Why I think that NASA's Constellation project is doomed!

Status
Not open for further replies.
F

frodo1008

Guest
Over on free space there was a thread started up as: "Obama orders review of NASA's plans". I made a post there in which I promised to make a series of threads on some space subjects here and if possible there also. This was the first one, and I am going to post as my starting thread as the same post that I made there. There will be more to come.

I am hoping to attract both the more scientific types from this forum, but also some of the more general types from free space. Please, I have absolutely no problems with people disagreeing with me at all! But let us ALL remain friends, and not get nasty, nor sarcastic. After all, we should all remember that while these boards are important to us all, we basically will not have that much of an influence on what happens anyway! So stay cool please!

So, my starting thread is as follows:

As just about every post I have ever made on the subject would show I have always been a heavy duty supporter of NASA. And have always gone for reasonable raises to NASA's budget. However, just suddenly dumping huge sums of money (like suddenly doubling NASA's budget) is not the answer. Heck, we didn't even do that back in the 1960's, even though congress would have if requested by NASA. The Build up in funding for the Apollo was massive, but not instantaneous.

I would say myself that a steady build up of some 10% above inflation (which would amount in about a $2 billion dollar increase in the next NASA budget), would be quite sufficient to allow NASA to do everything that it needs to do, without catching the eye of the budget cutter types in Congress (which is who really holds NASA's purse strings anyway).

This would mean a doubling of NASA's budget without causing such problems within about 8 years. If the current predictions of the federal budget hold true that would by that time just about give NASA some 1% of the federal budget, and while I would love to see it rise to 2%, I do not think that is going to happen.

Let us try to stay in the land of relative budget realities here people.

Besides which, I think such an impartial committee is possibly a good thing. I originally fully supported NASA's Constellation project for going back to the moon. However, this was when they were going to use used SSME's (already paid for in past budgets), and the already known four segment solid boosters. This would have kept the costs well within a reasonable range, thus ensuring the funds would be available for this. Then they started to not only have to come up with entirely new propulsion elements (with the resulting increased developmental costs), but also started to have problem after problem with the Ares I, This has now brought the launch costs of the Ares I (with all these increased developmental costs) up to even above the costs of a Delta IV Heavy or future Atlas V Heavy launch of about $250 million per launch. So now we have this Ares I with a launch cost of about $300 million per launch!

Now this is absolutely nothing in comparison to the future costs of the Ares V! After all, it has been said that in order to just build the great Saturn V all over again, each launch would be more than $1 billion! And the Ares V is going to be bigger and certainly more untried than rebuilding a Saturn V would be!

Now, we are talking about some $1.5 billion per launch for each moon trip at best (and more probably closer to $2.0 billion)! Does anybody here really realistically think that Congress is going to approve this kind of funding just to go back to the moon?

But, as Obie Wan Kenobi says to Luke " Sky Walker, There are other alternatives" However, the other alternatives to the present Constellation project to NASA should probably be discussed on another forum. And I would be more than happy to start a thread over on such as M&L there. (NOTE: this is what started ny thinking on a series of such threads)

So, while I do still support more funding for NASA, I must admit (somewhat reluctantly, I must admit) that the alt.space types are looking more and more like the wave of the true future of humanity in space!

Could that be where the present administration is heading?

If so, then I am not totally without hope here!

For my next thread, I thought it would be logical to start a thread titled:

"What NASA should be doing instead of the Constellation project!"

This is going to take awhile however, so please be patient!

Once again, thanks for any comments!
 
P

pathfinder_01

Guest
“Besides which, I think such an impartial committee is possibly a good thing. I originally fully supported NASA's Constellation project for going back to the moon. However, this was when they were going to use used SSME's (already paid for in past budgets), and the already known four segment solid boosters. This would have kept the costs well within a reasonable range, thus ensuring the funds would be available for this. Then they started to not only have to come up with entirely new propulsion elements (with the resulting increased developmental costs), but also started to have problem after problem with the Ares I, This has now brought the launch costs of the Ares I (with all these increased developmental costs) up to even above the costs of a Delta IV Heavy or future Atlas V Heavy launch of about $250 million per launch. So now we have this Ares I with a launch cost of about $300 million per launch!”

So far costs have been reasonable. I don’t think that a manned version of those launchers would cost only 250 million. I suspect the changes needed would probably add up to be about the same. Also any development project will have problems. The ones that succeed are the ones with enough funds to power through them. So far I think costs have not yet gone into the ridiculous range. So far it is just not as cheap as they thought, as opposed to insanely expensive.

“Now this is absolutely nothing in comparison to the future costs of the Ares V! After all, it has been said that in order to just build the great Saturn V all over again, each launch would be more than $1 billion! And the Ares V is going to be bigger and certainly more untried than rebuilding a Saturn V would be!”

