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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: Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:40 am
Hello, gaetanomarano,

each argumentation simply by real capacity in units of weight or units of volume is very very simplifying and tendentially naive because it is in't checked then if fully using this capacity is sufficient to be economical.

Such an argumentation limits the consideration, the check etc. to real costs- and that partially only. It is nearly impossible to include the fixed costs, the depreciations properly...

But most important and essential... - it is a trial to evaluate something economically by absolute numbers, values etc. and that really is impossible and doesn't tell anything about about something being economical or not.

Economic evaluations never can be based on absolute numbers or values - in Economics and in terms of Economics each number, each value is a relative one. For this reason the absolute capacity of a vehicle can't be a criterion to judge if the vehicle is economical or efficient - this never is possible because it isn't economically defined. Even the relation of the capacity in units of weight or in units of volume of the vehicle to the size of the payload(s) in units of weight or in units of volume can't be such a criterion.

The reasons are multiple - one of the reasons is that two payloads made of the same amount of the same material, elements, parts and components can have different production costs. This also holds for the vehicles.

More important however is that a budget is required to cover the costs - even a company has a budget. And this budget limits the costs that can be accepted. Budgets aren't constant - and there is no guarantee that NASA really will get the total of $ 104 bio required over the twelve years until 2018.

Because of this the relation to the present budget and to the most likely budgets of the next two years is essential - and each year this relation has to be reconsidered to do required adjustments.

The larger the rocket/vehicle called for the more years of budget will be required to cover the financial requirements of that vehicle/rocket. The same holds for the payloads and in partzicular the lunar station.

The $ 104 bio NASA say to be required is a sum added on over the years until 2018 only but not an amount of money that would be guaranteed to them. May be that in five years the congress no longer will agree to fund such requirements and will cut back the funds so that the total until 2018 will be $ 80 bio only.

If in such a situation NASA has started to build a 200 mT-vehicle this situation easyly might result in uneconomical exhaustions of the payload capacity - and nobody else will be there to fully use the large capacity.

In short - such high capacities are high project risks and high budget risks that can endanger the whole Bush plan.

This is one of the reasons I am calling for the plan for the lunar station, the Economics-look on that station, on the work-flow and its schedule and hence the vehicle/rocket.

ESAS is an architecture but not a plan - it is far from being such a plan. I am even missing ESAS to focus on the lunar station as a /the purpose or goal. I don't have nothing against ESAS up to now - but it is insufficient and it shouldn't have been the first step or the stand-alone step.

It is of no meaning what a vehicle ESAS calls for - what's essential is what a vehicle a lunar station and to build it require. To get this it has to be fixed first what the design of that station is, of what elements etc. that station could consist best, how these elements etc. could be put together and mounted to each other best and so on. And earliest then when that is fixed to more than 90% it can be considered how to transport the elemnents etc., in what time frames what elements must be on the Moon and what amounts of them. And then it can be fixed what the capacities of the rockets/vehicles have to be.

This would provide the flexibility required and it would ensure to some degree that the vehicles fit into a budget-period of maximum three years, can be bear the relatively small risks of such a period and can be funded to a significant degree by the budget of the running year or the year follwing the running budget-year.

This is a look from the purpose, the goal which is the lunar station - like here on Earth the look on transportation of stones etc. is done if a new house is going to be built or a new production complex of DaimlerChrysler or Boeing or Scaled Composites. They then also don't look on the lorries or the architecture of transportation first - that architecture is a result not the origin. The architecture has to be the resukt of an evolution.

This way it would ensured that they never will discover that a larger or bigger rocket is required - because of the plan for the lunar station. In oppsite - it might turn out before any mission that the $ 1 bio for one lunar exploraton day is the result of a non-proper architecture or perspective.

I will have to check the billions tyou are speaking about but I dobn't know this moment when. But what I am doing in the Financial Barriers section seems to point to the probability that billions can be avoided and that SpaceDev have been correct when they said months ago that the lunar station may be to had had significantly cheaper.

