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  [Discuss] NASA's Space Launch System development (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] NASA's Space Launch System development
music_space
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posted 09-14-2011 06:39 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Fezman92:
I am a bit wary about all of this as it is on the heals of the President's plan to cut even more spending to pay for the Jobs Act.
Yes, but isn't this going to create (or maintain) jobs?

ejectr
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posted 09-14-2011 06:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So what are they going to call this heavy lift vehicle?

Hawkman
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posted 09-14-2011 06:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hawkman   Click Here to Email Hawkman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Back to the future!

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-14-2011 07:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cautious optimism here. It is a good feeling to finally see an HLV. I'm worried that future U.S. gov't will cancel or slow it down. A higher launch rate would make better use of this vehicle as well.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-14-2011 08:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
So what are they going to call this heavy lift vehicle?
For now, "Space Launch System."

Peter King with CBS Radio asked Bill Gerstenmaier today about the name. "I'll ask my public affairs folks to help me plan for that. Or you've got suggestions, you can let them know. We're all ears here."

DChudwin
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posted 09-14-2011 10:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for DChudwin   Click Here to Email DChudwin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Augustine Commission warned about the dangers of under-funding, and I fear this will be the fate of the SLS. When the shuttle was being designed, decisions were made that reduced the developmental costs but greatly increased the operational costs of the shuttle.

I hope NASA will learn from the past and not make SLS so expensive to launch that it will rarely be used.

cspg
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posted 09-15-2011 01:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by DChudwin:
I hope NASA will learn from the past and not make SLS so expensive to launch that it will rarely be used.
Or the other way round: it will be rarely used so it will be expensive.

issman1
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posted 09-15-2011 02:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The more one looks at SLS, that famous old proverb a camel is a horse designed by committee comes to mind.

And 10 years till the first crewed flight - no wonder the Astronaut Corps is depleting. My best wishes nonetheless.

Jay Chladek
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posted 09-15-2011 03:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
NASA just cannot let go of the past and wants to persist with solid rocket boosters, commercially or integrated into this heavy lifter. It should be a liquid-fueled system from the outset, 'a la Delta 4 Heavy and Falcon Heavy.
I would say it is more of a deal where somebody can't let go of the fact that NASA wants to use solids because they have a bias against solids.

There is nothing wrong with using solids!!!

First of all, more people have flown in space on solid fueled first stages without a problem than other systems. There have been some minor issues since Challenger, but they were dealt with successfully at the first signs of trouble (i.e. O ring erosion, such as what was seen in the mid-1990s).

Secondly, except for Challenger, no shuttle based solid has ever failed or lost thrust. Even on Challenger, when the O-ring issue was brought up, the Thiokol engineers who brought it up thought the likely result would be the solid would completely fail at SRB ignition and destroy the stack on the pad. That didn't happen and if anything the "flawed" solid kept working for far longer than it was expected to.

There are less moving parts in a solid than a liquid engine. Turn them on and they burn. As long as the casing doesn't have a defect in it (ala the Delta rocket that exploded in the 1990s) things should be fine. A liquid motor has all sorts of little things that could go wrong as you have fuel inlet pipes, turbopumps, cooling jackets on the engine bells. Plus, you have the need for both a fuel and an oxidizer to flow properly because if one gets blocked, you have no engine. Just ask the Russians about that and their Soyuz rocket which lost a Progress recently. That was a stage 3 failure likely caused by a blockage in a pipe. But a few years ago, another Soyuz rocket with a Foton M-1 satellite had an engine failure on a stage 1 strap-on right at the critical point just after launch. It went up, then came down 15 seconds later resulting in a nice BIG fireball on the pad.

Third, you want to give SLS a little bit of reuse capability for not much development cost, solids are about the only way to go since to my knowledge, no liquid fueled engine has EVER been designed that could withstand a splashdown in the ocean and recovery for re-use. Such a booster stage would practically need to have about the size and weight of a solid and the impact forces such a stage would see when it hits the ocean are very high. Solids on the otherhand have been getting fished out of the ocean and casings reused for almost three decades. Even when Ares 1-X hit with one chute opened and a mass simulator on top simulating a full SRB segment, it just buckled one or two of the segments. Granted ATK wasn't going to reuse any of the segments for Ares 1-X anyway, but all things considered, that SRM survived in a much better state than I would have expected it to.

