Author Topic: SLS General Discussion Thread 2  (Read 308929 times)

Offline RonM

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1200 on: 01/02/2018 04:04 PM »
So, what can be done to improve SLS and make it work at a lower cost?  Fly-back liquid boosters?, liquid boosters?  A good second stage?

To make the SLS economical to operate and generally useful, NASA needs to do what it did with Transhab. It sold the rights to Bigelow Aerospace who turned it into something that is economical and useful. Get the government *and* the government contractors out of the SLS business entirely and maybe, just maybe, something could be done by a well positioned commercial company to make the vehicle useful and less expensive to operate.

In such a situation, the 1st thing I would recommend is to replace the SRB's with human rated reusable LRB's, similar to the Falcon 9 1st stage. That LRB, when equipped with a 2nd stage, should be capable of putting a fully fueled and outfitted Orion spacecraft into LEO. Reserve the HLV for cargo only and use the boosters as reusable Orion launchers.

Do that and we'd have something generally useful that could be operated at a reasonable cost.

I agree, but the problem is a lack of payloads for SLS. If Orion is launched on a smaller rocket, the 1.5 architecture from Constellation, what is there to launch on SLS? Still need at least one flight per year to keep the program going.

Congress has supported SLS and Orion, but hasn't supported a program to keep them flying.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1201 on: 01/02/2018 05:54 PM »
Wow, what a difference 10 years makes.  10 years ago, we were talking about Direct vs Constellation.  Which was the cheaper alternative and the quicker alternative.  Direct was of course.  We ended up getting SLS.  Now, 10 years later no rocket has flown, and it may be a few more years to flight at over $1 billion a pop. 

Yeah, Constellation was cancelled(shortly after a rocket did fly). This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion. 8 years later and we are still waiting. These aren't shovel ready projects. Apollo would have gone the same way had it been canned in 67, or Shuttle had it been canned in 79.  But if all Constellation did was identify certain Lunar polar regolith is about 5% carbon monoxide and 5% water(with some other useful species for nitrogen) and kept the nuclear deterrent industrial base somewhat operational, it was at least somewhat useful.

Believe me, there will be more wasted money in space and dead ends before everything is said and done, which is just a small amount of what is wasted here on Earth. I mean, even stuff like wedding's/honey moons in space would probably be classified as waste even though it is economic activity and expands capabilities. Tourism at $7 trillion per year is probably where you want to go to find money you can save that is just conspicuous consumption that has little value. 10% of .5% of the federal budget is essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things. If it was really about the money, people would be probably just as upset that Planetary gets $2 billion per year but didn't launch anything this year.

edit: Actually, I was trying to find what the science mission directorate as a whole launched in 2017, and I couldn't find any dedicated launch. Was it all just co-manifested for ISS delivery and/or sub-orbital? I must be missing a launch here? Sigh, at least 2018 might be bonkers(hopefully, maybe...if a bunch of stuff doesn't blow up):

« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 06:53 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline mike robel

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1202 on: 01/02/2018 06:03 PM »
I disagree some Chuck.  Doing anything new, especially to SLS, will only increase costs, increase time required for the first flight, increase complexity, and decrease the probability SLS will ever launch and/or be affordable.

I am sure you know the possibility of the development path you advocate vanished when NASA decided not to scar the MLP for liquids which dealt a death blow to the use of an LRB powered by an F1B (or whatever).  I don't think the thing could even accept an SRB with a different foot print.

I think there are only two plausible courses of action:  (1) Continue on the course we are on.  (2) Cancel SLS/Orion and go with Falcon 9/Dragon, Falcon Heavy, Atlas V/CST100, and maybe Vulcan.  Hell.  I'd even look at Ariane 5.  But it would cost more money and time, but might get us back with Americans launched from American soil, with American Boosters, in American Spacecraft before this decade is out.  (Maybe Dragon and CST will accomplish that this year, but I wouldn't predict it.)

Offline oldAtlas_Eguy

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1203 on: 01/02/2018 06:13 PM »
The only decision for SLS is to fly as designed or not at all. The exception is EUS which has yet to reach CDR and by definition yet to finish design. Which is why there are studies about what is the best engine for EUS long term cost/schedules/performance.

Offline clongton

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1204 on: 01/02/2018 07:22 PM »
I disagree some Chuck.  Doing anything new, especially to SLS, will only increase costs, increase time required for the first flight, increase complexity, and decrease the probability SLS will ever launch and/or be affordable.

The question I answered Mike was "what can be done to improve SLS and make it work at a lower cost?".
It wasn't whether of not making any changes at this point would speed things up.

