Author Topic: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?  (Read 10481 times)

Offline grakenverb

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A friend and I were discussing the current state of spaceflight, and the upcoming gap after the shuttle retires.  He asked me what the big deal was, why couldn't we just "slap something together" based on an old design, but updated, to use in the interim.  It is crazy, I know, but it got me thinking.........  would a low cost, quickly built, copy of a Gemini using modern technology be possible?  If the challenge was made to build one in less than 6 months, (to be used on an existing rocket) could it be done? And if so, how much would it cost? This is purely hypothetical, I'm not suggesting such a thing be done,  just wondering how you rocket guys would approach such a challenge.

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #1 on: 10/11/2007 12:45 AM »
no

Offline MKremer

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #2 on: 10/11/2007 01:16 AM »
Sure, something like that could be 'slapped together' for a few million dollars. Don't expect much for crew survival or spacecraft reliability, though. The crew in the spacecraft and the spacecraft and booster itself are just the the top of a very large pyramid of very much necessary support operations and personnel underneath them. (And none of any of that can be 'slapped together' and function successfully with just in a few months.)

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #3 on: 10/11/2007 01:16 AM »
so much personality in such a small response....hey jim, maybe more people than just the OP would like to know....

WHY NOT??
If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.

Offline SirThoreth

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/2007 01:17 AM »
Quote
grakenverb - 10/10/2007  5:18 PM

A friend and I were discussing the current state of spaceflight, and the upcoming gap after the shuttle retires.  He asked me what the big deal was, why couldn't we just "slap something together" based on an old design, but updated, to use in the interim.  It is crazy, I know, but it got me thinking.........  would a low cost, quickly built, copy of a Gemini using modern technology be possible?  If the challenge was made to build one in less than 6 months, (to be used on an existing rocket) could it be done? And if so, how much would it cost? This is purely hypothetical, I'm not suggesting such a thing be done,  just wondering how you rocket guys would approach such a challenge.

Could it be done?  Probably.  It's worth considering two things, though:

1.  Gemini's development did not occur overnight.  It was proposed in Dec. 1961 as "Mercury Mk. II", renamed "Gemini" on Jan. 3, 1962, and first flew (in unmanned tests) in April 1964, with the first manned flight on March 23, 1965.  Building it today would also take time and effort, because you'd have to create the production facilities, decide what new systems would go inside to replace the old systems no longer in production or use, etc.  Could we have one built before the Shuttle is retired?  Possibly, but that brings me to:

2.  What would it do?  Gemini was small.  I mean, really, really small.  The whole vehicle massed less than four tons, and it had less internal volume and a smaller passenger/cargo load than my old VW Bug - I've had five people in my Bug before, whereas Gemini had to squeeze two people in with virtually no extra space.  Gemini had no docking module, or airlock, meaning it would be of no utility in flying to the ISS, or to one of Bigelow's Transhab-based inflatable stations once manned versions are up.  So, you'd have to have something bigger, which brings me to:

3.  Big Gemini:  now, Big Gemini had a much larger crew capacity (up to 9, IIRC), more useful cargo, and was still small and light enough to be carried on Atlas V or Delta IV boosters.  Again, though, you've got production issues to consider, as you'd not only have to redo a lot of the old work on Gemini, you'd have to finish the development work in the first place, while modernizing it at the same time.  The issue here, though, is how much are you gaining when compared to the Orion capsule or SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which brings me to:

4.  How do you launch it?  The Atlas and Delta rockets aren't man-rated, so you have to spend the time and money to do that.  That's possible, but:

5.  Money.  Who's going to pay for it?  NASA's focusing on getting Orion and Ares I designed and built, Rocketplane Kistler is having trouble getting funding, while SpaceX is largely being funded by Elon Musk.  I'm not at all sure who would be willing to fund it.

The solution that immediately comes to mind would be for Lockheed-Martin or Boeing to fund something.  McDonnell Douglas, who built Gemini, merged with Boeing, so they might look at it without getting "Not Invented Here" Syndrome.  Rumor has it that Bigelow is in talks with LockMart about a capsule launching from an Atlas rocket to take people to Sundancer and other orbital stations of his once they're in orbit, so that is a possibility.  Still, there's no guarantee that any of this would happen before the Shuttle is retired.

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #5 on: 10/11/2007 01:31 AM »
Can a supersonic jet be designed and built in 6 months?

