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Can the Ares Program Be Salvaged?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the classic-special-interest dept.

NASA 245

MarkWhittington writes "The Augustine Commission has not officially presented its findings to the White House, but already a push back is starting to occur over the possibility that the Ares 1 rocket will be canceled after three billion dollars and over four years of development. According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel contractors involved in the development of the Ares 1 have started a quiet but persistent public relations campaign to save the Ares 1, criticized in some quarters because of cost and technical problems."

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245 comments

Should it be salvaged? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29333891)

Should NASA be in the space launch business?

Re:Should it be salvaged? (3, Insightful)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29333993)

Whether it should or not, it looks like we're definitely on track to make sure we never get into space on our own again.

Oh wait, that wasn't the goal, was it?

Re:Should it be salvaged? (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334031)

Oh wait, that wasn't the goal, was it?

I always thought that the goal of Ares was to provide a method of finally killing the shuttle program: by promising a successor which would maintain the shuttle program jobs, they would have the political clout to close down the shuttle support manufacturing (external tanks, etc) to ensure that it couldn't fly past 2010 and then they would close down Ares once its job was done.

Re:Should it be salvaged? (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334677)

provide a method of finally killing the shuttle program: by promising a successor which would maintain the shuttle program jobs

then whats the point of this [slashdot.org] ?

Re:Should it be salvaged? (4, Interesting)

dkf (304284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334105)

Should NASA be in the space launch business?

On the basis of the stories coming out, I suspect NASA shouldn't even be in the rowing-boat launch business. Don't get me wrong. They do amazing things with the things they put up there, but they just seem unable to get a grip of launch costs. So it should be someone else's job, someone else (or even many someones) who can keep costs down so that NASA money can be spent on the bits that really inspire everyone.

Re:Should it be salvaged? (4, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334533)

So it should be someone else's job, someone else (or even many someones) who can keep costs down

Whenever you see cost overruns, you're seeing "someone else" running the price up.

Government can be amazingly effecient -- if you can cut through "procurement" and "government contractgors."

Re:Should it be salvaged? (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335071)

What you really need is multiple vendors competing. Right now launching heavy cargoes into space is an oligopol of a few government organizations. AFAIK only NASA, ESA and the Russian FKA have high capacity launching systems at the moment.

Companies like Space-X are entering the market, but their Falcon 9 hasn't flown yet and might need a few more years if it can take commercial payloads.

Re:Should it be salvaged? (2, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335113)

You mean ULA [ulalaunch.com] , Arianespace [arianespace.com] and ILS [ilslaunch.com] .

Re:Should it be salvaged? (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334899)

Yes, they should. They've achieved great things whilst privately funded space flight has mostly floundered. Take your libertarian bullshit to the conspiracy nuts, because it only makes sense if the moon landings never happened.

The fallacy of sunk costs (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29333981)

Yes, 3 billion dollars of taxpayer money has been blown. However, the decision to make is : will the gains from FUTURE spending exceed FUTURE costs? We don't factor in the 3 billion already spent in this decision. Alas, it's impossible to quantify gains since a few moon rocks and some pretty pictures don't have a readily assignable value. I'd say no, because I think the 20 billion or whatever a working Ares rocket line would cost could be better spent on other areas of space exploration. 20 billion would pay for a lot of unmanned missions, or could be used to develop a cheaper way to get to orbit (such as lasers or an EM accelerator or something)

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (4, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334017)

Or a launch loop [wikipedia.org] , which is a practical alternative to a space elevator that doesn't require exotic materials. Not that it'll happen in this "no we can't do it, think of the {amoebas,corporations,children}!" age.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (3, Informative)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334045)

Oh, and I hate to reply to myself, but from the article:

Lofstrom estimates that an initial loop costing roughly $10 billion with a 1 year payback could launch 40,000 metric tons per year, and cut launch costs to $300/kg, or for $30 billion, with a larger power generation capacity, the loop would be capable of launching 6 million metric tons per year, and given a 5 year payback period, the costs for accessing space with a launch loop could be as low as $3/kg.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334467)

Or a launch loop [wikipedia.org] , which is a practical alternative to a space elevator

The wiki article does not say launch loops are practical, but it does include a Difficulties of launch loops [wikipedia.org] as well as "Competing and similar designs" section.

All the same, thanks for the link. I hadn't heard of launch loops before, at least that I can recall.

Falcon

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (2, Insightful)

Thaelon (250687) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334671)

You have a strange definition of practical if it includes a 2000km maglev track that's 80km in the air.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334697)

You have a strange definition of practical if it includes a 2000km maglev track that's 80km in the air.

Obviously, it'd be a massive undertaking, but it's practical in that we know how to build the thing with known materials. Space elevators, on the other hand, require exotic substances we simply don't have right now.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334831)

Securing a circled area of 2000km around would be the sticky wicket here even more than the engineering. Maybe if it could be supported over the water or something but reading the description it sounds very vulnerable to vandalism seeing how large an area it needs to be spread out over and remain above ground. I looked at google maps and 2000km is basically just shy of the width of the US.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334859)

The structure supports itself using the energy stored in the moving ribbon. That's the whole point. It's not a 2,000km long, 80km-high viaduct.

Also, it's pathetic and sad if we forgo what would be one of the greatest advancements of our time because we're afraid somebody might knock it down like so many bricks. I can't believe that you're so paralyzed by fear that you'd rather do nothing than attempt something great, and, fail or success, at least say you've tried.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334969)

Not really fear just apprehension. I understand how it would hang in the air but I imagine it would need to come down time to time for maintenance and thats a long piece of tubing to keep track of. Considering how difficult other ways of getting to space are though maybe it would be as feasible but considerations for what happens within the area it occupies certainly would be part of the difficulties such a system would need to address (I actually think its a neat idea for the record).

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334919)

Space elevators, on the other hand, require exotic substances we simply don't have right now.

You keep comparing launch loops to space elevators. Why don't you compare it with something more reasonable like space fountains [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335047)

A space fountain is a launch loop turned on its side. AIUI, the advantages of a launch loop over a space fountain are that:

  • a launch loops impart significant horizontal velocity to the payload as well as height, which makes achieving orbit once at the apex easier
  • both redirecting hubs of a launch loop are on the ground, whereas one in the space fountain must be suspended

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334027)

Exactly. Food at an all you can eat buffet is free once you pay the entry fee.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (4, Insightful)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334049)

Yes, 3 billion dollars of taxpayer money has been blown.

