Envisioning the world of 2100

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

  1. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Don't you mean ConAir?

    I'm convince Publiusr doesn't understand the advantages of private industry over government subsidy.
     
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Guess you haven't heard of Airbus. Or this:
    http://ec.europa.eu/trade/creating-opportunities/economic-sectors/industrial-goods/shipbuilding/

    The heavy investment costs associated with shipbuilding and its role as an industrial flagship industry in China, Korea and Japan have made the shipbuilding sector an attractive target for government subsidy. Japan used shipbuilding in the 1950s and 1960s to rebuild its industrial structure; Korea made shipbuilding a strategic industry for its economic development in the 1970s. China's shipbuilding sector has enjoyed strong government support since the take-off of its industry at the end of the 1990s.

    http://netherlands.westfalia-separator.com/nieuws/singleview/article/-a88b5920b6.html

    You have to have what many call 'pork' to keep things propped up until times get better. That worked for China quite well.

    Cost cutting also can do damage:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jun/04/austerity-policy-eurozone-crisis
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-woolner/us-recession_b_1496020.html

    Now let us suppose that we could put all NASA centers in Florida--not spread everything out like LBJ across the South, esp. Texas. Lay off a bunch of folks and privatize everything.

    Then convincing the public to support space becomes harder. Space is the one thing many Southern right wingers will actually support with taxes, due to jobs, vested interests, and the like. But a streamlined NASA would only seem like one states pork, so there would be less of a brake to cut it. The "standing armies" alt.spacers decry have a place in that they vote and serve as a pro-space constituency. That is useful if a nation is to have any space footing--at all.

    Let's say Musk put everyone out of business, wrecked NASA like some of you seem to want--then goes under. The damage has been done, the in-house capability lost, and America loses space infrastructure. Time to turn talk radio off, and to treat Ayn Rand as nothing but a fiction writer, folks.

    Oh, I'm not calling for that now--that was what STS should have been to start with. That way, ISS would have been launched with larger Polyus type modules and finished more easily. Buran, unlike the shuttle's hypergolic OMS pods, carried kerosene, and might even have been modified to have landing jets, as the analogue did. This means it could have done more in space. It had a 30 tons interior payload.

    I think spaceflight would have been much farther along in that station construction would have been shorter, allow more actual science on ISS than construction using fewer, larger modules to hurry things along. Then separate modules could have had, say, space manufacturing. Then the orbiter would drop off a 30 ton ATV type craft at one end, and retrieve a 30 ton craft at the other end with finished goods. A separate, more roomy one piece free flyer would allow human studies without all the pedaling throwing off crystal growth in another. The craft could still dock in any emergency. That is where the Energiya's modularity could have gotten space operations up and running.

    Later, as a certain hypersonic boilerplate launched Navaho style shows, promise, the Buran orbiter is phased out, and we have a real spaceplane now. Energiya itself is now just an HLV for outsized station/depot launch, and routine access comes from the spaceplane development allowed by full sized tests. Then the market follows after NASA has led the way. That was true with comsat, where gov't underwrote the sat's cost. Gov't military led the way with ICBMs, and then markets followed.

    Now that I have to question that. The problem with the tanker fiasco is that you had someone in Druyen's case who was batting for the company--Boeing. The F-35 fiasco is what happens when you don't have proper gov't oversight of a company (LockMart). That looks to be changing:

    http://defense.aol.com/2012/09/17/f-35-programs-relationship-with-lockheed-worst-ive-ever-seen/

    This is a case where the private company is inflating costs and the gov't has to step in. There was an Av Week blurb some months back about an Army man fighting contractors over chopper needs. It's always been my experience that contractors need to be kept on the short leash.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  3. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. I am now definitely convinced you don't know how it works.
     
  4. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It doesn't work--unregulated.
    Again: http://www.policymic.com/articles/2267/space-exploration-is-best-in-hands-of-nasa-not-private-sector

    In terms of innovation, the private sector is not suited to long term projects. This is because corporations are based on quarterly reporting. If a project takes 20 years to complete, or even just to show some progress, that project is less likely to receive continual funding.

