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NASA'S Orion Arrives At Kennedy, Work Underway For First Launch

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the getting-to-work dept.

Mars 103

An anonymous reader writes in with news about the arrival of the Orion spacecraft at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center today. "More than 450 guests at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida welcomed the arrival of the agency’s first space-bound Orion spacecraft Monday, marking a major milestone in the construction of the vehicle that will carry astronauts farther into space than ever before. 'Orion’s arrival at Kennedy is an important step in meeting the president’s goal to send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s,' NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. 'As NASA acquires services for delivery of cargo and crew to the International Space Station and other low-Earth destinations from private companies, NASA can concentrate its efforts on building America’s next generation space exploration system to reach destinations for discovery in deep space. Delivery of the first space-bound Orion, coupled with recent successes in commercial spaceflight, is proof this national strategy is working.'"

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Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (2)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521145)

When I read the summary, I was expecting something a little more impressive than the picture in the article.

Okay, they did add some more windows. That's nice...I guess. But I'm pretty sure going to an asteroid or Mars is going to take something a little more substantial.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521725)

I'm pretty sure going to an asteroid or Mars is going to take something a little more substantial.

Its OK to be kind of minimal, because by the time the .gov guys get a ship out there, the .com guys will already have a hotel, resort, convention center, pr0n studio, condos complete with HGTV "flip that martian condo" TV show, etc.

Kind of like worrying about carrying everything you need to go camping in the wilderness on the back of a little honda scooter, well don't worry about where to keep the tent and the MREs if by the time you get to your destination, your destination looks like Vegas.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522001)

That's okay .cn will probably beat them both. I mean as long as we're arbitrarily rating one organization against another with no real thought put into it.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522947)

It won't be the current path that China is taking for getting into space that will make them pass private businesses.

The Chinese Space Agency, while certainly getting funding now in a big way because China has it, is more of a throwback to how the Soviet Union approached spaceflight. It is a very top-down approach with little if any room for innovation or thinking outside of the box.

China could become competitive, and I bet that eventually China (or chinese businessmen) will begin to form joint-partnerships with many American companies as soon as the Chinese decide to flood Congress with bribes^H^H^H^H^Hcampaign contributions to repeal ITAR for spaceflight programs. Then again that wouldn't be the end of the world if that law was repealed either.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (2)

sgage (109086) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523015)

Right. Because there is such a great incentive for the ".com guys" to be out there. Right, it's gonna look like Vegas.

No one is going out there except for the ".gov guys", because there is no immediate profit motive. Once the .gov guys have got it figured out (at public expense), the .com guys will go out there and extract the profit (for themselves). This is called "private enterprise". T'was ever thus. It's a big joke.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#40525853)

No one is going out there except for the ".gov guys", because there is no immediate profit motive. Once the .gov guys have got it figured out (at public expense), the .com guys will go out there and extract the profit (for themselves). This is called "private enterprise". T'was ever thus. It's a big joke.

I think it makes sense the government building some of the highly specialised equipment like the crew module because NASA has the expertise in this area. The aviation giants pretty much have the rest of the market anyway, they will be the ones that fly humans beyond LEO.

It maybe an opportunity for smaller players to do supply missions that don't need to be human rated.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 2 years ago | (#40528117)

Please note - The government isn't building anything for this, Lockheed Martin is building the Orion capsule. NASA has say in the requirements and design, but they're not constructing or building anything. Hell, they're not even integrating anything, they're just 'supervising,' which means they're spending ridiculous sums of money for unachievable human rating milestones and goals.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 years ago | (#40527565)

I wouldn't say nobody in .com land is going out there...

Don't forget about these guys [cbsnews.com] .

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521847)

You're falling prey to the George Lucas effect. Sure, we could have made a better looking design, as long as we don't mind sacrificing cost and safety. And extraterrestrial landings become far easier with less mass and less complexity, not more.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

progician (2451300) | about 2 years ago | (#40525439)

I think you misunderstood what he said. He said substantial, not more Silver Falcon-like.

Judging from the comparison between this cg concept [wikipedia.org] and the picture in the article, the current status of the Orion space craft is far from being any substantial for its purpose.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521863)

Deep space travel is fairy tale for the foreseeable future.
Orion is either:
(1) a joke
(2) somebody is fleecing the treasury for funding for as long as nobody raises any alarm.

I'm incline to believe it is #2.

We needed the biggest rocket ever built even to this day (Saturn V) just to get to the moon.
Mars is at least 200x farther away.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523023)

Deep space travel is fairy tale for the foreseeable future.
Orion is either:
(1) a joke
(2) somebody is fleecing the treasury for funding for as long as nobody raises any alarm.

