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Alt.Space - Promises Kept/Broken

Posted by: Buck.Bundy - Sat Aug 25, 2007 7:24 pm
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Alt.Space - Promises Kept/Broken 

Is Buck.Bundy a troll?
Yes - He should go back to www.HobbySpace.com and bother them. 12%  12%  [ 2 ]
No- He is clearly an enlightened visionary and can lead us to Alt.Space Heaven. 24%  24%  [ 4 ]
Who is Buck.Bundy and shouldn't he be off selling shoes somewhere? 65%  65%  [ 11 ]
Moderators Help !!! - Polls with humor should be banned. 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
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Alt.Space - Promises Kept/Broken 
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Post    Posted on: Wed Nov 14, 2007 6:46 pm
jpowell wrote:
I see it as grand challenges attempted and failed. This is the strength of the alt space community.
I hadn't though of it that way before. It helps to do so. Thanks.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:05 am
JP

"I have a bit of a different take on the whole thing. I don't see it in terms of promises made and broken. I see it as grand challenges attempted and failed. This is the strength of the alt space community. The willingness to try, to attempt to make something that has never existed before. To fail over and over again till someone gets it right."

". . . , we should not then complain when they fail. We were not promised anything. I've heard the complaint; "they told us they were going to make it". Of course they did! If you don't have unstoppable faith in your own project you will never succeed."

I agree (but, not in such romantic terms) with your assessment that it is the willingness of people with grand dreams to try, even while facing defeat at every turn.

I have a problem with people using this industry to garner personal attention and ego gratification by individuals spinning promises of gold while having nothing but straw.

My obvious example of Not-So-Flyin- Brian Feeney during X-Prize 1.0.

Read some of the interviews with Brian about how they were working in Kidersley preparing for their launch.

They didn't even have a balloon! They only did a test on a scale balloon several months later! He outright lied to the X-Prize foundation, anyone that would listen but especially the people of Kindersley who were preparing for a large crowd of people for the X-Prize attempt.

What about the business people that spent money based on Brian's promise? The fans in the alt.space community that bought plane tickets and books hotel rooms and arranged vacation time?

Your view is certainly romantic, but what this industry NEEDS is an objective analysis of the promises companies make. I know that reality isn't sexy, but, it will make it easier on companies doing REAL work.

My $ 0.02 worth.

Buck.Bundy

- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Interesting thread.

http://www.personalspaceflight.info/200 ... lanetspace


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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 02, 2007 8:09 pm
Actually there is nothing romantic about it at all. It only seems that way from the outside. The poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade" is considered courageous, romantic and the like, however I'll bet that to the poor guys on horse back pounding away while been shot it and killed it was nothing of the sort.

If we really wanted to be famous a space project is a poor way to go. If we really wanted to get rich we would open a Starbucks.

We always push the publicity. It brings in sponsors and sales to pay the bills.
But it is always an ordeal. You smile and have to explain yourself once again only to have 90% of the stories snicker at you and 99% of folks on the web publicly say bad things about you. Then when the next media event happens you put on your smile and do it again and even pursue it, because it feeds the project. Trust me, waking up on a Sunday morning to a 9000 post slash dot thread with every one of them calling to you stupid is a very weird and un-fun experience. Not a romantic feel there.

I don't know where to find the balance. We should review, debate and discuss the pros and cons of programs. It very legitimate to take hard looks and the mistakes and fobbles. I do wish it would be not so personal. I would hate to have to endure the abuse that Brian Feeney has endured. I would guess that if it was all less personal that even Brain might post here. We might vigorously disagree with him, but it would be very interesting anyway.

JP

very interesting thread


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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:21 pm
JP,

Your point is well made, and from someone slugging it out in the trenches, your perspective is hard to argue.

I was only commenting that your view made it seem that ALL of these projects should be free from criticism.

I will have to disagree with you on one point. I have no wish to hear from Brian. Some of his investors and maybe some of his former staff, but i've had a stomach full of Feeney and can't stand any more.

