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DIRECT Post-Shuttle Plan Pitched To Obama Team

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the mavericks-with-hope dept.

Space 189

FleaPlus writes "Popular Mechanics reports that a 'renegade' group including NASA engineers has met with President-Elect Obama's space transition team to present information on the DIRECT architecture for launching NASA missions after the Space Shuttle is retired. According to the group, DIRECT's Jupiter launch system will be safer, less expensive, better-performing, and be ready sooner than the Ares launch system NASA is currently developing, while still providing jobs for much of the existing shuttle workforce. Meanwhile, it's expected that current NASA head and adamant Ares supporter Michael Griffin will be replaced by a new NASA administrator."

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189 comments

Oh yeah that sounds great (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26397839)

Giffin is a bit of a dick head. And that rogue project sounded very reasonable actually.

Re:Oh yeah that sounds great (4, Interesting)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397873)

The Direct Launch approach, which you can look at in detail here at their website sounds like some people are trying hard to come up with a smart solution, but it isn't clear to an amatuer like me how the current safety issues of the Shuttle would be avoided. I guess maybe because there is no Shuttle for falling foam to hit, for one ?

And yeah, Griffin does come off as a real jerk, esp. when discussing the Shuttle accidents.

Re:Oh yeah that sounds great (4, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398087)

but it isn't clear to an amatuer like me how the current safety issues of the Shuttle would be avoided. I guess maybe because there is no Shuttle for falling foam to hit, for one ?

That's part of it. Having the capsule mounted on top of the fuel tanks also tends to add extra safety. And because of the relatively low weight of these capsules, you can afford to stick extra safety equipment on them. The DIRECT folks are even talking about possibly putting a tank of water between the fuel tank and the crew module, in order to absorb blast and fragmentation. That has the added benefit of providing a lot more water for use in space than the crews would normally have.

The DIRECT system is estimated to have a Loss-of-Crew rate of 1 in 1100-ish, which is something like 10 times better than the shuttle fleet. It seems like a really good idea, but then IANARS, so don't quote me.

Re:Oh yeah that sounds great (3, Informative)

mrfrostee (30198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399283)

Having the capsule mounted on top of the fuel tanks also tends to add extra safety. And because of the relatively low weight of these capsules, you can afford to stick extra safety equipment on them.

Yes, the capsule designs have a Launch Abort System. It's the thing that looks like a tower at the top of the stack. It is a rocket motor that can yank the capsule away from the rest of the system if something goes terribly wrong.

Re:Oh yeah that sounds great (2, Interesting)

TheWanderingHermit (513872) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399309)

I'm no expert, but on a general reading, it sounds like Aries was designed by people trying to meet the specs on paper and this was designed by people who know the astronauts and know what they're doing and want to protect the people and do their job -- not just meet the specs and make a profit.

But I have to admit, calling any spacecraft a Jupiter makes me uneasy. I'd risk a ride in the first one and anything from the third on, but there's no way I'd trust any vehicle referenced at all as the Jupiter II.

Well, if we're going to try to use old stuff... (-1)

rpsoucy (93944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397847)

How about using some of the Minuteman III ICBM's we have lying around... I'm sure we could spare a few...

Re:Well, if we're going to try to use old stuff... (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398039)

I'm not sure if you are serious, at least about space projects, but isnt it called an ICBM for a reason? ie: that's all its capable of?

According to the wiki [wikipedia.org], it might be good at launching some sort of weather balloon *really* quickly, but thats about it for its effective altitude.

Re:Well, if we're going to try to use old stuff... (4, Informative)

bds1986 (1268378) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398283)

Both Mercury and Gemini spacecraft have been boosted into space by converted ICBMs (Atlas in the case of Mercury and Titan for Gemini).

Re:Well, if we're going to try to use old stuff... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398349)

ICBMs don't have enough oomph to do what's required here. They were built to shove comparatively light warheads halfway across the world, not boost large manned capsules to Earth orbit and beyond.

Furthermore, as their origin is such, their acceleration profiles aren't exactly comfortable for humans. Ask veterans of Gemini that rode on Titan-you might as well be a warhead-ICBMs

Renegade Space Vehicle designers (2, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397883)

FTFA:

A group of renegade space vehicle designers, including NASA engineers bucking their bosses, today got their chance to make their case to the next presidential administration.

So, they ride Harleys and put pocket protectors in their leather jackets? Their calculators say "Bad Mother Fucker" on them?

See what happens when you use hyperbole in descriptions?

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (3, Interesting)

shiftless (410350) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397911)

They are 'renegade' engineers, and they are 'bucking' their bosses. I'm not sure what part of the factually-correct description you have a problem with.

And knowing the kinds of engineers who work at Marshall Space Flight Center, I wouldn't be surprised if some of them did ride Harleys.

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397959)

They are 'renegade' engineers, and they are 'bucking' their bosses.

...and 'maverick' was already in use.

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (2, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398023)

They are 'renegade' engineers, and they are 'bucking' their bosses.

If I remember correctly, the original 'renegades' were Christians who had joined the Muslim Barbary pirates and gone into business as white-slavers. For the metaphor to hold, these engineers ought to have left NASA and gone to work for a rival. If any ex-NASA people are now at SpaceX, they might well be considerer renegades, but not if they're still within the organisation.

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (3, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398177)

If I'm not mistaken, most people accept that the meaning and use of words change over the centuries, so no, it doesn't matter if they're working for another employer or not.

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (4, Funny)

Nimey (114278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398873)

If I remember correctly, "nice" originally meant "stupid". Nice try.

Re:Renegade Space Vehicle designers (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398065)

I work with space engineers at a NASA contractor's site. Several of them do, in fact, ride Harleys. In fact, where I work, they have dedicated motorcycle parking in several places.

Am I the only one (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397903)

That when they hear the name of the head of NASA they think, "Isn't that the guy who created Jeopardy?" (Admittedly the way NASA is run that would actually make sense.)

Re:Am I the only one (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26397997)

I have to ask about the Penis Mightier. Does it work?

First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (2, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397925)

Of course DIRECT is "cheaper, quicker and safer" than Ares - because it is a paper project. All projects are cheaper, quicker, safer, happier, and will make your cock bigger etc etc until someone tries to implement them.

If any of the problems of developing a SDLV that have plagued Ares so far occur for Jupiter, then switching at this point will be a false economy.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (4, Funny)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397945)

First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not

NASA-engineer: "So Mr. President, will you fund our project?"

Obama: "My Momma always said life is like a box of chocol..."

NASA-engineer: "FFS, not again!"

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (0, Offtopic)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399811)

Obama: "My Momma always said life is like a box of chocol..."

God damn it! I wish I had my mod points. Thanks for that one.

But, you do know you're going to Hell for lampooning the Chosen One, right?

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (2, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398035)

How many Ares class rockets have been build and tested to date? I wasn't aware they actually build any yet.

=Smidge=

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (-1, Offtopic)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398279)

The only person here more of a wanker than you is the person who modded you up. Despite what your snide little remark suggests, there is plenty of development done on a rocket before the assembled thing is delivered to the launchpad. Either you are completely ignorant of how space flight works or you are just being a dick to fill the void of inadequacy at the core of your being. Either way, STFU.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (5, Interesting)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398339)

While not a NASA engineer, I am a rocket engineer, and I've worked indirectly with NASA. I've also been following Ares and the DIRECT plan in some detail. I believe I'm qualified to say that the DIRECT plan looks better now than Ares did at a similar point in its development. Even including sunk costs on Ares, it seems quite likely to me that DIRECT is cheaper, quicker, more reliable, and more capable. Ares is already overweight and behind schedule; I would rather bet that it will become more so rather than less so before development is done. DIRECT is not immune to the same effects, but it is a much wiser plan in that it has *much* more margin to work with at a comparable stage in development. Its engineers understand that rockets always get heavier as they get closer to completion, never lighter.