I'm incline to believe it is #2.

We needed the biggest rocket ever built even to this day (Saturn V) just to get to the moon.
Mars is at least 200x farther away.

While Mars is 200x farther away, in terms of energy costs needed to get there it isn't nearly so bad. By far and away the most "expensive" thing to do in terms of spaceflight is simply getting to low-Earth orbit (LEO), as the Earth's gravity well is nasty, as is trying to fly out of the atmosphere with as little drag as possible.

If you look at the Delta-v budget [wikipedia.org] for getting to Mars compared to the Moon, in theory Mars is "cheaper" (assuming bulk goods and robots moving in Hohmann transfer orbits and other energy saving ways to travel between planets). There are also other propulsion systems like Ion propulsion and VASMR that can make the trip much, much faster and don't require a huge gas tank in order to function (both can operate off of solar cells, RTGs or even nuclear reactors as an energy source, and the thrust going at a measurable fraction of the speed of light thus giving insane looking ISP values). Stuff like that doesn't work in terms of getting people into LEO, but it works just fine in interplanetary space.

The Moon is close enough that such exotic propulsion systems are not really economical for manned spaceflight, thus you need the monster disintegrating pyramid like the Saturn V.

The physical distance may be huge, but it isn't as bad as it would seem, particularly since spacecraft enroute to Mars don't experience drag unlike spacecraft in Star Wars or a motor vehicle traveling cross-country.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40526145)

We can't keep using this rocket stuff, it causes global warming. Think of future generations, one rocket spews enough filth for a whole city or more. Damn it!

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40526431)

Construction aside, the gas you used driving to work caused more pollution than say apollo 11, hydrogen + oxygen fuel = water output

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#40529335)

The Saturn V first stage used rocket-grade kerosene, not Hydrogen. Kerosene is much easier to work with than Hydrogen as you don't need to store it in an insulated tank and has nearly the same ISP as Liquid Hydrogen when other factors are taken into consideration.

Not that fuel costs for those big rockets is much of a concern anyway.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

jacknifetoaswan (2618987) | about 2 years ago | (#40528189)

I'm so happy that someone typed this all out so that I didn't have to. Thanks! The only thing that I'll add is that everyone sees 'nuclear reactors' and 'RTGs' and start getting insane about nuclear fallout from a crashed rocket. We have to overcome that fear and sensationalism before we'll really be able to get things done. Yeah, we're flying tons of RTGs (well, Russia is, mostly), but each time one goes up, the public outcry is insane, just like those that scream about green energy, then get pissed about wind farms in their backyards.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

divisionbyzero (300681) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522255)

When I read the summary, I was expecting something a little more impressive than the picture in the article.

Okay, they did add some more windows. That's nice...I guess. But I'm pretty sure going to an asteroid or Mars is going to take something a little more substantial.

You do know that there are a limited number of geometries that are optimal for re-entry, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_entry#Entry_vehicle_shapes [wikipedia.org]

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40526889)

You do know that there are a limited number of geometries that are optimal for re-entry, right?

Yes, I understand that. But the summary was full of laughable hyperbole, making it sound like this was some amazing accomplishment. In reality, NASA just spent $3 billion reinventing spam-in-a-can from the Mercury era.

So, I agree that "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." But I would supplement this with "If it ain't broke, don't give Lockheed Martin $3 billion to reinvent it."

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (5, Interesting)

kelarius (947816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522923)

This is their launch-return vehicle, they're obviously not going to sit in something the size of a small minivan for 6 months on the way to Mars or an asteroid (unless its Apophis or something similar). The idea is they take this to orbit, dock with a spacecraft assembled in space, then go to wherever they want to go (eventually). The shuttle was always a boondoggle, the only reason it had the configuration it did was to return things from orbit, which it almost never did. They had to build a much less efficient reentry platform for that purpose, and even when reusable most of the external components weren't. A conical shape like this is very cheap since it's single use, there is no reason you cant salvage internal components if you want either.

The Russians have been using designs like this for over 50 years and their manned space program is TONS cheaper than ours, and you cant say that they cut safety corners to save money since their record over the last 20 years is FAR better.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#40523781)

The shuttle was always a boondoggle, the only reason it had the configuration it did was to return things from orbit, which it almost never did.

Almost never did?

  • Space Hab [wikipedia.org] - 22 times.
  • Spacelab [wikipedia.org] - 22 times.
  • Hubble [wikipedia.org] servicing equipment - 5 times.
  • MPLM [wikipedia.org] - 12 times.

