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Science and Technology "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan.

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Old August 30 2013, 08:58 PM   #16
gturner
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

It looks like the Chinese did their homework on the CZ-9. From what I've seen they're developing a LOX/RP-1 engine similar to an RD-170 in thrust, and probably performance. Using a large tank diameter and RP-1 gives them performance on par with the SLS in a package that's a hundred feet shorter, giving them a lot of room to launch large payloads like their planned space station, or include both a capsule and a lunar module like Apollo. Adding large kerosene fueled side boosters completes the package, with 11 million pounds of thrust instead of Apollo's 7.5 or the SLS's 9, and of course they're going cryogenic on the upper stages.
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Old August 30 2013, 10:56 PM   #17
publiusr
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

The Russians aren't slowing down either
http://www.russianspaceweb.com/stk.html
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/ind...opic=31049.120

Their's look a bit taller, but height doesn't concern them apparently. I think David Christiansen wanted RD-180s under an ET derived SLS/Direct tankage, but filled with hydrocarbons...

I really hate to hear that about the potential RD-180 ban. That is going to kill Dream Chasers ride, the Atlas V, but they do have rights to start production--it will just take time.

We had a chance to test the Soviet Energiya equivalent to SSME, the RD-0120, which was actually trouble free, as compared with RD-170, what with burn throughs, etc.

The RD-0120 used channel wall. I really wish we had been allowed near those, to see them and work with them.
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Old August 30 2013, 11:40 PM   #18
Argus Skyhawk
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

Falling behind? Until China lands a person on the moon, I won't consider them to have caught up with where we were four and a half decades ago. In the mean time, I think it's neat that more countries (and even private companies) are getting into the spaceflight business.
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Old August 31 2013, 10:29 PM   #19
RAMA
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

Argus Skyhawk wrote: View Post
Falling behind? Until China lands a person on the moon, I won't consider them to have caught up with where we were four and a half decades ago. In the mean time, I think it's neat that more countries (and even private companies) are getting into the spaceflight business.

Lots of observers felt that Russia far surpassed the heady days of landing a man on the Moon, with regular, numerous, reliable launches to a near permanent manned space station: Mir back in the 80s. The Moon is great, but simply the idea that we have permanent people in orbit above us at all times these days would have amazed me in the 70s when I was a kid.

The SLS may keep us neck and neck with other countries, but it's the private space industry that is the real driving force these days.

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Old August 31 2013, 10:36 PM   #20
marksound
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

A rover on the moon? Pfft.

Now, if China were going to put a dune buggy on the moon, well ... wait. Didn't we do that like 40 something years ago?

It won't matter, though. If those moon Nazis found our flags they'll be ready. It'll be Chinese instead of the Japanese, but (insert here the WW2 racial stereotype you know you're already thinking).
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Old September 1 2013, 11:13 AM   #21
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

China can put a man in space today and a rover on the moon by the end of the year.

USA can do neither (and, apparently, it won't even be able to put a man in space until the 2020 or so).
But americans keep invoking 50 year old achievements in order to convince themselves that they're not falling behind. I'm sure romans were also fond of invoking past greatness by year 450 or so.
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Old September 1 2013, 07:41 PM   #22
gturner
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

What I find so disturbing (or damning) is that Bush announced the retirement of the Shuttle in 2004, telling NASA to come up with a new system that would allow us to do more than go around in circles. The first manned test flight, of a capsule, is scheduled for 2019. That's the same time span from Sputnik in 1957, when we realized that we should do something in space, until the end of the Apollo lunar missions in 1972.

The first manned SLS block II mission is tentatively scheduled to take place in 2035 or 2036, which is the same span of time from Yuri Gagarin's first flight, through Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, George HW Bush, and into Clinton's first term, going from Vostok to the post-Challenger Shuttle era. (It's almost the same span as from Chuck Yeager's first supersonic flight to the launch of the Space Shuttle, but not quite).