This is Constellation’s weak point and the reason why I have never been a huge fan of it. A heavy lift launcher is a very expensive thing and I don’t see any sort of economy to exploit to make this moon rocket any cheaper than Saturn V. It is not like say a shuttle C that could use used shuttle engines and would require little specialized equipment. This rocket will be expensive. So expensive that given the current budget NASA could only afford one or two flights a year. One or two flights a year is not a robust space program of any kind.

“Now, we are talking about some $1.5 billion per launch for each moon trip at best (and more probably closer to $2.0 billion)! Does anybody here really realistically think that Congress is going to approve this kind of funding just to go back to the moon?”

Yes and no. I can see Congress cutting the budget to the point where NASA can not afford to go to the moon. Constellation will be stuck doing LOE missions with even less ability than the shuttle. Constellation will allow the US cheaper and perhaps safer access to LEO than the shuttle, but unless NASA gets some ISS type support from other nations we will be stuck in LEO.
 
D

dragon04

Guest
I'll be keen to comment on your next thread. It's actually one where what I have to say will have nothing whatsoever to do with Politics.

I'll be looking forward to it.
 
R

R1

Guest
I think the amount allocated to space exploration science needs to be never less than 2 or 3%.

For what reason were the rockets redesigned, instead of using the old ones ?

You may have a good point that we need to use the tried and tested older models, but I do
strongly urge that we allocate a slightly greater percentage of funding to manned space exploration--
immediately, in fact. So many projects after projects have already been axed and procrastinated on
as a result of wimpy money from Washington. We are also at a time when we now wish we had so many job
opportunities in the field of space. If we're going to spend the money the feds are printing on overtime,
I would like to see us bail out of orbit the private space comapnies and Nasa both.
 
J

JonClarke

Guest
The alternative to Constellation is the end of human spaceflight in the US. If the US can't afford two flights a year to the Moon at 1-2 billion apiece, plus several flights to LEO by 2020 then it doesn't deserve to be a spacefaring nation.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
I just came from free space, where another very interesting point was brought up, so from my latest post there:

"To continue along the line of this thread itself, I can see where some posters besides myself do not like the idea of going back to a 40 year old capsule design either. Even if it is somewhat modernized and enlarged.

Then, to add even more misery to what NASA is doing, is this idea where we are going to retire the shuttles in 2010, and it will be all the way until 2015 before we even have the follow on to the shuttles at all! In the meantime we will be depending on the Russians, and their equipment is indeed very good, but the attitude of their government may not always be!

Our government gets all upset if we end up with a single source in THIS country for such big ticket aerospace items as launch services (you know, anti-trust and all that implies). This is realistically because if you only have one source for a vital service, then that source can just about charge any price it wants to for that service, and there is not a whole hell of a lot you can do about it!

So after the space shuttles are irretrievably gone, what is to stop the Russians from deciding to start to charge at least twice or more per launch to get our people up to the ISS? And contracts? Contracts can always be renegotiated, and we have taught the Russians to be very good capitalists in the last decade or so anyway!

Quite frankly, I do not even think that Congress is going to want NASA to kill the shuttle until such a time as there is a replacement actually launching! President Obama is a highly intelligent politician (whether some here do not agree with his particular brand of politics is not relevant to that fact), and so I think it may be quite possible that this special committee is going to find that the shuttles are NOT that unsafe, and the first thing that NASA is going to have to do in its post shuttle plans is to keep them until there IS a launching replacement, so we do NOT have to be dependent on anybody except ourselves to get our people into orbit!!! And Congress will just have to find enough extra funding to do that. After all, with as little funding as NASA gets anyway, I do not see that as any kind of a problem. If we can manage to rescue the banks with literally $trillions of dollars, then I do not see it as too much a a stretch to be able to give NASA the necessary few extra $billions to be able to keep the shuttles flying at least four to six times per year until the 2015 date, or even beyond if necessary!

I realize that is a somewhat out-of-the-box radical thought on my part, but I do not think that I am alone in that on this forum, and even on this thread!

So now I will get busy and work on the next thread in a series of threads on these subjects.

I would hope that the MODS will allow me to put these threads in both here, where the quality of the response to space oriented threads is usually better, and over on free space, where the quantity of responses is usually better to any threads!
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
JonClarke: The problem is not one of the US abandoning human space flight! I fully believe that there are other methodologies of getting to the moon that would be far less expensive (especially in the long run), and at the same time far more reliable than the methodology that we used back in the 1960's. And this is regardless of how much larger we now make the space craft involved.

