Author Topic: SLS General Discussion Thread 2  (Read 225513 times)

Offline Mark S

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #260 on: 01/14/2016 08:59 PM »
Some disturbing conclusions.
Discuss

http://spacenews.com/nasa-safety-panel-worries-about-schedule-pressure-on-exploration-programs/


Schedule pressure? What schedule pressure?!  I haven't seen NASA in a hurry to do anything SLS-related since the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was signed into law. They have taken their sweet time every step of the way, to the extent of being threatened with a Congressional subpoena over all the delays in starting the program.

All while swearing up and down every single year that they didn't need any additional funding for SLS to meet the legal requirements of the act (IOC, reports, etc).

Mark S.

Edit: And by NASA, I mean the Administration and NASA executive level. Not the guys in the trenches!
« Last Edit: 01/14/2016 09:42 PM by Mark S »

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #261 on: 01/23/2016 12:57 AM »
Quote
An aft skirt similar to one that will be used on a solid rocket booster (SRB) that will help launch NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket into space was transported from the Booster Fabrication Facility to the Rotation, Processing and Surge Facility (RPSF) at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The aft skirt will remain in the RPSF and be readied for simulated stacking operations with a pathfinder, or test version, of a solid rocket booster. February 1 will mark the official start date for booster pathfinder operations after the aft skirt is inspected and undergoes limited processing.

Segments of the pathfinder SRB will arrive from Promontory, Utah, to Kennedy in mid-February and will be transported to the RPSF.

Engineers and technicians with NASA and industry partners will conduct a series of lifts, moves and stacking operations using the aft skirt and pathfinder SRB to simulate how SRB will be processed in the RPSF to prepare for an SLS/Orion mission.

The pathfinder operations will help to test recent upgrades to the RPSF facility as the center prepares for NASA’s Exploration Mission-1, deep-space missions, and the journey to Mars.

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #262 on: 01/28/2016 09:17 AM »
Regarding the production and flight rate of SLS, which really looks quite low. I tried to figure out why they did this approach.

My only guess so far: They've set up a production line for 1-2 SLS per year to learn how to operate SLS and its production line. After a few flights, they should know about the difficulties of SLS during production, and what might be needed to solve them. At the flight itself, I expect SLS to be pretty much flawless (unless something happens that they did not anticipate). To stress a metaphor that was used a few pages back: learn to bake such a cake before going into bakery scale production.

With the EUS (I think, that will be the only US, that they will use) and a RS-25F (the one after E, where AJ expects it to be much cheaper, since they'd have learned from their production aswell), they could ramp up the production to several unity per year (they might even go up to 10-12, but that would be very high. 5 additional SLS should be doable).

That will still leave the problem where to launch such an amount of rockets from. 39B won't be sufficient. It should be possible to convert one or two of the older launch pads to a SLS-pad, or set up entirely new pads off shore (the art of making islands with lots of concrete), connected with the crawler-ways, or even become a tenant in boca chica.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2016 09:19 AM by Hotblack Desiato »

Offline AncientU

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #263 on: 01/28/2016 12:24 PM »
Regarding the production and flight rate of SLS, which really looks quite low. I tried to figure out why they did this approach.

My only guess so far: They've set up a production line for 1-2 SLS per year to learn how to operate SLS and its production line. After a few flights, they should know about the difficulties of SLS during production, and what might be needed to solve them. At the flight itself, I expect SLS to be pretty much flawless (unless something happens that they did not anticipate). To stress a metaphor that was used a few pages back: learn to bake such a cake before going into bakery scale production.

With the EUS (I think, that will be the only US, that they will use) and a RS-25F (the one after E, where AJ expects it to be much cheaper, since they'd have learned from their production aswell), they could ramp up the production to several unity per year (they might even go up to 10-12, but that would be very high. 5 additional SLS should be doable).

That will still leave the problem where to launch such an amount of rockets from. 39B won't be sufficient. It should be possible to convert one or two of the older launch pads to a SLS-pad, or set up entirely new pads off shore (the art of making islands with lots of concrete), connected with the crawler-ways, or even become a tenant in boca chica.

