its way beyond what the various components in the cabin had been designed for. It is even very likely, that some overhead panels had been ripped out of their frames at that acceleration.

Granted. Still, my point was that reading NASA statements on the disaster made me a little uneasy. It is basically We were really trying to prove that the crew was not conscious on impact, but we don't really don't have anything to show for it.

Anyway, I found this NSF thread with a lot of pictures.

---------- Post added at 01:53 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:10 AM ----------

And here someone claims that he has actually heard the tape from McAuliffe's recorder (after T+73) and that the crew died due to excessive g-forces.
 

Andy44

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But also very heavy and very useless for most of the flight.

Just like a capsule's LES. :hello:

Although I have to wonder how survivable a Buran accident would've been. Fact is even with fancy escape systems there are a lot of ways to die in a rocket launch. Getting ejected sideways at high altitude and hypersonic speed seems less appetizing than staying inside your cozy capsule while the escape tower rocket does its job. Price you pay for a having a winged jetliner-sized spaceplane I suppose.

Granted. Still, my point was that reading NASA statements on the disaster made me a little uneasy. It is basically We were really trying to prove that the crew was not conscious on impact, but we don't really don't have anything to show for it.

A lot of the gruesome results of both shuttle accidents are frequently glossed over for public consumption. I have heard that supersonic shock waves were cutting bodies apart inside Columbia's cabin after the breakup, but I've never actually heard that from an official source. All you get is something along the lines of "crew died from excessive G-forces" or something to that effect.

Even Mike Mullane doesn't know what really happened inside Challenger's cabin after the breakup; and he strikes me as a very straightforward writer on the subject.

---------- Post added at 09:16 PM ---------- Previous post was at 09:06 PM ----------

You're right. After those poor devils perished, NASA installed a fully functional launch escape system in the shuttle....not.

Of course not. The work involved would have killed the American space programme right there and then.

The American space program is pretty dead right now, especially since the US is on the outs with the owners of our only ride, which is why this thread exists. The point is that if someone wants to revive it in a hurry it can be done, even if it means cutting safety corners.

Just like NASA did when Discovery launched in 1988 with no LES and a bunch of crossed fingers.
 

ISProgram

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Just like a capsule's LES. :hello:

Wait, what? There is no truth in that at all. A capsule's LES is jettisoned during the launch phase, regardless of whether or not there was an accident. It does NOT stay on the vehicle for most of the mission and is thus not useless mass. A space plane "LES" stays on the vehicle throughout the mission, since it is not jettisoned unless a accident occurs (unlike the capsule LES). Now that's mostly use/ess mass.

Just like NASA did when Discovery launched in 1988 with no LES and a bunch of crossed fingers.

:uhh: But, the first shuttle mission and every subsequent mission was just like this, since I wouldn't call what the shuttle had a LES.
 

Andy44

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Wait, what? There is no truth in that at all. A capsule's LES is jettisoned during the launch phase, regardless of whether or not there was an accident. It does NOT stay on the vehicle for most of the mission and is thus not useless mass. A space plane "LES" stays on the vehicle throughout the mission, since it is not jettisoned unless a accident occurs (unlike the capsule LES). Now that's mostly use/ess mass.

Yes, and the launch phase is where you'd like to have a lot less mass, plus the LES can mass almost as much as the capsule itself. Once you are in orbit, the mass of ejection seats (and wings, and landing gear, and APUs, and a drag chute, and a giant payload bay and anything in it, like an airlock and a Canadarm) don't hurt you so much unless you want to do some really aggressive orbital maneuvering.
 

ISProgram

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Yes, and the launch phase is where you'd like to have a lot less mass, plus the LES can mass almost as much as the capsule itself.

