Envisioning the world of 2100

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by RAMA, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Part of that is explained by the completely different set of incentives of a government run program.

    If the goals are relatively fixed, they can't make tremendous improvements (raising productivity per man or per dollar), because then either their staff or funding (actually both) would be cut. For example, if we'd developed a Shuttle replacement that used a tenth the manpower per flight, NASA would only need a tenth as many workers to maintain the same flight right and meet the same schedules. With 90% of the workers gone, so goes 90% of their managers.

    Since most of an agencies budget is actually personnel (at some point, since machines can't cash checks) the means NASA funding would take a 90% cut, too. It would be viewed as a total disaster, and the unemployed workers and managers would throw eggs at the engineer who came up with the new system, as would NASA administrators who just saw their power, influence, and prestige erode away to nothing, as their once vaunted agency becomes the budgetary rival of the fisheries commission.

    In contrast, a private sector company would jump on such a technological opportunity in a heartbeat, because their revenues derive from sales ($X per satellite delivered) and the lower satellite launch costs would increase the market for launches. Their high-labor, break-even financial position suddenly changes into a low-labor business with 90% profits on each sale.

    You could swap the private sector manager and the NASA manager and it wouldn't matter, because in each case they're responding to signals, incentives, and rules in their respective political and economic environments.

    The fundamental problem with NASA, like any government monopoly funded by the public, is that as long as they're not making a scandal they can keep on doing things in the same old inefficient ways, just like the DMV or other agencies. Sure, you could get a new driver's license by taking an iPhone photo of yourself and bouncing it against an automated computer system, shooting the new license to your printer, but then what would all the girls at the DMV do?

    Private launch companies are the UPS and FedEx to the US Postal Service, and if they become e-mail too, it's all over for NASA, which can go back to being the space fisheries commission.
     
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But that's exactly my point: the DMV -- in Illinois, at least -- has been completely overhauled in recent years for precisely that reason. The long lines are gone, the half-assed, smart-alec clerks actually know what they're talking about and give concise helpful answers to questions. The processes for getting IDs, liscenses and certifications have ALL been massively streamlined with new technology, and nobody's complaining about a massive cut in the workforce because the DMV paired the improvements in efficiency with increases in services so they actually get more work done with the same number of personnel.

    This sort of thing doesn't happen in NASA, and I don't think you can blame this on the nature of government-run operations. To begin with, any smart NASA administrator, looking at a new shuttle design that requires a tenth the manpower, is going to immediately alter his budget proposals to order ten times as many shuttles and then put together a study group to tackle the question, "What can we do now that we have nine more shuttles than we expected?" He does this because his agency runs a fixed budget: you can only do so much with the money you have, and how much you can do depends on the capabilities of your resources. Better resources makes your budget more effective, but even more importantly, a more effective budget lets you eventually cultivate better resources.

    In the case of the DMV, that means that upgrades to their computers and offices allowed their staffers to get better training and be less stressed out, which in turn provided better service to their customers and made their internal processes a lot smoother, further reducing waste. NASA, on the other hand, has a history of betting the farm on high-tech "silver bullet" projects that have ZERO chance of increasing the agencies capabilities or stretching the effectiveness of its increasingly limited budget. When they get a surplus in the shuttle budget, they blow it all on space station studies or new experiments packages. When Congress agrees to fund the Venture Star, NASA ups the ante by trying to perfect composite propellant tanks in the same project.

    Even in government programs, smart managers use their existing budget to increase what they can do and how well they can do it. It's only lazy/sloppy/formulaic and unimaginative managers who look at a slight budget surplus and see it as an excuse to buy some more toys because who knows when they'll have the money to do it again later? That's the longstanding culture at NASA since way back to the shuttle program: the people who care about keeping the space program FUNCTIONAL are forever taking a back seat to people who want to keep the space program on the cutting edge of modern technology. The predictable result is that we are now running a cutting-edge space program that is entirely non-functional.

    MANAGE the computer system, for starters, a task which would become none too simple when that automated system is now being asked to handle voter registrations, firearms permits, PERC cards, building permits, marriage licensees, records requests, medical records and traffic tickets. That's what you do when your capability increases under a fixed budget: you increase the number of things you do WITH that money, or you find a way to transfer the surplus to another department that needs it.

