What technologies need to be developed?

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DarkenedOne

Guest
Well Constellation is probably going to be cancel long before it is implemented, which is no surprise consider the project is underfunded, over-budget by 3 billion, behind schedule, and encountering unexpected technical problems. Of course the main reason is simple it simply costs too much.

Personally I have come to the same conclusion that prolong and sustainable exploration beyond LEO will require new short and intermediate technology, so I started this thread to talk about these technologies. Please

1. ISRU - In-site Resource Utilization
I cannot tell you how important I feel this technology is to all future exploration efforts. Space exploration requires immense amounts of material, particularly the consumables such as fuel, water, and oxygen. Shipping these materials from earth these materials is going to be prohibitively expensive, and I do not see that changing dramatically in the next few decades. There have been a number of devices and methods that have been developed over years. Mars direct for example proposes generating rocket fuel from the Mars atmosphere for the return trip. For the moon we have been working on generating oxygen from the oxygen rich lunar soil. There is also the recent discovery of water on the lunar surface that can also be utilized. The problem with ISRU at the moment is that while the lab experiment have yielded positive results the technology has yet to be field tested, which is necessary if astronauts lives are going to depend on it. Fortunately this can be done in the form of robotic demonstration missions. In the case of Mars Direct their proposal is to send an unmanned spacecraft to Mars to gather all the fuel from the atmosphere before humans even show up.

2. Closed Life support systems
Clearly the simple benefit of this would be to reduce the amount of consumables needed for these missions. We already have a water recovery system on board the ISS that is able to recover over 90% of the water that is wasted. Air however is still not fully recovered in a closed system at the moment aboard the ISS. According to NASA they are working on a air revitalization system that will be able to save 2000lbs per year in resupply for the ISS. At the cost of shipping to the ISS that amounts to tens of millions of dollars saved. At the cost of shipping to the moon or mars that ends of being at least a billion saved yearly I believe. The effect of this would be that space craft would be smaller, faster, and hence cheaper. Bases on the Moon or Mars would be more self-sustaining and require less resupply.


3. Advanced propulsion
Propulsions importance to space exploration is obvious. There are a number of propulsion technologies such as Ad Astro's plasma rocket, solar-electric ion propulsion, nuclear reactors, etc that promise to get us around faster and cheaper. Unfortunately NASA is still using the same type of rockets that got us into space 50 years ago. If we want to push the bounds in the final frontier than we will have to push this technology as well.

3. Reusable/refuelable space ships
We have all heard of reusable launch vehicles and their importance to decreasing cost of access to space. Well reusable space ships are probably even more important for going to places like Mars. The current Constellation archectiture calls for only two reusable elements, the Orion capsule and the solid rocket booster. Everything else including the Altair lander, the Earth Departure Stage, the Orion service module are all thrown away after every mission. The fact of the matter is that while this may be acceptable for the 3 day trip to the Moon, places like Mars are going to be different. You will need space craft that is capable of sustaining human life for years. Such a sophisticated and advance craft would simply be to costly to build for every mission especially if we are to build a base. What we need is a genuine space ship. One that will stay in space in orbit when not in use. One that can be refueled and resupplied by cargo craft. Truth is we already have developed a great deal of this technology for the ISS.


These are just a few that I believe are really important, and if I were in charge this is where I would put my money. Please comment and add a few you think are important
 
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Valcan

Guest
It all sounds like a good idea. Like you said most of it has been invented. Some others are still experimental and some others just designes.

However i have to add that although not really a tech. that the mining of asteroids and comets would be one of the biggest savers. Not just for water but for habitats and minerals for building the infestructure to expand into space.

BTW completely agree with the idea of the ship to go to and from earth orbit to mars orbit and back. Use the idea for mars direct to refuel the orbiter that takes people and cargo to and from the ship.

Hack just make it a Class. A general system freighter for people/cargo/ satelites to and from place to place in the solar system.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Something like this ?

docm":3up1d2xx said:
What we need is Galactica Lite; a hab, small reactor, VASIMR or MPD power, lander/return vehicle etc. and a gas generating hab launched to the surface long before the people. Get there in 3-4 months and you minimize the risk of microgravity, radiation, solar activity, micrometeoroids etc.

