Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the new-ride dept.

NASA 275

BJ_Covert_Action writes "Well, Congress demanded, last year, that NASA develop a budget plan and proposal for a new heavy lift vehicle in light of the Ares V cancellation. Recently, NASA gave Congress just what they wanted. On January 11th, Douglas Cooke pitched an interim report to Congressional members detailing the basic design concepts that would go into a new heavy lift vehicle. Congress required that the new heavy lift vehicle maximize the reuse of space shuttle components as part of its budget battle with President Obama last year. As a result, NASA basically copy-pasted the Ares V design into a new report and pitched it to Congress on the 11th. The proposed vehicle will require the five segment SRB's that were proposed for the Ares V rocket. It will utilize the SSME's for it's main liquid stage. It will reuse the shuttle external tank as the primary core for the liquid booster (the same tank design that is currently giving the Discovery shuttle launch so many problems). And it will utilize the new J-2X engine that NASA has been developing for the Ares V project as an upper stage. In other words, NASA proposed to Congress exactly what Congress asked for."

cancel ×

275 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Let's get this straight (4, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854092)

* Congress demands new Moon program
* Nasa dusts off old plans, calls it Ares V
* Congress cancels Ares program
* Congress asks for new heavy lift vehicle
* Nasa hands them the plans for Ares 5

Man, talk about recycling...

Re:Let's get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854152)

In failing America, copy pasta is innovation.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854204)

In failing America, copy pasta is innovation.

Software engineers have been doing this for years. NASA is just trying to steal a page out of that book.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854372)

I think they do that at the Olive Garden, too.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854440)

I believe they copy-pasted that page. Stealing is something they can learn from Congress.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854506)

I believe they copy-pasted that page. Stealing is something they can learn from Congress.

It's funny how things are learned. I remember the days when NASA scientists used to do the teaching to congress about how to build space ships. Now it seems to be congress telling NASA scientists how to do it. Seems that congress learns quickly...

Re:Let's get this straight (4, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854652)

Politicians telling Scientists how to do science, what could possibly go wrong.

You would have thought they'd learn from Vietnam when they told the military how to wage a war...

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

AaronLS (1804210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854724)

Good one. If I weren't at work I'd hunt down an example of what can go wrong when politicians tell scientist what to do. I'm sure it would involve some undisclosed experimenting on local citizens. Wasn't there an instance where the government was sterilizing people? I mean the no babies for you kind of sterilizing. I can't remember off the top of my head.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34855014)

I remember a similar project over here, though it's been like 70 years ago...

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

jdastrup (1075795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854274)

* People demand a new Congress
* People vote in a new Congress
* People have a new Congress
* People happy because they are too stupid to realize they have the same thing.

Re:Let's get this straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854298)

Considering that they probably have to print a 200-pager for each representative in Congress (and a few extra copies for their staff, of course), they probably did save quite a bit of time, paper and money by just redoing the cover page. :)

Re:Let's get this straight (5, Informative)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854370)

Really, it was expected that they would use the Ares V. The Augustine report had good things to say about it, their problem was with the Ares I. Killing Constellation was really about ditching that as no longer required so they could get serious about the V and the actual deep space equipment (whether it is for the moon, an asteroid, whatever). The problem that I see is that the mandate that they reuse as many shuttle components as possible means that they made some significant changes to the Ares V before giving it back to congress, namely reusing the SSMEs instead of RS-68. The SSMEs are amazingly efficient, but also amazingly expensive, so they don't fit on an expendable segment. Fortunately, they seem to have left themselves an opening to renegotiate that later, FTFProposal:

“This design would allow NASA to use existing Shuttle main engine and booster component assets in the near term, with the opportunity for upgrades and/or competition downstream for eventual upgrades in designs needed for production of engines after flying out the current inventory of main engines and booster components"

As always, though, this project is set up to fail.

“However, to be clear, neither Reference Vehicle Design currently fits the projected budget profiles nor schedule goals outlined in the Authorization Act,”

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854788)

As always, though, this project is set up to fail.

Uhm... it's the US Gov. Of course it's set up to fail.

When NASA were given a mandate to do things and do them right, things got done well and got done right.

When the fuckwits called Congress then decided NASA was to be targeted in every round of budget cuts and used as a political punching bag, and sent them the "do it all fucking fast and cheap and we don't fucking care about lives or quality" mandate, we got dead astronauts and errors all over the place.

Someone else below has the following to say:
The usual problem with Nasa projects is that Nasa projects take longer than a typical politician's term of office. It would be sort of like working in a company where the Big Cheese changed every 2 years, and each one wanted a completely different product produced in a completely different part of the world.