But the bringing out of this better methodology will have to wait for another couple of threads.

So please be patient with me here.

Thanks!
 
S

samkent

Guest
To those that think the feds are not providing enough funds or they should provide a fixed percentage.

You have to weigh the cost to the value returned for manned space flight. Do we really need US humans in orbit or is it just a feel good thing.
What did we really lose by not having our own versions of Mir? I suggest not very much.
Did the Russians lose anything by not funding Buran? History is telling us no.

We here are fans of space flight so we forget “Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should”.

Take the country of Israel, they certainly have the ability to build their own manned space program.
But how much benefit would they gain for the huge expenditure?

Congress has decided the 5 year gap is acceptable and the extra funds will be better spent in other areas of the economy.
One persons must have project is someone else’s pork project.

Don’t lament the loss of the shuttle. Rejoice at the coming of Orion.
Even the most basic Ares launch will be able to go to places the shuttle can’t. Do you want to be stuck in a 200 mile orbit for another decade?
Or is it better to ground yourself for a short period and gain the ability to orbit the Moon in a few years? No Earthly orbit will be outside our reach!

Those 5 years will go by quicker than you think. Ask your dad!
 
A

aphh

Guest
I don't want to sound like I'm nitpicking, but I go to Space Business and Technology to look for topics related to spaceflight and spacecraft developments and come here to Missions and Launches to search for info on actual or planned launches and missions.

Also, if you look at the post and view counts, SB&T belongs one notch up on the forum list.
 
A

aphh

Guest
samkent":8c6mox2t said:
Take the country of Israel, they certainly have the ability to build their own manned space program.
But how much benefit would they gain for the huge expenditure?
What does an average Israeli get from maintaining 3000 tanks, hundreds of fighter planes and other huge military infrastructure? Sure, it is a huge business, lots of dollars changes hands and provides jobs, but how is the actual benefit that trickles down on the streets different from investing same amount in space program instead?

As you can see, it is only a matter of choice. Otherwise I suspect an Israeli space program of the magnitude of their military spending would benefit people more on the long run.

I don't want to start an argument about geo- or other politics at this time, though. Just comparing apples and oranges here.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
samkent: I can respect what you are saying, I just can not go along with it! But what is even far more important than that, Congress is quite probably not going to go along with it either!

The American taxpayer has paid for at least 80% of the ISS costs, and now you are saying that the only access that American astronauts are going to have to that investment for quite some time to come is going to be through the Russians? Heck, even relatively liberal Democrats are not going to want to have to do that, and as for the more conservative Republicans.......

Well you can just imagine just what they are going to say!

As for the extra cost of keeping the space shuttle flying while even completing Orion, that would not even amount to a noise level in the federal budget! We are spending more in two months militarily, in a country that does not even want us there, (Iraq) than NASA spends in an entire year! Heck, the increase to keep the shuttle flying isn't even a bump in the road of the current deficit level, let alone the entire federal budget!

What is going to be the cost of using the Russians to get to the ISS, let alone do anything else with a manned program? Especially when they realize that they can charge just about anything they want, and we do not have any choice but to pay it? Is that an interesting thought or not?

Hopefully this committee will have the same findings, and I think that is why president Obama even wants such a group to study this. A group that is entirely independent of NASA's direct influence.

And no, I have already amply explained why I am not looking forwards to Ares I and Ares V. And I will be making other threads to explain this even further.

There are far better alternatives, and I will explain them better soon. Actually, I have already explained better alternatives of getting materials into LEO on another thread, look for it.

By the way, some here have been saying that this wait is going to be far less anyway due to COTS and spacex. Well, that is indeed within the realm of possibility, but so is just about anything for that matter. Spacex is hopefully going to be far more successful with its Falcon 9, than it was with the Falcon I. And even then, it is going to take at least until 2011 before the can prove its reliability to any extent. And then, if the Dragon capsule system is then ready, it may start taking materials to the ISS, not astronauts! And if that proves out to be successful, by the time the Dragon is modified and "man rated" we will still be looking at least at 2013, and quite probably just as long as the Ares I is going to take. Hopefully however, it will be far less expensive, and thus more viable to the limited funding then available!

So without the shuttle flying, we will still be stuck with a huge amount of time that we will be dependent totally on the Russians, and as I stated in an earlier post, their equipment is indeed very good and reliable, but are our relationships with their government going to always continue to be?

You must be considerably younger than my 66 years, if you think that 5 years is a short period of time. It isn't you know!
 
M

MeteorWayne

Guest
frodo1008":1ll0nkij said:
As for the extra cost of keeping the space shuttle flying while even completing Orion, that would not even amount to a noise level in the federal budget! We are spending more in two months militarily, in a country that does not even want us there, (Iraq) than NASA spends in an entire year! Heck, the increase to keep the shuttle flying isn't even a bump in the road of the current deficit level, let alone the entire federal budget!

