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Old October 23 2012, 04:14 AM   #257
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Envisioning the world of 2100

publiusr wrote: View Post
Here, Our triad was made of an ICBM force with tiny warheads atop tiny solids. Titans Deltas and Atlas rockets only used for comsats and milsats.
Eventually, yes. Solid boosters replaced the liquid ones only when the U.S. stopped using fixed missile silos to house the Titans; they switched, instead, to mobile launch platforms that could be moved just about anywhere, thus robbing the Soviets of any hope that they could cripple America's retaliatory missile arsenal by saturating known launched sites with bunker busters and the like.

The space shuttle managed to avoid cancellation by courting military objectives, resulting in its overly huge delta wing and overly huge payload bay, neither of which were ever used to their full capacity; it did briefly provide a useful vehicle for the deployment and testing of some military payloads until the Challenger accident brought that to an end; it was only then that the need for EELVs became apparent, at around the same time the Air Force started transitioning to solid propellants in ICBMs.

Here is where the chief designers cooked the books. They told their superiors not to wait until warheads had been shrunken--as we did.
We did WHAT now?

No, we didn't wait for the warheads to get smaller, we just accepted a missile with a shorter range until a larger version could be developed and mass produced. You may recall that that larger version was a missile called the SM-65 Atlas -- the forerunner of today's Atlas-V EELV.

Strictly speaking, since the Russians have stopped using the R-7s as ICBMs, that pretty much makes the Soyuz family the Russian equivalent of America's EELVs. In which case, it must be said that the Atlas has ALSO been in continuous service for over fifty years and has developed considerably over that time.

Von Braun had more money in absolute sense, but less real power in our military
Again, that's only half right. Ultimately, Von Braun's development of the Redstone missile -- and the now legendary Redstone Arsenal -- served the same purpose as Korolev's R-7 project: piggybacking an exploration program onto a crash course missile development program. Though their approach was slightly different (primarily due to the differing natures of the governments they worked for) the technique is ultimately the same: Come for the weaponry, stay for the spaceflight.

You may also recall that Von Braun did the exact same thing when he worked for Hitler. His designs for what eventually became the Saturn-V dated back to the original V-2 rocket program, and Von Braun was dabbling in concepts for manned spaceflight even then.

Here is what I see, EELVs will be kept around, but so will Falcon 9. SLS will be propped up--but so will (hopefully) MCT to replace Block II. Antares will die, and maybe Delta IV. The downselect will be to Falcon, Atlas and SLS. That is how it looks now because SLS is farther along than MCT
I don't see SLS surviving the downselect process, or really, even being part of it in any meaningful way. It's a political football with no actual utility attached, so it's in an entirely different ballgame.

What will probably happen is that Orbital Sciences will stop dicking around with the Antares and commission either Falcon 9s or Atlas-Vs -- or both -- for their CRS missions (why you insist on blaming the trouble with Antares on ULA is beyond me). Falcon Heavy will probably squeeze out the Delta-IV, which I think ultimately benefits ULA since they can focus on man-rating the Atlas-V. That benefits them because everyone who has ever looked at the SLS immediately realizes that it's much too large to be a practical launcher for Orion alone, and thus Orion is incapable of performing its secondary mission as a possible transport to and from the space station or rescue vehicle if the station has trouble. That, ultimately, would give NASA two or more options for crew transport: Falcon 9/Dragon, Atlas/MPCV, and possibly Atlas/Dreamchaser.

Which means that while they're throwing money at their congressional mandate to build SLS, private companies can provide their short-range launch capability for Low Earth Orbit at a relatively low cost to NASA (like they already are in terms of cargo transport to the space station). SLS might be viable if NASA or the Air Force can think of something really interesting to use it for; if not, Falcon Heavy will steal its niche and further development will be stalled and/or cancelled beyond the Bloc I configuration.

Now all that is likely to change as such time as it is flying.
You're delusional if you really think that. Even the space shuttle never flew the military missions it was explicitly designed for; what makes you think the Air Force is going to pull a 70 ton payload out of their asses just because an HLV happens to exist somewhere?

Now remember there is "no current market" for MCT either. Musk is hoping to start one.
Which is exactly why Musk is likely to succeed where NASA is not. SpaceX has a REASON to develop the the Falcon Heavy and they have high hopes for the development of a self-recovering rocket stage. NASA has no reason to build the SLS; they're building it only because they were ORDERED to, and the only reason they were ordered to was because some congressman was worried about the high tech jobs at KSC.

The Russians could have waited until smaller solids and smaller warheads came along
No they could not, because the Americans had already begun to position the Redstone missile within striking distance of the Soviet Union. Recall from the Cuban Missile Crisis that the REMOVAL of those missiles from their positions in Western Europe was one of the concessions Kennedy made to have the Soviets pull their launchers out of Cuba; Kennedy was able to do this only because the U.S. was already close to developing a feasible ICBM anyway, and the Redstone arsenal was effectively obsolete.

Personally, I want large space based military assets for boost phase ICBM intercept.
In addition to being a massive treaty violation, that would also be of extremely limited utility. Not just because we're not currently in conflict with anyone who HAS ICBM capability, but because of the sheer number of platforms you would need to deploy in order to make such a thing even slightly feasible. More importantly, the low orbits and large size of those platforms would make them relatively easy targets for ASATs, and their destruction would flood low orbit with such massive clouds of debris as to make space exploration a thousand times more hazardous.

Right now, we have to have ships at sea with solids in a tail chase against liquid fueled ballistic missiles...
That's not how ABMs work. You don't know what you're talking about.

I could argue that space based assets are cheaper than keeping this Cold War WWII era logistical nightmare
No you could not. The Air Force already studied that possibility in absurd detail, first with the MOL program and later during the Star Wars initiative. The technology to make those kinds of platforms feasible is still in its infancy and maturing very VERY slowly, and this at a time when the types of adversaries that would make such a system useful have either vanished or were never in conflict with us in the first place.
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