Author Topic: Obama Needs To Be Bold  (Read 27087 times)

Offline mmeijeri

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #20 on: 12/15/2009 03:55 PM »
No.  It is plain economics.  Feasibility for re usability is determined by flight rate.  For launch vehicles, the break over point is around 40 launches per year.

How about small propellant RLVs then, in support of an exploration program? It would be hard to do a moon mission with less than 100mT IMLEO. A single moon mission a year would then be enough to generate the demand for a 2.5mT RLV.
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Offline robertross

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #21 on: 12/15/2009 03:57 PM »
Well, my position is still the same:

Obama needs to inspirre the nation out of the recession. To do that, the nation eeds to set its sights on SOMETHING. I think that something should be technological, and it should have long-term impact.

That something should be Mars.

I'm not saying it should be the first destination, but it should be the 'ultimate' destination on the map.

I know the costs are enormous, but so is the potential payback. So maybe it requires international cooperation. Maybe it requires a global effort. But the MOST IMPORTANT factor is education; always has been, always will be. Now we can learn about farming, or medicine, or green technologies, for these are all NEEDS for all countries to learn about as our civilization develops. But another is spaceflight. It has provided some great benefits in key areas of learning. It also helps to inspire people; not just the educators and pupils, but the general populus.

I foresee Obama announcing a visit to a NEO object, a swingby of the moon again, a Mars swingby. In those actions, we will be prepared for a landing on the Martian surface by ~2030.

Maybe we should start a poll on what Obama will announce?

1. LEO/ISS only
2. NEO/Lunar return only
3. Mars Direct (ie: first)
4. NEO/Lunar/Mars, with ISS assistance

I can't see only #1, given the HLV selection on-going.
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Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #22 on: 12/15/2009 04:00 PM »
RLVs are not just a good idea, they are the only sensible idea. ...

And I guess we could have stopped after the Wright Flyer too and went to work directly on developing the 747. 

What would you think if the state-of-the-art of airplanes in the 1950s was still the biplane? See? Analogies can go both ways. I never said we should develop the 747 of spacecraft, only that we have to design in a sensible manner... i.e. reusable spacecraft should be the default except for rare exceptions with very good reasons... expendable should not be the norm. If it costs too much to refurbish something, then we need to find out how to reduce those refurbishing costs instead of just going back to expendables. Perhaps NASA is poorly suited to cost-reduction. I don't think that has to be the case, but if it is, then NASA should be restructured or perhaps a new agency formed to work along with NewSpace and the aerospace primes to develop a sustainable space infrastructure.

I know what you are saying in the strictest sense, however, the analogy on your end is flawed.  You are equating time we have been sending objects in space to airplane development and expecting the same pace of development.  The two can't be compared in that way because of the physics and where our state of the art currently is at with regards to reaching space.  What you are suggesting is that we don't do anything until some group, somehwere, at some point has agreed that we have a sufficiently reusable vehicle and that everything is now sustainable.  However, I ask you to define that since you are proposing it.  Remember, at this point expendable does not automatically equal unsustainable.  It's a trade between reusability, refurbishment and maintenance and building new. 

The shuttle is not totally reusable, however is commonly, and rightly, referred to as a first generation RLV.  What you suggest is essentially a single stage to orbit vehicle with such low recurring costs and a high flight rate that it revolutionizes everything (X-33 and VentureStar come to mind).  A noble idea, but that is the holy grail of aerospace and one that is currently out of our technical reach.  Furthermore, you suggest we should stop everything until we reach that panecia moment, again that someone somewhere says we have reached so we can move on, hence my analogy above and my implied suggestion that we must crawl before we walk. 
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 04:04 PM by OV-106 »
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Offline dad2059

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #23 on: 12/15/2009 04:14 PM »
RLVs are not just a good idea, they are the only sensible idea. ...

And I guess we could have stopped after the Wright Flyer too and went to work directly on developing the 747. 