Fourth, if you look at development time of a whole rocket system with liquid stages versus a rocket with SRBs, the time is cut down. Reason being is the five segment SRBs have been and continue to be tested by ATK and they have been doing so for the past 6 years at least. Go with a full liquid system and everything will need to be re-designed. Do you go with a 1st stage below the core? Do you go with strap on boosters? What engines do you use? If you go with LOX and Kerosene instead of LHX for stage 1, it means provisions for another fuel have to be made at the pad. And if you do a new first stage, do you shorten the length of the core to make it stage 2? It adds a few more unknowns. NASA already has plenty of test data to show what loads the shuttle ETs received from two SRBs strapped to it. So this configuration is potentially more understood. There are still several unknowns to overcome, but less so than with an all liquid system for the task it needs to accomplish. Besides, even the French went with a solid strap on system for their Ariane V booster.

As for Bill Gerstenmaier's comments that these motors are for the first flights, I think he is kind of blowing smoke and dodging an issue. If this thing is designed to use five segment SRBs, I highly doubt any other booster will be developed for it as even in a DoD agency like the Air Force or the Navy, when an interim system is deployed first while awaiting the full system later, that system ultimately NEVER gets deployed 9 times out of 10 because some bean counter figures they can save some money by cutting the development of it since a workable system is already in use (sounds very familiar when one considers previous shuttle replacements that got cut while they were still paper projects).

Assuming SLS manages to get built and flies, I can maybe see some smaller strap on systems developed for use with lighter weight payloads, but nothing potentially heavier that the five segments that SLS is likely already baselined for.

What Bill is REALLY saying is "If we had more money, we could do this. But we don't, so five segment boosters it is." In hindsight, maybe he SHOULD have said that to put the real issue out there in black and white for all to see.

star61
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posted 09-15-2011 07:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One big negative you miss about solids: the environment! To get to any decent launch rate, a huge amount of very unpleasant material is dumped into the atmosphere. Imagine if NASA had actually managed a shuttle launch every week! Cheap and cheerful ...and cheap and very dirty.

I think as the SLS will be around for a very long time, presuming it really does happen, we need to design as advanced and clean a system as possible. Sending men and women into space in the mid 21st century on dirty "fireworks" is not sensible on many levels, in my opinion.

SpaceAholic
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posted 09-15-2011 08:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
First of all, more people have flown in space on solid fueled first stages without a problem than other systems.
Nobody has flown to orbit on solid first stages (manned rated systems using solids have been in the capacity of augmented Stage "0").

There are liabilities to using solids which have been addressed in preceding Ares I threads. I don't doubt economy is the driver in initially going with outboard SRB's but its a position which also nicely dovetails with the desire to keep ATK's solid business afloat since NASA has been up to this point the largest consumer of that product (second to the DOD).

cspg
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posted 09-15-2011 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by star61:
One big negative you miss about solids: the environment!
And what makes you think that producing LH/LOX is clean? They consume a lot of energy to produce so unless that energy comes from solar power, they're not that environmentally friendly either. But it may look cleaner at launch.

garymilgrom
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posted 09-15-2011 09:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Jay's points. Solids have worked successfully 269 times out of 270 on the Shuttle alone. And even the Challenger failure was partially predicted by Thiokol engineers who advised not to launch in such cold weather.

One can make the case that the Challenger SRB problem was due to poor management as much as poor design, as a design known to be flawed never got fixed.

star61
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posted 09-15-2011 02:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All fuels have an energy budget before they ever propel a vehicle. Aluminum perchlorate and other additives is still much worse to produce than LOX/LH.

And LOX/LH doesn't exacerbate the problem by spreading lethal pollutants into the atmosphere on combustion. Solids are just an economy fuel and I still maintain they are the wrong way to go. We will have a compromised system as usual because politicians have the foresight of a herd of blind cows. Where's the trough?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-15-2011 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
What Bill is REALLY saying is "If we had more money, we could do this."
I believe you are misinterpreting what Gerstenmaier said, or reading too much into it. The SLS side-mounted boosters are being competed, which means the use of solids for anything but the test flights is not a certainty.

Gerstenmaier told reporters that this procurement "will begin almost immediately."

Jay Chladek
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posted 09-15-2011 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The thing is, if another booster is used after the "test flights" then it becomes another test flight as it were as the vehicle has to be certified to use the new system. Then there is the question of pad support, setting it up for a different booster, provisions for liquid fueling of a new booster (if an LRB is used instead of an SRB), setting up the mobile launcher to handle it, etc... All that development work will also take more money, which NASA may or may not have when the time comes.