There's probably more, but it's late and I'm tired. These 61 flights (out of 135) will have to do for showing just how wrong you are.

The Russians have been using designs like this for over 50 years and their manned space program is TONS cheaper than ours, and you cant say that they cut safety corners to save money since their record over the last 20 years is FAR better.

It's telling that you limit it to the last twenty years - thus neatly hiding Soyuz's two fatal accidents, and most of their non fatal ones. (Though they've had a string of serious landing incidents over the last decade.) Nor is there any particular reason to chose twenty years.... as that falls in the middle of the Soyuz-T flight sequence.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | about 2 years ago | (#40526923)

It's telling that you limit it to the last twenty years - thus neatly hiding Soyuz's two fatal accidents

Soyuz hasn't had a fatal accident since 1971. That's over *40* years, not 20.

Re:Isn't that a splash-down pod from the 60's? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 2 years ago | (#40528195)

No shit Sherlock.

I'm confused... (1)

barlevg (2111272) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521171)

Wasn't Orion de-funded?

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521251)

Wasn't Orion de-funded?

Looks like they pulled the funding for bandwidth and technical support as well because when I browse there I get:

This website is offline

No cached version is available

What's wrong?
The most likely causes:

        The server is down for maintenance
        There may be a network problem
        The site may be experiencing excessive load

Slashdotted!?

Re:I'm confused... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521273)

It's since been un-de-funded (at least until congress decides to anti-un-de-fund it).

Re:I'm confused... (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521457)

For those keeping score at home:

The Constellation Program [wikipedia.org] developing next-gen human spaceflight was investigated in the early 2000s, and reinvigorated in revised form in 2004, when President Bush endorsed significant spending on manned space exploration.

NASA began developing, as part of that project, a Crew Exploration Vehicle [wikipedia.org] , working on it roughly 2004-2005, somewhat into 2006.

The head of NASA changed in early 2005, and the new head ordered a new study [wikipedia.org] reevaluating NASA's human spaceflight programs.

As part of that study's outcome, the Orion spacecraft was contracted out to Lockheed, starting from 2006.

In 2009, President Obama ordered a new study [wikipedia.org] reevaluating NASA's human spaceflight programs.

As part of that study's outcome, Constellation got the axe in the proposed 2011 budget (released early 2010).

The final version of the budget (late 2010) salvaged some parts of Constellation, spinning much of it off into a cheaper, scaled-down program, of which Orion is a major part, the other major part being the new launch vehicle [wikipedia.org] . All that got going again in 2011.

Re:I'm confused... (2)

trout007 (975317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521369)

No The Constellation program was cancelled. The Orion capsule and the SLS portuons were kept.

Re:I'm confused... (4, Informative)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523065)

No The Constellation program was cancelled. The Orion capsule and the SLS portions were kept.

SLS wasn't necessarily kept, but rather transformed into a make-work project, hence the title of the program commonly called the "Senate Launch System" after the engineers who designed the spacecraft in the upper house of the national legislature in America. I had no idea that Orrin Hatch and Richard Shelby had advanced degrees in aerospace engineering, but they certainly laid down enough requirements that they sure demonstrated that capability.

That rocket sure has all of the hallmarks of being designed by a congressional committee too, where pesky things like physics and mechanical strength are perceived to be as mutable as the U.S. Constitution.

Re:I'm confused... (5, Informative)

680x0 (467210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521399)

It's Constellation [wikipedia.org] that was defunded (with the Ares I and Ares V rockets). A replacement rocket (the Space Launch System [wikipedia.org] ) was funded instead.

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40526117)

The Constellation program consisted of both the Orion Project and Ares Project (Ares I & Ares V). In the 2010 budget submit, the President canceled Constellation, both Ares and Orion aspects of it. The congressional backlash and the resulting compromise recast Orion as the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Program and introduced the SLS Program. What was delivered to KSC is the first MPCV/Orion capsule, which will be used as a flight test article some time in 2014, launched on a Delta-IV heavy. SLS won't be available until much later this decade.

Re:I'm confused... (2)

M1FCJ (586251) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521571)

It was, then the congresscritters of US decided that their districts are not getting enough pork so they resurrected it. It's a zombie project, not going to achieve anything but cost billions and feed the military industrial complex. While the Orion builders lobbying (or should I say it aloud, bribing), the others got their designs from scratch, launched multiple test flights and moving fast into the success column of the history books. Of course it won't be too long until the US politicians will create a law banning anything but the Orion spacecraft for manned trips - they pulled similar tricks in the past.