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #6 on: 10/11/2007 01:40 AM »
thats a factor of money. with enough money, and using data we have collected over the years, yes.
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Offline MKremer

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #7 on: 10/11/2007 01:43 AM »
Quote
Jim - 10/10/2007  8:31 PM

Can a supersonic jet be designed and built in 6 months?

Sure - you can drive a Yugo supersonic with pop-riveted-on fuel tank and wings, and a big enough engine. Question is, how long do plan for or expect it or its passengers to survive?  ;)

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #8 on: 10/11/2007 01:46 AM »
Quote
usn_skwerl - 10/10/2007  9:40 PM

thats a factor of money. with enough money, and using data we have collected over the years, yes.

No, money can't buy that much time.  It is like trying to reduce cooking time in half by doubling the temp.  

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #9 on: 10/11/2007 01:51 AM »
if myself and 30 A&P's along with just as many CAD and CFD artist friends helping me, make a small aircraft (like a Geebee with intake ramps and ducting), or a cone like the Gemini, and strap a TF-30-414 to (or in) it, it could be done.

edit: (you didnt say it had to be FAA certified..its a toy)
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Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #10 on: 10/11/2007 02:00 AM »
Quote
usn_skwerl - 10/10/2007  9:51 PM

if myself and 30 A&P's along with just as many CAD and CFD artist friends helping me, make a small aircraft (like a Geebee with intake ramps and ducting), or a cone like the Gemini, and strap a TF-404 to (or in) it, it could be done.

no you couldn't, where would you get you thrusters, propellant tanks, oxygen tanks, avionics boxes, heat exchangers, radiators, ECLS systems, Solar arrays/fuel cells.  This are not off the shelve items and have lead times

sorry but A&P's don't know jack about spacecraft

Offline MKremer

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #11 on: 10/11/2007 02:38 AM »
Not to mention designing reliable environmental systems and general fault tolerence for multiple critical systems while still maintaining your overall vehicle mass limits.

Offline rsp1202

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #12 on: 10/11/2007 02:57 AM »
For what it's worth, no government or private entrepreneur has opted to reprise the Gemini design. You can't bring Sexy Back.

Offline Oberon_Command

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #13 on: 10/11/2007 03:20 AM »
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rsp1202 - 10/10/2007  7:57 PM

For what it's worth, no government or private entrepreneur has opted to reprise the Gemini design. You can't bring Sexy Back.

Justin Timberlake begs to differ. Perhaps he could fund it? :P

Offline rsp1202

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #14 on: 10/11/2007 04:04 AM »
I don't think he or Lance Bass could afford it, let alone pass the physical.

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #15 on: 10/11/2007 04:17 AM »
jim, you asked if i could build a supersonic jet in 6 months. i said yes. i explained a little.

i think a rocket, in about 3 years could be built, if enough money is spent building it.
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Offline Jorge

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #16 on: 10/11/2007 04:37 AM »
Quote
Jim - 10/10/2007  8:46 PM

Quote
usn_skwerl - 10/10/2007  9:40 PM

thats a factor of money. with enough money, and using data we have collected over the years, yes.

No, money can't buy that much time.  It is like trying to reduce cooking time in half by doubling the temp.  

My preferred analogy is, "you can't make a baby in a month by getting nine women pregnant."
JRF

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #17 on: 10/11/2007 07:55 AM »
we take an existing set of parameters; we'll say Atlas HLV, though its not man rated (i dont know the first thing about getting a rocket man-rated) and make it man-rated. if you have to create the capsule first to get qualified, fine.

1. contact burt rutan and/or richard branson, see what their guys can bring to the table. get that ball rolling.
1a. i know its been a while, but whatever happened to the Starchaser Nova concept? coud that be modded in reasonable timeframe to seat a crew of 3 or more?
2. need to know max weight of Atlas payload (i dont know it..too lazy to look at this hour), include composites everywhere possible. if you have to use old software like the shuttle and pad use, fine, but that doesnt necessarily reduce weight does it? (if we use modern computer/launch/avionics systems, would it lighten the load some?)
3. there are still airworthy aircraft at the boneyard in AZ. i find it hard to believe that there is nothing there unusable in a capsule.
4. use existing heat exchangers, radiators, LOX tanks and/or converters.
5. apply/test CFD, chute tests, boiler-plates if need be, and environmental systems. weight and balance, CG., CP., MOI, etc.
6. maybe incorporate areogel somewhere into the system; perhaps the reentry shield, or somewhere else

im not saying i know it can definitely be done, but of the thousands of parts in military or civillian aviation that might be past life-limit, out of calibration, or just forgotten about in a dark storage locker or hidden under a broken compressor rotor, theres nothing out there that can be "thrown together" with little lead time? we already have the big part that makes the pile go up. how difficult is it to make the little parts that make it finish going - and then staying - up?

