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Possible Craft

Posted by: Sev - Sun Oct 10, 2004 4:10 pm
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Possible Craft 
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Post    Posted on: Thu Oct 28, 2004 10:22 pm
if branson does go for orbital stations at any time, by his own making or by bigelow's, i think there's really no question that he'll use scaled. why have a prize when he has an excellent team that's already working or planning on working on orbital operations and can almost certainly beat everyone else out there in safety, design, and probably time as well. that's not to say that other teams wouldn't benefit or that he wouldn't use some others if someone gets a good design up before scaled, but really no one has a chance against burt rutan unless they can get a multimillionair to back them and work solely on orbital (as opposed to carmack who's working on suborbital primarily with just preliminary orbital stuff).

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:20 am
Well having Scaled could pose problems, mostly because theyd be starting from scratch. Bigelow at least has a viable system hes working on, but scaled would have to completely build some new station.

Not to say its not possible, but Branson would be pouring many millions into it, not to say he hasnt already for his ships. I suppose it is a possibility, but scaled has to get funding for such a project. Building Spaceships is one thing, building habitable modules is another..
Just my 2 cents

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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:37 am
Hello, mrmorris,

that Nautilus by itself isn't viable is a selfunderstanding obvious fact to me. As I say in my profile I am not only Political Economist but experienced in commercial informatics too - I am used to think of systems and organization (including self-organization).

To think so doesn't necessarily mean that my conclusions should be similar to yours or those of others - it's depending on the facts someone includes into his playing with ideas at a certain time.

My question was a real question wether I had a right understanding of what koxinga had posted - I asked koxinga concerning Branson and my second question I asked all.

And I'm never sure wether someone like Branson won't come up with a new idea or concept regardless of what the people are thinking or believing - he is an entrepreneur as Bigelow is too.



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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 29, 2004 3:58 pm
I had to chip in because someone stated that Soyuz and Shenzou do not use fairings.
They do indeed use fairings.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Oct 29, 2004 7:25 pm
bad_astra wrote:
I had to chip in because someone stated that Soyuz and Shenzou do not use fairings.
They do indeed use fairings.


Yes -- this was pointed out earlier by 'Vendigo'. I worded my statement poorly. The discussion was regarding making the modernized Gemini fit *inside* the Falcon V fairing. The original statement that I was replying to was:

Sev wrote:
The other thing you might want to look at is how large the Falcon V's payload fairing is, since any craft would have to be made to fit into that sized space.


The fairings used on the Shenzhou and Soyuz do not *enclose* the spacecraft -- they simply alter the shape of selected portions for aerodynamic purposes. In that -- the original Gemini capsule *also* had two fairings -- a nosecap over the rendevous radar and a second over the horizon sensors (possibly others, but I know of those two).

The statement I made was:

"*None* of the manned projects of this type (Mercury, Gemini, Soyuz, Shenzhou) use fairings around the spacecraft. "

I should have said:

"*None* of the manned projects of this type (Mercury, Gemini, Soyuz, Shenzhou) use fairings that completely surround the spacecraft. "


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Post    Posted on: Sun Oct 31, 2004 4:37 pm
During the brief OSP period, there was a lot of question on whether a fairing would be needed if a winged OSP (especially before the March 2003 study which put capsule designs back into the fray [the study that actually looked at refurbishing an old Apollo CSM as one option]) would put too much of a bending load on the stack, but apparently Boeing for one didn't feel that was a problem. Most LV's are only going to be in the bulk of the atmosphere for only a very short while anyway.

I think the best idea is, Gemini and Apollo style, do without fairing as much as possible. Whatever you can't use to get up there, or stay up there, try and cut it out of the design. Shenzou is an especially useless program to draw much practical lessons from. For one, it is based on a design that is already much better understood. Secondly, is costing FAR too much. It looks a little like China's Buran to me in terms of wasted funding, but I am going off on a tangent beyond this forum.

My favorite capsule for a human orbital vehicle would be a scaled up version of ESA's ARD demonstrator.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Oct 31, 2004 5:26 pm
China sometimes is considered to do all the current things that are based on russian developments to learn from the russians and then do develop their own concepts and ideas.

That might be the reason for Shenzou and the Buran-like design.