You must be considerably younger than my 66 years, if you think that 5 years is a short period of time. It isn't you know!

I don't know why this message hasn't gotten through. The Shuttle is not an option. The program has ended. The manufacturing facilities no longer exist. The staff is being layed off as we speak. No amount of money is going to change that. The shuttle program is done. Finished. Finito. Extinct. No amount of increase can change that. Give up!!!!

PS, nice to talk with someone older than me! There aren't many! :)
 
S

scottb50

Guest
MeteorWayne":17tovv6r said:
frodo1008":17tovv6r said:
As for the extra cost of keeping the space shuttle flying while even completing Orion, that would not even amount to a noise level in the federal budget! We are spending more in two months militarily, in a country that does not even want us there, (Iraq) than NASA spends in an entire year! Heck, the increase to keep the shuttle flying isn't even a bump in the road of the current deficit level, let alone the entire federal budget!

You must be considerably younger than my 66 years, if you think that 5 years is a short period of time. It isn't you know!

I don't know why this message hasn't gotten through. The Shuttle is not an option. The program has ended. The manufacturing facilities no longer exist. The staff is being layed off as we speak. No amount of money is going to change that. The shuttle program is done. Finished. Finito. Extinct. No amount of increase can change that. Give up!!!!

PS, nice to talk with someone older than me! There aren't many! :)
That is all true, but just like there are P-51's and B-17's flying today, it could be possible to keep them flying if they are turned over to someone who can raise the money needed.

The real problem would be meeting safety requirements there are quite a few areas that are cloudy, to say the least, or deficient by design that would probably not allow certification at least for passengers.

It's very true part production has been stopped but there are plenty of small shops that can make pretty much anything you want and I can't imagine the designs for Shuttle components asre being burned as we speak.

While I don't think it would be the best way to go I don't think it would be impossible.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
Then perhaps Congress had better come up with a lot (relative to NASA's small budget) of extra money to really push spacex and COTS to get dragon, and either delta IV, or Atlas V, or even the Falcon 9 (all in heavy versions) to have the capability of placing Americans in space on such as the ISS, and they had better do it quickly or face having the only way Americans get into space on board the Russians equipment!

Is that what people here really want, because I can not imagine that it is what the people of this country want for our manned space program, and I do not think that Congress will want it either!

And you know, its kind of peculiar, for a vehicle that can no longer be made or even serviced, the shuttle flew pretty darn well today!

We Americans supposedly can no longer make consumer goods, and it seems to be coming up that we can't make automobiles anymore either, and now we can not make or maintain space craft either. Other than making war, just what the hell good are we at anymore?

Once upon a time we had people and the will to do what many thought was totally impossible, that was to build what had never even been thought of, and go to the moon in only about eight years. Has our spirit really fallen so far that now all we can think of is what we can NOT do?

If this is the case then perhaps it is time for the Russians, Chinese, Indians, and even the Brazilians, to just take over, and then we can just quietly go into that good night!! And I thought that I was retired?

Sad, terribly, terribly sad!!!!
 
S

samkent

Guest
What does an average Israeli get from maintaining 3000 tanks, hundreds of fighter planes and other huge military infrastructure?
Survival as a nation I suspect.

You have to look at the whole picture not just your personal scientific dreams. What is the dollar value that the ISS has returned to the US as a nation?
Are we going to hurt scientifically by not having Americans in space for a few years if the Russians decide to cut us off?
 
A

aphh

Guest
samkent":2nbj8by2 said:
You have to look at the whole picture not just your personal scientific dreams.
I was looking at the whole picture.

It all boils down to what people want to do, where they want to go and what they want to find. It's all just a matter of choice. If people choose to spend the rest of their days planning to kill other people and live in fear, then that is a choice people have made.

Like I said I was comparing apples and oranges in an ideal situation where geo- or other politics didn't play a role. Kicking tiny civilian space program in the butt is pointless for as long as maintaining huge military infrastructure is required.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
Samkent: It has been estimated that the space program over all has already returned anywhere from a low return of some 4 times its costs, up to a very optimistic estimate of some 14 times its costs. I would personally think that a return of about 10 times its costs is a reasonable figure. And if federal taxes were only some 10% of that figure (which would be very, very conservative of that I am sure), then the entire investment in NASA by the taxpayers of this country would have already been paid back!

How is this possible? It is possible not because of the manned and unmanned projects in themselves, but because of the enormous boost in technology that just doing those projects gives to the general technology of this nation!