So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? Seems to me could recoup the loss by, oh I don't know, cutting 3 billion from defense spending? Seems to me a lot of things could get done by diverting money from Defense.

So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (2, Insightful)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334349)

Yes.

Seems to me could recoup the loss by, oh I don't know, cutting 3 billion from defense spending? Seems to me a lot of things could get done by diverting money from Defense.

Agreed. But this should be done anyway. By no means am I religious but I do believe in turning weapons into plows. Even more, I believe workers should be able to keep the money they work to earn and not have some government bureaucrat or politician demand people give it to them. Especially at the point of a gun.

At least government military weapons. Now the government and politicians better keep their grubby hands off privately owned blades, firearms, and other weapons.

Falcon

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334375)

Not this libertarian garbage again. So it's okay for a corporation to tread upon workers, pay them less than a living wage, force them to work long hours, and conspire to drive up prices for the goods they need, but heaven forbid the government get involved and regulate?

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (2, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334409)

So it's okay for a corporation to tread upon workers, pay them less than a living wage, force them to work long hours, and conspire to drive up prices for the goods they need, but heaven forbid the government get involved and regulate?

If employees aren't worth 'a living wage' -- whatever that might mean -- then if 'the government get involved and regulate', the company will just shift the jobs abroad to wherever the cheap workers are.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (2, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334679)

So we're doomed to a race to the bottom? Capital must be free to move across borders? We can't possibly raise our standard of living above that of the shittiest shithole nation in the world, because companies will just move there? We couldn't possibly use things like regulations and tarrifs to ensure that companies can't outsource everything?

Fuck you. You start with your desired outcome and come up with premises to support it. You're being intellectually dishonest.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334801)

We're doomed to a race to the bottom because no amount of government regulation is going to stop corporations from doing everything they can to minimize costs, which incidentally implies paying their workers as little as possible.

One may as well try to hold back water with a sieve.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334825)

We're doomed to a race to the bottom because no amount of government regulation is going to stop corporations from doing everything they can to minimize costs, which incidentally implies paying their workers as little as possible.

No. There are plenty of things we can do to stop it:

  • Minimum wage
  • Progressive income taxes
  • Taxing capital gains as income
  • Strong unions for collective bargaining
  • Laws against unlawful termination
  • Tariffs against nations with poor labor laws

Or are you just presupposing that there's nothing we can do, and moving from that assertion to the idea that even trying is wrong?

These things worked here for 50 years, and they still work in Western Europe. What the hell is wrong with you when you argue against policies that benefit your own economic and social interests?

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334921)

They don't work, at least not in the long run. If you do those things, you cannot compete with those who do not.

Protectionist tariffs, you say? *That* is a race to the bottom, because your companies no longer have to compete on even footing. Look at all the fine automobiles turned out by the USSR, for example.

And if I'm going to start up a new company to make widgets, why on earth would I start it somewhere with laws like that?

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (2, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335007)

Look at all the fine automobiles turned out by the USSR, for example.

The USSR was a command economy with no competition, internal or external, or even market feedback. It's a completely invalid comparison. Libertarian fuckwads like you have the infuriating habit of comparing everything but Laissez-faire capitalism to authoritarian command economies. Either you're being deliberately dishonest or you're simply incapable of comprehending that societal organization is more subtle than a binary choice: capitalism OR authoritarianism. Either way, the comparison engenders more heat than light.

And if I'm going to start up a new company to make widgets, why on earth would I start it somewhere with laws like that?

Because places with laws like that are wonderful places to live, and you live there too. Companies are founded every day in the EU.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (0, Flamebait)

dada21 (163177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334983)

Haha, "these things worked here for 50 years", haha. Thanks for making me laugh, I hadn't seen such obvious comedy on slashdot in awhile.

Mod parent +1 funny.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

bencoder (1197139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334459)

as long as the worker chose the work voluntarily and is therefore free to quit, Yes.

Do you have a problem with personal choice?

Or do you just believe that only you and people like you are capable of making the right choices, and should therefore force those choices on others?

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1, Troll)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334669)

There is no choice when there's a great power asymmetry between labor and capital. Unions would be a great remedy, but you libertarian fuckwads are opposed to those too for some unfathomable reason.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (0, Troll)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334927)

There is no choice when there's a great power asymmetry between labor and capital. Unions would be a great remedy, but you libertarian fuckwads are opposed to those too for some unfathomable reason.

It's fuckwads like you, or would trolls be more appropriate, that twist things who are unreasonable.

Falcon

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (3, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335019)

So do you support collective bargaining or not? If not, why? Your own principles dictate that you should: unions are a natural consequence of the freedom to assemble and the freedom to contract.

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335251)

So do you support collective bargaining or not?

Yes I do and so do other libertarians. Collective bargaining is part of free assembly which they support. Ah, I see you say as much but then you mouth off diatribes against libertarians.

Falcon

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335283)

Well, good for you, but your fellow Libertarians don't seem to be fond of the idea [nolanchart.com] .

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

Jarnin (925269) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335291)

Unions are bad because it's still a division of labor and capital. There's no reason to have a division of labor and capital at all. There are things called "Co-operatives" where the labor and capital are one and the same.

Not this libertarian garbage again. (0, Flamebait)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334909)

More socialist claptrap. Or communist.

Falcon

Re:Not this libertarian garbage again. (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335063)

"Oh no, you've brought out those big, nasty words! Oh no, we're scared! Nevermind his ideas, ignore the person I called a communist!"

Someday, you'll be hurt by the policies you advocate. Will you be such an ardent advocate of the rich then?

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334805)

I do believe in turning weapons into plows.

Yes, a GBU-28 [wikipedia.org] would make a hell-of-a plow... :-)

Re:So we are going to bicker over 3 billion? (0, Troll)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335119)

I do believe in turning weapons into plows.

Yes, a GBU-28M [wikipedia.org] would make a hell-of-a plow... :-)

I see those GBU-28 you link to were "specifically developed for US Military use in Operation Desert Storm". I opposed the illegal invasion of Iraq. The "illegal" part, besides stressing it being illegal, means to show just how bad I think it was. Now I would have supported rolling all the way to Baghdad during the first Gulf War, but this tyme Iraq was no threat to the US, no WMDs have been found, and had nothing to do with 911. Actually I opposed the US support for Saddam during the 1980s, when Saddam was using those WMDs. When it was brought to the world's attention Saddam was using WMDs both Reagan and Bush Sr argued against sanctions against military aid to Iraq. Testifying before congress Bush said sanctions would harm US trade. Donald Rumsfeld even shaked hands [blogharbor.com] with Saddam and patted him on the back. When people dissented from aiding Iraq, Rumsfeld liked them to Nazi Appeasers. Imagine that, those who wanted to stop Saddam being compared to NAZI appeasers and not the other way around, wanting to stop human rights violations.

