Author Topic: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004  (Read 9843 times)

Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #40 on: 07/04/2017 08:30 AM »
This how I see it, so my opinion only.

My take is that the creation of the VSE after Columbia was fundamentally flawed. It needed the cancellation of the current Orbital Space Plane (OSP) and Space Launch Initiative (SLI) programs. Had NASA stayed the course, OSP (which was going to be a capsule launched on EELV) would have been available soon after 2010. So US crewed access to the ISS would have been a lot smoother, instead of the seven year gap we have now. Instead, OSP was replaced with a new program (the Crew Exploration Vehicle or CEV) and went downhill from there. SLI would have seen NASA flying a reusable first stage, although using horizontal instead of vertical landing like SpaceX. The VSE also did not have the political support of Congress for the needed funds, and with the grandiose expansion and poor design choices of VSE under Griffin, gave the ammunition for Obama to cancel the program.

Here are some of the bad design choices that occurred under Griffin.

Choosing Ares-I instead of EELV to launch CEV.
1) The first stage used one RSRM solid booster from the Space Shuttle.
2) The second stage was new, using a modified RS-25 engine from the Space Shuttle.
3) It was found that it was too difficult and expensive to modify the RS-25 engine for air start, so the new lower performing J-2X engine from Ares-V was chosen.
4) The lower performing upper stage meant that the first stage was replaced with the five segment RSRMV, also from Ares-V.
5) The longer first stage had severe vibration problems that caused mass growth in the second stage and CEV to help mitigate the problem.
6) Launch abort from a failing first stage was found to be very problematic. There were issues that debris from the first stage would strike the capsule or parachutes.

Choosing Ares-V.
1) Used two practically new RSRMV boosters.
2) Used a new 8.4 m core with five RS-25 engines.
3) Used a new 8.4 m upper stage with two new J-2X engines.
4) To "save money" the RS-25 engines were replaced with lower performing RS-68 engines, meaning the core diameter had to increased to 10 m. The upper stage had the number of of J-2X engines reduced to one.
5) Due to base heating, the ablative nozzles on the RS-68 had to be replaced with regenerative metal nozzles.
6) To increase performance, the number of engines on the core was increase to six.

Choosing CEV.
1) A clone of the Apollo capsule but with the diameter increase from 4 to 5.5 m.
2) Due to the huge mass increase, diameter reduced to 5.
3) Due to Ares-I decreased performance, was put on a diet (the Zero Baseline Review).

Choosing LSAM (Lunar Surface Access Module)
1) Had a liquid hydrogen descent stage which performed Lunar orbit insertion and Lunar descent.
2) To reduce first stage height, used a cluster of four LOX and four LH2 tanks with associated tanks for Helium pressurisation. This had a very poor mass fraction and also increased the propellant boil off rate.
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Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #41 on: 07/04/2017 08:34 AM »
I think that back in its days Constellation made a lot of sense. The end of the Space Shuttle was looming, and it seemed rational that we need to use shuttle hardware as much as possible. The Ares I Stick had to use one booster, one SSME for a second stage and we hoped it was going to be developed easily. Only later the problems started, when the SSME turned out to be inadequate, and a larger solid booster had to be developed, so the Stick in the end was an entirely different rocket...

2004 was a different year compared to 2010 (when Obama canceled Constellation) and much different than 2017. Back then SpaceX was too young, the private sector seemed immature, Elon started launching rockets in 2006... and it was like one rocket per year. There were three failures in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It was hard to believe that the private companies were going anywere. And Falcon 9 didn't debut until 2010...

And you keep to forget that even though we already had Falcon 9 in 2010, Elon Musk said that there was going to be no gap. Seven years later, the manned flights of Dragon are still nowhere to be seen.

Yes, there were a lot of delays of Constellation during the first 5 years, but there are a lot of delays in the private sector within a 5-year period too. Things are comparable.

I somewhat disagree. The stick never made any sense to anyone outside of Griffin and his friends, and there are acres of documentation on this forum alone to support why. Nobody had ever put a crew vehicle on top of a solid fuel first stage and that was for a very good reason. The performance was lacking, the vibration was terrible, and the safety was insufficient. Then there was the second stage. There were many people who pointed out early on that making the SSME air-startable would be very hard if not impossible. SSME was not designed for any role like this it was design to be ground started and boost a core stage (shuttle or SLS). Then there is the entire methodology here. Rather than just build a shuttle stack based vehicle, you want to go out and build two entirely new vehicles from scratch to do the job that one vehicle that could make a higher flight rate would do better. Why even bother with such a ridiculous premise? The stick was going to suck up so much money there would never be anything left for the HLV, and the HLV had design faults of its own and almost no commonality with the stick, only the boosters were common the core was totally different the upper stage was different and the core engines were to be RS 68's which would have to be totally re-designed to cope with the heating loads or they would melt and never work. Add to the fact that RS 68 was never designed for use on a vehicle so large to begin with.
Then there is the fact that NASA had previously researched the idea of creating an inline launch vehicle based on the ET and 4 segment boosters with rs-25 engines on the core years and years before as a way to get BEO access back on a tight budget. They already had the data in hand they already knew what the right call was.