Someone from the relatively ignorant press once asked one of the Apollo astronauts (I don't know which), "Just why are we spending so much on the moon?", the answer back explains the entire return of the space program (at least to me anyway), and that was, "We are NOT spending one thin dime on the moon! All of the funding is being spent right here on the Earth!" And that even applies to what I think is a flawed project in such as the Constellation and the Ares series of rockets. Maybe not as much as Apollo, the STS system, and the ISS, but at least enough to pay back the investment.

How about the incredible boost to the science of robotics of all of those Mars rovers and other various robotic explorers? To say nothing of even far more sophisticated such explorers in the future? Talk about an investment pay back!!

Samkent, did you even know that NASA has an entire group of highly skilled people whose only job is to take ideas from NASA's many projects and find ways to transfer those technologies to industry?

If I was to even make any attempt to even begin to list, and explain the literally thousands (if not tens of thousands by now) of such transfers this entire site would not be anywhere large enough to contain it! Technology has become the literal life blood of what industry this country has left, and such research as the National Science Foundation, and NASA is the life blood of that technology! So a ten times return on the investments in those areas is not extravagant by any means! I keep saying this (Is anybody really listening out there?), NASA IS NOT AN EXPENSE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT (even now, let alone in the future), IT IS AN INVESTMENT IN THE FUTURE OF NOT ONLY THIS GREAT NATION, BUT OF ALL OF MANKIND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

By the way, did you realize that the first A in NASA stands for "air"? NASA spends literally billions of dollars per year on aerodynamic research. And the resulting investment in our aerospace industry has so vastly paid off that, that particular industry is the ONLY such major industrial segment of the US economy that still runs black on the balance of payments to the rest of the world? So is that particular investment worth it? I would resoundingly say, YES!

But if you are a poster on such a site as this is, then surely you must realize all that. If you don't, there are literally thousands of other sites that will be happy to accommodate your beliefs.

Is THAT clear enough to be understood?

As for that future, the materials and energies to lift mankind up to a living level never even dreamed of in the past are out in the solar system waiting for those with the vision and the guts to go after them. The companies and nations that will do this are going to be rich beyond mere dreams of even the avarice of today's wealthy CEO's. Far, Far beyond! There are books by some of the greatest minds of the last century or so detailing this. Go forth and read!

And you know, I have not even mentioned the insurance aspect of all of this. Oh, I am not talking about the possibility of a larger NEO striking the Earth and causing mankind to at the very least go back to the dark ages, or even worse one large enough to do to us what was done to the dinosaurs. No, that would probably be to much horror to even think about. And certainly far too much to detail here.

But out in the Arizona desert is a very large hole in the ground with the general name of Meteor Crater. I think it is now a National Monument. It is some 550 feet deep, and some 2.33 miles in circumference. This is a far far larger whole in the ground that any hydrogen bomb test blast ever caused by the hand of man. It was caused some 50,000 years ago by a very small nickle-iron asteroid only about half the size of a football field (some 150 feet in diameter).
If such an object (and this can happen at any time or place) were to now strike any large city on this planet, the devastation would amount to the death of millions of human beings, and tens of millions of wounded human beings. Besides which the property damage would come up to at least tens of $trillions of dollars, and would quite probably totally bring down the economy of any country in the world with no problem at all, especially now!

You think nothing of paying insurance on a car that could very well almost cost as much as the car itself over the life time of its useful existence, do you not?

Are you now clear on just what I mean by insurance? The entire costs of all the space programs of all the nations of the Earth would not even be 1% of the material costs of such a disaster! Is mankind in general really that much more stupid than you are as an individual? Evidently!

So just what would it take for mankind to stop such a devastation from even happening? Well, the first thing would be a radar system in space that could pick out such relatively small objects from at least ten million miles out in every direction from the Earth. Remember these objects travel at a minimum of some ten miles per second, all the way up to some 50 miles per second, so a ten million miles head start really would not be too much at those kinds of speeds, now would it? Then for at least the smaller (but large enough to do real Earthly damage) such objects some kind of nuclear warheads that could be very quickly launched to destroy such smaller objects would be useful, would you not think?

As for the larger ones..... well that would be a subject for another entire thread!

But even a system of such insurance for the smaller ones would indeed cost the entire GDP of this country for at least one year, but that would be less that a tenth of the devastation that such a single such object could cause to mankind, let alone the possible million or so such objects that are out there?

So, as we pay our car insurance, do we pay our Earth insurance?

An interesting thought, no?

Does this not then give you some degree of just what the US space program (both manned and unmanned) have given, and continue to give the US? And further, just a glimpse into what such programs will give us and all mankind in the future?