Bigelow had this (bottom) as a lunar ship concept - might have some merit for long duration missions too. That their habs can include water blankets for shielding and have many layers of Kevlar and Vectran for micrometeoroid protection is sauce for the goose.

NASA actually did hypervelocity impact testing on the TransHab tech before it was shut down and the patents sold to Bigelow. The results were so good it was proposed that the aluminum modules of the ISS be retro-fitted with TransHab-style materials for debris protection.

Bigelow then made changes of his own that appear in this patent;

Orbital debris shield
United States Patent 7204460


http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7204460.html
and
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2005/0284986.html

from
VASIMR based spaceship for heliosphere
 
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bdewoody

Guest
It's probably not possible but I still hold out hope for the development of some form of anti-gravity or gravity neutralization. If gravity can be locally reduced or neutralized getting into and out of space would be revolutionized.
 
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DarkenedOne

Guest
EarthlingX":1570b3ee said:
Something like this ?

docm":1570b3ee said:
What we need is Galactica Lite; a hab, small reactor, VASIMR or MPD power, lander/return vehicle etc. and a gas generating hab launched to the surface long before the people. Get there in 3-4 months and you minimize the risk of microgravity, radiation, solar activity, micrometeoroids etc.

Bigelow had this (bottom) as a lunar ship concept - might have some merit for long duration missions too. That their habs can include water blankets for shielding and have many layers of Kevlar and Vectran for micrometeoroid protection is sauce for the goose.

NASA actually did hypervelocity impact testing on the TransHab tech before it was shut down and the patents sold to Bigelow. The results were so good it was proposed that the aluminum modules of the ISS be retro-fitted with TransHab-style materials for debris protection.

Bigelow then made changes of his own that appear in this patent;

Orbital debris shield
United States Patent 7204460


http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7204460.html
and
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2005/0284986.html

from
VASIMR based spaceship for heliosphere
Excellent Earthling,

That is exactly what I am talking about. So many people have focused on building RLVs that real space ships get little attention. Fact of the matter is that something like the Galactica Lite would be ideal for going to the moon and mars.
 
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blackwarder

Guest
Guys I think that you are thinking too small here Galactica Lite is not a viable mars spaceship.

If we are talking about breakthrough technologies than lowering the cost to orbit by at least 2 orders of magnitudes is a must, once we reach that the entire solar system is open to us no matter what technologies we have at that time.

We already have the know how to build complex installations in space (i.e ISS) so building a true space ship in some sort of a "space dock" and using it as a ferry to various points around the solar system is technically feasible from construction POV.

So as I see it here are the key research areas we should focus on:

1. Lowering space access by at least 2 orders of magnitudes.
2. New in space propulsion techniques, seems like VASIMR is the right way atm.
3. Advance life support systems for long stays away from resupply opportunities.

Warder
 
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DarkenedOne

Guest
blackwarder":12x360rv said:
Guys I think that you are thinking too small here Galactica Lite is not a viable mars spaceship.

If we are talking about breakthrough technologies than lowering the cost to orbit by at least 2 orders of magnitudes is a must, once we reach that the entire solar system is open to us no matter what technologies we have at that time.

We already have the know how to build complex installations in space (i.e ISS) so building a true space ship in some sort of a "space dock" and using it as a ferry to various points around the solar system is technically feasible from construction POV.

So as I see it here are the key research areas we should focus on:

1. Lowering space access by at least 2 orders of magnitudes.
2. New in space propulsion techniques, seems like VASIMR is the right way atm.
3. Advance life support systems for long stays away from resupply opportunities.

Warder
I agree with you that lowering the cost of access to space is important. The problem is that many billions have been spent on trying to make cheaper vehicles, and yet the cheapest boosters we have are still the ones used 40 years ago. Between the shuttle and the X-33 over a hundred billion dollars has been spent on this one item. Concepts like a RLV face a great deal of technological problems due to the physics of reaching orbit. The simple fact of the matter is that I do not see any radical new advances that are going to be made in this area anytime soon especially not by a factor of more than 10. Except for Quick Launch's space gun that I believe can work.