The same can be said for a payload fairing, and those are dumped the minute the atmosphere is diffuse enough; when it is not needed. I would expect the same to be true for a LES, where less aggressive aborts can be done without it, it isn't needed.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, a LES is really a VERY aggressive PLF. :lol:
 
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RGClark

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All three manned spacecraft being supported under NASA's commercial crew program, the Dragon, CST-100, and Dreamchaser, will have LES of the pusher type. SpaceX says they can do their first test launch in 2015. Boeing and Sierra Nevada in 2016.
The question is whether these spacecraft, perhaps with increased funding from NASA, can also carry NASA astronauts to the ISS then.

A contentious point between Congress and Charles Bolden about NASA having a "contingency plan" at about the 51 minute mark:

A Review of NASA Budget for Fiscal Year 2015, House Space Subcommittee, March 27, 2014
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqjrMeUL5Mg#t=51m01s


Bob Clark
 
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Urwumpe

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Just like a capsule's LES. :hello:

I meant this a lot different than you likely understood it: Such a LES as Buran should have had in early iterations, would have worked only on pad or at really low speeds. about 40 seconds after lift-off, Buran would also have had a long period of time, in which no abort option was possible. Ejecting would have killed the crew, separation of Buran from the Energia was also impossible at that dynamic pressure.

The only good thing: Shutting down all engines and coasting to a point where separation is possible was soon an option. But would there have been an explosive failure, the time to abort was too short.

The important lesson for any sidemount after Shuttle and Buran had been, that the best way you can improve your survival chances, is to have the thrust in the orbiter to force it away from the rest of the stack against gravity and aerodynamic forces.

EDIT: Also the artistic depictions of the final instant of Challenger look a lot too dramatic to what really happened and completely wrong regarding the real sequence of events - there, the tank explodes from the aft end forward, with lots of fire. In reality it was a cold destruction by aerodynamic forces and had two phases, first at the aft end until the aft dome failure and then it jumped forward to LOX tank and interstage. The important clue is the moment, N2O4 from the forward RCS is colouring the debris cloud. Around this moment, the forward attachment failed catastrophically and the shuttle must have flipped over by the 22g load factor.
 
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ISProgram

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The important lesson for any sidemount after Shuttle and Buran had been, that the best way you can improve your survival chances, is to have the thrust in the orbiter to force it away from the rest of the stack against gravity and aerodynamic forces.

Well, not every other sidemount...
Sidemount+Shuttle.png

Has a LES... :)
 

RGClark

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The father and son astronauts Owen and Richard Garriot argue we should accelerate the pace at which we get an independent U.S. space capability:

It's Time to Push for US Human Spaceflight Independence (Op-Ed).
Richard Garriott, Cosmonaut/Astronaut, and Owen Garriott, Astronaut (retired) | May 07, 2014 12:54am ET
http://www.space.com/25785-american-human-spaceflight-capability-richard-garriott.html

We could have NASA flights to the ISS by 2015 with funding. Odd that SpaceX is not pressing the issue since they plan to make their own, independent of NASA, crewed test flights to LEO in 2015.

Both Elon Musk and Gwynne Shotwell are scheduled to appear at the 2014 International Space Development Conference (ISDC) next week:

Featured Speakers and VIPs at ISDC 2014.
http://isdc.nss.org/2014/speakers-vip.html

Wish I could could go but can't make it this year. Hope the issue gets raised.

Bob Clark
 

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Two more articles arguing for accelerating commercial crew:

May 14, 2014, 1:14pm EDT
Elon Musk was right: What Russia's anti-NASA plan means for C. Fla.
Richard Bilbao
Reporter-Orlando Business Journal
It means U.S.-based commercial space transport is even more important than ever, said Frank DiBello, president and CEO of Space Florida, an agency behind fostering the growth of Florida's space industry.
“This type of news even further magnifies the need for the U.S. to be aggressive about enabling commercial space market expansion ASAP. As with transport of crews to the ISS, we cannot wait much longer. Swift action must be taken to ensure our states and commercial U.S. companies have the tools they need — whether that be dedicated launch infrastructure or engines — to keep our national space program intact without reliance on others,” he said.
http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2014/05/elon-musk-was-right-what-russias-anti-nasa-plan.html

