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Details of Chinese Moon Rocket Emerge

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the chinese-moon-rocket-would-be-a-good-band-name dept.

China 138

MarkWhittington writes "AmericaSpace has published the results of a study of Chinese rocket development by Charles Vick, a noted expert on the Russian and Chinese space programs who works for GlobalSecurity.org, using Chinese language sources. Of note are the developing concepts for a super heavy launch vehicle designated as the CZ9 or Long March 9, capable of taking Chinese astronauts to the moon and points beyond. 'Liang outlined several new Long March versions, virtually all of them testing elements that would eventually find their way into the Long March 9 that has 4 million lb. more of liftoff thrust than the 7.5 million lb. thrust NASA Saturn V. Forty-three years ago this week a Saturn V propelled the Apollo 11 astronauts to the first manned landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969.'"

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Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691341)

3...2...1... The species must go into space and colonize the Galaxy! With rockets.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (5, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691373)

You know those inscrutable aliens in sci-fi films that have indecipherable glyphs on the sides of their spaceships: They're Chinese.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692441)

See... I saw it from different angle...

Details of Cheese Moon Rocket Emerge

I knew it all along!

A Stuxnet variant targetting China ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40693049)

Maybe someone should start writing a new stuxnet variant targetting China's space program?

Re:A Stuxnet variant targetting China ? (4, Insightful)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694121)

Maybe someone should start writing a new stuxnet variant targetting China's space program?

Sure, but the job of writing it would probably get out-sourced to India. Ya know, the other developing country with an ambitious space programme.

There will be a lot of comments about the Chinese only managing to do what the US did half a century ago, but the point is they're doing it while the Western world has abandoned those ambitions.

Re:A Stuxnet variant targetting China ? (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695009)

Maybe someone should start writing a new stuxnet variant targetting China's space program?

 
Sure, but the job of writing it would probably get out-sourced to India. Ya know, the other developing country with an ambitious space programme.

 
If it ends up with India duking it out with China, It would be doubly wonderful !!
 
That way we get to kill two birds with only one stone
 

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692697)

Have no fear. Five hundred years from now, the spaceships will be manned by cowboy types and the only time they will speak Chinese is when they swear.

Chinese Characters (3, Funny)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692767)

You know those inscrutable aliens in sci-fi films that have indecipherable glyphs on the sides of their spaceships: They're Chinese.

Actually, someone found a stone tablet, somewhere near Siberia. They carbon dated it, and it supposed to be like more than 5 millions year old

On that stone tablet were carvings that looks very much like some ancient Chinese characters

I had the link once, but unfortunately I lost it (hard disk crashed).

I tried to search for it, to no avail.
 

Re:Chinese Characters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692967)

The half life of carbon 14 is only about 5000 years. You can't use it to date something to 5 million years ago. Also, you need organic material from which you can extract carbon to even do the carbon-14 dating.

Re:Chinese Characters (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693207)

I dunno, I could be speaking from my back orifice

I've lost the link to that article, and the last time I read that article was years ago

So I could be wrong on the method of dating - it could be something else - but that "5 million year old" thing should be correct, unless, my mind fails me again :)

Re:Chinese Characters (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695803)

It was probably a carbon-42 test.

Re:Chinese Characters (1)

dadioflex (854298) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694137)

You know those inscrutable aliens in sci-fi films that have indecipherable glyphs on the sides of their spaceships: They're Chinese.

Actually, someone found a stone tablet, somewhere near Siberia. They carbon dated it, and it supposed to be like more than 5 millions year old

On that stone tablet were carvings that looks very much like some ancient Chinese characters

I had the link once, but unfortunately I lost it (hard disk crashed).

I tried to search for it, to no avail.

Skittery dinosaur tracks could look like Chinese characters to the sort of person that can see Jesus in a slice of toast. Although, these days believing in dinosaurs and Jesus at the same time seems to be verboten, even though we managed it quite peaceably for almost two centuries after the scientific classification of dinosaurs.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (2)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691389)

3...2...1...
The species must go into space and colonize the Galaxy! With rockets.

Well it would be nice if we could use horizontal take-off space planes, but in the meantime rockets will have to do. Let's not forget that steam didn't exactly replace sail overnight.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691547)

Yeah, and space is just as big as the Atlantic Ocean too. Great comparison. And your sig? You're mentally ill.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692001)

Yeah, and space is just as big as the Atlantic Ocean too. Great comparison.