And believe me when I say that as long as this post has been, I could go on for a whole lot more. And that is what reading at least twenty entire books on these kinds of subjects form the age of about 10 until the age of some 66 does for you. I do not need the internet and links to be able to tell the truth!

However, I still do wish all here A very Good Day!
 
S

Swampcat

Guest
frodo1008":221x9z8v said:
By the way, did you realize that the first A in NASA stands for "air"?
:shock:

When did they change that? I must have missed that memo. :?





:p
 
S

samkent

Guest
Samkent, did you even know that NASA has an entire group of highly skilled people whose only job is to take ideas from NASA's many projects and find ways to transfer those technologies to industry?

If I was to even make any attempt to even begin to list, and explain the literally thousands (if not tens of thousands by now) of such transfers this entire site would not be anywhere large enough to contain it!
I keep hearing statements like these.

These days it’s not enough to say things like “Experiments that cannot be done on Earth” or
“New materials and manufacturing techniques”. Would you invest in a mutual fund based on statements like that?
I want to see the numbers.

Why don’t you list enough direct benefits from the ISS with their dollar returns to cover the cost of just one shuttle flight? Show me products that came into being solely due to the ISS. Show me drugs that trace their existence to something done on the ISS.

The way I see it is the ISS is very close to a ponzi scheme. You money goes in, you get a paper statement of supposed returns but nothing comes back.

How many probes could we have launched with the money burned in the ISS?
 
M

marsbug

Guest
Thats a very difficult challenge for a blue-skies-research lab like ISS to answer Samkent. You appear to be arguing that research be run along the line of a business, with money going in and simple, easily defined products coming out. I'm afraid research doesn't work like that. If I had to justify each experiment I did by proving it had made my university and industry partners a net profit in a short term, straightforward, easily quantifiable way then, frankly, I wouldn't bother with my work and niether would most academics. Even if you do research for a company lab with a strong focus on things that will produce a tangable short term profit the value of your work is always open to interpretation. And such labs are notorious for keeping interesting findings to themselves if they cannot quickly exploit them, in case someone else can use them. So I am not at all convinced that the ISS should be run like a business with a simple money in product out balance sheet, even if that were possible.

The value of knowledge gained is pretty much unquantifiable, unless you have a time machine with which to visit the world of 100 years from now and see how the knowledge has been used and what its knock on effects were.

I can point you towards research done on the ISS that has improved our knowledge of diseases ( http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/06may_salmonella.htm ), our understanding of how protien crystals form ( http://scripts.iucr.org/cgi-bin/paper?S0907444902021443 ), our understanding of the properties of materials like supercritical colloids ( http://spaceflightsystems.grc.nasa.gov/Advanced/ISSResearch/MWA/BCAT/ )which are important to industry, but I'm afraid I have no idea how to put a dollar value to that knowledge.

I think there is a strong argument that the ISS has produced more knowledge of direct relevance to people living on earth than apollo did, or most unmanned space probes for that matter.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
Marsbug: You really have a great point, Just exactly what actual dollar value would all those probes that samkent seems to think we could have launched without the ISS? Almost ALL astronomical knowledge has absolutely no quantifiable materiel worth at all to the average Joe Six pack out there in TV land! Who really cares about galaxies so far away the they can't even be seen with the naked eye anyway?

Are we really stuck with nothing but a purely materialistic generation? What has happened to all the idealism of our youth that propelled us to the moon and beyond? Is it truly dead? And have we actually substituted nothing but bean counting for it? Great Heavens above, I truly hope not!!!

Heck, why did we even bother to send an expensive shuttle flight up to fix the Hubble? Sure, the pictures from that telescope are very pretty, but heck almost anyone with a good copy of photo shop could do that, right?

And, by the way thanks for the help with the links. It sometimes seems that if you do not have direct links to something you say here on the internet, then it can not possibly be true! Doesn't anybody ever bother to read books anymore?

Besides which even with the research that has already been done (again, thanks for the links) on the ISS, by far its best research days are ahead of it. This is because with a full six person crew, by far the most work to be done is going to BE pure research, and not just maintenance on the facility itself!

Also, personally having been in manufacturing most of my career before I retired, I fully believe that the greatest single use of the ISS is going to be in learning how to manufacture things in space. That manufacturing even going back so far as the level of smelting such space age materials as exist in great quantities on the moon and NEO's.

Just think what an incredible advantage manufacturing in space is going to give such a fantastic manufacturing process as electron beam welding! We had some of the largest such machines in the world at Rocketdyne, used for very tight and true welds of liquid rocket engine parts. The biggest problem with the process was creating the very high level vacuums that were needed to even have a steady beam of electrons weld anything at all. The pumps for such vacuums were truly enormous and very energy hungry. But what is that just outside of the ISS? Yep, you guessed it, a vacuum more than good enough to electron beam anything of any size, to be had by just opening an outer door!

