Speechless

Holy Crap! Obama’s NASA Budget Proposal is Amazing! For once in my life, I think I’m actually speechless for now.

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Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
Jonathan Goff

About Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
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179 Responses to Speechless

  1. Kelly Starks says:

    > 146 Marcel F. Williams

    >== A Jupiter SSTO (Jupiter without the SRBs) is not a
    > heavy lift vehicle since it only launches around 25
    > tonnes to orbit. Since it only has a single stage, it
    > would be much safer than a multistage rocket (fewer
    > stages or boosters, fewer things to go wrong). And
    > since it would probably have 6 SSME, that would further
    > add to its safety.

    Well the SSTO part would help with safety over a multi stage, but you still talking about a expendable with single use engines and a capsule on the top. These are all safty negatives compared to something like the shuttle.

  2. Kelly Starks says:

    A good alternative to a SSTO if you can’t manage that, would be a biamese (two identical craft belly to belly one actingas the booster adn boost fuel carrior for the other. The other the orbiter), or a craft like the Lockheed StarClipper where you your orbiter has the fuel for the later boost phase, adn all the engine for take off – but it has a huge drop tank. Soit”stages” only the droptank. Staging anything seriously limits your ability to launch from various places (even a coastal launch areas – folks are reluctant to clear out huge “drop areas all the time. But they are a major plus compard to multistage for reusability.

  3. “Well the SSTO part would help with safety over a multi stage, but you still talking about a expendable with single use engines and a capsule on the top. These are all safty negatives compared to something like the shuttle.”

    The shuttle is a lot more dangerous than a rocket with a capsule on top because the capsule is usually equipped with a LAS (launch abort system) which reduces the chances of loss of life by a factor of ten. So we’d probably be talking about human fatalities once every few thousand launches. However, the safety of an expendable rocket usually improves the more a particular rocket type is launched. So if we’re talking about hundreds of these rockets being launched by several different private commercial launch companies every year, then their safety margins should rapidly improve in just a few years.

  4. Pete says:

    148 – Kelly Starks
    “Shuttle was only half built, adn never built up to commercial/industrial standards – but it did deliver its cost reductions and such as projected. GAO said margin cost per pound to orbit would be about $240 a pound, adjusted for inflation and the 50K not 60K cargo load except in Columbia – its about that.”

    Which did not eventuate in practice because the flight rate was too low. 🙂 Even so, while the shuttle is by far the most impressive launch vehicle ever developed, and a big step towards reusability, it was still overly complicated and not a CATS vehicle. Perhaps the problem with the shuttle is that it did not end up being part of a development program, leading to following generations of launch vehicles.

    “Ignoring the SSTO function (which wasn’t the critical point from expense and reliability standpoint), what do you think was pushing it?

    Note: I didn’t say projected cost savings – I said tested and verified.”

    The DC-X was an exemplar of how to develop a very sub orbital launch vehicle, literally costing an order of magnitude less than what it would have cost NASA to do. But the DC-Y would have been a major step up again, and probably would have taken more than one iteration to really get right. I am not sure that one can ignore the SSTO effect on margins and costs. The DC-Y had very little margin for weight growth and there were some notable aspects (like reentry shielding), that could have easily got heavy. Although I would have taken DC-Y over constellation any day, it would have been a worthy successor to the shuttle.

    > I will note that in recent years TSTO seems to have become
    > increasingly favored in RLV circles. ==

    “Seems to be a fad thing more then anything.”

    It seems to be a lowest cost development path. Sure SSTO is quite possible, but it is not forgiving of development difficulties, and nor is it cheaper in the long term due to lower payload fraction. Ultimate CATS launch vehicles will not be SSTO for this reason (well unless rocket engine exhaust speed is increased significantly, fusion?), so hence it is somewhat a waste to develop them now.

    > Realistically, we are far from just one vehicle away from CATS.

    “Why? Its not like were doing something radically new. Just something launch craft didn’t bother with before.”

    And the design leaps fully evolved from the engineers heads… I can not say that I have ever seen that happen in practice. It did not happen that way with the aircraft industry (the launch industry is still a long way away from its DC-3). Sure it is possible, just not probable.

    >Armadillo, Masten, XCOR chose the development paths
    > they did for a good reason. ==

    “Mainly the reason was they havent the money or expertice. Hence why its taking them years to do what bigger firms did in months long ago.”

    If the case was sound, the money and expertise would have come. And as the saying goes, you can not develop low cost launch vehicles by spending lots of money. Those bigger firms of ~65 million years ago did not do what is being done now, the hubris of one off intelligent design results in evolutionary dead ends.

    > SpaceX is not really on a development path to CATS,
    > though they recently restated their intent to quickly
    > progress to reusabilty (perhaps better described as
    > rebuildability?).

    “I can’t figure SpaceX. They weer always saying they were designing for reusability – but the Falcons are built around a design optimised for a expendable missle? Its like copying a 911 porche, but saying you want to build it into a UPS truck? I mean they are doing a great job getting the company up and running , and competing in the existing market. But its a dumb design to start with if you want to move toward a RLV.”

    Agreed.

  5. Pete says:

    149 – Kelly Starks
    “Possibly things like 3rd world cell phone and internet needs could drive a new generation Irridium. But thats still to small to really keep a fleet busy enough to lower costs.”

    Yes a killer App would be nice – the ultimate market for space settlement is space settlement. Low cost options in that quarter might find buyers, tourism being but one example.

    My inclination would be to start developing satellites, hangers, stations, depots, tugs and what not that could be launched on most any launch vehicle in ~1000kg lots. With orbital hangers one could assemble and repair satellites, science missions, stations, power systems, etc. At this point one could offer the market something new, cheaper and much more responsive. I suspect a useful orbital hanger of this type could be developed for less than what Bigelow has spent, so is within reach of private funding. A hanger could provide a base camp/general store for those wanting to do things in space.