I don't know. It seems kind of weird to even bring up that point as it looks like they are going to be locked into using the five segment shuttle derived solids anyway since setting up the design criteria for them will potentially cut development time and save development money.

Of course, NASA may be intending to open it up to other booster configurations in order to get past the congressional mandate to use stuff that was already designed for the other booster systems (such as the SRMs for Ares I and Ares V) so that work doesn't get thrown away.

cspg
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posted 09-17-2011 02:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will more SSME (Space Shuttle Main Engines) be produced or does NASA plan to use existing ones first?

Also both vehicles (Initial and Evolved Lift Capability) produce more thrust than the Saturn V- any impact on the launch pads?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-17-2011 09:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA plans to use the existing 15 space shuttle main engines during the development phase (three per flight) and then transition to an upgraded, expendable SSME (RS-25E) that will be optimized to use common components to the upper stage J-2X engine to further reduce costs.

Blackarrow
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posted 09-17-2011 05:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
So what are they going to call this heavy lift vehicle?
We've had Ares (Mars); Jupiter (which launched Explorer 1); and the Saturn family of rockets. Obviously the next available name is Uranus. That should provide the opportunity for some interesting schoolboy humour.

If we wish to stick with Greek mythology, Uranus was a son of Saturn and one of his grandsons was Prometheus, who gave men the gift of fire. That's a good name for a huge fire-breathing rocket: PROMETHEUS. (Try not to dwell on the fate of the mythological Prometheus...)

mercsim
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posted 09-18-2011 10:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for mercsim   Click Here to Email mercsim     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Too many syllables. Why do you think the government uses so many acronyms?

It does sound cool though...

Blackarrow
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posted 09-18-2011 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Prometheus" has four syllables, compared with three each for Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Bearing in mind that we have to cope with a six-syllable name for the first Moon-landing mission ("A-poll-o El-ev-en") I think we could cope with four in the case of "Prometheus." But I agree that the length of the name could be seen as a slight drawback.

johntosullivan
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posted 09-19-2011 06:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for johntosullivan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How does this compare to the Direct 2.0/Jupiter system I've seen over the last few years as an alternative to Constellation?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-19-2011 08:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Among other differences, Direct called for the use of RS-68 engines (later changed to SSMEs in their 3.0 proposal) for the first stage and two J2X engines (rather than one on SLS) for the upper stage (later changed to six RL10B-2 engines in 3.0). Direct also proposed using two four-segment side-mounted solid rocket motors instead of the five segment boosters (for development flights) or the solid or liquid competed boosters employed by SLS.

The largest proposed Jupiter had a payload to orbit capacity of 120 mT, whereas the SLS tops out at 130 mT.

Delta7
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posted 09-19-2011 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Delta7   Click Here to Email Delta7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ejectr:
So what are they going to call this heavy lift vehicle?

"Sirius" has a nice ring to it.

On the other hand, "Uranus" would help keep late night talk show hosts supplied with jokes for a decade!

Fra Mauro
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posted 09-19-2011 01:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Phoenix might be a good name. The slow launch rate and the years until flight are drawbacks.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 09-19-2011 05:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, there's always "Ascender"....

Spacefest
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posted 09-19-2011 06:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Since SLS uses off-the-shelf, tested hardware, it seems to me a few integration tests would not take five years and $18B. The shuttle's first integration test was called STS-1 — and that was a pretty radical stack.

Surely there are some NASA fanatics who would volunteer to man-rate an SLS launch.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-19-2011 06:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacefest:
The shuttle's first integration test was called STS-1 — and that was a pretty radical stack.
The shuttle's first integration tests took place in 1978 at the Marshall Space Flight Center. Enterprise was mated with an external tank and solid rocket boosters and subjected to a series of vertical ground vibration tests.
These tested the mated configuration's critical structural dynamic response modes, which were assessed against analytical math models used to design the various element interfaces.
And keep in mind, while the shuttle was given the go in 1972, it didn't fly on STS-1 until 1981 — a development period of nine years.

Beyond integrating existing SLS systems and hardware, the upper stage J2X engine has just begun its first series of test fires, the five segment solid rocket motor has only been fired three times, the launch escape system has only been test fired once, and the first space-worthy MPCV has just begun construction.

Spacefest
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posted 09-20-2011 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spacefest   Click Here to Email Spacefest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mating and vibration tests with an inert orbiter! C'mon Rob. STS-1 went WAY beyond that. The STS hadn't been hot-fired before taking two people to orbit. Components had, but not together.