You're absolutely right. We must never ever compare one type of technological advancement with another because you can only ever compare two absolutely identical things before drawing any meaningful conclusion.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692491)

You might as well argue with the wall. The overwhelming mentality on Slashdot, as seen by the poster here, is that space travel is a total waste of money and that we need to invest in wars and occupations instead. If you're looking for a haven for space geeks and sci-fi fans, this isn't it.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (2)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692583)

nope, it's just that "space nutter" troll and a few fiscal-responsibility types. but if they watch the story tags fly by and jump on anything with "space" in it, they'll own every thread.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40693803)

Hah, little do any of you know that steam didn't replace sail, diesel did!

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695049)

huh?

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692633)

That's not it at all. "Space travel" is such an emotionally loaded term that it's impossible to discuss it rationally. There is no space travel like in movies. We can hop into LEO, a long time ago we went to the Moon. That's it. And that represents a handful of people. Ever. In the history of humanity. Then you delusional fruitcakes extrapolate wildly that we'll colonize Mars because the species and exploration and asteroids and all the other Space Nutter rubbish.

"Space travel" represents the peak of our technology, there's nowhere to go. It's done, it's over. It's soooo *not* like the Wright Brothers it's not even funny. The fact that you can't grasp this, as a group, says it all about you.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (4, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694013)

"Space travel" represents the peak of our technology, there's nowhere to go. It's done, it's over. It's soooo *not* like the Wright Brothers it's not even funny. The fact that you can't grasp this, as a group, says it all about you.

OK, so our technology has peaked out.

Didn't I see you standing there when Ooog invented the wheel? And wasn't it you that said "What good is this 'wheel' thing you 'invented' that will cause the gods to hate us? Why can't you be reasonable and have your wife pack all your shit on her back like everybody else does?'

'Reasonable' people refuse to rock the boat. 'Reasonable' people embrace and defend the status quo. Status quo means 'freeze in place', nothing moves. Not even you. So, go ahead and stand in place, don't move. The unreasonable among us are moving on.

Space travel at this stage of the game is engineering. We're still developing the engineering to do it cheaper and better. Now, the next little bit is going to take some thinking, so if you wanna take a nap first, that's okay, this comment will still be here when you wake up.

You want clean air, water, land, whatever, there are exactly two and only two options to get it. Option 1 is come up with a way to destroy every piece of technology everywhere on the planet, down to and including the ability to make fire, and turn the entirety of the human species back into a hunter-gatherer tribal society. Downside of this is, the planet cannot support 7 billion people at the stage of hunter-gatherers. It'd be closer to half a million, maybe a million, spread all over the globe. High level apex predators need large areas to hunt in, they can't be supported in small areas. This means there's not a lot of them. And as the current champion apex predator, we're dangerously overextended without our technology.

Option 2 is move all havey industry like metal refining and dangerous chemical processes into orbit and beyond. Get it out of the atmosphere where its poluting byproducts can be blown away by the solar wind. Bonus is, the raw materials are readily at hand, just need a nudge to put them in orbit around Earth where they can be harvested. Again, this is an engineering problem, and like all engineering problems, you solve it by throwing engineers at it.

Go ahead, be 'reasonable'. Fight for the status quo. Fight for decreasing resources increasingly more inaccessible. Fight to keep funnelling what wealth is left into the pockets of the 1%. Just don't complain when us unreasonable blokes run you over on our way to the future.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40696371)

There is no space travel like in movies. We can hop into LEO, a long time ago we went to the Moon. That's it. And that represents a handful of people. Ever. In the history of humanity.

Ah! I think I see where you're coming from: space travel is not something that you would ever be allowed to do, therefore it isn't interesting for the human race to endeavour.

That makes sense.. in a completely self-absorbed way...

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693923)

that we need to invest in wars and occupations instead.

LOL right, that's what I read on here every night.....and also love letters to George Bush. Uh......are you sure you've actually read Slashdot?

The problem I see with space travel is, going to Mars doesn't actually help us get into the rest of the galaxy. It's not actually a stepping stone......to escape the Solar System, we need new fundamental research in physics and material science. Going to Mars could actually divert from that.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694167)

LOL right, that's what I read on here every night.....and also love letters to George Bush. Uh......are you sure you've actually read Slashdot?

I don't know how you have your friends/foes list set up, but I see tons and tons of comments here parroting the Republican/tea party agenda, supporting the wars, etc. I also see a fair number of opposing comments, but those mostly seem to be from non-Americans.