Oddly enough, the only way to compare the two projects is to actually look at the details. The fact that one is further along in development than the other does not automatically make it better, any more than it automatically makes it worse. It may take a little bit of effort to make a reasonable apples-to-apples comparison between the two programs, but it is by no means impossible. AFAICT, comparisons of that sort appear to either be products of bureaucratic inertia ("we've already decided on Ares, therefore it must be right") or they conclude that DIRECT appears to be faster, cheaper, safer, and more capable.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (0)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399217)

If you are indeed as capable to make the comparison as you claim to be (which I consider unlikely, even if you have done work with NASA, as you can't possibly be privy to the full picture) then fair enough; however even to an expert paper projects always look better than ones that are in the process of being implemented.

I haven't worked with NASA, but I have worked in various industries and I can spot the symptoms of compulsive bandwagon jumping a mile off. The grass is only greener in the artists impression, and in practically every case incremental improvements to existing structures are preferable to radical overhauls, no matter how slickly they are sold.

And sold slickly they are. The ability to sway everyone to your ideas and the ability to come up with ideas that will run in practice are completely separate skills, but the former tends to get you a lot further in large organizations than the latter. Everybody wants their idea to be the one that carriers the whole group forward, and practically every manager I have met in my life is a sucker for an (apparent) quick fix.

Perhaps I am being too conservative (in the literal, not political, sense) but my personal work history has meant magic bullets always set off alarm bells in my head, especially when someone new comes along with the notion of making their mark on the organization.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (5, Insightful)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399709)

Of course I can't make a perfect judgment on the matter. However, I think that for someone not directly involved in the projects in question, I'm quite well qualified. And yes, I'm aware that paper projects always look better. The thing is, Ares never looked all that good -- even on paper. The idea that an extended SRB is anything other than a new large solid is a fantasy; it was obvious to everyone with technical knowledge on the matter from the beginning that any nontrivial changes to the SRBs lost most of the advantages of keeping Shuttle hardware involved. Changes to the main fuel tank are less problematic, but still not wonderful. Using only a single (extended, and therefore new) SRB as the first stage of Ares I obviously had problems -- the performance characteristics meant it was being used in a highly suboptimal manner in that application.

To an observer who hasn't been paying attention since the early Ares proposals, I can see how this would look like jumping ship as soon as the paper project met reality, only to start a new paper project. However, that is not an apt description. Ares was based on a set of highly optimistic assumptions -- basically, that the designers knew how heavy the payloads would be, and could design to those targets. Unsurprisingly, the Orion capsule grew in mass and Ares I had to find extra performance to make up for it. In contrast, the Jupiter 120 has 40t of throw capability to LEO for a 20t capsule. The extra 20t is allocated to "extra payload." In the event that Orion gets heavier still (which it probably will do, though a lot of the weight gain has likely already happened), it's far, far easier to reallocate a few tons from "extra payload" to "capsule" than it is to pull those tons out of a hat. That sort of planning is what makes DIRECT better, even when comparing apples to apples. Any aerospace engineer who looked at early Ares proposals should have had warning flags going up in their mind as soon as they saw how small the gap between the target capsule mass and the lift capability of the booster was.

For the record, I think there is a lot less wrong with Ares V than there is with Ares I. The Jupiter is still a better choice, I believe, but the difference is less drastic. There is a middle ground that would cancel Ares I, and use Ares V to launch the capsule -- I think this would be an improvement over the current plan, but that the DIRECT plan would be better still. None of these are how I think the rocket *should* be designed, given ample time and budget -- but replacing the Shuttle is a project that doesn't have ample time. If NASA is to get anything flying soon, it will have to be a suboptimal design that has significant Shuttle heritage. Of such projects that I've seen proposed, DIRECT is the best compromise between doing the job well and something that could actually be built in time.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399725)

Given your understanding of the competition between ARES, and DIRECT, "Why is it that the Delta Clipper [nasa.gov] is not being considered for handling the payload logistics part of the project?" The damn thing looked like it could do the job till NASA decided to land it on its side...

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

evanbd (210358) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399893)

Mostly because it doesn't exist (in a useful form), and couldn't reasonably be made to exist in the time required. For the record, they didn't "decide to land it on its side." It fell over after landing, as a result of a hydraulic line that was not properly reattached after some regular maintenance.

The DC-X was a very interesting project, but there is a lot more research and development that would have to be done to make it usable (even ignoring the question of whether it's the right answer -- I happen to think it's not). It simply isn't reasonable to believe that restarting that program now would result in a usable craft soon enough.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400017)

You're absolutely right. NASA killed the clipper because it was a threat to their employment-for-life guarantee, namely the Shuttle

Considering that the new prez owes votes to the Federal bureaucrats (93% of DC voted for him), it would be surprising to see him dismantle the NASA status quo. So any solution he'll consider will keep them employed and will not be cheaper.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

ericferris (1087061) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399933)

evanbd,

Interesting posts, I regret that I don't have mod points right now.

Allow me to ask a question: what do you think of the statement "cheaper...while still providing jobs for much of the existing shuttle workforce"? If DIRECT is cheaper, won't it imply that most of the people employed by the Shuttle program will not be needed anymore? Or do they plan to keep these people and spread the salary costs on a very large number of DIRECT launches?

What's your BS-o-meter telling you there? Mine tells me that if they are really trying to keep the standing army of highly paid engineers currently working on the Shuttle, then DIRECT cannot be cheaper. If cheap is the target, then a lot of NASA people are going to be pink-slipped. Someone is lying here.

Your opinion?

Post by LifesABeach is dead accurate. The Delta Clipper demonstrator was an effective SSTO prototype. It was handled to NASA, which "accidentally" killed it on the first flight. Then they could not find $10 million to rebuild another one, while spending $500M a year on the Shuttle.

The Delta Clipper was a threat to the Shuttle milk cow, so it died. Technical superiority doesn't matter anymore at NASA.

NASA is great at science mission, but they have historically fought and destroyed every attempt to make access to space cheaper.

NASA used to be moon-conqueror heroes. Now it is a bureaucracy. The goal of a bureaucracy is to perpetuate itself. They are now standing firmly between mankind and cheap access to space.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400079)

My understanding is that no matter what is done, a considerable portion of the Shuttle workforce is out of a job when the Shuttles stop flying. DIRECT has more in common with the Shuttle than Ares I does so it is reasonable to expect more jobs will be retained. For example, DIRECT shares most of the basic structure with the Space Shuttle. It has two 4 segment solid rocket boosters and the external tank in the center. The way these components are connected is the same as the Shuttle. Nobody is reusing the Space Shuttle main engines (SSMEs), so those people are out of a job. Nobody will need to maintain orbiters any more so those people will be out of a job. There are a number of payload integration specialists that might be migrated over.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398473)

Are you really comparing the paper study of some 50 engineers with the work that has been accomplished to date on Constellation? Just because you haven't seen an Ares launch doesn't mean the design isn't mature or is as "immature" the direct paper rocket. I am not knocking their design - it is a solid one. But similar designs were looked at in the ESAS study and found to be less desirable than at least the initial Ares I and V configuration. The Direct design is *years* behind the Ares I design. Seriously, the Ares I has been through SRR, SDR and PDR and numerous other reviews. Direct looks great... fast, easy and cheap simply because it has been studied enough to reveal its shortcomings. Three years ago Ares look fantastic on paper as well - then the reality of engineering development crept in and there are indeed challenges to overcome. Any other program (Direct, EELV, etc) will have the same unkown snags in their future. Oh, and the first Ares test launch is this summer.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399903)

But similar designs were looked at in the ESAS study and found to be less desirable than at least the initial Ares I and V configuration.