The entire thing was absolutely stupid from the moment the 1.5 architecture was announced, and that was the same moment when people began very vocally expressing how stupid it was. And oh was it stupid. So stupid the only way to keep it alive was for Griffin to fire anybody who pointed out the faults, fudge data, and I kid you not, publicly have his deputies declare that literally ANY OTHER vehicle would: violate the laws of physics and was impossible. I kid you not, that is a direct quote given in response to DIRECT and questions raised at AugCom.


Other than that I absolutely agree about the private sector. There was not enough rationale at the time, politically, to justify a commercial based alternative with the exception of ACES. But ACES would have taken time to develop and it was thought at the time that it might be ultimately more time consuming and expensive to go that route than it would be to just do an SDHLV. As it turns out now that may not have been true, and the SDHLV has grown so large and ungainly, that it will likely be made obsolete at birth by commercial sector vehicles. The issue was nobody was certain at that time that this would happen. Politicians wanted certainty.


One more thing, a note on the Obama administration. One word: incompetent.  Mr. Obama's proposal to resolve the situation was ridiculous and politically impossible. You cannot simply cancel the existing program and replace it with literally nothing but rhetoric. He tired and failed and ultimately his own party saw to it that this was not the case. Furthermore, there is an argument to be made that shuttle should have been extended far further, in spite of the production restart costs and the risk. At least in that situation there would have been less of an HSF gap, something that is proving harder to deal with each year that goes by. Many on this site have described the events of 2009-2010 as throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and I would agree. As it turns out, it will probably not matter except as a historical footnote.
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Offline Proponent

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #42 on: 07/04/2017 08:39 AM »
The only commercial alternative to SLS at time would be twin engine Atlas or Delta 4H.

Assuming there was a requirement for heavy lift, NASA could simply have requested proposals from American industry, and compared those proposals with its own ideas.  As it was, ULA proposed upgraded Atlases and Deltas with payloads up 160 metric tons.

Quote
Being government funded projects with same contractors I doubt they would be any cheaper than SLS. Distributed launch or fuel depots would need to be developed, not bad thing but another large expensive.

Those aren't questions we space cadets can conclusively answer in this forum.  The point is that those options ought to be analyzed and compared by professional engineers. 

Quote
Cost overruns and long delays have been and will most likely always be part of large difficult engineering projects, civil, structural or aerospace.

Yes, I'm sure big projects have been running behind schedule and over budget for as long as technology has existed.  But it still makes sense to consider estimated costs in choosing architectures -- a 50% overrun on a $10-billion project is still only have as expensive as a 50% overrun on a $20-billion one.  And it's also worth considering who's going to bear the overruns.  With SLS, it's NASA.  With commercial cargo and crew, NASA still incurs costs when its suppliers fail to keep to schedule, but it by no means bears the full brunt.

Online AncientU

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #43 on: 07/04/2017 11:38 AM »
...
And it's also worth considering who's going to bear the overruns.  With SLS, it's NASA.  With commercial cargo and crew, NASA still incurs costs when its suppliers fail to keep to schedule, but it by no means bears the full brunt.

Taxpayers, you mean, right?
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Offline QuantumG

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #44 on: 07/05/2017 03:25 AM »
Has the White House (or Congress) gotten any less delusional about NASA funding in the last 13 years, ya think?
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? The slowest possible.

Offline woods170

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #45 on: 07/05/2017 09:30 AM »
Has the White House (or Congress) gotten any less delusional about NASA funding in the last 13 years, ya think?

No, if anything they have gotten more delusional.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #46 on: 07/05/2017 09:51 AM »
Has the White House (or Congress) gotten any less delusional about NASA funding in the last 13 years, ya think?

No, I don't think so.  A dozen years in, Congress still very happily funds a rocket and capsule, mostly a rocket, and calls it an exploration program.  And the really depressing thing is that senators and representatives seem pretty happy about this state of affairs: year after year, they pound the table demanding more money for SLS even as they ignore its expensive delays.   At the latest Senate hearing on NASA's FY2018 budget, you can watch Sen. Shelby gripe about the delays in commercial crew as he ignores SLS's problems and lack of mission.

Offline spacenut

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #47 on: 07/05/2017 11:07 AM »
I really think congress got the wool pulled over their eyes by Griffin.  We already had the shuttle stack.  To them, who are mostly lawyers and politicians, it looked easy to just put the engines on the bottom of the tank and use the existing solids for a new launcher.  For you engineers, it wasn't easy, and it has proved to be not easy, nor cheap. 

