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Lack of escape systems could haunt X-Prize

Posted by: Guest - Wed Apr 07, 2004 1:01 pm
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Lack of escape systems could haunt X-Prize 
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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:14 pm
Franklin Ratliff wrote:

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And you, Dreada, sound like a freaking idiot.

I was watching people build and run private manned liquid propellant rocket vehicles with purpose-designed scratch-built motors thirty years ago.



Um, I impressed?

I can easily believe you've been watching the scene for that long. But I don't think this was done thirty years ago and I think you can see my generation doesn't plan on waiting another thirty, I know I'm not in this field, studying this long just to do that.

Call me what you want. Conventional development/approach has its uses, but the beauty of the non-government space industry is that people are free to push the envelope and try new methods (within the law) in order to achieve their goals and I'd say Rutan has already begun to do that.

Sorry if I what I said offended you or if I touched a raw nerve. :roll:

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Last edited by Dreada on Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Unimpressive   Posted on: Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:25 pm
www.draglist.com/stories/SOD%20Mar%202002/ SOD-031402.htm

Of course it was done 30 years ago.

With motors developing over 5,000 pounds of thrust.

I just didn't say in what axis.


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Post Corrected URL   Posted on: Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:26 pm
www.draglist.com/stories/SOD%20Mar%2020 ... 031402.htm


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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 09, 2004 7:53 pm
spacecowboy wrote:

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But you can forget all the fancy systems for the pioneers. If I was building one (and flying it -- like most people will be), I'd also remember that the more weight I put on this thing, the more it's gonna cost me to move it.


I agree, I think during the early stages sub-orbital/orbital flight will be very similar to the early pioneering aviation years, but the rewards for successful flights that much greater! 8)

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 09, 2004 9:16 pm
Dreada wrote:
I agree, I think during the early stages sub-orbital/orbital flight will be very similar to the early pioneering aviation years, but the rewards for successful flights that much greater! 8)


That's the way it works, mon ami, and that's why I'm an AE student planning on starting his own company. 8) <-- "Yeah, but I've got cooler sunglasses!"

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Post    Posted on: Sat Apr 10, 2004 9:29 pm
You're an AE student?!! Cool, kindred spirit, what year? Where are you studying?

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Post NASA vs Private   Posted on: Sun Apr 11, 2004 1:02 am
I don't see why this has to The Corporation /vs/ NASA.

The shuttle should have been designed with parachutes, and possibly refitted with them after the Challenger explosion [if that were even possible]. It didn't happen. The shuttle has been prepped for the junk heap, and we're about to move on.

I accept Ratliff's arguments, despite his inability to be civil and basically being an alarmist. I doubt that the private sector will be MORE conscientious than NASA has been. If they gain a better safety margin, it'll be because we will have proven light-weight techniques and tricks to do so, and everyone will copy it.

It was probably a mistake to ignore 'cabin safety' in design. No one can argue that chutes would have weighed THAT much. Sure, it would mean a few hundred pounds less cargo, but we are talking about the largest orbital deployment vehicle currently available. It wasn't that much 'cost' to add.

The X-prize is still a 'prototype' contest. Fortunately, the market will drive whether or not 'chutes' are needed. No one is going to force people to take the first hundred private flights. If there are a couple of accidents, the companies responsible will likely go out of business pretty quickly. *shrug* I don't want to lose life, but it happens every day. It's why we have air-bags in cars today. It made a friggin' difference.

Don't blame NASA. Blame the "DO EVERYTHING NOW" approach of the selfish capitalist.

I hope NASA has learned it's lesson. With the Hubble cancellation, it sounds like they have, at least for now.


