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Delta IV Heavy suitability as a booster for a manned craft

Posted by: Andy Hill - Mon Dec 13, 2004 8:56 am
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Delta IV Heavy suitability as a booster for a manned craft 
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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 17, 2005 4:10 pm
Sounds like NASA and Boeing realy are learn-, consulting- and innovation-resistant to an unsane degree. It's urgently required that SpaceX or JP Aerospace win the ASP or a another known company.

Andy Hill, really - this moment I would like it best if Starchaser wil have a successful suborbital flight and success in the XPRIZE CUP not only but compete for the ASP too with success - for technological reasons.

If Starchaser would reach the orbit because of competing for the ASP I could imagine tha NASA and Boeing & Co. would move away from the haevy designes finally - they need a shock... would be positive if they get it from a private UK company...



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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:56 pm
I think that you are right that Starchaser may be the closest to launch next, or possibly Canadian Arrow, but we are probably over a year away from seeing it. The question is are there anymore Richard Branson's who would be willing to fund development to an orbital vehicle. The launch of a non-US vehicle would create more investment in the states as well as abroad as they would see it as a threat to their home grown space industry.

SpaceX could do an orbital vehicle to win the ASP if things work out on their Falcon programme but I dont see anyone else having a shot within the timescale unless they get a lot of funding or possibly a group of companies work together on an entry. What about the German guys doing the pheonix craft do you think they would compete for the ASP, Thales probably qualifies by having US subsiduaries.

A launch by a privateer outside the states would make some waves that is for sure. With the US trying to stop the export of space technology supposedly on grounds of security it would prove that almost anyone with enough money and a university education could do it. I think the US's prohibition on space technology has more to do with protecting their edge than stopping terrorism and a private launch from a UK company would show that to be true.

IMO NASA has a final chance to show that it can deliver a safe cheap crew vehicle, if it fails then I think that it will not be around in 20 years (at least not anything like it is now). It has already made a serious mistake by turning to its usual suppliers rather than new more inovative companies who might actually deliver something other than a costly Apollo rehash.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 18, 2005 7:23 am
I can't imagine that the constructor of Phoenix or the Talis Institue will compete for the ASP. Phoenix is government funded (ESA, DLR) and Talis is working on an orbital microsat rocket that they can imagine to modify to a suborbital manned rocket - too far away from being able to compete for the ASP.

You say that NASA has a "final" chance - if they really fail and nedd another 20 years then they will be out of the business. They will have lost all their technological competence then - and Boeing &Co. will have too then. There will be a private manned orbital success before the 20 years are over.

Please let's prevent to discuss the ASP here - what I want to say is that the competitions cause technological struggles, inventions and innovations that include breakthroughs NASA and Boeing &Co. never will achieve because they don't try. Private technologies will prove to be superior compared to NASA- and Being-technology.

Once there is an private manned orbital success Branson will be interested to get orbital business I think - provided he really achieves the expected profits of Virgin Galactic. And there is nearly no doubt that he will invest if Starchaser wins the ASP I think - because it's a british company.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:27 pm
I think Micheal Griffin realises that this could be NASA's swan song if they fail to deliver and will be trying to speed the process up so that there will be as short a gap as possible between the shuttle's retirement and the CEV. Hopefully he will start to rattle a few cages in Boeing and Lockheed.

I wonder whether he will allow NASA research on projects like the HL-20 to restart to produce a small simple craft as a crew logistics vehicle/life raft for the ISS. A small craft might not need a EELV to launch it and its use as a life raft would be better politically than using a Soyuz. A small project run in tandem to the full CEV program need not cost a lot and might give a choice of 3 craft during a fly off instead of 2. It would also give the engineers at NASA a chance to prove that they can do better than bloated private aerospace companies. Such a project could be run with T-Space and develop an alternative pool of knowledge on manned craft to draw on. The CEV companies would have to try harder to deliver a better vehicle knowing there was an alternative that could be adapted.

Would this be more of a competition, NASA/T-Space against Lockheed and Boeing with the possible use of an EELV as well as the CEV contract at stake?

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 12:37 pm
I don't know if that would be more of a competition. And unfortunately it will not happen - the links and connections between NASA and Boeing or Lockheed are too close on one hand and NASA will not free t/Space from the paperwork preventing t/Space from success in the competition for the construction of the CEV.