If anything, maybe they should have gone with side mount, and kept the shuttle running, and for 60-70 ton loads use side mount. 

The killer would have been Atlas V phase two heavy which probably would have been cheaper, especially if ACES was also developed.  The twin engine RD-180 would have been a great launcher in and of itself, then the heavy version could have matched or exceeded side mount in cost. 

Of course this is all before SpaceX and Blue Origin with their plans for heavy and super heavy launcher. 

Offline Proponent

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #48 on: 07/05/2017 02:12 PM »
I really think congress got the wool pulled over their eyes by Griffin.

I'm not so sure about that.  Congress seldom, if ever, complains about SLS's costs and delays.  It complains about commercial crew and other programs that slip, but not about SLS.  Hence, I suspect members of Congress are by and large happy with just having a rocket-building program, regardless of whether it ever accomplishes much.

Offline Wayne Hale

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #49 on: 07/05/2017 04:38 PM »
"those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Reading this thread one gets the sense that there is little agreement on what should be learned from the past.  Therefore we must be doomed.

My immediate reaction on listening to President Bush's speech - which I told to Bill Gerstenmaier then the ISS Program manager - was:  "The only part of this that will come true is that the shuttle will be retired."

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #50 on: 07/05/2017 05:06 PM »
"those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Reading this thread one gets the sense that there is little agreement on what should be learned from the past.  Therefore we must be doomed.

My immediate reaction on listening to President Bush's speech - which I told to Bill Gerstenmaier then the ISS Program manager - was:  "The only part of this that will come true is that the shuttle will be retired."


I posted on this thread earlier, then got tired of all the baloney--and also disagreed with moving it to the policy section (hint: policy history is also a thing)--so I quit and deleted my posts.

But I'd just point out that the Bush folks actually did try to learn from the past. They had people research the failure of the Space Exploration Initiative and try to take action to avoid that.

I'm not convinced that debating this or discussing it makes sense on NSF, because too many people have decided on their conclusions and simply want to engage in the same arguments over and over again. It's an issue common to most discussion forums, where people want to play the same four notes rather than learn a new tune.

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #51 on: 07/05/2017 05:27 PM »
"those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Reading this thread one gets the sense that there is little agreement on what should be learned from the past.  Therefore we must be doomed.

My immediate reaction on listening to President Bush's speech - which I told to Bill Gerstenmaier then the ISS Program manager - was:  "The only part of this that will come true is that the shuttle will be retired."


I posted on this thread earlier, then got tired of all the baloney--and also disagreed with moving it to the policy section (hint: policy history is also a thing)--so I quit and deleted my posts.

But I'd just point out that the Bush folks actually did try to learn from the past. They had people research the failure of the Space Exploration Initiative and try to take action to avoid that.

I'm not convinced that debating this or discussing it makes sense on NSF, because too many people have decided on their conclusions and simply want to engage in the same arguments over and over again. It's an issue common to most discussion forums, where people want to play the same four notes rather than learn a new tune.
If you have the "sheet-music" for that "new tune", I for one would be happy to hear it!
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #52 on: 07/05/2017 07:02 PM »
"those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Reading this thread one gets the sense that there is little agreement on what should be learned from the past.  Therefore we must be doomed.

My immediate reaction on listening to President Bush's speech - which I told to Bill Gerstenmaier then the ISS Program manager - was:  "The only part of this that will come true is that the shuttle will be retired."


I posted on this thread earlier, then got tired of all the baloney--and also disagreed with moving it to the policy section (hint: policy history is also a thing)--so I quit and deleted my posts.

But I'd just point out that the Bush folks actually did try to learn from the past. They had people research the failure of the Space Exploration Initiative and try to take action to avoid that.

I'm not convinced that debating this or discussing it makes sense on NSF, because too many people have decided on their conclusions and simply want to engage in the same arguments over and over again. It's an issue common to most discussion forums, where people want to play the same four notes rather than learn a new tune.
If you have the "sheet-music" for that "new tune", I for one would be happy to hear it!

I'm sure that future historians will be writing that tune for you.

Offline Lar

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #53 on: 07/05/2017 08:50 PM »
"those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it"

Reading this thread one gets the sense that there is little agreement on what should be learned from the past.  Therefore we must be doomed.

My immediate reaction on listening to President Bush's speech - which I told to Bill Gerstenmaier then the ISS Program manager - was:  "The only part of this that will come true is that the shuttle will be retired."


I posted on this thread earlier, then got tired of all the baloney--and also disagreed with moving it to the policy section (hint: policy history is also a thing)--so I quit and deleted my posts.

