Author Topic: Q&A: ESAS Lead - Dr Doug Stanley (Constellation Propellant Options Study)  (Read 44658 times)

Offline Doug Stanley

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PlanetStorm - 22/11/2006  11:21 AM

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:06 PM
The main point of the thread was to talk about hypergols vs. methane vs. LH2  afor the SM and LSAM....does any one have question about that or the changes since ESAS?  Although I will be happy to talk about surface systems also as needed...

How do these affect the mass of Orion and the LSAM?

Methane can lower the gross weight of the Orion SM by over 1300 lb over hypergols and the weight of the ascent stage by over 1600 lb over hypergols.  Of course, lowering the weight of the ascent stage also lowers the weight of the descent stage by over 3000 lb and the weight of the Earth Departure Stage by over 20000 lb.  Using hydrogen makes even more dramatic differences (Over twice as much on each).  The cryogenics look great in terms of performance, but worse on most other figures of merit (cost, reliability/safety, risk, etc...)

Offline PlanetStorm

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:35 PM

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PlanetStorm - 22/11/2006  11:21 AM

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:06 PM
The main point of the thread was to talk about hypergols vs. methane vs. LH2  afor the SM and LSAM....does any one have question about that or the changes since ESAS?  Although I will be happy to talk about surface systems also as needed...

How do these affect the mass of Orion and the LSAM?

Methane can lower the gross weight of the Orion SM by over 1300 lb over hypergols and the weight of the ascent stage by over 1600 lb over hypergols.  Of course, lowering the weight of the ascent stage also lowers the weight of the descent stage by over 3000 lb and the weight of the Earth Departure Stage by over 20000 lb.  Using hydrogen makes even more dramatic differences (Over twice as much on each).  The cryogenics look great in terms of performance, but worse on most other figures of merit (cost, reliability/safety, risk, etc...)

But from what you said before, you are accepting the risk of cryo for the descent stage, and possiblly for the ascent stage. If the risk is acceptable there, so why not for the SM too?  Presumably not just boil-off considerations, otherwise you would have to reject cryo for the ascent stage?

Offline Doug Stanley

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CEV Now - 22/11/2006  11:22 AM

Dr Stanley, thank you for your time:

"Saves $400M to $5B in LCC over alternatives "

How was this figure evaluated, and over what alternatives specifically?

Thanks.

Greg, Montana.

We expected green propellants to save on Life cycle costs (especially ops costs) or at least break even with respect to hypergols.  This was our top-level assessment during ESAS.  But when we got into much more depth of modeling all of the cost drivers, we found that the hypergols were significantly lower in costs for a number of reasons...Although the green propellants save on gross weight, the empty weight of the stage are higher and they are more complex...both of which drive up development and production costs.  Avoiding handling of toxic propellants does save a few million a year, but the hypergol systems don't require much propellant handling or servicing since they are expendable and essentially "ship and shoot".  The annual ops costs savings are more than offset by the higher production costs of the green stages so the hypergols annual costs are actually lower.  Up front the green propellants have higher development costs due to higher stage empty weights and greater system complexity.  The hydrogen cases were particularly costly because they you throw away two pump-fed H2 engines every flight; whereas, the methane and hypergols use pressure-fed engines (LH2 pressure-fed was not weight competitive).  They also require some advanced development and even require some non-recurring ops costs for pad mods for unique ground support equipment and T-O lines to keep propellants conditioned prior to launch.

We costed the staged from the bottoms up then time-phased them in a LCC model that included discounting.  The base line scenario, which was the lowest cost, was hypergols on the SM and LSAM ascent stage from the beginning.  We looked at scenarios that upgraded the SM to greens later, but these had high costs because you had to purchase two different service modules and you had to do three test flights of the new module before putting humans on.  Of all the combinations we looked at, the most cost competitive options were to keep hypergols on the service module indefinitely and put greens on the ascent stage.  (Nothing other than LH2 was performance competitive on the LSAM descent stage).  Hypergols on the SM and methane on the ascent stage was only about $400M higher in LCC than hypergols on the ascent stage.  Hypergols on the SM and LH2 on the ascent stage was over $1.5B more but has much higher performance...We ended up recommending hypergols on the SM and greens on the ascent stage...with Mgmt selecting methane for now...