    You can't do long term space exploration on for-profit means alone or folks will run just like they did from the Air Taxi idea--not because it was a bad idea necessarily. F-35 might wind up being a pretty good fighter. Venture vultures are drawn to computers because computer companies have less up-front costs than aviation. This serves as a brain drain to the point that we have profits without products.

    Some things are more important than mere ferengi profit motive. Spaceflight is to be compared with the eradication of polio--it is the right thing to do--profits be damned.
     
  5. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Note that Japan lost out to Korea, which had cheaper labor, and Korea lost out to China, which had even cheaper labor. Eventually China will probably lose out to India, and then India will lose out to someplace like Nigeria. Do you really want the government to subsidize welding hulls together out of cheap steel? If any of these countries really made a lot of money welding ships together, the government wouldn't have to subsidize it because the industry would be profitable, and thus attract private investment. Large transport ships, being inherently mobile, will always be built in the country with the lowest production costs, and the cost of a ship is just steel and semi-skilled labor. Breaking up a ship doesn't even depend on cheap steel, just ultra-cheap labor, so India has already beaten China in that market.

    What in-house cabability would we lose? NASA can't even put a man in orbit. If Musk puts everyone out of the launch business, guess what? He's established a monopoly. Guess what else? He's established it by providing launch services so cheaply that no one in the industry could possibly compete with him, not even in a niche. To maintain his monopoly he has to keep launch costs below what competitors could manage, otherwise venture capitalists would just create a new company, hire away a bunch of his employees, and beat him.


    But none of that happened because the Shuttle was a government program. The operating costs were due to its extremely high labor rrequirements, and their funding was dependent on that very inefficiency and the ability to use their government status to lock everyone else out of the space services business - indefinitely. This situation only changed because their vehicle kept exploding due to its many design flaws.
     
  6. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Sorry, but corporations aren't based on quarterly reporting. That shows such a staggering lack of basic business knowledge that it boggles the mind. SpaceX has yet to file a quarterly report. It might not ever file one. Most corporations don't.

    The eradication of polio came to a grinding halt when we exposed the details of our Bin Laden raid. Maybe one day we'll be able to restart it, perhaps in a decade or two. So yeah, if the long-term goal depends on the common sense of politicians, instead of their vanity and short-term desire for a bounce in the polls, space is screwed.
     
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    You just don't get it. I'm not saying that the government should just let the private sector do everything. I'm saying to let the private sector sell services to the government. The most efficient company gets the contract, the government saves money and accomplishes it's goal, everybody wins. When NASA is involved in telling how to build and run a system all you get is cost over runs and power point spaceships.
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Interestingly, I had the very same thought about colonization of the moon. Seems to me the key problem with permanent human habitation is the need to transport your base personnel back to Earth every couple of years so they won't atrophy to the point of never being able to return. If you send up convicts, you don't have that problem; nobody WANTS them to return, and if you allow the convicts to homestead and work semi-autonomously you've got a nice Botany Bay thing going for you. The only real issue is covering up the fact that ALOT of those people are going to die up there... but then, the lack of media coverage relating to space travel, combined with the lack of media coverage relating to the prison systems, pretty much means you could suffer 90% casualty rate and nobody would notice.

    That's the biggest argument against Heavy Lift I've ever seen. After all, any given HLV with specs like the SLS is going to be hemorrhaging money from the day it goes operational; it will never be profitable, or anywhere CLOSE to profitable, and will in fact turn into a multi-billion dollar status symbol for an agency that struggles to prove that it is still relevant in the age of commercial spaceflight. Private payloads will NEVER fly on the SLS as long as cheaper alternatives exist, and the supposed advantage of the larger payload capacity and higher shroud diameter is completely blown away by the vastly higher launch costs and restrictive flight schedule.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Pork is when you spend money on things nobody wants or needs to score political points with the locals. When you subsidize things you need when private industry can't or won't, that's considered to be an INVESTMENT.