On the other hand new propulsion technologies such as VASIMR seem to be making much more progress with far less money. Ion propulsion has already proved itself on a number if unmanned mission. These electronic propulsion technologies have proven that they can radically reduce the amount of propellant needed to carry out a given mission sometimes by a factor of ten.

Other technologies such as Advanced Life Support systems, Reusable space ships, and ISRU on the other hand hold a great deal of promise to radically reduce the amount of material launched into space, improve performance while reducing costs, but I do not believe that these technologies have received much funding.

While I do think that reducing the cost to space is important I do not believe that we should dump all of our money on it as we have done in the past. We need to diversify a bit more and look into non-traditional more radical approaches.
 
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menellom

Guest
EarthlingX":3lwdxzaa said:
Something like this ?

docm":3lwdxzaa said:
What we need is Galactica Lite; a hab, small reactor, VASIMR or MPD power, lander/return vehicle etc. and a gas generating hab launched to the surface long before the people. Get there in 3-4 months and you minimize the risk of microgravity, radiation, solar activity, micrometeoroids etc.

Bigelow had this (bottom) as a lunar ship concept - might have some merit for long duration missions too. That their habs can include water blankets for shielding and have many layers of Kevlar and Vectran for micrometeoroid protection is sauce for the goose.

NASA actually did hypervelocity impact testing on the TransHab tech before it was shut down and the patents sold to Bigelow. The results were so good it was proposed that the aluminum modules of the ISS be retro-fitted with TransHab-style materials for debris protection.

Bigelow then made changes of his own that appear in this patent;

Orbital debris shield
United States Patent 7204460


http://www.freepatentsonline.com/7204460.html
and
http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2005/0284986.html

from
VASIMR based spaceship for heliosphere
Excellent! I think one problem a lot of people have is that when they think of the concept of a craft that could travel between different planets the first thing that pops into mind is some kind of stereotypical 'space cruiser' rather than simply having a mobile space station.
 
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aaron38

Guest
What about developing some infrastructure as an investment, such as the VASIMR Lunar Tug? For the price of one 100mT launch, every subsequent launch of 100mT delivers 34mT to the moon instead of 16mT. That allows for larger complex and more integrated payloads to be shipped up. For example, a Bigelow BA 330 masses 23mT. It cuts the number of launches, and the cost, in half. I don't think there's any other technology on the horizon that does that.

That could be a real game changer in trying to make a permanent lunar base afordable. We wouldn't need anything other than a shuttle derived heavy lifter to get real mass to the moon.
 
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CoreDave

Guest
Sorry but thats all just fluff without a massive reduction in the cost of getting goods and people to orbit.

While you might enable some R&D missions with those technologies, real meaningful exploitation of space is never going to happen without a huge reduction in costs of getting there. That is the one and only key to space I'm afraid.

Yes its a hard problem, but its the first and most important problem to fix. The issue with NASA has been the fact they have ignored the issue of launch costs and gotten all caught up on programs like Apollo and ISS and been happy to simply pay the insane launch costs instead of working on reducing those costs constantly from the outset.

Going anywhere outside earth, be it ISS, the moon, mars or anywhere else is more or less pointless unless you can sustain a meaningful presence. That requires large amounts of stuff going too and from the earth of a constant basis and we are back to launch costs again.
 
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blackwarder

Guest
DarkenedOne":1p8v9hkf said:
blackwarder":1p8v9hkf said:
Guys I think that you are thinking too small here Galactica Lite is not a viable mars spaceship.

If we are talking about breakthrough technologies than lowering the cost to orbit by at least 2 orders of magnitudes is a must, once we reach that the entire solar system is open to us no matter what technologies we have at that time.

We already have the know how to build complex installations in space (i.e ISS) so building a true space ship in some sort of a "space dock" and using it as a ferry to various points around the solar system is technically feasible from construction POV.

