Author Topic: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget - Feasible but Ludicrously Expensive Missions  (Read 12109 times)

Online MATTBLAK

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have three heavily modified Shuttle External Tanks hold the fuel,


No amount of money is going to make that happen.  Also, they are just wrong for the job
Yes - there aren't 3x External Tanks left in existence and no manufacturing infrastructure to make more. And how would you launch them, anyway? They had a synergy with the Shuttle that would make them nearly impossible to adapt for anything else, other than a Shuttle Derived Sidemount launcher - and that ship has sailed, so to speak. Possibly you could adapt your idea to tooling used to make smaller diameter rocket stages like the 5 meter Deltas - or just clean-sheet design your ideas to the specs you want or need.
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Offline MarsDude

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have three heavily modified Shuttle External Tanks hold the fuel,


No amount of money is going to make that happen.  Also, they are just wrong for the job
Yes - there aren't 3x External Tanks left in existence and no manufacturing infrastructure to make more. And how would you launch them, anyway? They had a synergy with the Shuttle that would make them nearly impossible to adapt for anything else, other than a Shuttle Derived Sidemount launcher - and that ship has sailed, so to speak. Possibly you could adapt your idea to tooling used to make smaller diameter rocket stages like the 5 meter Deltas - or just clean-sheet design your ideas to the specs you want or need.

Sorry, I misspoke. I meant the same size as heavily modified ETs.
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Offline tea monster

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What would probably a more interesting thread would be "What if NASA were funded at relative 1960's levels", or "What if NASA's budget were quadrupled."

Infinite money basically says that anything is possible. You could give Mr. Zubrin a nice birthday present and develop a nuclear salt water rocket and pay off all the hippies to look the other way. You could even set up a dummy corporation in a neutral state and develop an Orion (the Orion that should have flown first) ship to cruise the solar system in style.

With the budget indicated by an 8 on it's side, lunar bases, Mars colonies and all that jazz are just part of the coffee budget.

Offline IRobot

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What would probably a more interesting thread would be "What if NASA were funded at relative 1960's levels", or "What if NASA's budget were quadrupled."

Infinite money basically says that anything is possible.
If you add up a time constrain (like Kennedy did), there are several limitations, even with unlimited resources.
At some point, throwing in more people and money does not accelerate or improve the process.

Offline MarsDude

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"Infinite budget" just means, in this case, "Budget so big that ludicrously expensive and insane missions [like these] get approved instantly." Don't read too much into the title.
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Offline TakeOff

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NASA would, yet again, spend many decades on building a ludicrously infinitely expensive 1960s style launcher. I bet that really clever rocket scientists and their bureaucrats could easily spend many trillions while choosing between making the Shuttle expendable or building a reusable copy of the Saturn V. SLS/Orion is middle of the road. More money cannot cure the disease that plagues NASA's sever malpriorities and chronical failure. The more they take the more they waste.

Online Robotbeat

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After landing on every planet, dwarf planet, and Moon in our solar system out to 50AU with a hard surface:


Build ITS:



...I would terraform Mars and build a giant space beamed propulsion thing for crewed interstellar travel to Alpha Centauri. If we got fusion working, maybe mine Uranus (with a NTR RLV to get out of its gravity well) for helium3 and deuterium for the interstellar journey.

For small uncrewed probes, something like this but bigger and with the propelling laser in orbit:


...and telescopes placed at the sun's gravity focus. Telescopes 10km wide, big enough to image exoplanet features.

And fly on Titan and build rotating cylinders:


*including Venus... It could be done! Insulated capsule and hard suit cooled with liquid nitrogen, with a metallic-then-Teflon staged balloons to bring the flag-planter back up to a cooler altitude to rejoin the cloud colony (watch until after the credits):

(Or perhaps more ambitiously, an actual large surface habitat well insulated and cooled with a high-temperature nuclear reactor driving a refrigeration stage)

You said "unlimited"!

Or heck, while we're at it, build a 100 Petawatt laser and sun harvester to propel a ship of this size and make enough antimatter for it (well, probably don't need antimatter if you brake against the interstellar plasma, but still):
« Last Edit: 03/13/2017 01:31 AM by Robotbeat »
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Online Robotbeat

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Y'all really aren't taking the title of this thread seriously. 😂
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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

Offline MarsDude

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Offline MarsDude

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Woah! Titan's atmosphere is so thick that it takes ~7.6 km/s to reach orbit, while similarly-sized Mercury takes ~3.06 km/s for orbit!