  6. Kelly Starks says:

    > 152 Marcel F. Williams
    >
    >> “Well the SSTO part would help with safety over a
    >>multi stage, but you still talking about a expendable
    >> with single use engines and a capsule on the top. These
    >> are all safty negatives compared to something like the shuttle.”

    > The shuttle is a lot more dangerous than a rocket with
    >a capsule on top because the capsule is usually equipped
    > with a LAS (launch abort system) which reduces the
    > chances of loss of life by a factor of ten. So we’d probably
    > be talking about human fatalities once every few thousand
    > launches. ===

    Ejection systems in planes only increase survival odds by at best a factor of 4. the only LAS usekiled half the folks using it, adn given shuttle has the highest safty history, in in one one of the accidents could a LAS have possibly helped (and stronger wings would have done better) — claims of orders of magnitude safety improvements with LAS are just laughable.

    LAS is a bandaid to make folks feel better. It doesn’t dramatically increase you odds of survival. Theres serious debate that it may lower odds of safty due to their added complexity adn design issues.

    You want to get survival rates up a lot. simplify adn harden your vehicle, adn work out ifs bugs.

  7. Kelly Starks says:

    > 153 Pete

    >> 148 – Kelly Starks
    >> “Shuttle was only half built, adn never built up to
    >> commercial/industrial standards – but it did deliver its cost
    >> reductions and such as projected. GAO said margin cost per
    >> pound to orbit would be about $240 a pound, adjusted for
    >> inflation and the 50K not 60K cargo load except in
    >> Columbia – its about that.”

    > Which did not eventuate in practice because the flight rate was
    > too low. 🙂

    It delivered on those margin costs — which were completly lost in the overhead and fixed costs.

    ;/

    Oh well – it at least shows even a crappy reusable can deliver low margin costs per pound!

    >== Perhaps the problem with the shuttle is that it did not end
    > up being part of a development program, leading to following
    > generations of launch vehicles.

    Worse then that. It was originally considered a entry configuration that could be upgraded in stages. BUT, Congress really loved the excessive labor costs. The upgrades would have improved the safty and lowered the service cost – the later was politically unacceptable.

    Instead of upgrades, they designed the hellishly expensive Ares/Orion. Ares-1/Orion was oing to cost about half again what shuttle cost. Hell they HOPED Orion would only cost 20% more then the Shuttle orbiter.

    Simple things like adding hatchs so you can get to things to service them without major disassembly. Integrating fuel systms so you don’t have so many contradictory

    > The DC-X was an exemplar of how to develop a very sub
    > orbital launch vehicle, literally costing an order of
    > magnitude less than what it would have cost NASA to do.
    > But the DC-Y would have been a major step up again,
    > and probably would have taken more than one iteration
    > to really get right.

    I knew folks on the McDac and they weer pretty adament that that would not be true. It was all off the shelf systems (some dated) in a simple servicable configuration. The tested and times how long it would take to service them etc.

    DC-Y was the full sized test prototype – but the production craft weer to be called the DC-3 (you have to know how big a name that is to McDonnel Douglas) and expected it to have as big a impact on space transport that the old DC-3 had on air transport.

    > I am not sure that one can ignore the SSTO effect on
    > margins and costs. ==

    They had designed it so as a fall back it could fly with small strap-ons to compensate if it couldn’t SSTO. They had figured out they could get it to orbit that way even if the dry weight went up another 100 tons (more then doubling the dry weight)

    The effects on operating costs would not have been to bad. When your droping op costs a couple orders of mag — the strap ons couldn’t burn through much of that.

    😉

    Also given it was progected to only cost $5 billion (in current dollars) and 3 years to get into certified production, and could get to the lunar surface with on orbit refueling — the $100 billion allocated for Ares-i/V /Orion/Altair would go much farther.

    😉

    >>> I will note that in recent years TSTO seems to have become
    >>> increasingly favored in RLV circles. ==

    >> “Seems to be a fad thing more then anything.”

    > It seems to be a lowest cost development path. ==

    A lot of the TSTOs get pricey to develop since the two stages are to complete and optimized – A 1+TO or biamese config could be developed without a big cost increase.

    > Sure SSTO is quite possible, but it is not forgiving of
    > development difficulties, and nor is it cheaper in the long
    > term due to lower payload fraction. ==

    Mass fractions pretty irrelevant to cargo costs per pound to orbit.

    A point to think of for SSTO’s now a days is combined cycle engines. Rocket ramjet hybrids that double the average specific impulse from ground to orbit. Getting away from liquid hydrogen systems to lighten the ships weight and lower the drag and delta-V to orbit.

    >>> Realistically, we are far from just one vehicle away from CATS.

    >>“Why? Its not like were doing something radically new.
    >> Just something launch craft didn’t bother with before.”

    > And the design leaps fully evolved from the engineers heads…

    Its not like they need to evolve anything. They don’t need new technologies. Complex new designs. The DC-3 came about in one go – and for its day i was more innovative then a CATS would be.

    Launchers are simpler beasts then high end aircraft are, and the same techniques that lowered service costs on them can do the same with launchers. So the tech base for CATS is mucharther ahead then you’ld think. Logically all this ability would have been usedto develop lower cost, more reliably craft, but for various reasons it wasn’t. That was a choice of various programs for good or bad reasons. It was not a requirement. Do not assume current or proposed launchers represent the state of the art. They are built to standard so far bellow commercial or aviation standrads (or millitary is a point of some friction in the companies that build them.