So as I see it here are the key research areas we should focus on:

1. Lowering space access by at least 2 orders of magnitudes.
2. New in space propulsion techniques, seems like VASIMR is the right way atm.
3. Advance life support systems for long stays away from resupply opportunities.

Warder
I agree with you that lowering the cost of access to space is important. The problem is that many billions have been spent on trying to make cheaper vehicles, and yet the cheapest boosters we have are still the ones used 40 years ago. Between the shuttle and the X-33 over a hundred billion dollars has been spent on this one item. Concepts like a RLV face a great deal of technological problems due to the physics of reaching orbit. The simple fact of the matter is that I do not see any radical new advances that are going to be made in this area anytime soon especially not by a factor of more than 10. Except for Quick Launch's space gun that I believe can work.
I do not think that this is true, the advent of fighter jets with super cruise ability (F-22) and the common talks about next gen fighters achieving super cruise ability of up to Mach 5 not to mention scram jet engines research and super cool engine research and those are only the "traditional" methods, we haven't talked about spaceship2 like systems or reusable nuclear rockets.
There are always new methods that we can try, here is a funny tidbit, in my uni we have a scram jet propulsion course that keep changing due to the active research of the aerospace faculty, there is a joke that this course was much easier 6 years ago.

BTW, I'm not a huge believer of the space gun, it's a nice idea on paper but it isn't something that would bet on to ever be practical.

DarkenedOne":1p8v9hkf said:
On the other hand new propulsion technologies such as VASIMR seem to be making much more progress with far less money. Ion propulsion has already proved itself on a number if unmanned mission. These electronic propulsion technologies have proven that they can radically reduce the amount of propellant needed to carry out a given mission sometimes by a factor of ten.
Just to clarify, VASIMR is not an ion engine, it's a plasma engine, some would say that it's just semantics but I don't think so since VASIMR represent a new family of space engines. But yes, VASIMR style engines have the potential to open up the solar system to human exploration.


DarkenedOne":1p8v9hkf said:
Other technologies such as Advanced Life Support systems, Reusable space ships, and ISRU on the other hand hold a great deal of promise to radically reduce the amount of material launched into space, improve performance while reducing costs, but I do not believe that these technologies have received much funding.

While I do think that reducing the cost to space is important I do not believe that we should dump all of our money on it as we have done in the past. We need to diversify a bit more and look into non-traditional more radical approaches.
Problem is that you can't do ISRU tests down here, you need to go some where else and see if it works, there is only so much you can do down on earth and what the point of reusable spaceships if you can't afford to build them in LEO in a useful amount of time (say less than 15 years) we can't run before we learn to walk and in this instance walking means getting of this planet more easily.

As Jerry Pournelle wrote in A Step Farther Out: "If you can get your ship into orbit, you're halfway to anywhere."

Warder
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
blackwarder":21rl8ni4 said:
Problem is that you can't do ISRU tests down here, you need to go some where else and see if it works, there is only so much you can do down on earth and what the point of reusable spaceships if you can't afford to build them in LEO in a useful amount of time (say less than 15 years) we can't run before we learn to walk and in this instance walking means getting of this planet more easily.
You mean, put tele-operated bots on the Moon, and play with them a bit ? That would (will) be fun :)

RoboNaut2: NASA+GM (forum)
 
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aaron38

Guest
CoreDave":3gwsauv7 said:
Sorry but thats all just fluff without a massive reduction in the cost of getting goods and people to orbit.
A 50% reduction isn't massive enough? Doubling the mass delivered to the moon per launch is the same as cutting launch costs to LEO in half. At least as far as cargo flights are concerned.
The Shuttle can lift 24mT of cargo to LEO. A shuttle derived heavy can lift 100mT to LEO, and with the Tug, 34mT lands on the moon.

So there you go, with that one investment, we can resupply a moon base for roughly the same cost as resupplying the ISS, which we've been doing for 10 years. And becauase ISS is permanent, SpaceX is working to reduce the cost of resupply.