Re:I'm confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524801)

And soon after that, the chinese will be smiling and waving down at them from the Moon.

oink oink oink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522965)

follow the pork

slashdotted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521231)

Website tell me server is down for maintentance, etc.

Can't see it.

Re:slashdotted? (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521435)

... despite "CloudFlare" it would seem.

Millions of users strike again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521237)

...the slashdot effect is in full force

Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (0, Redundant)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521245)

Let's launch a probe to Uranus!

Re:Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521455)

We should rename that planet and put an end to such jokes.

Re:Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521527)

We will, someday [wikia.com]

Re:Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (1)

byornski (1022169) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522431)

If only he'd phrased it like he had heard the exact joke before.

Re:Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521843)

We could rename it to "Bucksnort" in honor of Bucksnort Tennessee.

Or maybe name it Mianus after a river in New York.

 

Re:Mars? Forget about going to Mars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40525075)

No need to rename it, just use say it right: "Ohoorahnos".

Alternate Source (5, Informative)

Krazy Kanuck (1612777) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521285)

Here's an alternative article, the linked one appears to be down or /.'d. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/07/02/NASAs-Orion-spacecraft-arrives-in-Florida/UPI-87191341254811/?spt=hs&or=sn [upi.com]

More details and actual pictures of capsule (4, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521335)

...at a non-slashdotted link, no less:

http://www.space.com/16395-orion-space-capsule-nasa-unveiled.html [space.com]

My concern.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521561)

Is the continued commitment to solid fuel rockets. I feel it is very dangerous to put humans on anything that has solid rocket(s), even if they're boosters.

Re:My concern.... (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522187)

Is the continued commitment to solid fuel rockets. I feel it is very dangerous to put humans on anything that has solid rocket(s), even if they're boosters.

Your comment is strong evidence that everything is relative. The original Orion design called for a nuclear bomb powered spacecraft. Now, what were you saying about solid rocket fuel?

Re:My concern.... (3, Interesting)

Teancum (67324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523091)

Is the continued commitment to solid fuel rockets. I feel it is very dangerous to put humans on anything that has solid rocket(s), even if they're boosters.

Your comment is strong evidence that everything is relative. The original Orion design called for a nuclear bomb powered spacecraft. Now, what were you saying about solid rocket fuel?

I always thought the name of the Orion capsule was odd given the name history. I can only presume the name was either completely coincidental by a clueless bureaucrat who never studied space history, or it was a deliberate naming choice knowing full well about the earlier program... either to bury that earlier program for good or hint at some future propulsion method.

I'd like to hope it was a clueless suit that never took an aerospace engineering course in their life and got their job as a patronage perk from helping with an election campaign.

Re:My concern.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40524409)

I always thought the name of the Orion capsule was odd given the name history. I can only presume the name was either completely coincidental by a clueless bureaucrat who never studied space history, or it was a deliberate naming choice knowing full well about the earlier program... either to bury that earlier program for good or hint at some future propulsion method.

I had a similar reaction to the name, except that my initial reaction was elation: "They're finally going to build the real Orion" - followed by crushing disappointment.

I'd like to hope it was a clueless suit that never took an aerospace engineering course in their life and got their job as a patronage perk from helping with an election campaign.

On balance of probabilities, you're right. But there's a tiny glimmer inside me (p<0.01) that still likes to hope it was a hint.

Re:My concern.... (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40526829)

Considering that it was the Bush Madministration that named the frelling thing I'm quite sure it was a deliberate choice of names. Ask any space cadet born after about 1980 what their opinion of the Orion spacecraft is and nuclear thrust will never enter the conversation. Considering the billions that they spent on Madison Avenue mind control experts it would not surprise me to hear in a decade or so that the military has been developing the idea of nuclear powered spacecraft, and see them claim credit for the idea.

Did you know that Von Braun wrote a white paper endorsing the Orion concept over his own chemical rockets? It was immediately classified and has never seen the light of day since (military claims it was "lost").

Re:My concern.... (2)

Teancum (67324) | about 2 years ago | (#40529259)

Ask any space cadet born after about 1980 what their opinion of the Orion spacecraft is and nuclear thrust will never enter the conversation.

I don't know what you consider to be a space cadet other than somebody studying aerospace engineering at the U.S. military academy in Colorado Spring, Colorado (those are some genuine space cadets who will even be getting commissions in the military and in a few cases have even gone into space after graduation).

