Author Topic: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken  (Read 15574 times)

Offline gospacex

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #60 on: 04/20/2017 04:53 PM »

Was it efficient _during_ Apollo?
No.

Really?  Try posting something supported up by data. 
Your NASA bashing is getting sickening.

If Apollo hardware was efficient economically speaking, Saturn 5 and Apollo capsules would continue flying, until even better alternatives are online.

That's how things are done in the normal (aka "capitalist") economy. That's how things are done in the West for bread, transistors, processors, CCDs, jeans, cars, passenger planes...

Socialists refuse to have normal economy and have shortages of bread, and crappy processors, cars, passenger planes... In its dying years, Soviet Union produced its first and only computer mouse. It's about the size and almost the weight of a flatiron...

It's not my fault that by a twist of Cold War history, US space program ended up running socialism-style launch vehicle development program, with corresponding results.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 04:55 PM by gospacex »

Offline Ludus

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #61 on: 04/20/2017 05:05 PM »
To me, the new, better things that are coming are commercial crew vehicles, and, more generally, the shift to commercial decision making rather than government decision making.

For me I keep in mind what the ultimate goal should be, which is the expansion of humanity out into space.

...

Quote
The shuttle had to be cancelled to make commercial crew vehicles happen.

I don't think people know how much the government-run Shuttle program suppressed the commercial space transportation sector.  Because no one can compete with "FREE", or at least government discounts.  I highly doubt anyone paid the actual full price for a Shuttle ride, either cargo or crew.

So yes, the Shuttle had to die in order for the commercial space transportation sector to gain new life.  And it has, big time with SpaceX, Blue Origin and many other companies that stepped up to take over what the Shuttle did.

This is a wonderful time to be a space geek, and most recently that's been because of what the private sector has been doing.  We should encourage that, not compete with it...

This is an important point.  The Shuttle, while a wonderful vehicle, never realized its goal of cheap access to space.  All of the USG-promoted reasons for breaking down the cost barrier faded away into the night -- but that was only due to the need for justification of the hugely-colonized program that was STS (then STS + ISS).  Had NASA acted responsibly, they would have called the Shuttle an important first step and continued down the technological path to lower cost access to space.  The next step could have been refinement of the STS... reusable engines that needed near zero post-flight refurbishment (equivalent of hydrogen-fueled BE-4s or Raptors), reusable fly-back boosters, better heat shield tiles -- or pivoted and gone down a completely different technological path.  While it existed, the USG had negative incentive to encourage private development efforts, except for the National security needs for more frequent and more affordable launches.  STS set the price baseline and EELV came into existence to undercut that price and increase the launch frequency... these programs created an extreme barrier against new entrants.

This is a major flaw of any central planned economy or program... it soon losses sight of the original purpose and begins to justify its ongoing existence, sustenance, and growth.  Constellation was a misguided effort to go retro to an APOLLO on steroids -- as if General Motors could have flourished by reverting to big steel, eight-cylinder, dual four-barrel carburetor speed machines when their cars weren't selling in the 1980-1990s. 

Russia, formerly Soviet Union, has and always had incredible technical prowess in rocketry.  Again, the central planning process became too inertial to change directions.  China is heading down a similar path; their long term prospects are at risk by the same centralized control.

Sad to have lost the Shuttle program (and to have this long gap in US human spaceflight capability), but if it had to happen to allow the original vision that created STS to sprout anew, then it was worth it.

It's also worth noting that the Shuttle (STS) was a design by politics project much like SLS. The earlier Shuttle designs were fully reusable with piloted boosters as well as orbiters. They ended up with a strange budget compromise that wasn't engineered to work efficiently but just to use the right contractors in the right districts and budgets. If the Shuttle had kept to an "engineered" version it would have been capable of orderly design evolution. They could have added an unmanned payload faring orbiter independent of the Booster or evolved the Booster independently of the orbiter. They could have evolved toward rapid reusability.

Offline Proponent

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #62 on: 04/20/2017 08:51 PM »
It's also worth noting that the Shuttle (STS) was a design by politics project much like SLS. The earlier Shuttle designs were fully reusable with piloted boosters as well as orbiters. They ended up with a strange budget compromise that wasn't engineered to work efficiently but just to use the right contractors in the right districts and budgets. If the Shuttle had kept to an "engineered" version it would have been capable of orderly design evolution. They could have added an unmanned payload faring orbiter independent of the Booster or evolved the Booster independently of the orbiter. They could have evolved toward rapid reusability.