Ta-dahh. Welcome to reality. Remember a while back when Obama laid out his "big plan" for NASA, which involves basically stripping down JSC in Texas and moving everything to KSC in Florida? It has nothing to do with science or efficiency, because in order to do what he said to do, they literally have to rebuild the entire JSC facility over at Kennedy. On the other hand, Obama's crony got voted out from the district JSC sits in so it's now in Republican hands again (probably for good, the only reason the Democrats had the one shot was a messed-up election following Tom DeLay's resignation) but on the other hand, Obama was hoping that injecting jobs into KSC would help tip the election in the Florida 24th for Suzanne Kosmas who was in a tight race at the time against Sandy Adams.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854972)

NASA is one of the few things that a socialist approach works extremely well for, and indeed is down right essential. NASA is a huge fucking waste of money; however it occasionally spits out something reusable right now, and often spits out engineering knowledge that provides a foundation for something down the line. Rocket science is completely useless as-is; it quickly filters into smaller, simpler designs for ICBMs (also useless-- war is an immutable evil that always depletes the economy in the same way as making jobs to dig holes and then fill them in again or make lots of boots and then burn them) and more slowly into designs for launching satellites, before finally providing the engineering foundation for planes and then land and sea vehicles.

The eventual benefit is absolutely impossible in the private sector, as the cost is impossible to recover in general. While it needs regulation, we do in fact need an enforced money sink for this kind of shit. Technological advancement is a trickle-down economics model: ideas for shit that's physically impossible in current technology are laughed out unless you have an instant moment of clarity with tons of new technology to quickly scribble down on paper. New technology that's basically useless gives you a fresh set of tools to implement new technology that's suddenly possible.

Without an organization like NASA, we can advance neither as far or as fast as we can with their technological progress. Things we would naturally come up to would come more slowly; and some things would cost too much for any business to ever develop (i.e. research components that are only useful when put together, but are prohibitively expensive and pointless to research individually over time, thus would never be developed to be assembled). I mean could you imagine a private company developing satellites? Nothing has ever hit orbit, no rockets, nothing of the sort... the entire science is mainly from-scratch and you get to start with chemistry and material science, engineering is a blank slate. That won't EVER happen; the amount of research just to bootstrap society with something useful in a business sense is enough to bankrupt Microsoft. Our current private space firms are starting well ahead with current NASA technology.

Re:Let's get this straight (4, Insightful)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854460)

Because Ares V is not the best design, but the best design that fulfills the requirements of using the existing workforce, SRBs, SSMEs, etc.

This is basically ESMD's way of passing the buck back to congress and saying they can do one of two things:
1. Build an HLV that keeps jobs in all the nice districts... OR
2. Do it on time and on budget.

In other words, congress' requirements are impossible to fulfill, and ESMD is saying it as politely as possible.

Re:Let's get this straight (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854566)

Except it won't use the SSME, they are WAY too expensive for throw aways. The RS-68 with 80% fewer parts makes WAY more sense. The line item cost of the RS-68 is $13M vs $50M for the SSME and the production line for the RS-68 is still open and all suppliers are still current.

Re:Let's get this straight (2)

JamesP (688957) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854474)

Question

Wasn't DIRECT that maximized the usage of STS and Ares was a clean sheet design (and that's why it was late, overbudget, etc, etc)?

It didn't include heavy lift capability. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854860)

Neither were clean sheet designs. They both adapted existing technology in new designs; Ares just adapted things a little more to better fit mission goals, while DIRECT adapted things less to cut schedule and budget.

IMHO, the problem with DIRECT is that it didn't advance our capabilities. They were basically just proposing a single medium sized rocket (with multiple variants). To get to the moon would require a two launches that joined in orbit - a step backwards from the Saturn V days. It wasn't scalable for Mars trips, or even bringing large amounts of cargo to the moon.

The Ares V on the other hand is a genuine heavy lift vehicle, that would exceed the capabilities of the Saturn V, allowing not only to return to the moon, but also Mars. We would finally have the capability to start building permanent stations on the moon (and if we aren't going to do that what is the point in returning).

I agree that something like the DIRECT rocket would have been a more capable (and possibly less expensive to design) replacement for Ares I, but it had nothing to bring to the table to compete with Ares V.

Re:Let's get this straight (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854486)

That sounds really smart to me. The Nasa managers can be reasonably certain that the Congresscritters won't notice it's the same damn plan over and over, and won't have to start at square 1 each time a new set of politicians come in.

The usual problem with Nasa projects is that Nasa projects take longer than a typical politician's term of office. It would be sort of like working in a company where the Big Cheese changed every 2 years, and each one wanted a completely different product produced in a completely different part of the world.

Re:Let's get this straight (3, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854730)

Wow for the first time it might actually be a good thing for the country that congress never reads anything they vote on, never thought I'd see the day.

In case anyone is wondering I was be sarcastic, the degree to which most our legislators allow themselves to be uninformed as to the content of the acts they vote on is shameful and terrible for our democracy in general.