That aside, anybody who has done even the most rudimentary study of aerospace engineering would have heard about this program, and in fact when the name "Orion" was first mentioned as a vehicle the connection to nuclear thrust was indeed the very first thing mentioned. That is nuclear thrust as in nuclear bombs being used as thrust and not even something like NERVA [wikipedia.org] which only used nuclear reactors as a means for generating energy for thrust. Declassified film footage of the tests is on YouTube if you care to look (they used TNT instead of nuclear bombs for the proof of concept).

As far as the Von Braun white paper about the Orion vehicle, I'm sure it will turn up eventually. I don't know what deep secrets he may have disclosed in the paper, but the musings of a former Nazi SS officer about the topic would certainly make an interesting read.

Re:My concern.... (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40526847)

I'd rather sit behind a 1000 ton shock absorbing shield when my propulsion source is fired up rather than directly on top of it. Yes, everything is relative...

Huh? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521359)

That looks like something straight out of the space race.

I think SpaceX's Dragon is light years beyond that underfunded hunk of metal.

I think I've lost my hope in NASA.

Re:Huh? (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521513)

You're basing that on a picture?

Re:Huh? (1)

zlives (2009072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521539)

haha i was going to make a sputnik comment...

Re:Huh? (5, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521689)

She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid.

SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Insightful)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521439)

Even though SpaceX is only a candidate for the low-orbit (space station) manned program and Orion is for deep space, I would not be surprised if SpaceX does so well they are considered for deep space too.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521619)

Ummm spacex is a company and orion is a capsule.

Spacex could make a deep space capsule, but they probably are not at this time.

As for taking a NEO capsule and flinging it unmodified into deep space, there's some pretty significant thermal issues that get bolted into the design pretty early, for example a NEO capsule assumes it can radiate (or adsorb) heat facing the earth in almost one complete hemisphere. This doesn't mean its impossible for a "decent NEO capsule" to also be a "decent deep space capsule". There are other inherent issues in some bolted on equipment like commo and navigation. In general life is harder and heavier when you don't have the earth filling one hemisphere. You can always make a NEO-only capsule slightly lighter than a deep space capsule.

There are also certain mission trajectory issues. One whacked out Apollo emergency return trajectory had the capsule entering pretty steep at damn near escape velocity which is an immensely higher thermal load than merely controlled descent from low earth orbit. You could baby the trajectory of a deep space capsule and just declare some "survivable with a massive shield" abort orbits to be unsurvivable. But generally a deep space heat shield is going to be much heavier and higher speed rated than a NEO heat shield.

Another interesting topic is electrical, longer missions trend toward solar until you need potable water at which time the fuel cell "waste" of distilled H2O comes in handy. Obviously (?) deep space capsule means longer mission means more O2 storage so you need to build into the design of the NEO capsule space to store more O2 that a NEO could ever require which takes excess weight.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521703)

It's kind of silly to take your earth-reentry equipment and fuel all of the way to Mars and back.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522941)

It's kind of silly to take your earth-reentry equipment and fuel all of the way to Mars and back.

The alternative is to carry enough fuel to brake into LEO before rendezvous with the reentry capsule.

Oddly enough, the fuel required to go from Mars-Earth transition orbit to LEO is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH heavier than the capsule capable of reentry directly from that same mars-earth transition orbit.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523017)

Point taken. Got to get rid of that orbital transfer energy somehow. High precision and atmospheric braking on both ends. Ugh.

You really need atomic rockets to do otherwise on a manned mission. Light sail might be fine for anything unmanned.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40527225)

I've always liked the idea of a large craft in cycling orbit between the two planets, and a smaller crew transfer vehicle. The large habitat could take months/years to acquire the necessary velocity until it's in the proper orbit, while the smaller vehicle could boost from LEO at a higher acceleration to ferry the crew to the habitat. The smaller vehicle disembarks at Mars with landing party, and either after a short stay catches up to the habitat again or else waits for the next cycler orbit.

I'm sure people smarter than myself have examined the idea and probably discarded it, but I've never seen it mentioned anywhere.

Cycling Orbits (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 2 years ago | (#40531477)

Actually, astronaut Buzz Aldrin has considered it:

http://buzzaldrin.com/space-vision/rocket_science/aldrin-mars-cycler/ [buzzaldrin.com]

There are scientific papers on possible orbits, and I am putting the idea of transfer habitats in the book I am writing:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Space_Transport_and_Engineering_Methods/Interplanetary [wikibooks.org]

The tricky part is dealing with the Earth, Transfer Habitat, and Mars all having different orbit periods that are not simple multiples of each other. That makes it hard to line up for transfers.