Cost reductions always come second. Get a permanent moon base in operation. Get every nation that wants to, to pitch in. And then with a destination to go to, private industry will work to cost reduce the LEO launches further, when they know they have a market for their work.
 
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blackwarder

Guest
aaron38":367kbqrb said:
A 50% reduction isn't massive enough?
Nope, a 50% reduction means that instead of 20,000$ per kg it will cost 10,000$ per kg, we need an order of magnitude reduction meaning that instead of 20,000$ it will cost 2000$.

As long as the cost to reach LEO will be as it is than any human operation beyod LEO will be extremly expensive.

Warder
 
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halman

Guest
DarkenedOne":1s96ougo said:
blackwarder":1s96ougo said:
Guys I think that you are thinking too small here Galactica Lite is not a viable mars spaceship.

If we are talking about breakthrough technologies than lowering the cost to orbit by at least 2 orders of magnitudes is a must, once we reach that the entire solar system is open to us no matter what technologies we have at that time.

We already have the know how to build complex installations in space (i.e ISS) so building a true space ship in some sort of a "space dock" and using it as a ferry to various points around the solar system is technically feasible from construction POV.

So as I see it here are the key research areas we should focus on:

1. Lowering space access by at least 2 orders of magnitudes.
2. New in space propulsion techniques, seems like VASIMR is the right way atm.
3. Advance life support systems for long stays away from resupply opportunities.

Warder
I agree with you that lowering the cost of access to space is important. The problem is that many billions have been spent on trying to make cheaper vehicles, and yet the cheapest boosters we have are still the ones used 40 years ago. Between the shuttle and the X-33 over a hundred billion dollars has been spent on this one item. Concepts like a RLV face a great deal of technological problems due to the physics of reaching orbit. The simple fact of the matter is that I do not see any radical new advances that are going to be made in this area anytime soon especially not by a factor of more than 10. Except for Quick Launch's space gun that I believe can work.
The problem is that we are not developing the new technology needed to reach orbit at a lower cost. We are still using step-rockets, launched vertically, from close to sea level. When rockets were first being developed, aircraft were still primitive. Then, the rockets got a lot bigger, and airplanes didn't. But we have learned enough to know that we don't have to put tons of cargo in orbit with each launch, and how to build things out of carbon so that they are a lot lighter than if aluminum were used. If we were decide that our payload was going to be 12 people, and the lifesupport needed to keep them alive for a week, and nothing else, we could make a space shuttle that would be much lighter than the current one.

If we also decide that we are not going to require that this shuttle be able to reach orbital altitudes beyond, say, 300 miles, we again reduce the design weight. If we then figure out a way to launch this shuttle from 50,000 feet, instead of close to sea level, we dramatically reduce the propellant load required. Early space shuttle designs proposed carrying the shuttle to altitude on the back of a gigantic flying wing, which could lift the shuttle to 50,000 feet. (This was before NASA had to accommodate Air Force demands for box-car sized payloads.)

Getting people into space and bringing them back is the most difficult part of space exploration, and the most necessary. The space shuttle was a prototype, never really intended to become the mainstay of the American space program. Properly designed, it would work in tandem with mass-produced disposable step-rockets, which would haul the cargo to orbit. We already are pretty good at building step-rockets, but we have a lot to learn about getting into space cheaply, reliably, and safely. Until we can put people in orbit on a routine basis, in lots of of at least 10, we are going to have difficulty justifying more research into going anywhere.

Please see my thread "A cheap and easy way to space" in this forum for further details and discussion.
 
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Gravity_Ray

Guest
I also would like to see more work done on space suites. We need suites that are much lighter and flexible for the surface of the Moon. I liked the work the NASA desert RATS were doing with suits that never come inside but attach to your rover or the habitat on the outside keeping all that dust out of the habitats. I would love to see the Rovers they were working on continue to be funded as well.

Also work has to be done on a power supply for a station on the Moon. Although Solar cell farms on the Moon can be used to power a Moon base, especially if you make your base in the South Pole where there is much sunlight, I would really like a lot more work done on nuclear generators so that, those can then be re-used on Mars.