Offline Doug Stanley

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PlanetStorm - 22/11/2006  12:25 PM

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:35 PM

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PlanetStorm - 22/11/2006  11:21 AM

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:06 PM
The main point of the thread was to talk about hypergols vs. methane vs. LH2  afor the SM and LSAM....does any one have question about that or the changes since ESAS?  Although I will be happy to talk about surface systems also as needed...

How do these affect the mass of Orion and the LSAM?

Methane can lower the gross weight of the Orion SM by over 1300 lb over hypergols and the weight of the ascent stage by over 1600 lb over hypergols.  Of course, lowering the weight of the ascent stage also lowers the weight of the descent stage by over 3000 lb and the weight of the Earth Departure Stage by over 20000 lb.  Using hydrogen makes even more dramatic differences (Over twice as much on each).  The cryogenics look great in terms of performance, but worse on most other figures of merit (cost, reliability/safety, risk, etc...)

But from what you said before, you are accepting the risk of cryo for the descent stage, and possiblly for the ascent stage. If the risk is acceptable there, so why not for the SM too?  Presumably not just boil-off considerations, otherwise you would have to reject cryo for the ascent stage?

It is a matter of risk VERSUS reward.  Weights of stages for hypergols on the descent stage were just ridiculous in terms of architecture closure.  We would need to pay a lot more in stage and launch costs.  Greens also have a big reward on the ascent stage because of the additional savings you get on the descent stage and the Earth Departure stage and launch vehicle costs.  There is very high leverage.  You also have more time to work out the risk/maturity issue since you are not introducing greens right away on the SM.  Only 1600 lbs is saved on the CEV SM.  This is not insignificant, but the potential launch costs savings are much less and do not offset the higher LCC.  Another major issue is that you would have to put methane or LH2 on the SM right away in time for the first ISS flight (because upgrade options busted the bank as mentioned earlier).  Schedule (another key figure of merit) would be significantly affected.  Use of LH2 would slip schedule another 1.5 years at least.  Methane would slip schedule several months IF the parallel advanced development program was picture perfect (a rare occurence).  More costs would also be added up front where there is no additional budget.  Hence any option that adds costs up front under fixed budgets will cause schedule to slip even further...Right minded people however can always disagree on how much cost and schedule risk they are willing to tolerate.  NASA accepted our recommendation...

Offline Paul Howard

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More of a general question, but as I'm sure you can appreciate, such public access to people like yourself is rare and greatly appreciated.

You mentioned a team of 40 and two months. I'm facinated by how you bring together a team.

Such as: Finding the right people, the right people applying, their availability to dedicate time to the Study etc.

Obviously, you don't have an American Idol type "Want to be on this study?" contest :) But is it literally phone calls and letters of confirmation to bring together the team? I find this all fascinating.

Offline Lunar Dreamer

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Dr Stanley, how much heritage knownledge was brought to the table in your evaluations? I appreciate this time round we're doing and looking at much more than just landing on the moon, but how much of the "lessons learned" from Apollo came into play in your study?

Offline Doug Stanley

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Paul Howard - 22/11/2006  2:18 PM

More of a general question, but as I'm sure you can appreciate, such public access to people like yourself is rare and greatly appreciated.

You mentioned a team of 40 and two months. I'm facinated by how you bring together a team.

Such as: Finding the right people, the right people applying, their availability to dedicate time to the Study etc.

Obviously, you don't have an American Idol type "Want to be on this study?" contest :) But is it literally phone calls and letters of confirmation to bring together the team? I find this all fascinating.