China in general is working under long run perspectives - quite different to the rest of the world. So we shouldn't look on their current doing - China in future may provide a huge surprise to all of us. Future - in China's case decades that they have in mind today allready.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Oct 31, 2004 7:39 pm
Quote:
That might be the reason for Shenzou and the Buran-like design.


Sorry I didn't mean that Shenzou's design is like Buran. It is nothing like Buran, really. I mean it is, like Buran, nothing more then a status-symbol project, and a complete dead end.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 01, 2004 2:36 am
The Shenzhou is a complete spacecraft and a very good one at that. I especially like the idea of the orbital module which is being used for science work even after the rest of the space craft has landed. That's stretching your investments!

The future for China's space program to me is unclear at the moment. It would require a substential upgrading in terms of funding to move to the space station step and Shenzhou, in the end, depends on political patronage more than anything else to keep it going. The tightness in funding is very real every where. The recent debates about the merit of the Chang'e moon probe shows that.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:35 pm
Hello everyone

I've been following your online discussions for a while as a guest and thought I might like to join in with a question. Why dont any of the big boys like Boeing or Lockheed build a low cost orbital space plane to sell to NASA or a private company?

The past few years have seen an upsurge in interest in space and with the shuttle grounded it seems to me there is probably a market out there for a small space plane that could be launched on a Falcon V class booster. The large companies already have loads of designs dating back to Gemini why not build one?

Robert Bigelow would rip their arm off and so presumably would Richard Branston if the cost wasn't to big. They would also create a bigger market for their own boosters, so whats the problem?

Am I missing something obvious here?


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 01, 2004 6:57 pm
Andy Hill wrote:
've been following your online discussions for a while as a guest and thought I might like to join in with a question. Why dont any of the big boys like Boeing or Lockheed build a low cost orbital space plane to sell to NASA or a private company?


There are several answers possible -- most of them cynical.

1. LockMart and Boeing are both getting big bucks from shuttle contracts. Anything which makes the shuttle no longer the sole route to get US astronauts to space is *not* going to make them more money -- especially if the government is not footing the development bill.

2. The big contractors live on big government contracts. Contractors on such projects get a percentage of the total cost as their profit -- generally about 10%. Therefore if a launch costs $100 million, then they make $10 million profit. If the same launch cost $10 million, they'd only make $1 million profit. Cutting costs is like slitting their own throats.

3. They own all the big boosters. Making a manned craft that could be launched on something as small and cheap as the Falcon V... see throat-slitting above. Getting contracts from Bigelow, etc. would not make up for the dollars lost from bloated government contracts.

They definitely have the ability to make something of this nature. They simply don't have a reason to -- and they *do* have many reasons not to. If another firm were to develop a capsule design like is described in this thread, I have no doubts that the big boys will miraculously develop alternatives that are close to the same price range, possibly (probably) with more features/capability to justify a higher cost.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:17 pm
Hello mrmorris

Thanks for the quick reply. While I concede that it would impact on their shuttle rip offs, they would be opening up a market that hasn't been tapped as yet and who knows how much longer the shuttle will be operating, if someone else develops a usable OSP or the USA buys more Soyuz flights, it might get retired prematurely.

Its always better to be proactive than reactive, so I'm surprised that they would be sitting on the fence. The recent announcement of SpaceDev to use the X-34 as a basis for a hybrid powered OSP shows that other companies are starting to get involved.

As to using a competitor's cheap booster, I'm sure they could make it compatible with only their own hardware. When I said cheap OSP we could still be talking $100M+ (after all I think a new 747 costs something like $200M). They would also earn money from servicing and spares contracts.

Why use it for American astronauts only, given the USA's block on exporting such technology, it would still be possible for other countries to use them as long as they took off and landed at a spaceport in the US. You could see the growth of a charter space service with flights to the ISS or possibly Bigelow's hotel with only a little encouragement (virgin are already taking the first steps).


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 02, 2004 2:12 am
Andy Hill wrote:
While I concede that it would impact on their shuttle rip offs, they would be opening up a market that hasn't been tapped as yet and who knows how much longer the shuttle will be operating, if someone else develops a usable OSP or the USA buys more Soyuz flights, it might get retired prematurely.