I agree with what your saying but the question was how to "ultimately" make it less costly to operate.
Right now it is set up to cost the most amount possible to operate. And that's because it is being run as a government program by a government agency that has no cost accountability and being serviced by government contractors whose only interest is to stretch out the program for as long as possible in order to extract  the maximum amount of funding from it as possible. The only way to improve that situation is to get the government the hell out of the program and take their greedy contractors with them. That's the only possible answer to the question.

Whether or not that is a practical thing to do at this point is a different question and if asked I would say "No, it isn't even possible at this point", but my original answer still addresses the original question.
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I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline mike robel

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1205 on: 01/02/2018 07:36 PM »
Chuck,

Thanks for the clarification.  I missed the real intent, but after re-re-reading, I got it and I agree with your response.  Sorry for the misunderstanding on my part.

Online AncientU

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1206 on: 01/02/2018 07:59 PM »
I disagree some Chuck.  Doing anything new, especially to SLS, will only increase costs, increase time required for the first flight, increase complexity, and decrease the probability SLS will ever launch and/or be affordable.

The question I answered Mike was "what can be done to improve SLS and make it work at a lower cost?".
It wasn't whether of not making any changes at this point would speed things up.

I agree with what your saying but the question was how to "ultimately" make it less costly to operate.
Right now it is set up to cost the most amount possible to operate. And that's because it is being run as a government program by a government agency that has no cost accountability and being serviced by government contractors whose only interest is to stretch out the program for as long as possible in order to extract  the maximum amount of funding from it as possible. The only way to improve that situation is to get the government the hell out of the program and take their greedy contractors with them. That's the only possible answer to the question.

Whether or not that is a practical thing to do at this point is a different question and if asked I would say "No, it isn't even possible at this point", but my original answer still addresses the original question.

NASA needs to walk away from owning/building/designing/whatever its own launch vehicles.  The existing coalition of contractors (without NASA) should be allowed to 'bid' SLS/Orion/LC-39B and rest of GSE against any other launchers that the private sector cares to develop.  NASA then simply buys services like COTS. 

That's the only change that will make a material difference in SLS costs.
"If we shared everything [we are working on] people would think we are insane!"
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Offline Lars-J

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1207 on: 01/02/2018 08:21 PM »
This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion.

Huh, What? Commercial Crew did not replace Ares-1. Commercial Crew did not replace Orion. Orion is still around... So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but it is built on very flimsy ground if you do not understand how these programs relate to each other.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1208 on: 01/02/2018 08:26 PM »
This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion.

Huh, What? Commercial Crew did not replace Ares-1. Commercial Crew did not replace Orion. Orion is still around... So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but it is built on very flimsy ground if you do not understand how these programs relate to each other.

Commercial Crew replaces ISS rotation flights on Ares-1/Orion. Ares-1 was cancelled, leaving Orion without a launch vehicle for a while, except for the Delta-IV Heavy, which could put it in LEO (but wasn't human rated), but that mission for Orion was replaced by Commercial Crew. So, yes, the Orion ISS flights were cancelled for Commercial Crew about 8 years ago.

Offline clongton

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1209 on: 01/02/2018 08:28 PM »
This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion.

Huh, What? Commercial Crew did not replace Ares-1. Commercial Crew did not replace Orion. Orion is still around... So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but it is built on very flimsy ground if you do not understand how these programs relate to each other.

Lars, Ares-1/Orion, while 2 different types of vehicles were envisioned together; Orion being the spacecraft and Ares-1 being Orion's launch vehicle. Commercial crew, as a program, was conceived in the same way as a spacecraft and it's launcher. In this case it is Dragon/Falcon and CST100/Atlas. From this pov ncb is correct.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1210 on: 01/02/2018 08:44 PM »
This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion.

Huh, What? Commercial Crew did not replace Ares-1. Commercial Crew did not replace Orion. Orion is still around... So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but it is built on very flimsy ground if you do not understand how these programs relate to each other.

Commercial Crew replaces ISS rotation flights on Ares-1/Orion. Ares-1 was cancelled, leaving Orion without a launch vehicle for a while, except for the Delta-IV Heavy, which could put it in LEO (but wasn't human rated), but that mission for Orion was replaced by Commercial Crew. So, yes, the Orion ISS flights were cancelled for Commercial Crew about 8 years ago.

From a certain limited POV, yes... But the Orion to ISS flights was just a few (or one) test flight(s). Ares-1/Orion was never supposed to be an permanent ISS crew rotation solution, after all funding the whole Constellation project depended on ISS being dropped in the pacific ocean.

So the two projects you draw a line through had a tangential connection - yes - but that is all. And without the same funding levels for both projects, any argument that it took X years to change tracks is not really that persuasive.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1211 on: 01/02/2018 08:51 PM »
This is what you can expect if you stop the pipeline, it takes a lot of time to get back going again building something different. You can see that with Commercial Crew replacing Ares-1/Orion.

