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First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the space-porn dept.

Space 191

oliderid writes "The first official image of a Russian-European manned spacecraft has been unveiled. It is designed to replace the Soyuz vehicle currently in use by Russia and will allow Europe to participate directly in crew transportation.The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon, rivaling the US Ares/Orion system. This project is the Plan A for the European Space agency. The plan B is an evolution of the ATV proposed by a consortium of European companies led by Astrium."

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just plain cool (0, Redundant)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303495)

I can't wait.

Re:just plain cool (3, Funny)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303787)

It's not that cool. If they named it Plan 9 for outer space, that would be cool.

First! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24303505)

First comment on first images!

Go Europe! (4, Funny)

xpuppykickerx (1290760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303603)

They can go visit the Moon, but the US has already claimed it with the cunning use of flags.

Re:Go Europe! (3, Funny)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303703)

They can go visit the Moon, but the US has already claimed it with the cunning use of flags.

Yeah they claimed it, but we're going to take it! Muhahaha!!!!! :-P

Re:Go Europe! (5, Insightful)

el_coyotexdk (1045108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304051)

If we go there, who is going to stop us from removing the flags and claiming they never were there. All the conspiracy theorists would blieve us anyway. And the US doesnt have anything at the moment that can go to the moon :)

Re:Go Europe! (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304477)

All the conspiracy theorists would blieve us anyway

You mean all the 0.003% of the population they represent? Hmmm.. indeed, you don't want that...

Re:Go Europe! (2, Interesting)

IllForgetMyNickSoonA (748496) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304823)

I would love to believe that 0.003% number. However, I'm afraid, from personal experience, that the number of people not believing men were actually on the moon is freeking HUGE! I know some (otherwise) intelligent and educated people who are "sure" the moon landings were faked.

The world sometimes *is* a scary place...

Re:Go Europe! (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306091)

You know who else could be in the minority?

1) Honest politicians
2) People with over 140 IQ
3) Anti-slavery whites in ante-bellum 19th century South
4) People voting against Bush and Obama

Just because someone is in the minority doesn't mean what they believe isn't true or at least valid at some level.

Re:Go Europe! (3, Funny)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306383)

People voting against Bush and Obama

Oh, I hadn't realized Obama had chosen his running mate...

Re:Go Europe! (1)

kayditty (641006) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306645)

wut

Re:Go Europe! (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306373)

I'm not sure what sort of people you know, but I don't know a single person who believes the moon landings were faked. And more than that, they think its ridiculous anyone would suggest otherwise.

Re:Go Europe! (1)

el_coyotexdk (1045108) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305459)

they are the minority by far, i give you that. But at the same time they are the ones yelling the loudest. a bit like the trolls on /. ;)

Re:Go Europe! (3, Funny)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304405)

[not serious] No they didn't really place flags there, because it was fake! Here's the proof [stuffucanuse.com] [/not serious]

Re:Go Europe! (2, Informative)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304647)

Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon? That's something I've always wondered.

It would shut a lot of people up pretty quickly.

Well that, or talk about how we just tied the thing to a missile and shot it at the moon like a javelin...

Re:Go black budgets! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24305173)

Being able to see hardware on the moon is technically not proof a human landed there and placed it. We have stuff on Mars now that was remotely delivered.

Just a nit picky point.

What I think is more interesting as space conspiracies go are the unusual photos of black budget orbiting space craft and speculation that some of them might be manned. Along with the reports of advanced flying machines, some of which might have at least minimal exoatmospheric/ sub orbital or LEO potential, as in, they aren't admitting to anything newer or much better than the sr-71 or like B-2, which are freeking decades old now. I think a good rule of thumb is, first take whatever they admit to, going by past history, then extrapolate they have three generations more out there, first, totally wild stuff just being developed, second, limited prototypes in good working condition, and third, very small fleets of deployed full production runs of secret craft. And I don't consider the f-22 to fall into any of those categories. I would consider the big black triangles that a whole lot of people have seen to be somewhere in those categories though.

Rover? (4, Funny)

Illbay (700081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305351)

Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon?

Well, our esteemed Houston (Democrat) Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that the Mars Pathfinder could do that for us [nationalreview.com] .

But I guess then they'd claim Pathfinder [nasa.gov] was fake.

Re:Go Europe! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24306185)

You could never, ever see the Apollo flags on the moon through a telescope. Partly it's because they are very, very small. But, mostly it's because they were not left behind. What is left behind on the moon are the LEM descent modules, plus miscellaneous equipment like those rover buggies from the later missions. Those are still too small to be seen from a telescope. However, once the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launches later this year, it's LROC camera (a close cousin of the HIRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) should be able to see evidence of the Apollo missions.

Go Yerp! (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306461)

Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon?