I love the idea of landing a rover on the Moon that can be tele-operated and see how regolith can be pushed around for real. I know it sounds like a boy with his toy, but nobody really knows how the regolith is going to affect a bulldozer and vice versa. A bulldozer has alot of moving parts, and that Moon dust is a killer, we better have a good idea how things will work before we start working on a Moon base.

I like this thread because the stuff talked about in this thread are the types of things NASA should be doing.
 
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DarkenedOne

Guest
blackwarder":3kf26my8 said:
I do not think that this is true, the advent of fighter jets with super cruise ability (F-22) and the common talks about next gen fighters achieving super cruise ability of up to Mach 5 not to mention scram jet engines research and super cool engine research and those are only the "traditional" methods, we haven't talked about spaceship2 like systems or reusable nuclear rockets.
There are always new methods that we can try, here is a funny tidbit, in my uni we have a scram jet propulsion course that keep changing due to the active research of the aerospace faculty, there is a joke that this course was much easier 6 years ago.
When I talk about traditional technology I mean staged chemically based rockets. Yes there are new methods and possibilities including scramjets and nuclear rockets that should be explored. My objection to the way NASA has been doing things is that they have traditional spent the vast majority on a single massive system like the Space Shuttle.

What NASA should do instead is rather than spend a massive amount of money on a single launch system, they should spend the money on a number of small, innovative, unmanned launch systems. That way they can prove their viability at a lower cost with less risk before being moved to manned payloads.

blackwarder":3kf26my8 said:
BTW, I'm not a huge believer of the space gun, it's a nice idea on paper but it isn't something that would bet on to ever be practical.
The physics of the space gun work out to be far better than the physics of a rocket. In order for a chemical rocket to reach orbit it most have an immense amount of fuel and thrust. That is why we have these expendable rockets that cost so much. For an RLV 80% of the mass of the rocket has to be in fuel. With a gun on the other hand projectiles can be launched at very high speeds using relatively little mass or energy. If the gun is electronic than only energy is consumed. The only problem with the space gun idea is the friction from the atmosphere.

blackwarder":3kf26my8 said:
DarkenedOne":3kf26my8 said:
On the other hand new propulsion technologies such as VASIMR seem to be making much more progress with far less money. Ion propulsion has already proved itself on a number if unmanned mission. These electronic propulsion technologies have proven that they can radically reduce the amount of propellant needed to carry out a given mission sometimes by a factor of ten.
Just to clarify, VASIMR is not an ion engine, it's a plasma engine, some would say that it's just semantics but I don't think so since VASIMR represent a new family of space engines. But yes, VASIMR style engines have the potential to open up the solar system to human exploration.
"In physics and chemistry, plasma is a gas in which a certain portion of the particles are ionized." Thus calling a ion engine is correct, however I admit that plasma engine is a more accurate description.


blackwarder":3kf26my8 said:
DarkenedOne":3kf26my8 said:
Other technologies such as Advanced Life Support systems, Reusable space ships, and ISRU on the other hand hold a great deal of promise to radically reduce the amount of material launched into space, improve performance while reducing costs, but I do not believe that these technologies have received much funding.

While I do think that reducing the cost to space is important I do not believe that we should dump all of our money on it as we have done in the past. We need to diversify a bit more and look into non-traditional more radical approaches.
Problem is that you can't do ISRU tests down here, you need to go some where else and see if it works, there is only so much you can do down on earth and what the point of reusable spaceships if you can't afford to build them in LEO in a useful amount of time (say less than 15 years) we can't run before we learn to walk and in this instance walking means getting of this planet more easily.

As Jerry Pournelle wrote in A Step Farther Out: "If you can get your ship into orbit, you're halfway to anywhere."

Warder
It is not that expensive to test ISRU technology. MSL weighs 900kg and will be launched on a Atlas V which costs $105 million. That means you can send a technology demonstrator with the same weight for $105 million.