Falcon

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335275)

We have been. If you look at this graph [wikipedia.org] , you will see defense spending has been dropping regularly since the 50s. Wartime has tended to push it up, but other than that it's gone down. That's a large part of how Clinton managed to balance the budget (notice defense spending went down during his term despite fighting a war in the Balkans at the same time).

Defense spending has been largely replaced with entitlement spending, mainly medicare/medicaid and social security (as you can see in (this chart [wikipedia.org] ; I couldn't find one that goes back to the 50s. Also the huge projected jump after 2030 is not realistic since it is mostly interest payments, and it will be difficult to find someone to loan us money at that point, making cuts a necessity). Right now defense spending is only about 21% of the US budget [wikipedia.org] , as opposed to the major entitlements which make up about 44% of the budget.

All the same US defense spending probably is excessive, considering it about matches the spending of the entire rest of the world combined. [blogspot.com] but on the other hand some of those toys are really fun [wikipedia.org] . However they are not the biggest expense, the biggest expenses are operating/maintaining bases, and paying our soldiers. If we are serious about cutting expenses we will have to close bases and reduce the number of soldiers.

WIth all due respect, you're totally wrong (3, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334067)

"We don't factor in the 3 billion already spent in this decision"

If this weren't a political entity, then you would be correct.

As it is, the 3 billion already spent is a VERY important variable in the CONTINUED support of NASA.

Your analysis is naive, as it considers NASA a business, not a political entity that is subject to voter whims like "THEY ALREADY WASTED THREE BILLION ON THIS".

Ignoring that, or pretending that "We don't factor in the 3 billion already spent in this decision" is wrong and ignorant of the polics that are involved in 3 billion dollar government spending decisions.

The fallacy of the fallacy of sunk costs (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334095)

However, if the billions spent on every cancelled shuttle replacement had gone towards a real project, we would *actually have something*. Following your logic (and that of many politicians), we have spent billions upon billions and have fuck all to show for it.

Meanwhile, the smart money is on China to carry on the banner of human space exploration. They don't suffer from political paralysis.

I don't so much care if we do it, or not do it, but today we have the worst of both worlds. We spend the money but don't get the results. Let's make up our damn minds one way or the other already and stop waffling around for decades on end. Either it's not worth it to send humans into space, and then let's stop spending the money and just send up robots, or it's worth it for whatever other benefits it brings, and then let's just fucking get ourselves a shuttle replacement already.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334779)

While sunk costs are often fallacious to consider by themselves, they often do serve as a good heuristic to predicting future costs.

And sometimes, taking into account sunk costs is the only way to realize it will never fly, much like looking back on all you're losses may be the only way you'll ever realize that you've been had by a 419 scammer.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335327)

Agreed. SpaceX could probably have built at least ONE fcking prototype rocket ship for 3 billion dollars. They spend a few hundred million for their first successful launch. Instead we've got dick for all that money. Even if SpaceX couldn't have finished a mega heavy lift booster, I bet they could have flown a modular part of a larger design for 3 billion bucks.

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29335055)

Small change, really, compared to the amount of money the government has blown on car companies and bailing out Wall Street.

To put that in perspective, 3 billion is the same amount the government dumped into "Cash for Clunkers"

Re:The fallacy of sunk costs (1)

SBrach (1073190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335273)

It always bothers me when people complain about government programs that should have been used to help the economy. My argument is that when we spend money on NASA, or the military that money is being used to pay, for the most part, Americans for something useful thereby helping the economy. CARS on the other hand was paying Americans to throw away perfectly good cars. It is one of the few examples of government spending where the "Well they don't just take the money out into the desert and burn it argument" doesn't really work.

FIRST (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29333987)

FIRST

Wrong Question (4, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334009)

The question should be SHOULD Ares I be rescued? Honestly, I do not think so. It always struck me as a waste since other rockets of similar size were available. That bring us to Ares V. Should it be? I honestly do not know. I know that USA needs multiple types of launchers and they need them to be low costs. I would very much like to see an Ares V or a Direct 2** be in the mix. Which is better? I am not sure. Personally, I have to give the nudge to Direct since it uses far far more of the current launch human-rated equipment. There is a lot to say for that. In the end, I am much more concerned that we will not do the right thing WRT to private space. I have aborted that several times. This time, we need to get it started AND give them an ALTERNATIVE destination; Basically, we need to get Bigelow building his Space Station. Also we need tugs combined with a fuel depot to haul things around. While it is nice to say that this is about NASA, but it really is not. It is about Obama and Congress allocating say 1.5B, 1B, and then .5B for the next 3 years and sticking with it. Will they do it? Tough question to answer

Re:Wrong Question (4, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334139)

You can certainly argue that Ares I should be replaced by man-rating commercial boosters. Some would argue that it's cheaper to engineer a man-rated rocket from scratch than go back and redesign an existing one, but it's a complex issue that I certainly am not qualified to weigh in on. But that's something that requies a great deal of knowledge of aerospace engineering and the projects themselves to determine. On the other hand, Ares V, as intended, will have significantly higher payload capacity than any other other rocket around. Bigger than Saturn V. So the debate about replacing Ares V with something COTS is moot... there IS nothing COTS that will fill its role. It is about Obama and Congress allocating say 1.5B, 1B, and then .5B for the next 3 years and sticking with it. Will they do it? Tough question to answer Honestly, if congress just allocated some money and threw it at NASA with a 'go build X' mandate, that'd be perfect. The problem with NASA is congressional micromanagement. For example, Congress banned NASA from spending any money on development of VASIMR propulsion, or inflatable space habitats, both of which are key pieces of technology that should be a backbone future space development. But nope, no money, because of some special interest in some congresscritter's district somewhere, that has a vested interest in NASA using an inferior piece of technology.

Re:Wrong Question (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334311)

Some would argue that it's cheaper to engineer a man-rated rocket from scratch than go back and redesign an existing one, but it's a complex issue that I certainly am not qualified to weigh in on.

The whole 'man-rating' concept is really bogus: the shuttle couldn't be called 'man-rated' in any real sense when it kills its crew one flight in fifty.