Perhaps in one of the other sections (Regulation, Public Perception or Cafe) the idea should be discussed to found a private agency competing with NASA - an agency which includes universities, instutes of astronomy, geology and so on and space travel companies like Space Adventures. In that other section the negotiations, advantages, possibilities and chances of such an agency should be discussed.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:07 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
NASA will not free t/Space from the paperwork preventing t/Space from success in the competition for the construction of the CEV.


NASA would not expect the same level of paperwork for a small project and this would be much more managable for T-Space who would not be creating a full blown CEV.


Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
the idea should be discussed to found a private agency competing with NASA - an agency which includes universities, instutes of astronomy, geology and so on and space travel companies like Space Adventures.


Not at all sure whether it would be a good idea to create another agency, I was thinking about using only a small team of NASA people who were originally involved with the HL-20 and T-Space companies that could help with the fabrication. Keeping the project as small as possible (and hence the cost, only a few $10m) would be my goal, do not see why astronomy or geology need to be included and not sure what space adventures would contribute. Companies like SpaceX, Bigelow and Scaled want to develop cheap manned craft and might be willing to contribute money/expertise/materials for nothing or at low cost, universities would not have such a requirement. I think NASA is already running something similar with SpaceDev using the X-34 as a base design.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Apr 19, 2005 1:15 pm
My idea of that agency was a by-thought only - the idea has nearly nothing to do with your proposal. It only has been caused by the idea that NASA/t/Space could compete with Boeing/Lockheed and my own doubts if NASA would do so.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:23 pm
This article by Robert Zubrin analyses the NASA exploration programme and the use of multiple launch EELVs to create a Mars vehicle in LEO.

http://www.thenewatlantis.com/archive/8/zubrin.htm

Although he predictably argues the case for going there quicker he makes some good points for needing a heavy lift vehicle. An interesting point is that even giving EELVs a higher launch success rate than currently achieved by the most reliable launch vehicles, due to the high number of launches required and the LEO docking manouvres needed to configure the craft produces an overall success rate of 75%. Surely a 1 in 4 chance of failure is to high to justify using a multi-launch EELV CEV?

He argues using a shuttle derived HLV to place the entire mars craft in orbit in one launch would increase the chances of success dramatically. This also opens the possibility of launching ISS components to LEO for assembly without using orbiters which might be cheaper.

If this approach were adopted then I see no use for EELVs for NASA craft.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:11 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

I don't understand you completely. You say that Zubrin makes some good points for needing a heavy lift vehicle (and so om) but see no use for EELVs for NASA's vehicles. This seems to be contradicting - and you don't tend to contradictions. So I seem to misunderstand you...

If time is the bottleneck - in economical sense too - the first thought usually is to make multiple use of the best working existing technology. But stopping at that point would be a very narrow horizon because multiple use results in multiplied costs - and it can be expected that there is a break-even-point where the multiple use becomes suboptimal.

This means multiple EELV launches will prove to be suboptimal if a certain number of launches is exceeded. So first Zubrin must estimate the minimum number of launches required - including a 5% to 10% range of error to be added. Next he has to take into account the time until the first launch.. - and the technological progress possible. This progress can establish cheaper vehicles that can lift more at one launch than the current technology. And there is one technology at least that includes that chance - SpaceX's Falcons. If SpaceX gets oders to build a Mars vehicle in orbit they will do that - and they will construct a rocket larger and more crafty than the Falcon V if they consider such a rocket to be more economical, cheaper in term of $ per unit of weight.

All this assists your statement that there is no use for EELVs for NASA's vehicles.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:31 am
Zubrin's idea of a heavy lift vehicle is a shuttle derived 100 Ton plus launcher which would lift the entire Mars craft in one go. The Delta IV heavy's capacity of about 20 tons would require a number of launches and therefore , according to Zubrin, this makes it unsuitable for use as a launcher for Mars craft.

If a smaller craft was used to move crew or they were launched with the Mars vehicle then the need for a heavy EELV to support the moon/mars programme does not exist. Granted NASA may have a need for an occational EELV to launch other missions but this would not be in quantities to support a large EELV infrastructure which would have to be paid for by the US military.

Zubrin is also concerned about time as he does not wish to see NASA do away with the shuttle manufacturing facilities now only to realise that they need a shuttle derived heavy lift vehicle later.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 7:45 am
This removes my misunderstanding - Thank You Very Much.

