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Smaller, Cheaper and Simpler Spacecraft

Posted by: Andy Hill - Thu Mar 17, 2005 9:59 am
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Smaller, Cheaper and Simpler Spacecraft 
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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 26, 2005 2:09 pm
Hello, Any Hill,

under the aspect of financial requiremnets (focus of this section) I would like the idea of remote control of the Space Shuttle and carrying the astronauts by another vehicle. This way there would be more revenues from the Shuttle in the shape of practical use and service and on the other hand there would be progress of the ISS.

The vehicle carrying the astronauts may be a private vehicle perhaps if SpaceX would have ready a manned vehicle before 2010 or a mannable working prototype of it that can carry less then the ASP-required five passengers.



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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 26, 2005 3:33 pm
Would the shuttle be cheaper to operate under remote control as the life support systems for the crew would not have to be serviced for the flight and the extra checks that go along with carrying a crew would not have to be performed prior to launch.

NASA could contract its astronaut flights to someone like SpaceX but I'm not sure that they should do that before the technology becomes mature. Its one thing to trust something built in house which you have an in depth knowledge of (yes I know the shuttle falls in to this category but this does not mean a simpler craft produced by NASA would perform similarly), its quite another to rely on a vehicle produced by a young company with no experience of manned space travel. I think long term it should be a goal to contract this service out but initially NASA should look after its own needs, this could be done by working as a partner with a private company to produce a craft.

This might also be a good idea on safety ground for mounting a rescue mission. No point in risking even more astronauts to save some stranded at the ISS if you dont have to.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:18 pm
Not a bad idea. X-38 was well on it's way by the time the program got cut. However the X-38 was initially designed to be brough to ISS by STS. With STS's cancellation in the future, then either X-38 must also be cancelled, it must have an indefinate in-orbit lifetime (unreasonable), or else new methods of getting it there must be found, perhaps, for instance, via the ATV's orbital module. . That's not trivial, but it would also give ESA part ownership in a manned spacecraft.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:56 pm
bad_astra wrote:
....new methods of getting it there must be found, perhaps, for instance, via the ATV's orbital module. . That's not trivial, but it would also give ESA part ownership in a manned spacecraft.


I think the US should involve ESA a lot more in the ISS and joint collaboration on a vehicle would be a good idea for both sides, the problem I see is that one bureaucracy is bad enough but 2 might be to much. ESA needs to stand on its own feet for manned spaceflight and NASA needs partners who have their own transport so that hitching rides becomes a lot easier in the future.

Still ESA already had a stake in the X-34 so that might be a good point to start, if you could launch it on top of an Ariane that would really reel Europe in, not to mention scare the hell out of Boeing/Lockheed that all those launches were going to Europe. Cant make up my mind whether its a good idea or not. :?

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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 27, 2005 3:10 pm
The idea to use the Space Shuttle under remote control while the astronauts are carried by a different vehicle could be the first step to a concept that looks safer to me than the existing one. It could be developed further to launching payloads unmanned as standard procedure and launching the astronauts without payload as standard procedure. This would remove all crew-oriented safety requirements from the payload-carrying vehicle and restrict these requirements to the safety of the payload.

Both vehicles - the payload carrier and the astronaut carrier - could be equipped by docking mechanisms for situations and jobs that are requiring docking.

Possibly this could provide ways to increase economies of scale for both these vehicles.

With regards to involving ESA it could be a first step to provide a crew cabin that can be moved between two or more capsules. One of these capsules could be launched by NASA- and US-vehicles and the other by ESA - Ariane V explicitly is able to launch manned vehicles.

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Last edited by Ekkehard Augustin on Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:08 pm
Andy Hill wrote:

I think the US should involve ESA a lot more in the ISS and joint collaboration on a vehicle would be a good idea for both sides, the problem I see is that one bureaucracy is bad enough but 2 might be to much. ESA needs to stand on its own feet for manned spaceflight and NASA needs partners who have their own transport so that hitching rides becomes a lot easier in the future.


If they can find a cheaper way to do it.

Quote:
Still ESA already had a stake in the X-34 so that might be a good point to start, if you could launch it on top of an Ariane that would really reel Europe in, not to mention scare the hell out of Boeing/Lockheed that all those launches were going to Europe. Cant make up my mind whether its a good idea or not. :?


The problem is that Ariane is very expensive. I don't know that any manned space program is going to be sustainable unless the price comes down. Just look at how often the Chinese launch a Shenzou. X-38 atop an EELV or Ariane V isn't an ideal solution, just a stopgap.