Going to Mars is IMO a stepping stone in that it helps get people out into space and building experience in sending people farther than an easy 3-day trip to the Moon. Also, we don't need to focus on going to the rest of the galaxy first, we need to get comfortable just leaving our own planet first, and in addition, there's plenty of stuff for us to do right here in our own solar system (and maybe even right around our own planet): energy harvesting, asteroid/moon mining, setting up systems to divert any asteroids on collision courses, tourism, etc. Besides, suppose something happened and we really did need to make an exodus from Earth (suppose the planet's atmosphere started turning unbreathable, so that in a few decades we'd be unable to live outside sealed structures); right now, we'd be screwed, but if we already have experience sending humans to other planets and building large structures in space, it wouldn't be quite so much of a stretch to contemplate building some generation ships, or at least building permanent off-world habitats for very large populations of humans.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691885)

Well, that might not be impossible http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/ [reactionengines.co.uk]

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692705)

Well, that might not be impossible http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/ [reactionengines.co.uk]

The Brits have been pushing this kind of technology for decades (remember HOTOL?) but it seems to take a while for it to get any traction. Shame really, the potential is staggering. The demise of Concorde had more to do with its introduction coinciding with the oil embargo, it was conceived in the days of cheap fuel and its high consumption would have been less of an (economic) issue. I don't see any such issues with a hydrogen powered engine since producing hydrogen doesn't absolutely have to depend on hydrocarbons. I wonder if investors are just scared off by the Concorde experience.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695031)

People investing in aerospace who don't understand the difference between kerosene and hydrogen as fuels, deserve to lose their money. I should hope people dumping millions into a project would do a little bit of homework.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695611)

It was mostly basic aerodynamics that killed HOTOL. The design called for something that looked essentially like a vertical rocket but with wings. You can't fly that horizontally when empty. It goes up fine, but once you've used up all the fuel and released your payload, you're left with a monstrously huge empty tank causing drag at the front, and a cluster of heavy engines at the back. In aerodynamic flight, your drag is so far ahead of the centre of mass that it's like trying to fire an arrow backwards.

HOTOL could have been flying in the mid 90s if the designers hadn't made that mistake.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691709)

I'm pretty sure it's this attitude that is responsible for the Fermi paradox [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692319)

I'm pretty sure it's the laws of physics and the periodic table of elements that's responsible for the paradox. It's not an "attitude" that propels you through space while obeying F=ma, it's materials and energy sources. So unless you can point me to a new periodic table with magical elements with sci-fi properties, and new kinds of Star Trek energy sources, what we have now is *it*. There won't be unreasonably strong materials, there are no fantasy Bob Lazar propulsion technologies.

The Fermi Paradox is dead simple. There is simply no way to realize any of the Space Age delusions. That's it, that's all.

Petroleum has already reached its global production peak as depletion rates shoot past the rate at which new fields can be found and brought on line; natural gas and coal are not far behind—the current bubble in shale gas will be over in five or, just possibly, ten years—and despite decades of animated handwaving, no other energy source has proven to yield anything close to the same abundance and concentration of energy at anything like the same cost. That means, as I’ve shown in detail in past posts here, that industrial civilization will be a short-lived and self-terminating phenomenon.

It's over, dude. [blogspot.ca] So either grow up and face the challenges coming up, or curl into a ball and rock back and forth while crying about the dead delusions of the Space Age.

Re:Cue the melodramatic space nutters.... (1)

able1234au (995975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695133)

You can weep all you want but this is a problem we need to solve. I wouldn't be giving up too soon. I see in you blog you saying you lost heart when the shuttle blew up. Well, this is a risky business and people die. The astronauts know it and accept it. We waste more fuel on silly pointless wars than we consume in space travel. You seem too ready to give up. Fine. Get out of the way.

Typo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691345)

Submitter forgot "allegedly" in "Forty-three years ago this week a Saturn V propelled the Apollo 11 astronauts to the first manned landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969.'

Re:Typo (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692027)

Idiot

Oh God the name... (4, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691353)

AmericaSpace

That's not the WORST name for an organization I've ever heard. But really? You're THAT unimaginative?

Re:Oh God the name... (3, Funny)

nhimf (2050690) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694875)

They will call their spaceships American Space Ship (ASS) and their heavy lifting vehicle will be called Formidable Ascension Transport (FAT). "Houston FAT-ASS has a problem"

Screw this! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691379)

It is time to build the Sea Dragon [wikipedia.org] rocket with 80 million pounds of thrust. And no new launch facilities would be needed since you can only launch it from the ocean.

meh (0)

Titan1080 (1328519) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691487)

Let them go to 'and places beyond' in their fancy shmancy 12 million lb. thrust rocket. It's far more cost effective and easy, to send probes and rovers to other places in this solar system. The real question is, 'Who will be first to manipulate the higgs field in such a way that will allow for light speed or near light speed travel'?