granted, i dont know what they could accomplish with a smaller capsule, aside from docking to ISS...but with the HLV, they could do some work with it on satellites, so long as they drag their tool boxes with them.
(edit) i know the ISS will probably be burned up before Ares gets airborne, but in the gap, it could still be visited with the "duct-tape dynamo"
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Offline dwmzmm

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #18 on: 10/11/2007 10:24 AM »
Some time ago, I had posted under the Commerical Launch Vehicles section this image of
one of the X-Prize entrant, had they had the funding and the ability to go "all the way," of
their Vanguard Eagle/Vanguard Spacecraft compared (in relative size/scale) to that of the
USA's Gemini Titan:
Dave, NAR # 21853 SR.

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #19 on: 10/11/2007 11:32 AM »
Quote
usn_skwerl - 11/10/2007  3:55 AM

2. need to know max weight of Atlas payload (i dont know it..too lazy to look at this hour), include composites everywhere possible. if you have to use old software like the shuttle and pad use, fine, but that doesnt necessarily reduce weight does it? (if we use modern computer/launch/avionics systems, would it lighten the load some?)
3. there are still airworthy aircraft at the boneyard in AZ. i find it hard to believe that there is nothing there unusable in a capsule.
4. use existing heat exchangers, radiators, LOX tanks and/or converters.
5. apply/test CFD, chute tests, boiler-plates if need be, and environmental systems. weight and balance, CG., CP., MOI, etc.
6. maybe incorporate areogel somewhere into the system; perhaps the reentry shield, or somewhere else

A.   im not saying i know it can definitely be done, but of the thousands of parts in military or civillian aviation that might be past life-limit, out of calibration, or just forgotten about in a dark storage locker or hidden under a broken compressor rotor, theres nothing out there that can be "thrown together" with little lead time? we already have the big part that makes the pile go up.

B. how difficult is it to make the little parts that make it finish going - and then staying - up?

C.   granted, i dont know what they could accomplish with a smaller capsule, aside from docking to ISS...but with the HLV, they could do some work with it on satellites, so long as they drag their tool boxes with them.


2.  Composites take longer to build.  A mold has to be built first.  Shuttle software and computers are so old, there are specialists

3.correct, nothing usable.  Most aircraft hardware is not applicable to spacecraft
4.  They aren't "existing".  They are all purpose made.  There isn't stock lying around
5.  standard practice, but takes time
6.  Aerogel is not the end all.  It doesn't help much.  Too fragile.  

A.  Again aircraft systems, especially those outside the cockpit, are not adaptable to spacecraft.  Most are not made operate in a vacuum.  Aircraft ECS just keep pumping air into the "leaky" cabins.  

B.  I would say that since only 3 nations have done it, that it is very hard.  Musk isn't doing it quickly.  

C.  Spacecraft repair paradigm is only applicable to the shuttle.  There won't be any manned spacecraft doing that anymore.  Orion won't be do that.

Offline pippin

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #20 on: 10/11/2007 01:07 PM »
You know, we had this guy from McK's here on that project a while ago (no joke!) with his job being project management and speeding things up (showing those lame engineers how to work effectively):

"What needs to be done to pass the next gate?"
"5.000 hours of long duration test"
"Fine, can you do it until Friday?"
"..."

Offline brihath

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #21 on: 10/11/2007 02:08 PM »
There's a path to solve the spaceflight gap that has already been proposed-  build the Orion and put it on a DIRECT launcher.  Problem solved.

Historically speaking, Gemini was a good example on how a manned spacecraft could be developed and flown in a fairly short time frame.  However, Gemini had very limited objectives and capability- more than Mercury, but a lot less than Apollo.  Also, back then the money spigot was cranked wide open.  It fit the bill well for the mission objectives it had.  

Orion will fit the bill nicely for it's mission also if it is married with a launcher that can get it to it's objective at a reasonable cost to the taxpayers.  Cobbing something together however, doesn't square away with the challenges of developing a manned space system that is safe and cost effective.

Offline usn_skwerl

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #22 on: 10/11/2007 03:06 PM »
i should just mail you guys (the engineers and "rocket scientist types") digi-cams and batteries, and have you record 12 hours of yourselves at work. always something interesting going on, always something new to learn.
If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars.