    So when you spend billions of dollars on a rocket you don't need, that's PORK.
    When you spend half a billion dollars on a rocket you DO need, that's an INVESTMENT.

    That's the thing about private industry: the public doesn't HAVE to support it. A sound business model is a sound business model and doesn't bend in the political winds.

    Quite the opposite, actually: the F-35 and systems like it are what happens when some politician says "We need a plane that can do X, Y, and Z. Let's find someone who wants to build one."

    The private industry model is "We have developed a plane that can do X, Y, and Z. Let's find someone who wants to buy one."

    It's a different approach to reaching the same goal. The difference is, private industry has an incentive to provide the best capabilities for minimal price and they don't need to attach a bunch of bells and whistles "Just because we can." Government has no such incentive; a 130 ton payload sounds like a really awesome idea in and of itself, and hell it's just taxpayer money, might as well build it.


    But this whole discussion, I just realized, has now become academic. SpaceX has begun regular cargo flights to the ISS and is well on the way to development of a manned spacecraft. They have effectively proven you wrong already, and the most you can do now is keep shifting the goalposts on an ever-dwindling list of things you don't think private industry can do.
     
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The contractor isn't supposed to tell the buyer what he needs.

    That is true with any space endeavor at first. Musk operated at a loss, and did so because profits were not his only goal--to defend him for a bit--but Apollos success is the biggest arguement for SLS in that it proves HLLVs are good ideas--because it worked

    You doubted me when I said Griffin wrote AIAA textbooks--well here I back it up for you
    http://www.amazon.com/Vehicle-Design-Second-Edition-Education/dp/1563475391

    The AIAA doesn't have fools write textbooks. There were valid engineering reasons Mike fought ULA.

    Well to say that nobody wants SLS is just not true. ULA knows that NASA didn't want the EELV albatross on their neck, so they put all this anti-HLV nonsense out. The whole depot libration point deal that folks are carping on now was their idea as a way to kill Ares V that would eliminate depots for lunar returns

    "Quite the opposite, actually: the F-35 and systems like it are what happens when some politician says 'We need a plane that can do X, Y, and Z. Let's find someone who wants to build one.'

    Life cycle costs on F-35 are going to be over a trillion dollars. That's where I would focus on cuts.




    Space X's Falcon Heavy isn't needed for just comsats but for BEO use--and is an entry level HLV--and in house--so it isn't just about profits with him.

    They still have ULA to worry about--and in the same way they went after Ares Constellation--they are going after Musk. The October 1 2012 issue of Aviation week has a cover story on Dream Chaser with loads of private spaceflight coverage. Sadly, there was a nasty little op-ed piece on page 10 called "FALCON 9 CALLED INTO QUESTION." I believe this was the same guy who also called RS-68 inefficient. He called Falcon aerodynamically unstable--which I don't buy--then fusses about thousands of pounds of unused kerosene due to the engines 2.2 mixture ration when 3.45 would be better. The fuel rich mixture allows for cheap engines.

    Then too, how often have jets dumped even more for landings? I think the writer Dale L. Jensen is probably a ULA man were I to hazard a guess. I remember a lot of his op-eds against Ares V. Now it seems Space X is the new target.
     
  11. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Pleas tell me where I said they should?. The contractor is there to provide a service. NASA shouldn't be telling them how to build and run that service.
     
  12. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Um, that's idiocy nested several levels deep. For one, the design mixture ratio doesn't have any effect on residual fuel because you don't load more than you need, and you design the tanks to hold what you'll load.