    For example when I was working on Orion year before last. The engineers adn senior folks were very awre and uncomfortable that Orion systems were demanded to be at a lower quality standard then what they used on Shuttle or ISS, adn those two were far less then what they used on their commercial or military customers for similar systems.

    >>>Armadillo, Masten, XCOR chose the development paths
    >>> they did for a good reason. ==

    >> “Mainly the reason was they havent the money or
    >> expertice. Hence why its taking them years to do
    >> what bigger firms did in months long ago.”

    > If the case was sound, the money and expertise would have come.

    Busness case?

    > And as the saying goes, you can not develop low cost launch
    > vehicles by spending lots of money.

    Yeah thats bull. Are you really going to tell me a CATS launcher should cost 1/10th or 1/100th a similar weight biz jet? Or even a new Corvette?

    building a crappy anything can be done on the cheap – quality and lower cost costs time money and expertice.

    > Those bigger firms of ~65 million years ago did not do what
    > is being done now, ==

    Actually one of my complaints of the alt.space companies is they talk a lot about being innovative and building to new standards — while doing things the big aero firms did half a century ago as cheaply and easily — and often completely unaware of what was done or how it was done. [Had a argument with Jon on that a couple dozen posts above. 😉 ]

    Its like a new bridge builder firm that never heard of suspension bridges.

  8. Kelly Starks says:

    > 154 Pete

    > Yes a killer App would be nice – the ultimate market for
    > space settlement is space settlement. =

    No thats a myth. Folks don’t settle somewhere just to build a city there. When the economic reasons for towns and cities goes away – they become ghost towns or cities.

    We need to find a profitable thing to do in space that most economically can be done with space settlement, or there won’t be space settlments.

  9. Pete says:

    “They had designed it so as a fall back it could fly with small strap-ons to compensate if it couldn’t SSTO. They had figured out they could get it to orbit that way even if the dry weight went up another 100 tons (more then doubling the dry weight)

    The effects on operating costs would not have been to bad. When your droping op costs a couple orders of mag — the strap ons couldn’t burn through much of that.

    Also given it was progected to only cost $5 billion (in current dollars) and 3 years to get into certified production, and could get to the lunar surface with on orbit refueling — the $100 billion allocated for Ares-i/V /Orion/Altair would go much farther.”

    Tis a great pity that none of this ever happened. Now everyone is having to learn how to design rocket vehicles again from scratch, when the pace of development gets too slow, the world forgets.

    Dismissing effective government programs (though NASA perhaps now actually has some freedom with its budget?), a couple of hundred million is probably now within the realm of private investment. Can you see anyway of developing a first generation launch vehicle along these lines within such a budget?

    One thing I have been looking into is electric ducted fan “rockets” as atmospheric boosters. Can get to 10-20km in a very low cost and reliable manner. This could mitigate aero losses, tank insulation, range costs, vacuum expansion and what not, basically mitigating many things that do not scale down well. Maybe it would enable a smaller lower development cost assisted SSTO RLV type vehicle that was in the realm of private funding.

    I have always liked the bimese solutions, but it is a compromise solution and one still has to effectively develop two vehicles (they must work as two and as one). Small fly back boosters might be interesting, as they could perhaps still make it back to the original launch site. I suspect turnaround times of around a day or less need to be designed for.

  10. steve lussier says:

    >the only LAS use killed half the folks using it

    Is that true? I no expert in LES/LAS history, but was under the impression the only powered emergency escape from a launch disaster was successful.

    “Only one emergency use of an LES has occurred. This occurred during the attempt to launch Soyuz T-10-1 on September 26, 1983. The rocket caught fire, just before launch, but the LES was able to carry the crew capsule clear, seconds before the rocket exploded.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Launch_escape_system

    “Landing occurred about four kilometers from the launch pad. The two crew members were badly bruised after the high acceleration, but had survived” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soyuz_T-10-1

    It looks like both crew members lived for decades after this incident.

  11. Pete says:

    “No thats a myth. Folks don’t settle somewhere just to build a city there. When the economic reasons for towns and cities goes away – they become ghost towns or cities.

    We need to find a profitable thing to do in space that most economically can be done with space settlement, or there won’t be space settlements.”

    In the long term space has energy, resources and low transport costs that can not readily be competed with on Earth, especially once economies of scale start kicking in. So the long term economics seem sound. In the short term net immigration may bring with it income enough, if the prospect of future profitability is there. People’s desire to settle space is perhaps the biggest market until then.

    Trying to justify space in terms of what it can do for people on Earth is I think the wrong way round for thinking about it. The vast majority of stuff produced in space will be used in space – that is where the majority of the market will be. Sure other markets will help greatly, and information based technologies can probably be traded from space.

    The US is something like 90% self sufficient (10% international tradables), but that number would be much higher if transport costs were much higher (as per space).

    Say we assume space settlement is initially 75% self sufficient, and there is an initial income of 10 billion from satellite, science and tourist services, then that would equate to something like 40 billion in revenue – which is a lot more than many countries and sufficient to employ a great many people. The market already exists to establish a sizable “country” in space, what is lacking is low cost launch and space infrastructure with which to economically access it.

  12. Kelly Starks says:

    > 158 Pete

    >> “They had designed it so as a fall back it could fly with small
    >> strap-ons to compensate if it couldn’t SSTO. They had figured
    >> out they could get it to orbit that way even if the dry weight
    >> went up another 100 tons (more then doubling the dry weight)
    >>
    >> The effects on operating costs would not have been to bad.
    >> When your droping op costs a couple orders of mag — the
    >> strap ons couldn’t burn through much of that.