All this thinking of Zubrin including comments and explanations on and of this thinking doesn't sound good to me. I am missing some interdisciplinarity and doing web thinking ("vernetztes Denken") a little bit. No doubt that Zubrin as an engineer is doing such thinking - but he seems to be trapped and caught within one project and his thinking seems to not include any thoughts about Bigelow's technology or thoughts about SpaceX and private space vehicles and space travel. May be it's because Zubrin is member of NASA - but NASA and Zubrin are different in my eyes.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:29 am
I think you are right that Zubrin is one-track in his approach to space exploration and that, for him, Mars is the only goal. While that approach has created his Mars direct plan and given a lot of people the thought that Mars may not be out of reach or as expensive as first thought it has ignored a lot of things.

I think that Zubrin sees the moon as a stepping stone to Mars only and has argued in the past that it should be excluded from NASA's plans if if were to slow down getting to Mars. IMO the moon should be explored in its own right and will give us a lot of insight in how to go about the process of exploration as well as providing resources for futher exploration after Mars. 12 people standing on its surface are not enough to discover all about it.

Still I did agree with his analysis that a heavy lift vehicle (Saturn V class) would be needed to support NASA's vision and IMO a shuttle derived vehicle is probably the fastest, cheapest and easiest way of producing one both financially and politically.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 8:29 pm
Just to add my opinion. I think Zubrin has had some great proposals for the exploration of mars but when it comes heavylift his reasoning makes less sense to me and appears to be based more on a desire for manned exploration of mars as soon as possible (which we all want) rather than the best/sustainable method for exploration and development. For me personally NASA heavylift + Boeing + Lockheed = bad and unsustainable but commercial heavylift by market forces/requirements developed by SpaceX or Scaled or anyone commercial = good and sustainable.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Apr 21, 2005 9:23 pm
I think a commercial heavy lift vehicle which excludes Lockheed/Boeing would be a better prospect too but I dont see it being developed anytime soon. Such a booster would only be developed if there is a market for it and the number of launches NASA is likely to require wouldn't be enough. This might change long term if Bigelow's space stations are sold in reasonable numbers but that would be after the CEV is developed.

That leaves NASA two options either a heavy lift EELV or a shuttle derived launcher, I dont think the money is in the kitty for a scratch built launcher and the chances of an oversees heavy launcher being used is zero.

IMO the shuttle derived option is not a long term solution but would fill the gap before a commercial heavy launcher becomes available. It would also utilise existing hardware and could enable the shuttle to be retired on time. If some components still needed to be lifted or some needed changing or extra ones added a shuttle derived vehicle could do all this much more easily than an EELV.

NASA is worried about retaining its workforce as it nears the end of the shuttle programme, a lot of workers will leave before the end in search of new jobs and not wait until the last minute to be unemployed. Continued use of shuttle facilities would solve this problem, at least until a commercial vehicle appeared. It also has the benefit of support from local congress representatives who will see it as a way of maintaining shuttle facilities in their state and keeping the government money coming in.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:06 am
Agreed by far - the shutlle deried option would be filling a gap, NASA is worried and Zubrin is aiming at a manned Mars mission as soon as possible. And all will be evoluting better if Bigelow's stations have success.

The problem may be view and perspective. To me it seems that Zubrin and some others have in mind a one-time-mission to Mars - a Mars mission similar to the Apollo missions. Ans this might result in a similar situation like that often critized at this board as well as public.

If there is only one mission to Mars within decades then billions of costs for it and the billion(s) for the heavy vehicle can be justified easyly to politicians.

But this is changed if a permanent manned Mars station has to be established - Bush plan - and such a station is established on the moon too. In this case the least-cost concept is a vehicle that can go everywhere, is reusable and doesn't require a heavy lifter. Such a perspective includes repeated and regular launches to transfer cargo and people - quite similar to repeated launches to orbit for constructing a vehicle in that orbit. During construction of that vehicle vehicles would be developed that can stay in service for transfer of people and/or cargo. The vehicle constructed in orbit could stay in space for ever - and should urgently because it would require a heavy lifter else - and it could be able to fly to the moon as well as to Mars and - most interesting - it could go to the moon and from there to the Mars.

Large heavy vehicle but no large heavy lifter - and the best assistance for such a concept would be orbital and lunar tourism. That tourism to some degree is nothing else than a model for repeated and regular flights to permanent station on moon and Mars - Zubrin's concept no way is such a model. Aldrin is the one NASA-member who has such a model.

Bigelow and his stations are the only concrete chance and germ for a resonable approach.



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