Poll

Which vehicle/spacecraft will be next to carry crew to orbit from the US?

F9/Dragon
269 (83.5%)
AtlasV/CST100
18 (5.6%)
AtlasV/DreamChaser
16 (5%)
F9/DreamChaser
3 (0.9%)
F9/CST100
4 (1.2%)
SLS/Orion
6 (1.9%)
Delta IV/Orion
6 (1.9%)

Total Members Voted: 322

Voting closed: 06/30/2014 11:24 pm


Author Topic: Which vehicle/spacecraft will be next to carry crew to orbit from the US?  (Read 56493 times)

Offline faramund

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I think that what Dream Chaser needs in order to have bright future, is integrated upper stage engines. Therefore although Dragon probably wins the race to orbit, Dream Chaser 2 may be the long term winner with crewed flights.
How expensive are upper stage engines?

I would guess that expendable upper stage with rocket engines costs about one million per passenger. Therefore if we ever want affordable space tourism, reusable upperstage is pretty much necessity.

And you base this ...guess... based on what data exactly?

Ok, well how about .. the cheapest you can buy a Falcon heavy for is 77m, and Musk has said a first stage costs less than a second stage, so let's assume they cost half as much. So 77/(3*2+1)=7m, Crewed Dragon takes 7 people, so $1m per passenger. It seems that most other reasonable assumptions (excluding reusability) would only make this bigger.

(it could be argued that a second stage has less than an $11m marginal cost - but thats hard to justify)

[Also, 77/7 is really 11m, so more like 1.6m per passenger]
« Last Edit: 01/13/2014 05:57 pm by faramund »

Online A_M_Swallow

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The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.

'How' and 'why' are different questions.

To get to BEO Orion has to go through LEO.  Using the same LV to push Orion past LEO as was used to get through the Earth's atmosphere is just one option.  A second option is to use a reusable inspace tug.

Offline Proponent

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The unmanned Orion is due to be tested on a Delta IV so they will be integrated.  To make the assembly a viable LEO launch system the Delta IV needs to be man rated.  The expertise, and some of the parts, used to man rate the Atlas V could be used to man rate the Delta IV.

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.

I agree with you.  On the other hand, the 2010 NASA authorization explicitly requires that both SLS (Sec. 302, Para. [c][1][D]) and Orion (Sec. 303, Para. [b][3]) be available to back-up commercial providers for transport to ISS (by 31 Dec. 2016, by the way).  I think this is mistaken for several reasons, but hey, who cares what I think?

Offline Altonity

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F9/ Dragon as part of test flight by SpaceX crew.

Online Robotbeat

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Delta IV/Orion would allow the SLS people to focus on building for cargo. Also, lunar concepts currently assume a dual-SLS launch, which would be very difficult because the currently expected launch rate for SLS is very low. If you launched with Delta IV, that problem is eliminated because you can launch with Delta IV and SLS at basically the same time, without having to have another pad for SLS (with a bunch more annual upkeep costs).

And there ARE similarities between Delta IV and SLS. For instance, the interim upper stage for SLS is based on the Delta IV upper stage. And, of course, Delta IV is launching Orion later this year unmanned.

...And this doesn't mean Orion /will/ fly with crew on Delta IV, just that it makes at least as much sense as the current program of record. What happens if SLS has major schedule setbacks but Orion is ready? Yeah, chances are work on Orion would just slow down, but after a successful DeltaIV/Orion unmanned launch, you'd really get some people considering it strongly...

...all that said, I'm pretty sure Dragon will be there first with crew.
« Last Edit: 01/13/2014 06:43 pm by Robotbeat »
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline M129K

I'm still confused. Commercial crew should take care of the ISS. Orion is a BEO vehicle.
I like having a single crew vehicle take care of everything. I also like having a way for Orion to reach LEO without having to launch on the massive SLS, so both HLV and multi-launch paths are viable.

It's a personal preference. Like I said, wishful thinking.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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I like having a single crew vehicle take care of everything
I want just the opposite. I want multiple vehicles and providers. That way US astronauts wont be grounded (or flying on Soyuz) should there be a failure (and subsequent months long investigation). Plus competition keeps the cost low.

