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NASA needs a rocket BIGGER than CaLV for its future missions

Posted by: gaetanomarano - Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:56 pm
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NASA needs a rocket BIGGER than CaLV for its future missions 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 21, 2006 11:46 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
Another point is that while it may be relatively easy to find smaller payloads, large 200 ton payloads are few and far between..


when the (small or big) CaLV will be available in 2020, it will be NOT the ONLY rocket for ALL but ONLY the rocket for BIG missions like moon, mars, space stations, etc.

the "small payloads" will continue to be launched, like to-day, with dozens of different small rockets (that will be more than now and will cost less thanks to China, India and privates rockets)

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:41 am
Hello, gaetanomarano,

you are misunderstanding me partially or mixing aspects. I didn't say that NASA wouldn't do the launches - what I said was that the 200 mT-CaLV or larger, that the vehicle you have in mind would be economical only if the huge capacity is used to a very large degree. To use it up to that degree results in gathering more cargo than a smaller CaLV can launch. This requires more time than in the case of the smaller CaLV and this has an impact on workflow.

Of course funds would allow for more launches if they are large enough but still more launches of the 200 mT-CaLV with less cargo financed by these funds would be uneconomical - the funds would be wasted partially because they only would subsidize unused capacities. And in case of NASA they would be taxes and government debth - the taxpayers' money would be wasted. Much more could be done by it if smaller CaLVs are used instead of 200 mT ones.

Usually the degree a capacity starts to be economical at is 70 % and more - a 200 mT CaLV would have to carry 140 mT at least at this usual degree. It would be more economical to use two 70 mT to 75 mT CaLVs for such a weight - and for the workflow it would be even more economical to use four 35 mT to 40 mT CaLVs. Evene less capacity might be more economical - that depends on the workflow.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:44 am
Whether something is economical or not would depend on what it was and how it was configured. For example, should you send up small payloads that need assembly in space or say a single one that is complete in it's own right or only needs to be coupled to another structure. I'm thinking of the larger Bigalow modules but there may be others if there was actually something reliable that could transport very large payloads.
What's really killing things at present is the high cost of sending something into space be it large or small.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:12 am
Hello, beancounter,

there is an objective measure if something is economical - the ratio between costs and output or revenue and the like. This ratio simply is total costs divided by output. The total costs include the fixed costs which are the costs of the hardware.

If the payload capayity of the hardware is 200 mT and costs let's say $ 200 mio but is used by 30 % only then 60 mT are launched at $ 200 mio of hardware costs. This would be $ 3.333 mio per mT. If there is another vehicle with a payload capacity of 70 mT only then this vehicle can launch the 60 mT also - but it would be used by more than 84 % and if it has hardware costs of $ 70 mio then the hardware costs per mT would be $ 1.166 mio only.

So obviously the 70 mT-vehicle would be more economical than the 200 mT-vehicle in this case. These aren't total costs yet because the propellant is left - but to change the situation the propellant would have to cost more than $ 120 mio in total or the hardware overhead costs would have to sum up with the propellant costs to that amount. The hardware overhead costs would be the engines mainly.

What's explained this way now is that it doesn't depend on the vehicle if this vehicle is economical nor on the payload but on both together: What can be economical or not is only what someone does, how someone acts and so on.

But the vehicle sets the critical point and it depends on the payload if that critical point is achieved/exceeded or not - if not then someone is acting uneconomically.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 7:00 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...the degree a capacity starts to be economical at is 70 % and more - a 200 mT CaLV would have to carry 140 mT at least at this usual degree. It would be more economical to use two 70 mT to 75 mT CaLVs for such a weight - and for the workflow it would be even more economical to use four 35 mT to 40 mT CaLVs...


the CaLV's story must be splitted in...

a) design years: 2005-2020

b) launch years: 2020-up

the part "a" of the project don't needs so much hardware and great part of the R&D costs (probably over 95%) will come from... "n" engineers involved at $100,000/engineer x 15 years (the same for test structures, labs, etc.)