But I'd just point out that the Bush folks actually did try to learn from the past. They had people research the failure of the Space Exploration Initiative and try to take action to avoid that.

I'm not convinced that debating this or discussing it makes sense on NSF, because too many people have decided on their conclusions and simply want to engage in the same arguments over and over again. It's an issue common to most discussion forums, where people want to play the same four notes rather than learn a new tune.
I made a judgment call that this topic was degenerating into yet another rehash (as you noted, same arguments over and over), and that it fit space policy. I invited people to PM me before doing the move. If you disagreed, the thing to do was to report to mod. Not delete posts. I've seen this "deleted all my posts" behavior (by others, in other places) and it's often perceived as not helpful... at best.

But if we do end up continuing to go round and round (and comments calling people pinheads, as we have seen others (not you) do suggest we may be stuck) then even moving it here won't save it.
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Offline eric z

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #54 on: 07/05/2017 09:23 PM »
 Doesn't this still boil down to A] - Cancel NOW. B] - Fly out the stock of old engines. related Q - Payloads that make the most sense for this option. or C] - Try to whip this thing into a reasonable resource for the next decade or two.
 I, for one, would say Option C. Thanks to Steven P, Finalfrontier, Blackstar, MattBlak and all the others who have helped me understand how we got to this point - very appreciated!
 Thoughts, anyone?
« Last Edit: 07/05/2017 09:29 PM by eric z »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #55 on: 07/05/2017 09:42 PM »

I made a judgment call that this topic was degenerating into yet another rehash (as you noted, same arguments over and over), and that it fit space policy. I invited people to PM me before doing the move. If you disagreed, the thing to do was to report to mod. Not delete posts. I've seen this "deleted all my posts" behavior (by others, in other places) and it's often perceived as not helpful... at best.

But if we do end up continuing to go round and round (and comments calling people pinheads, as we have seen others (not you) do suggest we may be stuck) then even moving it here won't save it.

Lar, I took your instructions to mean that you were seeking input from non-L2 members before the forum move, because only L2 members can comment in Space Policy.

This is a highly useful and valuable thread but it's primarily space policy. If you're not an L2 member please PM me now because I'm not seeing a reason not to move it there other than that.

Edit: It has been moved.

I appear to have misunderstood your instructions.  I withheld my opinion then for that reason.  Sorry.
Army Axiom: Any order that CAN be misunderstood, WILL be misunderstood.

I agree for practical, not-pulling-your-hair-out reasons that the move here was necessary.  But, I agree with Blackstar, too, that if at all possible, this thread should have remained in Space History.

My opinions on this topic aren't important.  But, if I can supply some source materials, or observations from those involved in the process, then I believe that is helpful.  Thus, my links to references up-thread.

And, in the meantime, Blackstar has rejoined the thread, and Wayne Hale has commented, too!
;D

At least the thread hasn't been hijacked by SpaceX speculation...  :)
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #56 on: 07/05/2017 10:50 PM »
Has the White House (or Congress) gotten any less delusional about NASA funding in the last 13 years, ya think?

I might be the only person to argue this, but I think Obama's FY2011 budget request when he asked for the Constellation program to be cancelled was pretty reasonable.

Besides keeping the ISS and asking for the Commercial Crew program to be funded to support it, otherwise he wanted to focus on technology development - to prepare NASA for what would come after the ISS.

Seemed pretty rational to me at the time, but of course Congress ignored the technology development part and gave us the SLS and Orion instead...   :o
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline eric z

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #57 on: 07/05/2017 11:03 PM »
 So why didn't President Obama horsetrade the Big Booster and Capsule for the tech development stuff? This is what I don't understand, and I know someone will say it wasn't a priority...
 Still want to know what people think should be the fate of the program- not just what went wrong!
« Last Edit: 07/05/2017 11:42 PM by eric z »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #58 on: 07/06/2017 01:36 AM »
So why didn't President Obama horsetrade the Big Booster and Capsule for the tech development stuff? This is what I don't understand, and I know someone will say it wasn't a priority...

As Otto von Bismarck stated, "Politics is the art of the possible."

Obama had already got Congress to cancel the Constellation program, extend the life of the ISS, and agree to funding the Commercial Crew program. At the time I thought that was a win, and I still do.

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Still want to know what people think should be the fate of the program- not just what went wrong!

Well the fate of it is that it was cancelled. No way to soften that. But to me the legacy of it was that it was an OK goal with poor execution, so I would hope that "we", in the collective sense, will be smarter about such efforts in the future.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Proponent

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Re: Vision for Space Exploration - 2004
« Reply #59 on: 07/06/2017 09:13 AM »
But I'd just point out that the Bush folks actually did try to learn from the past. They had people research the failure of the Space Exploration Initiative and try to take action to avoid that.

What were their conclusions about the causes of SEI's death?

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