The ESAS is flawed. The solid rocket motors have not been demonstrated to have the reliability claimed for the Ares I. From the history of their use on the Space Shuttle, they have a failure rate of around 1 in 250. The Ares I is claimed to have a total loss of mission rate of 1 in 400. When your first stage is less reliable than you claim the entire vehicle is, then something is wrong. Similarly, it has been shown that the EELV profiles in the ESAS didn't take into account reasonable adjustments to the corresponding launch vehicles for manned missions.

Seriously, the Ares I has been through SRR, SDR and PDR and numerous other reviews.

IMHO, the Ares I shouldn't have passed the PDR due to thrust oscillation issues. It was given a waiver on that.

Three years ago Ares look fantastic on paper as well - then the reality of engineering development crept in and there are indeed challenges to overcome. Any other program (Direct, EELV, etc) will have the same unkown snags in their future. Oh, and the first Ares test launch is this summer.

No, the Ares I didn't look that fantastic. There are two glaring problem, ignoring the rest. The Ares I competes directly with commercial rockets, the Delta IV and Atlas V rockets. Private industry always gets screwed when that happens no matter how shoddy the NASA solution is. NASA doesn't develope the heavy lift vehicle till 2016 or later. That huge 11+ year delay is why the DIRECT design is so well developed now. Frontloading cost and backloading capability is a common source of failure in government projects. Even the Shuttle didn't do this.

No, the first Ares test launch is on or after 2013, when the Ares I-Y launches. The Ares I-X doesn't use a 5 segment first stage, doesn't have a real second stage, and doesn't have the avionics that will be used on the Ares I. The critical fixes for the thrust oscillation issues might not even be fully tested on the Ares I-Y and that's four years away! There are a few things that the Ares I-X can test (it'll have the right airframe and mass distribution, the right launch pad, and should be able to see thrust oscillation) so it isn't a complete waste.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398225)

Actually, after reading TFA and looking at the comparison chart [popularmechanics.com] it really looks like the Direct Jupiter design is better, if only because of the reuse of SST components.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398261)

Whether or not the design is better is largely irrelevant to this debate; what is relevant is the DIRECT team are failing to take into account the overhead of switching projects and switching managers at this stage. Regardless of which was the better approach, DIRECT lost the debate some time ago, and revisiting it now (even if it results in a better vehicle in the long run) isn't going to make anything either cheaper or quicker.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

ComputerInsultant (722520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398493)

The DIRECT team has written quite a bit about what is needed to change over from the Ares I/V architecture to the Jupiter architecture. While we would be throwing away all of the design work on the Ares I upper stage, making the change at this point still has a quicker return to flight. Having better rockets is a side benefit.

The J2 rocket work and 5 segment SRB work will come in handy for building the Jupiter 232.

There is no reason to 'stay the course' of the AresI/V. It is time to choose the rocket that is faster, better, and cheaper.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398663)

There is no reason to 'stay the course' of the AresI/V. It is time to choose the rocket that is faster, better, and cheaper.

Yeah, faster--better--cheaper worked out so well with the original Space Shuttle program and the robotic probes in the 90s. I would have hoped that this mindset would have died at NASA after the replacement of Administrator Dan Goldin.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

johno.ie (102073) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398669)

Bzzzt! Wrong. Thanks for playing anyway.
There was no original debate on which path to take after the shuttle. The DIRECT design is a result of a grassroots movement which developed AFTER the Ares designs had been unveiled. During the intervening period the top brass have never entered into discussion with the DIRECT team.
Real engineers were appalled at the braindead decisions taken during the initial Ares design phase. Ares 1 is an impossible to implement design. Well maybe "impossible" is too strong a word to use but "impractical" just doesn't cover how bad it is. It's top-heavy, both in terms of mass and aerodynamic stability. It relies solely on a solid rocket for the first stage of it's ascent! WFT! No vectoring capability, no throttling capability and no evidence that the required extra segment can be produced using the existing shuttle support infrastructure. This thing is basically a dangerous bottle rocket and it's supposed to be man-rated!
Ares V isn't quite as bad as Ares 1, but that's only because they share very little in common. That's the other major booger hanging out of the Ares nose. Reuse of common elements would help to keep down costs, but it seems that no attempt has been made to do this.

tl;dr. You don't have a clue what you're talking about, but you'dlike people to believe you do. You're just a conservative that wants to keep the status quo. I didn't know W posted on slashdot.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (2, Informative)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398725)

Ares V isn't quite as bad as Ares 1, but that's only because they share very little in common.

Actually, for manned missions Ares V is worse: it isn't even rated for manned missions! The humans would launch on an Ares I and then dock with whatever launched on the Ares V in orbit.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (-1, Troll)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399141)

I'm supposed to take being talked down to by a mongloid who thinks having a rocket be top heavy is a bad thing? Ares I is, in fact, bottom-heavy and thus not aerodynamically stable. Furthermore, shuttle SRBS do have a thrust vectoring capability - otherwise the Ares I design wouldn't have been proposed by anyone at NASA in the first place.

Seeing as how the basic idea of DIRECT has been around for decades (the wikipedia article on it even has drawings of the concept from 1978) the idea that the people who decided on Ares were ignorant of DIRECT is utter bullshit.

If you are going to come with that cock 'Bzzzt! Wrong' bullshit you had better check your own damn facts first, idiot. As for assuming I am a conservative (or even American) - well that just compounds the idiocy you've spewed over this forum.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

visualight (468005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399681)

Look how you're talking to people, you see that in online forums, but not much in real life. Because in real life someone would leave their hand print on your face.

This isn't real life, go ahead and be an ass, but just know that you've given most of us here the image of a frustrated, spiteful, weak little man.

At this moment I'm not considering any points you make, I'm just laughing at you.

Your own fault btw.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (-1, Troll)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400081)

Oh no, some anonymous little turd is threatening me and mocking me on the Internet, whatever shall I do now!?

I like how you know nothing about rocket science but feel free to comment in this thread anyway because you find my tone a little too harsh. If you think I am going to reconsider how I speak to little shits you based on anything you have said you are out of your mind.