There is a meme that, if only Congress and OMB had been willing to fund a fully reusable shuttle in 1971, it would have turned out much better, but that is in fact highly unlikely.  The first director of the Shuttle program office, Charles Donlan, had this to say of the fully reusable designs:
Quote from: 'Charles Donlan'
It wasn't until the Phase B's came along and we had a hard look at the reality of what we meant by fully reusable that we shook our heads saying, "No way you're going to build that thing in this century..." Thank God for all the pressures that were brought to bear not to go that route.

During the Columbia accident investigation, Robert Thompson, who had been Shuttle Program Manager from 1970 to 1981, testified (see p. 7 of the attachment) that
Quote from: Robert Thompson
... in my judgment, it would have cost more per flight to operate the two-stage fully-reusable system than the one we built, even though the cost analysis didnʼt show that. When you get two complex vehicles like that and all one vehicle does is help you get up to staging velocity -- and the staging velocity is 12,000 feet per second -- when you build a booster that does nothing but fly up to 12,000 feet per second, youʼve built something wrong. I think thatʼs what the two-stage fully-reusable system was; and I think, had the agency tried to build it, we wouldnʼt have a Shuttle Program today.
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 08:53 PM by Proponent »

Offline edkyle99

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #63 on: 04/20/2017 09:16 PM »
It's not my fault that by a twist of Cold War history, US space program ended up running socialism-style launch vehicle development program, with corresponding results.
The Apollo program began before any commercial satellites had been launched, let alone launch vehicles.  (Early Bird flew in 1965.  Apollo began in 1961.  Pegasus, the first commercially developed orbital launcher, flew in 1990.)  There was no "capitalist" space program, by your definition, at the time, anywhere on the planet.

Results?  Man walked on the Moon.  Commercial alternative?  None at the time and we're still waiting, five decades on.

 - Ed Kyle
« Last Edit: 04/20/2017 09:23 PM by edkyle99 »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #64 on: 04/20/2017 09:43 PM »
Results?  Man walked on the Moon.  Commercial alternative?  None at the time and we're still waiting, five decades on.

To be fair though, our government hasn't returned to our Moon, four decades on.

And I don't see that as because of a technological barrier, for either our government or the private sector, but a lack of desire.  If anything our private sector today is out-innovating NASA in the realm of space transportation.
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 john smith 19

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #65 on: 04/21/2017 08:21 AM »
Atlas V is being man rated for Commercial Crew, so why is that an issue?
The interesting thing about that is how (relatively) easy the process of crew rating turned out to be. Adding a dual redundant hydraulics for TVC, an emergency detection system and developing a flight plan that kept the stress levels below 1/1.4 of failure seemed to have been the big ticket items.

But remember "back then" the NASA Administrator (Griffin?) claimed this was impossible.
Quote from: RonM
Orion could have been designed to be launched on an Atlas V by not making it so massive. If NASA needed a little more mass, then design Orion for DIVH and man rate that rocket. Of course it would cost money, but it would have been a lot cheaper than trying to build a totally new rocket like the Ares I.
But that would have prevented the objective of NASA proving (to itself) that it could design a new rocket. Or at least manage a contractor team to build a rocket to their specification to be operated by them.
Quote from: RonM
Dragon 2 will be doing a lunar flyby mission using a FH. That's a BEO mission. F9 or Atlas V can be used to assemble a stack in LEO for a lunar mission. An ACES stage would make a good commercial EDS.

C'mon and think about it. I'm not talking about today's bloated Orion, I'm talking about how NASA could have made more practical decisions a dozen years ago. Fortunately, we have Commercial Crew, which will be flying before a crewed Orion flight, even if EM-1 is crewed.
All true now but in 2005 SpaceX was a 3YO startup company that had not launched it's first rocket.
And just a note but FH is still yet to fly.

OTOH both Atlas V and Delta IV had already established strong reliability records but NASA was adamant they could not be crew rated. They also knew from Apollo you were going to need a BFR to go to the Moon.

