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Why do we use the shuttle at all?

Posted by: Stefan Sigwarth - Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:34 am
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Why do we use the shuttle at all? 
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Post Why do we use the shuttle at all?   Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:34 am
There was a discussion on a Dutch forum (non-space related) and a guy pointed me to an article stating that the launch cost of a soyuz rocket was about $30 million dollar per launch in contrast to the $600 million of the space shuttle.

Off course the shuttle is bigger and thus can carry more people and stuff, it can launch satelites from tis cargo bay, but other then that, its more of the same. If we would say that th $30 million is a bit low, we crank it up to $60, just for the sake of argument, now we have a smaller craft which is still one tenth of the price per launch of the shuttle. If you would built 10 of those soyuz rockets (or more), you can carry more to the ISS (and maybe beyond) at a much faster rate.

Personally, i don't understand at all why NASA poors billions in this shuttle when they know it's not gonna last long. The next shuttle is likely to become as expensive as the shuttle itself. Why? Because it's big business. Exploration of space is a mere side-effect this way.

And what about ESA, JAXA, China and India? Will they joing the big business, or will they do some good to the feature of mankind in space?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:54 am
The shuttle program is much more than just a spacecraft, and while it is true that it is much more expensive to operate than Soyuz its existence is not due to purely financial reasons.

The shuttle is a symbol of US superior technology (when all is said and down it is still the only reusable spacecraft in existence, yes I know its debatable just how reusable it really is). The US will not become reliant on Russia for ferrying its astonauts on a permanent basis because it would be seen as a reflection on their own space program.

From a financial point of view if Soyuz was the only ride in town its costs would sonn increase, the cash starved Russian space agency would see it as a way of raising revenue and with a monopoly prices wouldn't stay long at $60M a flight.

The shuttle program is a way of channelling money to a number of US states and creating jobs and facilities in them. This is one reason why it has lasted so long and why there has been so much resistence to getting rid of it in the past. Shuttle derived vehicles will almost be a certainty to keep the workforce employed and the facilities open, using Soyuz or any foreign craft would not achieve this.

The US has recognised for a long time that it needs its own vehicle and that the shuttle needs replacing, lets hope that the CEV will be more successful than the previous attempts at doing this.

The US is a spacefaring nation not a supplier of funding for other country's space aspirations. If ESA, JAXA and others wish to play the space game then they must look to fund it themselves, there will be no handouts from NASA. Government sponsored Space will always be big business orientated and a way of funding a country's aerospace industry, it is too difficult to give billions of dollars to thousands of small companies;- the logistics of organising such an agency would mean most of the money spent on admin, better to deal with a few companies who can sub-contract work out to smaller concerns. This of course doesn't mean that NASA couldn't occationally have a shake up to keep the big boys on their toes, funding the TXV would be a way of showing that they are willing to go elsewhere if the usual suppliers fail to deliver.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:58 am
Hello, Stafen Sigwarth,

I can't but assist your position by far.

Since ESA is talking to ROSKOSMOS about joining the Kliper-project and Japan being interested in that project too it seems that they may avoid joining big business. The article I quoted in the Financial Barriers section and another article today say that the Kliper is smaller than the Space Shuttle and that it doesn't require that investments.

It may be interesting to think about if that will do good for mankind.

What do you think about joining ESA and JAXA the Kliper-project? And what might India do?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:02 am
I heard that esa were a bit unsure about joining the klipper now! dont remember where i heard this but was recently. I think the biggest uestion regarding the retirement of the shuttle is what will happen to the ISS when nasa moves the funding to the moon. When they are wanting to sent people there to work and gain experience will the ISS be worth funding? maybe the provate sector could start to take more control in the future?

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:31 am
As far as I know the current talks to the Russians simply are preliminary and the Council of Ministers has to decide about it in December.

I agree to Andy Hill and hope that ESA, ROSKOSMOS and JAXA succeed in the Kliper-project - then there would be something competition-like at the governmental level finally.

If the first successful launch will be in 2011 really then this is a date short after the retirement of the Space Shuttle - so it may be similar to a race without being a real one. Perhaps this may help to do "some good to the feature of mankind in space" as Stefan Sigwarth has expressed it well.

The other - real - race is the ASP - and so there may be a third race which again is not a real one: the race between privates and governmentals. But this comparison seems to work partially only because the governmental race is not for the orbit but for vehicles that can go for Moon and Mars too.