Huh, What? Commercial Crew did not replace Ares-1. Commercial Crew did not replace Orion. Orion is still around... So I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but it is built on very flimsy ground if you do not understand how these programs relate to each other.

Commercial Crew replaces ISS rotation flights on Ares-1/Orion. Ares-1 was cancelled, leaving Orion without a launch vehicle for a while, except for the Delta-IV Heavy, which could put it in LEO (but wasn't human rated), but that mission for Orion was replaced by Commercial Crew. So, yes, the Orion ISS flights were cancelled for Commercial Crew about 8 years ago.

From a certain limited POV, yes... But the Orion to ISS flights was just a few (or one) test flight(s). Ares-1/Orion was never supposed to be an permanent ISS crew rotation solution, after all funding the whole Constellation project depended on ISS being dropped in the pacific ocean.

So the two projects you draw a line through had a tangential connection - yes - but that is all. And without the same funding levels for both projects, any argument that it took X years to change tracks is not really that persuasive.

I love the way back machine:

Quote
Orion improves on the best features of Project Apollo and the Space Shuttle Program, increasing the likelihood of success. Versatility will be Orion's trademark. It is being designed to fly to the moon, but could also be used to service the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit.
http://web.archive.org/web/20061206040155/http://www.nasa.gov:80/mission_pages/constellation/main/index.html

edit:
and 2007:
Quote
Orion will be capable of carrying crew and cargo to the space station.
http://web.archive.org/web/20071010023820/http://www.nasa.gov:80/mission_pages/constellation/orion/index.html

and 2008:

Quote
The larger size will allow Orion to accommodate four crew members on missions to the moon, and six on missions to the International Space Station or Mars-bound spacecraft. Orion is scheduled to fly its first missions to the space station by 2014 and carry out its first sortie to the moon by 2020.
http://web.archive.org/web/20080618083331/http://www.nasa.gov.:80/
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 09:04 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline Lars-J

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1212 on: 01/02/2018 08:55 PM »
I'm not sure what the point of that was - no one disputes that Orion could service/dock with ISS. It was always a consideration for early test flights.

Offline spacenut

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1213 on: 01/02/2018 09:20 PM »
Again, what a difference 10-11 years make.  Problem is, now SLS has taken way to long to develop, while being passed by private launchers.  Also, the 10 billion or so spent on SLS could have been spent on a Nautilus X type in space spacecraft to actually take us beyond LEO, and could have been built by now.  We had Atlas and Delta.  Both having more launches to build Nautilus X could have brought launch costs down.  It may also have lead to Atlas V Phase II, a single stick 5 to 5.5m diameter dual RD-180 engine that could match Delta V heavy in launch ability, and a three core heavy version of this could have placed about 70 tons into LEO, matching SLS's minimum capability. 

I predict that within 10 years SLS will be cancelled.  It will never get NASA to Mars.  By then we will have FH, New Glenn, and maybe BFR/BFS, and also maybe New Armstrong.  All reusable or at least reusable boosters.  Vulcan may be flying and with the larger model with solid boosters can get 40 tons to LEO matching FH reusable and NG reusable giving us three 40 ton boosters.  A lot can be done with 40 ton modules and fuel depots. 

Offline ncb1397

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1214 on: 01/02/2018 09:32 PM »
I'm not sure what the point of that was - no one disputes that Orion could service/dock with ISS. It was always a consideration for early test flights.

No, ISS servicing drove requirements:

Quote
While the CEV design was sized for lunar missions carrying a crew of four, the vehicle was
also designed to be reconfigurable to accommodate up to six crew for International Space
Station (ISS) and future Mars mission scenarios. The CEV can transfer and return crew and
cargo to the ISS and stay for 6 months in a quiescent state for emergency crew return. The
lunar CEV design has direct applications to International Space Station (ISS) missions without
significant changes in the vehicle design. The lunar and ISS configurations share the same
Service Module (SM), but the ISS mission has much lower delta-V requirements. Hence, the
SM propellant tanks can be loaded with additional propellant for ISS missions to provide
benefits in launch aborts, on-orbit phasing, and ISS reboost. Other vehicle block derivatives
can deliver pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the ISS.
https://www.nasa.gov/pdf/140649main_ESAS_full.pdf

Why would they design it around ISS if they were just test flights for other missions? Orion was designed to service ISS until it no longer needed to be serviced. Orion was the only U.S. crew transportation vehicle at that time for 2011+, so what else would do it?

And it even said Mike Griffin wanted a goal of having it running by the time Shuttle retired:

Quote
Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence
from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA’s Exploration Program
by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the
planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation
in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 09:40 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1215 on: 01/02/2018 10:04 PM »
Originally:
Orion on Ares-1 was to service ISS originally with crew of 7.
Orion on Ares-V was for Lunar Missions with crew of 4.