I know we should not cry over spilt milk but AFAIK a lot of the people and processes that contributed to those decisions are still in place and could make another set of equally bad decisions the next time round.  :(
It boils down to bad decisions and pork-flavored, political footballs. Sorry for the mixed metaphors; but we are in a post-decision traumatic-stress mode. There is light at the end of the tunnel. But going forward; we need some pragmatic, smart and bold decisions made about the coming capabilities that are going to be available.
"Bold" could be a problem. :(

People forget the NASA of the Apollo era had a lot of engineers with a solid understanding of real engineering risk. When to take (calculated) risks, how to mitigate them and when to just roll the dice.  They accepted them to make progress quickly.

The modern NASA is much more risk averse, yet also seems unhappy to pass bad news up the chain to someone who can do something about it.  I'm not sure 2 Shuttle crashes have fixed this problem. IMHO the fact that ESA is building the SM for Orion should have raised a big flag that all is not well. 

But you're right barring a cataclysmic shift (I mean something like India saying they will land a man on Mars by 2030 and China saying they will be there within 10 years) NASA is not going to get the kind of budget that DRA 5.0 postulates by a very wide margin.

That means a lot more joined up thinking and a greater willingness to accept you may fail, as long as you have enough reserves to try again and have learned enough from that failure to radically raise your chances of success.

That said there are glimmers of hope. Personally I think Kilopower has been an amazing project. Getting a PoC involving a nuclear reactor tested for $64m was a staggering achievement, given modern H&S rules. Their ground testing of the first US designed and built space rated nuclear reactor in more than 50 years for a few $100m by the end of 2017 is astonishing. More subtly they have also convinced the planning teams to shift the baseline from a monolithic 400Kw reactor for the Mars surface (the single biggest piece of kit that has to be moved during the surface mission) to multiple Kilopower modules which could (in a pinch) be moved by crew memebers. Kilopower could be a real game changer for electric propulsion to the outer planets (although it raises the minimum mass of such a mission), as well as crewed flight and ISRU if NASA uses it boldly.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2017 09:26 AM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #66 on: 04/21/2017 08:41 AM »
Not the actual sequence of events.  ESA asked NASA if it could contribute the ESM as a barter in lieu of ISS contributions.  NASA said yes, because at the time it had no budget for ESM.  The Obama Administration had cancelled the program!  The Orion capsule was being strung along as a potential ISS rescue vehicle or something.  Remember?  So no one "managed to burn through the SM budget".  There was no "SM budget".
What I recall is Gerstheimer saying that there were 3 options for how the ESA could make it's contribution to the ISS. NASA's preferred option was they supply the SM for Orion.

I see my mistake in thinking that they would not fund Orion without an SM given its prime mission is BEO.

Which begs the question why didn't NASA ask for funds for an SM? Is Orion as it stands capable of a full 3 day mission to ISS without any SM at all?

I was wrong, but the facts as stated make no sense. 
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline gospacex

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #67 on: 04/21/2017 08:56 AM »
It's not my fault that by a twist of Cold War history, US space program ended up running socialism-style launch vehicle development program, with corresponding results.
The Apollo program began before any commercial satellites had been launched, let alone launch vehicles.  (Early Bird flew in 1965.  Apollo began in 1961.  Pegasus, the first commercially developed orbital launcher, flew in 1990.)  There was no "capitalist" space program, by your definition, at the time, anywhere on the planet.

This is supposed to prove that "capitalist" launchers are not better than government ones... how exactly?

Quote
Results?  Man walked on the Moon.

Soviets also have amazing achievements. They launched the first satellite and the first man in space.
By your logic, this constitutes a proof that Soviet system is good? (Because "Man walked on the Moon", evidently, automatically makes Apollo program ideal in all respects and above any critical discussion).

Where is the Soviet Union now?
Why Russian launch rate is plummeting like a rock last three years?

Similarly, where is the *US* manned program now, after the string of supposedly amazingly successful programs such as Apollo, STS and SLS?

Quote
Commercial alternative?  None at the time and we're still waiting, five decades on.

I have serious doubts you are waiting for it. Previous and current generation of "old space" establishment did a lot to not let it happen, or at least postpone it as far as possible - actions of Ares nee SLS supporters and ULA speak to that.