As my old boss Antonio Elias (who is doing a Q&A in another thread) would say "that reminds me of a story...".  How we put together ESAS Team to have over 300 people working in two weeks is more interesting than this smaller study, but I will comment on both in great detail tomorrow...because it is a great story.  I have an engagement this evening and have to sign off...But I will leave you with the original criteria for the 20 ESAS core Team members  that I put together on my first day at HQ together with Mike G.:

Selection of ESAS Core Team

Selection Criteria:
-   IQ
-   Technical competence and experience in field
-   Systems viewpoint, see “big picture”
-   Not in or too close to ESMD management
-   Knowledgeable of work done to date by ESMD and others
-   Mostly non-managers, can still do useful work
-   Original, creative thinkers
-   Objective, not prejudiced towards home Center or Program
-   Easy to work with, fun, no personality issues
-   Willing to express and defend viewpoints
-   Willing to listen to others viewpoints
-   Capable of multiple tasks, highly productive

Core Team Members:
NASA:
Doug Stanley – Study Manager (IPA - HQ)
Steve Cook – Deputy Study Manager (MSFC)
John Connolly – Deputy Study Manager (JSC - ESMD)
Joe Hamaker (HQ)
Marsha Ivins (JSC - ESMD)
Wayne Peterson (JSC - ESMD)
Jim Geffre (JSC - ESMD)
Bill Cirillo (LaRC)
Carey McClesky (KSC)
Jeff Hanley (JSC)
Steve Davis (MSFC - ESMD)
Jay Falker (HQ - ESMD)
Don Pettit (JSC)

Full-Time Consultants:
Bill Claybaugh (Self)
Joe Fragola (SAIC)

Part-Time Consultants:
Jay Greene
John Young
Bob Sieck
Bob Seamans

Administrative Support:
Mark Ogles (self)/Angela Michaels (APIO)

Also have Center POCs at HQ, JSC, MSFC, LaRC, ARC, GRC, JPL

Offline vt_hokie

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  5:55 PM

-   Mostly non-managers, can still do useful work

I had to laugh at that one!   :)

Offline Propforce

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  9:06 AM

The main point of the thread was to talk about hypergols vs. methane vs. LH2  afor the SM and LSAM....does any one have question about that or the changes since ESAS?  Although I will be happy to talk about surface systems also as needed...

Dear Dr. Stanley,

Thank you for willing to come on this forum and make yourself available for Q&As.  It is wonderful to have a direct access to folks such as yourself.

In regarding to the subject matter at hand -- the Constellation Propellant Options Study, I was somewhat disappointed that a rather limited list of propellant options studied.  We have a wonderful opportunity at hand here to challenge both the propulsion community as well as the ISRU community to develp a better propellant option, as oppose to study what's been known for quite sometime already.  

To set the stage, shouldn't the "right" propellant option is the one that will proivde both the SM and LSAM the best performance, while demonstrating these propellant can be manufactured on Mars or Lunar surface via the ISRU mean?  As for the SM and LSAM performance, the  figure of merit should NOT be just the engine Isp alone, but rather the total impulse provided by the vehicle, e.g., the combined effect of Isp and propellant bulk density effect.  Put it another way, H2/O2 has a very nice Isp but because of the low density of LH2 it will not have a high total impulse because of limited propeellant tank volume.  The hypergols form the other side of equation where its low Isp leave a bit to be desired.  Methane (CH4) seems to be a good trade-off, if you limit your propellant option to only these three.

However; there are clearly more attractive options than just methane as the future propelalnt option, particularly if you have the Mars ISRU option in mind.  Robert Zubrin has proposed the use of methanol (CH3OH) and I've looked into propane (C3H8).  They both provide better benefits than methane (CH4) to the SM and LSAM, as you can get a better total impulse with either of these than the CH4.

As per ESAS's SM & LSAM delta-V requirements, both the methanol and propane option will give you anywhere from 10% to 15% less propellant tank volume than methane.  Alternatively, given the same volume tanks, either one of the two options will give you increase in performance.  Both SM & LSAM sizes affect the fairing diameter on the Ares 1 and Ares 5.  Any need to increase its diameter has a "domino effect" on the launch vehicle fairing diameters.  Therefore the design of SM & LSAM will be severly volume-constrained.