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Informative)

drgould (24404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522233)

There are also certain mission trajectory issues. One whacked out Apollo emergency return trajectory had the capsule entering pretty steep at damn near escape velocity which is an immensely higher thermal load than merely controlled descent from low earth orbit. You could baby the trajectory of a deep space capsule and just declare some "survivable with a massive shield" abort orbits to be unsurvivable. But generally a deep space heat shield is going to be much heavier and higher speed rated than a NEO heat shield.

One thing you don't have to worry about is the heat shield.

It's made of PICA-X [wikipedia.org] , a highly-advanced abrative heat shield material developed by SpaceX based on PICA, a heat shield material developed by NASA in the '90s for the Stardust [wikipedia.org] return capsule, "the fastest man-made object ever to reenter Earth's atmosphere (12.4 km/s or 28,000 mph at 135 km altitude)."

According to Elon Musk:

"It's actually the most powerful stuff known to man. Dragon is capable of re-entering from a lunar velocity, or even a Mars velocity with the heat shield that it has."

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40527461)

Yeah but that doesn't really mean anything. You misspelled "ablative"... what that means is its essentially burned off as it does its thing.

So... Compared to Chinese made oak (not kidding, supposedly they've used wood) PICA-X will be thinner and lighter. But again, a NEO shield is going to be a lot thinner and lighter than a deep space shield. Both will be lighter than if they used wood...

Standard /. car analogy is an aluminum block is lighter than a steel block. That does not mean that a aluminum 5 liter V8 block has to be lighter than a 5 HP steel lawnmower engine block simply because its made of aluminum.

"It's actually the most powerful stuff known to man. Dragon is capable of re-entering from a lunar velocity, or even a Mars velocity with the heat shield that it has."

I'm surprised they overspec'd a NEO capsule like that. Unless the plan all along is its a deep space capsule. He may mean capable as in theoretically it wouldn't flame out at a 1:1 safety ratio from Mars, so feel quite confident that at NEO with a 10:1 safety ratio you've got nothing to worry about. A standard /. car analogy is that theoretically each wheel ramp for my car could individually hold about 2.5 of my cars on each ramp... I wouldn't do that, but knowing how over-spec'd the ramps are I don't worry about them collapsing while working under the car. (they're truck ramps, and I use them to lift a little compact car)

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521781)

Definitely... SpaceX rocks. They've done 1 complete trip to ISS... and... um... some test launches... and... uhhhhhh

Re:SpaceX will fly circles aroudn them (4, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#40524351)

SpaceX has flown a Dragon into orbit and gotten it back in one piece a couple times already, including the recent ISS resupply mission. They're already prepping for their next two missions. Orion has flown on paper, and is going to be collecting dust for 2 years until the Senate kills it off, or legislates SpaceX out of business.

grade-f Utah PORK! (-1, Troll)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521525)

Delicious delicious PORK[*]!


[*] USDA standards mandate that PORK! contain no more than 49% PROK!

Utah Pork? (2)

billlava (1270394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522077)

It looks like the rockets that launch the capsule may eventually be built in Utah, but that capsule appears to have been built in Louisiana. It's probably pork just the same, but I don't think Orion is really benefiting Utah just yet.

Re:Utah Pork? (2)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40527259)

Orin Hatch is powerful enough that he gets bribes, uh, I mean, campaign contributions from all over the world. Do you actually think he gives a flying fuck about his constituents?

Old Man Time (2)

mfwitten (1906728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521541)

send humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s

It's a really sad thing to run the numbers on how old I'll be by then. Life is short—and not terribly interesting.

Re:Old Man Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522139)

It's a really sad thing to run the numbers on how old I'll be by then. Life is short—and not terribly interesting.

There is plenty to do here on Earth that is terribly interesting. The sad thing is that there are plenty of people with First World Problems and Internet connections who are apparently incapable of going outside and finding the cool stuff.

Re:Old Man Time (1)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#40527305)

When I was little 1984 was supposed to be the year that NASA launched its first manned Mars mission. There should have been sustainable human habitats (possibly actual colonies) on the Moon by the end of that decade. Then the military vacuumed up every penny and every scrap of tech for itself by the middle of the '70s (including forcing the complete redesign of the Shuttle), and our hopes of a peaceful future in space for all humans died a miserable death.

China will fly first beyond the Moon (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521653)

They have a NASA of the 60's with a can do attitude, instead of a 'can I do more paperwork' attitude. The private companies won't be able to keep up.

