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New paradigm/cost breakthrough as with microcomputers

Posted by: ckpooley - Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:57 pm
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New paradigm/cost breakthrough as with microcomputers 
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Space Walker
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Post New paradigm/cost breakthrough as with microcomputers   Posted on: Tue Jun 03, 2008 7:57 pm
I think rapid technology evolution will come via a new space exploration paradigm. By a process similar to the advent of the microcomputer and its descendants (on which I type this), a very small initial launcher/spacecraft could be designed, deployed.

This will open access to direct participation by lowering the "entry cost" of involvement as it was with microcomputers.

By creating an evolutionary pathway, a new culture, which we are calling "Generation S", may repeat history. The technoloty to do this is available.

For 12 years, this has been studied, developed in the site http://www.microlaunchers.com/


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 06, 2008 9:07 pm
I do see a need for smaller launchers to launch small unmanned payloads. However, I'm no sure they will be able to break out of that niche market.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:56 pm
Perhaps not, but we'll never know if we don't try. I have to agree with Mr. Pooley, we need to start small. I was already thinking this way before I found the microlaunchers site. Start small, and build from there. I think the nanasat market, especially cubesats for universities, could grow rather large eventually.

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Post Rocket Scientist's remark re small launchers   Posted on: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:46 pm
The small launchers are not a niche market. Not a market at all. They are an attempt to make non-government launchers a fact. So far no launcher not derived by the military/NASA has made it.

Also the whole idea of starting on a scale so small is to lower the cost of entry/involvement.

For 12 years that has been the mission of Microlaunchers, and now that of Generation S.

The new N Prize fits into this nicely as it reduces the size of what was going to be the entry level launcher. That is to be designated "ML1" and was/is to be capable of one cubesat, or 1000 grams to LEO or about 100 grams to escape.

This, which might be called MLN, will be a N Prize attermpt with a <20 gram satellite, but maybe will be found capable of 50-100 grams to LEO.


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Post remarks about non-government launchers   Posted on: Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:57 pm
Actually, a qualification to the previous remark about no non-governmental launch system:

Orbital Science's Pegasus launcher and a few other launchers in the 1000 pound to LEO for a few 10's of million per launch was not being considered as I have always considered them as of the "Mainframe Era of Space", the large scale infrequent, unattainable to most types.

For access or involvement by other than employees of such companies, something new must happen.

The N Prize can help that happen


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:00 am
I think there won't and can't be a similar development like with the microcomputers. The main difference is: everyone can buy/use a microcomputer, not because of the costs but because of regulations.

For example here in Germany you're not allowed to "launch" something above I think 30 meters. So, even the larger "toy" rockets are forbidden here. (Additionally you need an official licence and training for explosives even for smaller ones).

Perhaps the government will learn some day. Until the beginning of the 1990s I think it was, acoustic couplers (the stuff before the time of modems *g*) were forbidden as well here because they feared that these devices could damage the telephone net.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 17, 2008 2:42 pm
Not just yet.

There's not only the question of who will buy/use the boosters and where, but the difficulties of building them.

The microcomputer only started once microprocessors of sufficient capability became available at prices people could afford. The MOS 6502, Intel 8080, Zilog Z80 and Motorola 6800 all came on the market between 1974 and 1976. Computers like the Altair, Apple I and their contemporaries appeared shortly later. These were homebuild hobby machines with the second generation acquiring some user friendliness. Then there was the wait for the initial large 'killer app', Visicalc, for the boom to occur. Those microprocessors were however developed from earlier designs.

While we can't say what the future will bring (Gravity manipulation? :twisted:) no large breakthroughs in engine or materials sciences appears imminent. Near-future designs will have to be developed largely with current materials and techniques. Any (price) advantage SpaceX et al. want to have over their rivals they will have to create largely from design, manufacture and launch crew efficiency.

As for where they could launch, there are several locations all of which have some drawback or other. ITAR is one of the largest hurdles around. Launching from Germany is probably impossible but launching from Alcantara (Brazil), Berbera (Somaliland) or Woomera (Australia) might not be.

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Post microlauncher scale, regulations etc   Posted on: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:00 pm
True, the analogy between the intended Microlaunchers and microcomputers is limited by regulations, ITAR, etc. But to an extent, there can be one.

Due to ITAR, a US startup will have to be confined to within US and have only "US persons" as participants. The launching regulations will be those of the AST part of the FAA, etc. Though complex, and currently still evolving, the regulations can be "navigated" through.

The initial forms may be several operating companies or groups doing launches in collaboration with user groups and universities building, supplying payloads.

There will be what I'm calling "Application Companies" (APCOs) which will market various specific marketable services such as space burial, regolith return by the milligram, lease of flying spacecraft or lunar rovers, etc.

All that is important is that per launch costs be 3 orders less expensive than presently, and Microlaunchers will be.


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