So you're saying that visionary strategic thinking has established this pace...
One day, we'll see SLS launch every month or two.

Novel.
« Last Edit: 01/28/2016 12:25 PM by AncientU »
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Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #264 on: 01/28/2016 01:17 PM »
So you're saying that visionary strategic thinking has established this pace...
One day, we'll see SLS launch every month or two.

Novel.

At least it is better than thinking that they are a bunch of funny guys who really expect, that it is economically feasable to launch one rocket for 1.5 billion US$ (before adding any payload).

I just provided a possible alternative explanation, which would look a bit better.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #265 on: 01/28/2016 09:20 PM »
That will still leave the problem where to launch such an amount of rockets from. 39B won't be sufficient. It should be possible to convert one or two of the older launch pads to a SLS-pad, or set up entirely new pads off shore (the art of making islands with lots of concrete), connected with the crawler-ways, or even become a tenant in boca chica.
If the cadence starts to pick up NASA would likely just retake possession of 39A once the lease expires.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #266 on: 01/28/2016 09:44 PM »
First problem, they cannot produce more that 1 a year as set-up. Maybe 2 a year if you increase the workforce. More than 2 a year means more equipment to build more plus more work force. And that is simply building the core. SRBs and engines also cannot support more than maybe 2 a year without greater infrastructure and workforce.

Flip a coin and say the billions to do that happens. If memory serves, they have two mobile transporters. So 39-b should be able to handle 1 flight per month. Probably requires increase workforce for stacking and pad repairs.

So the reason production is set to one a year is money. Some estimates say to produce and launch one SLS is $1.5 billion. So to launch 11 more a year would require another $16.5 billion. I do not see Congress doing that.

Offline mike robel

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #267 on: 01/28/2016 09:46 PM »
Nope.  Only one mobile launch tower, so you can't begin to assemble the next one, till the one on the pad is gone.  Saturn V's could go at about 3 month intervals (3 mobile towers).  Don't know how long these would take to assemble and check out.

Offline Kansan52

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #268 on: 01/28/2016 10:41 PM »
Well, we probably are arguing over nothing but there were and are two crawler transporters, CT-1 and CT-2. I concede only CT-1 is being modified for SLS operations. CT-2 is being upgraded (or finished upgrading) so it could be used in the future but not ready to use now. So you are correct on that as a bottleneck.

The time for preparing the flight could mean one transporter could be used for a once a month cycle. A day to the pad. 2 days for launch. A day back. So three weeks to stack before the next launch. Weather and equipment days would also stress such a wild ass guess of operations tempo.

Now something else that could be a bottleneck, I can't remember had many bays are available in the VAB. They were trying to lease those out as well. But if they are down to one CT, then they only need one bay.

If memory serves, it was also budget that held Saturn V launches to their launch tempo.

So I would still say budget (money) is the constraining factor.

Offline Hotblack Desiato

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #269 on: 01/28/2016 10:43 PM »
First problem, they cannot produce more that 1 a year as set-up. Maybe 2 a year if you increase the workforce. More than 2 a year means more equipment to build more plus more work force. And that is simply building the core. SRBs and engines also cannot support more than maybe 2 a year without greater infrastructure and workforce.

Flip a coin and say the billions to do that happens. If memory serves, they have two mobile transporters. So 39-b should be able to handle 1 flight per month. Probably requires increase workforce for stacking and pad repairs.

So the reason production is set to one a year is money. Some estimates say to produce and launch one SLS is $1.5 billion. So to launch 11 more a year would require another $16.5 billion. I do not see Congress doing that.

Okay, interesting.

So it is just not possible to set up a second production line, designed for a higher production rate? Who would have known that this is michouds capacity limit.

Nope.  Only one mobile launch tower, so you can't begin to assemble the next one, till the one on the pad is gone.  Saturn V's could go at about 3 month intervals (3 mobile towers).  Don't know how long these would take to assemble and check out.