Yeah, it took 9 years, but the shuttle was an entirely new spacecraft, engine, launch system, and infrastructure. SLS is tested, flown hardware.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-20-2011 02:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacefest:
The STS hadn't been hot-fired before taking two people to orbit. Components had, but not together.
Not in full scale, but Marshall built a subscale propulsion test stack that included solid rocket motors, an external tank and SSMEs, and that was test fired.
quote:
SLS is tested, flown hardware.
Some of it is; some of it is not. The MPCV and J2X haven't flown, nor has the five-segment solid rocket motors.

NASA didn't just stack STS-1 in 1981 and fly. While the first full-up test was manned, it was preceded by years of system testing, and we haven't even reached that stage with SLS yet.

SLS's development period is shorter than the space shuttle's because it employs existing hardware components, but that doesn't negate the need for engineering and qualification tests.

music_space
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posted 10-17-2011 05:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is an article about the SLS written by Olivier-Louis Robert, director of the Centre de documentation Youri Gagarine at the Cosmodome. Some of us need material in French for our community outreach, and there's more at the Center's website.

music_space
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posted 10-17-2011 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Enterprise was mated with an external tank and solid rocket boosters and subjected to a series of vertical ground vibration tests.
I'd like to see the kind of apparteus which provided vibration test for an entire STS stack! Any videos?

Fezman92
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posted 10-17-2011 10:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fezman92   Click Here to Email Fezman92     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
(Try not to dwell on the fate of the mythological Prometheus...)
He was tied to a massive rock and had his organs slowly pecked away by crows. Love Greek mythology. I think Prometheus is better than Uranus. Besides Prometheus just sounds cool. Not that I would name my kid that or anything. When I think of Prometheus I think of the Prometheus Class starship from Star Trek.

star61
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posted 10-18-2011 03:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for star61   Click Here to Email star61     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For me, Prometheus is the star of the film "The Sound Barrier". Prototype Supermarine Swift if memory still working. Crashed and burned of course.

Oh yes, and a pet Hamster when I was a kid.

GACspaceguy
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posted 12-07-2011 01:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Space News (Nov. 28), part of the article states:
The maiden flight of SLS is scheduled for 2017. In its debut, a 70-metric-ton variant of the rocket will boost an unmanned MPCV to the Moon and back. A second flight in 2021 would aim to repeat the feat with a crewed MPCV. Both launches would feature an SLS with a core stage powered by a cluster of four or five RS-25D engines Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne originally built for the space shuttle.

NASA recently proposed adding $130 million to Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne’s $1.5 billion J-2X contract to cover work the company would need to do to support use of the existing RS-25D engines for four or five initial SLS flights.

Because NASA is anticipating flat budgets for SLS for the next several years, the agency now plans to put J-2X development on a four-year hold after a battery of tests on the engine wrap up some time in the 2013-2014 timeframe, Stanfield said.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-08-2011 07:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If the new "super-rocket" is ready to fly in 2017, why on earth would four years pass before a second flight? What is the point of building a rocket that flies once every four years?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-08-2011 08:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
...why on earth would four years pass before a second flight?
One word: money.

NASA can only plan missions that fit within its budget. If that budget increases or if efficiencies are located within the program, than flight rates can be accelerated.

xlsteve
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posted 12-09-2011 10:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for xlsteve   Click Here to Email xlsteve     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
One word: money.

"No bucks, no Buck Rodgers,"

Jim Behling
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posted 12-09-2011 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Spacefest:
Yeah, it took 9 years, but the shuttle was an entirely new spacecraft, engine, launch system, and infrastructure. SLS is tested, flown hardware.
Because NASA isn't going to do what it did in the 70's and starve the rest of NASA and unmanned programs to fund it.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-12-2011 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, I don't buy the "it's money" or "budget" arguments. It's a given that NASA needs a budget to do things.

My point is that you don't build a massive rocket if you only plan to fire it once every four years. That's economic and engineering lunacy. Unless each individual rocket is a unique hand-crafted work of art, there has to be a production line producing components, with workers punching their cards every morning at the factory, expecting to have work to do.

If you only produce one rocket off your assembly-line every four years, your skilled managers and engineers will drift away to other jobs. The enhanced ability which emerges from doing a skilled job regularly will dissipate.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but they built multiple Saturn Vs side-by-side until the rocket was cancelled. You can't introduce a new Saturn V-class rocket; build one, then let the tumbleweed roll across the assembly-lines for several years before you recall the people who made the first one and ask them if they can try to remember how they did it. Better not to bother at all.


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