I am not trying to blame individual people on this - my point is that this is the nature of gevernment-run programs! Even good people inside them, at best, are unable to actually achieve as much as they can; often, it's worse than this - they become part of the inefficient, but entrenched system which wants to survive and therefore resists progress. BTW, hi clongton, do you recognize the description of the beast you fought against in the DIRECT days?

It's futile. Commercial space launch happens anyway. We lost some 20 years of progress, but it happens.

Offline AncientU

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #68 on: 04/21/2017 12:08 PM »
...
But that would have prevented the objective of NASA proving (to itself) that it could design a new rocket. Or at least manage a contractor team to build a rocket to their specification to be operated by them.
...

Attempt One (Constellation/Ares I) proved otherwise.

Jury still out on Attempt Two, the do-over. 
So far, they've proven that they cannot design/build a new rocket on schedule or budget.

This is why there is such a large gap; it could extend to mid-2020s if we were to await this next data point.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline john smith 19

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #69 on: 04/21/2017 12:12 PM »
It's futile. Commercial space launch happens anyway. We lost some 20 years of progress, but it happens.
I get real twitchy whenever I hear something is "historically inevitable," or anything close to it.  :(

AFAIK the only thing that's historically inevitable (so far) is we will all die. :(

Everything else depends on who-does-what-and-when-with-what-resources. Somethings are quite likely, some not. That does not guarantee what's likely will happen and what's unlikely won't. People who say otherwise are usually doing so after the events have happened. In real time it's rarely so clear cut.

"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #70 on: 04/21/2017 12:18 PM »
...
But that would have prevented the objective of NASA proving (to itself) that it could design a new rocket. Or at least manage a contractor team to build a rocket to their specification to be operated by them.
...

Attempt One (Constellation/Ares I) proved otherwise.
You'd have to give them that they did manage to launch the Ares 1-x vehicle before it was shut down, although given the sunk costs that was not exactly a stunning result. A dummy 5th segment, a dummy 2nd stage and a mass simulator proved the design needed more work.
Quote from: AncientU
Jury still out on Attempt Two, the do-over. 
So far, they've proven that they cannot design/build a new rocket on schedule or budget.

This is why there is such a large gap; it could extend to mid-2020s if we were to await this next data point.
I thought the latest reports where SLS 1 is on track for a 2018 launch?
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline envy887

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #71 on: 04/21/2017 12:54 PM »
...
But that would have prevented the objective of NASA proving (to itself) that it could design a new rocket. Or at least manage a contractor team to build a rocket to their specification to be operated by them.
...

Attempt One (Constellation/Ares I) proved otherwise.
You'd have to give them that they did manage to launch the Ares 1-x vehicle before it was shut down, although given the sunk costs that was not exactly a stunning result. A dummy 5th segment, a dummy 2nd stage and a mass simulator proved the design needed more work.
Quote from: AncientU
Jury still out on Attempt Two, the do-over. 
So far, they've proven that they cannot design/build a new rocket on schedule or budget.

This is why there is such a large gap; it could extend to mid-2020s if we were to await this next data point.
I thought the latest reports where SLS 1 is on track for a 2018 launch?

SLS in 2018 certainly will not be a manned launch, if it happens at all. Even a launch in 2019 is highly unlikely to be manned.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #72 on: 04/21/2017 01:03 PM »
SLS in 2018 certainly will not be a manned launch, if it happens at all. Even a launch in 2019 is highly unlikely to be manned.
I was unclear. I was thinking just in terms of seeing a first SLS launch. I think 2023/4 is when it's meant to carry first crew?

It's certainly been a while coming.
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.

Offline blasphemer

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #73 on: 04/21/2017 01:20 PM »

Was it efficient _during_ Apollo?
No.


Really?  Try posting something supported up by data. 
Your NASA bashing is getting sickening.

NASA during Apollo days spent 4% of federal budget and employed 400,000 people. It was many things but it was not efficient at all.

Now I am certainly not going to bash Apollo-time NASA because burning through money is reasonable when the money is there and it did deliver groundbreaking results nobody can argue with.