Variant Orion proposals included those for weight constraints, stage performance and waste compartments etc...

Edit to add: Using Orion as a lifeboat for ISS with a crew of 7 proposal is what killed the X-38/CRV program in that function...
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewnews.html?id=353
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 10:39 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1216 on: 01/02/2018 10:11 PM »
Why would they design it around ISS if they were just test flights for other missions? Orion was designed to service ISS until it no longer needed to be serviced. Orion was the only U.S. crew transportation vehicle at that time for 2011+, so what else would do it?

It's a common misconception that the Shuttle was required for transporting expedition crews to the ISS once it was operational. That never was true.

The Shuttle was only a secondary way of transporting crews to and from the ISS, but because the Shuttle could only stay in space for two weeks we have always relied on the Soyuz for getting crews to the ISS, and keeping them there.

Quote
And it even said Mike Griffin wanted a goal of having it running by the time Shuttle retired:

Quote
Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence
from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA’s Exploration Program
by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the
planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation
in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS.

As the 6+ years since the last Shuttle flight has shown this was a political goal, but not necessary from an operations standpoint for the ISS. Michael Griffin tried to justify a lot of things about the Constellation program with weak or non-existent reasons.

For instance, claiming the Delta IV Heavy had unavoidable blackout zones for carrying crew, when in fact there weren't any. Griffin needed the Ares I to be developed to carry crew instead of using the Delta IV Heavy so that Ares I could fund part of the development of Ares V.

Once the ISS was construction complete there was no more need for Shuttle flights to the ISS, so there was no real need to send the Orion to the ISS - the Soyuz was already handling normal crew rotation tasks. Flying the Orion to the ISS could have been an interesting test flight, but otherwise was not necessary.
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 ncb1397

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1217 on: 01/02/2018 10:32 PM »
Why would they design it around ISS if they were just test flights for other missions? Orion was designed to service ISS until it no longer needed to be serviced. Orion was the only U.S. crew transportation vehicle at that time for 2011+, so what else would do it?

It's a common misconception that the Shuttle was required for transporting expedition crews to the ISS once it was operational. That never was true.

The Shuttle was only a secondary way of transporting crews to and from the ISS, but because the Shuttle could only stay in space for two weeks we have always relied on the Soyuz for getting crews to the ISS, and keeping them there.

Actually, with two EDO pallets, Shuttle could stay up for a month. It only ever flew with one though...

see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extended_Duration_Orbiter

You could likely extend it farther with an upgrade to the Shuttle to Station Power Transfer System or a solar panel pallet to replace the EDO pallet. Shuttle was more than capable of servicing ISS solo with some minimal modifications. And then you had the Crew Return Vehicle that wouldn't even require Shuttle/Soyuz to be continually docked. Worse comes to worse, you just keep a shuttle available to launch like they did in later years of the program to rescue a crew from a damaged heat-shield.

Quote
Once the ISS was construction complete there was no more need for Shuttle flights to the ISS, so there was no real need to send the Orion to the ISS - the Soyuz was already handling normal crew rotation tasks. Flying the Orion to the ISS could have been an interesting test flight, but otherwise was not necessary.

Whether or not Soyuz was required to keep ISS operational, the fact is that it didn't cost half a billion dollars a year for Russia to provide that capability when the U.S. had its own crew transport. So, how tenable our situation is vs. how tenable the situation was with Shuttle depends on what you think about tax dollars being used in that way. Presumably, they should benefit Americans, not Russians. And the bill from Russia will easily be in the $4-5 billion range. And so, like I said before, if it really was about the money, other issues would be just as controversial if not more so than SLS.


« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 11:20 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline Rocket Science

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1218 on: 01/02/2018 11:26 PM »
Soyuz was only a stopgap measure and not part of the original plan for ISS which proposed a full compliment of 7 crew members. The X-38/CRV met the need for station evacuation of 7 and for possible launch of 4 IIRC on Ariane V  for rotation via a partnership with ESA. Constellation and Orion then came along and ESA once considered CTV on Ariane V. Orion/Ares/SLS has had a convoluted and tortured past that involved and affected multiple partners on both sides if the Atlantic in different ways...
« Last Edit: 01/02/2018 11:41 PM by Rocket Science »
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Offline UltraViolet9

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Re: SLS General Discussion Thread 2
« Reply #1219 on: 01/03/2018 12:20 AM »
Using Orion as a lifeboat for ISS with a crew of 7 proposal is what killed the X-38/CRV program in that function...

X-38/CRV was cancelled in 2002, some years before the Columbia accident, ESAS, and Orion.  Cause was a multi-billion dollar cost overrun on ISS that NASA delivered to the Bush II White House at the beginning of its term.

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