Re:Let's get this straight (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854628)

NASA is just learning from politicians. They, too, introduce their pet projects again and again if they get rejected until they finally pass.

Politician Engineer (4, Insightful)

Mechagodzilla (94503) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854170)

Letting Congress pick rocket components is equivalent to me (colorblind) pick out the paint scheme for my house. Both will end in amazing disasters...

Re:Politician Engineer (3, Insightful)

TheL0ser (1955440) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854290)

Slightly worse, I'd say. You're a single person, so you can just point at a color, whatever it may be, and call it good. They have to pass a resolution to create a committee to appoint a group to review the plans, and then squabble about who gets what in their state.

Re:Politician Engineer (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854396)

I'm just thinking that both of these will be a very bad idea. Everybody knows men have no taste in color(color blind or not) and Congress has the intelligence of a fence post.

Re:Politician Engineer (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854784)

I am looking out the window now at my fence post and I just can't accept you assertion its of lower intelligence, than out Congress.

be PROACTIVE! (4, Insightful)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34855048)

Unlike Congress, a fence post has the wisdom to refrain from doing anything actively stupid.

Re:Politician Engineer (2)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854422)

Absolutely, and I think this is indicative of the sort of problem that plagues the legislative branch these days. Congress has the power to control almost everything, but that doesn't mean it should and it certainly doesn't mean the Senators and Representatives should be the ones making all of the detailed decisions. It's what delayed reversing DADT for so long - legislators thinking that, for some reason, they are more equipped to make a decision than the people currently running the military. NASA is another great example - ALL of the people qualified to make a decision on this sort of thing are at NASA and NONE are in Congress. Congress should say "We want to fund this type of goal for this amount of money, give us something that you think works." No more. Scientific progress should not be contingent on who wants to grab more laborers for his/her district. Until we vote for people aside from lawyers and professional politicians, Congress needs to listen to actual experts.

A Bit Left Off (5, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854194)

The editors took the second paragraph of my summary out. They probably thought it was a bit too tasteless, or something, despite the important information in it. Here it is (also from the article linked):

The catch is, NASA also admitted that they will not be able to complete the proposed rocket on the budget that Congress has given them. Neither will they be able to finish the rocket on time. Finally, NASA has commented that a current study being conducted by 13 independent contractors is still being conducted to determine if there is a better design out there that NASA has, 'overlooked.' NASA has stated that, should that study finds any alternate, interesting designs then, they will need to consider those seriously."

Re:A Bit Left Off (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854252)

Here is a interesting design they did not consider; Don't use the fucking SRBs, they suck.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854292)

Hear hear! SRBs were a phenomenally bad idea for the shuttle, and they're still a phenomenally bad idea. They should never be used again.

Re:A Bit Left Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854454)

Um - ya - SRB assists are used on all high-orbit craft right now putting satellites into orbit - gosh they sure do suck.
---
2010 : My god - it's full of morons.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854774)

Yes, they are great for getting cargo into orbit, but they have a huge fundamental problem: They are out of control. Well, rather, they can't be controlled. They will go up. One way or another. The problem is, if it's "another", you can nuke the rocket and the satellite it carries. (Because, well, whether the rocket crashes the sat into the ground or whether you blow it up halfway controlled over uninhabited ground doesn't really matter for the satellite carried, it's gone anyway).

I would NOT recommend doing that if it's carrying human freight. People might not like that idea. But then, what can you do with rockets you can't turn off?

SRBs are cheap to build, cheap to fuel, all right. But space exploration costs. Money or lives. Your choice.

Re:A Bit Left Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854494)

I wouldn't say all Solid Rocket Boosters suck. Designs have improved tremendously since the 70's. However, even for the 70's the shuttle's SRB design was at best a fatally flawed bad compromise. And this design just seems to be a variation on that flawed design. A design that would not have been adopted but for pork barreling by your Government.

Re:A Bit Left Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854376)

But.. they're made in my district...

New boss, same as the old boss.

Re:A Bit Left Off (5, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854462)

Well actually, they very well may have considered it. Or, at least, NASA may have. Congress tends to be the entity demanding that the same SRB's get used on the new vehicle that were on the shuttle system. You can thank Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Richard Shelby for this, in part, because they are defending the industries that provide jobs to the areas they represent. As a result, they both push heavily to have certain technical requirements inserted, via budget line items, into legislation regarding NASA's designs.

In a recent copy of Make magazine Dick Rutan, Burt Rutan's test pilot brother, was quoted saying, "In America, the Apollo program was the greatest thing we ever did. A young president wrote a check and got the fuck out of the way..." I think that sums up nicely the role that politicians should play in engineering. But then, I'm old fashioned like that.