It's a numbers game. The shuttle budget for NASA is about $6 billion annually. Not *all* of that goes to the biggies, but enough. Conservatively -- figure half goes towards the contractors in question. So they get $3 billion gross annually for maintaining the status quo. Granted -- this won't last forever, but NASA will once again be pushing RFPs for the CEV shortly. The big contracters will certainly put in their proposals for this. After all -- it means NASA will be paying them to develop the spacecraft that they will then charge NASA through the nose for continuing service. Because of the contracting practices I mentioned in the previous reply -- there is no reason for the CEV to be made efficiently. The more it costs to run, the larger the profits from the resulting construction and servicing contracts.

Commercial contracts simply don't have the funds to compare to the government. Ergo the big contractors will never be interested in introducing a change to the status quo that will jeopardize their guaranteed billions from Uncle Sam in return for the possibility of a couple hundred million from private industry. Instead, you need an outside entity that is currently making nothing from government space contracts (or at any rate -- not making billions) that can develop a spacecraft with prices that interest private industry. It's only after the status quo has been shattered that the current hogs at the trough will work to develop something cheaper and better.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:32 am
Hello, Andy Hill,

to contribute something my scientific discipline has detected during the decades since 1950 that is nearly unknown in this manner - enterprises like Boeing and Lockheed-Martin can use a special strategy to bar competition.

Both enterprises are large-scale enterprises - their scale of production is providing them huge economies of scale. This is so because they easyly can sell their products to the government and to airlines.

To a certain degree this includes production facilities that can only be used to produce boosters and airplanes - and nothing else. For this reason they want to keep their business at a high level until these special facilities are fully amortized or depreciated at least.

Because of what I said last they want to prevent the entry of newcomers - scale and the economies are assisting that in a special manner. They cannot set the highest price the government and other customers would pay because higher prices are encouraging newcomers - newcomers know of high economies of scale and could invest in large scales. So enterprises like Boeing etc. set lower prices - prices at a level where they still have a profit but newcomers are widely discouraged. These price levels can be calculated and provide business just sufficient for the established enterprises like Boeing to exist with advantegous profits. These profits are stable in the long run as well as in the short run and easyly "earned". Competition is barred then.

If they increase production they have to reduce their prices - the reason why mrmorris is right.

This economical situation has been preventing the access to space for the general public in the past. But people like Rutan are breaking down the "Barriers to new competition" as the title of a relevant scientific book has been. Rutan does his current developments beacuse the established enterprises don't - and now the established don't because Rutan does. The barriers to new competiton are about to be reduced and broken by the time - so the established enterprises at least want to keep as much profit as possible until the barriers are completely down.



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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:12 am
This is all very depressing and makes the lack of progress over the last 3 decades in manned spaceflight more understandable (but not excusable).

It seems madness that NASA perpetuates a system that actively promotes higher costs for itself, why not pay a set amount of profit and bonuses for making the overall cost smaller? Starting out at a fixed sum of money (not a percentage of the contract) for profit and then giving increases for lowering the overall contract cost would enevitably drive the cost down.

Because they rely on government contracts they would have very little choice but to accept this, I think NASA needs to get a lot tougher before the big boys kill the golden goose by overcharging. If the current practices continue NASA will get less and less return for its money and eventually loose its technology edge, the crales are starting to appear already.

If ESA develops its own OSP, although the phoenix OSP being developed by the German aerospace industry (EADS I think are the prime) has gone very quite for the last six months, you could end up with NASA going cap in hand to anyone who will give them a seat for one of their astonaults.

NASA's endless feasability studies and cancelled projects will not help it maintain the USA's position as a space faring nation. I hope that soon it actually produces something other than fine words. Sorry for the rant, thats enough NASA bashing, I sometimes forget that NASA is a government agency and not prone to change rather than something wonderfall that accomplished seemingly impossible feats.

I think that the past high costs associated with space hardware has scared many governments away from developing space vehicles. But SpaceShipOne and even the failed Beagle 2 lander (developed for about £5m) has started to show that the technology has come down in price. Even Britain (not known for splashing cash on space) is becoming more involved with ESA.

In ten years time Boeing or Lockheed could find themselves being competed against the rest of the world if they are not careful. The US government bought Harrier aicraft from Britain when it failed to produce its own vertical takeoff plane, it would probably buy a viable spaceplane from Europe if one was available.

On that point does anyone know whats going on with Europe's OSP?


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