As regards to reusable spaceships being assembled in orbit I do not believe that it is a big problem is done with the right launchers. In the case of the ISS it was projected to only take 5 years to build. It took much longer than that largely because of the Shuttle blowing up.
 
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Valcan

Guest
I like the idea of the Flying wing to boost a orbiter to around 50,000 feet before launch.

The reason so many of our rockets waste so much fuel is because the same rocket design that works well at hight altitude quit frankly sucks at low altitude. There are a few designs to fix this. Including the one slated for use on the X-33. The new Nasa budget is intended to help develope this technology to a working state. As well as engines for pure space travel.

A Tug for the moon would be alot different for one for mars. The mars Transport (Which is what it would be better to use. US troop transports dont split in half and have one half land on the beach.) Just build a Huge cargo ship. Capable of taking large loads like a load of 12 to 20 people and the landers and moduals they need to use and getting them there in a hurry. Probably need to have Good EM shields (which isnt scifi) and a powerful vasimr drive or other advanced drive. This will probably require a nuclear or some such reactor. (Thorium maybe)

It doesnt need to be a huge ship/spacelab/bla,bla,bla. Just a transport. Imagine being able to take something of the same mass as the iss or maybe half that out past mars to set up shop and then have the transport go back to ferry either more cargo/moduals there or some where else. EMM sorry im rambling. But my point is if we continue to try to build everything from the earth then boosting it were screwed. We need to get to where only our major needs like computers and anything really complicated is manufactured for atleast a bit on earth. But the majority of the ships/stations/ etc are built from materials in orbit.

A moon tug is alot simpler basicaly than a mars freighter. I think we need to leave mars alone for the moment and concentrate on building the infestructure to support manned colonization of space.

The tech to do all this is essentally there. It just requires the money, will and drive to do it.

It never has made sence to me how we can spend 900 million on pork projects in some senator or congressmens state on things we dont really need when we spend what? 1 million to track and think of ways to stop PLANET killing asteroids.
 
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SpaceForAReason

Guest
I read in a recent post where it was suggested that a space elevator need not come all the way to the ground to be effective. I was intrigued by the idea.

It seems that the tether would only need to come within 60 to 100 miles of the surface. Smaller craft (like a DCX) could be launched vertically instead of in a ballistic trajectory. At the apex of the flight the vehicle would then gently 'hook' to the elevator which would then pull the craft all the way to geosynchronous orbit. To land, the vehicle is dropped from the end of the tether and would need only minimal sheilding.

Crazy idea, I know... had to brain-dump!
 
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aaron38

Guest
blackwarder":1kqiiftz said:
Nope, a 50% reduction means that instead of 20,000$ per kg it will cost 10,000$ per kg, we need an order of magnitude reduction meaning that instead of 20,000$ it will cost 2000$.
Look, we'll get there. But not right away. That order of magnitude reduction? A huge part of that is the effect of having a space transportation industry. Mass production, the economies of scale, R&D costs amortized over a high flight rate.

You're not going to wake up one day and find a shiny spaceplane on the runway and it's inventor offering to fly you to space at unbelieveably low prices. It hasn't happend in the last 20 years, and I don't expect it to happen in the next 20 either. Not without somewhere to go. It's the chicken and the egg problem, and the destination has to come first. You're going to have to take the best we have and get established. 50% off to the moon is nothing to sneeze at.

I truly believe that only once a permanent offworld colony is established will there be enough traffic to spurn the serious, and incredibly expensive R&D to get to that launch cost. The people who build that launch system will have enough to worry about without having to also plan the missions and build the destination. If ISS was not in orbit right now, if NASA didn't need them, SpaceX would not be building a rocket to get there.

If there's nowhere to go, there's no hurry to get there.
 
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halman

Guest
Valcan":1sf2swzx said:
I like the idea of the Flying wing to boost a orbiter to around 50,000 feet before launch.