There is quite an argument to be made that this whole thing is a political ploy by NASA to either force Congress to pay for what they are asking for, or to loosen up on the stupid ass requirements an allow NASA to design a truly optimal solution. Whether or not the ploy will work, backfire, or do nothing will be seen with time I suppose.

Re:A Bit Left Off (3, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854480)

Can someone explain the disadvantages of SRBs? Is it just that they are more explosive?

Re:A Bit Left Off (4, Informative)

Jherico (39763) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854704)

Well, for one thing, SRB's don't have an off switch or a throttle. Once ignited your only options are 'let it burn until it runs out of fuel' and 'detonate the entire rocket at once (which is what happened when the SRB's on the Challenger went out of control after the launch stack fell apart).
The Shuttle SRB's in particular are built in segments which are connected by O-Rings, and that design vulnerability is part of the cause of the Challenger disaster, although this particular failing is less about SRB's in general than political ass-hattery.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854710)

It's complicated, but basically the SRB's for the Space Shuttle had to be built in sections and assembled in Florida, because Congress insisted that they be manufactured by a company in Utah. If they hadn't had to be built in sections, and the design for the joints hadn't been so spectacularly incompetent, the Challenger Disaster probably wouldn't have happened.

Re:A Bit Left Off (2)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854718)

Two things:

1. They're less efficient than liquid rockets.
2. There is no "off" switch.

Re:A Bit Left Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854982)

Actually modern solid rocket designs are almost as efficient and can be turned of and on. Unfortunately the SRB is not a modern design.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854862)

Well these particular SRB's are troublesome because they are segmented. Typically, SRBs boast the advantage of being simpler. You get a lot of bang for a relatively cheap design. You put a nozzle on the end of a tube packed with fuel, light a spark, and watch the fireworks.

The SRB's employed by the shuttle, and the ones proposed here, are not a simple tube. They have multiple tubes bolted together in segments. This means that, between each segment, there are interfaces that have to be designed to compensate for the stress nodes at these points, the potential flow leakage at these joints, and so on. This complicates the design and raises the cost of these particular SRBs. So, why design segmented SRBs in the first place? Well one rocket maker, Morton-Thyokol, now owned by ATK, made a design bid for the SRBs on the shuttle when it was first being designed. Unfortunately, after their bid won, they realized that their manufacturing plant was in Utah, and their launch site was in Florida. Super large rockets don't travel well by road or rail, so they had to segment the SRBs to ship them in parts to Florida.

There are other issues as well. SRBs are hard to shut off once they are lit. There are workarounds for this problem, but, again, they complicate the otherwise simple design which makes SRBs so appealing in the first place. But all in all, the real problem is these particular SRBs, in my opinion, not SRBs in general.

Re:A Bit Left Off (4, Informative)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854866)

Manufacturing solid rocket motor fuel is, essentially, a casting operation: you pour the liquid into a mold, then the liquid sets into a solid in the shape you need (and the shape is critical in rocket motors). The trouble with the solid rocket boosters as used in the Shuttle is that they are so big you have to cast them in segments, then stack them and join them. Wherever there is a seam between the segments, the burning solid fuel tends to burn into that seam; this increases the surface area that is burning, which increases pressure, which increases burn rate, which increase pressure, ad explosium. It's a very difficult (meaning: expensive and risky) problem to manage, and as we found out with Challenger, cold temperatures can cause shrinkage which opens up those seams, changing the internal geometry of the motor. Multi-segment SRBs are just plain trouble.

As anyone who has worked in large-scale casting can tell you, there are limits as to how much you can cast in a single pour. Your liquid is cooling even as you pour it, changing in volume as it cools. If you pour in multiple phases, letting it cool between phases, you're introducing seams, and subsequent pours can partially remelt previous pours, causing expansion in the previous seam and possible cracking (which are uncontrolled seams and surface area... if your solid core has internal cracking, there is a very high chance of explosion). And large continuous pours also have the potential for cracking as the early parts of the pour solidify and cure while the later parts are still molten. This, plus limits on how large a segment of solid rocket fuel you can transport without flexing (cracking) safely, is what puts upper limits on single-segment solid rocket motors.

Solid rocket motor technology on large scales comes mostly from ICBMs. You want solid motors on your ICBMs, as a single-segment motor is more rugged than a liquid fueled motor, your launch vehicle is readily transportable and self-contained, does nto need a refueling infrastructure, and is always ready to use (keeping liquid fuels in tanks for a long period of time is dangerous and high-maintenance). ICBMs don't have to throw 60,000-plus pounds of payload into orbit, therefore they don't need engines larger than can be cast in a single segment.

Nothing wrong with SRBs for sub-orbital missions with moderate payloads, or orbital missions with small payloads. But for the mass that a heavy lift booster needs to throw into orbit and beyond, they just don't scale well.

The sad fact is that the political and budgetary environment are constraints of problem-solving at NASA, just as surely as mass, temperature, volume, gravity and materials technology are constraints. Any viable proposal needs to take into account and address ALL constraints.