The primary difference between manned and unmanned launchers is aborts and engine-out capability; if you're launching a bunch of humans and you lose a couple of engines but can still achieve a low orbit, that's preferable to having to make a risky abort. If you're launching a satellite and can only put it into a low orbit where it won't stay up for long, you're better off just dropping it into the ocean.

So yes, you'd want to ensure that aborts could be handled safely at any point in the flight, and add extra capability to handle engine-out failures which where the unmanned launch would be better off to just crash and burn. But those are relatively minor issues... you may lose some payload from flying a non-ideal trajectory, and you'll add some cost and perhaps some mass to improve engine-out capability; but those kind of changes hardly register when compared to NASA's record of spending billions of dollars and several years to achieve... nothing.

On the other hand, Ares V, as intended, will have significantly higher payload capacity than any other other rocket around. Bigger than Saturn V. So the debate about replacing Ares V with something COTS is moot... there IS nothing COTS that will fill its role.

Which leads to the obvious question: 'so what?'

What will Ares V achieve which will be worth its development and flight cost? Do we really need to build a huge launcher which will fly maybe once a year if we can launch the same payload on four or five flights of a smaller launcher which will see the cost-benefits of mass production?

I'm willing to be convinced that NASA really _need_ a huge, expensive launcher of their own, but I've seen no evidence so far that it will prove cheaper than buying launches elsewhere.

But nope, no money, because of some special interest in some congresscritter's district somewhere, that has a vested interest in NASA using an inferior piece of technology.

That, though, I could somewhat agree with... but I think you put too much blame on Congress and too little on NASA 'not invented here' syndrome (c.f. the Delta X).

Re:Wrong Question (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334751)

The whole 'man-rating' concept is really bogus: the shuttle couldn't be called 'man-rated' in any real sense when it kills its crew one flight in fifty.

Only those who would be on board can make the decision on whether something is "man rated". And a number of astronauts have answered "Yes" even after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster [wikipedia.org] . Some 15 years later they were still saying "yes" after the Space Shuttle Columbia [wikipedia.org] accident. As Morgan Freeman's character in "Chain Reaction" [imdb.com] says in testimony before a congress subcommittee death is a price some are willing to make for human progress.

those kind of changes hardly register when compared to NASA's record of spending billions of dollars and several years to achieve... nothing.

NASA achieved nothing? After Russia was the first nation to put an object into orbit with the Sputnik [wikipedia.org] program in 1957, because of JFK the US was the first nation to land a person on the moon with the Apollo 11 [wikipedia.org] launch on 16 July 1969.

I wouldn't call those, or the Space Shuttle, nothing but NASA hasn't done much since then.

I'm willing to be convinced that NASA really _need_ a huge, expensive launcher of their own, but I've seen no evidence so far that it will prove cheaper than buying launches elsewhere.

I'm sitting on the fence as to whether a heavy launch vehicle is needed, but if so then instead of the US designing and building new ones either the US Saturn V [wikipedia.org] or Russian Energia [wikipedia.org] can be used.

Falcon

Re:Wrong Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29335187)

I think that "man rating being bogus" is a serious oversimplification of the issue. I'm not up on all of it, but all the redundancy in systems, load limitations due to human presence, etc. significantly add to the cost. Yes, the shuttle was man-rated and we had two losses, but those were due to management failures: ignoring problems when engineering was raising concerns.

As to why we need a heavy lifter, there's many reasons. Prestige, security, maintaining technical expertise and leadership (if we still even have it).

Using smaller launchers and assembling things in orbit: that may work, but it adds cost, weight, and complexity in whatever you're putting in space. Overall costs need to be examined. If we're going to Mars, each pound of mass adds a million or more to the cost, add a half a ton to a vehicle due to orbital assembly (yes that's reasonable due to the weight capacity of the Ares V compared to other launchers) and you're looking at $1B in cost increases. If you save a $1B in launch costs using smaller rockets, you've gained nothing but added complexity to your Mars-bound vehicle.

Re:Wrong Question (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334543)

It is about Obama and Congress allocating say 1.5B, 1B, and then .5B for the next 3 years and sticking with it. Will they do it? Tough question to answer

It is the wrong question. As for your post I'd ask if congress should pay for it, with tax payer money? And the answer is "NO!!!" Before this statement of yours you gave the right answer. Bigelow, Richard Branson, and other space entrepreneurs should be able to keep their money so they can invest in space programs.

Falcon

Re:Wrong Question (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335061)

There is paying for things and then there is incentives. There is a STRONG difference. COTs is about INCENTIVES. What I am suggesting is that we do several things :
  1. Provide more incentives for Human rated launch vehicles. Not Ares V/Direct 2**, but getting a few more private human launch. I would really like to see Northrup push SS3 along quickly.
  2. We need a several other place for private space to go to besides NASA and DOD. We need to get Bigelow started. I think that we should buy a sundancer and BA-330 and attach them to the ISS. That gets Bigelow started and they will progress with their private stations.
  3. We need TUGS AND Fuel Depots. We should offer up a two contracts to pull things around as well as de-orbit some of the NASA junk. But it will require that it be by re-fuelable tugs along with fuel depots.
  4. The final one is several landers for the moon. For that, I think that all we will have to do is offer up several contracts for that. The two obvious choices for those are Armadillo and Blue Origin. Carmack will need outside money, but I would put money on it that several billionares will be VERY interested in that.

I really think that with LITTLE BIT OF MONEY, we can prime the pump for getting us into LEO AND ONTO THE MOON. The money that I am suggesting is NOT to pay for the build-out, but the intial contracts. All of these companies have to know that the money will be there. They can not afford to have Congress jerk it out once they are started.

Why? (1, Redundant)

ATestR (1060586) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334011)

The question is not whether Ares can be salvages. Instead, we should as should it be salvaged. Like its predecessor, the Space Shuttle, it is entirely too political in origin, promising to be all things to all people, and instead doing a half-assed job of doing much of anything beside making some congressman's constituents happy.

Why Do Space Stories Bring Out The Kooks? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334137)

"Like its predecessor, the Space Shuttle, it is entirely too political in origin, promising to be all things to all people, and instead doing a half-assed job of doing much of anything beside making some congressman's constituents happy."

OMG!!!

NASA and teh space shuttle!!! It's like totally fail. Cuz it's like, teh goverment.

Stupid fucking wackos like you need to have their dimwitted skulls bashed in.

