Author Topic: Worst decision made in US space history?  (Read 52691 times)

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #140 on: 02/26/2013 07:38 PM »
Just checking.  You do realize with what my response was dripping?
Yes.  'thought it was good lead in...i can modify to cite only sdsds if you desire...  would poe's law be applicable here?

Quite alright.  You did fine.  Thought you knew, just checking, as I mentioned.  Hadn't heard of Poe's Law Misconception.

Parody and sarcasm have long predated animated smilies, as we all know.  I've had a great deal of fun, here and elsewhere, in assiduously avoiding their use.  Parody and sarcasm depend, in part, on context.  A typical blogosherist seems to be stereotyped as suffering from short term memory loss, and is seemingly condemned to respond only to the immediately predceding post, and the context of one individual post is not at all restricted to stand completely alone on its own merit.  In fact, a poster's history can be crucial to the clear understanding of that poster.

Unfortunately, Nathan Poe shows his relative youth in a somewhat less than appealing fashion.  Worse, we all die a bit, since his misconception is now ensconced in the oracle, as if it were synonomous with unvarnished truth, and as if to say that his interpretation there is original, and that before his interpretation, sarcasm and parody could not be reliably detected.  But I digress.

A bit of ambiguity in your comment, in all seriousness:  I read Feynman's appendix in its entirety, not for the first time.  I guess you were just adding the backup text for the benefit of the lazy?  'Cause those few sentences did not go unnoticed by me, but by the politicians and policymakers.
« Last Edit: 02/26/2013 07:40 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline RocketmanUS

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2226
  • USA
  • Liked: 71
  • Likes Given: 31
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #141 on: 02/26/2013 07:41 PM »
What about sharing launchers ( cargo version only ) and not having two of the same with two overheads?

Shuttle proved that was a bad idea. All eggs in one basket is bad. If an LV can't fly for whatever reason, you need another one that can.

LV costs are irrelevant when it comes to the military's use of space. The intel and capabilities derived from on-orbit assets are worth ten times the price of putting them there. In fact, I believe I'm paraphrasing LBJ!
That is why there are two launchers , Atlas V and Delta IV.


What about sharing launchers ( cargo version only ) and not having two of the same with two overheads?

Already done.  See Atlas, Delta and Falcon
And this is a good thing now.

So what is the difference between military and NASA launch needs that would make the launcher different?

Offline RyanC

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 401
  • SA-506 Launch
  • Liked: 51
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #142 on: 02/26/2013 07:43 PM »
Strategic: not having a post-Apollo roadmap for space exploration.

Um, but we DID.

"AN INTEGRATED PROGRAM OF SPACE UTILIZATION AND EXPLORATION FOR THE DECADE 1970 TO 1980"

The big problem was that much of NASA went into that document assuming that the nation would still support BIG SPACE on the scale that had been done from 1965-1969; and threw in the entire kitchen sink of wish-lists from each center:

Orbital Workshop / Quiescent CSM

Space Shuttle from 1975 onwards

Nuclear Shuttle from 1979 onwards

3 Apollo missions to the Moon each year from 1970 onwards. In 1976 introduce LM-B and 14 day surface missions. Lunar base in 1979.

In 1976/77 introduce Lunar Polar Orbital Station.

Deploy large radio telescopes on the far side of the moon from 1979 onwards.

In Mid 1975, deploy the first space station module on the Space Shuttle, culiminating in a manned space "base" from 1979 onwards at 260 n.mi altitude and 55 degree inclination and a crew of 50~

Etc.

Nixon took one look at this, and went "woah woah!" and in the end chose to fund only OWS (Skylab) because it had already mostly been paid for, and chose the big NASA development program to be the Space Shuttle.

Everything would be delayed into the 1980s until Shuttle was flying, because then that way, costs would drop from $1,000/lb (1970 dollars using Saturn V) to $20/lb or $200/lb (1970 dollars using Space Shuttle with 50klb cargo).

That $20 to $200 lb goal probably could have been met (or at least gotten close to) if STS had been given the kind of blank check Apollo was. But NASA leadership continued to use the rough $20-200/lb pricing even after STS had been cut back to a semi-expendable system.

So ultimately it comes back to two interrelated "worst decisions" which are closely interrelated to each other:

1.) Putting forth a totally unrealistic 1970-80 space program which assumed Apollo-level funding, instead of a more realistic program that could be continued using Apollo derived booster/spacecraft components, with long term work going towards developing technology for STS.

2.) When the STS total development budget was cut significantly and the change made from a fully reusable system to a partially expendable system; the leadership didn't have the courage to stand up and pull a "Griffin"; fully costing the system and giving it a much lower flight rate.