    >> Also given it was progected to only cost $5 billion (in current
    >> dollars) and 3 years to get into certified production, and could
    >> get to the lunar surface with on orbit refueling — the $100
    >> billion allocated for Ares-i/V /Orion/Altair would go much farther.”

    > Tis a great pity that none of this ever happened. Now everyone
    > is having to learn how to design rocket vehicles again from
    > scratch, when the pace of development gets too slow, the world
    > forgets.

    No aerospace projects funded – aerospace companies die out.

    So many good ideas left to gather dust.

    >== Dismissing effective government programs (though NASA
    > perhaps now actually has some freedom with its budget?), ==

    Now NASA has lost programs.

    >== a couple of hundred million is probably now within the
    > realm of private investment. Can you see anyway of developing
    > a first generation launch vehicle along these lines within such
    > a budget?

    Not a good one. Doing the flight tests etc to bring it up to aviation quality standards would cost more then that. A small couple person craft built to current launch vehicle standards could be – SpaceX has shown that.

    Certainly a RLV of equivalent lift to a Falcon should cost about the same as a Falcon – or a Falcon/Dragon.

    > One thing I have been looking into is electric ducted fan
    > “rockets” as atmospheric boosters. Can get to 10-20km in
    > a very low cost and reliable manner. This could mitigate aero
    > losses, tank insulation, range costs, vacuum expansion and
    > what not, basically mitigating many things that do not scale
    > down well. Maybe it would enable a smaller lower development
    > cost assisted SSTO RLV type vehicle that was in the realm of
    > private funding.

    I’ld focus more on building a RAMjet/Rocket combined cycle. The huge boost in ISP adn little aded complexity would make a SSTO a much easier prospect. However, SSTOs don’t like to scale down.

    I did some work on a concept using a new turboramjet combined cycle engine P&W was building for a Darpa Mach 6+ project, and some light weight TPS. A ultra long range suborbital bizjet like craft could fit well with a opening market — even if they cost most of $100 million. With that range its close enough to orbit to likely make it there with a lighter load. If not – the project is still fanancially fins since the main market is suborbital. Then you upgrade or offer some augmentation service to get some of them to orbit when the owners like. Funding connections disolved, and none of the highly qualified famous folks would touch anything withoutserious money we didn’t have.

    ;/

    > I have always liked the bimese solutions, but it is a compromise
    > solution and one still has to effectively develop two vehicles (they
    > must work as two and as one). ==

    At least, the boosters and orbiters don’t need to be developed seperatly.

    >==Small fly back boosters might be interesting, as they could
    > perhaps still make it back to the original launch site. I suspect
    > turnaround times of around a day or less need to be designed for.

    It would help.

  13. Kelly Starks says:

    > 159Pete

    > In the long term space has energy, resources and low transport
    > costs that can not readily be competed with on Earth, especially
    > once economies of scale start kicking in. So the long term
    > economics seem sound. ===

    We could all grow old and die in the long term..

    😉

    >== In the short term net immigration may bring with it income
    > enough, if the prospect of future profitability is there. People’s
    > desire to settle space is perhaps the biggest market until then.

    That’s not going to do it. Historically that’s how ghost towns get founded.

    > Trying to justify space in terms of what it can do for people on
    > Earth is I think the wrong way round for thinking about it. The
    > vast majority of stuff produced in space will be used in space –
    > that is where the majority of the market will be. Sure other
    > markets will help greatly, and information based technologies
    > can probably be traded from space.

    Then its not going to happen.Info tech is one place space has a major econoimc disadvantage, and the money is here. Thats the markets you have to sell to to get the funding you need. Otherwiose space willnever be colonized. Its as blunt and basic as that.

    > The US is something like 90% self sufficient (10% international
    > tradables), but that number would be much higher if transport
    > costs were much higher (as per space).

    Transport costs are only high because little is transported — and the transport costs are high going up, not down.

    > Say we assume space settlement is initially 75% self sufficient,
    > and there is an initial income of 10 billion from satellite, science
    > and tourist services, then that would equate to something like 40
    > billion in revenue – which is a lot more than many countries and
    > sufficient to employ a great many people.

    Space colonies would cost a lot more then $40B, and the money wouldn’t stay in the colony. The investors would want a lot of it. And what possible Satelight or science services.

  14. Kelly Starks says:

    opps ment to say
    .. The investors would want a lot of it. And what possible Satelight or science services could you market for money like that?

  15. Pete says:

    Kelly Starks: “I’d focus more on building a RAMjet/Rocket combined cycle. The huge boost in ISP adn little aded complexity would make a SSTO a much easier prospect. However, SSTOs don’t like to scale down.”

    I am guessing you would go for the air augmented rocket end of that space, definitely some interesting possibilities there. And I am also guessing that you are perhaps looking at HTHL? To reduce the need for a high T/W.

    A trick I came across recently is to use an electric ducted fan to get up to ramjet speed. Quietish electric VTOL is possible followed by supersonic flight. I suspect it could be a lot cheaper and more reliable than a rocket or turbo ramjet hybrid. It would be too heavy to take to orbit, but could be a very interesting first stage (and supersonic business jet).

    I have long been looking at ways of scaling down launch vehicles, another trick is to use external inflatable tanks (gets around minimum gauge constraints). But the tanks would have to be packed on orbit or left there (though they could be cheap), as I doubt it is worth adding thermal protection to them. Inflatable external tanks are also not particularly applicable to high speed horizontal flight profiles.

  16. Pete says:

    Kelly Starks:
    >Then its not going to happen.Info tech is one place space has a
    > major econoimc disadvantage, and the money is here. Thats the
    > markets you have to sell to to get the funding you need.
    > Otherwise space willnever be colonized. Its as blunt and basic as
    > that.

