Space Time and Money

Mar 17, 2020
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I like to talk about space time. Not the scientific term but about U,S. resources on allocating time and money (time is money also) to today's programs.

Without reviewing the many reasons again we should immediately do the following:

1. Cancel the SLS moon rocket right now. Sell off, reuse or scrap all of the built pieces. Work with all of the commercial companies with their suggested programs. SpaceX for example is well ahead of NASA in technology, cost and time lines. NASA should just be an administrator.

2. Eventually eliminate new space rocket design. Continue to use SpaceX, Atlas and Delta designs because of their track record and security purposes.

3. Add resources to pick up the pace of Virgin Galactic and Blue Horizon low orbit technology and programs. This is much cheaper, more useful and closer to reality than SLS and other pure government programs.

4. Hold off Moon programs until commercial launches become more regular and cheaper. Moon missions would require too many launches which are now cost and time prohibitive.

5. Dont launch the James Webb telescope until you have astronaut repair capability. It's too expensive to launch without it

6. Hold off any manned Mars program until we can get to the planet in short order such as less than a month or two
There are just too many dangers and cost with our current capacity.

7. Please try to eliminate chemical rockets entirely with new technology such as Mercury Votex and VASMIR and ones that may not exist yet. If it takes longer to develop, so be it. Riding on huge rockets is getting ridiculous.

These ideas are not easy and wont be popular with everyone but this is the way we must proceed in the future. The moon and Mars will still be out there. Just focus on efficient designs that are working and saving money today.
 
Mar 5, 2020
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Please try to eliminate chemical rockets entirely with new technology such as Mercury Votex and VASMIR and ones that may not exist yet. If it takes longer to develop, so be it. Riding on huge rockets is getting ridiculous.
Some laser or microwave energized rocket/scram jet designs (super heating the propellant) can have installations that are several 100 miles in length and suck the energy grid dry while they are operating.

A little ole rocket (especially a reusable one) is a reasonable expenditure at this time.

Pictured is a technique that I am fond of.
 
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Feb 1, 2020
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I like to talk about space time. Not the scientific term but about U,S. resources on allocating time and money (time is money also) to today's programs.

Without reviewing the many reasons again we should immediately do the following:

1. Cancel the SLS moon rocket right now. Sell off, reuse or scrap all of the built pieces. Work with all of the commercial companies with their suggested programs. SpaceX for example is well ahead of NASA in technology, cost and time lines. NASA should just be an administrator.

2. Eventually eliminate new space rocket design. Continue to use SpaceX, Atlas and Delta designs because of their track record and security purposes.

3. Add resources to pick up the pace of Virgin Galactic and Blue Horizon low orbit technology and programs. This is much cheaper, more useful and closer to reality than SLS and other pure government programs.

4. Hold off Moon programs until commercial launches become more regular and cheaper. Moon missions would require too many launches which are now cost and time prohibitive.

5. Dont launch the James Webb telescope until you have astronaut repair capability. It's too expensive to launch without it

6. Hold off any manned Mars program until we can get to the planet in short order such as less than a month or two
There are just too many dangers and cost with our current capacity.

7. Please try to eliminate chemical rockets entirely with new technology such as Mercury Votex and VASMIR and ones that may not exist yet. If it takes longer to develop, so be it. Riding on huge rockets is getting ridiculous.

These ideas are not easy and wont be popular with everyone but this is the way we must proceed in the future. The moon and Mars will still be out there. Just focus on efficient designs that are working and saving money today.
Sorry, this is a rather late reply. But here goes.

I am responding to your numbered items.

1. No problem here. The SLS is a congressionally mandated expenditure. The rocket was half designed then presnted to Congress using the best materials available at the time. It was supposedly a faster cheaper way to go. It currently looks like it will cost a billion dollars a launch. By launch date that will most likely double. So Space X or even old mothballed Delta 4 heavy's are cheaper, maybe even ten times cheaper. Though it was designed for a lift capacity and throw weight that no competitor can quite match.