Instead, they continued to use slightly modified figures that gave it a very unrealistic flight rate and cost/lb to orbit; which helped kill off any other possible competitors -- remember that the entire NASA EELV fleet other than really small rockets was going to go away in favor of STS.

Offline JohnFornaro

  • Not an expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9161
  • Delta-t is the salient metric.
  • Planet Eaarth
    • Design / Program Associates
  • Liked: 617
  • Likes Given: 320
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #143 on: 02/26/2013 07:47 PM »
Nixon took one look at this, and went "woah woah!" and in the end chose to fund only OWS (Skylab) because it had already mostly been paid for, and chose the big NASA development program to be the Space Shuttle. elective war.

Fixed that for ya.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2013 01:45 PM by JohnFornaro »
Sometimes I just flat out don't get it.

Offline Proponent

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5362
  • Liked: 930
  • Likes Given: 612
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #144 on: 02/26/2013 07:48 PM »
Thrust termination was eventually deemed non-viable for STS because it would have exceeded load limits on the orbiter and ET, and would have required an extra 20k lb of mass to mitigate.

I've been looking for a reference for this for some time -- do you happen to have one?

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12590
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3472
  • Likes Given: 700
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #145 on: 02/26/2013 08:26 PM »
capsule, making me wonder if U.S. companies even can any longer build such a spacecraft.

The SM is just a dumber version of a satellite bus and we have many companies that can build that.
But they won't, due to this decision (setting aside the additional functions provided by an SM for a crewed spacecraft versus a satellite).  Although the initial SMs are a horse trade, eventually, unless the program is cancelled outright, NASA will be stuck funding European paychecks while U.S. workers stand in unemployment lines.  I'm not exaggerating about the unemployed because I know people in them who once worked NASA and USAF space programs.

Frankly, if the choice is (A) fund other nation's paychecks for a key program element or (B) don't do the program at all, I would choose (B), because (A) is a national embarrassment.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 02/26/2013 11:59 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline muomega0

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 861
  • Liked: 65
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #146 on: 02/26/2013 09:03 PM »
Today, because of the inability to shut off solids, higher LAS mass is required, and crewed launches should have lower LOC for liquids only.

I love that meme. It's a good way to know whether a person is knowledgeable or not.

A day or so ago, I was reading an old Lockheed Propulsion Company (LPC) report on NTRS for their 156" SRB proposal for STS and it had quite a few graphs and details about how thrust termination would work (they would have had thrust termination ports), along with the effects of the thrust termination ports opening (Impingement on the External Tank).

"inability"  is not correct, as you point out. 

The primary issue deals with the SRB being destroyed and the resulting debris field, if any, and the time delay of shutdown vs liquids, etc...

In the simulations, the capsule had to fly beyond the debris field, but did not include a probabilistic assessment, so the 22,000 lbs LAS mass was overstated.  I do not have a link right now to this probabilistic assessment, nor to the mass impacts due to termination ports to ET...

Simulation:
Solids+capsules significantly increases LAS mass

In the video below:
5:30 malfunction
5:55 SRB destroyed by remote control




and discussed here: 
[url=http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17353.390]Effectiveness of Ares I abort
[/b]

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32192
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10837
  • Likes Given: 321
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #147 on: 02/26/2013 09:39 PM »

Frankly, if the choice is (A) fund other nation's paychecks for a key program element or (B) don't do the program at all, I would choose (B), because (A) is a national embarassment.


And (B) means more unemployed.  It is basically a choice of X number of people unemployed (Orion SM workers) or X plus a much larger Y (the Orion CM, and integration, and operations workers)

Offline Eric Hedman

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 830
  • Liked: 229
  • Likes Given: 213
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #148 on: 02/26/2013 11:34 PM »
Nixon took one look at this, and went "woah woah!" and in the end chose to fund only OWS (Skylab) because it had already mostly been paid for, and chose the big NASA development program to be the Space Shuttle. elective war.

Fixed that for ya.
Do you think Nixon and Congress would have funded anything more if the war wasn't still costing us a fortune?  I don't.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 12590
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 3472
  • Likes Given: 700
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #149 on: 02/27/2013 12:05 AM »

Frankly, if the choice is (A) fund other nation's paychecks for a key program element or (B) don't do the program at all, I would choose (B), because (A) is a national embarrassment.


And (B) means more unemployed.  It is basically a choice of X number of people unemployed (Orion SM workers) or X plus a much larger Y (the Orion CM, and integration, and operations workers)

No matter how I try to understand that type of logic, I can't get past the end result, which is NASA sending U.S. taxpayer money, lots of it, to French and German workers instead of Americans. 

 - Ed Kyle

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8480
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3391
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #150 on: 02/27/2013 12:06 AM »
No matter how I try to understand that type of logic, I can't get past the end result, which is NASA sending U.S. taxpayer money, lots of it, to French and German workers instead of Americans. 