Splat! (2)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521699)

Here's hoping that Orion's first mission lasts longer than that website.

Stop re-using project names! (4, Insightful)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | more than 2 years ago | (#40521859)

I'm looking at you, Microsoft and NASA.

Unless this thing rides nuclear explosions, it should have its own name.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521993)

Say it with me, folks: Jamie wants big boom.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (3, Interesting)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522061)

I'd rather have repeat names than annoyingly boring ones. Seriously, "Space Launch System"?! What, did we run out of deities? I mean, come on, it's a rocket similar in size and power to Saturn - why not Hyperion? It's a scaled-up version of Ares, why not Odin?

Re:Stop re-using project names! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522631)

Uh, last time I checked it was a scaled DOWN version of Ares. In any case though, it's substantially the same design and comes from a long heritage of shuttle derived rockets intended to be called Ares... I really don't understand the obsession with not, at any cost, calling it Ares.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522819)

Much of our space technology -- world wide-- is inspired by nazi scientists who had a hand in the holocaust. Calling our rockets Ares, Aryan, or Ariane [wikipedia.org] kind of smacks of nazi domination of our most important technologies -- and reminds us all of the collective guilt we have, for not prosecuting those genocidal war criminals. Now, murdering jews is not exactly unpopular in modern France and or even parts of modern Germany, so they are happy to keep their slightly renamed Aryan rockets. However, aside from the white supremacists amongst us, most people are not comfortable with the idea of empowering the modern neonazis, and skirting close to returning to a time of baseless mass murder.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522853)

Sorry, apparently I was wrong about the european rocket system -- I should have read the article I linked to.

That said, at least one person (speaking for myself only here) finds the Ares name to have unpleasant political conotations, in today's climate.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#40524391)

Ares was supposed to take us to Mars. I wouldn't want to be stuck in this tin can for 6-18 months on a trip to Mars even with Pamela Anderson in the left seat. It's just too damned small. All this capsual is, is the Lockheed version of the Dragon, with the same design as the Apollo capsual. Deep space capable my ass.

Re:Stop re-using project names! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522183)

Sorry, there's only a limited amount of cool deity / constellation names..

Re:Stop re-using project names! (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522859)

I thought Orion was the name of a concept ship powered by nuclear fission explosions.

See Footfall by Niven and Pournelle

Re:Stop re-using project names! (2)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523075)

I'm looking at you, Microsoft and NASA.

Unless this thing rides nuclear explosions, it should have its own name.

Technically, Orion (the nuke one) was a DARPA (military research) project and this Orion (SLS-MPCV) is a NASA (civilian) project. NASA isn't totally off the hook, though, the original Orion was the Constallation CEV, but this one is really mostly the same thing (and CEV never launched and is dead). I've heard whispers they revivified the name in part present the illusion that everyone was working on the same program all along and possibly to take advantage of a loophole to allow the MPCV to use any earmark funding from the old CEV program.

On the other hand, Microsoft has a similar excuse about Surface: the original Surface was Microsoft Research and the current Surface is a proposed Microsoft product. That's not nearly as good as an excuse, though as they are totally different (like DARPA/NASA Orion), and they are the same company (although perhaps MSFT research may beg to differ with that)...

Re:Stop re-using project names! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40526293)

I was thinking it was the hydrogen bomb powered one as well.
(That would be interesting.)

fuck a Troolkore (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40521917)

they are Come Love 0f Two is

NASA'S Orion Arrives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522421)

The best technology from 1965 this is what hapens when governs waste 730 billion dollars on defence spending more them 4 times them china which comes in second.

Awesome! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40522875)

To hell with the millons of americans with no jobs, kids who go to school hungry, the millions who cant afford going to the doctor or dentist, the bad economy, the incredibly huge national debt, our oil dependancy problems, pollution and all of that other shit! SPACE MISSIONS BABY! Yeah thats where we should be spending insane amounts of money and utilizing all of that brain power and putting all those resources at!

Screw the shitty shape were all in because there is a chance we MIGHT discover something that could actually be useful in 50 or 60 years from now! Screw everybody because we need to prove the size of our dicks to the rest of the world by shooting a giant dick shaped object further into space than anyother dick has gone!

Ugh, what a waste.

Re:Awesome! (2)

tyrus568 (644456) | about 2 years ago | (#40525153)

You're a fucking moron. Are you saying that we shouldn't have any rocket scientists in America, or are you saying you think our rocket scientists should redesign our economy or hand-feed long lines of kids? Because either one is just weird.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40534017)

Because either one is just weird.