Capacity is not the only source of economies - flight rate is another and may provide more economies than capacity.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 12:57 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...each argumentation simply by real capacity in units of weight or units of volume is very very simplifying and tendentially naive because it is in't checked then if fully using this capacity is sufficient to be economical...


my evaluation may be "simple and naive" but is 100% true

the purpose of ESAS is NOT "build (little or big) rockets" but "EXPLORE"

$125B of (updated) VSE funds in next 20 years, less a little cut for a few orbital missions, divided by 12 one-week-each moon missions in 2020-2025 mean... (about) $1 billion per moon-exploration-day

with a BIG-CaLV + BIG-LSAM and four-weeks-each missions, the cost per exploration day falls to $300M

about "scale economy" and "flight rate"... that can be applied to millions computers and cars or thousands airplanes or hundreds ships... NOT to ONE DOZEN of moon missions in the next 20 years!

scale economy and flight rate will influence the missions' costs only when these will be 30, 50 or more

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:21 pm
gaetanomarano wrote:
the (minimum!) CaLV payload will be 125 mT
But that is only one mission, and one with no economic value. By no economic value I mean it makes no profit and so must be supported by government with no expectation of repayment of costs. The vast majority of commercial launches that are intended to make money are smaller, because even though the per pound cost may be lower for giant payloads, the cost per launch is still higher. I am all for having heavy lift capability, but not at the expense of neglecting medium and light launchers.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:31 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
gaetanomarano wrote:
the (minimum!) CaLV payload will be 125 mT
But that is only one mission, and one with no economic value. By no economic value I mean it makes no profit and so must be supported by government with no expectation of repayment of costs. The vast majority of commercial launches that are intended to make money are smaller, because even though the per pound cost may be lower for giant payloads, the cost per launch is still higher. I am all for having heavy lift capability, but not at the expense of neglecting medium and light launchers.


125 mT is the CaLV payload planned by NASA, not an idea of mine

the economic of a moon missions can't be calculated on "payloads" but on "exploration days per billion" (as I've explained before) and, with a BIG-CaLV, the exploration time may be FOUR TIMES for the same price!

when NASA will build the CaLV (or the BIG-CaLV) the mid, little and very little rocket will NEVER disappear but will be built and launched in hundreds units

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 1:50 pm
Hello, gaetanomarano,

the VSE funds you are basing the numbers on are projections. Such projections are required urgently - but they are no liable base for the calculations and choices you are doing... simply because they are projections.

For the calculations and choices you are doing the valid budgets have to be used.

Also the long period of 20 years is a major problem - to look into a future of 20 years is possible regarding distinct particular questions like Prof. Collins investigation of the price for suborbital, orbital and lunar trips in 2030 (lunar he considered only in very short). But it is not possible regarding visions.

For this reason it can be supposed that the real numbers will be significantly different to those you calculated.

Please don't misundertsand me - I don't say that all to oppose to you. It simply is strange if first or mainly vehicles are thought about while the purpose to achieved by them isn't defined sufficiently. For example the lunar station requires protection/shielding against particle radiation. There are ideas about how to protect or shield but I have read about one or two ideas only up to now but nothing about progresses, experiments etc. since then. So it is not known yet how massive the equipment will (have to) be, if it will consist on ISRU, what are the required amounts of electricity etc. etc. etc.

But all that must be known to determine what has to be transported, when by what amounts and so on.

Next the station has to be built step by step since each part has to be checked and tested before the construction can go on - to say this already means to determine the work flow to some degree. A stay of a month already will require liable working protection/shielding. So the shiled/protection ahs to be installed first and then checked. If it doesn't work this has to be changed before any parts can be delivered required for the next steps - as long as the shiled/.. doesn't work these parts would disturb checks, test, modifications, changes etc.

By the way - the CaLV NASA is talking about presently mostly carries the Earth Departure Stage, the lander and the propellant required to leave the earthian orbit for the Moon. And as long as this way is applied most of the cargo will continue to be stage and propellant - because of this I am dounting that larger capacities are reasonable. It would be better first to install a reusable Earth Departure Stage in orbit which would free the CaLV from the transportation of the weight of the EDS-engines and the EDS-tank etc. The Centennial Challenge for orbital propellant depots might point to such a future.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 2:18 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
...the VSE funds you are basing the numbers on are projections. Such projections are required urgently - but they are no liable base for the calculations and choices you are doing... simply because they are projections...