Re:Why Do Space Stories Bring Out The Kooks? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334195)

NASA and teh space shuttle!!! It's like totally fail. Cuz it's like, teh goverment.

I think you got it.

The shuttle's problems were predicted before it flew, and even NASA appear to have understood that they couldn't possibly achieve the things they were claiming it would do (e.g. they didn't even have enough capacity to build the external tanks to support the two-week turnaround they were claiming they'd achieve).

No private company looking for a viable means of launching payloads cheaply would have built the shuttle; only a government could fail so spectacularly.

Sure, it's done a few useful things, but nothing even begin to justify the cost.

who gives a fuck? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334057)

take your comic books, light them on fire and shove them up your faggot ass.

Re:who gives a fuck? (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334135)

"take your comic books, light them on fire and shove them up your faggot ass."

While that's a wee bit harsh, we don't have even the slightest immediate need for manned missions.

Robots are what we should be developing. Sending people to do a machines job so others can live out Buck Rogers fantasies is an appropriate task for COMMERCIAL space outfits. Learning about space is an appropriate use for robots, which we will require to exploit the resources that are the main reason for going offworld in the first place.

Re:who gives a fuck? (1)

hofmny (1517499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335137)

While I agree that commercial space outfits need people, I disagree with your absolutely stated position that humans are not needed in scientific exploration of space. Let's take a look at the Mars Rovers for a great example:

In all their technical ecstasy, they are slow -- they take forever to do any task, whether its to drill an amazing "life finding" 2cm into a rock, or move across the landscape. A simple rock throws them off course and gets them stuck for days while people back on earth, through video cameras, spend weeks trying to get the wheel unstuck in a delayed communications nightmare. Dust storms can completely kill their ability to power themselves, and built up dust diminish the power they can draw from the sun. Advances in AI have been crap in comparison with the other developments in technology. Their "brains" are spread between Mars and Earth and a brain that can think at the speed of light is what we need here... First off, NASA's two Martian orbiters, through which information is relayed to Earth, can only transfer a single megabit of data per second. Worse still, these orbiters only work in 15 minute increments before they must be repositioned -- a process that takes hours. Furthermore, bandwidth is unsurprisingly limited on the Red Planet -- messages between Earth and Mars usually suffer 4 - 20 minutes of lag, depending on the positions of the conversing planets.

People, on the other hand can diagnose and repair computer and equipment problems themselves. They have use of their senses and high developed brains to identify and troubleshoot issues. They have the ability to do "boatloads" more science, like pick up a damned shovel and start digging a 6 foot hole to find fossils... Or simply the ability to pick up a rock with their fingers and look at, or smash it open with a hammer.
Additionally, humans can take samples on Mars back to labs on Mars (which is what the whole Mars/Ares mission will have, as labs and habitable quarters will arrive separately and will be awaiting the astronauts) and analyze things there, with educated humans, instead of using crude tools on robots to analyze some of the most important scientific data to mankind.

I know its more dangerous and sometimes robotic probes and rovers make more sense, but it is just the opposite sometimes... it makes more sense to send a human to do a human's job. On top of that, human's need a challenge to keep us focused and growing in a positive direction, and conquering space with manned ships is a great approach to what we need to do. Giant interplanetary (and eventually intersolor) starships with the ability to house groups of experts to study the science of our planets, the stars, and everything else will do more than any group of robots ever could!

Wrong question to ask (1, Redundant)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334059)

Another case of mis-framing: the question to ask is not "can the Ares program be salvaged?" but rather "should the Ares program be salvaged?" That's what the Augustine Commission is intending to decide, right? Perhaps the Commission should be sequestered like a jury, to keep it from being unduly influenced by these nervous contractors afraid they're about to be kicked from the back of the gravy train?

Re:Wrong question to ask (4, Insightful)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334201)

No, the question is 'will the Ares program be salvaged.' The answer is 'yes.' Now, I'm not saying that Ares I should be killed... or that it should be saved. But if you try to kill it, all the congresscritters whose districts are going to get money out of Ares I (the SRB components are built by Thiokol, for example), won't let you. If the NASA tries to replace it with something else, Congress will step in and earmark part of NASA's budget specifically for Ares development. NASA has sucked since Apollo, since congress saw the awe and wonder that space exploration inspired and realised it would be a great, unkillable jobs program.

Am I cynical? Yes. But NASA has been enormously hindered by congressional micromanagement over the years. And none of it has been for the benefit of the space program.

Augustine's views are well-known (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334077)

Augustine's personal views on human spaceflight have been known since 1990:

--
In its original report, the [Augustine] committee ranked five space activities in order of priority:

      1. Space science
      2. Technology development
      3. Earth science
      4. Unmanned launch vehicle
      5. Human spaceflight
--
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advisory_Committee_on_the_Future_of_the_United_States_Space_Program [wikipedia.org]

http://blogs.chron.com/sciguy/archives/2009/05/does_the_choice_1.html [chron.com]

Re:Augustine's views are well-known (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334415)

haha.. If you'd watched even a single second of the committee meetings you'd know that Norm Augustine has no personal opinion on the matter anymore... except maybe the same one all of us have, confusion at what the hell NASA has been doing for that last 40 years.

There is another option (3, Insightful)

EMUPhysics (548039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334147)

http://www.directlauncher.com/ [directlauncher.com]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_Launch_Vehicle [wikipedia.org]

The DIRECT system is a better option:
1) Most of the hardware is man-rated; unlike Ares

2) NASA does not have to retool manufacturing; unlike with Ares

3)Can be ready sooner with heavy lifting as an option

Why NASA is completely dug in on Ares is mind boggling. Orion, the capsule, is a go no matter what.

Also, the contractors won't really be affected: ATK would still make the SRBs, Lockmart would still manufacture the capsule, and Boeing would get it's money from being part of United Space Allaince.

Re:There is another option (2, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334247)

Why NASA is completely dug in on Ares is mind boggling.

Also, the contractors won't really be affected: ATK would still make the SRBs

Think about how those two quotes, apparently intended to be in opposition to each other, yet strangely similar.

Senator Frank Moss has been out of office since before the first battlestar galactica series in the late 70s, and dead for six years. Its time to let the SRBs die, please. They've killed enough people.

In a similar manner, why keep all the same contractors doing the same old, same old, if all that changes is the project name?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Moss_(politician) [wikipedia.org]

"Senator Helped Thiokol Win Shuttle Contract ."