And just think of the boon weightlessness gives to materials handling. Always a difficult, (sometimes even dangerous) and expensive process! The knowledge of just how to do these manufacturing processes in space is going to be the key to a true human civilization in space. And the value of the use of the ISS to study and perfect those processes is eventually going to be worth far more than the entire cost of the ISS was in itself. And this is even without all the other basic research that is going on, and will be going on, also!

And all this even without the kind of serendipity that we both know can and often does occur in basic research!

Thanks again for your help here. And strange as it may seem, I even appreciate such questions as samkent brings up. If nothing else it certainly helps to start posts and discussions that can be quite interesting, if nothing else!
 
Z

ZenGalacticore

Guest
frodo1008":ne9q37wh said:
Then perhaps Congress had better come up with a lot (relative to NASA's small budget) of extra money to really push spacex and COTS to get dragon, and either delta IV, or Atlas V, or even the Falcon 9 (all in heavy versions) to have the capability of placing Americans in space on such as the ISS, and they had better do it quickly or face having the only way Americans get into space on board the Russians equipment!

Is that what people here really want, because I can not imagine that it is what the people of this country want for our manned space program, and I do not think that Congress will want it either!

And you know, its kind of peculiar, for a vehicle that can no longer be made or even serviced, the shuttle flew pretty darn well today!

We Americans supposedly can no longer make consumer goods, and it seems to be coming up that we can't make automobiles anymore either, and now we can not make or maintain space craft either. Other than making war, just what the hell good are we at anymore?

Once upon a time we had people and the will to do what many thought was totally impossible, that was to build what had never even been thought of, and go to the moon in only about eight years. Has our spirit really fallen so far that now all we can think of is what we can NOT do?

If this is the case then perhaps it is time for the Russians, Chinese, Indians, and even the Brazilians, to just take over, and then we can just quietly go into that good night!! And I thought that I was retired?

Sad, terribly, terribly sad!!!!
So now you're agreeing with what I said in Free Space? About more money for NASA and being dependent on the Russians for five years? Now you see how politics and space endeavors are inescapably intertwined. How many times is 'Congress' mentioned in this thread that was NOT supposed to be about politics? What's wrong with $40 billion for NASA?

Two of our shuttles have exploded in disaster(Challenger and Columbia). While we know the separate reasons for those tragedies, it doesn't mean that an unforeseen problem will not cause a disaster with the remaining three shuttles. And as they age, the likelihood of a fatal disaster increases.

How many engineers are in Congress? It isn't up to Congress to demand that the shuttles' service life be extended. In fact, many space disasters in the history of man in space were caused by damn politicians and administrators pressuring engineers for launches for political reasons when the engineers knew full well of specific dangers. (The brittleness of the O-rings in cold weather in the Challenger disaster is a case in point.) As well as several Russian disasters.
 
W

wtrix

Guest
Hi!

I don't know if NASA is doomed or not with Constellation program. I doubt that because nobody has shown the numbers (in $, please). What I know is that NASA should design and build rockets as much as other government agencies shall design and build cars. Or trains, plains and boats. This is the area where private entrepreneur shall make the stance. Government agency has to buiy the service. Not the rockets.

I imagine that NASA shall put a long term map to public availability where there are stritcly specced in what perspective NASA is willing to pay what amounts of money in what terms to get the payload lifted. The fact that NASA is currently designing rockets is the result of mistakes made 10-15 years ago. And with such promises on table it shall warrant himself against similar situations in 2020.
 
F

frodo1008

Guest
ZenGalacticore: I did not principally want this thread (or any of the others I start) to degenerate into a political donnybrook of a fight like so many threads have done here so often (and this is particularly true over on free space). But, I must admit that when you are talking about the spending of billions of tax payer dollars, which are basically controlled by Congress, then is is indeed utterly impossible to avoid at least some mention of politics entirely, isn't it?
Sorry about that, I must admit to being incorrect there!!

As it IS Congress (as technologically ignorant as you say they are, you will get no argument from me on that point) that still controls the funding of NASA. There is just no other way of seeing it.

And I can tell you that Congress is absolutely NOT going to be happy with depending solely on the Russians to get to the ISS, which we have basically paid for in the first place!

Do you. or anybody else here, have any other truly viable alternative to continuing to fly the shuttles? I am more than happy (as would be Congress I would imagine) to listen to them!

And you, like myself, already know that spacex and Dragon are not going to be ready to be launching to the ISS very much sooner than the Ares I is either.