Re:meh (5, Insightful)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691793)

Let them go to 'and places beyond' in their fancy shmancy 12 million lb. thrust rocket. It's far more cost effective and easy, to send probes and rovers to other places in this solar system. The real question is, 'Who will be first to manipulate the higgs field in such a way that will allow for light speed or near light speed travel'?

Tut. Them is us. Who will be .. it's one of us. We're all humans here, when it comes to the effort to get into space. Terrans, if you like. We (outside the States) are as proud of what you folks (I assume you're in the US?) did in the 20th century as you are. We (the world) look forward to great things from all nations (including the US) in this 21st century. Let's all take pride in the Space exploits of this planet's inhabitants. That's our species, risking their lives.

Re:meh (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692015)

Want to bet that is how the Chinese see it?

Re:meh (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693299)

If you've got the cash to pay for a launch then yes, absolutely. I don't see them knocking back NASA or anyone else that wants to do a deal.

Re:meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692059)

If everyone was just as excited about it in the 20th century they wouldn't be pouring so much into repeating it in the 21st.

ROV mining etc (2)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692099)

I doubt human lift is the goal. This is a way to get more robots up. Once I had seen a video of telepresence underground heavy mining equipment i had an idea how its going to play out. Semi-autonomous robotic industry.

Given the thermal gradients, I wouldn't be surprised by a closed cycle heat engine driving them.. i'm sure it works out better than solar panels.

Re:meh (4, Interesting)

cusco (717999) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694183)

When the Apollo 11 astronauts toured the world after their successful landing they were surprised to hear people everywhere, even in the USSR, exclaim "We did it!" Not "You did it", but "We", as though the entire human race had participated.

Re:meh (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695383)

They have the same claim to "We did it!" as the majority of americans who weren't personally involved. Either you limit it to the 12 astronauts actually on the moon, the severall ten thousands involved in the apollo program or not at all.

Re:meh (3, Funny)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694891)

Awww, how cute is it that "people" living outside of the U.S. think they're human? Silly foreigners.

Re:meh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692409)

You must be one of those laughable technology fetishists who actually believe 'the singularity' and FTL travel will be achieved. Must suck when your life is such a failure you harbour these little fantasy beliefs. No different from religious nuts.

Picture of entire set of Chinese Rockets (-1, Troll)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691535)

Secret Photos, only available through a special Chinese search engine:

http://www.about-sichuan-china.com/images/Chinese-fireworks.jpg [about-sichuan-china.com]

Autodocs -- Designed and built in China (3)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691593)

An empire prospers when it keeps the trade routes open. It falters when it turns to lording over its own people, and a new core of empire forms on its outskirts, little fettered from it.

Re:Autodocs -- Designed and built in China (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693933)

Are you saying you think the US has been closing trade routes over the last few decades?

Re:Autodocs -- Designed and built in China (2)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693967)

It has not become easier to move goods across the Canada/US border in the last 10 years.

Much easier to launch from China (2)

turkeyfeathers (843622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40691611)

It's basic physics... make a heavy enough rocket and when you release the holding pin it will fall downwards, accelerating until it breaks free of the Earth's atmosphere. Then just turn it around and head to the moon.

11.6 M lbs thrust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691645)

I remember Wernher von Braun in an interview stating that the Saturn V could be used to send spacecraft to any point in the solar system. It seems that later launch vehicles developed more thrust though (Titan/Centaur) but perhaps not. So are the Chinese explicitly planing on putting colonies on the moon and Mars (or mining asteroids)?

11.5 M lbs thrust? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40691691)

I remember Wernher von Braun in a interview in the 70's saying that the Saturn V could be used to launch spacecraft to any point in the solar system. So are the Chinese explicitly intending to put bases on the moon and Mars or mine asteroids?

Re:11.5 M lbs thrust? (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692545)

It probably depends on your definition of "spacecraft". To launch a probe anywhere in the system, sure, the Saturn V is sufficient. But look at the size of the craft that the Saturn V sent to the Moon; it wasn't all that large. 3 men in a capsule plus a lander, plus a rover on one or two missions. If you want to launch a larger craft with 6 or 10 astronauts, and some more heavy cargo for them to set up at the destination, you'll need a bigger rocket most likely. Or if you want to launch a craft big enough for 3-4 people to live somewhat comfortably on a mission to Mars (which would take months, not days like the Moon mission, requiring much more supplies and living space), again you'll need a bigger rocket than the Saturn V.

Of course, you can also get away with smaller rockets by splitting things up and launching them on separate rockets, and then joining them together in orbit before continuing the mission.

Re:11.5 M lbs thrust? (1)

able1234au (995975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695201)

No need to join them up. Send the cargo on ahead and you know it will be there when you get there.