Flag on the moon. How did it get there? Secret data. Pictures of the Moon. Secret Data, never before outside the Kremlin. Manâ(TM)s first rocket to the Moon.

Re:Go Europe! (1)

kipman725 (1248126) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306653)

we can't do that (no suitible telescope) but we can reflect signals off the dishes left on the moon by Apolo using radio telescopes. I don't know why nasa dosen't publisise that more as it does rather ruin the conspiracy argument.

the hell? (4, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303645)

Looks like a goddamn iCapsule. Damn you, Jobs!

Anyone else getting depressed with the space race? We've been at it for decades and the latest and greatest the Ruskies and Americans come up with looks like pretty much the same shit we've been doing for years, or in America's case, a 30 year wasted effort and then we come back to capsules. Repackaging the same old shit, up the price and call it a new version for the future, where have I seen this before? Oh, right, Microsoft. Apollo would be something along the lines of Win9x, better than what came before but not great. The shuttle would be like WinMil, we skipped XP and went straight to Vista with this Constellation debacle, and once that fails the next next shuttle successor will be something like Windows 7, a looming future failure.

*sigh*

Re:the hell? (4, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303719)

The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets. That's why there's no revolutions in spacecraft-building.

We need something like space-plane, launch loops or space elevator for new space revolution.

Re:the hell? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24304121)

The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

I thought they pushed -- opposite and equal reaction and all that

Re:the hell? (4, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304123)

The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets. That's why there's no revolutions in spacecraft-building.

We need something like space-plane, launch loops or space elevator for new space revolution.

Indeed. I always thought space elevators seemed so fantastic as to be beyond belief but damned if that might become practical before the seemingly less-challenging Buck Rogers rockets.

I always liked the idea for the old Orion drive ships. "We're not going to be building these things like dainty tinfoil creations, they'll be welded together in drydocks like navy destroyers and weigh about as much. Float 'em out to see, light off the a-bombs, they can handle the weight." Now I don't think even Dick Cheney could go along with the idea of a bomb-powered ship but I wonder if anti-matter would be a suitable replacement charge? Aside from the issue of not being able to manufacture it in any sort of significant quantity, I'm wondering how bad the gamma flashes would be. Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean? How much ocean water would it take to block the rays? Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

I've heard some other crazy ideas for non-chemical rockets. One design has pellets of deuterium dropped into a chamber where they are precisely hit by multiple lasers and causes a tiny fusion explosion that is forced out the bottom of the ship, giving a far better bang for the buck than conventional propellants.

It just seems like we're rehashing the way things were done before instead of coming up with something new. Is it that the technology is so bleedin' difficult to invent, is it a lack of money and political will, or would the danger of the technology be so great that there's no way in hell anyone would sign off on it? I mean, we could have built Orion in the 50's, we could crash-build one of those things in the event of some planetary emergency (i.e. needing to get Bruce Willis up to an asteroid to blow up), but nothing short of that would convince people to use nukes for go-juice.

Re:the hell? (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304531)

"I've heard some other crazy ideas for non-chemical rockets. One design has pellets of deuterium dropped into a chamber where they are precisely hit by multiple lasers and causes a tiny fusion explosion that is forced out the bottom of the ship, giving a far better bang for the buck than conventional propellants."

Isn't that the description for the Enterprise's impulse drive?

Re:the hell? (2, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305723)

yup, eight engines and the same firing order as a small block chevy engine.

Re:the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24306511)

Isn't that the description for the Enterprise's impulse drive?

Actually, it's the description for an inertial confinement fusion drive, an advanced type of a fusion drive, with theoretical exhaust velocities going up to 10,000,000 metres per second. Still on the drawing board, but could be made workable in about 50 (70?) years.

Re:the hell? (2, Interesting)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304593)

Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean? How much ocean water would it take to block the rays? Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

Uh, I always thought that the Orion system was intended to be used in space (where fallout isn't exactly a problem), rather than for getting the vehicle off the ground. That said, and I digress here, it would actually be a decent answer to the whole nuclear proliferation problem:

1. US and Russia draw up specs for nuke-propelled ships.

2. US and Russia point all their remaining ICBMs straight up, instead of at each other (I'm sure that's where they're still aimed), and launch them into orbit. Maybe dock them at the ISS or something.

3. When we need to launch a mission, we send up the ship either on a conventional rocket or via a space elevator. Ship maneuvers to the ISS, picks up a bunch of ICBMs. Ship then maneuvers away from ths ISS (and everything else) and lights one of the ICBM payloads behind it.

4. BOOM. (Yeah, I know, in space, nobody can hear you detonate your nuclear weapons. Bear with me here.) Ship is now traveling very fast away from point of detonation.

5. ???

