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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    It's true. He works at KSC.
     
  2. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yep, that's Jim alright--Payload processing. He and Scott Lowther over at www.up-ship.com had it out briefly:

    http://cosmoquest.org/forum/showthr...ch-costs-remain-so-high?p=1857505#post1857505

    Bye the Bye, what caused USA-193 to fail? Could it be that it wasn't closed out properly? Um..wasn't that your line of work?
    http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/systems/l-21-usa-193.htm

    Soon after launch John Locker in the UK reported that the NROL-21 satellite failed within hours of its launch and the solar arrays never deployed.

    China looks to be doing work on their own spaceplane:
    http://www.space.com/18410-china-space-plane-project-mystery.html

    Big PDF
    http://www.strategycenter.net/docLib/20111024_ChinasSpacePlaneProgram.pdf
     
  3. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    So, publiusr, what job/experience do you have in the industry?
     
  4. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Never said I did, I'm just a taxpayer who understands that Griffin who is part of the industry is no idiot. I think even Jim himself praised one of Griffin's speeches even though he thought Griffin needed to go. He made a claim of having info on the "ATK mafia" that he wouldn't back up--but that's ancient history now. Folks at nasaspaceflight have pro-and anti-SLS/HLV battles and do a better job at that than I ever did, so no loss.

    Now in Jim's defense, what he says about KSCs crew is correct. They are not irrelevant, as some of the alt.spacers maintain. I'm actually not the one trying to put him or scores of other people out of work. He likes to trash MSFC which enrages me--but he does know his stuff. If you want to know--between Zenit and Delta II, which chills its kerosene and which heats it--he's your man. I actually like Jim.

    And your expertise?
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2012
  5. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Just a taxpayer who realizes while Griffin is no idiot, he is misguided.
     
  6. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    To explore deep space we need a heavy-lift vehicle -SLS,” says Michael Gazarik, NASA, (hardly misguided) Or Carolyn Porco for that matter. Now this can all turn into a pissing contest into who is qualified to make what statements, and she was treated rather ugly over at nasaspaceflight and handled herself well there.

    Nice to see a diversity of opinions all the same. Some here think any spending on space now is a waste. Byeman defends the KSC folks, and I do too. I don't think they are obsolete as newtype thought--and as Jim said they could easily find work elsewhere. But if they did, and heaven forbid something happens to Musk, then it would take some time to get that expertise back, if some of those folks refused to re-locate a second time, knowing they may be burned.

    Now the idea of busy work may sound like pork to some, but having at least some type of goal Venture Star SLS/ MCT --whatever--is good for an industry. I like seeing all this LV development. Over-ripe? maybe. I'm sure Musk and the folks behind Antares are concerned about this block buy of EELVs, so what I would like to do now, if I may, is to postulate a post SLS space community.

    Let's say SLS dies, and it comes down to Musk vs the ULA/EELV establishment. Who wins that one?
     
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    They both win.
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If that's Jim, I find it even HARDER to believe.
     
  9. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And for the second time, nobody's claiming the workforce ITSELF is obsolete. The techniques they're used to working in, however, ARE, at least in the context of SpaceX and SNC, which is the specific reason why nobody brought that up as a counterpoint to the SLS push (and the specific reason why nobody wants to mention it, because it would imply that newspace is a direct competitor to the KSC establishment and not a potential asset as newspace enthusiasts have been claiming for years).

    Suffice to say that the KSC crews could easily find work just about anywhere else. The sticky political point is that for most of them, "anywhere else" is most likely NOT one of the companies that is going to be getting COTS/CCiCap funding from NASA, and therefore certain politicians consider the commercial cargo/crew programs to be politically threatening (because even if 3000 of the 5000 ksc workers could get re-hired in space launch companies, the 2000 that remain would be pissed voters with an axe to grind with a potentially vulnerable incumbent).

    So is COTS/CCiCap. Better, actually, since the commercial crew/cargo lead to the development of new service providers instead of simply paying for over-priced services from existing companies.

    It's only a "vs" scenario if NASA pits them against each other and artificially keeps the competition even. ULA has a virtual monopoly on government programs and telecom, but SpaceX is chipping away at that; conversely, SpaceX has a virtual monopoly on commercial cargo and (essentially) on commercial crew, but SNC and Boeing (kind of) are chipping away at THAT.

    There probably won't BE a clear winner, just the sub-dividing of the market into a couple of providers who specialize in different services. ULA might remain a major provider of satellite launch services while SpaceX with its lower prices and flexible business model could very well position itself as a servicer/courier for space stations and satellites after ULA has put them into orbit. IOW, ULA becomes Union Pacific while SpaceX becomes UPS.
     
