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Space Exploration Timetable?

Posted by: Texan - Sun Jun 27, 2004 1:16 am
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Space Exploration Timetable? 
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Space Walker
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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 1:03 pm
So the prediction about armadillo landing on the moon is realistic if they can get to orbit that fast?


Btw if armadillo builds its suborbital ship fr 3 million, does that mean its orbital shp will cost 90 million?

I would think they would find a cheaper way--how hard is it?


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Launch Director
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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 7:56 pm
The Sea Dragon was a spacecraft proposed in the early sixties that was built using conventional shipyard techniques (the shipyard that looked at the proposal said it would be similar to building a submarine), and was launched at sea. It had a 550 ton payload. http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/searagon.htm

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So the prediction about armadillo landing on the moon is realistic if they can get to orbit that fast?

I think so... the only "obstacle" is funding, and with an orbital launch platform, I'm sure they could come up with some capital via sat launches, etc.. And once they had an orbital vehicle, it would be a fairly simple matter to haul up what they would need for a moon mission in pieces, then assemble in orbit.

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Btw if armadillo builds its suborbital ship fr 3 million, does that mean its orbital shp will cost 90 million?

I doubt it... I don't see any private orbital launch system costing more than 50 million. Besides, the beauty of Armadillo is that going from suborbital to orbital is simply a matter of scaling up their existing design, rather than a complete redesign. Their stuff is all, basically, modular.


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Space Walker
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Post    Posted on: Wed Jun 30, 2004 9:05 pm
scaled will spend over 50 million for the prototype certainly


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Space Station Commander
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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 1:03 am
i'd guess scaled'll end up paying upwards of 75 mil, probably around 150 for developing their orbital ship, but while that may seem expensive, i also wouldn't be suprised if the end result is significantly safer than the shuttle, as well as probably running at $100k a flight or so.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 2:09 am
"...i also wouldn't be suprised if the end result is significantly safer than the shuttle, as well as probably running at $100k a flight or so."

Well, you certainly are a dreamer! SS1's per-mission costs are already over $100k/flight, from what I have read. (Mostly due to their expensive hybrid rocket) An orbital vehicle will need to accelerate to 10 times the speed of SS1, which will take roughly 100 times the energy/fuel of SS1. So while I'm sure whatever orbital craft Rutan develops (if he can) will be cheaper than a shuttle launch, lets not give ourselves unrealistic expectations... But I would certainly expect Rutan to switch to cheaper propulsion for his next vehicle.

Armadillo on the other hand uses cheaper fuel - I seem to recall Carmack writing that their fuel costs would probably be ~$8000 per 100km suborbital flight. Scale that up 100 times for an orbital vehicle, and one gets ~$800k per flight for fuel alone. (There are cheaper fuels of course, but I believe they picked theirs for simplicity)

Anyway, so depending on what propuslion is used, one can fairly easily calculate a minimum per-mission costs. Anything below that is pure fantasy...

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 7:22 pm
well, i don't know what scaled's fuel costs are, perhaps i should say $100k + fuel costs. also since they are in testing mode, their costs are significantly higher than they will be once they get the vehicle perfected.

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Space Walker
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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 7:36 pm
hmm how much cheaper is a "final version" to launch than a prototype, typically?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 8:16 pm
Lars_J wrote:
Well, you certainly are a dreamer! SS1's per-mission costs are already over $100k/flight, from what I have read.

I thought it was $80k/flight. From wich sources did you get your information?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 8:34 pm
I'll try to find it... Should've bookmarked it. :)

EDIT: I found it in this article - "The Reality Space Race" (http://www.thespacereview.com/article/165/1)

"... SpaceShipOne’s designer Burt Rutan has stated that his craft is not intended to be an operational space tourism craft. The vehicle is a marvel of conservative engineering, relying upon a relatively simple hybrid rocket engine. The problem is that each engine costs on the order of $100,000 and cannot be reused. ..."

So it is a rough number - but apparently Rutan himself is the source for that information.

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Last edited by Lars_J on Thu Jul 01, 2004 8:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 8:39 pm
I believe that Aviation Week made an estimate of around $100,000 per flight for *labor alone* -- however that was based on the assumption that every single person at Scaled was working full-time on Tier 1, and that they're all making $100/hr. These are both rather flawed assumptions assumptions, which inflate the costs considerably.

I've heard numbers (from People Who are in a Position to (kinda) Know) between $30,000 and $70,000. I'm not sure whether labor is factored into that, but it's probably safe to say that the per-flight is under $100,000, although not *vastly* under.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 9:29 pm
I'm not really basing my prediction of Armadillo on the moon on anything more than a gut feeling. Given unlimited funds I think they could pull it off on that time scale, even working their current schedule. Unfortunately I think getting to the moon will exceed John Carmacks fortune (or what he's willing to spend of it) so getting there will depend on a financially successful space toursim income and/or financially successful orbital operation.

I just read over at Hobbyspace RLV news that Rutan made the claim that Tier 3 is roughly at the same stage that WK/SS1 was about 8 to 9 years ago. At first glance that implies that it'll be 9 years before Tier 3 gets to orbit but he didn't actually state that Tier 3 will take that long (at least he's not quoted as stating so there) and I expect it will be a lot sooner than that. Probably more than the 9 months I'm hoping though.

As far as costs go I don't see Armadillo spending 90 million to build a ship that gets to orbit. I'd say roughly 1/10th of that for a 1 man orbital ship. Pretty much just purely guessing but I think we're going to see Armadillo's work in building stuff become even more streamlined and their ships/flying stuff will roll out at a faster pace when they build a new one. Their testing on the other hand will probably take up more and more of their time as the bureaucratic red tape thins. I expect that once that red tape clears you'll see them make several flights of something every Saturday. I also think that while my Armadillo on the moon is a bit on the optimistic side I think they will at the very least do an unmanned flyby of the moon within 2 years of their first orbital flight. I do think that they will definitely be the first private company that puts someone on the moon, if the space tourism industry becomes profitable anyway. I'm also hoping that they beat out all the countries that are planning/dreaming moon landings. :P


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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 11:15 pm
i hope they do too, but the way it looks like now, china will be the next country/group to get a man on the moon. it'd be cool if armadillo beat them, but i don't think it'll happen.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jul 01, 2004 11:42 pm
Well I hope not. Although I am sure that whatever the Chinese and NASA are claiming as far as going to the moon, the Chinese will do it sooner than they claim and NASA will take longer than they claim, if they do it at all. Granted I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Air Force goes to the moon before either in the name of national security and all :roll:

Personally I'm rooting for a Lunar Armadillo.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 02, 2004 3:39 am
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Personally I'm rooting for a Lunar Armadillo.

Hear, hear!


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Post    Posted on: Fri Jul 02, 2004 9:44 am
Quite ausing the way knowone even thinks about esa for the moon. They get no mention on these topics. They already have Smart-1 in orbit now to do lunar science and gather more info, what's the chance they could send some robots there for sample returns? Guess they fall down on the getting there because they have no manned vehicles

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