    The F-1 and RS-27 on the Delta and Atlas used the same mixture ratio as the Merlin, about 2.2:1, which gives close to the optimal specific impulse for most pressure ratios but with a much lower nozzle exit tempertaure (for 1000 psi sea-level, 1900K at 2.2:1 vs. 2300K at 2.5:1 vs. 2500K at 2.7:1) and a lower chamber temperature (3550K at 2.2:1 vs 3700K at 2.7:1). I don't know that anyone has ever even tried running at a 3.45:1 mixture ratio because the specific impulse would be significantly lower (280 vs 300, for example) as would the exhaust velocity. Those are guestimates because I've never seen an RP-1 mixture chart that went past a mixture ratio of 3:1.

    The RD-180 uses a mixture ratio of 2.7:1, but it makes the pre-burner difficult to make because it has to run in a high temperature oxidizing environment.
     
  13. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sometimes he is. When you hire a guy to fix your air conditioning, you are implicitly trusting him to diagnose and solve problems using expertise that he possesses and you do not. When you hire a guy to fix your car, you do so on the assumption that he has a greater capability to perform those repairs than you do.

    The whole point of hiring a contractor is because you don't have the capability to do the work on your own. In this case, NASA is a bit like a stubborn do-it-yourselfer with a blown headgasket who has taken it upon himself to disassemble and repair the engine himself. Everyone watching this knows it's going to end badly; the last time he overhauled that engine it cost him four thousand dollars worth of extra parts and took him a month longer than it should have.

    Of course, he's not going to listen to everyone, because he keeps telling himself "No problem, I used to do this in the 60s all the time."

    Nobody claimed otherwise. The problem with SLS is that it will REMAIN true pretty much indefinitely, for the simple fact that by the time SLS develops a flight rate high enough or an operating cost low enough to be feasible for commercial operators, the industry will have already adapted and standardized around cheaper alternatives.

    And that's assuming the SLS will ever reduce its costs or increase its flight rate; that is an assumption NO ONE is making, in fact the broader consensus is that NASA's projections on the SLS' future readiness are a best case scenario.

    You yourself have stated again and again that the aerospace industry is not very good at coordinating long-term plans... so what makes you think anyone in the aerospace industry is going to start planning space missions that depend on the SLS?

    Hell, my mother operated at a loss when she started her first business. That's what usually happens with startup companies until their business case matures.

    Again, the point is that the SLS will operate at a loss FOREVER. It will never be profitable because it isn't designed to be profitable; it isn't the kind of thing that any serious businessman would try to build.

    No I didn't. I questioned whether or not it was relevant to this discussion. Which it isn't.

    Then why did they have Griffin write one?

    The anti-HLV "nonsense" isn't coming from ULA. It's coming from people who -- unlike you, apparently -- are capable of looking at the history of spaceflight, of air travel, of industry and government, seeing the relevant patterns, and thinking for themselves. The proponents of EELVs just happen to be on the right side of this pattern, but EELVs aren't the ONLY alternative, nor are they even the BEST alternative.

    More to the point: the kinds of people who want the SLS program are the kinds of people who have proven an inability to set coherent priorities for spaceflight (Griffin) people who want it for purely political reasons (Sen Hutchinson/Nelson) and people who simply can't conceive of any other way of doing things (Armstrong and Aldrin).

    Meanwhile, NASA has failed to preserve -- in ANY PART -- the functionality provided by the space shuttle; private industry has already stepped in to take up the slack. What, then, prevents private industry from eventually displacing the SLS?

    Was originally NASA's idea from the 1990s. For someone who quotes so many AV-week articles, I'm amazed you didn't realize that.

    Which ignores the fact that the United States does not need the mission capability provided by the F-35; a fighter aircraft half as expensive with a third of its capabilities would more than suffice if deployed in sufficient numbers, which even the super-advanced F-35 never will be.

    Letting politicians define the capabilities of a new system... it's like handing a credit card to a teenage girl and saying "Go buy yourself a car."

    Not JUST about profits, no. But Musk isn't doing it for free either.

    Not unless they figure out a way to double the performance of the Delta-IV Heavy. Otherwise, ULA has its government satellite contracts and SpaceX has an obscenely long launch manifest of its own. It's a booming industry, and it's likely to get bigger once the rockets really start flying.