I don't suffer fools, either in real life or on the Internet. If someone is stupid and arrogant (as you and the first person I responded to clearly are) I believe in calling them on it. I don't believe in fueling peoples delusions of adequacy. Your inability to do anything but bitch at my style rather than address my points demonstrates that you are more concerned with petty points-scoring than actual debate. If you weren't such a fucktard you might grasp the concept of a logic fallacy.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398417)

The reuse of SST components is the problem. This is the same idiocy that promotes the original Ares I design when the existing Delta IV Heavy could do the job cheaper. And the use of two Jupiter 232s instead of one Ares V is beyond stupid. This is the same reasoning that has lead us to use 50 Space Shuttle missions to build the ISS instead of 3 with a 150 tonne heavy lift rocket. There is nothing wrong with the Ares V. It is a good design and we need a 150+ tonne rocket if we plan on doing anything on the Moon other than short visits.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398741)

You've got it backwards. The Jupiter rockets can do the job with a single launch, it is the Ares that requires two launches because the Ares V will not be safe enough for humans.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400085)

Actually, the Jupiter plan uses two rockets as well. The difference is that in Jupiter its two of the same rockets, making design and construction work more efficient. Instead of having everything but the Orion/CM vehicle on board the Ares V, you launch only the Earth departure stage on one rocket, and launch the entire CM/SM/LM setup on the second.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399671)

Actually, using more launches for something like the ISS is a good thing. If a rocket fails in a 50 launch scenario, you only lose 2% of the station. If a rocket fails in the three launch scenario, you lose a third of the station. Besides, the ISS is already built.

Also, in a lunar mission both the JUPITER and ARES platforms require two launches. The ARES-V is not used to launch people. So you need an ARES-V to launch the gear, and an ARES-I to launch the crew.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398469)

Direct's JUPITER project is not just a paper project. They are re-using existing, functioning technology. For example, they are using the exact same solid rocket boosters that the shuttle uses. Manufacturing facilities and expertise already exist for these. They are using the same external fuel tank, and are simply extending the nose cone to become the payload bay. They are also using existing rocket engines.

Ares is no longer a Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle. The fuel tank is now at 10 metres diameter vs the shuttle's 8.4 metres, which entails building new manufacturing facilities. The SRBs are longer (which in a solid rocket means different performance). The engines are new and untested, and furthermore, as I understand it, the stack will no longer fit into the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Besides, so what if they are both paper projects. That does not mean that you can't do a cost analysis. That doesn't mean that you can't do a risk simulations.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399281)

Really seems like to time to resurrect the Saturn V. Bigger, faster, more payload, and proven. Modern metalurgy and machining techniques would make it better and safer.

Problem? The Bush admin goons have been running around destroying the original plans and specs. My opinion is that none of the usual suspect contractors like Lockheed-Martin own the IP for the design and systems. How coul;d they possible charge 100 times what a part should cost if that part has been already made, and it's price is known. ( Just adjust for inflation ).

This is sad that a 1960's rocket is better than anything we can come up with in the foreseeable future because of rampant greed on the part of LockHeed-Martin and their ilk.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

frieko (855745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399729)

Even with a complete set of blueprints it would be much easier to start from scratch than to try and build a Saturn V. For a small example, log on to newark.com and try to order some magnetic core memory. Similar situation for all the mechanical components, not to mention the required expertise that's been lost.

Re:First chance to see if Obama is a retard or not (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26400013)

Of course DIRECT is "cheaper, quicker and safer" than Ares - because it is a paper project.

The Ares V is a paper project too.

If any of the problems of developing a SDLV that have plagued Ares so far occur for Jupiter, then switching at this point will be a false economy.

"Any", you mean "all". Here's some problems that are already fixed in the DIRECT design. Thrust oscillation is already mostly fixed because DIRECT will use the Shuttle design which succesfully dampens the oscillation before it gets to the external tank. A payload on the top of the vehicle may require some additional dampening, but it's going to be a lot weaken problem than the Ares I, which has no built-in mechanism for dampening this vibration. Second, payload capability. DIRECT is intended to be man-rated and has a payload far greater than Ares I. So no compromise in overall mission safety just to cram a capsule on an underpowered vehicle. Third, heavy lift is developed right away. With a viable heavy lift under development, there is less risk that heavy lift gets canceled rather than deployed.

Wasting money (1)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26397975)

We seem to be really good at wasting money on Wallstreet and Auto bailouts (700 Bl). Why can't we invest a fraction of this in NASA? At least we get to see big rockets roar off of the pad. Just wait until Obama and congress start blowing their wads on domestic spending (buying votes). NASA's budget will look like a piggy bank.

Re:Wasting money (1)

auLucifer (1371577) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398055)

I heard on the news yesterday that Obama wants a trillion $ bailout approved (it didn't state if it was to raise 700b up to 1t) before he gets into office. The story then alluded that he was planning to invest more of this into businesses so I don't think he'll be just 'buying' votes and it didn't look like he'd put more of that new money into defense or any other government spending. Yay for corporations. My fingers are crossed they spend it wisely but I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Wasting money (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399237)

Yes, if only he could be as smart as you conservatives who voted in Bush twice. Hey moron, we have these problems because of the jackass you voted in. You have no right to tell americans what to do after what your ideology has cost us. American Conservatism is dead and you are a sad and pathetic archaic leftover. Your sig shows your pathetic false victim mentality. Perhaps you can enlighten us also on the evil liberal media out to get you and how the triliateral commision with the UN is going to take over.

Please go back to you Rush and Hannity talking points, as you cant think for yourself.

Re:Wasting money (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399533)

"Just wait until Obama and congress start blowing their wads on domestic spending (buying votes)."

I think you should mention here how much money Bush spent "buying votes" by sending out all those millions of worthless little checks to American households.

"NASA's budget will look like a piggy bank."

It already does. Oddly enough, the number you mentioned (700 billion) is just about exactly what has been spent on NASA in total. Ever. That means since its inception in 1958.

Re:Wasting money (1)

m0s3m8n (1335861) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399867)

Good points. The previous "Stimulus" package was a bad idea too. Lets give money to people who don't pay tax to begin with and who are in debt up to their asses. They can spend it on digital converter boxes made in China. Worked so well. I have no idea how much has been spent on NASA to date, but any figure would have to be inflation adjusted.

Space Elevator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26397981)

I love the idea of a space elevator. It would be a tough engineering feat to construct. I wonder how difficult it would be to build one that is on the moon rather than earth? How long would it need to be? Since there is no moon atmosphere I would presume it could be much less robust.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398135)

In my rather limited understanding of it, I don't think its possible, because the concept reallies fairly heavily on the rotation of the earth/planet to keep the counter weight 'out there' something that the moon doesn't have.

Plus, it just doesn't seem practical, as like you said no (or *extremely* thin) atmosphere, so no worries there, and far less gravitational pull, so its probably far more practical to stick with standard/typical rocket landing and launching.

However, 200 years from now, an elevator directly from earth to the moon, might be a possible, and might even be a good idea, keep that sucker from slowly drifting away from us...lol

Re:Space Elevator (1)

ComputerInsultant (722520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398389)

A space elevator is a great idea. We should build one as soon as we can produce enough unobtainium to make the tether.

We should be doing the materials research needed for a space elevator, but the question now is about how to get to space for the next ten years. A space elevator will (almost certainly) not be build-able in that time, but we can launch rockets.

Right now we need rockets, the question is which rocket. Space elevators, fusion drives, and other fanciful stuffs are things we should think about and research, but they are not the things we can build today.

Re:Space Elevator (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399215)

As I understand it, you could build a lunar based space elevator out of kevlar. The problem is that the moon doesn't spin fast enough, so you have to have your counterweight sitting past the L1 lagrange point. In other words, the counterweight has to be far enough off the moon that the Earth's gravity pulls it more than the moon's.

However, there is no need for an elevator on the moon. Because there is no atmosphere, you can launch things horizontally using a maglev system.