Offline pippin

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #23 on: 10/11/2007 04:00 PM »
Exciting, isn't it?
Read the transcript version at dilbert.com ;-)

Offline simonbp

Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #24 on: 10/11/2007 05:34 PM »
Gemini: 3 x 3 x 5 m, 3.8 mT

Dragon: 3.6 x 3.6 x ~6 m, ~3.3 mT

But the Dragon is much, much more capable.

Simon ;)

Offline Rusty_Barton

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #25 on: 10/11/2007 07:59 PM »
Here is a list of lead times (for U.S. manned spacecraft), from contract award (or signing) by prime contractor to first manned orbital flight, for previous U.S. manned space projects:

................Contract award..First manned Orbital flight...Lead time    
...........................................................................days   or   years

Mercury.....Jan 12, 1959.....Feb 20, 1962 ...........1,135 days or 3.11 years

Gemini.......Dec 22, 1961.....Mar 23, 1965...........1,187 days or 3.25 years

Apollo

CM............Nov 28, 1961......Oct 11, 1968..........2,509 days or 6.87 years

LM ............Mar 11, 1963 .....Mar 7, 1969............2,188 days or 5.99 years

Shuttle.......Apr 16, 1973......Apr 12, 1981...........2,918 days or 7.99 years

Offline SpaceUSMC

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #26 on: 10/11/2007 09:40 PM »
We have had American's launch on soyuz spacecraft for ISS missions. Could this be the answer to fill in the gap? I seems like a more logical solution. Untill Orion is operatioal, I would assume our main interest in space will be the ISS.

Offline SirThoreth

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RE: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #27 on: 10/12/2007 10:49 PM »
Quote
SpaceUSMC - 11/10/2007  2:40 PM

We have had American's launch on soyuz spacecraft for ISS missions. Could this be the answer to fill in the gap? I seems like a more logical solution. Untill Orion is operatioal, I would assume our main interest in space will be the ISS.

As I understand, we currently plan to have ISS flights handled by Soyuz capsules until 2011.  COTS was meant to fill in from then, until the first flight of Orion/Ares I.

I think the issue, though, is that a lot of people are worried about the gap in American human spaceflight between 2010, when the Shuttles are retired, and the first flight of either the SpaceX Dragon (or alternatives) under COTS, or, failing that, the Orion spacecraft in 2014.

Offline SirThoreth

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #28 on: 10/12/2007 10:55 PM »
Quote
simonbp - 11/10/2007  10:34 AM

Gemini: 3 x 3 x 5 m, 3.8 mT

Dragon: 3.6 x 3.6 x ~6 m, ~3.3 mT

But the Dragon is much, much more capable.

Simon ;)

Simon,

Where are you getting your numbers on Dragon mass?  Astronautix.com's entry is citing 8000 kg, while I'm only finding cargo mass (2500 kg) and propellant mass (1200 kg) on SpaceX's own page.

Either way, though, you're absolutely correct: as much as I love the old Gemini spacecraft, the Dragon, if/when she flies successfully (and I'm really hoping for "when") will be a much more capable spacecraft than Gemini.

Offline gladiator1332

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #29 on: 10/12/2007 11:27 PM »
I don't think we will see an "Advanced Gemini", something I argued for when the VSE was first announced. We can close with the biconic concept, as the size and layout were similar to Big Gemini. And as it has been stated on here, Gemini was a great spacecraft, but it had very little capability that translates to today. The closest we will come is the SpaceX Dragon, which to me is a bit comparable to Gemini.

Offline tnphysics

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #30 on: 10/13/2007 11:57 AM »
Dragon will have a CBM docking port, allowing orbital modules to be used with it.

For an extremely small mass penalty (less than half the CM mass) the habitable volume could easily be doubled.

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #31 on: 10/13/2007 12:14 PM »
It is a berthing port which is very different from a docking port

Offline grakenverb

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #32 on: 10/13/2007 08:50 PM »
Quote
Jim - 13/10/2007  8:14 AM

It is a berthing port which is very different from a docking port


Could you briefly explain the difference? I'm guessing that a berthing port wouldn't handle the stresses of manuevering the "stack" of connected spacecraft?

Offline Jim

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Re: Gemini-like Vehicle Today: How much would it cost?
« Reply #33 on: 10/14/2007 04:44 AM »
a berthing port needs to be placed together vs a docking port which can take impacts

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