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Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?

Posted by: SANEAlex - Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:35 pm
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Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel? 
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Post Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:35 pm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters ... -gen.shtml

Much as i admire the capabilities of those who do get things into space i think that for future manned flight its better to have systems with an on/off switch SRB's are too much light the blue paper and stand well back for me what do others think am i being unfair to SRB's.

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:18 am
To me it reads like a panic attempt to compete with SpaceX. Seems that the incumbents have suddenly realised that there is a very serious and competent competitor out there who could take away a lot of business.

And their stab at competing isn't really that novel - they are taking existing tech and bolting it together, unlike SpaceX who developed (albeit with lots of knowledge) a completely new system from scratch.

That said, there is probably enough business out there to keep both systems in flights, unless SpaceX really ramp up their capacity.

Pork will win though, I suspect.


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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:14 pm
Why bother with the SRB first stage is what I wonder. There are already Ariane 5 variants that can lift 20T into LEO, and as the article says, Ariane 5 was designed with human space flight in mind. So why not take the whole thing rather than just the upper stage, so that you don't have all the new risks that the new combination brings. Answer: because that wouldn't make ATK any money, and this is their plan. As for pork, it's not pork until it gets funded instead of a better option. Anyone is free to present any plans they like, whether they make sense or not...

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:59 pm
ATK has powerful guns in congress.
The ATK partnership gives them a entry into CCDev2 (it helps to be/have a US company to receive consideration for federal funds).
Most of the components and work that will go into it was part of Ares, designed and man-rated by NASA, so it gives them a head start in the certification process. Where Ariane would start the onerous process from near zero.

None of this is really new, just different players instead of the big primes (because the scales and margins aren't big enough to be worth their time). They are still building disposable missiles. The paradigm hasn't changed.


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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:48 pm
Ah, the political advantages are obvious, I was thinking more from a technical perspective. Actually, you don't need 20 tons capacity to launch Dragon or a similar capsule (Boeing was building something I think?). Falcon 9 in its current incarnation doesn't lift 20 tons, and it launched Dragon just fine. Both Ariane 5G and ECA failed on their first missions, but haven't had a failure that would have killed anyone since. So, ATK need EADS to get into orbit, EADS don't need ATK to get into orbit, but they do need ATK to get at US government money.

If it weren't for politics though, Liberty wouldn't exist. Does that make it pork? Like I said, not yet. Pork is when politicians spend tax money to create jobs, keep the voters happy and keep themselves in power, while not achieving anything (or not as much as another choice would have) in the general public's interest. If this genuinely turns out to be the best option, then so be it.

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Fri Feb 11, 2011 6:11 pm
Pork can be good if it furthers development. Nothing the government does is truly effective and most of the time its less than benign, but some times something useful comes out of it.

To get from the here of an oligopolistic space industry to the there of a more diverse self-supporting commercial one is going to take governmental agencies intentionally nurturing that capability.

Best outcome is that this sudden surge in companies courting the US Gov's commercial crew business is that it will create a bidding war and reduce the cost to orbit.

Worst case is that most of them fail to land any paying contracts, their investors get burned, and investment capital dries up for space ventures.


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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Sun Feb 13, 2011 7:58 pm
James, I think we are already past the point where space venture capital could suddenly dry up because nobody can land paying contracts - just look at SpaceXs launch manifest (even without counting the COTS/CRS missions). The (still fledgling) commercial space industry has reached a certain level of a) diversity and b) momentum that should be enough to carry them on. In my opinion it is clear that there is demand (and quite a lot) for commercial space services of different kinds. All the people have been waiting for was for someone to finally stop making pretty powerpoints and start building and flying hardware.

Regarding the original question: as I have already commented on the news regarding Liberty, I just don't think it's a good idea regardless of how often it gets resurrected...

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:35 am
JamesG wrote:
Pork can be good if it furthers development. Nothing the government does is truly effective and most of the time its less than benign, but some times something useful comes out of it.


Problem with Liberty is that is current tech being used, rather than anything new or novel. And nothing that SpaceX cannot already do (or have plans for)

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Mon Feb 14, 2011 9:41 pm
Liberty isn't a technology development program, that was Ares. It is an application of it to build a functional launch system.

I personally didn't like Ares, but I could understand NASA's thinking. It was an attempt to use what was on hand to meet the New Space Initiative goals. Yes they failed. But you really can't blame the contractors for that. They worked at the pace and budget "the boss" set. Perhaps now with NASA mostly out of the way, Austrim/ATK can make it work. They seem to think they can.

