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NASA Eyes Shuttle Replacements

chrisd posted more than 12 years ago | from the big-rubber-bands-are-not-under-consideration dept.

Space 353

jonerik writes "According to this article at, NASA yesterday released a status report on the first year of NASA's Space Launch Initiative; the search for a space shuttle replacement, currently planned to begin operating ten years from now. The competing contractors - Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and a team consisting of Northrop Grumman and Orbital Sciences Corp. - have their work cut out for them. NASA is looking for both a ten-fold improvement in per-pound launch costs (from $10,000 per pound to $1,000) and massive improvements in crew survivability."In related news, Rubyflame writes: "Aviation Now has a story about four new kerosene-fueled rocket engines being developed by Aerojet, Pratt & Whitney, Rocketdyne, and TRW. These are engines that will produce a million pounds of thrust, intended to outdo Russian designs in reliability and launch cost, and one of them may power a new reusable launch vehicle. Kerosene has the advantage that it's denser than hydrogen, so the fuel tanks can be smaller."

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Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3447999)

I shit you not dude, that is the most craptacular thing i have seen since... well, ever.


Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448030)

i'm gonna cruise this unmoderated ac fp motherbitch as long as i can. DAMN DOG THIS SHIT IS FLY.

about time.... (0)

smashr (307484) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448002)

about time.... i mean since the end of the cold war we really havent had any good push to do things in space.... at least now we can do silly, safe experiments at 1/10th the cost...

Re:about time.... (1)

Caltheos (573406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448233)

The only reason we haven't seen a shuttle replacement already is the fact that 1,000's of jobs depend on the clunky and labor intensive prep and launch of the existing space shuttle program. I believe the plans and protoype for a spaceplane that could take off from an airport and reach LEO already exist. I guess they just need to find a way to make it a bit more expensive before they finish the project. BTW Stephen Baxter has some great hard sci-fi reading about alternate near futures...Titan is a great one about the collapse of NASA and a very technical description of a pieced together trip to Saturn's moon Titan, great read.

Carthago delendo esset! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448003)

Carthago delendo esset!

safe (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448004)

massive improvements in crew survivability


first druken post? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448008)

kenyon haus rules.

Haiku (4, Funny)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448011)

Nasa space shuttle
Takes off like a pile of bricks
Lighter craft required

Re:Haiku (0, Offtopic)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448024)

Oh my god, what kind of monster have I created?

I've opened the haiku box, and now, there's no way to stuff the verse back inside...

Oh, the humanity!!!

Re:Haiku (0, Offtopic)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448062)

There once was a posting to Slashdot
By a man wielding plus two who dare not
Make plus one the score
Of his posting, a door
Away from his boredom and skull-rot

A sonnet for your bonnet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448116)

On Slashdot you'll find it is read
quite rarely amidst the trolls
a well thought out piece regarding article said.
Much more likely the goat man's bowels.

In Your Rights Online we puport to discuss
matters of such great importance
like stealing from musicians and mocking their fuss
and offering piddling forms of recompense.

One thing that we argued was fees
"Not to save us!" they claimed, but were lying
The topics of late have been generally sleaze.
Let's face it. Slashdot is dying.

I'm really getting bored of Slashdot... (1, Funny)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448035)

There once was a man from Nantucket
Built a ship so light that he could chuck it
At c into the air
Not like Nasa did care
They poured more in to Boeing and said 'Fuck it'

Re:I'm really getting bored of Slashdot... (0, Offtopic)

Linuxthess (529239) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448044)

Mod this guy up, He sure knows his shit, Oh do it, God Damn It!!!

Re:I'm really getting bored of Slashdot... (1)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448087)

Linuxthess made a decree
To moderate up above three
The post parent to his
A limerick it is
A good one (save the part about c)

Re:Haiku (1)

Enonu (129798) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448092)

Needs refinement. The 2nd and 3rd lines convey the same image, and "Nasa space shuttle" is redundant in the Haiku sense.

Re:Haiku (1)

MrHat (102062) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448100)

Stupid haiku verse
"Needs some refinement", he says
All is GPL

BDB is the answer. (1)

Tyler Eaves (344284) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448016)

BDB = Big Dumb Booster.

We did the Saturn 5 in the mid '60's with slide rules. Surely we can do much better than that these days?

Reuseable is a joke for the main compnent. The shuttle is practically rebuilt anyways.

Re:BDB is the answer. (5, Insightful)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448101)

The Saturn 5 was no Big Dumb (i.e. low-cost expendable) Booster -- I figure maybe a cool billion a shot compared to half that for a Shuttle launch.

Problem was the Saturn 5 was already paid for (million pound thrust kerosene engine -- didn't they call than the F-1?) while the Shuttle that replaced it required billions in development cost. Also, the Saturn could put 4 times the payload in LEO, making it half as expensive as the Shuttle per pound, and it could send stuff to the Moon.

Instead of punching around with the Shuttle in LEO and this Space Station which is the overpriced whatever, we could have kept Apollo going and evolving, and with the same money we have spent, we could have had a permanent human presence on the Moon by now.