What would be required to speed things up? Having more mobile launch towers? Even 6 SLS-launches per year could be quite interesting.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #270 on: 01/28/2016 10:54 PM »
Regarding the production and flight rate of SLS, which really looks quite low. I tried to figure out why they did this approach.

My only guess so far: They've set up a production line for 1-2 SLS per year to learn how to operate SLS and its production line.

No, it's more simple than that.  There is no defined need yet for the SLS, so no known flight cadence that they have to support.  So they built the SLS factory to something reasonable, which is to support the No-Less-Than once every 12 month safe flight rate cadence.

Quote
After a few flights, they should know about the difficulties of SLS during production, and what might be needed to solve them.

To a degree that's true, in that every production line has to be "dialed in".  But Boeing has a lot of experience in building large flying structures, so the factory is unlikely to change much after they have validated their production processes.  And if it did change, that would be money out of NASA's pocket, which means they would have to find room in their budget for it - meaning production improvements would compete with SLS mission hardware development.

Quote
At the flight itself, I expect SLS to be pretty much flawless (unless something happens that they did not anticipate).

While there is always the chance of something unexpected happening, we as a nation are pretty good at rocket building.

Quote
That will still leave the problem where to launch such an amount of rockets from. 39B won't be sufficient.

As I recall 39B was not going to be a bottleneck until the SLS flight rate gets pretty high (more than one a month?), which if it was needed to be that high then a new launch pad would be the least costly item for NASA to be worried about...
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 Kansan52

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #271 on: 01/28/2016 11:19 PM »

So it is just not possible to set up a second production line, designed for a higher production rate? Who would have known that this is michouds capacity limit.


I am not sure about Michouds capacity. They do have more than one project there at a time. But there may be empty space for more production equipment.

I'm not trying to say it is not possible to physically expand production facilities. The barrier would be funding. You know, 'No Bucks, No Buck Rogers'. The heady days of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo saw the VAB, the crawler transporters, the launch pads and on and on because there was the political will to spend it on those projects. NASA's budget is approximately 1/3 from the peak of those days (again, if memory serves).

So, I'm not saying 'impossible'. But, to grow NASA's budget large enough to fund producing 12 SLS stacks a year, fund payloads for those stacks, and funding the launches would be more money that NASA has ever been allocated even in the peak years of Apollo.

Offline mike robel

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #272 on: 01/28/2016 11:26 PM »
Well, we probably are arguing over nothing but there were and are two crawler transporters, CT-1 and CT-2. I concede only CT-1 is being modified for SLS operations. CT-2 is being upgraded (or finished upgrading) so it could be used in the future but not ready to use now. So you are correct on that as a bottleneck.

The time for preparing the flight could mean one transporter could be used for a once a month cycle. A day to the pad. 2 days for launch. A day back. So three weeks to stack before the next launch. Weather and equipment days would also stress such a wild ass guess of operations tempo.

Now something else that could be a bottleneck, I can't remember had many bays are available in the VAB. They were trying to lease those out as well. But if they are down to one CT, then they only need one bay.

If memory serves, it was also budget that held Saturn V launches to their launch tempo.

So I would still say budget (money) is the constraining factor.

Nearly Nothing.  :)

There are two mobile crawlers, but only 1 mobile launch platform with tower, so as soon as you start to stack one vehicle, you have to launch it to clear the platform for the next launch vehicle.

I think, but am not sure, only 1 bay is going to be used for SLS.  That is not to say that they can't get another one ready.  One bay I think is used to store SRB segments, and the 4th was never finished, if I recall.  Of course, I am probably mistaken.  :)

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #273 on: 01/29/2016 12:13 AM »

So it is just not possible to set up a second production line, designed for a higher production rate? Who would have known that this is michouds capacity limit.


I am not sure about Michouds capacity. They do have more than one project there at a time. But there may be empty space for more production equipment.

I'm not trying to say it is not possible to physically expand production facilities.