no one can know now if the R&D costs of the CaLV will be $10B (as planned) or 12, 15, 19... but I'm sure that it will cost the SAME money whatever will be its final payload... 125 (as planned) or 140 or 190 mT

the part "b" will have different costs with different CaLV designs, but not BIG differences since 90% of the hardware of (both) small or big rockets will be the same

thanks to some extra engines and a 20% larger tanks, the 200 mT hardware may cost around $100-150M more than a 125 mT CaLV (that is not so much if we consider its big advantages)

of course, the big CaLV will be uneconomical if launched with less payload, but I don't see any reason to do that!

the EDS/LSAM/CEV/SM system already weigh 150 mT (and needs TWO rockets to launch them while the BIG-CaLV may launch the full vehicles!) and the last 50 mT will NEVER be "unused" since NASA may (simply) send extra exploration-hardware, extra life support, vehicles for more missions, extra-fuel for reusable-LSAM, etc. etc. etc.

all space agencies have NEVER wasted the payload of their rockets since they have used EVERY SINGLE GRAM in the best way (and, I think, you may agree with me on that)

probably you think to a bigger CaLV like some big airplanes that (many times) fly with half passengers

but it will never happen with the small or big CaLV

give a 200 mT CaLV to NASA and you can be SURE that it will NEVER fly with "half passengers"!!!

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 8:39 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...is 200 mT and costs let's say $ 200 mio but is used by 30 % only then 60 mT are launched at $ 200 mio of hardware costs. This would be $ 3.333 mio per mT. If there is another vehicle with a payload capacity of 70 mT only then this vehicle can launch the 60 mT also - but it would be used by more than 84 % and if it has hardware costs of $ 70 mio then the hardware costs per mT would be $ 1.166 mio only...


your evaluation is correct but based on a completely wrong assertion!

why rockets must fly with HALF payloads?

if NASA will build a 125 mT CaLV... will launch 125 mT... NOT only 90 or 70 or 50 mT!

I can't imagine that NASA will (finally!) have a 200 mT rocket... but use only HALF of it!

why?

for which absurd reason NASA must do a so absurd thing!?

I think that... if you give to NASA or ESA or China a 1000 mT payload rocket... they will launch 1000 mT of space hardware ...at EVERY launch!

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Last edited by gaetanomarano on Fri Jun 23, 2006 11:52 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:21 pm
Uh... Hate to break it to you, but there's plenty of times a transport vehicle (be it an oceangoing ship, semi truck, train, or airplane) will make many runs without having a completely full load. The transport companies don't much like it, as it's not efficient. However, reality demands that specific cargoes are required to go to specific destinations. And sometimes, nothing else needs to go there at that point in time.

Rockets will lift off with partial payloads; they do it constantly already. It's far more rare to see any vehicle loaded to absolute capacity than it is to see it loaded to the 50%-90% capacity range.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jun 22, 2006 9:43 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
Uh... Hate to break it to you, but there's plenty of times a transport vehicle (be it an oceangoing ship, semi truck, train, or airplane) will make many runs without having a completely full load. The transport companies don't much like it, as it's not efficient. However, reality demands that specific cargoes are required to go to specific destinations. And sometimes, nothing else needs to go there at that point in time.

Rockets will lift off with partial payloads; they do it constantly already. It's far more rare to see any vehicle loaded to absolute capacity than it is to see it loaded to the 50%-90% capacity range.


with ships, airplanes, trains, etc. that is possible because their "payload cost" is very low and not so much money is lost if they are loaded at 70%

but (you know) space-payloads are very expensive and precious, then, all space agencies launch (or try to launch) the max payload possible

many times they launch two or more satellites to reach the max payload of a rocket

of course, rocket don't exist in ALL possible payload sizes, like... from 100 kg. to 10 mT in 10 kg. steps...!

then, if a payload is 6 mT and they have only a 5 mT or a 8 mT rocket, they use the 8 mT at 75% of its max load

however, you can be SURE (and you will see!) that ALL the (very expensive and very precious) CaLV payload available will be used at 99% (or more) of its max load!