Thanks for your perspective and keep up the good work.

My $ 0.02 worth.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Dec 10, 2007 6:34 pm
There is an AWESOME update on the SpaceX web site.
http://www.spacex.com/updates.php#Update121007
I am surprised there is no Official Company Forum for SpaceX.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:30 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
There is an AWESOME update on the SpaceX web site.
http://www.spacex.com/updates.php#Update121007
I am surprised there is no Official Company Forum for SpaceX.


This is actually an interesting study case. The update is really well written and presents a lot of points for discussion. First off, it's apparent that SpaceX is following a relatively classical approach to rocket development, which I find laudable. Also, they seem to know what sort of challenges they're up against. Still, and without wanting to be negative, a number of points about that great update have me wondering:

    First and foremost, like every rocket development since Apollo (in fact since the A4) they are late for every major milestone, as compared to the planning at the milestone before that. That's normal but at least it shows they're not much better than the existing crowd of launch vehicle providers.
    They are starting one development after the next, giving up some building blocks in between, often before they have reached anywhere near operational status. That's dangerous because you lose track of the effort to come from a successful first flight to a series-production machine. Also, their "top" people must now be working on four distinct projects, each a multi-million dollar affair, and -horror- three of those depend on each other. It's a recipe for more delays.
    Also, I don't like the look of some of their hardware. If you compare a photo of the Merlin 1A with one of a Viking engine, you'll immediately see what I mean. The 70's design is beautiful, while the Merlin's a mess. I wouldn't want to do a structural analysis on that tubing!

Going in a bit more detail, there are some points about their Dragon CDR that have me wondering:
    First, it's a CDR for a combined system. What about the F9 and dragon individual CDRs? They should be a lot further advanced on those systems. My working assumption is, however, this was at best a parallel CDR of the dragon and F9 individually, and maybe as a stack.
    Second, they say that 95% of their 3D CAD models for the F9 are released. In my view, it's still a long way from a 3D model to a manufacturing drawing, and manufacturing procedure, and so on. So this may sound better than it is.
    Third, they partially completed the first stage HW ahead of the CDR. That's great. Another way of reading this is they couldn't complete the paperwork on schedule.
    Fourth, the Merlin 1C engine is "in the qualification phase". Great, too. Still, normally a subsystem is supposed to be about qualified by system CDR.
    Fifth, they are at "board level" for the avionics. Ouch! What board level? Breadboard or flight-design PCB's about to be put together as a system?
    Last but not least, they have "addressed and dispostioned all questions" during the CDR. Well, for anyone who's ever been in one, that's basic. It still means there can be a ton of open actions or review items.


Now don't get me wrong, I think SX is on a much better track than anyone else in alt.space. But we should really look a bit behind the glitter to see if there is really gold there.

Cheers all round
Max

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:13 am
If you look the the COTS requirements SpaceX has 19 milestones to meet.
If we can take Elon Musk at his word and they are "ahead of the curve"
Then they must have completed the following by now.
1/ Project Management Plan Review
2/ Demo 1 System Requirements Review
3/ Demo 1 Preliminary Design Review
4/ Financing Round 1
5/ Demo 2 System Requirement Review
6/ Demo 1 Critical Design Review
7/ Demo 3 System Requirement Review
8/ Demo 2 Preliminary Design Review (due this month)
Clearly in the interest of keeping the post under the length of War and Peace he's omitted all but item 6, as CDR's the major one, anyway.
The next milestone is the readiness review due Feb 2008.
NB there is no separate milestone for Dragon as such. Hence SpaceX has no option but to develop eveything concurrently to meet their COTS milestones.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:35 am
Further more I should point out that when you look at the DARPA approved report on the 2nd falcon flight
http://www.spacex.com/F1-DemoFlight2-Flight-Review.pdf
all the issues raised by the flight are relatively minor, including the lack of baffles problem that finally brought the flight undone.
Thus SpaceX feels confident in calling the Falcon 1 a done deal in terms of flightworthiness.
No doubt there will be tweaks to be made, but barring something major happening on a launch down the track they are clear to devote all their energies to Falcon 9, Dragon and COTS.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:43 am
Max Lange wrote:
I don't like the look of some of their hardware. If you compare a photo of the Merlin 1A with one of a Viking engine, you'll immediately see what I mean.
Maybe it is just me, but I LOVE the look of their hardware. It looks very clean and well designed to me. I couldn't find a picture of a Viking engine, by Viking used vanes in the exhaust for steering; it was not gimbaled. A gimbaled engine like Merlin is mounted on a big bearing and has big actuators to push it around as well as having piping that can flex to follow the engine as it tilts this way and that. Of course it is more complicated looking!