Differently-abled? (1)

thethibs (882667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398007)

The article's illustration includes an astonishing statement regarding the two J-2X engines: "NASA says the extra engine doubles the chance that something will fail". Wow! Applying that logic would really simplify most of our jobs. RAID? Don't waste your money; all those extra disks just increase the odds of failure.

Whoever said that leaves us with a conundrum: Does he actually believe it, in which case his academic credentials should be subjected to very close scrutiny? Or is he lying deliberately in order to protect NASA's ability to concentrate on maximizing headcount and budget, in which case someone should fire him?

It's going to be interesting to see how this plays out.

Re:Differently-abled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398021)

If one raid disk fails it doesn't blow up the entire cluster.

Re:Differently-abled? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398059)

You've been watching too many Hollywood movies. Not all engine failures are explosive. In fact, with health monitoring added to engines they can be shut down at the first sign of trouble.

I actually dare you to find the last time a liquid engine failure "blew up the entire cluster" itself, NOT by subsequent range safety officer action.

With reasoning like that you'd think Saturn V would never have flown, with 5 (that's FIVE) engines on the 1st and 2nd stage.

Re:Differently-abled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398099)

Oh, and there's also this thing called *engine-out capability* where a shutdown of one engine doesn't necessarily mean your mission is toast because that was the only one you had, but helps create redundancy for certain phases of powered flight.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398075)

"NASA says the extra engine doubles the chance that something will fail". Wow! Applying that logic would really simplify most of our jobs. RAID? Don't waste your money; all those extra disks just increase the odds of failure.

THE POINT: you miss it.

Rocket engines aren't redundant, like disks in an array are. If a disk fails, you can replace it, and reconstruct the data from the redundant copies on the other disks in the array. If a rocket engine in a cluster fails, the launch aborts, and if you're very, very lucky the crew survive.

Re:Differently-abled? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398169)

If a rocket engine in a cluster fails, the launch aborts, and if you're very, very lucky the crew survive.

Says who? Ever heard of engine-out capability? With more than one engine per stage you get more redundancy in the later phases of stage burn such that if you lose one engine, it doesn't necessarily affect performance very much (the dreaded gravity losses).

There has been at least one case with the Shuttle when they had one engine shut down and they still made it to orbit.

Apollo 13 also experienced a premature engine shutdown on 2nd stage during launch and still went ahead to the Moon (only to suffer THE failure most people know about).

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398479)

Depends on the type of 'fail'. The kind of fail that Saturn V could recover from is distinct from the kind of fail that turned N-1 into a fireball on four occasions.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

ugowar (1449477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398869)

N-1 cannot be really brought into the comparison. You might as well invoke the early Atlas boosters then. The time schedule pressure N-1 had, lack of funding causing very few crucial tests performed just *had* to doom it. N-1 never had a first stage static test performed! It wasn't a case of operational vehicle having engine failures (which is what we're discussing here), it was a test vehicle that was plagued by design problems. It can be compared to Apollo 6 POGO which if manned would also have led to an abort, but it didn't - it was a test flight. Operational flights cannot be compared to test flights.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399085)

At least one of the N-1 failures was caused by a single engine blowing up and taking the whole lot (30 in the first stage IIRC) with them. Soviet engineers could not test the cluster on the ground because there wasn't a stand big enough.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

ugowar (1449477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399363)

And they didn't have a test stand because they didn't have enough funding to conduct a full-fledged test program. Again, what is the point of this? An engine blew up during N-1 flight testing. The 30 engines were never fired in close proximity to one another and acoustic loads were too high, not really surprising. If the had done a static test, they'd probably caught that on the ground. You don't find that out in operational flights, you find that in test flights. Saturn V F-1 engines blew up during ground testing as well. It's called development phase.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399413)

The point is, that engine failures are necessarily the nice sort where an engine just stops working. Some can destroy the vehicle.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

ugowar (1449477) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399719)

That's the whole point of health monitoring in an engine, a.k.a. man-rating the rocket.
Do you think the engine is chugging along nicely one moment and the next one it just goes BOOM?

I asked (as "Anonymous Coward"), several comments ago to point out one explosive liquid engine failure. If the troubled N-1 from over 40 years ago is the only example then I rest my case.

For comparison, I'll point out two recent rocket failures:

1) Sea Launch Zenit where debris caused the engine turbopump to fail, the rocket lost thrust, fell back to the pad immediately after liftoff and blew up. It was loss of thrust, not explosive engine failure that doomed the rocket.

2) Soyuz Foton-M launch. Immediately after liftoff, debris in one of the booster engines caused problems that were correctly picked up by the flight computer and the vehicle simply shut down all the engines (as part of the flight termination system). Still intact, it fell down to the pad resulting in a major explosion. Again, loss of thrust doomed the rocket, not explosive engine failure.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398483)

More to the point, when a hard-drive has a head crash, it doesn't explode and take the entire rack with it.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398247)

The article's illustration includes an astonishing statement regarding the two J-2X engines: "NASA says the extra engine doubles the chance that something will fail". Wow! Applying that logic would really simplify most of our jobs. RAID? Don't waste your money; all those extra disks just increase the odds of failure.

Well, RAID0 _does_ have some perks. And I think that these engines' work makes them dependable on each other. Even a RAID1-system has quirks. Comparing this particular situation to a RAID-setup doesn't work, imho.

Re:Differently-abled? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399617)

You seem to be misunderstanding probability. The chances of any 1 failing are higher. But the chances of them all are failing are less. Or in the case of RAID 5, enough failing to be catastrophic.

Let me summarize the situation. (5, Insightful)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398163)

Ok, so there has been a lot going on with respect to constellation. Let me put some things in perspective. At the turn of the millennium it had become clear that tremendous expense of both shuttle and station had forced NASA human space flight out of the "exploration" business with all resources more or less locked up in LEO. Shuttle requires a veritable army of engineers and support personnel to maintain the vehicle and conduct operations and the costs to maintain this capability was crushing NASA. NASA felt "trapped" into their existing architecture with little hope for returning to an exploration role without significant additional funding. NASA needed to find a cheaper alternative to LEO that would free up the budget to being developing concepts beyond LEO.

Then comes the Columbia disaster and the subsequent investigation which recommended [wikipedia.org] that shuttle be retired by 2010.

In 2004 Bush announces the Vision for Space Exploration [wikipedia.org] clearly defining our country's goal to resume our manned exploration of the moon and Mars.

NASA conducts an extremely detailed study into literally hundreds of architecture design alternatives known as the Exploration Systems Architecture Study [wikipedia.org]. It is a fantastic report - read it here [nasa.gov]. The study rejects using EELVs (due primarily to safety concerns)and recommends a shuttle-derived re-using shuttle and Apollo technology across the two launch vehicles (then called CLV and CaLV). The recommended architecture becomes the basis of the Constellation architecture. (Which later replaces Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) on the CaLV with RS-68 engines and extends teh CLV from 4-seg to 5-seg (which was actually in the original trade space). This configuration was chosen as it was both the safest configuration as well as having one of the lowest O&M costs (particularly compared with alternatives that leveraged SSMEs more heavily.) NASA is finally on a path to returning to a capability beyond LEO as well as dramatically reducing its workforce with the looming retirement of shuttle a somewhat simpler to maintain replacement

Therein lies the problem... as retirement looms and irreversible decisions begin to be made (reconfiguring pads, not-ordering certain long-lead items for shuttle, etc..) that huge workforce of shuttle support finally realize what Constellation means to their job security. Without shuttle and its extremely complex reusable sub-systems, many of these people will be out of a job and their pet projects in jeopardy.