I agree, nobody can know to-day the real VSE costs

it may be well over $200B at the end of next 20 years and the moon missions may be less than 12...

but, whatever will be the total cost, a one month exploration for the price of one week ALWAYS will be the best choice!

about radiation, materials, shields, energy sources, etc... NASA will have 15+ years to design and test them and, also, many lunar tests (like radiation shields) don't need manned missions but can be done years before them with automated vehicles/experiments

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:55 pm
gaetanomarano wrote:
125 mT is the CaLV payload planned by NASA, not an idea of mine
Agreed. But the 200 mT CaLV is your idea. NASA is quite reasonably planning a 125m mT launcher to carry the 125 mT payload. They would be foolish to plan a 200 mT launcher unless they were also planning a 200 mT payload. If, during the course of development, the required payload grows to 200 mT you can be sure that the launcher will be upgraded that much too, just as the finally built Saturn V was bigger than originally planned because the Apollo hardware got heavier.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:26 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
gaetanomarano wrote:
125 mT is the CaLV payload planned by NASA, not an idea of mine
Agreed. But the 200 mT CaLV is your idea. NASA is quite reasonably planning a 125m mT launcher to carry the 125 mT payload. They would be foolish to plan a 200 mT launcher unless they were also planning a 200 mT payload. If, during the course of development, the required payload grows to 200 mT you can be sure that the launcher will be upgraded that much too, just as the finally built Saturn V was bigger than originally planned because the Apollo hardware got heavier.


I don't see where is the problem

they have 15+ years to develop and build the rocket... and 15+ years to plan, develop and build its payload

if they want, they can

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:28 pm
NASA will size the rocket to carry the expected payload. But you are suggesting that the rocket should be sized for a 200 mT payload because, "the 200 mT CaLV can be used for BIG and LITTLE payloads". You just decided, on your own, that 125 mT was not enough and that they really needed to plan for 200 mT. IMO, since NASA has no plans for a 200 mT payload then they should not build a rocket for carrying a 200 mT payload, because, as Ekkehard has pointed out, launching a 125 mT payload on a rocket capable of carrying a 200 mT payload would be wasteful. And if NASA does change their minds and decide they need a bigger payload, they will of course make the launcher bigger.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 9:55 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
NASA will size the rocket to carry the expected payload. But you are suggesting that the rocket should be sized for a 200 mT payload because, "the 200 mT CaLV can be used for BIG and LITTLE payloads". You just decided, on your own, that 125 mT was not enough and that they really needed to plan for 200 mT. IMO, since NASA has no plans for a 200 mT payload then they should not build a rocket for carrying a 200 mT payload, because, as Ekkehard has pointed out, launching a 125 mT payload on a rocket capable of carrying a 200 mT payload would be wasteful. And if NASA does change their minds and decide they need a bigger payload, they will of course make the launcher bigger.


the 200 mT CaLV may have many advantages and it's only a proposal

I never suggest to launch 125 mT with a 200 mT CaLV but only to mix different vehicles to reach the max payload

the BEST payload may be a BIG-LSAM (as explained in my previous posts) but the 50 mT payload (half cargo and half EDS' extra-fuel) may be an LSS module, extra fuel for reusable LSAMs, a pressurized moon rover, extra moon/LSS re-supply/life support, etc.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:15 pm
gaetanomarano: I might point out that you seem to be arguing about the effective cost of the CaLV. NASA cares exceptionally little about cost in a program; they care about getting funding Those are two completely different critters.

Commercial enterprise will create a heavy-lift capability when there is a demand for one. Once that commercial heavy-lift capability is established, more uses for it will be found. Private enterprise works by the laws of supply and demand, among others. Goverment bureaucracy works by the laws of elections and creating jobs in the right Congressional districts.

NASA is unpopular because it pays for jobs in only five states that I can think of: California, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Virginia. Of those, California, Texas, and Florida have a vast majority of the industrial base and workforce, and therefore are the only three states in the Union that actually care about the Federal space program.