This is why all senior NASA people seem to get grey hair early.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854882)

The main drawback is that you can't simply turn a SBR off, which can become a real problem in case there is already another problem (where you would like to shut the engines off prematurely, e.g. to abort the mission). And when you HAVE already a problem, trying to separate them early in a possibly not really controlled situation could even add to the problem, since then you have a rocket that suddenly lacks the weight it carries, has a rather unpredictable vector and will then be completely uncontrolled (whereas, as long as it is connected to the main vessel, you at least have some control over its vector at least).

Re:A Bit Left Off (2)

bertok (226922) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854888)

Can someone explain the disadvantages of SRBs? Is it just that they are more explosive?

They can't be turned off once ignited, can't be throttled, and they have high-pressure & high-temperature along the entire body of the booster instead of just in a relatively small "engine" at the bottom like liquid-fuelled rockets, which means they're a significant safety hazard if placed alongside liquid fuel tanks, like in most rocket designs.

What happened with the Challenger disaster is that a seal near the middle of one of the boosters failed, and the hot pressurised gasses escaped and cut into the main liquid tank like a welding torch. The same (or similar) risk will be present in the Ares V design.

Compare with the Saturn V, which had liquid-fuelled stages only, where a failure of a single engine could still result in a successful launch. This happened more than once during the Apollo missions, and no lives were lost.

Liquid fuelled rockets have their own issues too, like having to run turbo-pumps at enormous speeds and cryogenic temperatures. I found a scanned online version of the Saturn V Flight Manual [nasa.gov] recently. Here's a great quote:

The only substances used in the engine are the propellants and helium gas. The extremely low operating temperature of the engine prohibits the use of lubricants or other fluids.

Just... wow.

Re:A Bit Left Off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854894)

There are none, when designed correctly. Solid fuel rockets are MUCH more reliable than liquid fuel ones. It's true they can't be throttled, but during the first two minutes of flight letting the thrust drop below a certain amount is not desired under any circumstances. The Soviet space project used an all liquid engine design. 10 feet off the pad a fuel pump fault was detected and it shutoff the affected engines. Guess what happened next?

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34855030)

Present incarnation can neither be throttled nor shut down. This is the reason for the incredibly expensive and likely to fail crew escape system that will make a feeble attempt to jet off of the stack while said stack is still under (potentially uncontrolled) power. The SRBs contracted through ATK are generally considered a make work for the state of Utah.

Re:A Bit Left Off (3, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854352)

Re:A Bit Left Off (2)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854536)

using thin 6-inch strips of aluminum.

Oh, is aluminum foil also made in the same congressional district as the SRB's?

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854558)

I'm aware of that, I actually submitted another story about that very issue just before I submitted this one. I suppose I should have used the word, "model," rather than, "design," as that was my intended meaning. I only meant to point out that it would be the same tank model in this "new" vehicle. Thanks for the catch though.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854720)

Technicians will reinforce the remaining struts as a safety precaution, using thin 6-inch strips of aluminum. [ap.org]

Aluminum?! What a waste of money! They should be using duct tape!

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854820)

Sounds pretty responsible to me, they are admitting they don't know how to meet the objective Congress has set for them with the resources they are being allowed and also admitting they are not Gods and some other aerospace engineers might have some ideas they never thought of.

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

DRMShill (1157993) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854948)

Well... have they tried googling it?

Re:A Bit Left Off (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854952)

Note to Congress: Don't think you're smarter than NASA engineers. You're not.

Reuse shuttle parts? (5, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854198)

Sounds more like corporate welfare then science to me.

Let's just ask Elon what a Falcon XX will cost instead.

Frankenstack (3, Interesting)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854384)

The Falcon 9 is a heavy lift vehicle. It can deliver 32000kg to LEO at a cost (supposedly) of $95M per launch. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falcon_9)

I can't find any figures for NASA's new Frankenstack, but I'm guessing its capabilities would be approximately similar. Except that they have $10bn budget to play with, so we can be reassured that the cost will expand to consume the budget, even if they are using obsolete technologies.

Re:Frankenstack (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854426)

I know that, but I want to spend one billion of that ten on Falcon XX. Which is a super heavy lifter.

Re:Frankenstack (4, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854538)

SpaceX plan costs $1 Billion just to develop the Merlin 2 engines and "qualify" them on Falcon 9 rockets in 3 years. I assume by qualify they mean flight tested, I don't know if a Heavy Lift vehicle needs to be man-rated. Of course the Falcon 9 will have to be man rated to carry a Dragon capsule with crew onboard, so if qualify means man rated so much the better.

You have $9 Billion left to build the Rocket, and finish the Dragon capsule crew module version which is already funded.