    NASA would do the exact opposite of this, mind you: if someone was designing a new shuttle that required a tenth the manpower, some NASA manager would say "Well gee, that means we divert some of those personnel to developing that orbital quantum computer project we've been talking about! Oh, and how many guys do we have on the Warp Drive study model? You know, that mockup of what a warp drive might look like if we ever figured out how it worked? Well, let's put three hundred more guys on it and see if we can make it levitate with a magnetic field. And that leaves seven hundred plant workers with nothing to do... I know! Let's completely overhaul the vehicle assembly building with ultrasonic fire extinguishers!"

    Another good example, considering the US Postal Service has ALSO had to modify itself to expand its capabilities on a fixed budget. If NASA functioned half as well as the USPS, they wouldn't be hitchhiking on Russian ships.
     
  3. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Okay, I'll grant that the DMV might be more efficient than NASA, and that NASA would just redirect many personnel to other projects. However, their fixed-location, dedicated workforce would still be cut (as it was when the Shuttle was retired), which, perhaps, pretty much explains why the major design requirement for the SLS was to employ the same people in the same places to do pretty much the same jobs.

    Maybe it's the first spacecraft in history whose first design sketches were of workflow, staffing levels, and responsibilities.

    "So then these people here build a new version of that thing they build, and it attaches to the thing built by those people over there. These people here can't build the thing they used to build, so we'll have them build something else and find a place to attach it, maybe up on top."

    "Can what they assemble actually launch something?"

    "In theory, yes, but that's not what's important."

    "How often could we launch it, if we get that far?"

    "As often as it takes to keep everyone busy."
     
  4. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Fixed that for ya.
     
  5. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Seconded. I fully expect the KSC workforce is collectively going to be paid a really obscene amount of money to sit around and wait for NASA to find reasons to launch an SLS.
     
  6. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.

    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"

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/18/science/weaning-nasa-from-the-shuttle-old-ideas-revived.html?sec=health&&n=Top%2FNews%2FScience%2FTopics%2FSpace%20Shuttle


    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
    http://www.diplomacy.edu/blog/171-–-power-evolution
    I wonder if this has been applied to Rockets like this now: http://www.space-travel.com/reports/ORBITEC_Has_Real_Vision_For_Its_New_AUSEP_Rocket_Engine_999.html

    Not sure what to expect politically from space.
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/09/22/romney-campaign-issues-space-policy-white-paper/

    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:
    http://www.examiner.com/article/nasa-s-bolden-accuses-critics-of-undermining-american-space-program

    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
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2012
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    If we had a NASA today like we did in the 60's we would have been back on the moon 5 years ago. instead of endless power point presentations.
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Except it's entirely a group of Republicans who think the SLS is a really great idea.:vulcan:

    I'm not down on NASA because I'm anti-government or ideologically opposed to Federal spending. I'm down on NASA because I'm tired of watching them suck. It's pretty much the same reason I'm not a Cubs fan (Does Chicago really NEED two baseball teams, especially if one of them is the Cubs?).

    You know what I don't think is smart? Undercutting an emerging spaceflight industry that actually produces new and innovative technologies and has the potential to create a boom period for space exploration, in order to prop up a pork-heavy top-down space program that doesn't actually explore space.

    You want to talk about high-paying job losses? Evidently the lalyoffs at Bigelow Aerospace -- largely blamed on the delayed development of affordable launchers for their space station modules -- completely slipped under your radar. Do you think the Robert Bigelows of the world are going to benefit from the SLS? How about Orbital Sciences, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, hell even Boeing... are ANY of them going to have access to the SLS if and when it becomes operational?