    The payback does not necessarily have to be on Earth, it could be in space. Long term it is reasonable to assume that space is where all the economic activity will be, where all the wealth will go and be created. The energy and resources there swamp anything on Earth, and so that is where the prosperity will likely be and Earth might become the ghost town (well more likely a museum). People will invest in space on that basis, pack up their worldly possessions and emigrate in hope of a better future there. Yes there are many things they will want to buy from Earth, but there will also be many things new immigrants will wish to buy in space – with their Earth dollars.

    I am not sure that space will be at a disadvantage with regard to information technology, it will not necessarily be more expensive to live there. Also, a lot of research, for example, might be better performed in space (nuclear, GE, AI, etc. – NIMBY).

    > Transport costs are only high because little is transported — and > the transport costs are high going up, not down.”

    Transport costs will still be reasonably high coming down compared to Earth based transport systems – depending a bit on whether up mass or down mass is dominating. Transport will still be limited to high value goods.

    > Space colonies would cost a lot more then $40B, and the money
    > wouldn’t stay in the colony.

    Why does it have to cost more than $40B? Space station per capita cost need be little greater than expensive housing on Earth (say 10,000kg/person at $100/kg). People could conceivably swap their house on Earth for one in space. There is no fundamental reason why space infrastructure has to be as expensive as it currently is, and with CATS, it will not be.

    The money will stay in the colony if people see just cause in making their future there – and some will.

  17. Brad says:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision#p/a/u/1/FfGo2ugcG48

    Sorry Jon. This recent press session with Bolden is a pretty clear indication that there won’t be any NASA manned exploration mission beyond LEO before the year 2020, and quite possibly after 2030, under the new Obama direction.

    The comments made about HLV were very interesting. Bolden was pretty clear about the need for HLV and made a point about the money in the budget proposal dedicated to R&D for HLV. Bolden also said that this new HLV will actually fly sometime between 2020 and 2030, if everything goes right.

    The reason for the absence of an exploration plan is also made clear from another Bolden pronouncement, the firm committal to international participation. Bolden said he would spend the next six months in discussions with potential foreign partners. No wonder there isn’t a plan yet! I expect there won’t be a manned exploration plan for years as details are hashed out between the partners.

    Another comment

  18. Pete says:

    Another interesting comment Bolden made; he said he was unaware of anyone who did not think that there was a need for an HLV.

  19. Kelly Starks says:

    > on 07 Feb 2010 at 8:13 pm163Pete

    >> Kelly Starks: “I’d focus more on building a RAMjet/Rocket combined
    >> cycle. The huge boost in ISP adn little aded complexity would make
    >> a SSTO a much easier prospect. However, SSTOs don’t like to scale
    >> down.”

    > am guessing you would go for the air augmented rocket end of
    > that space, ==

    More a rocket in the middle of a ramjet. (Air augmented sounds like your harvesting air and feeding it nito the rocket to burn, like a LACE system) Effectivly your adding after burners and ductwork around the Rocket. The rocket blasting down the center of the ducts pulls in freash air at high speed so the ramjet works from take off. Since the rockets need to have enough thrust for verticle assent for after you level the atmospher regardless, and this doubles the take off thrust, yuo accelerate or asend rapidly. At higher speeds the Ramjet does fine no its own, adn your spec-imp gets really high. Past mach 6 or so you leave the atmosphere adn use the rockets.

    > ==definitely some interesting possibilities there. And I am also
    > guessing that you are perhaps looking at HTHL? To reduce the
    > need for a high T/W.

    It works eiather way. Ramjets ar pretty light. NASA came up with a VTHL ram/rocket called GTX that looks like a Battlestar Galactic Viper fighter.

    😉

    > A trick I came across recently is to use an electric ducted fan to get
    > up to ramjet speed. Quietish electric VTOL is possible followed by
    > supersonic flight. ==

    Wouldn’t the generator adn electric motor rig be prohibativly heavy?

    Whats the generator power source?

    > I suspect it could be a lot cheaper and more reliable than a
    > rocket or turbo ramjet hybrid. It would be too heavy to take to
    > orbit, but could be a very interesting first stage (and supersonic
    > business jet).

    P&W was garenteeing their turboramjet would have more then a 16/1 T/W ratio, adn speed capacity over MNach 6. So it was pretty good.

    I’m not clear what light weight power surce you could get for your electric fan? Wuoldn’t it be simpler to conect the drive shaft you would have connected to the generator – directly to the fan adn save the weight of the electrics?

    > I have long been looking at ways of scaling down launch
    > vehicles, another trick is to use external inflatable tanks
    > (gets around minimum gauge constraints). But the tanks would
    > have to be packed on orbit or left there (though they could
    > be cheap), as I doubt it is worth adding thermal protection to
    > them. Inflatable external tanks are also not particularly applicable
    > to high speed horizontal flight profiles.

    Why load a launch vehicles tanks in space?

    Teh old Atlas Rockets used inflatable tanks as the primary structure of the booster. (Thats why the atlas that carried John Glenn into space looked so smooth) They can take great loads when presurized, but service techs hated them since you could damage them by just punping them when unpresurized.

  20. Kelly Starks says:

    > 164 Pete

    >Kelly Starks:
    >>Then its not going to happen.Info tech is one place space has a
    >> major econoimc disadvantage, and the money is here. Thats the
    >> markets you have to sell to to get the funding you need.
    >> Otherwise space willnever be colonized. Its as blunt and basic as
    >> that.

    > The payback does not necessarily have to be on Earth, it could be
    > in space. ==

    It can’t, because theres no buiers that. Yes you could speculate that after a major space population of cities adn such are developed that space itself will have a market for materials, adn some of those would be bought from other space cities/colonies/platforms. But thats so far in the future adn dependant no so much else builg up a huge industrial base in space to serve Earths markets, its to speculative.