Not surprisingly, there becomes no shortage of personnel at Shuttle-oriented NASA sites who begin advocating against Constellation and for an extension of Shuttle. Adding to the detractors are of course the disgruntled "establishment" consortium of launch providers, ULA, advocating using EELVs. Then there are the Direct guys [wikipedia.org] who are brilliant NASA engineers but this concept was in essence already considered in the ESAS study and deemed less favorable than the CLV approach.

Add to the mix the political baggage that comes with the program's genesis stemming from an unpopular president and the oncoming president's commitment to "change" at all levels of government and you have a perfect storm of opposition - much of it which has absolutely nothing to do with the actual merits of the current design.

People who have not worked on Constellation simply don't understand how much work has gone into it compared with any of the above mentioned alternatives. Of course they look good now. They have been studied by small groups of engineers for months. Compare with the thousands who have been working on Constellation for years. Despite what anyone says about their program being cheaper or faster - any change at this point will result in a solution that is both more expensive and results in a longer delay in return to flight.

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398445)

NASA conducts an extremely detailed study into literally hundreds of architecture design alternatives known as the Exploration Systems Architecture Study. It is a fantastic report - read it here.

And for people who don't have time to read this 24MB pdf, here is the list of the members [nasa.gov] who redacted it. Feel free to find conflicting interests about these people. I used to think that Constellation was Griffin's little pet and that little people really had a say about the decision. I am now quite unsure. I think that getting a definite answer requires diving into both reports and checking their facts cautiously. It can easily take several weeks.

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398551)

I think that getting a definite answer requires diving into both reports and checking their facts cautiously. It can easily take several weeks.

In other words, longer than it took them to write the ESAS. I suppose when you have the mandated solution at hand at the very beginning of the study, it helps speed things up...

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399157)

From what I've read over the years getting rid of the SSMEs sounds like a big plus in terms of operational cost. Those engines are true technical marvels, but they are also extremely expensive to turnaround after each flight. They're reusable engines that cost almost as much to reuse as to build from scratch.

I don't profess to be qualified to truly evaluate the proposals on the merits. However I've been involved with large IT projects both on the inside and the outside. Sometimes the renegades are right, and sometimes they're wrong. Just because NASA has a history of blundering doesn't mean that any idea contraditory to something they come up with is a good one.

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399301)

Exactly, the initial CaLV configuration had something like 5 SSME's in the first stage, all of which would be thrown away each launch at incredible loss. This is a complex engine designed for reliability and reusability - a very different design point than for a expendible engine. It simply doesn't make sense to use such a complex, expensive engine and throw several of them into the ocean each launch.. Hence the move to RS-68.

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (4, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399723)

Ok, so there has been a lot going on with respect to constellation. Let me put some things in perspective. At the turn of the millennium it had become clear that tremendous expense of both shuttle and station had forced NASA human space flight out of the "exploration" business with all resources more or less locked up in LEO. Shuttle requires a veritable army of engineers and support personnel to maintain the vehicle and conduct operations and the costs to maintain this capability was crushing NASA. NASA felt "trapped" into their existing architecture with little hope for returning to an exploration role without significant additional funding. NASA needed to find a cheaper alternative to LEO that would free up the budget to being developing concepts beyond LEO.

This is the cost of a bad decision. 30 years of LEO. Stretching out the Space Shuttle decision (to the early 80's) by ten years, but getting a powerful space industry in the process would have been far better.

NASA conducts an extremely detailed study into literally hundreds of architecture design alternatives known as the Exploration Systems Architecture Study. It is a fantastic report - read it here. The study rejects using EELVs (due primarily to safety concerns)and recommends a shuttle-derived re-using shuttle and Apollo technology across the two launch vehicles (then called CLV and CaLV). The recommended architecture becomes the basis of the Constellation architecture. (Which later replaces Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) on the CaLV with RS-68 engines and extends teh CLV from 4-seg to 5-seg (which was actually in the original trade space). This configuration was chosen as it was both the safest configuration as well as having one of the lowest O&M costs (particularly compared with alternatives that leveraged SSMEs more heavily.) NASA is finally on a path to returning to a capability beyond LEO as well as dramatically reducing its workforce with the looming retirement of shuttle a somewhat simpler to maintain replacement

A path which depends wholely on whether someone in the 2016-2018 timeframe decides to support Ares V. If that gets cut, then there is no manned spaceflight past LEO. We can whine about how that future government is shortsighted, but it's just another shortcoming of the Ares plan. If you want the future to turn out a certain way, you lock it in now, not ten years from now (remember they started this in 2005).

Moving on, the ESAS has serious problems. First, the safety numbers are completely unrealistic for several reasons. First, they exaggerate the safety of the "stick". The Stick is claimed in this report to have a loss of mission (LOM) odds of 1 in 400 roughly. The first stage is the solid rocket motor. The problem is that the first stage on its own doesn't have the reliability to meet this LOM figure. There have been 123 launches of the Space Shuttle which uses two of this type of motor and one failure. Thus, the historical LOM failure rate is 1 in 246. I understand it gets worse when you consider test firings of the SRM.

Then we go to the unequal treatment of the EELVs. The relatively low LOM figure is due in part to "black zones" (parts of the launch phase where the mission cannot be aborted) and consideration of the launch vehicles using the 1.25 structural safety factors used in the launch vehicles now. A manned EELV would not have the black zones and would have a 1.4 structural safety factor.

Then we have to consider that NASA is going to compromise on safety anyway. That is what happened in the two Shuttle accidents and there's no reason not to expect it to happen again in my view. For example, they stripped out some of the redundancy of the Orion capsule for lunar flights. Transfering risk from space launch, which frankly is low risk to start with, to the higher risk portions of a lunar flight just doesn't make sense. But that's the sort of decisions you get. These will reduce the actually safety and reliability of the Ares I. My bet is that if the Ares I makes launch, we'll see a LOM rate of greater than 1 in 100. I base this solely on the expected maximum launch frequency of 6 to 8 launches a year which seems to me a far more relevant figure than wild guesses by a purely paper study.

People who have not worked on Constellation simply don't understand how much work has gone into it compared with any of the above mentioned alternatives. Of course they look good now. They have been studied by small groups of engineers for months. Compare with the thousands who have been working on Constellation for years. Despite what anyone says about their program being cheaper or faster - any change at this point will result in a solution that is both more expensive and results in a longer delay in return to flight.

Less work has been spent on the Ares solution than the EELV solution. That's because the EELVs are the latest in a long line of two successful launch vehicles, the Atlas and Delta lineages which have been in existence since the 60's. The Delta IV Heavy, an Ares I class vehicle, launches now. The Ares 1-Y in 2013 is the first Ares I launch. The people who launch the EELVs have been designing, building, and launching rockets for decades. NASA on the other hand hasn't before the Ares I designed a new rocket since the Space Shuttle. We see the results in the numerous problems that Ares I has had since its inception.