  10. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    What if they used SpaceX and the other companies to blast those workers into space? Then all the senators would have to do is make sure the absentee ballots had an unfortunate accident during re-entry every six years. :)

    It's win-win! The senators get to keep their jobs. The space enthusiasts at KSC get to go live on Mars or the moons of Jupiter or something. NASA gets to pretend that the pension checks are stuck in a failed orbit in perpetuity due to a second-stage booster problem, and the rest of us get cheap access to space.
     
  11. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ I know this is in jest, but if we ever plan to get serious about space colonization, we're going to need to sell exactly this sort of plan to a few strategically important congressmen and get them to believe in it.

    And by "get them to believe it" I of course mean "bribe the fuck out of them."
    Did I say "bribe?" I meant "lobby" them.
     
  12. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Here's today's Space Review article by Charles Miller titled "How the US can become a next generation space industrial power."

    Along with re-usability, I've been wondering if horiontally oriented vertical launches would create a major cost-savings. If Boeings had to be stood on their tails for takeoff we wouldn't have an airline industry because the cost of such a delicate operation, from the required equipment (300 foot tall buildings, cranes, towers) to the days spent getting one set up, would be more expensive than the actual flight. Yet aiming an aircraft straight up once it's flying is trivial.
     
  13. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Aircraft are not rockets. different criteria lead to vertical launches being more efficient for achieving orbit over horizontal takeoff.
     
  14. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Actually the efficiency is the same because the horizontal orientation would be used only used for the actual takeoff, occuring at low speeds, not the rest of the flight. It's more a structural question, and whether the engines can re-orient 90 degrees without adding too much extra weight.

    For military VTOL aircraft, tail-sitters proved too tricky and were quickly abandoned in favor of re-directing the thrust 90 degrees. Even though that requires a vast increase in complexity, the increased robustness and simplified operations more than compensated for the decrease in ultimate performance. The same advantages also saw tilt-rotors succeed where propeller-driven tail-sitters failed. If nothing else, landing a spent re-usable stage horizontally, where the motors only have to hover a nearly empty stage, might be a whole lot easier than trying to get one to tail-sit, along with the problem that once a stage has landed vertically, you have to either lay it horizontally anyway or move it vertically to a building so you can rebuild the stack.

    Obviously horizontal launch would cut into the ultimate performance, but since our spaceflight problem is simplicity, robustness, and cost of a system, perhaps it would prove a better, more affordable long-term method, with faster turn-arounds and decreased support and infrastructure requirements.
     
  15. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    I've read too many arguments against HTOHL to agree with you. It ultimately comes to mass fraction. VTOL leaves more infrastructure on the ground than HTOHL and therefore has better mass fraction to orbit.

    Now, TSTO is a different story. If you can build a big enough carrier aircraft capable of high altitude, high speed flight.

    Horizontal takeoff is not desirable for getting to orbit. It is desirable for flexibility in orbital insertion. Something that is not a high priority unless you need fast deployment.
     
  16. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    Hrm... I think you've missed my idea. Even though the structure is laying horizontally, like an aircraft on a runway, no horizontal motion takes place during launch. It just lifts off vertically and then rotates 90 degrees to decrease drag.

    The point is that even if the rocket is free, raising it into position is expensive and time consuming. Think of the Saturn V mock-up at Huntsville. Building it was pretty simple (since it's not a real rocket), but standing it on its end for the display was a bitch, and the model didn't even need access for support (a Saturn V launch tower, crawler, and VAB). If you left it laying flat when on the ground, maintenance and support are pretty trivial. All you'd need is a step ladder. You don't have to pump fuel 300 feet vertically, you don't have to design a tower that can withstand rocket exhaust, and you don't have a tower you can crash into on the way up.
     
  17. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^You're kidding, right? So, your going to add all this complication (re: weight) to every rocket just so you can get into it easier? Instead of building it into a standing structure that gets re-used every time?

    When was the last time a launch failed due to collision with the launch tower?

    The reason it was a bitch putting that SV on display is that it had sat around for 20+ years and was erected outside. It would have been done a lot easier if newly built and assembled in the VAB. A standing structure designed specifically to assemble Saturn components.

    How is this magical rocket going to take off horizontally without sufficiently strong engines at the other end? OH, put some there? Now you have dead weight in the vertical position and the end of the rocket that needs to save the most weight.

    I have a feeling you're just "taking the piss" here. You're smarter than that last post you just made, though you seldom show it anymore on TBBS.
     
  18. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    But the standing rocket can only get re-used once every couple of weeks, at best, because it's standing, and you have to restack it because an SSTO isn't viable. An airliner can turn around about as fast as you can fuel it.