    No? So then who the hell are we building it for? The answer is NOBODY. All the people out there who want to do things in space... they're not looking for enormous 70-ton payload launchers that cost $2 billion per flight. They're looking for smaller, cheaper, more efficient rockets that they can use to bootstrap their way into doing profitable business in space. They want to build space stations and lease them to countries that don't have space programs of their own; they want to build orbital debris retrieval systems and compete for contracts from interested governments; they want to learn how to repair and service orbiting satellites and sell those services to telecommunications giants; they want to experiment with orbital solar power and eventually orbital manufacturing; they want to send probes to asteroids to search for valuable resources, and eventually develop technologies to EXPLOIT those resources. They want to sell freighters and transports that can carry crews and supplies not just to the ISS, but to privately operated space stations and even to the Chinese if they're willing.

    No one -- and I mean NO ONE -- who is doing any serious work in space right now has any need whatsoever for a heavy lift vehicle, nor could they afford to use one even if it was available. The lack of affordable launches means a lack of demand for privately-operated space projects, and the lack of space projects, means a lack of jobs. In essence, propping up the SLS saves 3,000 jobs at Kennedy at the expense of 30,000 jobs that COULD be created in the emerging space industry.

    And here's a perfectly non-rhetorical question for you: if SpaceX is working to develop the Falcon Heavy, a launcher that is almost an HLV in its own right, why do we need the SLS?

    I agree 100%. And I think instead of flushing billions of dollars down the SLS toilet we should be subsidizing the fuck out of SpaceX and ULA. And if you don't like ULA for some reason -- which you clearly don't -- you don't suppose Orbital Sciences could benefit from a little extra funding for the Antares rocket?

    Somebody asked the same question about AT&T thirty years ago (not that it did us any good, apparently).

    The best answer then is the same as it is now: fund multiple providers, as many as feasible, as many as you can find, as many as are willing and can prove they can really do it. You don't create an agency or a provider, you create an INDUSTRY, and then you create an agency to regulate that industry and make sure there's no funny business.

    NASA could have been that regulatory agency if it had its shit together. But it doesn't, and it probably won't in the future. That's better off being handled by the FAA now, and NASA's usefulness to American spaceflight is basically at an end. Their remaining purpose in this process is to pass on the knowledge it collected in its many years of operating spacecraft, and one private operators have mined NASA for its last bit of expertise, it will have exhausted its very last reasons to exist.

    He can't at this point. The most he can do is sell it or stop giving it money, but he's already on the hook with NASA for their cargo supply contracts and SpaceX must either deliver or get spanked by NASA for breach of contract.

    But then, there's that final touch of irony from you:

    Which is funny, because according to all the spam you've been posting, the SLS wasn't conceived by an institution, but by a half dozen INDIVIDUALS with very strong opinions (and two of those individuals aren't even scientists, but POLITICIANS). Seems like you have no problem trusting individuals as long as they're telling you what you want to hear.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    We DID. Why do you think they cancelled the last three Apollo flights?

    And that, more than anything, is why I don't believe anymore that NASA has a place in space exploration. It's not just the money, it's the political will, the oversight, the prestige, the reputation. NASA is no longer a space exploration agency, and it arguably never was. NASA is and basically always has been a useful tool used by politicians to ingratiate themselves with the voters. The only way NASA gets anything done at all is to convince congressmen that space exploration is politically expedient.

    The problem is, ninety percent of the time, its ISN'T politically expedient; Kay Bailey Hutchinson gains the same amount of political capital if KSC builds ten SLS stacks and then immediately donates them to museums (probably more so than launching them, actually, if they pick the right museums). And the space shuttle only existed for as long as it did because Tom DeLay thought it was real important that NASA not replace the STS with something that didn't keep jobs in HIS congressional district -- thus the related problem today. We just don't have the kind of government that thinks space exploration is an important thing in its own right, and therefore they only give it serious support when it is fashionable to do so.

    That's what happened to Apollo, after all: we beat the russians to the moon and the public immediately lost interest. NASA had to fight it out with Congress just to get 15 through 17, and the government cancelled the last three flights simply because they were bored with it.
     
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm surprised they are supporting it frankly. I'll take what I can get. If we went down the EELV route--well, Delta IV is made in Decatur AL, so its a wash.

    Let's look at the two statements where you inferred there is no will, then hate on the Senate because they support SLS--well, that's political will.