6. Profit?

Re:the hell? (2, Insightful)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305329)

4. BOOM. (Yeah, I know, in space, nobody can hear you detonate your nuclear weapons. Bear with me here.) Ship is now traveling very fast away from point of detonation.

a. it would be inefficient, as only a small portion of the blast would be used to actually propel the craft, the rest would just go off into space.
b. it could only be used for non-fragile payloads (i.e. water, food) due to the sudden acceleration.
c. how do you control direction ?

then there's the political issues ...

Re:the hell? (4, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305927)

The blast is deceptive, it is generated by the released gamma radiation being absorbed by surrounding matter rather than by the contents of the bomb absorbing energy. On Earth nuclear explosions have a big blast because their is plenty of atmosphere to absorb the gamma, radiate less energetic photons, and expand, a nuclear burst in the water is much less effective blast-wise than an airburst and a in-ground blast is down-right disappointing. In space there is no practically atmosphere so there is little to expand due to the energy release except for the ablative coatings in the engines themselves. Eventually we'll be pushing asteroids around by detonating nuc's near them which will vaporize the surface facing the release and generating the expanding reaction mass.

Re:the hell? (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306121)

Interesting, thanks for the correction.
However, wouldn't it make more sense to have a controlled output rather than a big blast ?

Re:the hell? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304807)

Aside from the issue of not being able to manufacture it in any sort of significant quantity,

Yeah, other than that, magic pixie dust would be even better

Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean?

In summary yes as it would be far less polluting than the numerous above ground nuclear tests that were done.

Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

Mostly no. The components would probably not be heavy metals that fission into terribly radioactive substances. Why use anti-uranium when anti-hydrogen is probably easier to deal with. Also nukes throw tons of neutrons out making massive neutron activated fallout problems whereas the antimatter reaction throws out lots of gammas which are ultra short wave electromagnetic radiation (light).

Would probably be pretty hard on the local whale, seagull, and fish populations due to the noise alone if nothing else.

Re:the hell? (2, Interesting)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304275)

Google the Orion project; space launches with nukes, payloads that could carry the entire ISS up in one go, along with a few spares, large enough to make inter-planetary colonization realistic, and it's not science fiction.

The problem is the fallout from the bombs of course. But if you take that radiation in perspective it does make you wonder if that would be a show-stopper for an important enough mission.

Re:the hell? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304565)

Orion is not feasible in the current political situation. Risk of hijacking of a space vessel fueled by _nuclear_ _bombs_ is too high.

Also, I don't really care about "important missions". I want a sustainable continuos space program.

There are projects of nuclear rockets (where a nuclear reactor heats gas to very high temperature), however. Maybe one day something will come out of them.

Re:the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24304353)

Umm... The real problem is that it's really hard to get into orbit. Launch loops, elevators, etc. have a lower marginal cost per launch but HUGE, GIGANTIC capital costs. Even if we bring costs per kilo to orbit down to one tenth of what they are now, (certainly not impossible IMHO) nobody but the super-rich will be vacationing in Earth orbit.

Re:the hell? (2, Insightful)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304505)

Um, no. It costs $20 per pound delivered to orbit for rocket propellant. Since only, say, 1/4 of that is payload, say the true cost of propellant is $80 per pound of payload in orbit.

The vast majority of rocket launch expense is human salaries. The next largest expense is the expendable hardware. The propellant costs are down in the noise, approximately the same price as the celebration pizza party.

If you want to lower the cost of space access, don't bother with the engine technology - launch more often (so those salaries can be spread across more launches and people can get better at there jobs), and don't throw so much away (the shuttle throws away almost as much hardware as an expendable rocket).

Re:the hell? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304993)

$20 per pound is WAY too small.

Let's calculate. The kinetic energy of 1 kg moving at 8km/s is 3.2*10^7J. The enthalpy of H2 combustion is 286kJ/mol but if we take O2 required for this reaction into account it'll be just 15.8kJ/g=1.58*10^7J/kg

So we'll need to burn at least:
1/2(m+Mf)*v^2=Mf*Jc where m is payload, Mf - mass of fuel and oxidizer, Jc - specific heat of combustion per 1 kg of fuel and oxidizer.

1/2(1+Mf)*6.4*10^7=Mf*1.58*10^7
(1+Mf)*3.2=Mf*1.58
Mf~=5.5kg of stochiometric fuel and oxidizer mix in the _ideal_ case.

That's more than $40/kg in real life (you can use the rocket equation for more precise estimation, I'm too lazy) and I did not took the weight of tanks and engines into account.

Re:the hell? (4, Interesting)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305365)

Obviously, you have never designed a rocket. Fortunately I have!

Here are the real equations:

delta-v = 9.8 * Isp * ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass)

delta-v to orbit is about 9000 m/s

Isp is an engine parameter. Simple Lox/Kerosene engines come in around 350s, complex lox/hydrogen engines come in around 450s. (Rocket engines do not run stochiometric, they run fuel rich - the reasons are complex, but essentially hydrogen is better at converting heat into thrust than water.)