Re:11.5 M lbs thrust? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695915)

No need to join them up. Send the cargo on ahead and you know it will be there when you get there.

Wouldn't work for a longer-term mission like going to Mars, as you've still got to send a lot of stuff for the astronauts to use along the way. You've also got to pack a lot more shielding due to the increased duration of exposure to solar radiation. Not impossible to deal with, but definitely a lot more mass overall and it's far easier to get that stuff to orbit in several pieces.

Saturn V or Energiya? (5, Informative)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692005)

Obviously, a US news source is going to use the largest NASA rocket ever flown as the basis for comparison, but I think their option 'A' design looks quite like the Soviet Energiya booster.

Saturn V was a single body launch vehicle - each stage was stacked on top of each other, and fired sequentially. This was simpler to assemble, but meant that two stages had to start in flight - one of which had to start twice! The first stage was LOx/RP-1 to get high thrust low in the Earth's atmosphere, and the upper stages were LOx/LH2 to get maximum delta-V.

Energiya, on the other hand, looked more like the US shuttle stack (and indeed, was used to fly the Soviet version of the space shuttle, the main difference being its ability to fly without the shuttle as its own rocket). It had a LOx/LH2 core stage, surrounded by 4 LOx/RP-1 boosters. All of the engines were started on the ground, at liftoff. Energiya was a mode 'modern' super heavy launch vehicle, as this approach is widely considered better these days.

Sensibly, the Chinese appear to have looked to the most recent super heavy (100t+ payload capacity) launch vehicle that successfully flew for design cues.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692081)

Sensibly, the Chinese appear to have looked to the most recent super heavy (100t+ payload capacity) launch vehicle that successfully flew for design cues.

There's nothing sensible about building a super heavy launcher that will only fly every couple of years.

Launch cost is largely driven by launch rate, so you'll save a ton of cash by splitting your lunar vehicle into smaller payloads which can launch on rockets that other people will use to launch their satellites. This is the equivalent of building a hundred-ton pickup truck to use when you move house, rather than just loading everything into a container and hiring a truck to deliver it to where you're going.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692119)

That argument has gone back and forth since the dawn of the space age. Both the US and USSR had plans to go to the Moon using smaller launchers, and rendezvousing in LEO.

I'll just say, that the big launch method has worked a couple of times. The lots of little launches method has yet to work at all.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692143)

I'll just say, that the big launch method has worked a couple of times. The lots of little launches method has yet to work at all.

Sure, it works. If you have an infinite amount of money. America didn't, which is why NASA doesn't go to the Moon anymore.

If you actually want to be able to afford to go to the Moon and keep going there, then building your own massive, specialised rocket to launch you into orbit is absolutely, unquestionably the wrong way to do so.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (2)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692217)

"Unquestionably"? That is a pretty bold claim - especially when no mission, manned or unmanned, that has gone beyond Earth orbit has ever involved a rendezvous of separately launched components. The closest to doing so were the Gemini-Agena missions that got boosted to higher altitudes (which as partly a test run for a flight where the Agena was replaced by a centaur upper stage, and a Gemini flown around the Moon.)

Something that has never, ever been done in history cannot be "unquestionably" cheaper/faster/better than something that has been done.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692573)

Well it's not like no one's ever successfully docked craft in orbit; that's been done many, many times with the various space stations and their resupply ships. Now, how well that experience translates to subsequently launching the assembled craft from orbit towards the moon or Mars, I don't know.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (4, Interesting)

mbone (558574) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694079)

The big problem is that liquid Hydrogen won't keep long in space. A few hours, sure. A week? Not so much. So, if you are going to use the most efficient propellant, LEO rendezvous is very dicey. (If the second launch, the one with the crew, doesn't go on time, you spent a lot of money to orbit an empty tank.)

The Soviet plan was to land a return vehicle on the Moon, check it out, and then send a crew to land, walk over , and fly it back. The return vehicle could be hypergolic so there was no rush on the crew's timing. Everything could be sized this was to enable long stays on the Moon. They actually built this hardware, but of course it never flew. Given the close ties between the Russian and Chinese space efforts, look for the Chinese to do something broadly similar.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694029)

Well, I hate to point it out your logic flaw, but when we went to the moon the first time, nobody had done any of that either.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (3, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694077)

Apollo was actually 'Plan B". The original intention was to build a construction shack/space station in orbit, build a Lunar excursion vehicle there, and fly it to the Moon and back a few times. In the long run, it would have been cheaper, but it would have taken longer. By designing a single stack that threw away 99% to get that 1% to the Moon's surface and back, they saved time.