I wonder why these two were not considered for the study?  

One argument could be that the engines for these "alternate fuels" have not been developed.  From literature search, there has been enough "experimental investigation" done on CH3OH and C3H8 to show that there are no technical "show stoppers" to exclude these two green propellant options.  Afterall, isn't this the right time to set the research direction for the next 10 years in order to support future SM and LSAM propellant options?

Another part of the argument is "well... you MUST be able to manufacture these on Mars", thus the Mars ISRU requirement.  I want to point out that these propellant manufacturing processes are standard industrial processes on the ground today.  There will be some process development to adapt them to the Mars environment of course.  The TRL for these processes is at 6 today.  

By the way, who are the chemists among your study board memebers?  Who has the technical knowledge to decipher the chemical manufacturing processes for Mars ISRU to assist you in this propellant option study?  

We in the aerospace industry are experts in metallurgy.  We understand to the painful Nth degree between different types of aluminum on our spacecraft and launch vehicles, but we are clueless when it comes to propellant.  The majority of us would not know the difference of methane (CH4) from propane (C3H8), or methanol (CH3OH) or JP-7 from JP-8.  Just as we would not go to a computer industry if we want to build a car, why are we asking mostly mechanical engineers in the aerospace industry to understand chemistry?  We need to go to the experts, e.g., the research chemists and chemical process engineers at Exxon Mobile, Chevron, etc., and the leading universities in chemistry & chemical engineering, to devise a Mars ISRU plan instead.  

I hope you do not take my comment as criticism (okay - maybe a constructive one :) ).  We are sitting at a turning point with a wonderful opportunity to advise NASA on selecting the "right" propellant.  I would hate to see the study limits itself without breaking new grounds.

Regards,
Prop-

Offline Smatcha

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Doug Stanley - 21/11/2006  9:15 PM
The second approach of teh crasher has been discussed and rejected as a baseline for safety/reliability reasons.  

Given that most lunar architectures require the lunar surface ascent engine to fire or they loose the crew what is the basis for the safety/reliability statement concerning the final lunar surface descent burn for the crasher approach?

I count three critical firings of two separate engines/systems (Lunar Surface Ascent, CEV Orbit Adjustment, and TEI) for the current architecture not kill or strand the astronauts.

We also fire our Final descent and Ascent engine for the 100nm to 18nm transfer ellipse before initiating the primary lunar surface descent burn.  The current architecture can’t test the ascent engine prior to the point of no return like Apollo.

If the ascent engine doesn't fire you loose the crew either way.
“Do we want to go to the moon or not?”
John C. Houbolt - November 15, 1961
Question posed in Letter to Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr, NASA Associate Administrator

Ralph Ellison “I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest”




Offline kraisee

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This is a fascinating thread!   Dr. Stanley, thanks for replying everyone so far, and I hope it can continue after Thanksgiving too.

Can you let us know what consideration this study examined regarding the extensibility to the future Mars program after the Lunar one is running successfully?

Or was the Lunar program the specific focus of this particular study under the assumption that newer, "more ideally suited", hardware would need to be developed specifically for the Mars program in a decade or two, when it becomes a more immediate issue?

Ross.

PS: Happy Thanksgiving!
"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- the rest of us will go to the stars"
-Robert A. Heinlein

Offline Doug Stanley

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SMetch - 22/11/2006 6:32 PM

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Doug Stanley - 21/11/2006 9:15 PM
The second approach of teh crasher has been discussed and rejected as a baseline for safety/reliability reasons.

Given that most lunar architectures require the lunar surface ascent engine to fire or they loose the crew what is the basis for the safety/reliability statement concerning the final lunar surface descent burn for the crasher approach?

I count three critical firings of two separate engines/systems (Lunar Surface Ascent, CEV Orbit Adjustment, and TEI) for the current architecture not kill or strand the astronauts.

We also fire our Final descent and Ascent engine for the 100nm to 18nm transfer ellipse before initiating the primary lunar surface descent burn. The current architecture can’t test the ascent engine prior to the point of no return like Apollo.