You could meet a girl today, get married, have kids, put them through college, and then take them to that inaugural launch - of something Bush told NASA to build back in 2004. The average-aged NASA engineers who started working on the original concept will be 75 years old before a crewed Block II ever flies.

They're not having to invent whole knew groundbreaking technologies along the way. The SRB's are virtually unchanged from the 1970's models, bolting on an extra segment, unless they're replaced by liquid boosters using the F-1 engines we developed in the 1950's. The SLS main engines were developed in the early 1970's, while the upper stage SLS engines were being tested when John Glenn was flying around the Earth in his little Mercury capsule.

How NASA can manage to pass that off as "the future" is beyond me, since they plan to be still developing the SLS into the 2040's, while its engines were designed by people who were born prior to World War I. And I don't mean "invented the concept" of the engines, I mean "used a T-square to draft the actual freakin' high-speed moving parts bolted to the ship."
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Old September 2 2013, 11:07 PM   #23
Manticore
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

It's probably just due to the insanely tiny budget that NASA has. Their budget is great for probes, but not to support manned spaceflight. :/
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Old September 3 2013, 04:26 PM   #24
DarthTom
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

Manticore wrote: View Post
It's probably just due to the insanely tiny budget that NASA has. Their budget is great for probes, but not to support manned spaceflight. :/
The Chinese space budget is estimated at ~ $2 billion/year.

CNN

NASA's budget is $16.6 billion/year.

NASA budget

Either NASA is wasting a shit load of money on bullshit or the Chinese are a lot more efficient.

In either case - it's obvious they are doing more with less than we are.
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Old September 3 2013, 05:20 PM   #25
B.J.
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

Not exactly. NASA's budget covers many different things, not just spaceflight.
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Old September 3 2013, 05:31 PM   #26
DarthTom
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

B.J. wrote: View Post
Not exactly. NASA's budget covers many different things, not just spaceflight.
isn't that the point? What exactly is NASA's mission?

Their stated mission is as follows:
Perform flight research and technology integration to revolutionize aviation and pioneer aerospace technology.
Validate space exploration concepts.
Conduct airborne remote sensing and science missions
Support operations of the International Space Station - for NASA and the nation.

That seems very broad whereas the Chinese seem focused on the manned space flight prize. Just an observation.
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Old September 3 2013, 06:08 PM   #27
gturner
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

NASA investigated the Falcon 9's development costs because the standard NASA Air Force Cost Model (NAFCOM), which works so well for NASA and Air Force rocket development, produced an initial estimate that the Falcon 9 should have cost $3.97 billion dollars to develop, not the less than $400 million SpaceX spent.

NAFCOM Falcon 9 analysis

By the way, SpaceX was founded in 2002, developed their own engines, tanks, guidance system, and everything else, and was launching into orbit by 2006. By 2010 they became the first private company to put a capsule in orbit and return it, and that capsule was designed to hold a crew of seven.

NASA says the total development cost on the SLS/Orion will be about $35 billion, which, under the Falcon 9 development cost structure, would be enough to develop about eighty unique, private sector orbital launch vehicles.

Or, in a world where NASA was actually efficient instead of burdened with a legacy of "money is no object" ICBM hardware, military aerospace contracting practices, centers cited for Congressional district support instead of common sense, etc, the SLS should cost about $3 billion to develop over a couple of years, since they're just re-using existing engines, tanks, and boosters.

For example, Gemini was actually our third manned space project, started about seven months after Apollo when we realized we needed something after Mercury but before Apollo hardware was ready. Born in 1962, Gemini had its first flight in the spring of 1964. Of course, one of the ways we were getting the projects to move so quickly, given that we were learning how to even build such things at the time, was that the government treated it like WW-II. Just throw millions of people and billions of dollars at a problem and they'll solve it. It's extremely inefficient, but it works. For example, it's estimated that Apollo employed 400,000 people and cost somewhere between $110 billion and $180 billion modern dollars. Currently NASA employs about 18,000 people and 70,000 contractors. NASA make look back at their past budgets and employment levels and think they're doing pretty well with what they have, while SpaceX, the giant among newspace startups, employs about 3,000 people.

