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How did they match NASA so cheaply? Well they haven't...yet

Posted by: jnfranc - Wed Jul 28, 2004 3:52 am
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How did they match NASA so cheaply? Well they haven't...yet 
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Post How did they match NASA so cheaply? Well they haven't...yet   Posted on: Wed Jul 28, 2004 3:52 am
I'm not surprised at all the hoopla about the spaceplane- it's certainly dramatic, and a great advance in the use of rockets by a non-government organization. It's important to note, however, what they have NOT done - which is to put somehting in earth orbit, which is MUCH harder than just reaching a certain altitude.

What's the difference? Theorertical velocity to reach an altitude of 100km is about 3000 mph (4500 ft/sec) - add 30% for air resistance in practice, subtract 30% for starting at 47,000 ft, you're still in the 4500 ft/sec ball park. For their reported 80 second burn, that's about 1.5 g's - 48 ft/sec/sec. I haven't seen the acceleration reported, but 1.5 g sounds like a very reasonable value.

The trouble is that to STAY in space (in orbit) takes MUCH more energy. Why does the shuttle burn for so much longer? Because to get into ORBIT it take speeds of about 17,000 mph - over five times the speed just to get to the altitude! This requires five times the amount of fuel - and of course with a fuel tank five times the current size, SpacePlaneOne would need a bigger rocket motor, and to carry still more fuel, etc etc. 'Taint easy! The composite shuttle, as it lifts off, is 90% fuel, because that's what you absolutely need.

This is not to say that SpacePlaneOne has not taken an important first step, or that they can't get there - I've never seen a government program that couldn't be done cheaper and better by a "skunk works", or private company. Just realize that they're not on the doorstep of space - they've taken the first step on what is a long, high, staircase to space.

Jmaes N. francis, Ph.D.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 28, 2004 12:53 pm
SS1 doesn't weigh nearly as much as the Shuttle. So another spacecraft able to reach a low orbit but comperable to SS1 in other aspects doesn't require as much propellant as the Shuttle I suppose.

Once such a private spacecraft reached the orbit the way is open to look for other methods than the Shuttle to get something into orbit. New construction technologies should be searched for to replace the requirement to lift huge and heavy objects or to launch them by rockets - ther will be other aspects that colud be found alternatives for once a privste passenger spaceship will have proved to be able to reach the orbit I suppose.

What can be imagined?




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Post    Posted on: Wed Jul 28, 2004 5:51 pm
Can you just imagine if people had voiced the same opinion of Shepard's suborbital flight in 1961 as some people who are basically saying that SS1 didn't get to space?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 29, 2004 2:43 am
I think the danger of over-enthusiasm is real: people see Spaceplane One as being 90% there - and will be disappointed when they don't get an orbital flight in, say, 5 years, and get disgusted with the whole thing. Worse, you KNOW there are going to be some scams out there. ( Well-meaning attempts that fail, sure - that's to be expected. But where ignorance and greed abound[any planet you know of?] real scams, made to just make money are sure to occur- and leave a bad taste.)
It's HARD to get to space, people. Believing it isn't serves little purpose.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 29, 2004 4:08 am
jnfranc wrote:
I think the danger of over-enthusiasm is real: people see Spaceplane One as being 90% there - and will be disappointed when they don't get an orbital flight in, say, 5 years, and get disgusted with the whole thing. Worse, you KNOW there are going to be some scams out there. ( Well-meaning attempts that fail, sure - that's to be expected. But where ignorance and greed abound[any planet you know of?] real scams, made to just make money are sure to occur- and leave a bad taste.)
It's HARD to get to space, people. Believing it isn't serves little purpose.

JF


I think most people over here know it's a lot more difficult to go to orbital and we had manny topics with discussings things like this.

Scaled announced already they will go to orbit sooner as most people think, how soon.. we don't know.. but I think it will be between now and 10 years.
Keep in mind.. Paul allen is sponsering (a lot of money ;)) and also Richard Branson is also planning to have his own project or (toghetter with scaled) we'll know more in the future.. so I think with more investment.. orbital space flights are not too far away.. but yes indeed.. it's not for next year or 2006 or so..

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 29, 2004 7:47 pm
Most of the serious posters here know full well that it is much harder to get to orbit than any sub-orbital flight :roll: .

That said the real enthusiasm I have is more about the costs that are being shown by some of the teams here. Granted I would love nothing better than to see Rutan wheel out Tier 3 and make orbit within the next year but realistically that is much closer to 10 years. The costs on the other hand are something any aerospace enthusiast should be excited about. When was the last time NASA built any new manned flying vehicle for less than 30 million? How about any sort of rocket propelled flying anything? The DC-X funded by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization was astounding in it's time for flying a rocket at roughly 60 million. Today we have Armadillo aerospace able to do pretty much everything the DC-X did and they did it for roughly 1.5 million.

