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  Aldrin: "Do you want to see the next twenty years back in the ocean?"

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Author Topic:   Aldrin: "Do you want to see the next twenty years back in the ocean?"
MrSpace86
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From: Gardner, KS, USA
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posted 07-20-2009 09:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The subject is a quote from the press conference given on July 20th on NASA TV on the Apollo: 40 years presentation with other astronauts.

I know I have been torched by others on this when I say that Orion and the whole Constellation program is a fluke. I don't understand why going back to the capsule concept is the next way to go. Like Aldrin said, there have been several studies on spaceplanes and reusablility, there is no need to go back to capsule when you can build something from the lessons learned from the X-15, Space Shuttle, and other winged space vehicles.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 07-20-2009 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Primarily because aerodynamic flight and control surfaces, which only have utility in the earths atmosphere are an inefficient allocation of payload and impose both geometry and structural design constraints that are not mutually beneficial for a vehicle whose principle operating environment is space.

Matt T
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From: Chester, Cheshire, UK
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posted 07-21-2009 02:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Matt T   Click Here to Email Matt T     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The space-plane is as confused a concept as a horse-drawn motorcar. It's super imposing redundant and superfluous concepts on to a new vehicle simply because it shares a few characteristics.

If nearly all astronauts weren't also aviators I wonder how much enthusiasm there would be for winged spacecraft?

BNorton
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posted 07-21-2009 10:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for BNorton   Click Here to Email BNorton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Funny thing about space "flight": one has to go through something called the atmosphere to get to space and to return, which makes wings a nice thing to have.

Space-plane limits geometry and design? And a capsule shape does not limit geometry and design?

The capsule design is looking in the past for a solution that was not there. One forgets that the quest for a space-plane was in part to cut down the high cost of capsule access to low earth orbit. Also, the "horse-drawn" space-plane offers far more low earth orbit capability than will ever be realized by any capsule. To use the capability the Space Shuttle has shown one needs lots of $$$, but the capability is there to use.

Besides the obvious mission difference, look at an Apollo capsule beside the Space Shuttle... it was like going from the Wright flyer to a single wing design in one design iteration. This is huge! People seem to have expected a Wright flyer to Boeing 747 jump in one design iteration. Why? This has not happened in the past.

One obviously would not want to send a winged space-plane to the moon: a lot of useless mass. A capsule does not have the capability needed for other than rare "small scale" travels to the moon. It's more volume and geometry restricted. Therein lies what is probably the biggest problem with both the space-plane and capsule concept used by NASA: having one vehicle for all "missions" is like producing only tracker-trailers for use as transportation for manufactured goods as well as for family vehicles for everyone to use to go back and forth to work.

A space-plane (drop the delta wings to lower re-entry heating...great cross range landing gone, but more robust design...see early 60s design concepts) is the way to go for low earth orbit crew and small payload transport, Saturn class vehicle for large payloads to low earth orbit, and radically different designs are needed for travel to/from the moon and planets. (Again, see 60s design concepts...they had it right but missing technology pieces... now the technology is here to make it happen.) This all costs big $$$$. There is no way around big $$$. (For starters, the use frequency is way too low.)

I am obviously all over the place, but there are many points to address and limited reply space.

Thanks for thinking about an important question.

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 07-21-2009 10:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BNorton:
Space-plane limits geometry and design? And a capsule shape does not limit geometry and design?
I'm certainly not advocating one solution set for every phase of flight (as you suggest given no constraints on resources we would have a family of vehicles optimized for specialized functions - i.e. reusable single stage to orbit/conventional return for pax/cargo and separate space segments with orbital logistic depots for everything beyond LEO). But that's not the current reality - the U.S. is now spiraling into a state of financial "in extremis" and so our space transport architecture will require trade-off's in order to be complementary to the objectives of the Vision for Space Exploration (or whatever it may morph into once the Augustine commission reports out) while concurrently remaining compliant with the fiscal reality. A capsule design is also the most efficient with respect to conservation of energy (lighter/aerodynamic). Bringing wings, tail, landing gear and the affiliated hydraulics beyond low earth orbit is simply a waste of propellant.

Apollo Redux
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posted 07-21-2009 11:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just a thought.

If I spent six months getting to Mars, having to spend eighteen to twenty-four months on the Martian surface - waiting for the next Mars/Earth corridor alignment - spending another six months on the return, I probably wouldn't be keen on testing the assumption that my craft (screaming back at 50,000kph) could perform a series of 'S' turns to bring myself and my crew, to a safe landing. A capsule is the easiest, safest, and most cost effective way to ensure the safe return of crew from beyond LEO.

Proven eight times. No need to reinvent the wheel with empirical proof.

davidcwagner
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posted 07-22-2009 12:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for davidcwagner   Click Here to Email davidcwagner     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Whatever happened to the "Space Tug" concept of a vehicle that travels repeatedly between earth orbit and lunar orbit hauling whatever cargo/payload is needed?

MrSpace86
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From: Gardner, KS, USA
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posted 07-22-2009 12:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for MrSpace86   Click Here to Email MrSpace86     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Apollo Redux:
A capsule is the easiest, safest, and most cost effective way to ensure the safe return of crew from beyond LEO.
I totally agree with you on this. But we have to be realistic. There are A LOT of contradictions here. Aldrin wants to go to Mars (lots and lots of $$$ that the country most likely does not want to spend NOW) but would also like to have a spaceplane (not realistic for lunar or martian missions).

How can we be realistic? I honestly think that LEO is the way to go for the next decade or two. Developing a vehicle that can satisfy those needs and retire the Space Shuttle is ideal. A reliable and cheap spaceplane. As mentioned, the technology is there, why not continue to perfect it?