What do you think?



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 11:39 am
It seems that NASA is thinking about a phased retirement of the 3 orbiters, with the first being taken out of service as early as 2007, such an approach would save money on maintenance and servicing which could be spent elsewhere.

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=1048

If this allows money to be spent on developing a STS derived HLV that could send the remaining parts of the ISS into LEO and accelerate the CEV so that it flies a lot sooner I think that this is a great idea. If however it results in the ISS not being completed or components that were supplied and paid for by NASA's partners never making it to orbit I think that this would be a disaster that would make it nearly impossible for NASA to find partners to work on any of its future projects.

If NASA does decide to retire an orbiter in 2007 why bother to continue work on Endevour which is not likely to fly before the end of next year anyway? Makes sense to scrap that orbiter before money is spent on it. Take off anything that can be used for Discovery and Atlantis and cart it off to a museum now rather than a years time when another couple $100M have been spent.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 12:43 pm
Andy's hit the mark again. The Shuttle, for all its (numerous) faults, is still American. We -- as a whole -- absolutely abhor the very concept of depending upon another country for anything. Yes, I know, our oil comes from the outside, but for some reason we've accustomed ourselves to that. Our blood boils, however, when we think about our companies hiring foreign workers (not sure why that is -- our population is generally over-educated for simple labor work), our stores selling foreign products, and the fact that the vast majority of all American flags (aye, copies of Old Glory herself) are made in China.

There're no legislators inside the States that would even consider for a split second the idea of the American space program becoming dependent on foreign technology. They'd be out of a job so fast it'd make their heads spin. Hell, they're still mad about the idea of Airbus getting a military contract, even though EADS does employ a fair number of people state-side, and is building more factories. The main reason that it didn't go to Boeing is that Boeing has already pissed off so many people in the government by playing dirty (and far worse: getting caught at it) that the legislators decided to get back at 'em by giving somebody else a chance.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 1:21 pm
I wonder if Griffin's strategy paper, now apparently delayed until after Discovery's return, will recommend channelling some money into a small crew transport like the CXV or possibly the HL-20.

It wouldn't take much to get them up and running and if NASA underwrote say half the cost private investors might put up the rest. This could be made more attractive by NASA agreeing to use (and pay for) the vehicle for a defined number of flights. If foreign Agencies were allowed to purchase flights it would give a better customer base.

At $20M (or even half of this) a ride to the ISS there has got to be some profit in it somewhere for someone.

With STS derived HLV to complete the ISS, NASA could retire the orbiters even sooner and save more cash.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 4:26 pm
Very true.


Winged spaceflight isn't dead yet... We may have a real shuttle-replacement.
There is another player in all this. It seems that my enemy John Jumper has 'retired' and been replaced by Mike Moseley. SPACE NEWS did an interview with another AF man--James Armor recently. The changes have been dramatic..

I have been given permission by my contact in the Pentagon to speak about the Sustain Project. Here is an interesting letter:


Try this website http://www.navyleague.org/sea_power/jul_05_32.php from NAVY LEAGUE:

Excerpts:

"If you look at the projects currently ongoing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA--the X-43 Hyper X system (an air-breathing hypersonic flight craft operating at Mach 10) and the Force Application and Launch from CONUS (FALCON) Technology Demonstration (a B-52 sized hypersonic bomber/recon aircraft designed to travel at Mach 10 and operate under a 38 mile ceiling) programs--this isn't technology that's just on the drawing board. This is stuff that's being experimented on as we speak..."

Is space transport adding a vertical element to maneuver warfare?

Zilmer: "This is the next phase of maneuver warfare...Also, everything we do as Marines--shoot, move and communicate---is supported by space...There are going to be times when you are going to want to put troops on the ground, thinking Marines, who have the ability to get someplacefast. It is a future that we have to be a part of now."


The spirit of Medaris and troop-rockets lives on.

Terry Phillips of the Schafer Corp released a brief called MARINE OPERATIONS USING SPACE TRANSPORTATION (13 July 05)

One of the things asked for is a 20 Klb clas CAV-like vehicle--with the crew capsule picked up by chopper or C-17.

The old Bimese VTVL (from SLI) seems to have new life under this plan. On page 19 is the "Heavy Lift Marine Space Transportation Option" --with the bimese pictured, but this could be Magnum as well perhaps...