    A re-usable vertical rocket will probably never land on the launch pad next to a tower because of the collision hazard, given that an empty stage responds about 10 times more to wind gusts than a fueled stage. So the vertical stage will most likely land in the middle of big concrete slab the size of a mall parking lot. Then you have to lift it up and secure it a transport vehicle, which will probably take a day, and then roll it back to the VAB, which will take half a day.

    When the second stage lands and you have to repeat the process, then lift the second stage to restack the rocket. Then you have to transport the whole thing back to the pad. In the case of a Saturn V, even empty it weighs over a quarter million pounds and is 350+ feet tall. Transporting it is like moving a 35 story skyscraper, and it's subject to wind loads, so the crawler has to weigh 6 million pounds and keep the rocket vertical to within a sixth of a degree.

    The fastest the vertical Saturn V was assembled and launched was about two months. The fastest the highly-resuable Space Shuttle was turned around was 54 days. Beating that with a tall vertical rocket is going to be hard, because tall things are inherently hard to work on, hard to move, and hard to assemble. On its side, a Saturn V is trivial, no bigger than a small WW-II destroyer.

    The point is that if you want a cheap system, you can't do it vertically because it adds too much cost to every mission. It takes a crew of 30 just to drive the crawler, and then you have all the pad support. You're adding hundreds of personnel to each launch, every time, and limiting the flight rate to once every few weeks, more likely about a dozen launches a year. In that case you've addd about a million or two dollars to the cost of the launch, which is five or ten times more than the fuel cost. It's not important when the system you operate is extremely expensive, but it becomes extremely important if you got reliable and cheap enough to where even fuel was a significant part of the bottom line.

    Going up horizontally adds complexity, but we often add complexity to lower operating cots. All jump jets add enormous complexity to rotate the thrust through 90 degrees because it's vastly better than trying to tail-sit, and line maintenance on a tale-sitter would be a nightmare requiring lifts and access ladders.

    And you already have engines near the front of the rocket, used to propel the second stage. Currently they're just dead-weight during the launch. Cross-feed them from the main tank and you gain the lift-off advantages of a strap-on or piggy-back configuration with the low drag of a stacked configuration later in the flight.

    And of course you can always build a re-usable stage 0 whose only purpose is the first minute of flight, handling the entirety of the horizontal load and the lift-off thrust requirements so that you not only don't suffer a performance loss, you get a performance gain, while completely avoiding the needs for a VAB, cranes, lifts, crawlers, and towers. All you'd need is a pre-fab commercial building or conventional aircraft hanger, a truck driver, and a strip of concrete.
     
  19. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    So, "taking the piss" it is.
     
  20. gturner

    gturner Admiral

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    No, doing the math.

    Suppose that at present the vertical launch orientation adds 2 to 5% to the launch costs, and the structural penalties and extra engines required for a horizontal launch would reduce the payload by 30 to 50%. If you made the switch now, the dollars per pound would be 2 to 3 times higher, so we don't do that. But as you start building fully resuable stages with low-cost, high reliability engines, your launch costs drop to a tenth of what they currently are. But the costs of that vertical processing are undiminished, if not increased, because once your stack becomes resuable you have to haul the empties vertically, too. If the vertical costs are undiminshed and you drop the launch costs 10 fold, then that 2 to 5% added expense becomes 20 to 50% of your launch cost. If the expenses increase further due to the empties, the vertical processing could be the majority of your cost, and will be the determining factor on your flight rate.

    So you have two companies, the Vertical Corporation whose rocket delivers twice the payload of the Horizontal Company. But to do that, they have a fourth the flight rate and four times the personnel and support costs of the Horizontal Company. Per man-hour they can only launch an eighth as much as the Horizontal Company, and their investment in support equipment is about eight times higher. They go out of business and the Horizontal Company spawns spin-offs and copycats, and people used to the horizontal launch of rockets five and six hundred feet long, which are as ordinary as a Harrier or F-35 takeoff, wonder who would be insane enough to think you could stand such a thing on its end and make any money at it.

    I point this out because the SLS stack is already limited by the door height of the VAB, Congress is never going to approve an even taller building, and no private company is going to try to build a rocket maintenance shed that 700 feet tall. No private company is going to order a 6 million ton crawler or build a giant launch tower because they can't afford it. Even if they did, the structures would be tied up with vertical integration and month per flight processing times while their horizontal competitors could be launching flying machines on a daily basis with a tenth the personnel.

    If we had to stand airliners on their ends to get a plane in the air or land one we'd still be riding trains because an airline flight would be a very rare and expensive show. Is it any wonder that spaceflight is rare and expensive when the launch configuration can't be anything but?