Blame yourself for making up weird strawmen.

Re:Awesome! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40526185)

Yeah... because NASA's budget, all .5% of national budget, is the reason this country's in such bad shape... You hit the nail on the head. The dumbass head. Rocket scientists aren't economists... people aren't machines that can be re-wired because rocket scientists should be feeding the hungry. People are rocket scientists because they are smart with science. People are economists because they are smart with ... economics. You are one of the most absurdly retarded people I have ever "met".

Re:Awesome! (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | about 2 years ago | (#40534069)

Yeah... because NASA's budget, all .5% of national budget, is the reason this country's in such bad shape... You hit the nail on the head.

Aaaaand.. another strawman. Nice going, brainiacs.

Pro tip: The post you're foaming at the mouth over isn't bitching over rocket scientists or science budgets, it's bitching about all the dumb fucks who are NOT rocket scientists, yet still use this stuff to distract themselves from the stuff they actually ARE responsible for.

Thanks for the demonstration.

Upgraded Soyuz? (3, Insightful)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 2 years ago | (#40522897)

...was the thought that first came to my mind when I saw it.

So... It takes billions of dollars to essentially make what amounts an upgraded Apollo Command Module or Soyuz Reentry Module?

What's wrong with just using a Soyuz then?

Re:Upgraded Soyuz? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523347)

Because Soyuz was designed for two, upgraded to three passengers. Orion will carry 4-6. Could launch a pair of Soyuz instead...

A 'Vietnam Solution' to the Problem of NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40523049)

Likely the next President will order OMB to do another study, of the previous study, which was a revised study ... .

Since about 1992 NASA has been in search of a reason to exist.

This includes:
1) the Earth Observation System ... only 30% funded and became the 'A-Train'
2) the International Space Station ... that became the 'Pepsi Can' lego-system
3) the search for a Science project that is doable on ISS
4) the search for life on a dead planet Mars program ... should have focused Titan instead
5) endless hysteria psudo-religious reports attempting to prop-up the IPCC ... basically a version of a State Department program to prop-up despots in Vietnam during the '50s - '60s.

Yep, NASA really reads like a bad B-level scifi move like Crack in the World.

But hay, government has to spend money on Something!

So at some point a President will pull a 'Nixon' and order a Paris Peace Conference and then a quick Saigon pullout while Ho Chi Minh forces storm in with Russian T-60 tanks.

LoL

Bummer (2)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40523277)

I wish it was the Orion project instead...

Screw Orion (2)

LostMyBeaver (1226054) | about 2 years ago | (#40525709)

So we spent obscene amounts of money funding companies who time and time again have proven they can't seem to build anything for under several billion dollars and then end up cutting corners left and right leaving us with over-priced, under-specced crap? Don't get me wrong, there's a romantic spot in my heart for the space shuttle which was just too damn cool. But Orion just seems like a square peg for a round hole or vise verse.

At the moment, there are only two real players in the commercial space game, a tourism business (which is pretty damn cool) and SpaceX who is just getting off the ground now. But in the limited time and with limited budgets they've worked with, they have accomplished substantially more in the past 10 years than the contractors involved with Orion had in the previous 30. These guys will think smarter and move things into space and then they or someone else will build long range transport craft from LEO to elsewhere as opposed to this ridiculous model where we feel we have to create a single craft which has to fly directly from earth's surface with everything it needs in one step. We already have a space station and it seems to me that we need to have another or extend the one we currently have to start storing what we need for deep space travel.Then we can work on for example a space station orbiting the moon and/or mars where we can transport what we need to build surface launch facilities for getting to and from the surface. For what Orion cost, NASA could have bough 10 Falcon 9 Heavy rockets and launched them probably 100 times.

Lockheed, Boeing and all those guys are slow, overpriced, sleazy and generally just obsolete. If they can't compete with companies like SpaceX, they should simply get out of that business altogether. If you don't want to hop on the private space wagon, well there's always hitchhiking with the Chinese.

Car Wash | Carwash | Car Cleaning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40527623)

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That's Not A Spacecraft (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | about 2 years ago | (#40531631)

That is not a spacecraft in the same sense that this is not a car:

http://www.mehr-khodro.com/images/601_02_WELDING_ROBOTS.jpg [mehr-khodro.com]

It's an empty structural shell that will *become* a spacecraft in about two years when they finish it. As of now it is nothing more than bare metal. I helped build the Space Station modules when I worked at Boeing, and doing the shell is about 5% of the work.

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