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1367&dat=19860303&id=eM8VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=EhQEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5585,719942 [google.com]

Re:There is another option (2, Insightful)

EMUPhysics (548039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334313)

The SRBs have been redesigned since Challenger which is why there hasn't been another accident related to the Solid Rockets Boosters. If you remove the SRBs then you will have to design a whole new engine, in the class of the Apollo era F-1s since each SRB puts out the equivalent thrust of almost TWO F-1 rocket engines each.

Re:There is another option (2, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334395)

If you remove the SRBs then you will have to design a whole new engine, in the class of the Apollo era F-1s since each SRB puts out the equivalent thrust of almost TWO F-1 rocket engines each.

Or you could just buy RD-171s...

Re:There is another option (1)

EMUPhysics (548039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334569)

SRBs are more efficient, the RD-171 burns kerosene not liquid hydrogen so it takes more propellant. Plus it would take four of them on the first stage. Now you are talking about a stage the size of the first stage of the Saturn V. The first stage of the Saturn V weighed just over 5,000,000 lbs versus the the 2,600,000 lbs for the SRBs combined.

Re:There is another option (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334739)

No way we'd purchase foreign engines, though they are very nice ones.

Instead, I'd restart the RS-84 program and use that for a first stage Ares I without thrust oscillations. For heavy lift, simply cluster a number of Ares I common cores, optionally recovering or even flying back the strap-ons for reuse.

Re:There is another option (2, Insightful)

ozbird (127571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334963)

No way we'd purchase foreign engines, though they are very nice ones.

Lockheed Martin already use the RD-180 engine on the Atlas III and V, so using the RD-171 makes a lot of sense - strapping astronauts to a solid rocket booster does not.

Re:There is another option (1)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335385)

NASA is not LockMart. Besides, we have the RS-84.

Re:There is another option (2, Interesting)

Kartoffel (30238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334711)

That would have been the RS-84. Killed in 2004 by Bush and friends. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Launch_Initiative [wikipedia.org]

Part of the problem is that every new president to come along insists on throwing out the last 4-8 years' worth of work and starting over. NASA can't see any projects through without orders from the commander-in-chief and budget from congress.

So remember that whatever Augustine says, it's merely a recommendation. The death of Constellation, if it comes, will be at the hands of Obama and Congress.

Re:There is another option (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335259)

8 years is enough. It is about the time they took to design and build Saturn V with all the trimmings for a lunar launch. So much for CAD, CAM, etc making design to manufacturing faster....

Re:There is another option (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334849)

http://www.directlauncher.com/

Looking at that page, I see one problem right away, it combines 2 roles in 1 launcher. If it is used to put people in space but doesn't carry a full load of cargo or it carries a full load but with no crew then there's waste. And what are the chances each launch with have a full load and a crew?

Falcon

Re:There is another option (1)

EMUPhysics (548039) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335375)

The problem lies in the size of the Altair lander that NASA wants to use not just for simple landing but long duration stays. It is significantly larger then the Apollo lunar lander. It would take a colossal rocket to launch the mission in one rocket. We are also much further along orbital rendezvous then they were in the '60s, the Progress spacecraft can automatically dock with ISS.

Can NASA be salvaged ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334173)

is the real question. With the US fiscally bankrupt ( unable to meet its current commitments even with 100% taxation ), its productive industry off-shored, its people leveraged to the hilt ( those still with jobs ), and foreigners no longer willing to finance its deficits, everything but feeding and housing its people will be on the chopping block. With luck, Nasa may be able to retain a presence in space by launching other countries satelites for hire. This is a truly appalling prospect for the people who put a man on the moon fourty years ago. You'all should hang every politician and banker you can get your hands on for doing this to you.

Let's not forget: (1)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334215)


Over elaborate escape sequence consisting of several escape stages / chutes
Explosion of lift vehicle would melt escape chutes even if successful
Malfunction resonance would kill the astronauts before they can hit the escape button

No, it can't be "saved" (2, Informative)

TopSpin (753) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334219)

This was spelled out for you 15 months ago right here [slashdot.org] on Slashdot.

There is no saving Ares. Not because there is anything wrong with Ares. The "technical problems" are trumped up exaggerations of the engineering challenges that have emerged and been overcome. The "cost overruns" are fictional; Augustine is "finding" dramatic cost overruns because that helps justify killing the project. The reason there is no saving Ares is that the US voted in people that despise manned space flight. They have "better" places to spend money so whatever plans the US had for manned space flight are on hold for the indefinite future.

Lots of apologists appeared to muddy the waters but the bottom line is that the original plan to give the Constellation money to the NEA (a.k.a "early-education") was never repudiated by anyone in the Administration. We're just doing the necessary political push-ups to bury NASA's manned space flight capability.

It is amusing to watch as NASA and it's contractors make sweeping their work under the rug difficult; the engine test will be dramatic and will unavoidably appear in the news cycle. Ares I-X has a launch date and is being erected right now [wikipedia.org] ... It's kinda hard to characterize all this as "failure."

Re:No, it can't be "saved" (0, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334639)

Yeah, it's all a big conspiracy!!!!

Idiot.

Re:No, it can't be "saved" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334737)

Big conspiracy? It's not a big conspiracy; it's published by the administration. You're just as fucking retarded as the birthers.

Re:No, it can't be "saved" (4, Insightful)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334949)

The Ares I-X is a stunt at best and a sham at worst. The Ares I-X has a dummy fifth segment and a dummy payload attached meaning it's simply a Shuttle SRB with an inert payload attached. One of the major challenges with the Ares I is the fifth engine segment, it completely changes the dynamics of the rocket. The Ares I-X launch does nothing to test the Ares I design in anything resembling its actual flight configuration. It won't be until the Ares I-Y flight in 2013 that the five segment engine will actually be tested and even that won't be testing the J-2X engine. The whole Ares I stack won't be tested with the Orion 1 until at least 2014 and likely not until 2015.

To say there's no problems with the Ares I is disingenuous. The thrust oscillation issues have theoretical fixes but until the Ares I-Y and Orion 1 flights there's still a lot of unknowns. The likely solution will be added dampening mass and stiffeners which will mean the Orion won't be able to launch with a full compliment. The Block 1A Orions will only be able to launch three astronauts to the ISS instead of the originally planned four. Because of launch pad changes needed for the Ares V the Ares I is only going to have a single civilian launch pad (LC-39B). This puts a hard limit on the number of Ares I launches that can be done in a year which increases the cost of each individual launch. Because of this the Block 1B (cargo only) Orion was canceled entirely.