EXPLORING OPTIONS.
By ROGER LAUNIUS
Former Chief Historian of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 1990-2002
To avoid reliance on good Russian–American relations, the United States must accelerate the development of an American rocket. Bolden has already asked for this, telling the U.S. Congress that “the choice here is between fully funding the request to bring space launches back to American soil or continue to send millions to the Russians.” Thus far, Congress has not acted to accelerate the development of an American-built rocket.
http://www.themarknews.com/2014/05/13/exploring-options-2/

Bob Clark
 

ISProgram

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Ironic, isn't it?

One thing I've noticed is that Congress continually wants NASA to do more things, but continually slash their budget every year.

Commercial Crew was expected in 2015, but budget cuts pushed it to 2017, and now, when we desperately need A RELIABLE way (not based on Russian geopolitics or trampolines) to get to the ISS, Congress is asking NASA how to accelerate CCDev back to 2015 AGAIN, and still haven't even given they any sort of new funding. How predictable and ironic.

The US space program isn't going to get anywhere fast this way.
 

Urwumpe

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It should also be noted, that neither Russia nor the USA have selected any sanctions, that are really substantial.

Pointing out how dangerous Russia is to the US space program is quite funny in that context, because Russia has not done anything to violate any existing contract regarding spaceflight. Russia has just pointed out, that a future cooperation is no automatism. So... before crying Wolf, some journalists should better think if journalists must be doing politics.

OK, maybe Russia destroyed one Proton more than necessary.
 

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One thing that I should remind the crowd of is that NASA is doing a hell of a job just surviving as an entity in this political climate. Commercial crew is taking away the LEO work, Russia is on the war path, what is NASA to do? Launch <something> to <moon/Mars/Asteroid>?

NASA is stuck with the job of advancing aerospace science, something that often involves efforts that takes decades, but is stuck with a political funding environment that operates on 2-4 year cycles, complicated by international issues. It shouldn't work this way, but there you are, people are people.

So, how do we adapt and overcome monkeys? I'm tired of bananas and want the stars, thanks.
 

ISProgram

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A off topic rant, really...

:eek:fftopic: A little OT here, but... :eek:fftopic:

Remember Inspiration Mars? Well, I believe Congress blew a hole in their plan, but then they considered performing a Mars flyby themselves in 2021. Something I noticed was not that the two plans were essentially the same (same SLS, goal, etc.), but that Inspiration Mars' plan was better at least on the logistics side. Both used the SLS Block 1A, I think.

140228-coslog-inspire_c8e2823fd16552e761794afc9cc338f7.nbcnews-ux-720-520.jpg

Inspiration Mars would use a dedicated vehicle with dedicated life support. Would launch in 2018, with a backup of 2021. It took advantage of a low radiation free-return launch window. It required SLS, Orion, Cygnus, and Commercial Crew. More complicated than Congress' plan, but it took full advantage of America's space "prowess". It would've/could've stimulated America's space industry and (probably) create a lot of jobs and technical knowhow for actually going to Mars.

iMarsV4_Mars_2k2.jpg

Congress' plan would launch Orion on its first manned mission (2021), without full testing of its life support. It would fly past Venus, something Inspiration Mars would not do. Overall, less complicated than IM's plan, but also kind of more ambitious. The only problem with this plan is the fact that the ECLSS would need more testing, and funding, and we all know they love to give funding to NASA, right?

Perhaps most interesting is how Tito made it clear that if the US didn't do it, the Chinese or the Russians could do it themselves. What really got me (mad) was the fact that Congress dismissed IM's plan based on cost and technical feasibility(?), but that they considered doing something practically identical later on. It seems to me that they simply didn't want a commercial endeavor to go to Mars before NASA did.​
 
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