But after Apollo ended and money was tight, the huge problem with inefficiency became obvious. Which is how NASA ended up with a launch vehicle which cost $1.5 billion to launch 20 tons, stuck in LEO ever since, and now with this long and ongoing gap.

I am still hesitant to bash NASA because politicians prescribing NASA direction are arguably more to blame, but one thing is certain - someone needs a bashing. This state of things is not OK.

We can and must do better. If we dont learn to be efficient, to do more with less, then manned spaceflight will never approach the glory days of the past again (because the budgets certainly wont).

Offline clongton

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #74 on: 04/21/2017 01:31 PM »
In my line of work I have changed jobs a number of times, including times that I didn't have a choice.  During my generation the idea that you could stay in one job for your whole career became no longer true, with whole industries shifting around the country (and leaving too).

So while it sucks to have to change jobs or relocate to another location, NASA workers had plenty of advanced notice on what to expect regarding the Shuttle program.  More notice than workers in the private sector usually have.

I understand and appreciate what you have said Ron. Perhaps the disconnect comes from, as you stated, not being involved in the aerospace industry, especially the "space" part. In terms of general industry, most people have job skills that are reasonably transferrable to other kinds of jobs in other locations. If the aerospace industry connected to NASA's space program had been like that then the length of the gap would not have created the harm that it did, for both the post-Apollo and post Shuttle population. Most of the furloughed personnel could have found good jobs elsewhere, with the skillsets they had. But it's mostly not like that. The skillsets most of them had are unique and highly specialized to the launch vehicles and spacecraft they support. When their jobs went away so did the opportunities for gainful employment - anywhere. It's like an infantryman being discharged from the Army who was a munitions specialist, specializing in storing, loading and firing of tank shells in an Abrams Tank. Where can he go in civilian life and get a good job with that skillset? He can't. There are no civilian jobs that skillset can be transferred into. That's why most of them stay in the Army. They become "lifers". This was the situation faced by the majority of those affected by the ending of both the Apollo and the Shuttle programs. There were no jobs - anywhere - they could move into and apply their skills. Most had to start over from scratch, after relocating to a different part of the country. That's a very difficult and painful thing to do when you are already advanced middle age or older, have a family that's almost grown, have a home with a mortgage and kids already in college. Not impossible but very, very difficult. Lots and lots of pain and hardship.

The advance notice they had was insufficient for most of them because it required complete retraining in a totally different line of work, often at enormous expense, all while continuing to maintain your family and stay at your job, not always, but sometimes for 10-12 hours a day. That kind of retraining was not available anywhere near the Cape, not even in the state. The two biggest industries in Florida are Cattle ranching and tourism - in that order. So they couldn't adequately prepare while they were still working and they couldn't quit working to prepare while they still had family, mortgages and tuitions to pay for. Catch-22, big time. When the program was officially over, in excess of 25,000 people were directly affected, and according to the Titusville Chamber of Commerce, for every one of them 2.8 people "outside the gates" would likely loose their sources of employment.

There were only 2 real answers to prevent this kind of economic carnage:
1. Fly out Shuttle until the replacement program was operational (we offered one that would have done this) or
2. Don't ever even consider looking for employment in the space industry in the first place. Don't ever get a job at NASA or at any company that depends on NASA. Forget about space completely and go do something else.

Regarding number 2, most of the people who chose instead to work the United States Space program in or around the Kennedy Space Center did it to follow their dream, with every intention of being a "lifer", like the Army guy, to stay there for their entire career. And at the time there was every indication they could do that because Shuttle was supposed to fly for far longer than it was allowed to.

The gap didn't have to happen. It was preventable. It should not have happened. To see the damage this completely unnecessary gap caused is gut-wrenching beyond description.
« Last Edit: 04/21/2017 01:47 PM by clongton »
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Offline Rocket Science

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #75 on: 04/21/2017 01:37 PM »
Let's not forget the "double whammy" of the 2008 economic crash on those folks as well...
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Offline spacenut

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #76 on: 04/21/2017 01:42 PM »
Again, there were designs in the 1960's for large fully reusable rockets.  Pegasus and Rombus that Phillip Bono designed.  There was Sea Dragon.  Even the booster for Saturn V had designs on the drawing board for parachute and ocean recovery.  Saturn also had a design with the third stage (second stage on Saturn IB) with a plug nozzle engine (made from a J2 engine), to return and land for reuse.  So even with a reusable booster and upper stage, Saturn could have been partially recovered, refurbished, and used again for far heavier payloads than shuttle could have made. 

