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Old October 14 2012, 04:16 AM   #233
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

publiusr wrote: View Post
newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
If we ever plan to get serious about expanding humanity's reach into space, it needs to be. We need to sort of grow up and admit to ourselves that the real world isn't like Star Trek, and the people who are going to make the biggest breakthroughs colonizing the final frontier aren't going to do it for free. SOMEBODY has to pay for it. It does not have to be taxpayers (not exclusively, and eventually not at all).
Now I think that is naive on your part. The days of one guy inventing something in a back workshop are giving way to Big Science like Large Hadron, Hot fusion...
... and SpaceX, and ULA, and Bigelow Aerospace, and Sierra Nevada, and Blue Origins. These are companies that are running world-class space programs with a tenth the budget and the technical overhead as their government counterparts.

And that is a trend that is not going to be reversed. Private companies will become more and more prolific in space over time; the only question is when and to what extent their capabilities will overtake those of NASA. Even if the SLS still keeps NASA ahead of the game, it won't KEEP them there for any amount of time. Sooner, rather than later, NASA is going to have to depend on the capabilities of those private operators even to sustain its BEO operations. They can either jumpstart that process by subsidizing and catalyzing the development of a spaceflight industry, or they can try one more time to make space exploration work using 1970s technology. In the former case, commercial operators will probably take over both LEO and BEO operations within the next twenty years; in the latter case, the next 40 years. Considering the private sector has proven far more innovative and far less sensitive to political brinksmanship than NASA has, which would YOU prefer?

That country sustained a bunch of de facto HLVs in over 100 STS launches...
... during which time the shuttle had a wide variety of uses and mission roles that 1) it performed at ten times the expense of a conventional launch system and 2) it eventually phased out -- one after another -- for safety reasons.

The shuttle was cool and all, but it doesn't change the fact that the STS was based in the first place on a set of fundamentally flawed assumptions, NONE of which have been borne out in practice. It's successor has effectively replaced a small number of those flawed assumptions with handwaving and politics.

The simple fact of the matter is the STS had no reason to exist without the shuttle orbiter to justify it. WITHOUT the orbiter, STS doesn't make any technical or economic sense; even NASA turned its back on the Shuttle-C, for precisely that reason.

Mir is hardly something I would want to do time in.
A dizzying number of scientists -- and more importantly, governments -- would disagree with that sentiment.

And the Russians, IMO, are missing out on that market. If they could just beef up their Soyuz production, Roskosmos could build and operate a new Mir-style space station in Earth orbit and lease it to India, Japan, the EU, the UK, Israel, Brazil, anyone and everyone who's ever expressed an interest in conducting space science but couldn't afford to use the ISS (or didn't want to wait in line).

Roskosmos, arguably, isn't really in a position to pull this off in an efficient way, but given enough time -- not a whole lot either -- some private companies will inevitably attempt exactly this. One of them, sooner or later, will succeed.

Shuttle was hardly small. Its very mass allowed stability for construction to begin with
The Russians didn't have a shuttle when they built the Mir. And China has no plans to develop one for Tiangong-2.

Speaking of the history of spaceflight...

A small number of SLS launches and ISS would have been finished.
Kinda like how Skylab was deployed with a single Saturn-V launch and was operational immediately on entering orbit.

Wasn't it?

Saturn-had it been allowed to continue--would have extended human presence beyond LEO.
What do you mean "would have"? It DID extend human presence beyond LEO. Then it was cancelled.

So what's gonna happen to NASA if Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Ben Nelson have a really bad election year?

fThat is premature to say at this point
No it isn't. Anymore than it was EVER premature to say that of the Saturn-V or the space shuttle. It is, in fact, even more true of the SLS, which little more than the bastard child of BOTH systems, rehashing the same 1970s technology in an explicit attempt to restore the mission capabilities that NASA was barely able to sustain in the 70s.

Let Musk do that. I'm not saying Musk has no role. Musk for LEO, SLS for BEO.
That's the problem, dude: there's no coherent plan to DO anything beyond Earth orbit!

Saturn-V was developed because President John F. Kennedy stood in front of a crowd and said "We choose to go to the moon! Not because it is easy, but because it is hard!"

SLS is being developed because some senator most people have never heard of stood in front of a crowd and said "We choose to build a really big rocket! Not because it is affordable, but because it is expensive!"

We're not talking about the usefulness of Shuttle-C anymore; that ship has sailed. We're not talking about the theoretical usefulness of HLVs -- ANY type of HLV -- to space infrastructure process; that's a more nuanced discussion, and the Falcon Heavy will eventually render it moot. This about the SLS being a really stupid thing for NASA to be spending money on, aiming for BEO, when they don't even have their shit together when it comes to LEO. That's like a country trying to build an aircraft carrier when their navy consists of two canoes and a rubber ducky; what's more, the ONLY reason they're trying to build an aircraft carrier is because they want to give the steel workers something to do.

The Polyus failure had nothing to do with Energiya
Part right. Specifically, it had to do with the fact that Polyus was fucking enormous, and was so Energiya, and therefore there wasn't much that could go wrong with the launch that wouldn't doom the entire craft.

Putting a space station into orbit using an HLV is a bit like trying to transport a car by firing it out of a cannon. It's a testament to the engineering prowess of NASA that they were able to pull it off at all... prowess that, that the current date, they no longer possess.

The angry alligator agena was a worse failure than Skylab, but no one blamed the launch vehicle did they?
More importantly, no one cared. Because Agena was cheap, and easily replaceable.

newtype_alpha wrote: View Post
Strictly speaking, EELVs have a more important place in that history than HLVs ever will.

That is what ULA is hoping for.
Not hoping for, that's just the way it is. HLVs simply don't have the work history to justify the kind of money NASA has been ordered to spend on them, even if they had a coherent plan for how to USE them, and they don't.
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