What would you think if the state-of-the-art of airplanes in the 1950s was still the biplane? See? Analogies can go both ways. I never said we should develop the 747 of spacecraft, only that we have to design in a sensible manner... i.e. reusable spacecraft should be the default except for rare exceptions with very good reasons... expendable should not be the norm. If it costs too much to refurbish something, then we need to find out how to reduce those refurbishing costs instead of just going back to expendables. Perhaps NASA is poorly suited to cost-reduction. I don't think that has to be the case, but if it is, then NASA should be restructured or perhaps a new agency formed to work along with NewSpace and the aerospace primes to develop a sustainable space infrastructure.

Jim nails it, but RLV isn't as far off as we would think given this rebuttal by David Ashford to the article written by Heinz Pfeffer and Frederick Engstrom recently;

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1527/1#ref1

I don't know about Ashford's credentials, but according to what he says, he's been trying to get RLV funded for decades too.

But Jim's right, unless one can get economy of scale, RLV won't get done by any government agency.
NASA needs some good ol' fashioned 'singularity tech'

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #24 on: 12/15/2009 04:20 PM »
No.  It is plain economics.  Feasibility for re usability is determined by flight rate.  For launch vehicles, the break over point is around 40 launches per year.

It has nothing to do with NASA as an organization.  NASA doesn't fly enough missions to justify development of an RLV.  NASA in itself does not drive the need for sustainable space infrastructure nor should NASA (or any gov't agency) be in charge of one.  Market forces are what should drive the need for a sustainable space infrastructure

As usual Jim is right.

I love the concept of RLVs but they are practical at current or even projected flight rates.  Imagine the cost of designing and building a RLV that is good for hundreds or thousands of missions but only building and only building a couple with that completed design.  The cost per vehicle would be incredibly high per vehicle.
SpaceX, just a few things planned for 2018: FH, Starlink Prototypes, Block 5, Dragon 2, Increased launch rate.

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #25 on: 12/15/2009 04:34 PM »

I know what you are saying in the strictest sense, however, the analogy on your end is flawed.  You are equating time we have been sending objects in space to airplane development and expecting the same pace of development.  The two can't be compared in that way because of the physics and where our state of the art currently is at with regards to reaching space.
It was you who first brought up this flawed analogy.
Quote
What you are suggesting is that we don't do anything until some group, somehwere, at some point has agreed that we have a sufficiently reusable vehicle and that everything is now sustainable. 
I didn't suggest that. A program of exploration using just expendable hardware is fine with me, as long as it doesn't drain all the resources needed to develop sustainable (and, yes, reusable) space infrastructure. I think it would be somewhat wasteful to not try to integrate sustainable/reusable infrastructure wherever you can in that exploration program.
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However, I ask you to define that since you are proposing it.
I guess it's kind of a cop-out, but I think it is self-apparent what a sustainable program could be like. It would be much less than billion dollars per mission to the Moon.
Quote
Remember, at this point expendable does not automatically equal unsustainable.
If our aerospace hardware could be safely and efficiently produced for a mere $50/kg, I would agree with you.
Quote
What you suggest is essentially a single stage to orbit vehicle with such low recurring costs and a high flight rate that it revolutionizes everything (X-33 and VentureStar come to mind).  ...
I didn't suggest we should do a SSTO. Did I ever suggest SSTO anywhere in my post? I suggested sustainable, and that the best way to do sustainable I suggested would be reusable, unless the price of aerospace-grade hardware suddenly drops far below $500 per kg (for the hardware itself, ala this is what the cost of a 747 divided by its dry weight. It's not a coincidence that that is the roughly same as the cost of a Delta IV divided by its dry weight).

Luckily we have the X-33 and VentureStar as two points of wisdom that teach us to avoid hubris while designing a RLV. They DON'T CHANGE the fact that, in all likelihood, you're going to probably need reusable launch vehicles and/or reusable spacecraft to get a sustainable space program. Even with expendable launch vehicles and reusable spacecraft, you're far more sustainable. We wouldn't have a sustainable Antarctic research program if we had to always send "expendable" cargo ships and planes to the bases there.