A "High Mass Fraction Lander (Notional Design Concept + Weights)" is detailed using Drop tanks; a 9' by 14' payload bay, and modified Production RD-0124

There is some talk about hypersonics, and later in the brief the X-37 type craft as an upper stage is pictured--so now we know who wanted the White Knight drop tests. It seems the AF is having to yield or lose space to the Marines.

Lastly is the "SSTO CONUS-CONUS MARINE SPACE TRANSPORTATION OPTION" which depicts a scaled up X-35 side mounted like Buran against a big DC-X type craft.

Now the artwork isn't finished--and a lot of this is really "up in the air" and depends on how many billions the JSF usurps.

But it does seem that the space people are gaining ground at least.

Time line to be in the next 20 years or so. The brief ends with a recommendation:

"Corps Support for Falcon, ARES and Hot Eagle as Initial Stepping Stones to Capability to Place Marines Anywhere on the Globe in Two Hours (Stepping Stone Programs All Funded Except Hot Eagle Reusable Upper Stage Program)."

This is rather like OSP/Dyna-Soar--the Hot Eagle that is--and might be launched on the Stick if I had to guess--for this was the same concept we saw back in the 80's--90's with the TAV concepts if I had my guess. So we might be seeing X-35 not atop Delta IV--but perhaps atop an HLLV or a testbed of some kind atop the Stick--which can handle pitch-loads and bending moments better than flimsy Delta IV--which canot fly depressed trajectory.

Delta IV is okay for comsats and such--but DARPA seems to be interested in other things.

The old school Navy wants DD-X, the AF (and other want JSF) but if UCAVs turn out to be cheaper--we may see the beginnings of a real space force.

The real fight--over budgets--is on.


Last edited by publiusr on Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 14, 2005 5:31 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
What do you think?



I think you're right, that (how unfortunate it may be, or how good it may be in the end) 3 seperate 'groups' are growing to the same goal. If those three groups (Private, NASA, ESA & JAXA & ROSKOSMOS) will work alone to a similar goal, i hope some sort of competition will appear in the future. It simply has to be. The way NASA goes is not the way to go. For what's worth it, there are a lot of foreign geniuses working at NASA (not to mention the ones who put a man on the moon) , so that 'American pride' is a thing that really obstructs real progress in my opinion. And, space should be for everyone (sane, that is), not just for the USA.

Anyway, NASA is back in action, but it's so clear that it cannot continue like this, but if they come with a sort-of-copy of the shuttle which has not limitted those ridiculous costs, i put my money into the private sector combined with ESA, JAXA & ROSKOSMOS. But somewhere i really hope they prove me wrong.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:23 pm
publiusr: Hold on just one minute there. You have a contact that let you legally publish a communique from a Pentagon GS15?, specifically
The Washington Times wrote:
Maj. Franz J. Gayl is a retired Marine who now works as a civil servant in the Pentagon. He also serves as the science and technology advisor to the deputy commandant of the Marine Corps for plans, policies and operations.

Read An (unrelated) Article By Him Here


Here is an article by Mjr. Gayl (ret) on the creation of a US Space Force.

Where in the hell do you work, man?

For those of you out there not familiar with the US civil service system: the GS ranking is how the military and the civilians working alongside them categorize each other. 15 is the highest rank, with an average salary of something like $100k per year.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:56 pm
The work he referes to is declassified.

I have some more news. Its a bit older--but Mr. Gayl sent me a the NAVAL Transformation Roadmap 2003
ASSURED ACCESS & POWER PROJECTION...FROM THE SEA

On Page 53 is the following:
Transformatioal Concepts and Capabilities--Long Term (Beyond 2015):

"Innovative concept exploration and planning is ongoing in several areas..."

So both Navy and Marines are looking at space. I will see if Sigurd will accept some attachments.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 20, 2005 9:03 pm
publiusr wrote:
I will see if Sigurd will accept some attachments.

It depends on the content of the "attachments".
But know, everything posted on this forum is the responsibility of the user who submits it.
Atleast in the US. (US Hosting laws), but if someone requests to delete something (as example government), we'll not start a legal fight ;)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 21, 2005 12:21 pm
publiusr wrote:
The work he referes to is declassified.


Yeah, but it's still private property.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 21, 2005 6:02 pm
He said to feel free to share the works--I will pass Sigurd the attachments in a bit.


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