    > == Long term it is reasonable to assume that space is where all the
    > economic activity will be, where all the wealth will go and be
    > created. The energy and resources there swamp anything on Earth,
    > and so that is where the prosperity will likely be ==

    Right now the raw materials and fuels come from the third world, but its the developed world where all the welth is made. No onse colonizing the arctic circle or off shore where the oil wells are benig drilled, nor the massive nidustries moving near the mines. The ultimate resource is skilled creative people. There are none in space, and its a lot simpler to bring the raw materials or robotically produced sub systems to the place where its cheaper to house and equip the personel.

    ==
    > I am not sure that space will be at a disadvantage with regard to
    > information technology, it will not necessarily be more expensive to
    > live there.

    It will be much more expensive to live ni space, adn info tech has no need for ore adn etc – but it does need a lot of poeople, universities, and coffee.

    😉

    > == Also, a lot of research, for example, might be better
    > performed in space (nuclear, GE, AI, etc. – NIMBY).

    GE?

    Nuclear really isn’t a problem. research is alowed, its mearly cheap power generatino of waste disposal that is politically forbidded in some nations no Earth. So its more of a way one nation will lose out to a less restrictive other nation.

    >> Transport costs are only high because little is transported — and
    >> the transport costs are high going up, not down.”

    > Transport costs will still be reasonably high coming down compared
    > to Earth based transport systems – depending a bit on whether up
    > mass or down mass is dominating. Transport will still be limited to
    > high value goods.

    Depends no the tech yuo asume. I did some research using Bussards polywell fusion reactor powered electro thermal steam rockets, adn for a large scale craft, yuo could download ore (or oil ni the test case I worked up) for a cost per ton similar to long range oil tanker costs.

    >> Space colonies would cost a lot more then $40B, and the money
    >> wouldn’t stay in the colony.

    > Why does it have to cost more than $40B? Space station per
    > capita cost need be little greater than expensive housing on
    > Earth (say 10,000kg/person at $100/kg). ==
    It takes tons of stuff per person to house and shield a person ni space. Also to provide gravity you need a very big platform – at least 750 feet in diameter. And of course you need the industrial space or whatever the platforms built to support. The costs run up prety quick. Like a cruise liner no those scales runs billions to tens of billions.

    > People could conceivably swap their house on Earth for one in space.

    There is a liner called the residensea, which is a condominium cruse liner folks can retire to or whatever – but each small condo goes for millions I beleave — and thats using the economics of a ship on Earth.

    > The money will stay in the colony if people see just cause in making
    > their future there – and some will.

    Again. The money has to come from somewhere to build the colony. little of the colony can be purchased or made there, so it has to pay to buy adn ship things to it from Earth. So you need to figure out what folks ni the colony — or the colony itself – can do no a continuing bases to earn enough to pay those bills.

  21. Kelly Starks says:

    > 165Brad

    > http://www.youtube.com/user/NASAtelevision#p/a/u/1/FfGo2ugcG48
    >
    > Sorry Jon. This recent press session with Bolden is a pretty clear
    > indication that there won’t be any NASA manned exploration mission
    > beyond LEO before the year 2020, and quite possibly after 2030,
    > under the new Obama direction.

    Certainly Lori Garvers earlier comments about beleavnig we will still see someone return to the moon withnig her lifetime, strongly siggested no actual plans to send someone to the moon in the next few decades.

    > == The comments made about HLV were very interesting. Bolden
    > was pretty clear about the need for HLV and made a point about
    > the money in the budget proposal dedicated to R&D for HLV. ==

    &
    > 166Pete
    >
    > Another interesting comment Bolden made; he said he was unaware
    > of anyone who did not think that there was a need for an HLV.

    Has Bolden slept through the last few decades (especially durnig his years on shuttle) or is he just lieing through his teeth? NASA developed serveral non HLV based return to the moon proposals in the ’80’s and ’90’s, and certainly in the space comunity its contraversial to assume HLVs are even desirable!

  22. Kelly Starks says:

    in the followin bbc article
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/jonathanamos/2010/02/a-big-rocket-is-still-a-us-pri.shtml

    it quoted Bolden as saying:

    “”We need [HLV] for science, we need it for intelligence, we need for Department of Defense, and Nasa definitely needs it if we’re going to talk about sending humans beyond low-Earth orbit. So, the need for a heavy-lift launch vehicle – I don’t think there’s any disagreement on the part of anybody. ==”

    Is he talking about 100+ ton (i.e. ’60’s definition) HLV, or the more current 25+ definition? I mean why the hell would yuo need a 100+ ton lifter for intel?!

  23. Pete says:

    Kelly Starks:
    “It takes tons of stuff per person to house and shield a person ni space. Also to provide gravity you need a very big platform – at least 750 feet in diameter. And of course you need the industrial space or whatever the platforms built to support. The costs run up prety quick. Like a cruise liner no those scales runs billions to tens of billions.”

    The probable method of providing artificial gravity would be to use individual modules at the end of a tether around a collective hub. Yes there are some dynamic issues to worry about.

    Houses are not self sufficient on Earth, utilities, taxes, etc., are paid for separately. The same might be true in space – they can afford to cost extra.

    The point I would make is that if extraordinary launch vehicles and space infrastructure are not required, then nor are extraordinary markets. Space is unlikely to happen quickly without CATS, and if CATS is possible then extraordinary markets are not required.

    “I’m not clear what light weight power source you could get for your electric fan? Wouldn’t it be simpler to connect the drive shaft you would have connected to the generator – directly to the fan and save the weight of the electrics?”