If the reusable Saturn V components could have been made and used.  In the long run, I think we could have had accomplished more by not going the Shuttle route.  They even had plans for a Mars mission using Saturn V launches by 1986. 

NASA chose the most political route, because the Johnson Administration put NASA facilities all over the country, to keep it running with votes from those states and districts.  Not efficient.  Thus Shuttle and ISS instead of exploration.  Research is fine in orbit, but it could have been done cheaper. 

Offline envy887

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #77 on: 04/21/2017 01:45 PM »
The skillsets most of them had are unique and highly specialized to the launch vehicles they support. When their jobs went away so did the opportunities for gainful employment - anywhere.
...
Just one more reason why the STS program having a government-backed monopoly on launch was a terrible idea in the first place.

Offline Cherokee43v6

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #78 on: 04/21/2017 03:24 PM »
In my line of work I have changed jobs a number of times, including times that I didn't have a choice.  During my generation the idea that you could stay in one job for your whole career became no longer true, with whole industries shifting around the country (and leaving too).

So while it sucks to have to change jobs or relocate to another location, NASA workers had plenty of advanced notice on what to expect regarding the Shuttle program.  More notice than workers in the private sector usually have.

I understand and appreciate what you have said Ron. Perhaps the disconnect comes from, as you stated, not being involved in the aerospace industry, especially the "space" part. In terms of general industry, most people have job skills that are reasonably transferrable to other kinds of jobs in other locations. If the aerospace industry connected to NASA's space program had been like that then the length of the gap would not have created the harm that it did, for both the post-Apollo and post Shuttle population. Most of the furloughed personnel could have found good jobs elsewhere, with the skillsets they had. But it's mostly not like that. The skillsets most of them had are unique and highly specialized to the launch vehicles and spacecraft they support. When their jobs went away so did the opportunities for gainful employment - anywhere. It's like an infantryman being discharged from the Army who was a munitions specialist, specializing in storing, loading and firing of tank shells in an Abrams Tank. Where can he go in civilian life and get a good job with that skillset? He can't. There are no civilian jobs that skillset can be transferred into. That's why most of them stay in the Army. They become "lifers". This was the situation faced by the majority of those affected by the ending of both the Apollo and the Shuttle programs. There were no jobs - anywhere - they could move into and apply their skills. Most had to start over from scratch, after relocating to a different part of the country. That's a very difficult and painful thing to do when you are already advanced middle age or older, have a family that's almost grown, have a home with a mortgage and kids already in college. Not impossible but very, very difficult. Lots and lots of pain and hardship.

The advance notice they had was insufficient for most of them because it required complete retraining in a totally different line of work, often at enormous expense, all while continuing to maintain your family and stay at your job, not always, but sometimes for 10-12 hours a day. That kind of retraining was not available anywhere near the Cape, not even in the state. The two biggest industries in Florida are Cattle ranching and tourism - in that order. So they couldn't adequately prepare while they were still working and they couldn't quit working to prepare while they still had family, mortgages and tuitions to pay for. Catch-22, big time. When the program was officially over, in excess of 25,000 people were directly affected, and according to the Titusville Chamber of Commerce, for every one of them 2.8 people "outside the gates" would likely loose their sources of employment.

There were only 2 real answers to prevent this kind of economic carnage:
1. Fly out Shuttle until the replacement program was operational (we offered one that would have done this) or
2. Don't ever even consider looking for employment in the space industry in the first place. Don't ever get a job at NASA or at any company that depends on NASA. Forget about space completely and go do something else.

Regarding number 2, most of the people who chose instead to work the United States Space program in or around the Kennedy Space Center did it to follow their dream, with every intention of being a "lifer", like the Army guy, to stay there for their entire career. And at the time there was every indication they could do that because Shuttle was supposed to fly for far longer than it was allowed to.

The gap didn't have to happen. It was preventable. It should not have happened. To see the damage this completely unnecessary gap caused is gut-wrenching beyond description.

