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Old June 19 2012, 06:58 PM   #150
Crazy Eddie
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Re: SpaceX is a go for April 30th: 1st commercial launch to space stat

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Well the HLV isn't going to cost 20 billion. Thats a figure floated by its enemies within NASA.
It's less than the space shuttle ended up costing, even in 2012 dollars. And the space shuttle was developed with a number of specific missions in mind, its specifications developed around those missions even though half of them never materialized. The Senate Launch System is being designed with NO specific mission in mind and thus its specifications are highly nebulous and subject to random, arbitrary changes.

In this case, it isn't a question of whether the rocket will overrun its budget by a small or huge amount. Given the political realities faced by NASA, it's a question of whether or not it will ever fly at all.

Also EELV launched modules will be even more cramped than Shuttle launched modules
And this makes a difference WHY? The Russians built SEVERAL space stations this way, and the Chinese are reusing that technique for Tiangong-2.

Ironically, Skylab remains the only space station that was ever launched, fully assembled, with an HLV. This is ironic, because NASA's reliance on HLVs (the Saturn-V) and derivative technology left their space program with a gaping performance gap through which Skylab eventually crashed. And now that we are returning to HLVs for future exploration, the exact same thing is happening to the ISS: a bigger space station with a bigger performance hole, SSDD. The only difference is we now HAVE a fallback position in a fleet of proven and reliable EELVs that wouldn't take much to man-rate, plus the Falcon 9 system which has ALREADY proven its ability to send payloads to the space station. It would be cheaper and easier to evolve that existing capability to support the space station and build NEW space stations than embrace a technological pipe dream that has already proven not to work very well.

HLV advocates were around long before it became pork. Selling lots of EELVs is pork too, especially if you are constantly launching say, 36 D-IV heavies or 24 F-9 heavies to do what one or two HLLVs can do.
First of all, you don't seem to understand what "pork" means, since in this case there aren't a lot of politicians slumming for ULA or SpaceX just to give them something to do. The EELVs actually have a lot of important work to do for the NRO and the JPL, as does SpaceX -- now -- have a lot of work to do for NASA. That's like saying the auto industry is pork just because the government gave them a loan.

Second of all, your math is a little funny on this, considering 24 F9 Heavies would be worth TEN HLVs, not just one or two. If you want a better comparison, it's really more like comparing a single SLS rocket -- at its ultimate capacity of 120 tons -- to the standard Falcon 9. The SLS puts that payload into orbit for $2 billion (space shuttle pricing). The Falcon 9 puts that into orbit over ten launches for a little over $1 billion. In the end, the smaller rockets do the same job at a lower cost, with less concentration of risk for the entire payload. Moreover, splitting the payload into ten launches lets you benefit from economies of scale and you actually wind up spending LESS than the full billion when it's all said and done.

Five of them and ISS would have been finished with most of its useful life ahead of it, not behind it.
With EELVS and replacement modules, the ISS's useful life is STILL very much ahead of it. The only reason there's any talk of retiring it is because NASA doesn't have the means to send replacement modules, nor the budget to build them, nor the political leverage to ask for more money to do so. The reason for three of these is that they have been ordered by congress to spend all of their money on an HLV that will not be operational for more than a decade.

Ms Porco from Cassini knows her stuff. Proton was a manned station launcher before placing a rover on the moon.
You're blurring the lines between EELVs and HLVs, then, considering Proton's capabilities are similar to the Delta-IV Heavy but less than predicted for the Falcon 9H. If THAT'S what you mean by HLVs, then we're already having two different conversations altogether.

OTOH, by that definition all the "normal" HLVs currently in use would still have to build orbiting structures piecemeal, just using slightly bigger modules.

People want to raid SLS budgets so they can keep launching Delta II sounding rockets
No, they want to raid SLS budgets so they can fund SpaceX and Sierra Nevadas development of rockets and spacecraft that already exist and are far more likely to be useful in space exploration. It's the same people who crunched the numbers and figured out that the same money that is being spent on the DEVELOPMENT of the Senate Launch System could just as easily find a hundred LAUNCHES of useful payloads on the rockets we already have.

Think of it like a family argument. Dad wants to buy a Ford-F250 Heavy Duty with a Hemi engine and customized suspension because he wants to be able to haul three months worth of groceries in a U-haul trailer (which he will ALSO have to pay for). Everyone else in the family tells him they already have a sedan and a perfectly good minivan to shop with and the money he wants to spend on a new truck could be spent elsewhere.

It's a silly argument, because at the end of the day the only reason to buy the truck is "because it's cool!"

Now imagine if we had flown 100 Saturn or SLS missions instead of shuttle missions
For that same money you could get 1000 EELVs or Falcon-9Hs. If you're using it for building space stations or long-haul interplanetary vessels, the former is going to be a LOT more efficient in the long run, especially since an EELV can launch every 6 months from any SINGLE launch pad (and can use multiple locations without a lot of overhead) and an HLV can barely manage it once a year and can only launch from Kennedy.
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