    Lithium batteries power the fan that drives the ramjet. Range is not a serious constraint and the power density is perhaps sufficient. Maybe one needs 20% of the vehicle mass in battery, just enough to get up to ramjet speed. There is also a significant possibility of a say threefold increase in battery performance in the next decade. Further, using the ducted fan to help pump the ramjet from zero speed one could get away with a far smaller battery again. One could even get silly and uses an electric fan to pump a small ramjet which then pumped a big ramjet – turtles all the way down.

    There are a couple of interesting tricks that come with such electrification, for example the ducted fan could recharge the battery once up to speed, propellant pumps could be electric, and landing (at much lighter weight) might be pure electric – recharging on the descent and eliminating the need for extra landing fuel. The large battery may also be of use while in space. There is a possibility for a much lower develop and operating cost system here that was also much more controllable/reliable/dependable – the area is interesting.

    “The old Atlas Rockets used inflatable tanks as the primary structure of the booster. (Thats why the atlas that carried John Glenn into space looked so smooth) They can take great loads when presurized, but service techs hated them since you could damage them by just punping them when unpressurized.”

    Yes I have heard similar things of those balloon tanks, however they were stainless steel and integrated into the structure. An external inflatable tank made by say wrapping a Teflon bladder with Kevlar (no rigid matrix) might be near an order of magnitude lighter. I was thinking something along the lines of a capsule with rocket engines and inflatable external tanks. Tank mass might be below 1%, even at small scale and they might be structurally self supporting.

  24. Kelly Starks says:

    1. > 172Pete
    > Houses are not self sufficient on Earth, utilities, taxes, etc., are paid
    > for separately. The same might be true in space – they can afford to cost extra.

    Houses are paid for by folks with jobs in the area. Hence the need to develop paying jobs in the area.

    > The point I would make is that if extraordinary launch vehicles and
    > space infrastructure are not required, then nor are extraordinary markets. ==

    To be practical, the launch vehicles need to be on the scale of effort of a similar sized commercial aircraft. These are multi billion $ programs and space has no huge market to absorb their costs.

    >> “I’m not clear what light weight power source you could
    >> get for your electric fan? Wouldn’t it be simpler to connect
    >> the drive shaft you would have connected to the generator
    >> – directly to the fan and save the weight of the electrics?”

    > Lithium batteries power the fan that drives the ramjet. Rang
    > is not a serious constraint and the power density is perhaps sufficient. ==

    ??
    The rule of thumb for electric cars was that a half ton of batteries delivers about as much power as a quart of gasoline. Also the weight of electric motors alone might xeceed the weight of a seperate turbo-shat engine.

    >== There is also a significant possibility of a say threefold increase
    > in battery performance in the next decade.

    Been hearing that from electric car folks for decades…

    Given you need to carry the rocket engines anyway, using it to pump air into the Ramjet would seem better since it adds no weight.

    >==
    >> “The old Atlas Rockets used inflatable tanks as the primary
    >> structure of the booster.== They can take great loads when presurized,
    >> but service techs hated them since you could damage them
    >> by just bumping them when unpressurized.”

    > = An external inflatable tank made by say wrapping a Teflon bladder
    > with Kevlar (no rigid matrix) might be near an order of magnitude
    > lighter. I was thinking something along the lines of a capsule with
    > rocket engines and inflatable external tanks. Tank mass might be
    > below 1%, even at small scale and they might be structurally self supporting.

    Could be. I’d drop the capsule and integrate the crew/cargo/engines into a fly back winged shuttle, and hang the inflatable tanks on them. The wings make TPS and soft landings a lot easier, and give you a structure to hold the inflatable tanks with.

  25. Vladislaw says:

    kelly:
    “The successful flight I am waiting for is a “for profit” flight. ==

    There have been lots of commercial for profit launchs over the decades. Thats nothing new. What knew thing will insight investors.”

    I was refering to commercial for profit human access to space launches. Yes we did see some for profit launches .. at the start of the commercial satellite period. And what did a few successful commercial for profit flights of satellites usher in?

    You will see the same thing as it relates to human access. Everyone will want a piece of the NEW pie.

    I believe once Bigelow is up and running, ‘LEO2GEO’ ships capable of satellite repair, refueling, upgrading will be in our future. If satallites start being built on a common bus with swapable, modular systems, satellites will have a both a longer life and a more productive one.

    I believe you are seeing a small inkling of interest grow from the first few astroV’s ( space vistors) and their internet efforts at bringing people along on the flight. Garriot and Simony really pushed this. The hits they got on their sites increased by going into space increasing their ad revenue. When there are literally hundreds and hundreds of personal websites about private spaceflight experiences and youtube videos and the whole thing goes viral it will gain a lot of momentum.

    Also, I am not saying this to move the conversation to silly, BUT.. I have a feeling that there were be an huge income stream generated by “ufos” or at least the hype about it. I can already see a reality show based at bigelows where the staunch UFO hunters boldly travel to space to give you first hand blah blah blah blah… about ufos. Like you see with ghost hunters on the sci fi channel only about ufos…. man a show like that would get hyped to the Nth degree. Watch as the fearless ufo hunters zoom in on a possible ufo and .. everyone at the edge of their seats watching as it zooms in on ….. a frozen chunk of pee from the space station… whew that was close one .. tune in next week as we look at blah blah blah…
    smiles

    Once reality TV and ratings become a part of the picture AND there is actual access to space, this will take off.

  26. Kelly Starks says:

    > 175Vladislaw
    >>
    >> kelly:

    >>> “The successful flight I am waiting for is a “for profit” flight. ==

    >> There have been lots of commercial for profit launchs over
    >> the decades. Thats nothing new. What knew thing will insight
    >> investors.”