OK, so let's do some numbers:

9000 = 9.8 * 350 * ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass)

ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass) = 2.62
launch_mass/orbit_mass = 14

So you need 14 pounds of propellant for every pound of orbited mass. of that 14 pounds of propellant, about 3/4 are LOX - which is essentially free (pennies per pound in large quantities). So really you are paying for 10 pounds of kerosene, about $5 or so.

Now, for real rockets it ends up closer to $20 per pound, because 1) rockets tend to use more expensive liquid hydrogen, and 2) rockets stage, which is slightly fuel inefficient.

But my original numbers are correct. Yours are wrong - or at least misrepresented. 5.5 kg of propellant, 3/4 of which is LOX would not get you to orbit, but would cost about $1.

Re:the hell? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305601)

Thanks for correction!

I really should have used the rocket equation rather than simple energy balance.

That's really interesting, if we can cut launch costs to about 3x fuel costs (as in airplanes) then we'll have a pretty viable space transport system.

Re:the hell? (1)

WhiplashII (542766) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305731)

True that - it is often said that we dream of having fuel costs matter in this industry!

(Actually, right now the airline industry launch costs are almost entirely fuel!)

Re:the hell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24306499)

But of course throwing stuff away saves on labor costs. One of the difficulties with the shuttle is the expense of inspecting it, refurbishing it, and testing it to get it ready to fly again. Many of those man-hours won't go away with more flights. People often think that "reusable" means something like your car; sure you do regular maintainence, but for the most part you just turn the key and go. The reality is much more like racecars, where the vehicle is dissassembled and tweaked between each race. To some extant the space shuttle is like NASCAR: the exterior resemblence to an aircraft (family car) is only skin deep.

Re:the hell? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305221)

NASA went on the Single Stage to Orbit pipe dream throughout the 1990's. What Spaceship 1 got right was a Dual Stage to Orbit platform where you have a large conventional aircraft haul the orbiter to 60k feet, drop it, then let the orbiter boost from there. It's still expensive, but far cheaper per pound than the current systems and it could be done with current technology.

Basically SS1 did what Mercury/Redstone did in the 1950's. Granted we didn't have the unknown factors that they faced back then, but still, they did it for $25M. That's R&D, construction, and successful flights for $25M. Even if it took $100M to scale it up, that's still cheaper than anything thing else going.

Re:the hell? (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305627)

"Spaceship" 1 is garbage. It's not even close to orbital speed (its maximum speed was 3518km/h while you need about 29000km/h to enter the LEO).

The whole "two stage" system is also mostly junk it just gives an extra 1000km/h which is totally lost when compared with the orbital speed.

They don't suck they blow (1)

threeturn (622824) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305693)

The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

If you've built a rocket that sucks you are doing it wrong. They need to blow!

Re:the hell? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305877)

The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.
There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets.

Your second sentence doesn't quite say the same thing as the first. Current chemical rockets suck. NASA seems enamored of solid fuels which are low-powered (low Isp), require ridiculously heavy structure (the whole thing is combustion chamber), and messy. They claim they're "reusable", when what they mean is they crash them in the ocean and then salvage them. The H2/O2 liquid fuel mix ain't bad -- except that LH2 has such low density (water contains 50% more hydrogen per unit volume, plus all that oxygen) that the tanks have to be huge, again wasting structure weight. The usual "rocket scientist" answer to that is "oh, we'll densify the hydrogen", ie hydrogen slush. An engineer's approach would be "okay, use liquid methane".

The problem is that both NASA's and Russia's rocket technology is still heavily mired in 1950s thinking. Chemical rockets could be a lot better.

All that said, though, there is a limit on just how much energy you can get out of chemical reactions. Personally I like gaseous fission -- Max Hunter shows a design for an integral, reusable spaceship where the propellant tank is only about half the volume of the ship. Now that's a spaceship. I hear DUMBO isn't bad either. (DUMBO is a similar idea to NERVA -- heat the propellant by passing it through a reactor -- but with more and finer fuel channels to get more thrust. NERVA has high Isp but couldn't generate enough thrust to lift its own weight, DUMBO could.) We really need to get over our irrational fear of a little radiation; there are plenty of things that will kill you just as dead either faster or even less pleasantly that we don't have the same phobia about.

Re:the hell? (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306151)

A lot of Russian rockets actually use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsymmetrical_dimethylhydrazine [wikipedia.org] and NO3 as an oxidant. And Methane + O2 is a bit worse than UDMH+NO3 mix.

Personally, I like the idea of nuclear rockets. But they are just too far from reality.

Re:the hell? (1)

jedie (546466) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306387)

1. Drag asteroid or other rock into geostationary orbit.

2. Dangle carbon nanotube based ropes onto planet surface

3. ????

