It's not that I believe that heavy lift vehicles don't have any place in the future of space exploration (the Falcon Heavy is almost that already). Actually, I'm coming around to the opinion that NASA has no place in the future of space exploration.
That's actually my biggest disagreement with you. Hey--I wish these warp drive anti-gravity folks were right and we could boot rockets to the curb--PERIOD. But I'm not buying into that field effect stuff. To me, this anti-NASA stance is wrong-headed in the same way Rep. candidates are wrong for wanting to shut down DoE, EPA, etc. I consider myself a latter day New Dealer these days having turned talk radio off--because private firms can be just as greedy as gov't bloat.The USAF is finally standing up to LockMart over F-35 cost overruns in the same way Griffin stood up to ULA. The collapse of the Very Light Jet/ Air Taxi model that libertarians thought would make airlines obsolete also failed due to the same libertarian venture capitalists running from aviation and towards computers due to lesser up front brick and mortar costs.
Now, to his credit, Musk really does seem to want to help--but if we lose more jobs--high skill--high paying jobs just to save a few millionaires money--I don't think that is smart. China now has a lot of shipbuilding because of subsidies, when they used to have very little.
As we saw with the Dodgers, a divorce can wreck a private company. Musk suffered a divorce--and didn't suffer too badly. But what if we did as you wanted--cut the so called pork, and Musk became the sole provider by dumping Falcon cores. I think 40 per year is the goal now. What is to keep him from jacking prices up after he kills everything.
I just think it is good to keep some LV diversity in the pot.
It seems to me a more sensible option would've been to mount the engines on their own re-entry capsule.
Zubrin wanted that for his Ares concept as I recall...
On Page 20 of the Aug 20 2012 issue of Aviation Week we see a blurb on zombiesats/ PODS. Seamus Tuohy the space sys director for Draper Labs tells us that "usually the antenna is perfectly OK" in end-of life sats. "Large antennas drive the size of satellites and in turn rocket boosters because there is a limit on how much they can be folded for launch. The rule of thumb is 3:1." Now that is still true for Musk's rocket and EELVs that are similar in size. Musk can lob heavier craft, but not much wider--and his reusable strap-ons may reduce mass down to EELV levels. HLVs with greater shroud diameter use the fact that--as surface area only goes up by the square, volume goes up by the cube--allowing simpler and larger systems than usual, such as the 150-meter-wide (492 ft) radio telescope dish proposed for Ares V.
Ah, here is the Augustine quote in case folks didn't believe me:
"The large rocket was recommended last week by an expert panel headed by Norman R. Augustine, chairman of the Martin Marietta Corporation. Leading candidates for the booster are a cargo-only variation of the space shuttle called Shuttle-C and the Advanced Launch System, or ALS"
In the past, you had things that never flew that kept folks employed--because you lose an industrial base. SLS is closer to a water tower than more outlandish SLI/X-33/VentureStar concepts that I opposed due to their being LEO only concepts and overcomplicated.
I have no problem with SLS serving as a way forward for technologies such as those listed here: http://www.americaspace.org/?p=25637
In terms of nozzle evolution, I did find this unusual
I wonder if this has been applied to Rockets like this now: http://www.space-travel.com/reports/...ngine_999.html
Not sure what to expect politically from space.
There was a bill recently that wanted Chief Admins to have 10 yr terms. The problem is that new Presidents overturn any NASA direction--which sours folks on gov't. But this is aided by in-fighting which politicos exploit to keep NASA impotent:
But to say that this is why we shouldn't trust NASA/gov't is wrong headed. Let's say I'm a libertarian. I cut the number of NEXTRAD radar stations down to cut costs. Then a tornado passes through a gap in coverage that I created and the twister kills a lot of folks with no warning. Then I stand up and say--"See, you can't trust gov't"--so I use that as an excuse to cut more. What you want is a strong NOAA, in that case to be independent of such ideologues. Now if NOAA has a bunch of folks with different ideas and starts from scratch every four years--that should not be seen as a reflection of NOAA being bad.
We all saw from the scab refs in the NFL who worked for less what happens when you are penny wise and pound foolish. Pay the experts--even if they don't seem to work that hard by a Republican's standard. If we had KSC MSFC haters in the 1960s like we do today--those folks would have gotten the Saturns killed and no one would have went to the moon. Russia beat us to the punch becasue they had no fear of large LVs, and didn't have to go to Dragons Dens and Shark Tanks to get funding from venture capitalists who shanked the Air Taxi pioneers like Vern Rayburn.
Musk might turn into a Melinda Gates, want to solve world hunger, and shelve Space X tomorrow.
I trust institutions, not individuals