Re:Frankenstack (2)

lee1026 (876806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854442)

A quick wikipedia search will tell you that the Ares V plan on having a payload of 188000Kg, or about 6 times more.

Re:Frankenstack (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854520)

Oops, I must be really tired. I realized my blunder just after I clicked 'submit' ...

Re:Frankenstack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854960)

A quick wikipedia search will tell you that the Ares V plan on having a payload of 188000Kg, or about 6 times more.

And a quick Wikipedia search [wikipedia.org] will show you the Falcon XX has a projected payload of 140,000kg. Smaller but a hell of a lot more value for money and not continuing some superannuated Congressman's pet pork barrel project.

Re:Frankenstack (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854674)

The Falcon 9 is a heavy lift vehicle. It can deliver 32000kg to LEO at a cost (supposedly) of $95M per launch.

Wikipedia says [wikipedia.org] that the Ares V is supposed to carry 188,000kg to Low-Earth Orbit--more than 5X as much.

Re:Reuse shuttle parts? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854436)

According to Elon's testimony before congress SpaceX already has plans for a heavy lift vehicle should NASA ask for such a vehicle.

Ooh I was just going from memory of the Wiki article, I hadn't read this

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/asd/2010/08/05/07.xml [aviationweek.com]

Presuemable its $1 Billion to develop the Merlin 2 engines...

I guess all they have to do is bid it at what Constellation is budgeted for...

NASA Pitches (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854296)

NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

... and congress catches it, throwing out their back.

Falcon XX (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854346)

The idiocy of using the solid rocket boosters on a new generation heavy lift vehicle is mind-boggling. If I were a NASA engineer, I would rather shoot myself than work on such an obviously ill-conceived project. Lets just give SpaceX a 1 billion dollar contract to develop the Falcon XX over the next 3-5 years. I'm sure they are capable. We just need to keep congress out of the loop as much as possible, and that's all there is to it.

Re:Falcon XX (2)

Nyeerrmm (940927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854532)

Actually I think thats the point ESMD is trying to make here. Congress mandated that they use SRBs et. al., so ESMD comes back and says "all right, we can do it, but it WILL be late and overbudget."

Re:Falcon XX (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854752)

The idiocy of using the solid rocket boosters on a new generation heavy lift vehicle is mind-boggling.

Why is this? I might agree with you regarding man-rated craft, but if the Ares V is for "cargo" only, why is this such a bad idea?

DIRECT jupiter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854366)

When will they learn from the DIRECT plan? those 5 segments SRB'S and the J-2X engine work is gonna cost huge money, especially with the state NASA is in.

Though to be honest I actually can't fault NASA's engineers, Ares V was an impressive vehicle, Ares 1 was a stupid pity of a thing ... but the Ares V has real promise.
Plus I wanna see them pull out some of the old tech from the Apollo program, I want to see a J-2X engine flying. The 5 segment SRB's are of debatable necessity and there's a lot of political motive in their application but that doesn't make them an entirely bad idea. If NASA's just pooled their knowledge pool and a good chunk of funding into this single HLV project I can see huge success.

Re:DIRECT jupiter (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854468)

Yes, it does make them a terribly bad idea. It means you need to move the launcher upright out to the pad, it means you can't launch on a cool Florida morning and they cost a god damn fortune. Plus they are dangerous as hell. SRBs are the second worst thing about the shuttle. That prize goes to the idea to put the humans any place but the top of the stack.

Re:DIRECT jupiter (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854586)

They'll probably learn when Congress gives NASA the financial freedom to learn. Until Congress stops mandating technical requirements as, "solutions," from on high via micomanaged budgets, NASA's hands are tied. If you don't like how NASA is being funded and managed, complain to your Congress critters.

This is Jupiter Direct (4, Interesting)

vinn (4370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854368)

This is basically the Jupiter Direct program advocated by quite a few insiders at NASA. It was designed by some NASA engineers moonlighting. So, this isn't some half-baked scheme by Congress to try to engineer something themselves. I didn't look at these final details, but it does sound like they added more SRB's than originally planned.

For more information, see the wikipedia entry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIRECT [wikipedia.org]

External Tank Issues (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854386)

Yes the current external tank is causing problems with the current Discovery launch, but that's due to foam shedding issues which will no longer be a concern once the payload is on top of the stack as opposed to piggybacked like the shuttle.

I've got a better solution: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854400)

The solution is Energia [energia.ru] .

Yours In Orlando,
Kilgore Trout, C.I.O.

Why Must NASA Develop a Launcher? (1)

ScientiaPotentiaEst (1635927) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854432)

There are many heavy lift launchers out there now in the private sector. Surely it would be much cheaper and quicker to validate one of the existing designs. SpaceX has had two for two successful launches of their Falcon 9. Their economics are excellent too - and without the use of dangerous and difficult SRBs.

Even without including the new kid, there are many viable existing designs.