4. Profit

Re:the hell? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304007)

We've been at it for decades and the latest and greatest the Ruskies and Americans come up with looks like pretty much the same shit we've been doing for years

I wouldn't expect it to look like anything else. Like airliners or submarines the design is driven mainly by aerodynamics (hydrodynamics) and engineering constraints, not by the need to 'look' different in order to be fashionable or meet the expectations of someone who expects it to look.. I don't know, modern? Science fiction-y?

Re:the hell? (1)

Wiarumas (919682) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304167)

Perhaps they design it way because they know its a working model. While I agree that diversity and innovation might bring about positive change, let evolution bring about change rather than forcing it.

Re:the hell? (1)

Squapper (787068) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304203)

Yeah. Where are my s-foils?!

or an iPod (1)

ryanscottjones (851460) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304327)

Looks like a goddamn iCapsule. Damn you, Jobs!

"Open the iPod bay doors, Jobs!"

Re:the hell? (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304833)

Actually, I think it bears an uncanny resemblance to E.V.E. [google.com]

Re:the hell? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304915)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. As long as we are stuck using chemical rockets launched from the Earth's surface the basic capsule design works.

Re:the hell? (1)

Born2bwire (977760) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305575)

Wait a second here. So we go from Gemini, to Mercury, to Apollo. We go from actually putting a man in space, to tinkering around with keeping a man up in space, to landing on the fucking moon. The ability to land on the moon rates something along the lines of Win9x, better than what came before but not great. If you can't get more enthusiastic about that then you're the Woody Allen of space enthusiasts.

Lunar? (2, Interesting)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303647)

The choice of words "towards the moon" is very well done. Article states this is capable of bring six people into Terran orbit, and four into Lunar orbit. I understand the difficulty in getting down to the moon and back up, but if you're capable of getting there and back with four people, odds are you can get down to the surface. Why not just go for broke? At the very least it'd be a huge PR coup.

Re:Lunar? (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304213)

At the very least it'd be a huge PR coup.

Sure it would be. I can see the slogan now. "All of Europe did what the US did over 40 years ago."

Re:Lunar? (3, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304383)

And can't do now.

Re:Lunar? (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305521)

"Can't" and "do not have the public support to do" are two very different things.

The US has proven we can do it. The EU/Russia mission is still a theory. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying they can't do it. I just doubt that the EU has any more political will to do it than the US does. What's the driving force behind them doing it? We had the Cold War.

Re:Lunar? (1)

MaXMC (138127) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304543)

Well all of Europe is now called EU so it's just the same thing. Only we have a lot of different people in charge you only have one idiot. I wonder what's best... :)

Re:Lunar? (1)

GigG (887839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305413)

I used the term all of Europe because TFA said Russia was involved.

And you could be more wrong. We have lots of idiots in charge over here. Just like the EU.

Re:Lunar? (5, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304703)

Article states this is capable of bring six people into Terran orbit, and four into Lunar orbit. I understand the difficulty in getting down to the moon and back up, but if you're capable of getting there and back with four people, odds are you can get down to the surface.

Not a bit of it. It's a question of fuel.

Having reached the Moon, you have to fire engines to slow down into orbit. Otherwise you loop around the back and head straight back to Earth like Apollo 13. So you need to carry fuel for this.

So now you're circling the Moon like Apollo 8. Good. To come home, you need to fire engines again to speed back up. More fuel.

But wait, you want to visit the surface? Then you need a lander. Those things are heavy. And it needs fuel: fuel to land, and fuel to take off again.

That's the trouble with spaceflight. It's all about fuel. Every manoeuvre burns fuel. Every kilogram of fuel means you need even more fuel at the start, just to carry that fuel into space with you. It's why the Saturn V rocket was the size of a skyscraper, but only carried something the size of a minibus to the moon, and brought only a tiny capsule home to Earth. All the rest? Fuel tanks.

Re:Lunar? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305159)

It's why the Saturn V rocket was the size of a skyscraper, but only carried something the size of a minibus to the moon, and brought only a tiny capsule home to Earth.

As you so correctly state, fuel is the key. Except, the Saturn V only got them to the moon. Getting into orbit, landing, coming back up, and getting back to earth was the job of your minibus and tiny capsule. Clearly, it is quite possible to pull off the whole shebang by throwing a huge rocket at the back of it to get it off the planet (by far the hardest part). Using a system like the Saturn V or current boosters is by no means a far reach for them. It sure as hell wouldn't be easy, but if they're already getting to the moon, orbiting, and back again, I'm quite sure they could find a way to pop down to the surface for scientific rock-and-flag purposes.

Re:Lunar? (3, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305561)

Except, the Saturn V only got them to the moon. Getting into orbit, landing, coming back up, and getting back to earth was the job of your minibus and tiny capsule.