If the ascent engine doesn't fire you loose the crew either way.

I am back now and will do one more before bed and take off for Thanksgiving...I am sorry if I am misunderstanding your's or the earlier question that referred to a "crasher" stage. To me that means lighting the engines of the descent stage and beginning the descent from LLO, then at some point losing the descent stage and lighting the ascent stage engine(s) for landing. Under those assumptions, it would add a risky separation maneuver during descent (rather than the separation occuring at lift-off from the surface) and add an extra start of a propulsion system -- the ascent engine. The ascent engine would then have to restart after spending 6 months wet in the lunar environment.  Our propulsion guys would much rather keep it all sealed up in the lunar environment until lighting it. For the separation, we might have to add some sort of RCS system on the LSAM descent stage that does not have one now.  Perhaps most importantly, we would be throwing away a very valuable asset!  We would like to use some of the descent stage subsystems during outpost operations as I described in an earlier post.  It takes so much effort to get something that close to the moon...I would hate to throw it away when we could make use of much of it...

 Please let me know if I you mean something else by "crasher".  I may be misundertsanding your question, since I don't know who the "we" is to whom you are referring...

 I wish a wonderful Thanksgiving to the Yanks...get off this site and go spend time with your families.  To the Brits, you don't know what you missed by staying on that foggy little island a few centuries ago.  We are going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!! ;)


Online Chris Bergin

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Doug Stanley - 23/11/2006  5:04 AM

I wish a wonderful Thanksgiving to the Yanks...get off this site and go spend time with your families.  To the Brits, you don't know what you missed by staying on that foggy little island a few centuries ago.  We are going to have a wonderful Thanksgiving feast!! ;)


"Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves. We can stay up all night, covering EVAs" ;)

Have a great Thanksgiving.

Offline jongoff

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Ross,

Since I'm up cooking pies for tomorrow, I figured I ought to post a few replies while I'm waiting for them to cook.

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Or was the Lunar program the specific focus of this particular study under the assumption that newer, "more ideally suited", hardware would need to be developed specifically for the Mars program in a decade or two, when it becomes a more immediate issue?

I would think that planning on updating your hardware before going to Mars would be a good thing.  I'm sure Doug's group has a lot of smart and talented people involved.  But no matter how smart or talented you are, it's hard to plan for stuff that's at least 20 years out.  By the time the LSAM even gets into operation, it will be at least 10-14 years from now, and assuming that we're smart enough to figure out the best approach right from the start is a bit naive.  The reality is that especially if any of the VTVL suborbital companies (Masten Space Systems, Armadillo, Blue Origin, or TGV Rockets) are succesful, we'll likely have two or three or maybe even four generations of VTVL hardware iterations flying before the LSAM ever fires up its engines in flight.  Suborbital terrestrial VTVL flights aren't 100% analogous to lunar lander flights, but they have a lot of similarities, and a lot of the lessons learned about how to build rugged, reliable, highly reusable vehicles from these programs should provide a lot of good solid ideas (and experience) for developing future VTVL systems.  I'd say the best bet is to wait until its only 2-3 years before you want to fly it to start developing the actual flight hardware, otherwise it'll be obsolete before it even gets out of the prototype stage.

Once we've gained more experience with VTVL systems on earth and on the Moon, we'll be in a much better position to build a more efficient, more reliable, and more reusable Martian system.  If we try to build a one-size-fits-all solution now, without the benefit of 2 or 3 or 4 generations of flight hardware to learn from, we're going to end up getting stuck with a less reliable, less affordable, and much more expensive solution.

~Jonathan Goff
  Masten Space Systems

PS Happy Thanksgiving all!

