Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
21 Posts

High Frontier» Forums » General

Subject: "When Are We Going Back?" rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Robb Minneman
United States
Tacoma
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My oldest son is 5 1/2. His little brother is almost four.* Today, my oldest got out his Viewmaster, and asked to look through his series of pictures from Apollo 11.

"Look, Dad, a rocket launch!" Yeah, son. So I showed him this clip, here:



If that doesn't bring a tear to your eye, well, then, I humbly suggest that you're surfing the wrong forum.

And yet, it's not like we've done all that much since then. Here we are, toodling along on this here planet, and letting our past slip away.



Hell, we've lost a bunch of the expertise just to go to the moon. NASA's had to pull apart old rocket engines to figure out how to build a heavy lifter. Manufacturing and materials expertise that we could have maintained is lost forever.

And I'm sitting here, reminded of the end of that movie with Tom Hanks, as Jim Lovell, asking, "When are we going back?"

*My daughter is only 2, and so doesn't factor in to this discussion. Yet.
15 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dom Rougier
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This has been argued over and over again, to the point of exhaustion. The reason and fallacy behind the Space Shuttle, and the abandonment of human capability beyond Low Earth Orbit is something which is extremely well known, and highly depressing.

I do think it is unfair to say that nothing has been done - Mariner, Voyager, Venera, the Mars rovers and others are tremendous success stories, and have brought us a tremendous wealth of knowledge.

It's also true, as Zubrin pointed out, that the roots of most of these programs were in the ten years of 1960-1970, and that NASA in particular has clearly achieved far more in that time period than at any other. More importantly, this was done without a significant increase in funding, just the will and the application.

Today, SpaceX launched the first Falcon 9.1. This is the first step to producing a fully reusable vehicle ("partial success" - the first stage re-ignited and seems to have re-entered successfully, but spun later in it's descent). This will be the way in which space is opened up, private companies. being somewhat removed from the political cycle, can operate on timescales that governments can not. There are problems with a purely-commercial approach to space, but these are different problems to the ones which have restricted human spaceflight for the last fourty years.

Now is a very exciting time for spaceflight. It really seems like there are multiple agents who actually have the capacity to go places, and finally start developing the infrastructure that will make this kind of thing possible.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob Bob742
msg tools
War is a Racket - Maj Gen Smedley Darlington Butler d
Avatar
mbmbmb
This reminds me of this anime titled Freedom.
Here the young protagonists are of a moon colony, knowing nothing of Earth.
Two manage to get to Earth and meet people whom they were told did not exist.
And while there the two characters, with the help of some locals rebuild an Apollo style craft.

Interviews with the creators of this show talked about how they went to the air and space museum for research.
Here is a trailer.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Domfluff wrote:
It's also true, as Zubrin pointed out, that the roots of most of these programs were in the ten years of 1960-1970, and that NASA in particular has clearly achieved far more in that time period than at any other. More importantly, this was done without a significant increase in funding, just the will and the application.


No significant increase in funding?? Are we looking at the same data? The orange curve?

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
robbbbbb wrote:
NASA's had to pull apart old rocket engines to figure out how to build a heavy lifter.


This seems pretty hard to believe. Do you have a reference? The SSME is much more technologically advanced than the F-1 was. And modern metallurgy and materials science and modeling capacities are far beyond those of the 1970s when the SSME was designed. There are a variety of reasons why building new lifters is not easy. But the idea that we had way more engineering knowledge in the 1960s than we do now, doesn't seem consistent with the facts.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dom Rougier
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is the claim I was referring to:

Robert Zubrin in The Case for Mars wrote:
The most frequent answer is lack of money. If only NASA had the kind of funding it did during the Apollo era, it is claimed, we would see great accomplishments in human spaceflight. This excuse, however, is completely false. The fact of the matter is that in today's dollars the average NASA budget between 1961 (when President Kennedy gave his speech announcing the Apollo program) and 1973 (when the final Apollo-Skylab mission was flown) was $19 billion per year, nearly exactly the same as NASA's budget is today, and has been in round numbers, since about 1990.

(...)

Yes, it is true that the NASA budget during the 1960's got a larger share of federal outlays, however that is not because NASA was richer, but because the nation was smaller and poorer. During the 1960's, America's population was 60 percent what it is today, and it's GNP was 25 percent as great. These were hardly advantages for Apollo.


Clearly, taking the average from 1961 to 1973 does include the start and end of the program, rather than the program at it's peak.

It's notable, however, that this money included the investment to build all of this from scratch. This simply shouldn't be the case. The Saturn V would have been an expensive thing to keep flying (and there are the old debates about whether it would have been cheaper than the shuttle - I think that the fact this is even a possibility is proof of the problem here), but it would certainly have been cheaper than trying to redesign it from scratch every few years.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Well, clearly there was a huge increase in funding for NASA, to create the Apollo program. NASA didn't just repurpose its existing resources; it was given a huge boost in funding in order to do something new. The graph shows that.

Whether NASA funding during the Apollo years was "greater" or "less" than it is today, in "real dollars", is a much more complicated question. "Real dollars" are an oversimplification: some things cost much more today in "real dollars" than they did in the 1960s, and other things cost much less.

The shuttle program was very expensive for what we got. I don't think anyone disagrees about that.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Dom Rougier
United Kingdom
Bristol
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DaviddesJ wrote:
Well, clearly there was a huge increase in funding for NASA, to create the Apollo program. NASA didn't just repurpose its existing resources; it was given a huge boost in funding in order to do something new. The graph shows that.


Oh, absolutely. The point was that it's not necessary to have another space race or cold war to fund a national space program that is going places - the money is there now, what's lacking is the direction and the political will.

The Shuttle, as originally conceived, actually made a lot more sense. It was supposed to be one quarter of a system, including a space station, an orbital tug, and an NTR interplanetary ship. In that situation, a (fully!) reusable crew transporter starts to sound rather more sensible, even if this is rather naively matched to reality.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Domfluff wrote:
Oh, absolutely. The point was that it's not necessary to have another space race or cold war to fund a national space program that is going places - the money is there now


Only if you can repeal sequestration.

Quote:
The Shuttle, as originally conceived, actually made a lot more sense. It was supposed to be one quarter of a system, including a space station, an orbital tug, and an NTR interplanetary ship. In that situation, a (fully!) reusable crew transporter starts to sound rather more sensible, even if this is rather naively matched to reality.


The core problem, of course, is that the shuttle cost 4x (or more) to operate than what it was "expected" to cost, therefore consuming all of the funds that would have been required to do those other things.

Any plan that relies on a vehicle that's several times more expensive to operate in practice than it was in the plan, is going to fail.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Johnson
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
I will attempt not to name names so i do not get sued and so the Geek does not get angry with me. If any mods have any issues with what i am writing contact me immediately and i will modify this post.

Many of these issues are as much about corruption as lack of direction and will. My uncle was the main engine lead design engineer for the space shuttle. In the late 80's, IIRC, an American company won the bid to build the space shuttle replacement reusable launch vehicle.

Uncle was walking into a high ranking NASA official's office before the bid was decided and witnessed this aerospace company bribing his boss.
Uncle is a believer in NASA's original goals and did not take kindly to this action so he took it as close to the top as he could get, where he was told, 'shut up, don't talk about this, this is just how things are done now.'

Uncle decided to leave NASA at this point, he had told most of the talent had already left, it was largely hacks left. He was hired by Rockwell to finish out his career as one of the engineers on their fusion power program in Washington State, IIRC.

I was invited, through a bit of wheedling on my part, to the first demonstration of the new space shuttle replacement for NASA and a few other people. This program cost a huge amount more than the space shuttle program ever thought of costing. And then i watched the new vehicle parachute back to Earth like a freakin' Mercury capsule.
Our corporate media does not ever bring this up when they talk about the space shuttle retirement and the lack of an American space program at the government level. This cost us the tax payers a huge amount of money which largely went into the pockets of the executives and share holders at this aerospace company.

I hope you can forgive how i wrote this, as i was trying to be as anonymous as possible.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob Bob742
msg tools
War is a Racket - Maj Gen Smedley Darlington Butler d
Avatar
mbmbmb
Plus the major reason - or A major reason for all that funding back then was the cold war - the space race. The US was flexing its muscle. (triple entendre even)
That's no obscure idea. Even Bill Nye the Science Guy acknowledged it on a national radio program interview.

We're recognizing more & more what Einstein said about WW3 & WW4 and with having seen the earth as one glossy marble in which we all live the need to gain a "high ground" is turning archaic.
Thus the reason for lower discretionary spending on space programs. Less of the space program connected with that war stuff.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Calavera Despierta
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
Oh my god, someone rolled poorly on the black dice: RSP is leaking into the High Frontier forums.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
decourcy2 wrote:
And then i watched the new vehicle parachute back to Earth like a freakin' Mercury capsule.


Maybe there's a reason for that. There's a lot to be said for mechanisms that are simple, reliable, and work, over those that look really cool. Using the simplest technology that does the job, and just executing it really well, seems to be the SpaceX approach.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Johnson
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
David, we spent billions on this reusable vehicle. So, where are they? Why are they not being used? They are not simpler in a good way they are trash tech that no one wants. Just waste of money.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
decourcy2 wrote:
David, we spent billions on this reusable vehicle. So, where are they? Why are they not being used? They are not simpler in a good way they are trash tech that no one wants. Just waste of money.


You said you saw drop tests of the Orion DTA. So you know that it is under development. If you really think that Orion is not "simpler in a good way" than the Shuttle, which required hundreds of millions of dollars of servicing after each flight and landing, then I think you have really got the wrong goals in mind. Any human-rated flight vehicle is going to cost billions of dollars to develop and test. It sounds like you're proposing something that would be much more complex and expensive, and then complaining that the simpler solution takes too long and costs too much.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Johnson
United States
Kalamazoo
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmb
No, David you are misunderstanding me; the Orion is a new project. I watched the drop in, maybe '97 or '98 or maybe '96. We 'finished' the development of that vehicle. Which we are not using. The Orion is a 2000's era project.
You keep putting words in my mouth.

Cost does not matter a great deal to me or simplicity/complication; what matters is success. But, if you think we should go back to Mercury capsules, than by all means.

What i am discussing is a vehicle that never worked in it's specifications, cost the American tax payers a great deal of money, and was never used.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
decourcy2 wrote:
No, David you are misunderstanding me; the Orion is a new project. I watched the drop in, maybe '97 or '98 or maybe '96. We 'finished' the development of that vehicle. Which we are not using.


You're seriously misinformed. I don't know what "vehicle" you're talking about, or what you think you saw. NASA pursued two technology demonstrators in the 1990s, the X-30 and the X-33. Both were unsuccessful in solving their technical problems and neither was ever flight tested (the X-30 program was canceled in 1993 and the X-33 was canceled in 2001). If they had been, they still were only technology demonstrators, neither was close to being a working vehicle. That would have had to come later.

Maybe what you saw was the first test of the X-40? This was a subscale technology demonstrator for what subsequently became the X-37 program. It was dropped from a helicopter (at 9200 ft) and landed successfully once on 8/11/98, and then tested again several times after 2000. Dropping an unmanned, subscale technology demonstrator from the lower atmosphere and landing it once is a whopping long way away from actually developing and building a vehicle that can carry people to earth from space.

The X-37 (derived from the X-40 that you saw) is an unmanned vehicle flown by the US DOD. So we are using it. (The X-37B is in space right now: mission USA-240.) The X-37B is not, however, a Shuttle replacement, as it was never designed to carry people.

Boeing wrote a proposal for a scaled up X-37C that could carry people, in 2011. However, this has never been built and there is no actual work on it, it's just a paper concept. It's certainly not something we 'finished'.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh Powell
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'll take the actual footage over Tom Hanks' mug, thank you very much. whistle

7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Josh Powell
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
And I gotta say... this is the clip that brings a tear to my eye...

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Robb Minneman
United States
Tacoma
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
DaviddesJ wrote:
robbbbbb wrote:
NASA's had to pull apart old rocket engines to figure out how to build a heavy lifter.


This seems pretty hard to believe. Do you have a reference? The SSME is much more technologically advanced than the F-1 was. And modern metallurgy and materials science and modeling capacities are far beyond those of the 1970s when the SSME was designed. There are a variety of reasons why building new lifters is not easy. But the idea that we had way more engineering knowledge in the 1960s than we do now, doesn't seem consistent with the facts.


The problem isn't with engineering, per se, but manufacturing expertise. As anyone who's worked in manufacturing will tell you, not everything's in the documentation. And so when you let your manufacturing lapse, you lose knowledge. Good article from Ars Technica here:

http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/04/how-nasa-brought-the-...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David desJardins
United States
Burlingame
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
robbbbbb wrote:


This is a great article. Thanks! But it's pretty far away from "NASA's had to pull apart old rocket engines to figure out how to build a heavy lifter."
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.