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Post Re: NASA vs Private   Posted on: Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:12 am
zinfab wrote:
<long post>


Okay. Uh, yeah. Can I ask whether you're a high-school or college student, and what your (intended) major is? Because you might want to work on that physics thing. It's kinda important. :roll:

Lemme put it this way, friend. We're not talking about just parachutes here. What the hell are they gonna do, open the cabin door and jump into the atmosphere from orbit? You not only have to have the escape system (a breakaway cockpit) but you also have to have a way of getting it down in one piece. Do you have the first clue how many times Houston goes over every single variable in getting the Space Shuttle on the ground? THE SHUTTLE HAS NO NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT! Let me repeat that: THE SHUTTLE HAS NO NAVIGATION EQUIPMENT! It's all done by Houston. You suddenly decide to change the flight path settings from "Standard [Brick with wings]" to "Emergency [Brick (no wings)]", and everything's just gone to Hell in a dozen handbaskets. You've gotta have some way of getting this thing separated from the superstructure (separation mechanism and a backup in case the primary fails), some way of isolating the damned thing so that the separation doesn't decompress the cabin (meaning a second hull and backup backup safety systems -- added weight), plus you've got to have some place to shove the 'chutes (parafoil and storage compartment -- added weight), plus some streamlining to make sure the whole shittin' thing doesn't rip itself apart under its own drag (added weight), an emergency rocket system to propel the cabin away from the rest of the ship and into the atmosphere at the proper speed, angle, and trajectory (*lots* of added weight), and some kind of airbrakes or mini-wings to maneuver the ship while in atmosphere to help keep the ship on proper course before the 'chutes can deply (added weight)... ...You gettin' the idea there, friend? There's a damn good reason NASA never put an escape system into the Shuttle: you do, and you've got a beautifully safe Orbiter with about half a friggin' pound of cargo space. And NASA gets a decent chunk of its money from launching private sattelites.

And businesses will be extremely safe about their operations: they'll be running a helluva lot more than NASA does, and having one of their birds blow up on the six o'clock news does more than just bring a Federal investigation to bear, it works wonders for the competitor's business. They wanna make money, and you don't do too well at that by killing people. It's gotta be absolutely and completely safe (lets 'em come back for more), with the appearance of danger (draws people in).

Oh, and Dreada: I'm a soph, studying at Central Florida Community College, and likely to transfer to University of Florida when I'm done here. They're in the top ten in the nation for AE, so it's all cool. 8)

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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 11, 2004 3:08 am
I didn't realize a resume was required for discussion. I didn't realize arrogant condescension would be the rule on the boards. If so, perhaps I'll simply watch this "Great Adventure" from the brochure pages.

Corporate space travel will be EXACTLY as safe as the profit margins will allow them to get away with (factoring in "insurance" and "PR ramifications of failure"). There is no "completely safe" transportation system. I'm not saying they won't be safe ENOUGH. I'm simply saying that the private sector won't be be MORE safe than government.

Safety will come, as it always has, by trial and error.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Apr 11, 2004 2:41 pm
zinfab wrote:
I didn't realize a resume was required for discussion. I didn't realize arrogant condescension would be the rule on the boards. If so, perhaps I'll simply watch this "Great Adventure" from the brochure pages.


No resume required. I'm just letting you know that you need to do a little research and know what you're talking about before you make a post that something is so insanely simple that it's criminal for someone not to have done it already. I needed the condescension to get and hold your attention, and to make sure that you'd be offended enough to remember the point. I learned this the hard way, just as you have, and just as many who come after us will.

zinfab wrote:
Corporate space travel will be EXACTLY as safe as the profit margins will allow them to get away with (factoring in "insurance" and "PR ramifications of failure"). There is no "completely safe" transportation system. I'm not saying they won't be safe ENOUGH. I'm simply saying that the private sector won't be be MORE safe than government.

Safety will come, as it always has, by trial and error.


Not quite. At first, at least, safety will be one of the major concerns, due to the fact that space tourism (especially anything beyond suborbital flight) is the sport of a very exclusive club: the very wealthy. And since it's such a small club, killing off one member will eliminate your chances of getting any business from the rest. And you're right, there's no such thing as completely safe. But they'll get pretty close if they have to. Now, later on, when space transport is required by the masses, it could be a very different story -- if there isn't enough competition.

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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 12, 2004 1:42 pm
OK folks! Arguments are such great fun. We are finally making progress by not having only one or two but more than a dozen space development programs.

Now if one has a failure or rather when, we are not dead in the water for 2 or 3 years, while waiting for NASA to "fix" its program.

Every team trying a different approach to space will teach all of us the lessons of their experience of success or failure. And thank God for the failures.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 16, 2004 3:39 am
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That's the way it works, mon ami, and that's why I'm an AE student planning on starting his own company. 8) <-- "Yeah, but I've got cooler sunglasses!"