    > I was refering to commercial for profit human access to
    > space launches. Yes we did see some for profit launches .. at
    > the start of the commercial satellite period. And what did a
    > few successful commercial for profit flights of satellites usher in?

    Well obviously more then a few commercial sat launches.

    Ok, though. A fully commercial (not Russian torist) flight to orbit could get folks to beleave space is possible.

    > I believe once Bigelow is up and running, ‘LEO2GEO’
    > ships capable of satellite repair, refueling, upgrading
    > will be in our future. If satallites start being built on a
    > common bus with swapable, modular systems, satellites
    > will have a both a longer life and a more productive one.

    Don’t agree here. GEO sats don’t generally need refuleing any more, though there are a lot of none GEo sats that might be good for that market. Course there are delta-v issues with getting to them from other orbits.
    ==
    > Also, I am not saying this to move the conversation to silly,
    > BUT.. I have a feeling that there were be an huge income
    > stream generated by “ufos” or at least the hype about it. I
    > can already see a reality show based at bigelows where the
    > staunch UFO hunters boldly travel to space to give you first
    > hand blah blah blah blah… about ufos. Like you see with
    > ghost hunters on the sci fi channel only about ufos…. ==

    ROTFL

    I’m sure someone can do it.
    I heard a porn film studio was trying to buy zero-G time. One analyst thought orbital sports stadiums would be highly profitable given the demand for new sports to broadcast.

    Course weer going to need a serious launcher. Certainly Falcon/Dragon isn’t going to cut it. But if it gets to the point the big investors (pension funds) get into it and ok Boeing or L/M or Airbus…. We could get stuff that lookscloser to Star Wars then Falcon in acouple years. [I’m amazed more of the alt.space folks arn’t looking at any of the more advanced launch concepts the big guys published info on over the decades. But those big aero folks probably still remember then.]

  27. Vladislaw says:

    Kelly: “Don’t agree here. GEO sats don’t generally need refuleing any more, though there are a lot of none GEo sats that might be good for that market. Course there are delta-v issues with getting to them from other orbits.”

    The reason they don’t need refueling is because there isn’t a commercial option. They have to send up the entire life cycle of an instrument without ever having a reservicing option.

    If they can swap out transponders, circuit boards, computers, advanced optics, solar repair they could just as easier do a fuel pod, saving weight for launching it and or added capability that has to be sacrifed for fuel and not included.

    Once there is international launch capability to service fuel stations .. some .. not all .. but some delta-v problems go away. Just like a string of gas stations does on earth.

    “I’m amazed more of the alt.space folks arn’t looking at any of the more advanced launch concepts the big guys published info on over the decades. But those big aero folks probably still remember then.”

    Do you mean the “N” word?

    I would like to see a trimodel nuclear system developed. Power for thrusters and station keeping, main propulsion and main power all in one package. In the 200m to 300 plus range. So any ship that is designed has some real choices.

  28. Kelly Starks says:

    1. > 177 Vladislaw
    >> Kelly: “Don’t agree here. GEO sats don’t generally need refuleing any
    >> more, though there are a lot of non GEo sats that might be good for
    >> that market. Course there are delta-v issues with getting to them from other orbits.”

    > The reason they don’t need refueling is because there isn’t a commercial
    > option. They have to send up the entire life cycle of an instrument without
    > ever having a reservicing option.

    Well given the new sats don’t NEED fuel (using low or no reaction mass attitude control systems, as well as electronics that last for decades) and are likely to be abandoned as obsolete before they were out – this could really limit your potential market?

    > ==
    > Once there is international launch capability to service fuel
    > stations .. some .. not all .. but some delta-v problems go away.
    > Just like a string of gas stations does on earth.
    That might be better if your selling sat recovery or tug services then service adn repair. Put up a new sat and bring the old one down to be landed and refurbished – or scrapped out away from a voluble orbit slot.

    >> “I’m amazed more of the alt.space folks arn’t looking at any of
    >> the more advanced launch concepts the big guys published info
    >> on over the decades. But those big aero folks probably still remember then.”
    > Do you mean the “N” word?
    Na, that’s out of the reach of the alt.space companies; but things like StarRaker, biamese, some of the air force lifting body small shuttle studies, etc. Rocket ramjet hybrid motors (I’ve seen hobbeists do simple ones) which could double the average ISP to orbit. (700 ish seconds with LOx/Kerosene?!!!) These were doable 40-50 years ago with the materials and systems on the shelf then – it certainly is within the range of a SpaceX or something. In stead everybody is copying old Titans (except Blue Origin which is taking years to replicate McDonnell Douglas’ DC-X work that took them months.).
    > ==
    > I would like to see a trimodel nuclear system developed. Power
    > or thrusters and station keeping, main propulsion and main power all
    > in one package. In the 200m to 300 plus range. So any ship that is
    > designed has some real choices.

    😉

    I’m waiting for the Polywell or focus fusion research projects to develop to some engines. Looks like they’ll announce the reactors are producing positive power this year or next. That should shake more then just space up.

    😉

    Bussard was talking about electrotherman steam rockets with ISP so high your reaction mass fraction to orbit, of water, would be about that of a airliners take off fractino in jet fuel!

    I’m runing somenumbers and it looks like you could land ore from space with a RLV frieghter that would give a frieght cost per ton similar to oil tanker cost per ton to ship oil back from the mid east. Oh, when deadheading up for another load you can carry thousands of tons of cargo effectivly for free.

    😉

  29. Brett Thomason says:

    Vladisaw, that was a fun one about tv shows from space. It brings up another point also…

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