BTW, Boeing and Lockheed shouldn't be scared of another government-welfare recipient like Ariane. They should be far more afraid of SpaceX.
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Post    Posted on: Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:15 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The idea to use the Space Shuttle under remote control while the astronauts are carried by a different vehicle could be the first step to a concept that looks safer to me than the existing one. It could be developed further to launching payloads unmanned as standard procedure and launching the astronauts without payload as standard procedure. This would remove all crew-oriented safety requirements from the payload-carrying vehicle and restrict these requirements to the safety of the payload.


What would be the point of that? Shuttle is too expensive as it is. NASA's goal is to reture the fleet by ISS Core Complete. There's no point in modifying the shuttle further. And as Rand Simburg pointed out once: loosing crew isn't the problem. We should have ideally had a lot more death's in spaceflight by now. That fact that we haven't shows just how this timidity is hurting our move to the high frontier.

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Both vehicles - the payload carrier and the astronaut carrier could be equipped by docking mechanisms for situations and jobs that are requiring docking.


Uh.. nevermind.

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Possibly this could provide ways to increase economies of scale for both these vehicles.

Or deplete economies of nations.

Quote:
With regards to involving ESA it could be a first step to provide a crew cabin that can be moved between two or more capsules. One of these capsules could be launched by NASA- and US-vehicles and the other by ESA - Ariane V explicitly is able to launch manned vehicles.

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I don't have to hope that such a partnership of beurocratic lethaargy never occurs, because I know it won't. Thank goodness! I can't see the point in a modular crew cabin exchanged between different capsule designs, anyway. I'm not particulary worried, though. I will bet money that ESA NEVER develops its own manned spaceflight capability. Maybe ARCA will, maybe even Starchaser, but the only ESA manned spacecraft the world will ever see will have "Made in RUSSIA" stamped somewhere on the bulkhead.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:05 am
bad_astra wrote:
The problem is that Ariane is very expensive. I don't know that any manned space program is going to be sustainable unless the price comes down. Just look at how often the Chinese launch a Shenzou. X-38 atop an EELV or Ariane V isn't an ideal solution, just a stopgap.

BTW, Boeing and Lockheed shouldn't be scared of another government-welfare recipient like Ariane. They should be far more afraid of SpaceX.


As discussed on other threads Ariane isn't much different to the EELVs of Boeing/Lockheed in cost but you're right the price will have to come down to get more launches happening. A stopgap will be required by the US to fill the space between the Shuttle's retirement and the CEV and it might not be a bad idea to have alternative transport in the long term should the shuttle or CEV hit problems.

As I said in my earlier post, I'm not sure this would be a cheaper option (Cheaper than the shuttle but not as cheap as a private craft probably) but it might be a good idea politically for the US and Europe.

I'm sure Boeing/Lockheed are more scared of SpaceX and possibly Kistler who seem to be sorting their problems out but anything that would knock the status quo of the big space companies would be welcome.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:12 am
Hello, bad_astra,

I didn't talk about the safety of the crews under the aspect of preventing death etc. in my last post. The aspect was the systems to provide safety of the crew are expensive. As far as I know or understand it the fact that the Shuttle allways carries crew and payload together has caused the reuirement to provide crew-related safety systmes everawhere in the Shutttle - even in the cargo bay. These costs could be removed if the Shuttle would carry cargo only but no crew.

The crew would have to be carried by another vehicle then but this vehicle could be very smaller then and wouldn't require that extension of the safety systems to a large or huge cargo bay.

Once in space the dangers of the launch are over

This way the Shuttle would be cheaper because there would be no depreciations required for the investments in safety systems for the crew. At launch too costs could be saved. Such a Shuttle could and should then be used to launch payloads too that don't require work by a crew.

The crew carrier could be used to provide a crew for payloads that require work by such a crew but it could be used too for simply carrying astronauts to the ISS or elsewhere.

This means that both these vehicles could be used for a broarder rnage of purposes and this would be the chance to get higher economies of Scale.

The idea to do remote control of the Space Shuttle and to carry the crew by another vehicle would be a test of this.If this test would be successful areal payload-only shuttle could be developed. This test would be the first step. The concept would or could be used as standard - but by using other and new developed vehicles optimized for such concepts.

There are püayloads that require work by a crew. For this reason the vehicle optimized for the new concept should be able to dock to such payloads - and the payloads should be equipped for docking. But those payoads only that in fact or possibly require work by a crew.This should be no problem - there is docking to the ISS, there will be docking to Nautilus and there are much more examples of docking in the past.

Where do you seeproblems with it? I look at it under the financial and economic aspect here. If there are problems because of the properties of current vehicles, equipment or technologies this could be incentives for development, improvemtn and cahnges - interesting topics for the Technology section.

Where do you see the danger of depletion of economies of nations? I am missing the relation to it.

The point with the changeable crew cabin simply is that ESA already has a vehicle that can carry a capsule to the orbit - Ariane V explicitly is said to be able to carry manned vehicles to orbit too. The only obstacle is that ESA doesn't have a crew capsule. The capsule itself won't be the problem I think - the probelm will be the safety of the crew, the control of the crew over the capsule and all what is to be found inside the crew cabins of the Apollos or the Space Shuttle. NASA has experineces with and extreme knowledges about all this.

As long as the crew cabin is an fully integrated interior part of a capsule that can be launched on top of a Satrun II b, a Saturn V, an Atlkas, Titan or Centaur there will be the problem that such a capsule cannot be launched on top of an Ariane V - the Ariane V will require a different design of the exterior of the capsule.

The soultion could be a removable and exchangeable crew cabin that is NOT an integrated part of the exterior capsule.

This (re)movable and exchangeable crew cabin would it make possible to involve ESA a lot more -like Andy Hill wants. ESA would have to do something of their own for it and they could and would stand on their own feet then. ESA wouldn't have to invent the whell (crew cabin is interior part) new which means that development costs are saved ( this is the Financial section). And there would be economies of scale of the crew cabin because it would be used much more than each of two different ones.Perhaps other partners too - Russia, Japan - would be interested to use this crew cabin too then.

It's an idea of a way to make possible what Andy Hill said. And surely it will require development and improvement.

The topic of bureacracy your are mentioning is important too but it's no argument against these thoughts - an intercahnageable crew cabin could be of interest for private vehicles too.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:45 am
The joint development of a crew cabin by ESA/NASA with a basic set of controls and life support systems based on a simple light weight capsule design might be a cheaper option. Then each agency could design a adaptor module to allow it to mate to whichever booster they wish to use.

This would give flexibility that if other space agencies like JAXA for example wish to use it they need only design an adaptor module. Use by a number of different space agencies would also give rise to the possibility of creating a larger market for crew cabins and manufacturing savings based on larger production volumes. If the price for a basic crew cabin was low enough private companies might buy them in preference to developing their own.

One drawback to this idea would be that the adaptor module is likely to be thrown away with the booster after each launch so this will increase launch costs. Still the adaptor itself need not be over complicated and expensive.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:54 am
Just before reading your post I started a thread in the Technology section by which I ask for something like adaptors or adaptor modules.

Very good post of yours, Andy Hill.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 11, 2005 1:54 pm
Just this moment there was a message in the newsticker of "Die Welt Online" that ESA wants to join the russian Klipper-project. The message say too that JAXA perhaps will join also.

According to that message Klipper will be much cheaper than the Space Shuttle and take off first in 2011 - unmanned then. First manned flights will take place in 2012.

The message says also that Klipper possibly can or may fly to the Moon and to Mars.

Klipper will be launchable from Baikonur as well as from Kourou.

ESA has said that the current talks are preliminary - the plans will be layed before the Council of Ministers December this year.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:06 am
I think that the current problems being experienced by the shuttle is an example of the problems that an over complicated craft can expect. The shear size of the vehicle increases the time it takes to track problems down and the complex components like the electronics box (one of the prime suspects) are not easily repaired or replaced. It is a bit stupid that NASA having used their spare electronics box did not have the foresight to either reburbish the one they replaced or build another spare in case just such a problem was repeated.

The smaller size and simplicity of craft like the Kliper will make it easier to troubleshoot these sort of problems. Perhaps the next generation of manned spacecraft should have as much commercial-off-the-Shelf equipment built into the design as possible. I dont think that the shuttles ever really got beyond the prototype stage which makes replacing or repairing anything a nightmare.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 03, 2005 1:47 pm
The article "The Future of NASA's Human Spaceflight: Shuttle-Derived Technology Takes the Lead" ( www.space.com/businesstechnology/050803 ... d_cev.html ) says

Quote:
...Sources with detailed knowledge of the study results said NASA will need to spend $5 billion to develop the crew launcher, a price tag that includes the solid rocket booster-based vehicle itself, a new upper stage and all necessary launch infrastructure.

The Crew Exploration Vehicle, which NASA hopes to field around 2011, is expected to cost another $5 billion to develop and would be designed both to service the space station and to carry astronauts to lunar orbit. ...


This is sounding as if they were doing as t/Space recommended but using not t/Space's CXV but another vehicle - which is going to cost 12.5 times the CXV. At this first glance it sounds nonsense to me to do so if there is no additional advantage this other vehicle is going to provide. What could that advantage be? If there is no then they are wasting tax money. Is it another consequence of their safety regime? "Smaller, cheaper, simpler ..." are the words in the title of this thread - may be the article is talking of "smaller" but is reporting "more expensive" instead of "cheaper".

?



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Post    Posted on: Wed Aug 03, 2005 5:12 pm
The advantage is that it makes use of existing architecture that actually exists--as opposed to t/Space promises. If they can build a small capsule--fine. Let them try to have something without AN-225. Griffin is an engineer--and I trust his judgement.


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