One of the Shuttle's proposed mission profiles was to cart materials to orbit in order to build that construction shack/lumar excursion vehicle to return to the Moon for long term missions.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694845)

And that mission profile required not a few more billion, but tens of billion more. Moreover, any conceivable savings, that are only available assuming it all works properly (and since when has first generation equipment ever been that perfect), is based on high flight rates. Seeing as the shuttle never could find enough payloads to justify its originally intended rate even before Challenger showed that rate as impossible I see no reason to believe we are suddenly going to need a weekly shuttle to the moon.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694829)

Don't forget what a spectacularly high failure rate Gemini Agena had. If the ISS taught us anything it's that we CAN assemble thing on orbit, but it isn't cheap, easy or problem free. I've never understood the hostility in some quarters to anything much larger than an ICBM. With every single proposed design the larger vehicles ARE cheaper on per kg, let alone per mission, basis. Some hypothetical SSTO is all well and good if you can go out and get me the funding for it, but don't tell me we shouldn't be building better equipment today because someone might, someday, get around to funding a project that we aren't even entirely sure will work. And if the argument hinges on mass production, show me a "small dumb booster" that can't be made simpler by scaling up. And I haven't even touched on how difficult a lot of these things are to split. Just how do you intend to launch the heat shield for a Mars lander separately from the actual payload? For anything going much beyond what was proposed for Orion/Altair multiple launches, let alone multiple launches in the 20ish ton rnage, we're very much talking orbital assembly, not mere docking. This nonsense is how we ended up with the idea a Mars mission would cost $100 billion and need a freaking spaceport in orbit.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695731)

There is a 400-tonne spacecraft in orbit around the Earth right now. It carries a crew of between 6 and 12 people in a shirt-sleeve environment and it was put together, is kept supplied and intermittently boosted in orbit by a range of vehicles which each have a payload capability of less than 20 tonnes.

If the Chinese are serious about building the Long March 9 superlifter as a "one-shot mission" stack they are further back down the technology history books than I thought they were, given they've already got a small space station module in orbit and have demonstrated docking a manned capsule with it, the product of two separate launches by smaller boosters. If they wanted to put together a "boots and banners" Moon mission they've got the demonstrated launch capability to cope with an Apollo-style program -- launch a lander/ascent stage and park it in LEO, launch a similarly-sized service module and dock it with the lander and then after everything checks out launch the command module with crew to rendezvous with the rest of the in-orbit resources. Even better, send the lander/ascent stage to the Moon first to have it in place in orbit waiting for the crew when they arrive.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694017)

You are absolutely right that launch rate is what is IMPORTANT. It is the fixed costs (launch pad, ground crew, etc) that chew up your money.

The the smart thing is to get a 50 tonne FH going, multiple human launchers and most importantly, multiple destinations. Even now, I view sending up a BA-sundancer or so to the ISS as being the most important thing that NASA can do. The reason is that by helping BA get moving, then they will put up multiple EO systems. That gives a reason to have large launch rates. Then start the push to have several 150 tonne launch vehicles via COTS. These are used fro going to the moon, mars, and asteroids.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694545)

All of the engines were started on the ground, at liftoff. Energiya was a mode 'modern' super heavy launch vehicle, as this approach is widely considered better these days.

If it's so widely considered "better", then why does practically no-one actually use it? Not that it's actually modern either - rather it was used during the very earliest days when starting inflight was a huge unknown, and then later dropped except for the R-7 and the earliest Atlases.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695003)

What do you mean nobody uses it? Ariane 5 works this way exactly, and it one of the best commercial launchers available. All rockets with boosters work this way to a certain extend. It is generally accepted that you get more reliability the more engines you start on the ground (even single body Falcon 9 adheres to this in a different way - 9 engines started (and checked) on the ground, 1 in the air.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (2)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695183)

What do you mean nobody uses it? Ariane 5 works this way exactly

Um, no. Ariane 5 doesn't work like that all - it has a 2nd stage that ignites in flight.
 

It is generally accepted that you get more reliability the more engines you start on the ground (even single body Falcon 9 adheres to this in a different way - 9 engines started (and checked) on the ground, 1 in the air.

Which of course it not what you claimed - which was that "all motors are started on the ground". Something that has never been common practice, and in fact is quite rare.

Re:Saturn V or Energiya? (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695539)

The second stage motor on Ariane 5 is tiny compared to the boosters and the main engine. You are splitting hairs here, really.

Being a rocket nut I really hope they build it. (1)

CaptnCrud (938493) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692139)

Will it actually happen? Im not so sure.
I have the suspicion if they did build the long 9, and this is a big "if", its going to suffer the same fate as the n1 to be used a few times and abandoned or worse turn out like buran sitting in a junk heap http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/09/28/1246200/soviet-shuttle-buran-found-in-a-junk-heap...heh [slashdot.org] , one of comander tacos. Hope your chilling dude.
...eh, I feel way to pessimistic today, I need a root beer.