2. Continue to use Space X Dragons??? Why, Space X isn't. The new Starship design is intended to replace the Falcon family of boosters with something both larger and cheaper. If this works or not we will have to wait and see, but no, we don't continue to us DC3's for all air travel, and we shouldn't continue to use Falcon 9 after it becomes obsolete. Yes, do use it now. NASA does. Russia and France don't. They both claim to be soon making Falcon 9 obsolete, but so far it's all talk. Nothing's flown. Same for China and India.

But someday . . .

3. Hold off and wait for Virgin Galactic and Blue Horzon??? Virgin Galactic 's vehicle is SUB-ORBITAL, meaning it can't reach orbit. They have a small rocket that can loft payloads to orbit if they are small enough. Similar to US capability in 1960. I suspect that by Blue Horizon you mean Blue Origin? Currently Blue Origin operates a sub-orbital vehicle only. They are building what they hope will be an orbital vehicle, but so far all they have shown is an engine they sell to some of their competitors and a half faring. The time to speak of this is when they have an actual rocket and can book actual flights. That day is not today and most likely not this year.

4. Hold off on Moon Programs until commercial launches are cheaper??? To get cheaper launches, you have to have somewhere for them to go. That's the Moon. Commercial launches happen because somebody wants to send cargo or people somewhere. You have to have a somewhere before there will be launches. It's a Chicken and Egg problem. SpaceX is currently having a small problem because they are the dominant launch provider on Earth, except for the Government launches that don't care about cost. To grow more than a little bit, they need a destination. That could be a small space station, or it could be a large one, but the Moon is the best because it's an entire little world of it's own.
The Moon is what will make commercial launches worth the money!
It's what we should have been doing in the late 1970's.
It's also what the Chinese say they will be doing in the early 2030's.
In space the Moon is where you can go if you don't want to just circle around like we've been doing for the past forty years. The reality is that if you don't just want to look down, then you will have to go to the Moon because there is nothing else that close. The space between Earth and Moon is empty!!!

5. No issue. James Webb is a telescope. It's been about to launch for over twenty years now. It still hasn't launched. It's supposedly Hubble's replacement. Fortunately, Hubble isn't completely dead yet. Just building a bigger Hubble and launching that might be a good alternative. But I'm not consulted on these things.
There is an argument that James Webb isn't a Science Program, it's a Jobs program. Though there are also those who say the same thing about the SLS program.
But who knows? In ten years we may be swearing by James Webb just as we now are by Hubble. I remember the horrible embarrassing failures made with Hubble.

6. Manned Mars Program. From how things are going at this time, NASA appears to agree with you. Current plans for a NASA manned Mars landing are about where they were when Von Braun retired. (1970)

7. Mercury Votex. I assume you are talking about Bob Lazar's Mercury Vortex Engines that supposedly power flying saucers and Area 51 Flying Battleships. Sorry, those aren't real. They lack both a power source and a demonstration of actual thrust.

The Vasimir engine is real though. It hasn't flown because we don't have a power supply capable of running it on any vessel we can launch. To use a Vasimir Engine you need a thirty to three hundred Killowatt power supply capable of operating for weeks at a time. If you have one of those, there are some people at NASA and DARPA who would love to talk with you about licensing.

The reactors used on submarines can do that, but current US law forbids launching anything like that into space. The problem is the bottom third of the launch envelope.

Russia and China say they have the same issues by the way.

We use chemical rocket engines because we can operate them without building some sort of large nuclear reactor, either fission or fusion. Fission we can't launch because of international treaties against things that can go Boom! Fusion we can't launch because we don't know how to build one that actually works!

But the work is ongoing. NASA has several programs all trying to replace the rockets currently used with something better. So far nothing can replace chemical rockets.