Having a low limit on the number of launches that can be made every year and the low payload mass make the Ares I almost entirely unsuitable for ISS missions. The per launch cost is derived from the cost of the actual launch vehicle and the infrastructure costs to run the manned spaceflight operations divided by the number of launches per year. The infrastructure/operations costs are the same (or similar) no matter how many launches are performed every year since you don't stop paying people in between launches. The more launches that happen the cheaper each individual one is since you're getting more payload out of every man-hour worked and thus the cost of a pound of payload decreases. The Ares I being limited to a single launch pad means at best you can get six launches a year if there's a 60 day turnaround for the pad and nothing ever goes wrong.

The Ares I being unsuitable for ISS missions means it doesn't have anything it is good at until the Ares V is completed and lunar missions are ongoing. The Ares I doesn't have enough launch capability to launch an Orion with an experiment module/palette so it can't do Spacelab type missions. Orions could be launched for independent operations but with only three crew members each person would have to wear multiple hats which puts a lot of strain on individual astronauts and keeps their schedules booked. Such a configuration would also make for a cramped cabin since mission instruments would need to be packed in alongside the rest of their supplies. I'm sorry but the Ares I is a shitty rocket and a waste of time and money for NASA. It might be a different story if the Orion was smaller or the Ares I wouldn't kill the crew without vibration dampeners. As it stands however the Ares I is a boondoggle and the sooner we shitcan it the better. An EELV or DIRECT option would be far better not just for Orion missions but eventual Moon, NEO, and Mars missions.

Yes, but what does it need saving from?!? (2, Informative)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334233)

Aside from the predictions and suppositions I have yet to see evidence of the insurmountable problems of Ares I. No, it was not necessary to develop a new vehicle, but at this point why waste the effort to turn around. Just about every launch vehicle and spacecraft ever developed have had weight and payload problem during development, frankly the only thing that seems different about Ares is that the internet has made the whole development process much more visible. I hate to imagine what people would have said if the internet had been around during development of the Apollo LM. As far the as the design goes, I've never loved it, but there is something to be said with commonality between Ares I and V (and we do need the V for realistic missions beyond Earth orbit). Assuming the I-X mission next month is succesful I think any doubts about the actual workability of flying an SRB solo will be dead. On the Orion front, quite frankly I am, and always have been thrilled. We are correcting the mistakes of the 70s, and getting Apollo back, with modern technology no less. Apollo and Orion are actual spacecraft; designed for SPACE, and able to explore. The shuttle is what happens when an ICBM knocks up an Airbus. In all seriousness, while the shuttle was an impressive experimental vehicle, as an operational system anything but satellite retrieval could have been done just as well, and usually cheaper, by an enlarged Apollo capsule (read Orion) and unmanned launches of the Saturn V. Satellite retrieval is very impressive, but almost never used, and the experimental side of the program could have been done cheaper and faster with a mini shuttle launched on a conventional vehicle. All of this is moot anyway, since Obama could never survive the political hit of killing American manned spaceflight (the effective outcome of cancelling Orion), so only the Ares I is up for discussion in the real world. At this point we might as well take the vehicle that is being developed, and hope it will, as NASA claims, be operationally cheaper than Delta or Atlas. Switching now would drive up development cost for Orion, throw out the billions in work that has been done on Ares I, and quite possibly damage the badly needed 100+ ton booster (Ares V) program. In the worst case scenario Ares will be a comparable booster to the United Launch Alliance options that wasn't needed, but kept the SRB engineers employed while between cancelling the shuttle and starting up Ares V development.

Re:Yes, but what does it need saving from?!? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334331)

Assuming the I-X mission next month is succesful I think any doubts about the actual workability of flying an SRB solo will be dead.

Aside from the fact that 'Areas I-X' bears almost no resemblance to 'Ares I', anyway.

Why the rocket? (0)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334319)

Surely cloning a human from his nose is difficult enough without doing so in a rocket?

But.. (1)

Jamamala (983884) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334347)

I thought Ares died?

Ares-V: Yes Ares-I: No (5, Insightful)

DrBuzzo (913503) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334399)

The Ares-V is worthwhile. It has a point. It's a new rocket that will introduce a new capability: a super heavy launch platform that has not existed since the Saturn-V was retired. The Ares-V will actually surpass the Saturn-V by quite a bit. This is needed to do things like sending manned missions to the moon and beyond. There are also many other things that such a heavy lift platform could do, like carry huge space telescopes or launch a major space station in one shot. (No years of problems and delayed missions like the ISS).

The Ares-I, however, is a different story. They're building a new rocket from the ground up and at full cost that does nothing we can't do with the existing Delta or Atlas rockets. They're reinventing the wheel and even worse, it is an inherantly problematic design. There's a reason nobody has ever used a configuration anything like the Areas-I. It's top heavy, unstable, vibration prone. It's a pointless rocket and a bad one at that.

Re:Ares-V: Yes Ares-I: No (1, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334577)

You fail to mention that the two are part of an architecture that you can't justify one without the other. Kill Ares-I and Ares-V will follow.

Re:Ares-V: Yes Ares-I: No (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334929)

They're not really two parts of the same architecture; they're two parts of the same project, namely Constellation.

[car-metaphor]
Imagine you're taking a trip across the country. You want to take everything you can with you, because you don't know anyone and you don't really want to pay for lodging. You need: a car to get you across the country and a trailer to pull your stuff in (tents, food, etc). The only requirement of the car is to be man rated. The only requirement of the trailer truck is to carry cargo (let's just say it's automated). The car does not architecturally lean on the trailer in any way: it's just a people carrier. It doesn't matter if the car is an Ares I or a repurposed Delta or a Soyuz. It doesn't matter if the trailer is an Ares V or a Delta-Heavy.
[/car-metaphor]

Killing Ares-I probably kills the Constellation project (seeing as Ares-I is the only lifter for Orion), but I'm certain a lot of the technology could be re-appropriated to a new project.

But then again there are even better options [wikipedia.org] , so perhaps the whole project should just be flushed and the appropriate administrators canned.

Re:Ares-V: Yes Ares-I: No (1)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335115)

They're building a new rocket from the ground up and at full cost that does nothing we can't do with the existing Delta or Atlas rockets.

Neither of those are man-rated. Could they be? I don't know. It is quite possible that the acceleration or vibrations are too strong.