    You can't have it both ways. Congress has been much more friendly to BEO and the LVs it will require than in the past. That you don't agree with it is fine. I'd be calling them idiots for supporting leaky depots than require dozens of smaller LVs

    Let's take a look at the November 7, 2011 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology--especially page 24, where we see the column on Space Depots called..."Fact Checking" in how the grousing began to sound 'a lot like a reprise of the old attacks on the Bush administration's Ares I rocket."

    Actually the column is about depots, with the 'widely leaked NASA study report...concludes it would take 36 Delta IV Heavy flights to deliver fuel to a space based depot...The study also estimates the same scenario would take at least 24 launches of the Falcon 9 Heavy..."

    Now it isn't just Griffin, but Scott Pace, "director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University" who question the cost savings based "on the 'highly suspect' prices" asked by the launch providers--another reason to support in house work.

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/2267/space-exploration-is-best-in-hands-of-nasa-not-private-sector


    Certainly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BA_2100

    http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/2011/11/06/nasa-strongly-in-orbit-fuel-depots/

    Michael Gazarik, NASA’s space technology program director, sees the CPST and the Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket technologies as complementary. “To explore deep space we need a heavy-lift vehicle -SLS,” says Gazarik

    Of course, the controversy continues:
    http://nasaengineer.com/?p=2608
    http://nasaengineer.com/?p=2650
    http://www.spacepolitics.com/2011/07/28/sls-report-and-another-poll/
    http://nasaengineer.com/?p=2611

    Now in the interest of fairness, some maintain that Delta-V can be reduced

    http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=29162.195
    http://www.hopsblog-hop.blogspot.nl/2012/06/inflated-delta-vs.html

    The problem is that no one is calling for hypergolics.


    I don't buy that at all--at all.

    MSFC is an institution, as is NASA which supports SLS--at least for now.

    Depot folk--are also a handful of people with strong opinions. Had the senate backed the Depot option and I called it the senate depot system--you would be making the same points I am--the senate isn't designing anything, then I would call that Depot spam--and on it goes.

    That's why I love Estonia
    http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/estonia-gets-highest-marks-for-internet-freedom/
    http://www.visitestonia.com/en/about-estonia/maps-of-estonia/wireless-internet-map

    We have the single payer interstate--they have single payer internet.

    Hey--now thems fighten words ;)
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Political will to BUILD the thing, not to send it anywhere special. The Senate didn't order that rocket because they want to send Americans into space, they ordered the rocket because they wanted to keep the KSC workforce employed. Thus they do not care when or IF the SLS ever flies; they have specifically insisted that NASA must continue to spend the money on it whether they want to or not, whether they NEED to or not, whether it returns Americans to space sooner or forces us to rely on the fucking Russians for an extra ten years.

    No, Congress is friendly to shuttle-derived boondoggles that score them political points. If the the Vehicle Assembly Building was a giant washing machine, Congress would order the world's largest pair of boxer shorts just to give the KSC workforce something to do.

    More spam. Let's not.

    Strictly speaking, that's because no one is calling for propellant depots. So far it's just a design concept that hasn't been seriously developed or tested and no funding has been offered or asked for to seek a feasibility study.

    Good for you, but I'm not selling it. Commercial spaceflight projects get their approvals not from NASA, but from the FAA. NASA's current usefulness is as a relatively finicky and high-strung consumer of services; they have about as much control of the spaceflight industry as YOU have over mpeg encoding standards.

    Correction: NASA has been ordered to build the SLS. To say they SUPPORT it is a whole different question.

    Good for them. THEY aren't doing any serious work in space either and I don't really give a shit what they think until they do.
     
  12. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Now, now, Av Week is a serious trade publication


    Ouch, I thought you were pro-depot.

    Now I was looking at the whole 'capture-to-capture' deal. One of the things a high orbit does is still allow for telepresence if you don't land.

    Something I hope they look into might be the possiblity of a depot in Mars Orbit.

    Yes that sounds odd, but what scares people about hypergolics is its toxicity--and yet they didn't mind that crane/crasher stage blowing up there. The bad thing about cryogenics (with the best Isp) is that it boils off. That's also good in that it becomes a gas. Droplets of hypergolic fuel are thought to be a threat to our satellites exactly because they don't boil away so easily. Pentaborane was a zip propellant--and it broke down into another hypergolic fuel--but it was super-toxic and phased out.