Saturn V got Apollo to the Moon, with the fuel and equipment necessary to stop and land there and to come home again.

Let's see: the service module, the lunar excursion module, all the fuel for both of them... that's got to be three or four times the mass of the command module, which was all that got back to Earth (I haven't looked it up so this is probably well off). A rocket whose sole purpose was to send a crew around the Moon, but not to land, could have been a whole lot smaller than Saturn V.

Look at it this way: suppose that bringing along a lander and fuel supplies for a Moon landing doubles the mass of your spacecraft at the Moon. Then clearly, that must require that you at least double the size of the rocket on the pad.

I don't actually know what the plan would be for a Moon landing with this vehicle. The fact that it has its own thrusters for landing suggests to me that it might have a direct-ascent mission profile: no separate lander, just bring down the whole ship. NASA considered this approach when planning Apollo: it has the benefit of simplicity, but would have needed a more powerful rocket even than Saturn V to bring enough fuel. Perhaps with modern materials and engineering it could be done this way: but as the article says, no rocket powerful enough currently exists.

Its going to land how? (4, Interesting)

H+FTW (1264808) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303755)

I'm not sure I'd be too happy if I was being put in that, the booster landing thing sounds like its asking for trouble if you get low on fuel, or they get knocked out of alignment or a floating point error messes up their servo controllers....

At least with a parachute or wings you know that so long as they are they they will work. Also I imagine that it will require a huge amount of fuel to turn it around and then slow it.

Or have I got the wrong idea and they're going to parachute in and then just use these at the end at which point again you have to ask - why bother?

Re:Its going to land how? (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303963)

I thought this at first, too. But if they're using the thrusters for deceleration, rather than a "soft" landing, then it makes more sense. It would lessen full reliance on fragile tiles or replacing ablative shielding.

Re:Its going to land how? (1)

H+FTW (1264808) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304169)

I suppose so but thats going to be a LOT of fuel to keep it controlled all the way in even just for deceleration its going to be a significant amount of the fuel (in fact I would imagine it would be the majority of the mass of the pod)

That being said it is a lot more sensible than just letting it drop. It'll certainly be interesting to see if it can get to the moon.

Re:Its going to land how? (5, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304525)

I'd guess the thrusters are used only during final touchdown to soften the landing...JUST LIKE SOYUZ DOES (and if they fail, the touchdown will simply be a little rough...JUST LIKE IN SOYUZ)

Re:Its going to land how? (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305229)

Exactly. Any other way would be prohibitive in terms of the amount of fuel you'd need.

Re:Its going to land how? (1)

zbharucha (1331473) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305269)

Good luck using a parachute to land on the moon!

hmm (1)

lampsie (830980) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303839)

...but the greatest advantage of Soyuz is that its simple (well, as simple as spacecraft can get), which this craft looks to have missed.
Including thrusters and stuff for landing seems a bit, well, superflous - oh don't get me wrong, I can see the advantages, but I'd rather have to deal with a parachute and explosive bolt than a bunch of complex thrusters.

KISS should apply for any Soyuz replacement (er, the philosophy, not the band)
Just my 0.02c

Re:hmm (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304579)

But Soyuz DOES include thrusters for softer touchdown... (which is simply a little rough when they fail)

Re:hmm (2, Informative)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306273)

Actually the Russians are the de facto masters of hybrid parachute-thruster technology, not only do they use it for their spacecraft their military use the same technic for parachuting heavy cargo in military airdrops.

Why thrusters? (2, Interesting)

kipman725 (1248126) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303851)

Why land on a planet with a thick atnosphere like earth using thrusters causing you to have to waste spcae and launch weight on alot of propelant. I understand that this thing is also meant to land on the moon so requires some landing thrusters (no atnosphere) but the moon has a mere fraction of the earths gravitic attraction and so if the capsuale use parachutes aswell as thrusters there would still be a weight saving. Even probes that land on mars usualy use parachutes aswell as thrusters even though it has a much lower density atnosphere than earth.

Re:Why thrusters? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304069)

Almost certainly, they are thinking mars and the moon. But I consider this a backwards step. It seems that all of the initial steps should be specialized rather than generalized in the same fashion that the shuttle was. The Orion and Dragon are highly specialized. I suspect that we will see other countries heading in the right direction, by specializing rather than making it the end-all.

Re:Why thrusters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24304147)

If youd RTFA, thrusters are for "soften its landing". Russian Voschod used same system to slow down from "sucessfull, but bonebreaking" landing to something more healthy. Whole thing went off in one big puff, in less then a second. And although Voschod's were flying coffins in many aspects, this feature certainly worked.

Parachutes are still used, but sometimes weight-needed-to-withstand-stress factor is to high.