China needs 50% more thrust... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692201)

because their "rockets" are half as long

Argh, not this again (4, Insightful)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 2 years ago | (#40692435)

The submission and at least one of the linked articles are just silly "OMG CHINA" rabble-rousing in an attempt to justify the diversion of NASA resources from commercial providers like SpaceX towards giant white elephants like the SLS heavy-lift rocket (and the legacy contractors behind it). I've yet to see any evidence that China's supposed plans for a heavy-lift rocket are anything more than sketches from dreamy engineers, without any actual funding behind them; if anything other non-existent heavy-lift rockets like SpaceX's Falcon XX have more progress behind them.

If anything, indications so far suggest that China's space exploration plans involve the more sensible approach of assembling exploration modules in space, instead of building rarely-used mega-rockets that launch everything up at once.

Re:Argh, not this again (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693983)

Actually, I am hoping that if O is re-elected, that he will kill of the SLS, and then use just 10B (instead of 20B for a single 70 tonne) to get TWO SHLVs with 150 tonnes or so via a COTS approach. The other 10B should then be used to restore NERVA as well as a COTS for various tug engines and designs. At the same time, use some of help private space get to the moon so that we can re-establish ourselves there, while NASA is focused on Asteroids and Mars.

Will it be cheaper to buy than Ares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40692613)

Would they even be willing to sell it?

Wasn't this the point of offshoring technology?

And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693127)

Yes, we will hear all the neo-cons and RWNJ on this site screaming about O killing off Constellation as well as the SLS. Yet, it is absolutely WORTHLESS.

Instead, we should kill off the SLS TODAY and focus on getting private launchers going for human launches, as WELL as the multiple companies doing inflatable space stations.
THEN create a COTS program for TWO SHLV. It should carry around 150 tonnes to LEO, cost under 5B to produce in under 4 years, and under .5B to launch. 2 companies would then win the bid to produce these. Before completion, another contest would take place to have 5 launches total from 2 companies. This allows the non-winners to do their own launch system if they believe that they have a winner (think ATK with Liberty). The companies would submit the price for 2 launches/year for 4 years. 2 companies would win. Whoever has the lowest bid, would get a 3rd launch/year. This rewards companies that push the bid low. And with 5 launches a year, it would be possible to put a lunar base, as well a mars base up their cheaply.

Make no mistake. China IS in a cold war with the west, and they are WINNING.

Re:And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693755)

Yes, we will hear all the neo-cons and RWNJ on this site screaming about O killing off Constellation as well as the SLS.

Must be easy to win arguments when the other side is in your head.

Make no mistake. China IS in a cold war with the west, and they are WINNING..

Oh? And what are they going to do with this moon base? Sell souvenirs? Rent it out to tourists?

There's a huge difference between something that's possible and something that makes sense. We shouldn't spend a bent nickel going back to the moon - there's no reason to go. We need to maintain the capability to launch spy satellites and robotic probes. Pretty much everything else is a waste of money.

Re:And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693835)

False.
It makes sense to get man off this planet. In fact, it is insane NOT to get us off here. We are the first species on this planet that has this capability to save itself by being on multiple other planets.
The other issue is that many wars have been fought over resources. Minerals are needed. Less than 6 months ago, we saw that China invaded American waters to grab fish. Now, they were caught in Russian waters doing the same thing. Then you add the fact that China cut a deal with Philippines just a couple of months ago to withdraw their boats, and even before the ink is dry, they now have a number of their naval ships about 60 miles off the Philippines coast, with one of their mapping cutters grounded on the shoals. Now, why would they be mapping the waters off their when they had no BUSINESS being there.
Then you have their agree with USA and WTO. It required them to free their money, quit subsidizing/dumping and then drop most of their 90 tariffs/barriers. Now, they have over 400 tariffs and loads of barriers.

Basically, China can NOT be counted on to keep their word. If the west wants to avoid a war, then the best way is not to allow China to get any upper hand. Once they think that they have it, then they will attack (ask India about that).

By putting a base on the moon and mars as well as robotic exploration of asteroids, then we can have easy access to minerals. That helps guarantee that nations do not go to war over resources.

Re:And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694009)

We are the first species on this planet that has this capability to save itself by being on multiple other planets.

Save itself from what?