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 23, 2006 12:42 am
I made the point in my previous email Ekke, you're totally ignoring future payloads, only considering existing payloads. Please reread what I said about fully assembled as opposed to those that require assembly. Your analysis is fine and I have no argument with what you've done however you haven't considered the problem and costs associated with assembly in space. This may change your final cost - smaller versus larger vehicles and associated payloads. Mind you, most of it will be estimates as there's been precious little of what I would call assembly work done in space up to now. As an example, the ISS is well behind time due to lack of a reliable transport system. What could have been done with one that could take say 100mT into space as opposed to the measley 20 or so that the shuttle carries? How would that have changed the economics? That's 5 times the payload and how much less work to assemble including design to get what you need into 20 mTs?

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:13 am
Hello, beancounter and gaetanomarano,

what I said has to do with the direction I am looking on it - this direction seems to be different to yours.

The best way to achieve and keep optimal efficiency is to apply the look from the payload or - more precisely - its properties. Small payloads are easier and more safely to handle, move and so on.

But more essential and important is the fact that even in space large artificial objects can be built and put together step by step only - like on Earth. If that's not done than some elements, components, parts would have to be stored somewhere around the non-ready object - which means parking orbits close to the object's orbit or spreading them over the lunar area around the object.

The close parking orbit is very dangerous while spreading over a lunar surface may require lunar trucks which in turn also will have to be put together on the Moon.

For these reasons elements, components and parts should be delivered step by step when they are needed.

Next the view from the payload(s) means that the capacities required are known best that way - then the capacities can be planned according to the needs/requirements and according to the workflow.

So first the luanr station should be planned. Then planning of the workflow should follow and the earliest the capacities of rockets and vehicles should be planned. The whole process will have to be iterative or cyclical perhaps along a top-down-dimension but this way costs can be kept down via using the capacities to degrees at or higher than 70 %.

beancounter, this means to take into account future payloads to the highest degree possible because there is a plan then and a plan allways is or means to anticipate the future and to c´reate it actively

Regarding NASA I am missing that they plan the lunar station - they plan new vehicles and the like and there are a lot of articles about that. But compared to that there is a lack of plan for or of the lunar station - or of informations about it at least.

And then the plan has to be obeyed to to more than 90 % - which means that nearly nothing has to be extended, enhanced, reduced or the like.

That's why vehicles of large capacities shouldn't be discussed yet. The only other base to discuss them would be a/the market. This market demand-sided would be made of several companies/customers having such plans.

Plans - they are always involved and this menas that I no way consider existing payloads only. The weights I talked about in my previous post were examples only.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:40 am
Another point in favour of a bigger CaLV is it reduces the contraints on the rest of the ESAS arcitecture. NASA is already struggling to do much more on the moon than Apollo, because the weight of the LSAM is limited.
An extra 75 tonnes would allow a much bigger LSAM & EDS, at the same time reducing the need to make every part ultra light weight, and hence REDUCING THE COST.

An extra hundred million or 2 on CaLV, might save much more on LSAM and other payloads.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:52 am
The question is if the real numbers will be really so that this way of cost reduction achieves more reductions than the way I would prefer avoids costs.

And the ultra light weight approach would have advatageous beyond ESAS also which means that only a fraction of its costs have to be accounted to ESAS.

The plan(s) I am talking about is(are) indispensible to keep control of the costs - the investment is $ 104 bio. Without a plan and obedience to it that amount easyly can grwo to $ 150 bio and $ 200 bio quickly - in particular with too large vehicles used to less than 70 % only.

A plan of costs and investments in detail is required - called "Wirtschaftlichkeitsrechnung" in German.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Jun 23, 2006 7:47 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
in particular with too large vehicles used to less than 70 % only.
That is why a family of different size vehicles is needed, like the various Falcons of SpaceX. Then the rocket can be more closely matched to the payload and is used at more than 70% capacity. WannabeSpaceCadet may not care about the smaller sizes, but they are needed for the smaller payloads. Others may not care about the largest size, but it is needed for the largest payload. SpaceX has the right idea when they use standardized engines and tanks to make many different size launchers. It holds tooling costs down.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Jun 24, 2006 9:50 am
"Large", "small", "heavy", "light" - the question is if the talk is about indivisable payloads. If a heavy payload is indivisable then - and only then - there is now way out of using a HLLV. But if the heavy payload is divisable - if it can be separated into parts which then are lighter than the complete payload a vehicle of less capacity can be used and there is a chance that the costs can be reduced superproportionally because the flight rate is increased. Reusability is to be considered then.