While you're at it... (1)

stretchpuppy (1304751) | more than 6 years ago | (#24303883)

...swing by Cape Canaveral and pick up the US astronauts holding their thumbs up.

All things aside, think about what they went to the moon in, and landed with, for the Apollo missions.

I'd sure as shit rather be in a capsule and lander from 2008 than the 60s.

Towards the Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24303905)

They forgot to mention that there isn't any rocket capable of sending that capsule to Moon orbit.

Re:Towards the Moon (1)

trongey (21550) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304029)

They forgot to mention that there isn't any rocket capable of sending that capsule to Moon orbit.

Unless you count the part that says, "But if the agencies want a manned craft capable of reaching the Moon, they will need to develop new, more powerful rockets than those on the drawing board today."

Re:Towards the Moon (3, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304601)

Actually, they did say that. Reread TFA.

The lack of a Saturn-class booster does pretty much kill the idea though. Neither Arianespace nor Energiya are going to fund the development of that kind of monster, not when there's no commercial use for it and no guarantee of continued political backing for manned Moonshots.

Hence the first related story linked from TFA [bbc.co.uk] , which discusses the prospect of an ATV-derived spacecraft to launch on an Ariane 5. Much cheaper, and using existing kit. Funding for it might require political change in Britain, however, which has so far refused to get involved in manned projects.

Re:Towards the Moon (1)

Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305117)

> Neither Arianespace nor Energiya are going to fund the development of that kind of monster

They don't need to fund the development, they can just dust-down the plans for the Energia launcher ( and rebuild the jigs, and recast the parts etc etc )

Even in its basic, twice-flown configuration it can loft 95 tonnes to LEO. Strap-on derivatives were proposed for 170 tonnes.

And as it was designed to lIft Buran, it is designed to be man-rated.

http://www.buran-energia.com/energia/energia-desc.php [buran-energia.com]

ATV? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24303929)

Why would they attach an AppleTV to a spacecraft?

In Soviet Russia.... (1)

loafula (1080631) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304065)

...spacecraft fly you.

What's the flippin' point? (1, Flamebait)

jambox (1015589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304345)

This is not deliberate flamebaiting, but can somebody tell me why it is exactly that we're spending so much money on this stuff?

Come on, people have been to the moon. There ain't much going on there. People can't go to Mars, because it would be a one-way trip.

It's just too expensive and there's nothing to do up there that we couldn't do with robots. I blame science fiction shows. I think everyone has it lodged in their heads that we will all be flying around in spaceships within a few hundred years. Trust me, we will not. Much better to spend the billions and billions of dollars on lots of probes, better very-long-range telescopes and hell, poverty relief for those left on Earth? /rant

Re:What's the flippin' point? (4, Insightful)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304487)

You might as well ask what the point of new music is? We've already got tons of it, more than enough to go around for a lifetime, so why don't we just close up shop, and put all that money, which happens to be more than is invested in manned space exploration, into poverty relief?

It's human nature to see something you can't do and then try to do it. Why bother scaling Everest? It served no purpose, but it was there and we did it. There should be no area of human existence where we refuse to advance ourselves - whether poverty relief, musical innovation, or space exploration. Mankind needs to do more, it needs to search higher. Knowing more about the universe is never a bad thing, and while cost-analysis should be taken into consideration, it borders on inhumane to deny our basic instincts for discovery.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304665)

You might as well ask what the point of new music is? We've already got tons of it, more than enough to go around for a lifetime, so why don't we just close up shop, and put all that money, which happens to be more than is invested in manned space exploration, into poverty relief?

A much better question is what's the point of yet another anti-human space exploration rant, when there's already too many uncreative ones whining for yet more money for programs that are already recognized as miserable failures, more than enough for a lifetime of reading. So, why not close up shop, stop posting anti-human space exploration rants, and redirect all that effort into poverty relief?

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

jambox (1015589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304925)

I apologise profusely for being politically incorrect. And I already acknowledged I was ranting. But tell me - what is the objective of human space exploration?

Providing star-trek based w*nk fantasies for Slashdotters? Or is it something useful? If the latter, please do fill me in.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

jambox (1015589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304789)

All your metaphors are stupid! Music is art and costs nothing. Mountainering is a sport and costs nothing. Well, not much.

I take your point about human exploration but there should be some hope of discovering something useful, or at least interesting.

There is not a chance of humans finding anything like that in our solar system. Robots might, therefore lets send more robots.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24305147)

...There is not a chance of humans finding anything like that in our solar system...

There were times when "there was no chance of humans finding anything useful or interesting outside old continent". At least according to some similiarly shortsighted people.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306205)

...Music is art and costs nothing...

...until the RIAA lawyers show up.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

carlc75 (1331437) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304663)

The point is exploration. Having a robot doing it isn't whats human. And theres only so much initative a robot can implement.