Here is the litany of core problems with the Ares I and V:

  • It competes directly with commercial solutions, the Delta IV Heavy and the Atlas V Heavy. This is a serious threat to the future of the US space flight industry all on its own. I believe it will cause decades of harm unless the Ares I is killed within the next ten years.
  • It is a single point of failure in the manned space program, unless EELVs are used anyway as backup. For a historical example, I estimate that the two Shuttle failures have delayed the US manned program by at least five years along with considerable delays (and cancellations) in other programs that were unfortunate enough to depend on the Shuttle (the Great Observatories, important DoD missions).
  • The decision to use ATK's solid rocket motor for the first stage imposes terrible constraints on the Ares I. The first stage is underpowered (requiring the Orion capsule for lunar missions to shed mass and add risk to riskier parts of a lunar mission), it has thrust oscillation problems which will require performance-sapping kluges to fix, and the odd profile (thin first stage and bulky second stage) makes it more sensitive to wind conditions at launch.
  • Construction of the heavy lift vehicle, the Ares V has been put off till 2016 or beyond. Frontloading cost while backloading capability is a common cause of long term failure in NASA and Department of Defense projects.
  • Very little of the Shuttle is actually reused in Ares I and V designs.
  • The Ares program doesn't address the real problems with the US space program, namely that the barriers to entry for potential space businesses are economic not technological. The first purpose [nasa.gov] of NASA is to "seek and encourage, to the maximum extent possible, the fullest commercial use of space".
  • Both the Ares I and V are low launch frequency vehicles. This is poor economics and results in lower long term safety and reliability.

Yes, NASA has a good, experienced group of people, but they are working on the wrong engineering problems. They should be going with systems that simply do not have the problems that the Ares vehicles have.

Now, I favor using both EELVs, Delta IV Heavy and Atlas V Heavy, and DIRECT. There's a huge amount of work already done when you start with the EELVs and these vehicles can be used for military and commercial work as well. Won't happen with the Ares I. DIRECT is just a common sense adjustment of the current Shuttle stack. It uses the same basic design, a pair of SRMs and an external tank. No thrust oscillation issues because thrust oscillation was fixed with the Shuttle and we're reusing that design. Move the capsule from being on the side of the vehicle to the top, which makes more sense than the original Shuttle design. But as a tradeoff, you have to move the engines to the bottom of the vehicle. I believe they intend to use RS-68 motors (which are also used on the Delta IVs) which results in some performance hit over the SSMEs (Space Shuttle Main Engines). End result is that the DIRECT vehicle uses far more of the basic Shuttle design that the Ares I. If you man-rate it as well, then you have three manned vehicles to chose from. That really cuts down on your program risks.

My take is even now, it would be better in the long run to go with the above solution rather than stick with the Ares program. "Staying the course" only makes sense if you have a solution that is worth the effort. The Ares I undermines long term US competition in space due to its competition with the EELVs. It is a single point of failure in a future space program. The premises (the ESAS) for the Ares program are known to be wrong. And its design is fundamentally flawed by depending on the SRM for the first stage and being limited by low launch frequency. Further, we have an example in the Space Shuttle, which proves that a bad decision can be much worse than a good one delayed by a few years.

Re:Let me summarize the situation. (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399887)

Yah, and the CIA had an extremely detailed report describing why we knew Iraq certainly had WMDs. Lots of paperwork making a show of comparing the possible theories isn't worth squat if the process that produced that report isn't fair, objective and openminded. And there have been reasonable credible allegations that the NASA process that selected Ares was, like the CIA intelligence on Iraq, biased by a boss who already knew the "right" answer.

For instance I seem to remember hearing (but can't verify so take with a grain of salt) that the selected proposal was very similar to the proposal Griffin himself advocated in one of his theses. Whether he did or not the credibility of the ESAS is already somewhat questionable given that it's rejection of the previously preferred approach coincided with Griffin's appointment. In this context the accusations made by people involved in the process that Griffin had already decided on the desired answer seem reasonably credible. Certainly there is no doubt that Griffin has already displayed the sort of inflexibility and intolerance of dissent that are warning signs of a management style that could bias the decisions. Being smart doesn't make one a good manager and bad management can poison the results despite the best of intentions.

Now I have no idea whether reusing Shuttle parts in the way the DIRECT guys propose is a good idea or not but given the reasons to question the value of the ESAS report I think it's certainly worthwhile to rexamine the issue and at least ask whether the DIRECT approach is sufficently superior to Ares that it justifies abandoning the sunk costs.

-------

Of course this whole buisness is kinda tragic. We are debating the best way to throw away our space budget for the sake of national pride. The amount of space research and propulsion/vehicle research that NASA could finance if it abandoned the ISS or better yet put man space flight on hold until launch technology improved is enormous. I mean repairing the Hubble is probably the biggest contribution manned space flight has made to our scientific knowledge in the past 15 years and with the money wasted on manned flight we could have launched a fleet of telescopes.

Even if you believe in the ultimate importance of sending men into space doing it now isn't a a good way to achieve that goal. It's the aerospace equivalent of realizing that preemptive process scheduling and memory protection are the future of computers before the invention of the transistor and investing your money to build giant vacuum tube based machines to explore OS design rather than first improving the underlying technology. Useful human presence in space requires cheaper launches and the money NASA wastes on manned exploration now could fund an amazing amount of research into new launch technologies.

Just because it would make us look stupid if we effectively gave the ISS to the Russians or abandoned it after the huge expense of building it isn't a reason to keep the program.

Heres what Obama needs to blast off (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398181)

* 1 Case Regular Pint size Mason Jars ( Used for canning)
* 2 Boxes Contact 12 hour time released tablets.
* 3 Bottles of Heet.
* 4 feet of surgical tubing.
* 1 Bottle of Rubbing Alchohol.
* 1 Gallon Muriatic Acid ( Used for cleaning concrete)
* 1 Gallon of Coleman's Fuel
* 1 Gallon of Aceton
* 1 Pack of Coffee Filters
* 1 Electric Skillet ( If you don't know what iam talking about i will have pics later)
* 4 Bottles Iodine Tincture 2% (don't get the declorized it won't work)
* 2 Bottles of Hydrogen peroxide
* 3 20 0z Coke Bottles (Plastic type)(with Lids/caps)
* 1 Can Red Devils Lye
* 1 Pair of sharp scissors
* 4 Boxes Book Matches (try to get the ones with brown/red striker pads)
* 1 pyrodex baking dish
* 1 Box execto razor blades single sided
* 1 digital scale that reads grams
* 2 gallons distilled water \
* 1 Roll Aluminum foil tape

That's what you would have to go buy if you wanted to make meth.

First things first -- the Iodine Crystals. Take one 20 oz, plastic Coke Bottle and pour 4 Bottles 2% tincture into it.

Add Hydrogen Peroxide to this. Use only 1/2 a bottle of Hydrogen peroxide. After this you know, the gallon jug that the Muriatic acid comes in take the cap off and fill this cap level with the acid. Add the acid to the coke bottle (Place in a freezer for at least 30 mins).

While the Iodine crystals are being made we are going to extract the Phsuedo from the Contacts. You are going to need a towel for this so go get one. Take the pills out of one box, add it to one of the mason jars fill with rubbing alchohol just enough to cover the pills let set for 3 minutes. Remove pills and take the towel and wipe the top coating off the pills this will remove the wax. Do the same with the other box of Contacts as well, after this add those wiped off pills only 10 to a clean mason jar. On top of this add 1 bottle of Heat do the same for the other box of Contact. Let theese two mason jars with pills, heat stand for 30 minutes. Then shake the jars till pills are completly broke down then let the jars sit again for 4 hours or until the Heats is completly clear . Once clear cyphon the heat off (Not the powder stuff at the Bottom you don't want this it will fuck your dope up).