Re:Why Must NASA Develop a Launcher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854632)

"Pork barrel is a derogatory term referring to appropriation of government spending for localized projects secured solely or primarily to bring money to a representative's district. The usage originated in American English."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pork_barrel [wikipedia.org]

Re:Why Must NASA Develop a Launcher? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854702)

Because Delta IV Heavy is 23MT to LEO vs 160MT for Ares V. The proposed Falcon 9 Heavy is 32MT to LEO. Ariane 5 ES is 21MT. No commercial launcher is anywhere near big enough for a moon shot let alone a shot to Mars.

Re:Why Must NASA Develop a Launcher? (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34855052)

23 MT? 23 megatons!? That is a lot of payload.

But seriously, why do you need a certain payload weight per launch? For example the ISS is 375 tons, built in place from many pieces individually assembled in place.

Re:Why Must NASA Develop a Launcher? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854870)

There are many heavy lift launchers out there now in the private sector

No their aren't. Nothing approaches the 188 metric ton to LEO design of Ares V. Saturn V was the last real 'super heavy lift' US design. The Shuttle launch system hoists similar mass, but about half of it is the glider.

SpaceX has had two for two successful launches of their Falcon 9

Falcon 9 is a teeny tiny little rocket compared to Ares V. Even the Falcon 9 Heavy can only LEO 17% of the payload of Ares V. Ares V has no equal among commercial launch systems, not Delta, not Ariane. Nothing.

Argue all you like about whether Ares V is worthy of its cost, but don't claim it's redundant. Nothing at all even approaches it. SpaceX dreams of a X model in the 'heavy' lift class, maybe all the way up to 90 ton. Maybe in 10 years or so. We'll see.

Congressional Junk Food (1)

novakom (1667041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854500)

This just in, kids cry and fuss and demand Happy Meals. Parents say that McDonald's is a bad idea but wanting peace and quiet give in and propose a trip to "The Golden Arches" restaurant.

Unless they live in San Francisco, of course.

Proper Manners (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854504)

Every lady refuses a gentleman's first proposal.

What, this is nonsense (4, Insightful)

mrwiggly (34597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854510)

Well, first off all the problem with discoveries tank is due to a manufacturing problem with the stringers, not a design flaw.

Second of all, why use SSME's? They are designed for re-use, and have restart capability that will not be needed. A better choice would be the rocketdyn's RS-68, single use, cheap as fuck, provides more lifting power.

Re:What, this is nonsense (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854956)

I'm aware of the materials issue with the tank. I didn't mean to imply that the design was the cause of the the issues, but rather, that this particular tank model (as there are other tank models and designs in existence, though not in use) is being used with the current Space Shuttle. In other words, I should have worded the sentence, "the same tank model that is currently giving the Discovery shuttle launch so many problems." My bad. The stringers, however, are part of this particular tank model. So it is possible that a similar materials issue could arise on future tanks. Sorry for the poor wording.

Why does Congress make engineering decisions? (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854514)

Congress required that the new heavy lift vehicle maximize the reuse of space shuttle components as part of its budget battle with President Obama last year

So congress made engineering decisions for NASA. They told NASA to reuse some parts from something else. And does Congress even know if that actually saves money? There have been plenty of times I've been told to develop something and to reuse an existing piece of code, and I've had to disappoint someone by pointing out that reusing their old COBOL EXE does not actually shrink the timeline. :-( In mechanical engineering, I've learned that reusing parts often adds a lot of work.

Maybe that isn't the case here, but Congress should instead have set constraints and let NASA decide how best to implement it. No doubt the new request also tells them what vendors to use, and what state to by them from, and where to eat lunch so that the money gets spread around to their own pet projects.

Re:Why does Congress make engineering decisions? (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854658)

Congress required that the new heavy lift vehicle maximize the reuse of space shuttle components as part of its budget battle with President Obama last year

So congress made engineering decisions for NASA. They told NASA to reuse some parts from something else. And does Congress even know if that actually saves money? There have been plenty of times I've been told to develop something and to reuse an existing piece of code, and I've had to disappoint someone by pointing out that reusing their old COBOL EXE does not actually shrink the timeline. :-( In mechanical engineering, I've learned that reusing parts often adds a lot of work.

Maybe that isn't the case here, but Congress should instead have set constraints and let NASA decide how best to implement it. No doubt the new request also tells them what vendors to use, and what state to by them from, and where to eat lunch so that the money gets spread around to their own pet projects.

No, Congress doesn't make engineering decisions. They make budget decisions, i.e., they ensure money get spent in their district by defining what to buy. If Congress made engineering decisions and something went wrong, they might get blamed and that would not be a good thing.

Re:Why does Congress make engineering decisions? (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854962)

The usual reason: money and power.