Remember 200 years ago we were still fighting each others with bayonettes and muskets.

Who knows what the future hold?

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

JWW (79176) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304849)

Ok.

1) Permanent Moonbase, with benefits of
a) Research opportunities in microgravity (I know ISS has this but you could do bigger scope projects on the moon).
b) Mining. Finding rare minerals would be key.
c) Platform base for building missions to other planets. Sure going to Mars can be done without going to the moon. But it might be a good launching platform for missions to Jupiter, Saturn, etc. Also the aforementioned atomic methods could be usable from teh moon.
d) Expand Scientific knowledge of the moon. Expanding mankind's knowledge is a good thing.
e) Building/Testing a Space Elevator. Building and testing of a space elevator would be much easier on the moon.

There are lots and lots of reasons to go to the moon. To send the argument back the other way, why the hell should the American taxpayer be bailing out people (and banks, really mostly banks) that got in over their head with their mortgages? We should spend THAT money on space exploration!!

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

jambox (1015589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305165)

a) Bigger? Are you sure? How big could a moonbase be?
b) Robots.
c) We are not sending people to Mars. We cannot get enough fuel across to escape Martian gravity, so it would eb a one way trip. Please stop this.
d) It's a dry, dusty rock. It may be useful, but it ain't very interesting. Also, robots. e) Oh come on.

I do agree with you about bailing out ridiculously risky mortgages though.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305239)

Well, perhaps you've heard that we may be able to mine our last available Gallium ore in about 10 years? Copper in 100 years? Zinc is on the endangered species list, too, so if you like galvanized anything that doesn't rust, well, you may be out of luck without moon-visiting tech. We better develop the tech to disassemble the moon for its natural resources, and launch them back to earth (electrically, with a railgun powered by solar, hopefully) and then maybe we can pave the Mojave with Gallium-consuming solar cells and run the country on solar. But without more Gallium... its going to soon come to a screeching halt.

Re:What's the flippin' point? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 6 years ago | (#24306281)

Now I wish I hadn't already posted so that I could mod you down to oblivion ;-)

You have no soul, and even less imagination. I'd accuse you of being an AI but I'm not sure the second word applies. No doubt you feel (not think) that Isabella should have fed the poor instead of funding Columbus -- and five hundred years later we'd be far worse off. Voyages of exploration and discovery both raise the technology level, and thus the overall standard of living, and lift the human spirit.

Besides, it's not an either/or. We spend far more money on "poverty relief" already than on space exploration -- just look at the federal budget.

Re: The Summary (5, Funny)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304423)

The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon

Apparently the ESA / Russia are ushering in a new age of "close enough" space exploration.

News Report, 2021:Today astronauts from the ESA will begin a new chapter of space exploration by first going up really high, and then kinda drifting off in sort of a that way direction. The mission captain was interviewed recently concerning the importance of today's historic flight.

"We are confident that the up portion of the mission will go smoothly. We then plan to transfer to the next stage where, God willing, we will be the among the first humans to end up somewhere over toward the Moon." He commented, waving vaguely off toward the sky.

Re: The Summary (1)

ACDChook (665413) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304709)

And my legs were designed to propel my body towards the moon - all I have to do is jump. I may not go a huge distance towards the moon, but (at least when the moon is overhead) I am definitely propelled towards it.

Is it just me... (0, Offtopic)

ngdbsdmn (658135) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304561)

Is it just me or is that thing shaped like a giant eu-ru dick head? Just imagine it with a long booster attached on the launch ramp. What would the TV comment sound like? And now 3, 2, 1... woooowww yeah baby!

Same shit.... (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#24304563)

Okay, it looks cool, I'll give you that. An it is much better design than that repackaged Apollo wanna be that nasa is going to put up. But you know what? It's still dead end technology. It's the same crap we've been doing for the last 40 years, just in a shinny new package. The landing thrusters are something new, I'll give you that.

But it's the 21 century now. Time to do something new. Why don't we build a fucking space ship? Not capsules or orbiters but a honest to god ship. We've got most of the technology on the shelf now and what we don't have is almost finished. Time for most space fairing countries to end the space race and lets work together and build a Discovery or Leonov.

We've got nuclear power plants used in submarines that are small enough to power the bitch. There where plans and tests for nuclear rockets in the '60s. There are test phase plasma rockets being tested now. There are still some issues to workout. Active shielding using magnetic fields is still in the test but looks good. And long term life support is still and issue but that to is looking good. But these are not unsolvable problems.

How do we know it's manned? (1)

Illbay (700081) | more than 6 years ago | (#24305035)

I don't see a man in there.

After Soviet Russia, suspicion is hard to allay.

Dear Europe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24305999)

Stay off our moon.

Sincerely,
The U.S.

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