The other issue is that many wars have been fought over resources. Minerals are needed. Less than 6 months ago, we saw that China invaded American waters to grab fish. Now, they were caught in Russian waters doing the same thing. Then you add the fact that China cut a deal with Philippines just a couple of months ago to withdraw their boats, and even before the ink is dry, they now have a number of their naval ships about 60 miles off the Philippines coast, with one of their mapping cutters grounded on the shoals. Now, why would they be mapping the waters off their when they had no BUSINESS being there.

It will be easier to mine the oceans than mine the moon. And how many fish do you think the Chinese will find there? What do Chinese claims in the South China sea have to do with space? There are still a lot of places you can get resources on the earth for far, far, far less money than trying to get them out of the gravity well. They can buy fish from other countries, for example.

Do you realize how hostile the environment is once you leave Earth's atmosphere? There isn't any spot on the earth that's more hostile to life than they most benign spot on the moon or even mars.

Re:And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695665)

Save itself from what?

Ourselves. Mankind is unquestionably the greatest threat we know of to human civilisation.

Re:And now the neo-cons will scream about SLS (1)

able1234au (995975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695409)

Once they think that they have it, then they will attack (ask India about that).

Are you referring to this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_India_War [wikipedia.org]

This was 1962. Next you will be quoting the dangers of Genghis Khan.

Anybody want to take a bet? (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693475)

I'll bet that the Chinese will set foot on the Moon and claim it for themselves, regardless of any long-standing International agreements to the contrary.

..and yes, I know this post will get modded down to "-1, Troll" and I'll get flamed for posting this. Haters gonna hate; I'm expressing my opinion, and I don't care who likes or dislikes it. I don't trust the Chinese government; I have been given no reason to.

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40693561)

So exactly what the US, Russia, or any other megalomaniac nation with too much ego would do...

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40693853)

America has already been there. They did not do it.

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693759)

They can have it. What could they possibly do there that would make it worth the trip?

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 2 years ago | (#40693953)

water.
Plutonium.
Other minerals.
HE3
Ability to live off-world.
Ability to put up a decent scope that allows us to view deep, real deep, into the universe.

And that is just for starters.

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (1)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694025)

Eh, there's plenty of water here on the earth. Plutonium isn't naturally occurring, so I'm not sure where you're getting that. "Other minerals" are also here on the earth. As far as HE3 is concerned, we don't know what to do with it, so I'm not sure why they would go to the moon to get it.

And the ability to live off world is useful how?

If that's your idea of "starters" I can't even imagine how useless the items further down the list are.

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40694113)

Don't mind WindBourne, he's just a little delirious after his gay sex partner Jerry Sandusky got collared by the FBI.

Re:Anybody want to take a bet? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695897)

Wow, Sandusky has now invaded /. I understand sports sites, but wow, he's migrating all over.

The moon is the "high ground" in a military sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40694011)

They can have it. What could they possibly do there that would make it worth the trip?

Establish a military presence that controls near earth space and possibly threatens targets on the earth's surface via large kinetic weapons (all the bang of nukes without the radiation).

Re:The moon is the "high ground" in a military sen (1)

kheldan (1460303) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694553)

..via large kinetic weapons

..and the AC has it. Did everyone else forget about The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress already?

I predict the next "space race" will be to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, and the Chinese will be playing the role the Russians played back in the 1950's and 1960's.

Re:The moon is the "high ground" in a military sen (2)

tsotha (720379) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695027)

..and the AC has it. Did everyone else forget about The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress already?

Let's assume the Chinese build a mass driver (assuming you could actually build one) on the moon and threatened to drop heavy rocks on us. The proper response would be "If you do that, we're going to turn your country into a vast expanse of radioactive glass." Trillions of yuan wasted because they forgot we had nukes. Stupid Chinese!

Re:The moon is the "high ground" in a military sen (1)

cobbaut (232092) | more than 2 years ago | (#40695865)

I predict the next "space race" will be to establish a permanent presence on the Moon, and the Chinese will be playing the role the Russians played back in the 1950's and 1960's.

What makes you so sure they won't be playing the role of the Americans ?

Their progress is seen as 'slow' and 'copying' by most Americans, but their 5 year and 10 year and 20 year plans are being steadily executed.

Their Shenzhou spacecraft has done spaceflights that resemble American Mercury and Gemini, but it actually has all capabilities of Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Soyuz combined (and improved).

space exploration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40693545)

What this country need is a visionary genius who can lose billions of dollars failing to hype electric cars and still claim to beat the Chinese on launch costs.
Charlatans like that is what make America great.

A new space race (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40694265)

Welcome to space race 2.0. This time around USA will be the one losing economically.

China may be going to the moon but the US will (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40695163)

China may be going to the moon but the US will have Idiocracy.

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