You've just described the very lack of flexibility and adaptability that doomed the program.  As someone in business as a career you quickly learn that your first, and largest by far, expense is payroll.  Companies live or die by their ability to maximize the work they get from each employee.  Specialized positions are always the most endangered, since the company will actively seek the ability to generalize them and thus eliminate the need for a 'task only' employee.

This was not NASA's fault, nor was it NASA management's fault.  This was the fault of the political leadership from BOTH Parties, both in promulgating the existence of the situation and in yanking the rug out from underneath those who depended on it for their livelihood.

What a lot of spacefans out here sometimes fail to grasp is the difference between NASA Management, who does the best they can with the situation they are handed and the Political leadership, that hands out those situations.

Politics made the gap inevitable, because there was no way the politicians were going to fund a replacement without the 'pain' of not having what was already working.
"I didn't open the can of worms...
        ...I just pointed at it and laughed a little too loudly."

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: The U.S. Manned Space Gap Record is Now Broken
« Reply #79 on: 04/21/2017 04:10 PM »
Perhaps the disconnect comes from, as you stated, not being involved in the aerospace industry, especially the "space" part. In terms of general industry, most people have job skills that are reasonably transferrable to other kinds of jobs in other locations.

The Shuttle program likely had it's share of unique job categories, like the workers that maintained the Shuttle thermal tiles.

But you'd be surprised at how much each large company creates unique or proprietary processes that require workers to specialize in a skill that only exists in one place in the world,  Plus there are plenty of unique machines around the world that require lots of training, but they are not all located in the same geographical area, which means if you lose your job you may have to relocate to work on the same equipment.

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It's like an infantryman being discharged from the Army who was a munitions specialist, specializing in storing, loading and firing of tank shells in an Abrams Tank. Where can he go in civilian life and get a good job with that skillset? He can't.

The vast amount of my career has been in management, starting at the age of 21, and we all have to remember that the entities we work for are NOT going to be looking out for our best interests.  They don't even know their own futures.

We all must actively manage our own futures.  Which might mean leaving a job before you have to.

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There were no jobs - anywhere - they could move into and apply their skills.

It certainly did not help that the Shuttle program wound down during a recession, but I just found that:

"As of 2014, more than 2,000 aerospace and aviation companies are located in Florida, employing more than 87,000 workers making an average salary of $67,000. Many of these companies are located in northwest Florida, which has become a hotbed of aviation and aerospace activity including research and development, testing and education."

So there is life in aerospace outside of the Shuttle program in Florida.  Though someone might have to move.

And this gets back to actively managing our own futures.  United Space Alliance and NASA were not looking out for their workers futures, only their own needs.  And though many of the workers may have felt a loyalty to the program they had spent so much of their lives on, obviously the reverse was not true.

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There were only 2 real answers to prevent this kind of economic carnage:
1. Fly out Shuttle until the replacement program was operational (we offered one that would have done this) or

There was nothing left for the Shuttle to do, or a successor like DIRECT to do.  The ISS was complete, so any additional flights would have either have been make-work or would have eaten into the Commercial Cargo contracts for the private sector - which would have impeded the private sector bringing lower cost solutions online.

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2. Don't ever even consider looking for employment in the space industry in the first place. Don't ever get a job at NASA or at any company that depends on NASA. Forget about space completely and go do something else.

I don't know anyone that has had the same job their whole career.  So again, you can't assume someone is going to manage your life for you and that nothing will change.  Change can happen at any time, and we have to be prepared for it.

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Regarding number 2, most of the people who chose instead to work the United States Space program in or around the Kennedy Space Center did it to follow their dream, with every intention of being a "lifer", like the Army guy, to stay there for their entire career. And at the time there was every indication they could do that because Shuttle was supposed to fly for far longer than it was allowed to.

I have to say that their assumptions were wrong.  It's one thing to pursue a dream, but our space program is just a tool for our politicians to use to achieve national goals.  To assume politically motivated spending will continue is short-sighted - just watch what changes President Trump wants to make, and how that will affect the careers of many people.  One can never predict the future.

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The gap didn't have to happen. It was preventable. It should not have happened. To see the damage this completely unnecessary gap caused is gut-wrenching beyond description.

The lesson for the future isn't that you shouldn't follow your dreams, but that you should always be prepared for change.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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