Going back to the moon I think is a waste of time and effort if you join that with the Martian mission. Leave the lunar exploration as a separate program and develop the Martian program as a separate entity. And yes, this all would cost a lot of money, but I think the public would embrace it better. I would embrace it either way, as long as we don't have to beg Russia to take us to the Space Station or anywhere in space for that matter (Cernan hit that right on the head).

issman1
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posted 07-22-2009 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A winged vehicle will only be useful for LEO missions. There is no rationale for deep space missions, so the capsule concept is sensible. I just fear there will be no worthy mission for such a vehicle.

Apollo Redux
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posted 07-22-2009 02:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MrSpace86:
I would embrace it either way, as long as we don't have to beg Russia to take us to the Space Station or anywhere in space for that matter (Cernan hit that right on the head).
Cernan absolutely nailed that. Relations between the two counties have historically run from openly hostile, to grudgingly tolerable - hardly a track record to pin your exploration hopes on. Let alone to trust that they won't rip you off when driving you to the home you basically paid for.

A space plane in some form or another is a must. However, based on improving upon the shuttle concept, I think private enterprise is better suited to take up that banner. If they can make a buck, they'll make it happen. They already have a destination - the ISS.

As for the other exploration visions, I'm on the side of David Randolph Scott (Commander Apollo 16) - "Man must explore..." It's inherent to our very essence, and I believe governments can best ensure their survival by providing their citizens with; basic and fundamental security;guaranteed equal representation before the whole of society; and to inspire them to look beyond themselves and to dare to achieve that which seems beyond their own individual grasp.

Space exploration should have a esteemed and intrinsic place in government policy (actions not just platitudes), while space exploitation should be left to those private enterprises bold enough to pursue it.

The shuttle was worthwhile, a replacement similar to it is equally worthwhile, but if we're not going somewhere, you are never going to inspire the next generation to take up the cause of exploration or make the sacrifices that will return benefits( some of which may not even be contemplated today).

As we are on a fossil fuel ball with limited resources, our future as a species lies elsewhere. Leaving to future generations,what we can start today, is myopic and cowardly.

As a Canadian, I can attest that there is very little difference (belief systems) between us and Americans.

"Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder.

What unites us is far greater than what divides us..." - John F.Kennedy (Address Before the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa. May 17, 1961)

But we both need to develop and foster a 'can do, will do' attitude that inspires us to not just think of our own immediate gratification, but becomes our mission to truly advance the human condition.

The moon can help get us to Mars and beyond.Heating up the regolith will produce hydrogen that in turn can be used to power spacecraft and other power systems, and as an extension of Earth, I feel it is a resource that we can not afford to disregard.

A bit long-winded, but thanks for indulging me.

spacebrane
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From: Vale of Paradise, Indiana
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posted 07-22-2009 07:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spacebrane   Click Here to Email spacebrane     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Apollo Redux:
As for the other exploration visions, I'm on the side of David Randolph Scott (Commander Apollo 16) - "Man must explore..."
Actually, Dave Scott commanded Apollo 15. John Young commanded Apollo 16.

Apollo Redux
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posted 07-22-2009 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo Redux   Click Here to Email Apollo Redux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by spacebrane:
Actually, Dave Scott commanded Apollo 15. John Young commanded Apollo 16.
Dhoh!

MadSci
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posted 07-25-2009 03:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MadSci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott nailed it. A 'Spaceplane' is a nice romantic idea - but unnecessary. It carries with it a lot of extra weight in the form of control surfaces, control systems, and the structural elements necessary to support them. Weight is the enemy of space exploration, so adding weight without gaining necessary function is the wrong way to go.

The only other possible justification might be cost. That is usually supported on the basis of the 'resusability' of a spaceplane. However re-use requires a greater robustness of componentry, and that usually means more weight, so the cost per pond of payload goes up. Given the requirements for crew safety, everything in a reused vehicle must be checked out and inspected before subsequent use, just like a throw away vehicle. Since all parts have a failure rate, the more often you fly a given vehicle, the more replacements/repairs you have to do. This increases the cost per launch in a way that single-use systems do not. Bottom line, re-usable usually will come up as more expensive to prepare for launch.

Given that design and construction cost sfor a re-usable vehicle will exceed those of a single use one, the supposed advantages of re-usable vehicles seem illusory, at least in today's world.

Add it all together and there's really no advantage to a spaceplane, reusable or not, that I can think of. I don't think that will change until we can build a self-testing vehicle with MTBFs several orders of magnitude higher than we can do today.

Too bad though, space planes are definitely the coolest way to go!

jimsz
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posted 07-25-2009 07:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jimsz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Cernan absolutely nailed that. Relations between the two counties have historically run from openly hostile, to grudgingly tolerable - hardly a track record to pin your exploration hopes on. Let alone to trust that they won't rip you off when driving you to the home you basically paid for.

Which is why in my opinion the ISS was a mistake as it will never be able to perform research to cover it's ridiculous cost. Between the cost to the US taxpayer, the never ending repairs and the Russians using it as a money making flying hotel, the ISS never receives any real favorable press and from that people form their opinions that the ISS was a waste of time, money and lives.


quote:
The shuttle was worthwhile, a replacement similar to it is equally worthwhile, but if we're not going somewhere, you are never going to inspire the next generation

The Shuttle spending 30 years going up, orbiting and returning to earth with the loss of life, the amazing amount of delays and the perception of any exploration of significance due to being stuck in low earth orbit for a generation and a half makes it a white elephant.

The shuttle started as a worthy idea but became saddled with the "safe" decision of going with the ISS. The US should have simply stuck with the shuttle and spacelab missions and in tandem developed a new moon or mars program and phase the shuttle out. The US was sucked into the "let's all work together and be friends" mindset which came at a too high of cost.

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