    A hypergolic depot in Mars threatens very little. Non-hypergolic storables like H2O2 and Kerosene (Beal's choice) might not scare Elon Musk as much as hypergolics--and he doesn't need any cryo-cooler whatzits.

    Now Orbitec has a new vortex cooled engine here:
    http://www.astronautix.com/engines/orbngine.htm
    But I though engine vortices were bad. I remember a Titan II nozzle that was buzz sawed off at the base due to some type of instability, as shown in this book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1557286019?tag=billonycom-20&camp=14573&creative=327641&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=1557286019&adid=10ZFY917Q136N3D8M3MJ&&ref-refURL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.techbastard.com%2Fmissile%2Ftitan2%2Faccident_533-7_1978.php.


    That wasn't the only accident involving that hypergolic monster:
    http://www.techbastard.com/missile/titan2/accident_533-7_1978.php

    These Nedelin moments are what scares folks away from storables.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nedelin_catastrophe

    At any rate, having a fuel bunker on one of Mars moons would add to infrastructure and give astronauts options--and not be a threat to assets in LEO in that the hypergolics might be ampulized as the Soviets did later for SLBMs and valves only opened up at Mars. The propellants may last a long time there.
     
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I am.

    I'm also in favor of establishing a permanent colony on the moon and terraforming Mars. And much like propellant depots, their proponents are not doing any serious work in space right now and therefore their opinions are entirely irrelevant.

    I struggle to think of a convincing reason why toxicity would be a factor for a structure that is supposed to spend 100% of its operational lifetime in space.

    More to the point: hypergolic propellants are already being widely used on satellites and spacecraft BECAUSE they are long-term storable, and everyone already knows how to work with them and how to mitigate the risks of using them. It's a mature technology and it makes no sense to change it now, especially now we can understand and control the risks.

    I never got the impression Elon Musk has any phobia of hypergolics, considering the Super Dracos use the same hydrazine propellant as their smaller counterparts.

    But like the SLS, it's not something we're going to need until WAY later, and it doesn't help us do any of the things we're trying to do right now. Propellant depots of any kind are useless unless they serve those near-term priorities.

    I think a propellant depot would make the most sense if paired with an active space station in and of itself. In the near term -- where all the money is right now -- the most active space initiatives involve building new space stations by private operators or providing services to the ISS. If anyone's going to talk seriously about the utility of a propellant depot, it needs to be in terms of what we're already doing and how launching depots is going to make that easier. One thing I do know is that the ISS spends a lot more propellant than it should getting reboosted because it has to stay in a lower orbit within range of the Soyuz and the ATV. Adding a propellant depot to the ISS -- even a small one, like an MPLM full of hydrazine -- might allow the station to remain permanently in a 500km orbit while the Soyuz and the ATV will just have to run down to the bone when they make their approach.
     
  14. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Not to disturb your 3 way conversation, but I just wanted to add support to the notion that NASA is gradually losing viability as the sole agency for both building and running our nation's space program. Why? Because of the bureaucratic overhead of being a government agency. They aren't nearly as nimble as something like Space-X. NASA made sense in the day when the private sector was nowhere near capable of doing what NASA could do. Today the technologies, materials, and brain trust involved have become far more accessible. While I don't think NASA will disappear completely anytime soon, I do see it shifting out of the building end of the business. Private companies will build the hardware with more control and autonomy over the specifications, while still making exceptions and customization for NASA, the customer.

    The old veterans like Buzz Aldrin don't want to hear this. But that's the age old problem of the elderly, who are usually stubborn about not making changes to what they know. What they forget is that NASA commissioned the likes of Lockheed and Grumman to build what they needed. The model isn't terribly different. It's just that the government would be less involved in control over how and what gets built. Actually, I think it makes for a better product because there's some competition at hand.
     
  15. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The failure of the Very Light Jet model makes me question privatization. Right now, NASA looks to leave LEO to Musk. That's a reasonable enough of a compromise. I think Tesla motors was a distraction. Listening to the elderly is a sign of wisdom. Take Lutz's critique of Musk in thinking Moorse law applies to cars. Space should be Musk's only calling. He is doing everything in house. That's a good way to go.