Quote
Furthermore, you suggest we should stop everything until we reach that panecia moment,
I never suggested such a thing. Notice that I implied I didn't want even Constellation canceled. You should stop assuming what I mean.
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Offline fredm6463

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #26 on: 12/15/2009 04:35 PM »
Anything President Obama may say or want to do for the future of all space flight will depend on Congress and the 100 Senators, the majority of which, do not think it is in the interest of their constituents and the large Federal deficit, to agree to increase NASA funding.

In fact, both house of Congress passed a spending bill recently that gives NASA almost $1 Billion more than 2009, but stipulates that no programs can be initiated or dropped by NASA without congressional approval.

It's not the President that counts as long as the Congress doesn't go along with his goals. So far, with stimulus spending, health care reform, and other issues, the majority of Congress is against President Obama's agenda. And I doubt any statement by Mr. Obama for a robust new space program, will sit well with the Congress.

Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #27 on: 12/15/2009 04:38 PM »
Then explain yourself better.  I point to this quote:

Quote
If it costs too much to refurbish something, then we need to find out how to reduce those refurbishing costs instead of just going back to expendables. Perhaps NASA is poorly suited to cost-reduction. I don't think that has to be the case, but if it is, then NASA should be restructured or perhaps a new agency formed to work along with NewSpace and the aerospace primes to develop a sustainable space infrastructure.
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 04:39 PM by OV-106 »
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #28 on: 12/15/2009 04:54 PM »
No.  It is plain economics.  Feasibility for re usability is determined by flight rate. For launch vehicles, the break over point is around 40 launches per year.
This is quite a likely point, but there is no empirical proof, since there isn't a RLV yet. The one flawed pseudo-RLV we do have doesn't do too bad compared to expendables, even at a far less than 40-per-year flight rate. Even just using larger tiles would make a measurable difference in its cost for refurbishment.
Quote
It has nothing to do with NASA as an organization.  NASA doesn't fly enough missions to justify development of an RLV.
They would be flying enough tonnage per year if they were flying a lunar sortie mission two or more times a year, especially along with the regular space probe or two or even tending a station.
Quote
NASA in itself does not drive the need for sustainable space infrastructure nor should NASA (or any gov't agency) be in charge of one.  Market forces are what should drive the need for a sustainable space infrastructure
I agree that the ultimate need for a sustainable space infrastructure has to come from market forces, but it was the government which funded the building of the Interstate Highway System, an investment in infrastructure that has paid enormous dividends to our economy, even if it did cost almost half a trillion dollars (inflation adjusted). It is valid for the government to invest tax money in building sustainable infrastructure, even though the market is what takes advantage of it.

NOTE: I didn't say NASA should be shuttered. I said that, if NASA is unable to build sustainable space infrastructure, it might be a good idea to form a new agency (not necessarily eliminating NASA, which is effective in science and exploration) that can.
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 04:57 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #29 on: 12/15/2009 05:11 PM »
The one flawed pseudo-RLV we do have doesn't do too bad compared to expendables, even at a far less than 40-per-year flight rate. Even just using larger tiles would make a measurable difference in its cost for refurbishment.


NOTE: I didn't say NASA should be shuttered. I said that, if NASA is unable to build sustainable space infrastructure, it might be a good idea to form a new agency (not necessarily eliminating NASA, which is effective in science and exploration) that can.

Interesting on the TPS.  Where is your data to support this?  Because from where I sit, TPS has a fairly substantial amount of standard repair procedures that do not require the removal of the tile or blanket in the first place.  In addition, if you do have a ding that requires the entire tile to be removed, you now have to remove a larger section.

Finally, you want to create another government agency that essentially competes with NASA for resources and has all the overhead a separate government agency would require?  This will essentially drive down the purchasing power of the money available for space as a whole. 
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Offline Jim

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #30 on: 12/15/2009 05:18 PM »
This is quite a likely point, but there is no empirical proof, since there isn't a RLV yet. The one flawed pseudo-RLV we do have doesn't do too bad compared to expendables, even at a far less than 40-per-year flight rate. Even just using larger tiles would make a measurable difference in its cost for refurbishment.


It is many times costly than expendables.  The tiles do not account for that much of the refurb time or cost

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #31 on: 12/15/2009 05:29 PM »
The one flawed pseudo-RLV we do have doesn't do too bad compared to expendables, even at a far less than 40-per-year flight rate. Even just using larger tiles would make a measurable difference in its cost for refurbishment.


