Shot across Constellation's bow

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j05h

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<i>>Just because an existing DOD rocket appears to be a better choice does not necessarily mean that it is.<br /><br />Its not like the DOD has a bunch of surplus rockets lying around to give to NASA. So far I haven't seen any cost data beyond rough estimates. </i><br /><br />The DoD buys it's rockets from ULA. The DoD has never had rockets just lying around - they have always relied on corporate manufacturers. ULA has tried to find other launch customers but has had trouble attracting payloads. Cost estimates for EELV are still well below projected Ares I costs - that assumes Ares comes in at cost and does not reflect volume discounts for existing EELVs. (and you're fooling yourselves if you think placing orders for dozens of EELVs wouldn't get you a major discount) Flight frequency is the strongest determinant of a rocket's cost, excluding payload. Soyuz is not cheap just because Russian labor is cheap. The fact that it is the most flown launcher ever (ie. flight frequency) is the major factor in per-ton launch costs to LEO. Current designs, built and flown in sufficient quantity, will produce affordable/cheaper launch. There is no real need for air-launch, RBCC, rockoons, mag-lev or other techniques. More payloads will create this situation, more flights on pretty ordinary rockets. Nothing else. <br /><br />If we are being political, the only thing I would advocate is Congress legislating "payload neutrality" for Orion and other NASA payloads. It could easily be moved into a competitive launch environment, which would spread risk, lower costs by introducing competition and foster a more robust launch industry. <br /><br /><i>> Consider also its still early in the programs development and NASA may end up utilizing Atlas Vs or Congress/OMB might mandate their use.</i><br /><br />The problem is that the solution was determined before the mission. Bush said "go back to the moon, on to Mars and help develop the Solar System" (well, more paraphrasing Marburger). The Admin <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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comga

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"what I think is really needed to save some money in the long run is a different way to launch than vertical takeoff from the ground. And air launch at altitude would probably be in order. ... Air launch could be by balloon, derigible, or airplane. "<br /><br />Those are some of the "alternative architectures" that I alluded to. Airlaunch has attractive aspects, but it is not currently developed. Here we are discussing the relative merits of Ares-1, on which NASA is now spending billions, and EELVs which are in production for other US government customers. <br /><br />Actually, we started out discussing Obama's statements that we should cut "Exploration" and spend the money on social programs. To be kind, we morphed to a discussion of how the current program spends so much before we even see something equivalent to what was done four decades ago. (An unkind view is that we just spout about whatever.) Shall we get back to the subject?
 
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qso1

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J05H:<br />The DoD buys it's rockets from ULA. The DoD has never had rockets just lying around<br /><br />Me:<br />Which is what I was mentioning to Comga. It makes a certain amount of sense to utilize DOD vehicles for NASA missions, if the logistics will support it.<br /><br />J05H:<br />Cost estimates for EELV are still well below projected Ares I costs - that assumes Ares comes in at cost and does not reflect volume discounts for existing EELVs.<br /><br />Me:<br />In the space biz...something complex coming in under cost is pretty rare.<br /><br />J05H:<br />Flight frequency is the strongest determinant of a rocket's cost, excluding payload.<br /><br />Me:<br />True, but having a payload to frequently fly in the manned space business has so far been pretty difficult.<br /><br />J05H:<br />Current designs, built and flown in sufficient quantity, will produce affordable/cheaper launch.<br /><br />Me:<br />Current designs are also limited in facilities to launch from. The Delta IV heavy has only two facilities it can be launched from. One at KSC and one at VAFB. Current EELVs launch at approximately 1 to 2 per month due to facility and LV processing limitations. Part of the limitation imposed on any LV is range safety which in turn limits the choice of launch sites. For those reasons, developing air launch RBCC or some other alternative would be desirable if we had a payload traffic model to support something on the order of 50 shots or more annually, and air launch widens launch location availability.<br /><br />At this time however, we still have to be able to demonstrate the more exotic solutions would be economical to operate and thats not likely to happen any time real soon.<br /><br />J05H:<br />The problem is that the solution was determined before the mission. Bush said "go back to the moon, on to Mars and help develop the Solar System" (well, more paraphrasing Marburger). <br /><br />Me:<br />That he did, but the only part of the plan with any real teeth right now is the lunar portion. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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josh_simonson

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However, a strongly anti-space stance will probably doom his odds in the swing state of Florida. If he's on the ticket, expect his words to be broadcast there a lot before the election.
 
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nuaetius

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>However, a strongly anti-space stance will probably doom his odds in the swing state of Florida. If he's on the ticket, expect his words to be broadcast there a lot before the election. <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Space is always going to be a sticky issue because if anyone cuts NASA too sharply the big aerospace companies and space advocacy groups could produce some nasty negative ads about loss of national prestige and dominance of space in military maters. <br />
 
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