What would that gain? Well, we could have a much more thorough evaluation of lunar resources (possible polar ice) and more thoroughly evaluated O'Neil's ideas of using the Moon as a source of construction materials for space-solar beamed power systems in geosynchronous or L-whatever orbits. Instead we are dinking around in LEO learning nothing.

The Big Dumb Booster by the way, was an idea to scale up the Lunar Module descent engine (had to be a KISS design to bring the astronouts down in one piece) -- they gave the job of building a prototype motor to some general construction contractors who didn't know the first thing about rockets, and they test-fired a successful motor. The thing would have been the size of a Saturn but much more cheaply (heavily) build -- payload would have been more in the Shuttle category, but the idea is that boiler and bridge makers could slap them together. Of course the Shuttle killed the idea.

Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448017)

will it run Linux?

Re:Yes but... (0)

Roto-Rooter Man (520267) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448115)

Target launch date in 2012. Nothing will be running Linux in 2012.

SCI-FI (0)

gerf (532474) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448020)

we've takin ideas from them before... how about the magnetic slingshot built on the side of a mountain to "throw" materials into space? of course, with something like 100 Gs, humans would have to use another method...

I thought... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448021)

I thought the point of having a space shuttle was to make replacing it unnecessary...

Sligshot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448022)

they need like a big ass slingshot and stuph to shot ppls up into space and crap cuz that woul dbe 1337 or sumthin..heheh why am i replying? i dunoo.....blwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Mice are the key! (1)

Phosphor3k (542747) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448025)

A good shuttle will include mice for the scientific development of the pleasure center.

Hooray for Mice! Bring on the electrodes!

Just another NASA bait'n'switch (2, Interesting)

AJWM (19027) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448027)

This is just another money-grubbing scheme, same as the X-33, same as countless others before it. The last thing they want is to really lower the cost of space launch and let the riff-raff in.

They just want gobs of money to spend on technology development programs (read "new toys"). The ultimate goal of upper NASA management these days is to reach retirement without having any disasters (like Apollo 1 or Challenger) on their watch -- the easiest way to avoid that is to launch things as infrequently as possible.

(Note, there are probably a few naive engineers and rocket scientists still at NASA who believe the PR and have honorable intentions. But they're not the decision makers.)

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (3, Funny)

Schlemphfer (556732) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448057)

Note, there are probably a few naive engineers and rocket scientists.

Funny, I always thought the terms "naive" and "rocket scientists" were antithetical.

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (3, Insightful)

sean23007 (143364) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448064)

Being naive does not make one an idiot. Naivete is the opposite of wisdom, not intelligence.

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448142)

mod that up. the poster is wise.

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (1)

bbay (192854) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448152)

No, naivete is the opposite of experience. The opposite of wisdom would be foolishness.

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (1)

LightForce3 (450105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448086)

As a firm believer in NASA and the space program, I ask you to back up your statements with some evidence that they are true.

Also, are you saying that NASA and the space program are useless?

NASA's justification for existing (5, Insightful)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448097)

They just want gobs of money to spend on technology development programs (read "new toys").

American tax dollars are working to make these "new toys". The primary justification for NASA's funding is that the technologies that come out of these "technology development programs" push the cutting edge of modern tech.

It's been a long time since Congress has thought about the values of "exploring space". That's just an side-effect of research spending.

It's like those robot-construction competitions where they have to get all the balls into the goal. The contest isn't to designed to solve the great "yellow ball problem", it's to build and explore ideas in technology.

Congress views funding NASA the same way; by funding NASA they're advancing America's technical know-how. Not to mention that NASA contracts go to high-tech american industries.

There's not some sort of conspiracy to keep regular people out of space here. NASA's just doing its job.


Re:NASA's justification for existing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448151)

the aerospace industry has a strong interest in keeping space launch prohibitively expensive. they win contracts with small gains in efficiency, but the research into radically new drives and vehicles is almost entirely academic. the original poster knows what's up.

"advancing american know how" (2)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448230)

If congress really wanted to advance american know how they would put the money into universities, that would make all their discoveries and developments available to the public.

Currently the money goes to a couple of aerospace companies that keep all of their important developments in secret.

And all those advances in know how are so esoteric they are quite useless for most Americans.

The primary justafication for NASA's funding is to feed powerufl contractors. Luckily we can get some important science done as a byproduct of that.

Re:Just another NASA bait'n'switch (1)

abraxas (19266) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448160)

This is just another money-grubbing scheme, same as the X-33, same as countless others before it. The last thing they want is to really lower the cost of space launch and let the riff-raff in.
I assume you have some facts to back up your jaundiced opinions. If not then stfu.

The shuttle platform is an old design with an aging fleet that will continue to cost more for each flight with higher attendant risks. For some tasks, it is the only tool available today and needs to be kept in service to perform those functions. Also, there is a minimum number of flights per year that can be taken before attrition sets in.

The last point that you are so painfully oblivious to is engineering attrition. Those technology development programs (read "new toys") you speak of are needed to keep engineering talent fruitfully occupied and ready to tackle the real challenges ahead. Like any other technology staff, there is a minimum point at which people start to walk away in droves and in this single employer industry segment, you can't hire them back from the other companies they've gone to since once they leave NASA many of them will convert to other industries.