Well anyway syphon the heat off with a piece of the sergical tubing syphon this into a pyrodex baking dish place in microwave on high till the heat is almost evaporated. Take out of microwave. Now plug up your electric plate set the pyrodex dish on this on about 180 deg continue evaporating till you get a white powder on the pyrodex (Carefull not the burn the phsudo if it turns yellow it's burned) after you get it dried take a razor blade and scrape this powder up. (put this asside for later use)

Now we are going to get the red phosphorus from the book matches take a pair of scissors and cut along the edge of the phosphorus do the whole four boxes of match book matches then take 1 small coffee cup will work to this coffee cup add about 1/4 the way with Acetone dip the match book strike pads into the acetone for 10 seconds this will loosen the phosphorus so it will be easier to scrape with the razor blades. ( put the phosphorus in an empty match book box to let dry. Now it's time to get the iodine crystals get a clean mason jar on top of this place 1 coffee filter and pour the contents of the iodine +muriatic+Hydrogen Peroxide into the filter ( do it slowly don't over pour) well once you get though with the filtering on top of the coffee filter will be a black substance ( This is iodine crystals) dry them by wraping in more coffee filters till you get a pretty good thick pile around the original filter place on ground and step on it to get the rest of the liquids off save this for the cook.

next take your digital scales wiegh your pills first say you had 2 grams of pill powder then weigh out an equal amount of iodine crystals then for the phosphorus devide the total weight of pills by 3 3 will go into 2 1 time so if you had 2 grams pill powder you should have 2 grams iodine crystal 1 gram phosphorus Now its time to make the cook jars you will need 2 clean mason jars with lids 1 foot surgical tubing poke a hole in both jar lids place one end of the tubing into each jar lid and seal with foil tape (buy this at walmart for about $ 1.60 well anyway seal off the tubes as well as you can so you should have 2 mason jars with lids that have surgical tubing foiled taped and sealed. ok this is the cook in one mason jar add distilled water in it fill it half way close the lid on it. now get you hotplate hot first at 180 degreese F when the plate get hot then its time to add the Iodine+pill powder to the other mason jar not the one with water in it once you get both Iodine and pill powder to the jar add 6-10 drops of distilled water to this place it on the hotplate now add the phosphorus once you put this in the jar there is going to be a imediatereaction place the other lid with hose onto the jar screw on tightly then turn your hotplate up to 400 degrees f let this cook for 1 hour to an hour and a half the best way to tell when it is done is when the contents of the cook jar doesn't boil anymore once this has happened turn the hotplate off and let the jar cool so you can touch it now its time to see if we have dope once it has cooled open the lid and you should smell rotten egg like smell if it has this smell congrads you have dope now we have to remove the dope from the black goey substance to this jar add about 1/4 cup of distilled water and seal the jar with a lid that has no holes in it and shake the jar till all the substance on the botom of the jar has come off into the water

next take another clean mason jar and place a coffee filter and filter the cook jars contents though the filter now on the filter is your phosphorus save this for another cook later on just putt it in a dry coffee filter and put it somewhere dry and safe now you have a jar filled with a yellow honey looking substance if its this color you have done good at cooking the dope now to this add colemans fuel fill the jar about full just leave anough room for shaking now add 1-2 table spoons red devil lye let the jar sit for about 5 mins then place lid on the jar and shake the hell out of it then sit the jar somewhere to rest for about 30 mins Now we are going to pull the dope out of the coleman fuel and the product is going to be 90% methamphetamine to do this fallow what i say exactly syphon the coleman fuel into an empty 20 oz coke bottle syphon off much as you can trying not to get the substance off the bottom of the jar once you have the coleman fuel in the coke bottle add about 4-6 coke bottle caps of water to this now add one drop of muriatic acid to the coke bottle place lid on bottle and shake the hell out of it place upside down so it want fall and get your hotplate hot 400 degrees f on top of the hotplate place a clean pyrodex bowl on it now take the coke bottle still upside down and loosen up on the cap let the water drain into the pan don't get any coleman fuel into the pyrodex bowl now the water will evaporate while it is doing this take a coffee cup add acetone to it fill it 1/4 the way up now once the water has dried on the plate take plate off with gloves and add a small amount of acetone to the pyrodex bowl it will sizzle swirl it arouund and if all works out good ther will be cirle crystals all over the pyrodex bowl scrape up with a razor and enjoy Methamphetamine :-) This with 2 boxes of Contacts will make anywhere from 2-3 grams meth....

Building Better Vacuum Tubes (1)

jfj622 (1449435) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398259)

Going to the Moon with chemical fueled rockets is like building computers with vacuum tubes. Both were done 40-50 years ago. Where would computing be now if we had relied on building better vacuum tubes rather than investing in the research the lead to the transistor?

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26398881)

Yeah, just another case of Big Oil reaping profits and scuttling advancement into dilithium crystal technology.

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (2, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26398997)

Going to the Moon with chemical fueled rockets is like building computers with vacuum tubes. Both were done 40-50 years ago. Where would computing be now if we had relied on building better vacuum tubes rather than investing in the research the lead to the transistor?

The problem is that despite of decades of effort, they still haven't figured out how to get nonzero thrust out of solid-state rocket engines.

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (1)

mrfrostee (30198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399219)

The problem is that despite of decades of effort, they still haven't figured out how to get nonzero thrust out of solid-state rocket engines.

We have, but thrust is currently too low for manned missions, For example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion_thruster [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnetoplasmadynamic_thruster [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_specific_impulse_magnetoplasma_rocket [wikipedia.org]

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (2, Insightful)

goodmanj (234846) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399449)

We have, but thrust is currently too low for manned missions, For example:

I wouldn't call any of your examples "solid state", in the electronics sense the parent jokingly suggested. They're all basically very large vacuum tubes without the tube.

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399941)

That doesn't even make sense!

Anything that ejects mass has a non-zero thrust by Newton's ? law. Perhaps you mean they don't have enough thrust to weight ratio to escape earth's gravity? I believe that is still false but you are correct that a fully solid fueled approach would require prohibitively large rockets with currently available technology.

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399099)

Going to the Moon with chemical fueled rockets is like building computers with vacuum tubes. Both were done 40-50 years ago. Where would computing be now if we had relied on building better vacuum tubes rather than investing in the research the lead to the transistor?

Yeah, but the NIMBY folks won't let us play around with nuclear rockets. So, we're stuck with chemical.

Re:Building Better Vacuum Tubes (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399913)

Hey, you stole my metaphor!

But I would take it farther and say that sending men into space now is like investing in OS research by building giant vacuum tube computers instead of investing in transistor research.

First create a decent way to get men into space then send them there not the other way around. We gain very little continuing to send men up into space the same way we have been doing since the 60s.

Doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399423)

They can pitch all they want - Obama is going to shut down NASA anyway.

YOU FAIL IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26399827)

anfd financial become like they

Call me cynical, but... (2, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 5 years ago | (#26399993)

...is there a chance that the NASA chiefs are pushing for Ares specifically because it will require a complete reworking of the infrastructure and launch support systems? What better way to get funding to rebuild all your facilities than by saying it's required to support the new vehicle(s).

I'm not a rocket scientist, but after reviewing the various on-line resources for DIRECT and Ares, DIRECT looks like the *obvious* better way to go -- reusing (and/or slightly modifying) many existing components and facilities.

Perhaps the problem is simply that DIRECT is less expensive. As any pointy-haired boss will say, "where's the fun in that?"

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