This menas that the expenses, invetsments, costs can be optimized if all the investments, work, transportions etc. are considered in total - nothing mustn't be left away: What do the equipments cost the lunar station will be made of? What do the materials cost? What do the elements cost? What do the components cost? What does the work by humans cost? What amount of costs is due to the erthain gravitation? What amount of costs is due to the earthian enviroement (atmoshere, dirt, weather...)? What amount of costs is due to launching the lunar stage each time again instead of keeping it reusable and parking it in orbit? ...

And so on. What's required before a decison about the capacities of vehicles can be done is a detalied economical - Enterprise Economics - analysis of costs and investments. Governments tend to leave that away nearly totally. So consultant companies should be involved that are companies like Scaled Composits, SpaceX or SpaceDev might hire.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:28 am
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
..."Large", "small", "heavy", "light"...


your evaluation may be applied (in part) to mid-small rockets' launches but not with the ESAS moon missions

the (minimum!) CaLV payload will be 125 mT and the entire moon missions' hardware will weigh up to 150 mT, then, a 200 mT CaLV will NEVER be launched under 75% of its max payload!

of course, at NASA will be not so crazy to have an extra 50 mT of payload without use it!

you say that they need to "plan" the payload... TRUE... but they have 15 years to plan how to use the extra 50 mT payload!

if they don't plan (now) a lunar surface station... with a 200 mT rocket they CAN!

you say that "nearly nothing has to be extended, enhanced, reduced or the like"

true, but this applies FIRST to the CaLV, since, if they will discover (after 2020) that a bigger rocket is necessary, they WILL NOT HAVE IT and, if they want to modify the small-CaLV, that will cost 10+ years and 5+ billions!

the good uses of an extra 50 mT payload are many, but the main reason to build a big-CaLV is to launch a BIG-LSAM

a BIGGER LSAM is a GIANT SAVING OF MONEY... and I give you an economical analysis of that:

with the standard ESAS plan each moon mission will cost about $6/8 Billions (hardware, shared R&D costs, etc.) to send four astronauts on the moon for a week

then, each moon-exploration-day will costs about $1 billion

but, just imagine that, with a BIG-CaLV, we will send on the moon four astronauts on a BIG-LSAM with FOUR TIMES the life support (one+ month) and FOUR TIMES the moon-exploration-hardware (10+ mT instead of 2.5 mT) WITHOUT need to send also a cargo-LSAM...

the R&D costs to design a BIG-CaLV and a BIG-LSAM will be similar to the standard ESAS vehicles, while, the extra-hardware costs may be about $1B more...

but... we will have FOUR "one week" missions for the price of 1.1 mission!

that means each moon-exploration-day will cost about 1/4 of the standard ESAS plan!

in other words... instead of spend $7 billion x 4 one-week-missions = $28 billion... we will spend only $8 billion to have THE SAME moon-exploration-time... and (thanks to the BIG-CaLV) we will save $20 billions every four weeks of exploration time!

and, with the money saved, we can accomplish 2.5 more ONE-MONTH moon missions!

right?

NOT ONLY... BUT...

next time NASA will decide to use the same lunar outpost, they don't need to send again the same exploration-hardware but may use the 10 mT cargo of the BIG-LSAM to send a BIGGER (2+ months) life support!

then (thanks to the BIG-CaLV and the BIG-LSAM) the second moon mission to the same outpost will costs $8B for EIGHT WEEKS of moon-exploration time and, this "second time", the total money saved vs. the standard one-week ESAS trip, will be $56B - $8B = $48 billions!!!!!!!

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