Hey, me too :) . Well, at least I'm going to be, right now I'm a freshman in high school, woking towards the whole AE PhD. My goal, no matter how unrealistic due to academic and funding hurdles, would be to study at MIT, but in all likelihood I'll have to wait until I'm getting my masters and PhD to go there.

Anyway, about the abort systems, what's the big argument about? As far as I knew virtually all of the real contenders have them, with the notable exceptions of Scaled Composites and Armadillio. Going off on another tangent, why is Armadillo such a favorite? They definatley hold the title of the most ludicrious serious design in the bunch, I wouldn't be to surprised if John Carmack blows himself up (And then no Doom 4 :cry: ). Back on topic, Canadian Arrow, Starchaser, and HARC (front-runner?) all have emergency abort systems, so why is everyone discussing why no one has them?

Abort systems are a good idea just on basic principle. I understand that pushing the envelope and developing any new frontier requires taking risks, but that does not mean that they require being stupid. It's like skateboarding, you're being dumb just for doing it, you're being dumb if you do it without a helmit. In this case the helmits happen to be driven by large rockets at the tops of the capsules :D . And, in fact, they have been used before. I wasn't able to locate the exact flight, but I know that there was at least one, possibly two Soyuz flights in which the abrot systems saved the crew. Wally Schria was increadibly lucky on his Gemini flight when the Titan booster bleow him didn't simply explode after shutting down one second into the flight, he and his co-pilot could have easily died that day when he decided not to use their ejector seats.

Look, an abort system makes only a tiny fraction of the total rocket weight, even less if you use ejection seats instead of rocket towers. In any case, the vehicles that I design will all have the option to abort. 8)

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:10 am
In a commercial market following the x-prize, I can only see launchers with an escape system ever being granted a license to carry fare paying passengers. I know that commercial airlines don't have to but I really think this will be treated differently. Besides, as every car and aircraft manufacturer knows, safety sells. Burt Rutan has the resources to install ejector seats into an uprated ss1. Just get on with it.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 16, 2004 9:51 am
And jetision straight into the bottom of white knight?

There is a reason fighter jets have ejection seats and airliners don't. It makes sense in a fighter. A fighter pilot needs to eject about once a week.

Imagine a 747 coming into land and a passenger panics. Due to the laws of mob dynamics 300 people eject into the path of the jumbo thats coming into land 30 seconds behind it, 500 more people eject....

You can see why we let them slam into hills and just move on.

If you eject out of a Rocket that is malfunctioning on the pad you will be burnt to crisp when it detonates. Thats why you need an abort tower. But will adding an abort tower and an extra stage to accomodate it give designers and engineers more time to fix the exploding engine problem?

In aircraft saftey means self extinguishing redundant engines.

Proper saftey means developing tanks that explode in intelligent directions without destroyng the crew cabin. Its about making the crew cabin survivable at all stages of the flight.

To make the next stage of the stuff really work, we will need INTACT ABORT, where the whole thing comes home safe despite the Ozone tank making like the 4th of July.

And what are we to do about hijacking? These are big ticket people on board these flights. Or what of pilot error.

We need a lot of really cheap flights from a lot of suppliers globally to make losses acceptable. So the world doesn't grind to halt.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Apr 16, 2004 11:39 am
Hmmm, thats taking things to the extreme don't you think? B-52 crew members in the lower cockpit eject just fine out of the bottom of the fuselage. If US fighters go down with that frequency, I would concentrate on basic powered atmospheric flight for now. And the very thought of giving passengers independant control of ejecting would remove any need to bring a bomb onboard surely? Your argument seems to rest on the idea that safety compromises development in the areas you are interested in, where I would argue the opposite. I am sure that F1 or champ car teams could eke out a few more horses and improve reliability if they didn't have to mess about with a HANS system or a survivable cockpit. It just becomes a matter of finding some retardate to drive it. I do concede that engineered "weak" points in the event of an explosion is an excellent idea, which is already used on ammunition storage areas on British tanks like Challenger II. I'm not sure what kind of forces they are directing away from the crew compartment but i'm sure the idea is sound.

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