With results like this and after the X-33 fiasco it's aggravating seeing anyone come along and start critizing what's happening by using the fact that getting to orbit is so much harder. Frankly getting rid of NASA bureaucracy is probably much harder than getting to orbit and if anyone was going to spend their time criticizing work being done with rocket flights they should be looking NASA's way, not towards the privately funded X-Prize.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 30, 2004 3:36 am
The more I think on this the more I wonder, why would anyone want to match NASA? What we really want to see is for someone to surpass NASA's accomplishments and not come anywhere near NASA's ability to not only waste money but lie about that waste in a way that would make an Enron accountant proud.

By my way of measure, while they may be pretty far from orbit, they are heading there and they're going to do it in such a way that will shame NASA and just about everything NASA has done with manned spaceflight for the past 25 years.

Now if you want to see disgusted people, we should start talking about the 10 billion dollar space station that was supposed to be done a decade or two ago, depending on what plan of NASA's you originally believed. Opps did I say 10 billion, that was just to design stuff on paper and throw it away. How about 100 billion? Wait we're not done yet but we've had pieces up there for more than 5 years now. Who knows what the final price will be or if you can even believe any of the costs they're claiming now.


Reminds me of a cute political cartoon I saw recently

'If they could put a man on the moon'...'Why can't they put a man on the moon?'.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 30, 2004 7:29 am
TJ,

you're right and Burt Rutan and his competitors seem to be on the right way to surpass NASA.

A look an NASA's rocket and launch concepts seems to show that it is fixed to find and to get the great huge solution at once instead of evolving step by step from small to big and looking for each valid and worthy experience this way. NASA's way may be due to politics and being financed by taxes and government debth but it has caught them within only one or two solutions where might be a lot of different ways.

Rutan and the others are forced to "step by step", "evolution" and "Think big - start small!". So they are looking at each valid and worthy thing - how small it may be. This way they are detecting a lot of different ways all contributing to the "big". They won't be caught within one or two solutions.

NASA was wrong not to search for reusability of Saturn V, Saturn IIb, Titan and Atlas first and then for removing the stages second. They were wrong not to search for modularity and flexibility.

Rutan, Feeney and Carmack may be the pioneers not taken in serious by NASA and the established industriies and surprinsingly surpassing them by may small steps within ten to twenty years if they get the right markets.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:29 pm
I don´t think the 2 stage fully recyclable launch vehicle (minus SS1 engine) has reached it´s fully potential by far.
And how good are Movajo desert, are they better places to launch?
I personally favor Mount Roraima, Guyana, South America, as space base located 2700 meter above sea level and 5 degrees north of the equator I reckon it could
be a good launch spot...

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:40 pm
Alessandro wrote:
I don´t think the 2 stage fully recyclable launch vehicle (minus SS1 engine) has reached it´s fully potential by far.
And how good are Movajo desert, are they better places to launch?
I personally favor Mount Roraima, Guyana, South America, as space base located 2700 meter above sea level and 5 degrees north of the equator I reckon it could
be a good launch spot...

What makes you think that by having the landing strip at a higher altitude or anywhere near the equator would benefit an air-launched suborbital rocket? Please tell me, as I am very interested to learn the answer.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:44 pm
So why did ESA build their spacebase in French Guyana (nearby), Soviets
in Baikonur and NASA in Florida?
Was it because they want to use the extra spin from launching nearer the equator.
Note not only landing but starting strip as well...

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 1:59 pm
Alessandro wrote:
So why did ESA build their spacebase in French Guyana (nearby), Soviets
in Baikonur and NASA in Florida?.


Because they were going into orbit - there they can use the fact that they're on the equator as you say.

Launching for orbit has different requirements to launching for suborbit for a vehicle such as SS1. Suborbit is just up and down.

And height of launch pad is negligible compared to the actual distances that they're going to do. Issues like wind, likely weather, etc, at launch site are much bigger parameters to consider.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:12 pm
Well, wasn´t this thread about going orbit and win the ASP (American Space Prize) pushing down the price of orbital spaceflights?
Surely windfactor could pose a problem on the top of a mountain....

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:25 pm
Alessandro wrote:
Well, wasn´t this thread about going orbit and win the ASP (American Space Prize) pushing down the price of orbital spaceflights?
Surely windfactor could pose a problem on the top of a mountain....

Maybe, but you were talking about SS1 in your post ... so we just felt that there were some things that needed to be pointed out to you. I don't understand your reference to windy mountaintops.

In any case the current thinking is that air-launch to orbit introduces more technical difficulties and not enough advantages to choose that route over ground-launch to orbit.

Although, to be truthful, I'm not convinced either way.

DKH

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Post    Posted on: Wed Oct 06, 2004 2:33 pm
The SS1 was about cutting down costs, large parts that are used once surely pushes up the price of orbital launches.
I think the ASP money sits safe for a long time, orbit is a completely different story than the Xprize...

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