If it takes 10,000 or 20,000 people on the ground to keep each person in orbit, you're obviously never going to put many people into orbit, and for each person in orbit someone has to pay the salary of all those people on the ground. The solution is to build rockets using less money and fewer employees instead of bloating the budget so the same inefficient system can just get "embiggified".
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Old September 3 2013, 07:35 PM   #28
DarthTom
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

gturner wrote: View Post
If it takes 10,000 or 20,000 people on the ground to keep each person in orbit, you're obviously never going to put many people into orbit, and for each person in orbit someone has to pay the salary of all those people on the ground. The solution is to build rockets using less money and fewer employees instead of bloating the budget so the same inefficient system can just get "embiggified".
I agree with virtually everything you've said - and the point of this thread isn't to thump on NASA. Someone upthread just said that NASA seems under-funded relative to the Chinese and IMO they seem very well funded.

One thing that is encouraging is NASA subcontracts more of its services today and private contractors should in theory be more efficient so long as they are not simply trying to suck the public nipple.

In terms of a mission NASA seems, "lost in space," but I'm sure insiders in the agency would blame that on the White House. GW Bush wanting to go to the moon and Obama reversed course midstream with that objective to landing on an asteroid instead.

Perhaps the agency should be long term funded with a clear mission. Say what you will about the Chinese and their system of government, but when they make long term goals [and it isn't only in space but also infrastructure] they don't waiver when a new president enters office or the congress wants to shift focus.

edited to add:

If I were in charge of NASA I would make their sole mission to find any kind of life in space with proof. Such a find would be bigger than landing a man on the Moon as we did 40 years ago and as you say leave manned space flight moving forward to private industry.
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Old September 3 2013, 09:36 PM   #29
Lindley
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

DarthTom wrote: View Post
If I were in charge of NASA I would make their sole mission to find any kind of life in space with proof. Such a find would be bigger than landing a man on the Moon as we did 40 years ago and as you say leave manned space flight moving forward to private industry.
That's too ill-defined a goal. Where do you look? What if there's nothing to find?

A better goal for NASA would be to establish a permanent human presence beyond LEO by X date. Maybe a moon base, maybe a Lagrange station, but something that takes our current achievements and pushes them to the next level.
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Old September 3 2013, 10:00 PM   #30
gturner
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Re: China to land rover on Moon by end of this year

A more NACA style mission would be for them to devote a lot of resources to figuring out how to make reliable, cheap rocket engines. One of the cheapest in the stable is the RS-68, which is about $19 million dollars. The RL-10, which we're still flying all the time even though it was the first LH2/LOX engine ever developed, weighs 610 pounds and costs $38 million, which is five times its weight in gold. We're talking about a glorified burner, plumbing, and some transistor circuits, designed to be used once and thrown away. You'd think a society with as much advanced technology and industrial capacity like our could build something like that for about $6,000 ($10 a pound), or given some of the freaky metals, maybe $50,000 tops. Yet to my knowledge, nobody except SpaceX has ever made a modern turbopump for much less than about $800,000 - for a fuel pump.

It's said that more than half the cost of the rocket is the engine, and most of the cost of the engine is the turbopump. It's also said that regarding costs, a rocket is some stuff you attach to a turbopump to get into space.

Xcor has developed a piston pump just to sidestep the problem, noting that nobody who makes a turbopump makes more than a handful of them a year on extremely expensive and specialized machines, so they'll of course cost a fortune, whereas if you use pistons you can go down to the local motorcycle performance expert and get some help.

For about a year I've been looking at an idea to make a turbopump without any moving parts, whose efficiency wouldn't be much less than existing methods, and it all hinges on whether I can recover pressure from a high speed stream of droplets, a feat that really has no other useful application.
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