Online Comga

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The poll looks like a real squeaker so far.

Where's your winking emoticon? ;)
It's over 20:1 F9-Dragon over all others.
I also voted for F9-Dragon.
DreamChaser is good looking, and there should now be the choice of DC on Ariane-5, but it is doubtful anyone (not French) would put that combo in first place.
Discussions of the cost of second stages are Off Topics and WAY off the mark.
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline TomH

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Well, SNC is the first to announce a target date, but there is no way Elon is going to let them launch first. Voted F9/Dragon.

Offline mike robel

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SNC is a target date for an unmanned launch, is it not?

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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I'd say that Dragon has a comfortable lead but CST-100 could easily overtake them if SpaceX run into serious technical or scheduling problems. Orion is, IMHO several laps behind and doesn't even think of itself as being in the same race.
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Offline Proponent

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

Offline Go4TLI

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?
I am totally with you on that one. I do want that redundancy too (as well as competition), which is why I want more than one commercial crew option funded.

Offline rpapo

Remember, NASA wants the competition.  Congress, for its own reasons, does not appear to want it.  From where I sit, the more the merrier.  It would help keep everybody on their toes.
An Apollo fanboy . . . fifty years ago.

Offline Go4TLI

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Remember, NASA wants the competition.  Congress, for its own reasons, does not appear to want it.  From where I sit, the more the merrier.  It would help keep everybody on their toes.

No.  This is a false argument.  Without some sort of measurable customer base beyond NASA, multiple providers WILL cost more to NASA. 

Companies will not be doing paying for this on their own to be kind to NASA.  Supply chains need to be kept online, workforce ready, etc.  Everything that needs to be paid to keep the vehicle and capability sustained and ready will be passed on to NASA. 

So the question is, if there is to be one, why does it need to be Dragon/F9?  If the rationale is to provide maximum flexibility to ISS and NASA for cargo and crew, while still factoring cost into the equation, the answer is another crew provider other than SpaceX.

Two cargo vehicles.  Different suppliers.  Different rockets
One crew vehicle.  Different company.  Different rocket than both cargo vehicles. 

And, picking someone other than SpaceX does not shut them out forever. 

Offline brihath

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I voted for F9/Dragon, as I think they have the greatest opportunity to be ready to fly crew, as they can test much of the crewed Dragon design on unmanned Dragon flights, reducing risk and improving chances of success.  I would like to see DC/Atlas V fly first, but I feel that Mr. Musk will beat SNC to the goal.  SNC also suffers from a lower funding level than SpaceX, increasing schedule risk if issues occur.

Offline Proponent

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I'm going with the herd: Dragon/F9.  Dragon is pretty clearly in the lead at this point, with hardware having flown to orbit multiple times.  Even though the Dragons flown thus far aren't exactly the crew-carrying version, it's closer to being flight-proven than any alternative.  Like CST-100, it has the benefit of a full commercial-crew contract.  And of all the options, Dragon seems most likely to be funded should government funding be cut or eliminated.

One of the arguments many liked to make against shuttle was the "all the eggs in one basket" one. 

I'm curious about something.  Many of those on here are now proclaiming Dragon/F9 for everything (not totally surprised on that by the way).  So I would like someone to walk me through the logic. 

If, more likely when, something happens and either Dragon and/or F9 are grounded for some time, crew capability is lost for some measure of time as well as half the cargo supply.  And let's face it, these are smaller vehicles so more frequent runs are needed.  And they don't grow on trees so Orbital just can't pick up the slack. 

So what happened to the redundancy argument used?

This thread is about people's guesses as to how the next US-launched crew will reach orbit.  Could we please move discussion of other issues to the appropriate threads.

Offline mgreb

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I am worried that there will be a down-select to one, and the winner will be Atlas5/cst100, with the reasons being political and not technical or economical.

Offline simonbp

Which actually would not be the worst option, as SpaceX would still sell crew Dragons for purely private flights. That probably cannot be said for the other two. Just selecting SpaceX and giving no money to anyone else would effectively create a monopoly.

But Dragon will still probably fly a crew first. As strange as it to think about, they are basically the established incumbent, and Boeing and SNC are the insurgents.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2014 06:03 am by simonbp »

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