The benefit I see in all of this is that is should help drive competitive development. Hopefully away from expendable systems...

SANEAlex wrote:
Much as i admire the capabilities of those who do get things into space i think that for future manned flight its better to have systems with an on/off switch SRB's are too much light the blue paper and stand well back for me what do others think am i being unfair to SRB's.


As soon as the stack begins to lift from the pad, you are committed to the flight irregardless of what kind of propulsion you have. SRBs have no moving parts and a great safety record, where as liquid rockets are complicated, have manifold failure modes, and do so on at regular intervals.


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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:08 pm
I wouldn't necessarily call government investment in fundamental research pork, actually. It depends on whether it is good for anything. If President Obama decides to invest a pile of tax dollars into development of clean energy technology, then he's clearly doing something that is in the general interest of the USA. That's not pork. If he instead decides to invest the money into industries that the country could do without, but which happen to be located in swing states, well, there you go.

Anyway, enough politics :-). A combination of a solid first stage and a cryogenic second stage could actually be interesting. The solid's denser fuel will get you a bit more thrust where you can use it well, while the upper stage can have a bit more ISP. On the other hand, the two stages will really be completely different machines that happen to be stacked on top of each other, unlike say Falcon 9, which shares parts between the stages. So it may be more complex, and more costly to build, as you have less of an economy of scale.

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:28 pm
JamesG wrote:

SANEAlex wrote:
Much as i admire the capabilities of those who do get things into space i think that for future manned flight its better to have systems with an on/off switch SRB's are too much light the blue paper and stand well back for me what do others think am i being unfair to SRB's.


As soon as the stack begins to lift from the pad, you are committed to the flight irregardless of what kind of propulsion you have. SRBs have no moving parts and a great safety record, where as liquid rockets are complicated, have manifold failure modes, and do so on at regular intervals.


So you think the reliability of them with the one notable exception when they did not follow the user instructions ie don't operate in cold weather means that they will be safer than systems that can be shut down to allow an emergency escape when things do go wrong because you think the complexity of a controllable system would make it more unreliable :?:

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:38 pm
A launch escape system will function as well with an SRB as any other system. Better perhaps if you can separate from an intact rocket and let it go its own way, vs trying to escape a shockwave/fireball.

The lesser of two bad choices. As I said, once you've sheered the hold down pins, you are committed to a flight and it doesn't matter if you can turn off the motors at will or not. In flight "deviations" happen to fast for that to be an option anyway. Reducing the odds of a catastrophic assent failure is worth it IMHO.


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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Sat Feb 19, 2011 5:15 pm
JamesG wrote:
A launch escape system will function as well with an SRB as any other system. Better perhaps if you can separate from an intact rocket and let it go its own way, vs trying to escape a shockwave/fireball.

The lesser of two bad choices. As I said, once you've sheered the hold down pins, you are committed to a flight and it doesn't matter if you can turn off the motors at will or not. In flight "deviations" happen to fast for that to be an option anyway. Reducing the odds of a catastrophic assent failure is worth it IMHO.


It seems to me that by inference due time scales involved with current systems that manned flights of any kind should be computer controlled rather than pilot controlled :?: i know in reality its currently a combination of both but maybe the computers should have the overriding decision on escape aborts.

I can see your point about the reliability issue my initial post was intended to spark genuine discussion and not a Troll tho my instinct prefers the idea of a controllable system as in one that can be switched off to allow other options in computing an area i am more familiar with i do like solid state over things with moving parts reliability wise so you have given me food for thought.

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Sun Feb 20, 2011 7:43 am
Doesn't the Harrier aircraft have an automatic ejector seat? I think the reason is that if something goes wrong during a vertical take-off or landing, the pilot cannot possibly react quickly enough to save themselves. And modern airliners pretty much fly themselves anyway, so there's plenty of precedent for automated systems.

Solids do have another disadvantage in that they don't run as smoothly as liquid fuel rocket engines, so your passengers (or fancy satellite) will be shook about a bit more.

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Post Re: Liberty good idea or cross pond pork barrel?   Posted on: Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:41 pm
Lourens wrote:
Doesn't the Harrier aircraft have an automatic ejector seat?


Yes, and more than once malfunctioned, punched its pilot out and continued on its merry way.


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