Offline Kaputnik

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Re: Lunar Crashers
My understanding of a lunar crasher was that a third rocket stage was added to the lunar vehicle. So the first stage to fire is a sort of big dumb stage with a single engine, that would do LOI, de-orbit, and would also perform the bulk of the descent. At a certain altitude/velocity, this stage is jettisoned and the descent stage proper takes over. This would be a multi-engine, highly controllable stage with relatively limited delta-v, just enough for a couple of minutes of hovering and the final touchdown. The ascent stage would be a single engine higher performance stage and would not fire until needed for ascent.
I see the disadvantage being that an extra stage is needed, and a separation event is needed within proximity of the surface.
However the advantages are that the 'crasher' and 'descent' stages can be far better suited to their jobs. The crasher must have a large delta-v, therefore large tanks, and best suited to a single high-performance engine. The 'descent' stage can be much, much, smaller, with multiple throttleable engines, allowing for accurate control and a more stable platform once on the surface. It also would put any cargo much closer to the surface.
Another advantage of a 'crasher' could be that it would translate into a Martian lander more readily since in that scenario the 'crasher' stage is replaced by aerodynamic braking.
Waiting for joy and raptor

Offline jongoff

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Matt,
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Fascinating stuff, Jon. Thanks!! :)

You're welcome.  I can't say that I have anywhere near as many years of actual work experience in aerospace (this is only my second job in aerospace, and the first on where I've bent any metal), but its amazing how much better of an understanding you get of a lot of these things when you end up taking a rocket engine project all the way from conception, through building a test stand, developing igniters, doing all the performance and injector design tests, all the way through 94 second regeneratively cooled full-throttle tests in front of large crowds...

The learning curve is steep, and any insights I feel I'm qualified to add I will.  Maybe once we get this vehicle finished and flying (we're almost done with the last subsystem development task, then all we have left on the vehicle is to assemble the four engine modules and start vehicle-systems tests), I'll have some more relevant ideas to toss in about lunar landers.  But until we have something succesfully in the air with no-strings-attached, I'm not going to dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back...

~Jon

Offline braddock

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Doug Stanley - 23/11/2006  12:04 AM
I may be misundertsanding your question, since I don't know who the "we" is to whom you are referring...

Dr. Stanley,
Some introductions:
SMetch is the author of the 60+ page TeamVision Inc space architecture study presented at Space2006.
http://www.teamvisioninc.com/services-consulting-space-exploration-optimization.htm

Jon Goff is the principal engineer at Masten Space Systems.

kraisee/Ross is the author of the "DIRECT" alternative launcher proposal, which pitches the use of something similar to the ESAS LV24/25 vehicles with RS-68s instead of SSME's.
http://www.directlauncher.com

There are other notables floating around, but their identities aren't public.  ;)

I suppose we could pull in the Alcatel Italians from the Moonlight lunar architecture proposal (now submitted to NASA) thread and have ourselves a nice little space architecture panel in here. :)
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=2925&start=1

-braddock

Offline UK Shuttle Clan

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  11:04 PM

To the Brits, you don't know what you missed by staying on that foggy little island a few centuries ago.

Dunkin Dougnuts, a humid climate on more than three days of the year, unusual sports that require a crash helmet and a space program.

Thanks to the internet, we can nosey in on the latter :)

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for this very interesting Q and A.

Offline edkyle99

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UK Shuttle Clan - 23/11/2006  8:38 AM

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Doug Stanley - 22/11/2006  11:04 PM

To the Brits, you don't know what you missed by staying on that foggy little island a few centuries ago.

Dunkin Dougnuts, a humid climate on more than three days of the year, unusual sports that require a crash helmet and a space program.

Thanks to the internet, we can nosey in on the latter :)

Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for this very interesting Q and A.

Mmmmmm.  Doughnuts.

Regarding sports:  I live in Chicago (near which Jim Lovell famously lives).  My kids are very much "into" that "English Football" sport with the round ball that you can't touch with your hands.  There is a huge population of kids playing that now.  There are also local groups that are crazy about playing Rugby.   But Cricket - that one I don't think we'll ever understand!

Best Wishes across the "pond"!

 - Ed Kyle

Offline JWag

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UK Shuttle Clan - 23/11/2006  8:38 AM  
...unusual sports that require a crash helmet and a space program

There are sports that require a space program?!

(just having a bit of fun with this language you lot invented) :)

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