Basically everything you say is true, but they are STILL way ahead of any of the others, including NASA I think. You say the glass is half empty and the optimist says it is half full. I say the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Another thing I like about them is how Musk always says rockets are hard to make. He though they were hard when he started and found them to be even harder than he though. This is exactly the opposite of what I hear on this form, how it is actually easy. All the people who have actually built and launched an ORBITAL rocket say it is hard to do. Only people who have never done it say it is easy. Talk is cheap and SpaceX has ACTION.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 10:40 am
Image
Viking engine

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:23 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
Maybe it is just me, but I LOVE the look of their hardware. It looks very clean and well designed to me. I couldn't find a picture of a Viking engine, by Viking used vanes in the exhaust for steering; it was not gimbaled. A gimbaled engine like Merlin is mounted on a big bearing and has big actuators to push it around as well as having piping that can flex to follow the engine as it tilts this way and that. Of course it is more complicated looking!


There is an urgent clarification needed. I was writing about the SEP Viking engine from the Ariane 1-4 launch vehicles. It is gimballed, and is a storable bipropellant engine using a gas generator cycle like Merlin, and is in a similar size, thrust, and ISP class to Merlin (though it's storable bipropellant). Look at Klaus' image and you'll know what I mean.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 3:23 pm
Ah! That is good to know. I was indeed thinking of the old Viking sounding rocket engine.

Looking at that picture it seems the engine in not regeneratively cooled. At least I don't see the tubes for it around the nozzle. Otherwise that doesn't really look simpler than Merlin; it just has the turbo pump on top instead of off to the side.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 7:00 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
I say the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

I like that. I'm going to put that behind my ear for later.

campbelp2002 wrote:
Another thing I like about them is how Musk always says rockets are hard to make. He though they were hard when he started and found them to be even harder than he though. This is exactly the opposite of what I hear on this form, how it is actually easy. All the people who have actually built and launched an ORBITAL rocket say it is hard to do. Only people who have never done it say it is easy. Talk is cheap and SpaceX has ACTION.


Yes, Musk has his feet firmly on the ground. A few people here talking about rocket development seem to work on the same principle as Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss - 'I've drawn up a work schedule on the basis that anything I don't understand is easy'.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 12, 2007 9:11 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
You say the glass is half empty and the optimist says it is half full. I say the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Another thing I like about them is how Musk always says rockets are hard to make.


Actually I think Musk took an almost-full glass and tipped it into a large shaker. Might produce a top-rate cocktail in the end, but for the moment it's just hard to be sure what's going on.

Where I totally agree with you is this guy knows he's up against a difficult task, and that's very reassuring. Because it's easy to build a rocket, but very hard to build an orbital launcher.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Dec 23, 2007 3:54 am
I don't know how many saw the December 18 update on the SpaceX web page, but they have passed the Systems Requirements Review (SRR) for what will be the third Falcon 9 / Dragon demonstration. SpaceX continues its record of successfully meeting all COTS milestones on schedule.
What an awesome record compared to all the others!

http://www.spacex.com/press.php?page=34


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