However, there have been several generations of those rockets through the years.
Liquid Oxygen and Alcohol gave way to Liquid Oxygen and Kerosene, then Liquid Hydrogen and Liquid Oxygen (It gives the most thrust per pound of any chemical propellant but has storage and tank size issues). Because of problems with storage, the newest systems sometimes use liquid methane and liquid oxygen. Space X' new engine and Blue Origin's both use that combination.

There have also been detours into hydrazene and sevearal other toxic mixtures. There are also solid rockt motors. Some of the rockts currently used to orbit small satellites and even large cargo modules to the International Space Station use solid rocket stages.

Elon Musk wants to get to Mars in four more years, but he currently doesn't have a rocket that can do it. He's launched a mockup of a second stage for such a rocket, but the vital first stage doesn't exist except on paper.

He might make 2024, and will most likely make 2026. NASA is talking of maybe 2030, if they do make the moon by 2024. That's if the next president doesn't simply cancle the whole thing so he can use the budget for some monument to himself.

It's happened before.
 
Mar 17, 2020
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Thank you for your very well prepared rebuttal. Here on December 24, 2020 is a updated commentary on all of my original view points:

1. Every time I hear a delay after delay of the SLS program, I see more and more wasted time and money. Again, please stop this rocket right now and go with the commercial competitors. Elon Musk may be bold and daring, but he is light years ahead of the competition with Falcon, Dragon, Starlink, etc. Watch out for Starship and Super Heavy.

2. Space X has a tremendous proven track record. Anything new that is tested carefully should be welcomed with open arms. Yes, Delta, its replacement and Atlas have a proven track record but since they are direct NASA programs, they must bring the costs down to remain competitive. NASA should also allow ALL of the other commercial companies and startups to enter the space flying race. And I believe the government as well as some commercial industry are looking at alternatives to chemical rocket design. Keep pushing the research.

3. Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic seem to be moving slowly on orbital level space craft design for many reasons. I just can't wait for them to move to the next stages. I just like their products so far.

4. I still think the moon mission time table should wait until we have more than one player ready to take that plunge. SLS is costing much more than a small fortune. Let's see how Starship, Super Heavy and other designs perform on their test launches.

5. Yes, we must have the JWST serviceable preferably by astronauts if not by robots.

6. As for Mars, much too soon. Get comfortable with the moon missions and wait until a nuclear rocket or similar is proven. Radiation and six month ventures would be killing people right now. We need to cut the time lines for every proposed voyage significantly.

7. I truly believe that some government agencies as well as secret commercial partners today are working on new technology to replace the horribly inefficient rocket designs of today. I only mention the terms Mercury Vortex, and Vasimir (maybe Aurora also) only because I don't know any new terms the scientists are using right now. I know there is something brand new out there....

I hope this new commentary satisfies the naysayers. Let's see what happens. I do have to say and I believe most people will agree that looking back on a troubled year of 2020, space achievements overall did a wonderful job.
 
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Mar 17, 2020
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Yet another setback for SLS: What will it take to stop SLS - let a good commercial supplier take over and we will get to the moon safer, cheaper, faster, etc. Stop now - we stopped the Saturn V with much less heartburn. And - they will get a tremendous head start to Mars, asteroids and who knows what other destinations to lead America.

Remember - other nations want to take the lead in space - if SLS repeatedly fails, our nation doesn't want further losses to our vital security.
 
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Feb 1, 2020
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What will it take to stop SLS? The same thing it took to start it. An act of Congress.
NASA has a directive from the US Congress, (House and Senate both) to build and fly the SLS and go to the Moon. NASA really has no choice in it. It's law.
It will be Ironic if NASA finally lands with it's Artimis Lander and winds up landing at a commercial SpaceX moonbase. But if it does happen that way, it will be because that's what NASA was instructed to do, way back in the Bush then the Obama years. And it wasn't either Bush or Obama that directed it to be done that way. This is the sort of thing that happens when you have politicians deciding technical matters based on jobs and votes.
 

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