    The next launch looks to be continuing apace:
    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/09/falcon-9-hot-fires-engines-iss-prepares-dragons-arrival/

    Can't wait for Falcon Heavy.

    I'm not the one who thought kerosene (RP) was a hypergolic, remember? ;)


    That's what I really wanted all along--an Americanized Energiya

    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthread.php/138591-An-alternate-way-to-the-Moon?p=2069782#post2069782
    The astronauts keep the orbiter, you have an HLLV for BEO, and EELV type strap-ons. That would have been a true space transportation system. Side mount would have allowed for outsized payloads, like orbiter sized NASP or waverider boilerplates that would be too bulky to place atop an LV due to pitch loads and bending moments.

    Maybe this will be ready by 2100:
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/09/lunar-space-elevator-kickstarter-at.html

    Some other concepts to look for
    http:nextbigfuture.com/2012/09/the-fusion-driven-rocket-nuclear.html
    http:nextbigfuture.com/2012/10/skylon-spaceplane-project-troy-mars.html
    http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/09/plasma-magnetoshell-aerobreaking-should.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  16. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Since the Shuttle is dead, I don't think it would be replicated for use in parallel with an existing HLLV because the large payload bay (a huge driver of the Shuttle's design) would be redundant. A reusable, landable, smaller craft might be extremely useful though, combining a large cabin and crew size (like the Shuttle offered), perhaps with a robotic arm, a much smaller payload bay. Basically the other route being pursued by Sierra Nevada with their Dream Chaser.

    Here's a nice study on fuel depots, though it doesn't ask whether a near Earth asteroid mission really accomplishes anything if we aren't going to use the asteroid.

    http://www.newspacewatch.com/docs/IAC-12.D3.2.3.x15379-NASAStudy.pdf
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yep, my one little mistake in terminology makes up for your huge self deception regarding HLV/shuttle. You still need to view that link.
     
  18. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Dot-com bubble and the housing market collapse makes EVERYONE question privatization. That doesn't mean that private companies shouldn't be involved in information technology or consumer finance, it simply means those industries need to be properly regulated to prevent weird things like this from happening.

    Same goes for aerospace, same goes for space exploration. If spaceflight really is vital to our national security, privatization is still a better way of doing it, but the private operators need to be kept in line so they don't get too big for their britches. Keeping it under control of a government agency gives us more control than we really need and has a lot of other disadvantages.

    Much more to the point: it's pretty much inevitable that private companies WILL carve out niche for themselves, sooner or later (probably sooner). At the rate NASA is going, their capabilities will not even be able to keep pace with private operators and they'll end up having to get all of their equipment from outside sources anyway. Even if the SLS becomes operational, in the end it's still a rebranding and minor upgrade of 1970s technology; its successor will probably be selected from platforms offered by SpaceX and Boeing and whoever else is in business at the time. By 2100, NASA will be reduced to a research agency that contracts with private operators to get anything done.
     
  20. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    I'm unquestioningly in favor of the private route. It's true that without privatization there wouldn't have been a housing crash, but only because nobody would've owned houses in the first place. :lol:

    Likewise, without private venture capital there wouldn't have been any dot coms to bust. The very light jet just illustrates how the free market won't long tolerate a bad business idea (thought up in part by NASA), whereas Amtrack will trundle along its loss-making way forever.

    They key to making the very light jet model work is to cut the costs of having a pilot by not even paying them, and the best and largest untapped forcable labor supply for that is our prisons. Training convicts to fly planes shouldn't be all that hard (they all want to escape anyway), so I'm thinking of floating an IPO called "JetCon."

    But more seriously, the key advantage of the private sector is that bad or inefficient ideas get weeded out much more quickly and efficiently than they would in a public funded bureaucracy, and when they don't get weeded out quickly the firm starts bleeding money until everyone realizes what a bad idea it is.

    The Space Shuttle was so bad, from a financial perspective, that they actually banned (so to speak) launching government payloads on other rockets just to keep their flight rate up.