Bad design, to start with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29334431)

This solid rocket was designed as a strap on, NOT a main engine. It was designed to attach to several hundred tons, to dampen out the vibration. They are going to make it longer, making the vibrations (or at least the resonant frequency) lower but stronger. So maybe the astronauts won't have a pleasant flight, it will only last a few minutes.

The Air Force has said it probably won't be safe, the engineers have added weight to make the vibrations survivable, How long until people decide it wasn't a good idea in the first place.

It seemed like a good idea, reusing what already exists, but once you really look at it, there isn't a scenario that makes the ARES I a good idea.

New toys (0, Flamebait)

Sam36 (1065410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334477)

Obama probably needs new 22" rims for his boat trailer.

Bush's rocket (1, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334925)

The Obama administration might be swayed unduly by the 'can it' side of the argument because this rocket began development under a previous administration. There are engineering arguments pro and con (and, by the way, pretty much everyone on slashdot is not at all qualified to assess them) so they may fall back onto political reasons if they can't decided based on technical ones.

NASA will, hopefully, go on though. Libertarians are idiotics, and space libertarians even more so.

Re:Bush's rocket (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335279)

Conservatives do often claim that liberals attack people while conservatives in their infinite goodness only attack policies. Therefore it is not surprising that some would say that Obama is expected to kill the program simply because they hate Bush.

In fact, as has been mentioned, there are many reasons why the Ares program, and the some of the US space program objectives over the past five years make little sense. It is very arguable that sending humans to the moon and other planets is not really cost effective. It is very arguable that developing a significant present in LEO, of which the ISS is a very good start, is the way to go. It is likely that if we are going to make our way to other planets, the best method would be with vehicles designed to escape the earths gravity, then other vehicles to get us to the moon, the other vehicles to get us elsewhere.

Right now we are focused on basically throw away vehicles that will get us from earth to where we want to go. Even the shuttle has to be rebuilt after every mission, and only the airframe is reusable. The Ares continues on these assumption, simply separating the human and cargo rated components. It is an improvement, but really won't get us to the moon or anywhere else in an efficient manner.

Re:Bush's rocket (2, Informative)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335407)

Ares I is a turd. Ares I-X is an exercise in public relations. None of the components in Ares I-X is supposed to be used in Ares I. The first stage is a regular SRM with a dummy segment, and the entire second stage is a dummy. It looks pretty in pictures, but it cannot launch anything into orbit.

What would Von Braun Say? (1)

hofmny (1517499) | more than 4 years ago | (#29334993)

Building Rockets is tricky business. Everyone magically wants results after only 3B? That's chump change... or is it? We have earlier designs that work well so what exactly are they trying to accomplish here that is costing them all this money? Are they trying to increase maintainability/reusablity and use less fuel? Or is this just another rocket? Maybe our space program needs to be more like the modern army... light (as in weight), fast, innovative, and cheap (cheap, lightweight, reusable and mass produced vehicles and launch methods).

Honestly, why don't we go with the Saturn V? Von Braun & NASA developed this great rocket that allowed us to get to the moon (and it's proven to work)... what's wrong with that one?

Ares IS Salvage (5, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 4 years ago | (#29335165)

When National Geographic wanted some space history background material, they contacted NASA' history office. NASA's history office sent National Geographic to http://www.astronautix.com/ [astronautix.com] I assume NASA sent NatGeo there due to its objectivity and completeness, because they sure didn't send them there for pro-NASA propaganda. This is a good example: http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/ares.htm [astronautix.com]

Ares is a salvage project from its inception. It is an attempt to build a family of lifters from existing designs, technology and manufacturing as much as possible, with as little new design, technology and manufacturing as they can get away with.

Ares was designed by ATK Thiokol, manufacturer of the shuttle's solid rocket boosters, using derivative components of the shuttle, and in the case of Ares 1, the solid rocket boosters as the main engine. It is far more adaptation than it is invention. This is in keeping with NASA's "faster, cheaper" mind set that served well in many planetary probes. But since it is not a ground-up design, where flaws are handled when they first occur, it is prone to problems emerging from more complex configurations, the errors themselves more often due to complex interactions. Vibration problems, such as the current Ares booster 'pogo-stick' problem, are a common example of such emergent behavior.

One of NASA's greatest inventions during the early manned space program was systems analysis software, intended to examine a large system as it was built to determine where problems might and/or did occur. But even now, with far greater computational capability, the complexity of potential interactions due to starting with a large system that has been altered in numerous small ways from its original design puts the Ares designs beyond predictability. That will continue to occur as long as the design philosophy is maintained. If this fact, and the fact that such problems could emerge only under certain conditions -- say at max Q, pushing a heavy load with a smaller, lighter load on the top (ie. an Orion) -- isn't at the forefront of those minds trying to decide whether to scrap it and start over, it should be.

Had the shuttle component and system design philosophy been based on extensibility and adaptability (such as with SpaceX's Falcon 1 -> Falcon 9 design), Ares might have a better chance. But the core design of Ares 1 is the SRB, which was designed over 35 years ago for one purpose -- to be strapped on the side of the shuttle to help with its initial lift phase. It did that job well, with its only major failure having been a NASA decision going counter to a Thiokol recommendation. Now we have Thiokol recommending and NASA deciding the same things.

Robert Truax designed vehicles using surplus components. He designed so many, with so much acclaim for his designs, that there was a TV show based on it (Salvage 1, with Andy Griffith, ABC, 1979). But Truax was salvaging components to use in their intended fashion, not entire systems being adapted to entirely new designs.

One has to wonder at the basis for decision making when an agency first builds from scratch, then declines designs reusing some of the parts, but later chooses to rebuild existing designs. The probability is great that the decision is not technical but rather administrative. When the decisions were technical we got "Not on my watch." and Apollo 13 got home. When the decisions became administrative we got "My God Thiokol, what do you want me to do, wait until April?" and the Challenger didn't come home. This is the sort of fuzzy, intuitive, gut-feeling stuff that gets trashed in serious discussions about such major projects as a space vehicle. But the people that trash that kind of thinking aren't going to fly these things. A pilot that doesn't have a personal example of an intuitive, gut-feeling decision that was right hasn't been flying long, and the older the pilot they more likely that following such a gut feeling contributed to the pilot's capability to be older. I've wanted to ride one of these monsters ever since I saw Shepard's ride in Freedom 7. I have to say that of all the vehicles to scorch a Cape Canaveral pad, I'd be most afraid to climb on top an Ares. Just a gut feeling.

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