    Is thoroughly irrelevant.
     
  14. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Actually I've posted on this before, there are no energy shortages, never will be, resources abound in this solar system...dire prediction never take variables of future development into account and are therefore generally useless, other than to spur motivated, active individuals to work on it, and plenty of organizations are doing what gov'ts are slow to.

    RAMA
     
  15. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    That is a fantasy.

    It is not economically viable to harvest resources from beyond Earth. Not now, and probably not for a long while. We still have a lot of resources to exploit here on Earth. But I notice you said resources, not energy. Those are not the same thing. The fact is, fossil fuels are a limited energy resource, and we are using them up. The alternatives we have aren't that great. They are getting better, but it's clear that the energy advantages we got from fossil fuels are going to vanish once those are used up. And there are some that we may not fully use up because to do so would be environmentally destructive. There are already emerging problems with hydraulic fracturing, and while the US has tremendous amounts of coal, coal mining is still a very dirty and dangerous business--not to mention the fact that we blow up mountains to get at it.

    Your attitude is really the whole problem. "Don't worry, somebody will find a solution in time." Unless they don't.
     
  16. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    AH you are mistaken, energy sources AND resources. Resources will not be economically feasible till there are actually efforts to gather it, hence current projects the may be able to tap into asteroid mining, when it becomes more common, prices go down, simple.

    As for energy sources, even without lifting another finger we have the greatest energy source we can imagine 93 million miles away, if we absorb only a fraction of it's energy radiated to our planet we can power the whole Earth easily, nano-materials, and energy storage technologies are booming....now if we really want to work at it, fusion and generation IV nuclear fission technologies can also supply tremendous power, and before the scare tactic energy shortage dates predicted by the scaremongers. No one can even agree when "peak oil" is.

    It's not pie in the sky, it's happening, nations are turning to solar (even the plodding gov't all over the world now have subsidies for solar, and all sorts of perks for adopting it), the technology and materials industries are booming, ITER and it's follow up are funded and planned. You can refer to the other threads in the technology forum where I have discussed these at length before earlier in the year, if anything the march of progress in all these areas has exploded since then.

    RAMA
     
  17. Robert Maxwell

    Robert Maxwell Comfortably Numb Premium Member

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    And yet investment in fossil fuel development continues to go up, not down. That undercuts your entire premise.

    As for peak oil--US oil production peaked about 30 years ago. It's ticking up now, but global production is nearly flat. We're looking at more of a "plateau oil" scenario.
     
  18. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    What problems have arisen with fracking? So far where it's used it's produced tremendous gains in production, such as the Texas Eagle field and the Bakken Shale, not to mention all the natural gas fields. With it, Poland can probably replace Russia as the new source of European natural gas.
     
  19. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And now the OTHER Sci-Tech poster shows up to push his pet philosophy.

    Funny you mention that: it turns out the materials that work best for the construction of solar cells are ALSO limited resources. Polysilicon solar cells are hard to make and expensive to work with and pose a discrete environmental hazard if not disposed of properly. More importantly, current commercial solar cells aren't efficient enough to be competitive with fossil fuels; gallium arsenide cells might, but those are even more expensive and gallium is relatively scarce.

    Hydrogen fuel cells? Technical gimmicks aside, those will not be economically viable until we can locate a plentiful source of platinum. Platinum, mind you, is one of the rarest substances on the planet; all the platinum ever mined out of the Earth's crust wouldn't fill my son's bedroom.

    It's happening experimentally. No one is spending serious money on it yet, and they won't until there's a major paradigm shift in the global power structure. Until then, it's more worth everyone's while to maximize profits in the paradigm that exists now, since -- as even you pointed out -- nobody has any idea when that will change.
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Some pretty severe and potentially catastrophic environmental consequences if it isn't done properly. Which is a shame, because I'm told it is difficult (read "expensive") to do properly.
     

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