Re:Why does Congress make engineering decisions? (0)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854992)

You're living in a fantasy world where people do stuff that makes sense.

Re:Why does Congress make engineering decisions? (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#34855022)

In mechanical engineering, I've learned that reusing parts often adds a lot of work.

That depends entirely on the scope and the modularity of the parts being reused. There's a big difference to saying "reuse this one obsolete imperial screw that no one uses anymore somewhere in your design" to build a refinery and here's an entire crude unit complete and ready to go just line up the piping.

I have seen some people try to save money by reusing existing pipeing when replacing sections that are corroded. After fucking around for weeks flushing cleaning cutting welding flushing cleaning hydrotesting flushing then putting it back into service, they actually spent more money then just ordering a much larger and more expensive piece of pipework and replacing fitting to fitting. But the counter example is when we replace old imperial motors and the metric ones don't fit we need the plinth modified / replaced. The one we had replaced cost a fortune but was a wonderful piece of work, but delivery took 4 weeks. The modification on the other hand involved and angle grinder, a drill and a U shaped bracket. The new motor was in service in 2 days.

They may take a look at Arianespace (1)

The Terminator (300566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854540)

Wouldn't NASA and the american taxpayer better off talking to Arianespace and trying tp develop something in cooperation with them? Arianespace has a lot of knowledge in development procedures and technology which I think NASA was forced to scrap for political reasons.

There were a lot of advanced and promising technologies almost ready which NASA and the US industry dumped because your congress did cut the money when the device was almost ready.

These could be utilised in such a joint venture.

Why bother? China and India own space now (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854660)

So long as we in America waste our national treasures on fruitless foreign wars of Republican adventure in Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Iran, there is no way we can afford this - and space will continue to be the domain of China, India, and even Japan, all of whom get cheap resources from Iraq and Afghanistan at no expense of their own due to our collective national insanity in America.

Reality hurts.

Spaceflight ain't cheap.

Re:Why bother? China and India own space now (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854726)

I for one welcome our new Chindoan overlords

Re:Why bother? China and India own space now (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854796)

Maybe we can hitch a ride with our spy satellites - I'm sure they won't mind ...

Re:Why bother? China and India own space now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854816)

Spaceflight ain't cheap.

Why is spaceflight not cheap?

I'll answer my own question. For a technology to become cheaper over time there has to be an incentive to improve the design. The strongest mechanism that creates incentives is a climate of strong competition. In the 1960's there was a space race and a race to build ICBM:s which created strong incentives to improve launcher designs. Spaceflight technology progressed rapidly. By the 1970's and onwards to today ICBM.s have been miniaturized and manned space exploration has become a beauty contest at best. Spaceflight technology is progressing at a ridiculously slow rate.

If you want manned spaceflight to become cheaper you need to find a way to make it competitive again. Maybe it will be a space race to Mars between China and India, or some other nations, that achieves that. Maybe it will be commercial space firms competing to fly rich folks on space vacations. All I know is that it's not happening now. I doubt there is much that NASA can do to make it happen. NASA could start a space race to Mars or to colonize the Moon, but at this point in time nobody would take them up on it. NASA could buy flights from commercial space firms, but probably not enough to create a competitive market.

In the meantime I'm left hoping SpaceX or some other space firm will make revolutionary breakthroughs just because they're awesome and love space.

Re:Why bother? or why space is durn expensive (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854942)

Fuel for one reason.

The threat of terrorism precludes space elevators and other low-cost alternatives for the most part.

Subsidies that artificially make it appear cheap by having the military provide the funding don't make it actually cheap, they just make it appear so.

Nuclear Verne Cannon? (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854678)

Seriously, why not?

Dig a deep hole in the ground, put a 150kt nuke (the max allowed by the Partial Test Ban Treaty) in it and put a 6,000 TONS of more or less raw materials on top of it, and then push the button.

Re:Nuclear Verne Cannon? (2)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854722)

They want the things launched into space to survive the trip.

It's already tricky to engineer things like satellite components so that they can withstand the force and vibration of liftoff on a rocket.

Re:Nuclear Verne Cannon? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854806)

Maybe because of the fallout and the crap flying everywhere?

Yo0 fai2l it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34854694)

Recent article put for aal practical OpeNBSD leader Theo that supports

tinfoil on (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854708)

Oh ho! Let's see them fake a moon landing in HD this time! /tinfoil

slashdot needs inline image posts (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854928)

A facepalm is the only suitable response to this. I don't even think a double facepalm quite conveys the necessary sense of palm meeting face.

I have a plan! (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34854936)

NASA just acts as a Beuracracy that hands money out for contracts {only if they get results ) and they get 100% out of the actual sending people into space.

Moon Conspiracy LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34855054)

Eh, it'll be easy for them to fake. Everyone already knows that we never landed on the Moon in '69, it was all filmed on a sound stage on Mars...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?