I can make it worse for ya: NASA sending U.S. taxpayer money to French and German (and let's not forget Russian) defense contractors instead of American ones.
« Last Edit: 02/27/2013 12:07 AM by QuantumG »
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline RyanC

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 401
  • SA-506 Launch
  • Liked: 51
  • Likes Given: 9
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #151 on: 02/27/2013 12:25 AM »
Do you think Nixon and Congress would have funded anything more if the war wasn't still costing us a fortune?  I don't.

Agreed here. If there was no Vietnam War; IMHO at best maybe 5-10% more would have been available for NASA.

Offline pippin

  • Regular
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2555
  • Liked: 289
  • Likes Given: 39
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #152 on: 02/27/2013 12:28 AM »
Frankly, if the choice is (A) fund other nation's paychecks for a key program element or (B) don't do the program at all, I would choose (B), because (A) is a national embarrassment.

So here we have another nice example showing that the space program is not about exploration, science or anything but just about jobs creation and national pride. No deeper sense in it.
Did I get that right?

Your very argument shows that Congress is obviously dead right in the way it handles NASA since this seems to be exactly what people, even space enthusiasts, expect of it.
So the answer obviously is: no bad decisions have been made at all....
« Last Edit: 02/27/2013 12:30 AM by pippin »

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8480
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3391
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #153 on: 02/27/2013 12:34 AM »
Do you think Nixon and Congress would have funded anything more if the war wasn't still costing us a fortune?  I don't.

Agreed here. If there was no Vietnam War; IMHO at best maybe 5-10% more would have been available for NASA.

The space program was supposed to be the proxy for war. It was supposed to keep the Vietnam conflict cold. It failed before it even started.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8480
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3391
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #154 on: 02/27/2013 12:48 AM »
So here we have another nice example showing that the space program is not about exploration, science or anything but just about jobs creation and national pride. No deeper sense in it.
Did I get that right?

The only way I can imagine a government space program being about exploration is if the government was some sort of "empire" that wanted to expand its territory into space. Is that what you're after? If not, what is the purpose of space exploration?

Science? There's vastly more important science that could be done with the money that is spent on spaceflight. Especially human spaceflight.

Random example: The Plant Genome Research Program, which may literally prevent mass starvation this decade, gets about $15M/year.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8480
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3391
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #155 on: 02/27/2013 01:10 AM »
The space program was supposed to be the proxy for war. It was supposed to keep the Vietnam conflict cold. It failed before it even started.

Can you provide citations backing this up?

What? The universally accepted fact that the space program was a proxy for a hot war with the Soviet Union? Or the fact that the Vietnam war got hot before the space program even hit full swing?

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32192
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 10837
  • Likes Given: 321
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #156 on: 02/27/2013 01:13 AM »
The space program was supposed to be the proxy for war. It was supposed to keep the Vietnam conflict cold. It failed before it even started.

Can you provide citations backing this up?

What? The universally accepted fact that the space program was a proxy for a hot war with the Soviet Union? Or the fact that the Vietnam war got hot before the space program even hit full swing?

It had nothing to do with the Vietnam war

Offline Davd

  • Member
  • Posts: 97
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #157 on: 02/27/2013 01:16 AM »
Saturn V didn't fail because of extensive testing procedures. SLS will not be tested as thoroughly, NASA simply doesn't have the money. A little worrying to me.

True, although as I said you'll still have the rare failed launch just by probability (Soviet program had two aborted manned launches even though the R-7 is one of the most dependable boosters there is)

Quote
Slapping a whole S-1C into a test stand was quite impressive.

Something they couldn't manage with the N1. The first stage had never been fired in its entirety when the initial test was made in February 1969.

But again, manned programs always have better testing and checkout anyway.


Offline Davd

  • Member
  • Posts: 97
  • Liked: 0
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #158 on: 02/27/2013 01:26 AM »
As others already pointed out here, it was a mistake for NASA to have their own custom-built launch systems like Saturn and STS instead of simply buying them from outside contractors. Saturn V was tailored specifically for Apollo and it literally could not be used for anything else, on top of the enormous cost of flying it.

The smaller Saturn IB was a bit more versatile perhaps, but it still offered no capability that wasn't matched by the cheaper Titan III.

Offline QuantumG

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8480
  • Australia
  • Liked: 3391
  • Likes Given: 794
Re: Worst decision made in US space history?
« Reply #159 on: 02/27/2013 01:48 AM »
You wrote:

"It was supposed to keep the Vietnam conflict cold."

Back that up.

Oh, sorry. I just meant that the space program was supposed to be a preferable proxy to wars like Vietnam. Not Vietnam specifically. Better to fight communism with inspirational feats of spaceflight than with young soldier's lives.
Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Tags: