Ares: Modular Rockets

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soccerguy789

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So, I look on the forums and all I'm seeing are people bashing the Ares Rockets, namely Ares I.<br /><br />In wake of the anouncement of the Ares IV, we have come to see a very attractive aspect of the Ares series: modularity.<br /><br />Having recently looked in depth at the "direct launch" proposal for project constelation, whihc designs and operates 1 launch vehicle class, with a 70-80 tonne lift capacity, pulling two launches per mission. The logic behind the design was that you get the same lunar mission with lower developement costs.<br /><br />However, with the Ares IV announced, we see three seperate rockets, serving three very serperate lift capacities, constructed from few base components:<br /><br />5-stage SRB<br />SDLV Fuel tank Core<br />CEV launch liquid fueled 2nd stage.<br /><br />If you really want to, you can count the EDS as a fourth component, and as second stage to the HLV, but I'm counting it as a payload. still, you have these components, and you just snap them together depending on what your mission is.<br /><br />Need to put a CEV in orbit? Ares I<br />Need to put some serious cargo on the moon? Ares V<br />Have ISRU and a reusable lander on the moon and want to swap out crew? Ares IV<br /><br />The way I see it, we get a bargin by bilding three boosters from three (or four) basic components.
 
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space_dreamer

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I totally agree! Ares is an awesome launch system.<br /><br />Three very separate lift capacities, constructed from few base components: <br /><br />5-stage SRB <br />SDLV Fuel tank Core <br />CEV launch liquid fueled 2nd stage. <br />Plus EDS as a fourth component,<br /><br />I would like to add that there are two other base components that should be developed they are;<br /><br />-Liquid fly back boosters (to replace the SRBs)<br /><br />-Nuclear enhanced EDS (Nuclear fuel rods delivered separately by a rocket launched from a remote location) <br />
 
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Boris_Badenov

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<font color="yellow">Nuclear enhanced EDS </font><br /><br /> Now you're talking!!! Make it totally reusable, keep it docked at the ISS or it's counterpart in LLO, use ISRU in LLO or Ares V launches in LEO to refuel it with reaction mass. The active fuel rods would not have to be replaced after every trip because you can get between 10 & 60 engine starts. <br /> Nuclear is the only way to really reduce the costs associated with regular trips anywhere in space, not just Luna. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font color="#993300"><span class="body"><font size="2" color="#3366ff"><div align="center">. </div><div align="center">Never roll in the mud with a pig. You'll both get dirty & the pig likes it.</div></font></span></font> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> In wake of the anouncement of the Ares IV, we have come to see a very attractive aspect of the Ares series: modularity. </i><br /><br />Sounds like the proposed Delta/Atlas evolution. Delta IV Common Booster Cores are designed to be docked together as needed. Atlas V evolved with the proposed Wide Body Centaur as EDS and extended duration kit would provide a full cislunar transport system. Zenit also exists, is man-rated but with a spotty record so far, and commercially available. The Zenti2SLB is available with 13tonnes IMLEO, more than enough to launch a capsule (not necessarily the bloated Orion). Soyuz stack only weighs about 5t for example, and it's rocket is highly modularized.<br /><br />The idea of modular rocket systems has merit, many current systems are developing along these lines. The item I question is using Shuttle STS-derived hardware. It's unbelievably expensive and labor-intense (the whole point?) to keep that hardware working. <br /><br />Instead of modularizing the rocket itself, how far can the payloads be broken down? The extreme of this is architectures that rely on 500kg to LEO rocketplanes. If it can fly reliably at $500,000, safely, what's to say you shouldn't use that as a tanker and rely on propellant transfer. As it stands today, there are plenty of rockets in the 5-20 ton range. A lot can be accomplished with those figures, starting now and fairly affordably. ARES is not promising any breakthroughs in cost to taxpayers and will not be commercially available. So, why bother?<br /><br />At the XPrize Cup, there was an engine in the history area that said J2X next to it. I'm pretty sure it was an old J2 because that's what their talking about re-adapting. This is an old Apollo-era rocket (and my ugly mug). It was covered in 2-inch data cables and other hardware. Compare with the modern Merlin motor on Falcon, which is brand-new and uses Ethernet for control:<br /><br />http://www.postcardstospace.com/images/xprize/j2 <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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edkyle98

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>"So, I look on the forums and all I'm seeing are people bashing the Ares Rockets, namely Ares I.<br /><br />In wake of the anouncement of the Ares IV, we have come to see a very attractive aspect of the Ares series: modularity.<br />...<br />However, with the Ares IV announced, we see three seperate rockets, serving three very serperate lift capacities, constructed from few base components: "<<br /><br /><br />I believe that we would see this type of harping no matter what rocket NASA was developing. If it wasn't shuttle-derived, people would be crying about the planned demolition of the VAB and LC 39, etc. I also believe that the harping will stop cold after the first Ares I launch.<br /><br />As for Ares IV, this is just a paper study. NASA isn't planning to develop Ares IV *and* Ares V. It is simply taking this time, while Ares I development is underway, to examine a range of heavy lift options. In the end, NASA will only develop one heavy lifter, if it gets to develop any at all. <br /><br /> - Ed Kyle
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I believe that we would see this type of harping no matter what rocket NASA was developing.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Exactly, because in 21st century, there is no practical reason why NASA should develop and operate rockets. Unless you want to declare politics games as a practical reason.
 
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tomnackid

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Well actually there is a very good reason that anyone who has taken economics 101 would see right away. There is barely a market for man-rated or heavy-lift rockets. Not nearly enough customers to provide a competitive marketplace. Yet, manned space exploration and heavy lift are seen as important for national security and international competitiveness--hence the government has to step in for a while--just like it did with the railroads, air travel, telecommunications. Its a natural evolution. NASA used to launch all US rockets, from tiny sounding rockets to the Saturn V. As comsats became big business a market developed for small and medium lift orbital launch vehicles and private industry stepped in. When the need for man-rated and heavy-lift launch vehicles increases to the point the private companies can reasonably expect to make profits they will take over that area.
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>There is barely a market for man-rated or heavy-lift rockets.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />nice analysis .. except that nothing in VSE mandates man-rated heavy-lift rockets, or heavy-lift rockets in general.<br />Current lift capability on market is more than sufficient to accomplish all of the VSE's goals.
 
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tomnackid

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Current lift capacity in 1965 could have accomplished all of NASA's VSE goals but not in the way NASA wants to do it! NASA wants to avoid risky, complex and potentially costly options like on orbit refueling and on orbit assembly as much as possible--at least for now. They want to reduce the the number of engines involved with each phase of a mission as much as practical for safety and reliability. NASA has said over and over again that in their opinion a long term human presence in space (and any trips to mars) depends on developing a HLLV. The Russians have had reliable and relatively cheap to operate (we'll never really know how much the old USSR actually spent on developing it) medium lift for decades and haven't gone further than LEO. If Boeing or Lock-Mart want to turn their vehicles into man-rated systems I'm sure NASA will give them a look, but for now their decision (right or wrong) was to base the vehicles on what is arguably one of the most well tested man-rated engines in the history of rocketry--the SRB.
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>NASA wants to avoid risky, complex and potentially costly options like on orbit refueling and on orbit assembly as much as possible<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Whats so risky about current ISS on orbit assembly and Progress refuelling ISS on a regular basis ?<br />They are content to do it on ISS but not on VSE ? The most ironic part is, that completion of ISS is a prerequisite for ESAS plan to move forward.<br /><br />You came in lecturing me on economics 101, and now resort to NASA wants and wishes. What NASA wants and politicics impose upon them has little to do with economics.
 
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tomnackid

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Don't complain to me, complain to NASA if you aren't happy with their choices. I'm just telling your their rational. Actually I don't know of anyone in NASA who WOULDN'T have preferred to launch a space station in one shot a la Skylab, but the Shuttle, Proton, and Soyuz were all we had. This is nothing new . After Apollo NASA originally wanted a small reusable "space taxi" and a HLLV but they were only given the budget and go ahead for one "do-it-all" vehicle--the shuttle. It was a HLLV but since most of its payload was the orbiter itself practically speaking it was in the medium range.<br /><br />And the assembly, refueling, and resupplying of ISS is somewhat risky and expensive. Also if a ship carrying supplies, fuel or a new module is delayed or destroyed ISS has enough margin to wait it out. Worst case scenario the astronauts can evacuate and mothball the station. If your lunar mission depends on lets say 6 launches to assemble your moonship and just one launch fails there is a high probability that the entire mission will be scrubbed. Exploratory spacecraft with limited margins can only stay on orbit unattended for so long and keeping a fleet spares ready for immediate launch gets expensive. NASA's choice was to go with one small crew launch and one big launch. I'm not saying we won't need on orbit assembly at some point. There is a practical limit to how big you can make a launch vehicle (but its pretty big! See "Sea Dragon"). But for VSE NASA wants to avoid it.<br />
 
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radarredux

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> <i><font color="yellow">They are content to do it on ISS but not on VSE ?</font>/i><br /><br />That is the point -- Griffin has said that they are (or at least "he is") NOT content with the complex on orbit assembly for ISS. NASA learned from ISS, and Ares V is part of their answer.<br /><br /><br /> /> <i><font color="yellow">The most ironic part is, that completion of ISS is a prerequisite for ESAS plan to move forward.</font>/i><br /><br />The primary value to the VSE for completing ISS is keeping partners happy by honoring as much of the commitment as reasonably possible. The hope is that many of them will participate in VSE-related activities later.</i></i>
 
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j05h

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<i>> NASA learned from ISS, and Ares V is part of their answer. </i><br /><br />That is the most reasoned justification for ARES V that I have read. It still doesn't justify flying astronauts on a segmented solid booster. If they need a strap-on booster for ARES V, then develop it. There are better, cheaper ways to get crew into LEO currently. <br /><br /><i>>The primary value to the VSE for completing ISS is keeping partners happy by honoring as much of the commitment as reasonably possible. The hope is that many of them will participate in VSE-related activities later.</i><br /><br />ISS also has the possibility of becoming a US National Lab, which means it would be able to get money under a different budget than just NASA. I'm not sure about the Partners, but once finished this should allow some new uses. If we expect the Partners to join "someday", we should start now with our critical partner and baseline Soyuz-to-LEO. That leaves our tax dollars to concentrate on the supposed need for a SDHLV and the much more important lunar base hardware. There will be a crew-capable Soyuz pad at Kourou in a few years, too.<br /><br />Putting off LEO/L1 assembly and tanking doesn't make sense. Apollo did that because they were in a hurry. What this says is that an entirely new architecture (instead of infrastructure)will be proposed for Mars. If the need is to stage 80ton chunks in L1, sure, a HLV is required. But if you can break that down into 20t pieces it does can be done with todays launchers. <br /><br />ARES is not addressing flight frequency and ops costs at all. 4 flights a year for slightly less than the Shuttle budget? Is that a joke? <br /><br />We're arguing over this and the Delta IV factory sits idle in California.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>NASA learned from ISS, and Ares V is part of their answer<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />As usual, they have learned all the wrong lessons.<br /><br />Like with X-33. They screw up project management, go to major bleeding edge technologies on critical paths, of which any is likely to fail, they set up entire project so that it has no incentive to actually get off the ground .. to nobodys surpise it fails, and what do they learn ?<br /><br />Reuseable space launch vehicles are impossible !<br /><br />If there is one thing seriously wrong with ISS, its having just that one launch vehicle on critical path to completion. Assembly, refuelling and docking has not caused any significant delays in the program, whereas dependence on one launch vehicle put a multi-year gap in it.<br /><br />Lesson learned ? Avoid docking and refuelling on orbit, depend on one launch vehicle !<br /><br />Ok lets be honest, i dont think that people at NASA are so dim to overlook stuff like that. The reason for Ares existence is keeping STS workforces employed and congresscritters in given districts happy. NASA's top officials mostly have admitted it. <br />Once thing that i dont understand, why cant they put that workforce to do something more useful. I mean if you got to keep them on payroll, they could at least do something useful. Say, like build orbital fuel depots or lunar hardware or something.
 
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holmec

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>Once thing that i dont understand, why cant they put that workforce to do something more useful. I mean if you got to keep them on payroll, they could at least do something useful. Say, like build orbital fuel depots or lunar hardware or something.<<br /><br />Its not just man power, its hardware and tools! <br /><br />I'm sorry I just cannot agree that NASA goes with bleeding edge technology rather than tried and true. I see the opposite. They have mainly gone with launch rockets rather than air launched vehicles (X-15). And remember that before the military was looking at the Saturn V and other rockets to make up the ballistic missile family. Today its all exploration! And their using tried and true sub systems from the past and present.<br /><br />As far as reusable launch vehicles being an impossibility, that is a matter of time and material science, along with new techniques of reentry and launch. <br /><br />I bet the real solution will rely on neumatics extensively. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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tomnackid

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You do realize that in terms of energy and orbital mechanics dragging fuel up from the earth's surface and putting it into LEO is way more wasteful than building a bigger launch vehicle in the first place. As long as we are dragging fuel up from earth--the only option for the foreseeable future--the only justification is if we are building spacecraft too large to be launched in one piece with their own fuel on onboard. And we aren't even close to reaching the limits of launch vehicle technology yet. <br /><br />What is really foolish is condemning the US to decades of small launch vehicles and tinkertoy spacecraft for the next few decades all because that is what Boeing and LockMart can make a profit on. Just so we can say "its free market" (sorta, kinda, in the weird way government contractors work). <br /><br />From the beginning the Shuttle was designed with flexibility in mind. There were cargo only and non and semi reusable inline version planned, even mocked up right from the beginning. We are now on the verge up implementing some of these concepts. I imagine we will finally see an air start SME down the road when the money is available. Everyone involved with the SMEs says it can be done, its just the coast of developing and test, testing, testing. Keeping the people who know how to build and maintain this stuff makes good economic sense for the present. Private companies go to great lengths to keep employees with important skills and knowledge. Its not a "welfare plan" for them and it isn't for NASA either.
 
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no_way

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I am sorry, your post didnt make any sense to me at all. Did i say that ESAS plan goes with bleeding edge tech anywhere ?<br />What are you arguing with ? <br /><br />
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>You do realize that in terms of energy and orbital mechanics dragging fuel up from the earth's surface and putting it into LEO is way more wasteful<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Huh, that is something that i absolutely do not realize. Care to illustrate how on earth did you come to this conclusion ?<br />I do hope though that you realize that energy (read: fuel costs ) make up minuscule part of current launch costs, so even if it were more inefficient, that absolutely doesnt mean that it would cost more.<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>I imagine we will finally see an air start SME down the road when the money is available. Everyone involved with the SMEs says it can be done<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Strange, that SSMEs were scrapped from Ares designs for the very reason that people involved in trying to do it said that it couldn't be done. Besides, what does this have to do with economics 101 ?<br />
 
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tomnackid

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First of all from an ENERGY standpoint taking fuel up with one rocket to fuel a second one IS less efficient. That's pretty basic orbital mechanics. You do the math. If the fuel came from an off earth source like skimming oxygen from the upper atmosphere, or mining it on the moon (with its much shallower gravity well) then it would be more efficient--but that is not in the cards for at least several decades. You don't even have to do any math. Its simple to conceptualize that launching a fuel tanker from earth to refuel ships that also have been launched from earth is less efficient than launching a bigger, fully fueled ship to begin with. The ONLY reason for orbit fueling with fuel brought up from earth is to reduce the size of the launch vehicle.<br /><br />No one in NASA or Rocketdyne ever said an air-start SME was impossible. just the opposite they are pretty confident that it can be done. NASA didn't want to take the time and money to do it right now. The performance penalty of the J-2 was made up for in their minds by being able to develop the 5 segment SRB (which will be needed for Ares V) right now. Please check your facts before you lecture.
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>First of all from an ENERGY standpoint taking fuel up with one rocket to fuel a second one IS less efficient.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />That, actually, is entirely up to exactly which rocket you use.<br />Now, find me a joker who cares how many kWhs it took to get his tanks full, all anyone cares about is how much it costs.<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>No one in NASA or Rocketdyne ever said an air-start SME was impossible. just the opposite they are pretty confident that it can be done.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />If you want to pick nits, then yes nothing is impossible. Except that when original cost estimates grow from astronomical to astronomically obscene you have to go back to drawing board.<br />
 
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j05h

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<i>> First of all from an ENERGY standpoint taking fuel up with one rocket to fuel a second one IS less efficient.</i><br /><br />I'm interested in the economic efficiency of it. If you're spacecraft is 99% efficient in energy terms but costs 10X the 97.5% efficient vehicle, are you really using your funds (our tax money) in the best way? Besides this, we should be looking at systems, not individual rockets, and the current ARES proposal falls flat on that front.<br /><br />The technology base they are building on is designed to be expensive. NASA is limiting our future with these choices. And you wonder why kids these days aren't interested? This is part of it. You, me, and that kid over there never get to fly under this scheme.<br /><br /><i>> Its simple to conceptualize that launching a fuel tanker from earth to refuel ships that also have been launched from earth is less efficient than launching a bigger, fully fueled ship to begin with. The ONLY reason for orbit fueling with fuel brought up from earth is to reduce the size of the launch vehicle. </i><br /><br />You're building up straw assumptions to knock them down. Assume instead that you (as the operator) can fly your empty, reusable lunar lander on the same type of rocket as your tanker flights. Instead of baselining one huge launch, you get 20 launches that each cost 1/50th the price. (for example) And, at the end of the first mission, you've got a reusable lunar lander to do it again with. It's the difference between flying components and flying infrastructure. <br /><br />The main reasons to use orbital fuelling are to increase flight rate and compartmentalize trip segments. Lighter vehicles can be used for some segments, such as crew taxi. Reduction in launch vehicle size is only a side benefit. <br /><br />With orbital depots, significant margins can be achieved by bulk transport. It provides a base camp where spares can be stored and crew can rest. It provides a facility to reclaim sections of the space veh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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tomnackid

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"&%$#@!, moan, whine, &%$#@!, moan, whine. Grumble, grumble. I once built an Estes I know better than NASA. &%$#@!, moan, grumble, libertarian, grumble. I want permanent infrastructure run by private industry but I want NASA to build it. Grumble, grumble. I know better just because, grumble, grumble, &%$#@!. I can't add vectors but I know more about space flight than NASA. Grumble, &%$#@!."<br /><br />'bout sums up the level of this thread I think.
 
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j05h

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<i>> "&%$#@!, moan, whine, &%$#@!, moan, whine. Grumble, grumble. I once built an Estes I know better than NASA. &%$#@!, moan, grumble, libertarian, grumble. I want permanent infrastructure run by private industry but I want NASA to build it. Grumble, grumble. I know better just because, grumble, grumble, &%$#@!. I can't add vectors but I know more about space flight than NASA. Grumble, &%$#@!."<br />'bout sums up the level of this thread I think.</i><br /><br />Well, you sure do know how to drag the level of discourse down. No swears, no whining on my part, pal. I honestly think they have chosen a terrible direction and am doing my best to convince you of it. <br /><br />I want permanent infrastructure built and operated by private industry, with NASA as one of many customers. I'm only half in support of COTS, because in a free market SpaceX/rpk should be able to pull it off themselves. NASA shouldn't be an operator in this context. Unlike a lot of the other space cadets, I don't expect NASA to build it, but would like them to specify what they want out of it. A LOX/Methane depot doesn't do them much good if they insist on using LH, for example. <br /><br />I stand by my statement: you and NASA want one-off missions, not sustainable infrastructure.<br /><br />Josh <br /><br />PS - Tom, maybe you should hook up with Lisa Porter, since you both know it all. I'm not an orbital mechanics specialist, and I don't ask you about the minutae of 3DSMAX, nasal surgery, proper 3-stage breathing or any other special knowledge. No, I don't know how to add vectors in my head, but I pay taxes and know when I'm getting snowed. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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tomnackid

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It seems that discourse is not important here. I presented several of NASA arguments as to why they chose the Ares system, but you are so fixated on this private enterprise, space infrastructure issue that you simply ignore them.<br /><br />Who is going to build this multi billion dollar infrastructure? If you were a CEO would you go to your stockholders and tell them that you want to spend tens of billions of their dollars on a space infrastructure system, and oh by the way the only firm customer for the next 20 years is NASA? Its not going to happen. I read Heinlien growing up too, but the fact is you can't build a rocket in your garage anymore than Columbus could have sailed across the Atlantic without the financial support of the Spanish crown. <br /><br />VSE is a program of EXPLORATION. We have bearely begun to learn how to live in space and we know virtually nothing about living on the moon for any length of time. VSE is not about building space factoreis and fueling stations. Would you have told Lewis and Clark that they should wait for someone to buld a highway or a railroad or some other complex infrastructure into the American west before they went exploring? Was their expidtion a useless "one-off" mission becaus there original mules and boats didn't make it back?<br /><br />PS: ther is no honor in wallowing in your ignorance. Space exploration has no place for people who "don't cotton to none of that fancy book learnin."<br /> <br />PPS: I'm not quite sure what bringing up 3DSMAX (I use Truespace myself) or nasal surgery has to do with a space exploration forum, but orbital mechanics and vectors certainly has a place here. <br /><br />PPS: Who is Lisa Porter? Is she cute? <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br />
 
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j05h

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My motivation comes from this: for the development cost of ARES I, you can buy 100-300 Soyuz seats. (at $50M/6months) I wish their was a commercial US solution instead, but it is commercially available today. <br /><br /><i>> Who is going to build this multi billion dollar infrastructure? If you were a CEO would you go to your stockholders and tell them that you want to spend tens of billions of their dollars on a space infrastructure system, and oh by the way the only firm customer for the next 20 years is NASA? Its not going to happen.</i><br /><br /><br />As a CEO, no I would not pursue that sort of arrangement. It does emphasize why discussing integrated standards/needs makes sense. Imagine the change to GEO markets if a tug was available from an L1 depot? There are a lot of applications that open up with each increment. On-orbit assembly is going to be required eventually, same with various propellant transfers. Not taking that into account with ESAS from the beginning seems nearsighted. Bush didn't preclude that in the VSE and Marburger endorsed it explicitly.<br /><br /><i>>VSE is a program of EXPLORATION. We have bearely begun to learn how to live in space and we know virtually nothing about living on the moon for any length of time. VSE is not about building space factoreis and fueling stations. Would you have told Lewis and Clark that they should wait for someone to buld a highway or a railroad or some other complex infrastructure into the American west before they went exploring? Was their expidtion a useless "one-off" mission becaus there original mules and boats didn't make it back? </i><br /><br />Apollo was the "Lewis and Clark" of space expeditions. What we need is the "Conestoga wagon". VSE is very much about space factories and fuel stations. ESAS, which is NASA's response to the VSE, only proposes a portion of what VSE involves. VSE proposes to open the Solar System to human development. It's about much more than exploration. ESAS is about exploratio <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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