By the same token, the Shuttle is still using the old Thiokol boosters primarily because the military told NASA to keep using them, or NASA's life would be made very miserable very quickly (denied range privileges, denied access to military facilities, etc.). The military got involved because without the SRBs to keep Thiokol in business, that company would not maintain the capability to produce the boosters for ICBMs (which are always solid-fueled for reliability and quick-fire capability), which, while the military is not purchasing them now, might be desired at some point in the indefinite future.

Keep this in mind: traditional economics does not apply to any government program without some pretty serious interpretation (for example, the unit of currency would likely be an individual citizen's vote; a more valuable unit of currency might be a Congressman's vote). Study politics, mate. Then take a good look at government space programs. They'll make a lot more sense then.

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 10:31 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
...they care about getting funding Those are two completely different critters...


I know the political/indutrial/military problem you quote

but NASA can build a BIG-CaLV with the same engines/boosters/factories/contractors of a small version (and companies will be happy to sell a 10% more hardware!)

about time/costs... NASA claim is to build the standard CaLV with $10B of R&D costs and about 15 years of work

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Post    Posted on: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:02 pm
But they should not plan to build the big rocket until they plan to build the big payload.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 28, 2006 7:35 am
gaetanomarano I dont really understand why you are arguing for a bigger vehicle when there is no need for one at present and if a need arises then NASA will probably modify the design accordingly. As you have said they have 15 years of development and even a couple of points improvement on the Isp of the engines in that time will have an impact on how big a payload can be carried.

As for applying economic argument to NASA, I'm afraid I agree with spacecowboy that they just dont apply to NASA in the same way as they would to a non-government organisation. NASA will build (hopefully) what it needs not what it might need in the future because that is what it can get funding for.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 28, 2006 8:25 am
Hello, spacecowboy,

you got it right and correct,



like you also, Andy Hill.



Hello, gaetanomarano,

regarding the protection-hardware and so on I argued by my focus was on the circumstance that because that hardware osn't developed yet the weight of it is unknown yet. And there is other hardware also the weight of is unknown yet.

This means that the total weight to be carried to the Moon to be installed there is unknown yet and also the portions of that weight to be carried to the Moon per step of the workflow is unknown yet. Consequently the required capacity of vehicles/rockets is unknown yet - and so no capacities higher than the 125 mT mustn't be called for.

The Congress wouldn't agree to fund larger rockets unless there is reasonable information about the concrete purposes and wha these purposes can't be achieved by other rockets/vehicles. Also the Congress can provide funding for one year only - because of democracy, elections and other properties fixed by the constitution.

These are major additional reasons why there has to be a plan for and of the lunar station and its details - that plan is a required base needed by the Congress for decisions and agreements about and to funds for rockets/vehicles.

The work-flow also is such a base.

The present 125 mT-CaLV doesn't have to do with the lunar station but with the desired and required ability to send astronauts to the Moon simply. It only includes a lander that will leave the Moon later partially at least, a vehicle, the Earth Departure Stage and the propellant(s) for this all. The 125 mT is adjusted to these four and no larger capacity is required. This is all the Congress will agree to at present - because the required base is provided.

If now suddenly NASA would come up with the desire for funds for a 200 mT-CaLV the Congress would wonder and would be puzzled and doubt that NASA is doing precise and exact work. This would have negative impacts on the Bush plan and the 125 mT-CaLV lewt alone larger launchers.



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EDIT: I forgot to add a way out what I intended when starting to write this post:

The plan I am calling for could start with the minimum requirements of a lunar station: 1 hab for two astronauts, particle protection equipment for that hab, store for food, potable water and cloths for those two astronauts, construction equipment including robots and transportation, science equipment.

What else is required at the minimum?

The equipment has to fit into the time and capacities of the two astronauts.

Next there should be a plan for the requirements of reasonable tasks and purposes and third a plan for "nice to have".

Between these three steps should be inserted because the minimum will have to be the start of it all from which the station would have to enhanced step by step to the reasonable tasks and purposes and then it might be that the Congress finds the governmental ressource sufficiently comfortable to allow for more than the reasonable tasks etc.

This all would have to include the vehicle for only carrying the station crew to and from the Moon - at present this seems to be the lander and CEV under development plus the 125 mT-CaLV under design and development...


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