You are also correct in that the one thing that Congress would have to do to back up both developing a follow on to the shuttle, while still flying the shuttles is a relatively large increase in NASA's funding. By relative, I meant to NASA's already minuscule budget, an increase of only about $5 billion to a total NASA budget of still only some $25 billion per year should do the job. And it IS that very same Congress that has the power to do just that!

ZenGalacticore, the shuttle orbiters were originally designed to have a life expectancy of some 100 flights. I see where this particular Hubble mission is the 30th mission of the Atlantis, and I do not think that the others have even that many launches under the belt yet. So the argument that the shuttle themselves are somehow wearing out just does not hold water. That they are generally too expensive does hold validity however. But we are only talking some 5 years at most, and with spacex possibly even less. Such relatively small anounts do not even amount to noise in the federal budget!

Besides this, as we are only talking about launches to the ISS, there would be absolutely no need for more than one launch per year for each of the three remaining vehicles. To say nothing of the simple fact that it is going to take at least two flights of the Soyuz to get six people (the new number of people that the ISS will be capable of having on board) up to the ISS, whereas the shuttle with very little if any modification could still take an entire crew up in one flight.

Besides which, once there is no need to utilize the shuttle bay for actual pieces of the ISS to be delivered up to the station, just what would it take to have the shuttle deliver and bring back ALL the materials needed to maintain the station all the time for only some three flights per year? All in all, it would probably prove just as inexpensive, if not even less expensive, to use the shuttle almost exclusively for all flights to and from the ISS, until at least the Dragon and its launcher(S) come on line?

If this would be disconcerting to our partners in the ISS, then let them use their various vehicles for additional materials up to the ISS, at THEIR expense instead of the American taxpayers! I can almost guarantee you that is the kind of thinking that a average congress person is going to be making, whether you (or even I) like it or not!

It is almost a certainty that Congress is going to be VERY unhappy with the idea of not having American access to the ISS in which the American taxpayer have footed most of the bill for! Heck, Congress would probably be willing to come up with the necessary funding to build more shuttles rather than allowing that to happen!

Finally, I do think that the odds are at least some 50/50 that this is exactly the same kind of thing that this new committee, headed by Augustine has been formed for by the new administration! If I, as an old retired aerospace worker, can see these things, then I can not imagine that those people will not be able to also!

IS there a truly viable alternative?
 
Z

ZenGalacticore

Guest
Frodo- I too loathe the state of affairs on any thread in any forum that bogs down into political/ideological polarization and mud-slinging. It is always at the expense of rational debate and dialogue. As I've mentioned before, much of the polarization of this country comes from the influence of nit-wits like Hannity, Limbaugh, Al Franken, Fox, CNN, MSNBC, and the other commercial news bozos.

I don't know what the alternatives are, I'm just dumbfounded that we are letting the upcoming situation happen and that we have planned for it. We have learned incalculable knowledge and expertise, invaluable experience and methods from our employment and use of the shuttles these past 25 years or more. As you well know, the whole idea of re-usable spacecraft was supposed to make LEO travel more affordable; it turned out to be the opposite because of the intensive re-fit, retool, replace, and maintenance requirements of each shuttle after each mission.

Using expendable rockets for heavy-duty spaceworks turns out to be cheaper and more cost-effective, and NASA has known this since at least the late 80s if not before. The fact that we had all that knowledge and expertise on expendable rockets back in '69, much of which-from what I've read- actually had to be RE-LEARNED, is unacceptable to me. Re-learned rocketry, can you believe that?!

I hear you on the projected mission life of each shuttle. If Atlantis has only 30 missions under it's belt, then I guess they expect to have a hundred racked up by 2010/11. I don't have the info that NASA has, but I'm sure they wouldn't retire the shuttle fleet just for the hell of it. Although they might be retiring them befor their time because of the operating costs and the cheaper price tag on expendables.

Like I said, although the shuttle program has been very expensive compared to expendables, we've learned a lot of invauluable, priceless knowledge and experience by tinkering around with them all these years. That experience will help us develop more effiecient re-usable spacecraft in the coming decades, in tandem with advancements in propulsion.(Have you read about the magneto-plasma rocket? These trends are exciting.)

People have been very critical of the shuttles, but I gotta tell ya, I think a lot of the criticism is un-warranted. I mean come on, they were the first craft of their kind. Visionaries and technocrats have often portrayed the shuttles as akin to Ford Model Ts. I disagree. They're more like Stanely Steamer horseless carriages 30 or 40 years before Model Ts. By 2030, I would surmise that we'll have a new generation of reusable spacecraft coming on line(for Earth orbit operations anyway, but maybe Lunar opts as well.) I hope I live to see it.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts