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Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift

Posted by: quanthasaquality - Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:47 am
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Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift 
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Post Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:47 am
At the 2011 Quakecon, a member of Armadillo Aerospace expressed doubts about
the value of NASA's to be designed heavy lift rocket. At the time, he was very busy at work. Hopefully, he now has a lighter workload, and has had time to relax. I hope he will publicly state his position more precisely on NASA's new heavy lift rocket to his fellow Texans.

People like Neil Armstrong have testified before Congress, http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/092211_Armstrong.pdf favoring a heavy lift vehicle. Additionally, politicians like Rick Perry have been saying things like, “I tell people this president has put a target on Texas’ back."http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Perry-Obama-s-NASA-plan-puts-a-target-on-1704273.php, with regards to NASA jobs. Together, they have convinced some of the general public that Obama is out to destroy NASA, instead of merely following the recommendations of the Augustine Report.

Those members of the public will not wade through a >1 hour technical talk, and hear a few minutes of opinion of a heavy lift rocket on the side. Some will support their senators' or reps' perceived fight against Obama, instead of the true taking of money from unmanned space for a heavy lift rocket in certain districts. Quite a few of those reps are Texan. Yes, Congress could always allocate more money to NASA, but Congress does not want to.


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Post NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:04 pm
There are a number of problem with heavy lift, and there are a few additional problems when it is done by NASA.

Problem one: Heavy lift is heavy, big and expensive. Each launch will cost a lot of money and because of the expense of failure a lot more money gets spent on each craft trying to ensure it does not fail. This drives up costs a lot.

Problem two: Heavy lift is good for lifting large loads, of which there are few and far between, or they are used to lift of multiple smaller loads at one time. This results in far fewer launches so you have no economics of scale, fewer chances to learn from your mistakes, and tend to force more rigid time-lines for deliver of cargoes to orbit.

Problem three: More minor but it affects you in the long run. Because of the limits stated as problem two, the experimental designs of other types of launch vehicles tend to be depressed. If you are doing 100 small launches, trying out different technologies on 2-8 of your craft will have less effect if the there is a failure or two or three or even four or five craft, than one failure due to new tech on one heavy lift craft.

Problem four: Because heavy lift is expensive, if mandated as the method to be used for a project or series of projects(missions) you have automaticily locked out many of the smaller players in the industry even if it turns out their design would be cheaper in the long run.


Problem NASA: NASA is bloated in it's management levels by people lacking the proper technical background and/or the ability to wisely use the tech skills of the staff that do work for them. Notice that at present NASA also spends a lot of time playing politics which in the long run makes for poor decisions. The segmented boosters of the shuttle is a simple example of this. Or the fact that they trying to force so many functions into what is basicily an upgraded Apollo capsule.


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Tue Nov 08, 2011 4:15 pm
On the other hand, SpaceX seem to be doing quite well putting a lot of functions into what is essentially an upgraded Apollo capsule. The only way I can see it compare unfavourably to the Shuttle is in cargo capacity, and with Falcon Heavy the Shuttle will only have a better return payload left. Oh, and of course the infamous once-around capability that was never used. I'll trade that for the ability to land on Mars...

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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Tue Nov 08, 2011 8:29 pm
I am against a NASA heavy lift launch vehicle because it will cost a lot more that the privately developed equivalent, and has a lot higher possibility of getting sacked. Governments should spend their money where they get the highest value for money, and at the moment that is SpaceX, not NASA.
At least that is what I think!


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Thu Nov 10, 2011 9:48 am
Lourens wrote:
On the other hand, SpaceX seem to be doing quite well putting a lot of functions into what is essentially an upgraded Apollo capsule.


Why is everyone calling all capsules "upgraded Apollo capsule"? Yes, it's a capsule, but will we continue to say "upgraded STS shuttle" in the future?


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Thu Nov 10, 2011 4:42 pm
IrquiM wrote:
Lourens wrote:
On the other hand, SpaceX seem to be doing quite well putting a lot of functions into what is essentially an upgraded Apollo capsule.


Why is everyone calling all capsules "upgraded Apollo capsule"? Yes, it's a capsule, but will we continue to say "upgraded STS shuttle" in the future?


Because we see these newer designs doing exactly the same things you would expect if you just made the older designs bigger. Or we see the same *bad* design decisions being made in the new models.

Notice: you can make a capsule design that adds real features not found in the original design, but what NASA is pushing is not that.


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:01 pm
That's actually a good point. I thought the PICA heat shield was used on Apollo, but it turns out to be a more recent NASA development, so Dragon is not an enhanced Apollo capsule in that respect. The side-mounted thrusters are also new. Did Apollo have a trunk section?

Interestingly, Orion apparently was supposed to have basically the same stuff as Apollo, and they just tested a new version of the Saturn's J2. What is old is new again...

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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:27 am
Earl Pottinger wrote:
IrquiM wrote:
Lourens wrote:
On the other hand, SpaceX seem to be doing quite well putting a lot of functions into what is essentially an upgraded Apollo capsule.


Why is everyone calling all capsules "upgraded Apollo capsule"? Yes, it's a capsule, but will we continue to say "upgraded STS shuttle" in the future?


Because we see these newer designs doing exactly the same things you would expect if you just made the older designs bigger. Or we see the same *bad* design decisions being made in the new models.

Notice: you can make a capsule design that adds real features not found in the original design, but what NASA is pushing is not that.


Are you talking about Orion or Dragon? I'd be interested to know what if any bad decisions are being made on Dragon.


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:23 am
JamesHughes wrote:
Are you talking about Orion or Dragon? I'd be interested to know what if any bad decisions are being made on Dragon.


Orion, I don't know enough about Dragon to comment on it in detail.


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Tue Nov 15, 2011 1:42 pm
It was the Dragon that was mentioned as an upgraded Apollo Capsule above.


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Post Re: Please elaborate stance on NASA heavy lift   Posted on: Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:45 pm
By an idiot who didn't know what he was talking about :-).

To answer my own question: the Apollo capsule (Command Module) had the Service Module attached to it, and like the Dragon trunk it doesn't come back down. Both the Dragon trunk and the Apollo SM provide power to the capsule. But the Apollo SM also has a big rocket engine sticking out of the back, which Dragon doesn't have. So there are some similarities there, and the general organisation of the capsule is also similar: heat shield, engines/wiring/plumbing, astronauts/payload, parachutes and docking mechanism. However, that does seem like the obviously best layout, so that doesn't make Dragon an upgraded Apollo. Also, packing all the stuff that you don't need when coming down into a separate section that can be jettisoned is a fairly obvious way of decreasing weight.

So, no, Dragon is not an upgraded Apollo capsule. As I understand it, Orion is a lot closer to Apollo, with the same heat shield material and no land landings so far.

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