The reason so many of our rockets waste so much fuel is because the same rocket design that works well at hight altitude quit frankly sucks at low altitude.
The inefficiency of rockets at low altitude is actually only a small part of the problem. Anything going straight up loses 20 miles per hour of velocity every second. But a rocket has to go straight up to reach the thinner part of the atmosphere before it can begin to really accelerate down range. Velocity relative to the planet is what makes an orbit possible, but our atmosphere prevents us from being able to reach that velocity.

The space shuttle uses up the the Solid Rocket Boosters and half the fuel in the External Tank to reach 1 mile per second, at an altitude of about 100,000 feet. The remaining 4 miles per second it achieves with the other half of the fuel in the ET. So most of the propellant is used in climbing to an altitude where speed won't destroy the vehicle. Improvements in rocket design will never improve performance as much as carrying the rocket to 50,000 feet before lighting it up.

We should be using every advantage possible, and the atmosphere offers an advantage, if we are smart enough to use it. Where it is dense enough to use as an oxidizer, it is dense enough to provide lift to a wing. This is not a widely known concept, it seems, partly because aircraft have never been designed solely for carrying mass to altitude, until the White Knight came along. All aircraft until now have been designed to carry the payload internally for long distances. Putting the payload outside means doing away with the long tubular fuselage, and all that weight and drag.
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
Some of the older tech from :
Air launch to orbit
This is interesting and very related read too :
Spaceplane

(Orbital) :

Pegasus (rocket)

Khrunichev project, part of Angara family : (no wiki page just for Baikal )

Baikal Reusable Launch Vehicle

USAF is currently working on something similar, just liquid fueled engines, i hope ..
They just passed some air-tunnel tests.

We all know about Buran and it's so far not so shining history, but check this anyway :
from http://www.buran.ru/htm/molniya.htm



Old news from Europe :
Europe's space shuttle passes early test
16:05 10 May 2004 by Maggie McKee

Europe took a step towards creating an unmanned space shuttle on Saturday when a prototype landed autonomously after a test flight in Sweden.
India :
Avatar (rocket)


A very old project:
Black Horse


A bit of space history and about the future :
Russian spacecraft

There was also a Russian project, very similar to the White Knight, but i can't find it now, sorry for the spam ..
They just put two aircraft together, and hung ascending stage below the wing, closest to the White Knight.
Will check about it.
 
C

csmyth3025

Guest
halman":1tqwkivb said:
We should be using every advantage possible, and the atmosphere offers an advantage, if we are smart enough to use it. Where it is dense enough to use as an oxidizer, it is dense enough to provide lift to a wing. This is not a widely known concept, it seems, partly because aircraft have never been designed solely for carrying mass to altitude, until the White Knight came along. All aircraft until now have been designed to carry the payload internally for long distances. Putting the payload outside means doing away with the long tubular fuselage, and all that weight and drag.
Along these line I'm wondering how far the design of aircraft such as the 1988 vintage An-225 Mriya Russian heavy-lift air frame can be extended. As I understand it this aircraft has an internal payload of 550,000 lbs or an external payload of 440,000 lbs with a service ceiling of 36,000 ft. and a range of 2500 miles with maximum payload.

Can a purpose-built heavy-lift aircraft be designed with modern composite materials to lift and release a payload of sufficient mass to achieve orbital velocity? Fuel for the aircraft could be one area of weight-saving since a range of 2500 miles would not be necessary. As halman pointed out, the dual-boom design of the White Knight aircraft demonstrates the weight- saving advantage of designing an aircraft specifically for external payloads.

I'm not an engineer so if anyone knows of any technical reasons why such a vehicle would be impractical I'd like to hear from them. I realize that designing and building this type of single-purpose aircraft would be hugely expensive. Given the cost of designing and building other (expendable) launch vehicles, though, I'm not sure that initial cost alone is necessarily a deal-breaker.

Chris

One after-thought. If air launch by a small fleet of aircraft could be achieved from - say- the New Mexico Space-port for crews and resupply, would the cost of launch-to-orbit be significantly reduced? I'm thinking of "small" payloads that can be launched, perhaps, daily - as opposed to truly massive payloads that require months of rocket preparation and launch-pad set-up.
 
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