I don't know the potential capacity of Michoud, but capacity for building as many SLS as anyone could possibly want is not the real constraint...

Quote
The barrier would be funding.

Yep.

Quote
So, I'm not saying 'impossible'. But, to grow NASA's budget large enough to fund producing 12 SLS stacks a year, fund payloads for those stacks, and funding the launches would be more money that NASA has ever been allocated even in the peak years of Apollo.

If we ever get to the point where estimates are made public for SLS-sized payloads and missions, I would think we would find that SLS launch costs will not be the most significant missions costs - developing and operating the SLS-sized payloads and missions will far exceed the cost of the SLS launches themselves.  And as of today NASA has yet to fit even one SLS-sized payload or mission into it's current budget profile, so a dozen per year is just fantasy.
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 The Amazing Catstronaut

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #274 on: 01/29/2016 02:10 AM »


So, I'm not saying 'impossible'. But, to grow NASA's budget large enough to fund producing 12 SLS stacks a year, fund payloads for those stacks, and funding the launches would be more money that NASA has ever been allocated even in the peak years of Apollo.

Admittedly unlikely - however, we may see incremental budget allocation rises with the nature of the times. Space is interesting to the electorate again.
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #275 on: 01/29/2016 11:46 AM »


So, I'm not saying 'impossible'. But, to grow NASA's budget large enough to fund producing 12 SLS stacks a year, fund payloads for those stacks, and funding the launches would be more money that NASA has ever been allocated even in the peak years of Apollo.

Admittedly unlikely - however, we may see incremental budget allocation rises with the nature of the times. Space is interesting to the electorate again.

48 RS-25Es per year...
(Double the amount produced over last couple decades, per year)
64x the planned production rate
« Last Edit: 01/29/2016 12:17 PM by AncientU »
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Offline AncientU

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #276 on: 01/29/2016 12:41 PM »
So you're saying that visionary strategic thinking has established this pace...
One day, we'll see SLS launch every month or two.

Novel.

At least it is better than thinking that they are a bunch of funny guys who really expect, that it is economically feasable to launch one rocket for 1.5 billion US$ (before adding any payload).

I just provided a possible alternative explanation, which would look a bit better.

I suspect both ends of that duality are equally false.
The situation is much more banal, involving political influence, greed, and bureaucracy.

On the other hand, flight rate is exactly the latter -- one per year, optimistically.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2016 01:20 PM by AncientU »
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Offline sdsds

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #277 on: 01/29/2016 01:24 PM »
I suspect both ends of that dichotomy are equally false.
The situation is much more banal, involving political influence, greed, and bureaucracy.

Yes. You know, it's that "human nature" thing.

Quote
On the other hand, flight rate is exactly the latter -- one per year, optimistically.

I'm more optimistic than that. I think once past its teething pains SLS could be expected to fly once every 18 months with Orion, and once every 24 months without Orion. If I'm summing correctly, that adds up to an overall flight rate of once every 10.3 months. I would be mildly astonished if with all said and done Boeing and AJR couldn't produce the requisite hardware at that pace.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2016 01:27 PM by sdsds »
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Offline Scotty

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #278 on: 01/29/2016 08:58 PM »
As far as KSC goes; we could fly an SLS every 6 months (our requirement) with what assets we now have in work:
1 VAB High Bay
The VAB Transfer Isle for SLS core preps
1 VAB Low Bay Cell for EUS preps
1 ML
1 Crawler
1 Launch Pad
1 SRB aft skirt processing facility
1 SRB segment processing facility
1 Orion assembly and check out facility
1 Orion fueling and processing facility
1 Firing Room
1 SSPF for cargo processing and preps

Offline Jim

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #279 on: 01/29/2016 09:15 PM »

1 SSPF for cargo processing and preps


It can't  handle encapsulated or hazardous payloads.  Without hazardous processing facility, SLS is limited to Orion.
« Last Edit: 01/29/2016 09:18 PM by Jim »

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