Let's put a big balloon on the lander. We float to the top of the atmosphere, and fire the rockets as soon as the balloon pops. That way, we reduce the time the rockets are in the atmosphere, reducing Delta-V requirements.
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Offline p51

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #50 on: 03/13/2017 08:16 PM »
SLS launches like the heyday of the Apollo program, to manned bases on the Moon (hardened against meteorite impacts, of course) and Mars. And there’d be at least one large space station that isn’t nearly as frail as the ISS currently is. I’m talking almost like the one Arthur Clark dreamt up for “2001”.
A manned Grand Tour of the solar system seems mostly possible (maybe except the Venus landing).
(example: http://www.space.com/1135-dvd-review-voyage-planets.html)
That reminds me a lot of the unrated TV series, “Defying Gravity,” which I so badly wish had lasted more than a single season (mostly due to NBC’s horrible marketing of the show): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defying_Gravity_(TV_series)
While there was a ‘soap opera’ like element to the show, I really liked it and I wonder how many space fans watched it or even heard of it at the time it was on the air.
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Offline Ronpur50

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I never even knew about the series while it was on the air.  But loved it when I got the DVD set.  I was very sad that they did not finish the tour. 


Offline vapour_nudge

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I haven't read the whole thread. If I had a say in where a massive budget went it'd be a Neptune and a Uranus orbiter both at the same time. I'd also like to see moon rover for the far side and a Titan lander and orbiter both with ASRG or something like that to extend their stay. Finally a doubling in the number of DSN antennae to help with the download of data

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: If NASA Had An Infinite Budget
« Reply #53 on: 03/13/2017 10:10 PM »
SLS launches like the heyday of the Apollo program, to manned bases on the Moon (hardened against meteorite impacts, of course) and Mars. And there’d be at least one large space station that isn’t nearly as frail as the ISS currently is. I’m talking almost like the one Arthur Clark dreamt up for “2001”.
A manned Grand Tour of the solar system seems mostly possible (maybe except the Venus landing).
(example: http://www.space.com/1135-dvd-review-voyage-planets.html)
That reminds me a lot of the unrated TV series, “Defying Gravity,” which I so badly wish had lasted more than a single season (mostly due to NBC’s horrible marketing of the show): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defying_Gravity_(TV_series)
While there was a ‘soap opera’ like element to the show, I really liked it and I wonder how many space fans watched it or even heard of it at the time it was on the air.
I watched it and the "The Cape", it disappeared for probably another "cops and robbers" show... :(
« Last Edit: 03/14/2017 12:16 AM by Rocket Science »
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Offline savuporo

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How about "what if NASA was allowed to spend it's entire currently allocated budget on designing and building just one thing". So, with $18B a year, and real world number of launchers, spaceports and launch pads, what mission could one pull off ?
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline Landfound

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Alright I'm using a fixed number just for my own magic.

Let's assume that the budget is 1 trillion per year as a combined effort of the OECD.


100 billion per years goes to a mars effort

100 billion to a lunar base

100 billion to asteroid mining

100 billion into some form of ion tug

100 billion into a sky hook system for mars

100 billion dedicated to creating a private space hotel in leo.

100 billion into a manned mission to jupiter/venus

100 billion into automated probes

100 billion for a mega telescope to be built on the dark side of the moon

100 billion into rotating colony in geo

Atleast 25 percent of each budget must go towards private launch companies.

Atleast 25 percent most goto private developers.


Offline MarsDude

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Guys, you're missing the point ;)

The title is merely metaphorical - I wanted to share some ideas I have for missions that are theoretically and practically possible, but prohibitively expensive.
-MarsDude, over and out

Offline whitelancer64

Guys, you're missing the point ;)

The title is merely metaphorical - I wanted to share some ideas I have for missions that are theoretically and practically possible, but prohibitively expensive.

Ideas that are "theoretically and practically possible, but prohibitively expensive" is true of virtually every major space-related project that never got past the drawing board.

Like the Nexus rocket - fully reusable SSTO booster. 2,000 tons to LEO.
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Offline MarsDude

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Guys, you're missing the point ;)

The title is merely metaphorical - I wanted to share some ideas I have for missions that are theoretically and practically possible, but prohibitively expensive.

Ideas that are "theoretically and practically possible, but prohibitively expensive" is true of virtually every major space-related project that never got past the drawing board.

Like the Nexus rocket - fully reusable SSTO booster. 2,000 tons to LEO.


EXACTLY! We need more Nexuses and Sea Dragons, ideas so crazy, yet plausible, that they are an inspiration.
-MarsDude, over and out

Offline Archibald

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HAVOC is just amazing. A manned Zeppelin flying atop Venus cloud layer. This is so steampunk   8)

Terrestrial Planet Finder - or even better, Antoine Labeyrie hypertelescope.
« Last Edit: 03/16/2017 08:24 AM by Archibald »

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