NOTE: I didn't say NASA should be shuttered. I said that, if NASA is unable to build sustainable space infrastructure, it might be a good idea to form a new agency (not necessarily eliminating NASA, which is effective in science and exploration) that can.

Interesting on the TPS.  Where is your data to support this? 
I don't have anything substantial. It's just an anecdote I read somewhere, so don't quote me. Other people on this board are far, far more knowledgeable about this than I am (heck, there's probably someone on here who actually did this refurbishment). [/quote] Because from where I sit, TPS has a fairly substantial amount of standard repair procedures that do not require the removal of the tile or blanket in the first place.  In addition, if you do have a ding that requires the entire tile to be removed, you now have to remove a larger section.

Quote
Finally, you want to create another government agency that essentially competes with NASA for resources and has all the overhead a separate government agency would require?  This will essentially drive down the purchasing power of the money available for space as a whole. 
I agree. I don't propose such an agency, but if you measure the purchasing power of money invested in NASA for reusable launch vehicles in the last three decades (not counting Shuttle), then you have very, very little purchasing power indeed. I am not saying this is necessarily the case for NASA as a whole, I am merely saying what is plain to everyone: we cannot develop a RLV (or reusable spacecraft) at NASA the same way it has been attempted with VentureStar, etc.... with billions invested and little to no results. Partly this is just technical difficulty and at least as much it was poor management decisions and overly compromised, ambitious, and design-by-committee designs. I don't think that it'll take a new agency to fix this, but if the problem is endemic to NASA (as is evidenced by frustrations faced with scientists seeing an overbearing bureaucracy to get their experiments flown even during the early 1970s), then perhaps a new agency is warranted. I completely realize that if someone were to attempt to do this, they would most likely end up with a much smaller budget for space across the board, so it may be unrealistic to attempt such a restructuring (assuming you care about space).
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 05:30 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline bad_astra

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #32 on: 12/15/2009 05:39 PM »
The aerospace development/space development are not the same and the analogy does not work, even though it is attractive. The driving factor in both was primarily military. The commercial factor for aerospace involved

There is at this time, no where to go in space worth going. If commercial airplanes were restricted to dropping off television transmitters and weather beacons in the ocean, there would be no 747.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #33 on: 12/15/2009 05:44 PM »
This is quite a likely point, but there is no empirical proof, since there isn't a RLV yet. The one flawed pseudo-RLV we do have doesn't do too bad compared to expendables, even at a far less than 40-per-year flight rate. Even just using larger tiles would make a measurable difference in its cost for refurbishment.


It is many times costly than expendables.  The tiles do not account for that much of the refurb time or cost
They certainly do cost more, and they cost a few times more for delivering cargo, but are comparable for delivering crew, since it is a (manned) spacecraft as well as a launch vehicle (and as such it is not quite fair to compare it to expendables without a capsule when talking about reusable launch vehicles).

How much do the tiles account for in terms of refurb time and costs versus the rest of the refurb process? How much do things like poorly thought-out placement of access panels cost in time and money, things that could be fixed if you were to build a Shuttle version 1.5?
I know that even transporting the Space Shuttle via air is something like $65 million. You'd want to be able to safely transport a next-gen reusable vehicle via something cheaper, like road or rail or barge. The Shuttle is probably just too huge to ever be moved inexpensively.

Is there are break-down of the various costs of Shuttle refurb anywhere that you can link to? Thanks!
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 05:47 PM by Robotbeat »
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Offline dad2059

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #34 on: 12/15/2009 05:45 PM »
Quote
Finally, you want to create another government agency that essentially competes with NASA for resources and has all the overhead a separate government agency would require?  This will essentially drive down the purchasing power of the money available for space as a whole.
 
Quote
I agree. I don't propose such an agency, but if you measure the purchasing power of money invested in NASA for reusable launch vehicles in the last three decades (not counting Shuttle), then you have very, very little purchasing power indeed. I am not saying this is necessarily the case for NASA as a whole, I am merely saying what is plain to everyone: we cannot develop a RLV (or reusable spacecraft) at NASA the same way it has been attempted with VentureStar, etc.... with billions invested and little to no results. Partly this is just technical difficulty and at least as much it was poor management decisions and overly compromised, ambitious, and design-by-committee designs. I don't think that it'll take a new agency to fix this, but if the problem is endemic to NASA (as is evidenced by frustrations faced with scientists seeing an overbearing bureaucracy to get their experiments flown even during the early 1970s), then perhaps a new agency is warranted. I completely realize that if someone were to attempt to do this, they would most likely end up with a much smaller budget for space across the board, so it may be unrealistic to attempt such a restructuring (assuming you care about space).

It has been mentioned on this board, quite frequently, that NASA should be replaced with something along the line of its predecessor, the NACA in order to simplify the bureaucracy and to work better with the NuSpace companies.

But NASA has grown into an immense beast and it requires a lot of feeding. I think it will require an impossible amount of political will to accomplish putting it on such a diet.
NASA needs some good ol' fashioned 'singularity tech'

Offline Jim

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #35 on: 12/15/2009 05:48 PM »
An expendable capsule would also be cheaper for the few flights per year that CxP is going to do.

Reusable does not necessarily mean cheaper.

Offline Namechange User

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #36 on: 12/15/2009 05:55 PM »

It has been mentioned on this board, quite frequently, that NASA should be replaced with something along the line of its predecessor, the NACA in order to simplify the bureaucracy and to work better with the NuSpace companies.

But NASA has grown into an immense beast and it requires a lot of feeding. I think it will require an impossible amount of political will to accomplish putting it on such a diet.

If it's been mentioned on a message board, then clearly it must be done!!

Yes, the immense beast that consumes a whopping 0.4% percent of the federal budget for all the missions its tasked to support.  Please, we should stop the madness!!!
« Last Edit: 12/15/2009 05:59 PM by OV-106 »
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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #37 on: 12/15/2009 05:57 PM »
They certainly do cost more, and they cost a few times more for delivering cargo, but are comparable for delivering crew, since it is a (manned) spacecraft as well as a launch vehicle (and as such it is not quite fair to compare it to expendables without a capsule when talking about reusable launch vehicles).

How much do the tiles account for in terms of refurb time and costs versus the rest of the refurb process? How much do things like poorly thought-out placement of access panels cost in time and money, things that could be fixed if you were to build a Shuttle version 1.5?
I know that even transporting the Space Shuttle via air is something like $65 million. You'd want to be able to safely transport a next-gen reusable vehicle via something cheaper, like road or rail or barge. The Shuttle is probably just too huge to ever be moved inexpensively.

Is there are break-down of the various costs of Shuttle refurb anywhere that you can link to? Thanks!

I'm quite certain at this point you have a misconception of what we do to turn the ships around or the difficulties we sometimes face or do not face. 
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Offline dad2059

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #38 on: 12/15/2009 05:57 PM »
An expendable capsule would also be cheaper for the few flights per year that CxP is going to do.

Reusable does not necessarily mean cheaper.

Yeah really.

If they're only going to launch the damn thing twice a year, it probably would be cheaper with an expendable capsule.

"Once in service, Ares I is expected to launch twice a year to deliver Orion and its six-person crews to the space station."

http://www.space.com/news/070814_nasa_ares1_firststage.html
NASA needs some good ol' fashioned 'singularity tech'

Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Obama Needs To Be Bold
« Reply #39 on: 12/15/2009 05:57 PM »
An expendable capsule would also be cheaper for the few flights per year that CxP is going to do.

Reusable does not necessarily mean cheaper.
I agree. However, if it's a toss-up between the two, I think it'd be good to go reusable, since I think space travel is something we'd like to see eventually get to 40 flights/year, so the knowledge gained with developing a reusable system would be valuable even if it was no better cost-wise than an expendable launch vehicle (although we should make sure to iterate the design twice a decade or so, just to keep the manufacturing base active and to improve the craft, two things that are advantageous to an expendable launch architecture).

I think it's a good thing to launch 40 flights a year, anyway. I see that as an advantage, not a disadvantage.
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To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

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