Your points are so obviously indefensible and purely opinion that I can't for the life of me see why anyone modded your comment up.

I tend to agree with you (2)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448213)

With the ammount of money poured into NASA (especially the shuttle program) you'd think that the US would have found a cheap way to put things into space.

Instead the Russians still do things cheaper (and so far quite reliably) with their Energia rockets.

It is really hard to believe that those contractors are actually trying to make things cheaper.

about time (3, Insightful)

EricBoyd (532608) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448029)

I sure hope NASA sticks to their guns this time. Shuttle technology is like 30 years old now, and it's seriously *embarassing* because of that. I mean, the gains that they are expecting are reasonable - which shows you how out of date the Shuttle is.

Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon []

Re:about time (2, Informative)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448046)

Well, I wouldn't call it embarassing since:

There's been only one major accident (challenger) in those 30 years

No one else has a reusable launch vehicle (that I know of...I don't think russia does, pretty sure no one else does either


Re:about time (2)

scotch (102596) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448083)

.I don't think russia does, pretty sure no one else does either

Russia used to have a shuttle called the Buran or some such. Buran means Snow Storm, IIRC. I doubt if they fly it anymore, some enterprising Russian Engineer probably carved it up and traded the scrap metal for vodka.

One feature it was supposed to have that the US shuttle doesn't is some power on landing, allowing a wider margin of safety in landings.

I'm sure somebody has more info, or check google for "buran shuttle"

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448126)

There was something about this in an old Slashdot article. Apparently one of the prototypes is a tourist attraction in Moscow, and the rest are scrap or something. IIRC it only made one flight, and that was via remote control. It didn't get out of the testing stage before the Soviet Union fell and took most of their funding with it.

Re:about time (1)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448132)

ahh, thanks for the info, I hadn't even heard of that thing...too bad it's late here or I'd do some research on it...sounds like a project for tomorrow!


You mean Tthey "had" a "shuttle-like" prototype (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448210)

The Russian Buran program was based on what the Russians thought the US space shuttle was. They were unable to duplicate the effort and Buran was never practically employed.

It now sits as an amusement park exhibit that you can walk through, and as for it "not flying anymore"...well, it never really flew in the first place in a practical sense.

I don't know why people constantly bring up Buran. There is no comparison between this pseudo-prototype craft that was never practically used, and the shuttle, which has over two decades of nearly perfect mission records.

Re:You mean Tthey "had" a "shuttle-like" prototype (5, Funny)

scotch (102596) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448229)

I don't know why people constantly bring up Buran.

Because we like to torment you. It obviously bothers you.

I also heard that France was working on a shuttle. Portugal has been flying their shuttle for years, though it's not widely publicized. Mexico scrapped their shuttle project in favor of their rail-gun / light-sail combination system with which they've manage to supply migrant workers for the asparagus farming on Venus.

Re:You mean Tthey "had" a "shuttle-like" prototype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448243)

If all posts here had this kind of wit
there would be no need for medicinal marijuana o make it bearable.

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448106)

Well, cost wise it's embarrassing. Considering it you can buy a full trip + training from the Russians for $20 million, while it takes something like $200 million to recover and refuel the solid rockets and build the new (non reusable) hydrogen/oxygen tank.

I don't see the point of a reusable spacecraft if it doesn't either reduce costs (the shuttle clearly doesn't) or reduce the amount of waste burned up (the huge tank still burns up, so no major improvement over a standard rocket there).

Yes Russia does (2)

Edmund Blackadder (559735) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448179)

Russia has the Buran. It looks like the american shuttle but it is larger and carries more cargo.

I think it has only flown once. After that they parked it on a runway and it has been there ever since AFAIK. I think one of the fuselage models used for testing is a tourist attraction in moscow.

The Russians dont use it because it is much cheaper to use their rockets.

Buran sits in a parking lot among weeds. (1)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448200)

You are totally ill-informed re Buran. The Russians never made meaningful use of this design and there was only one semi-functional prototype built. You can now tour it for a few dollars outside of Moscow, but hurry up, its falling apart quickly and even the carival hucksters who own it are getting tired of it.

Re:about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448073)

"and it's seriously *embarassing* because of that"

What's SERIOUSLY embarassing is that no other country has the power to match our 30 year old tech.

Embarassing for them, not us.

Still, your point is well recieved. We should be have something much more advanced in the field by now.

Re:about time (0)

fliptw (560225) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448095)

Remember, challenger was cause by a very small mistake.

Re:about time (2)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448120)

Shuttle technology is like 30 years old now, and it's seriously *embarassing* because of that.

What seems more embarassing to me is that the Russians have a much more appropriate and cost effective system to launch humans into space -- and it uses 45 year old technology.

Embarassing compared to WHAT? (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448186)

I hear these gripes all of the time...but who is the US in a race with? The Russians can barely afford to pay for anything on the ground let alone in space. The Chinese are at least fifteen years off of anything serious in the way of manned spaceflight. The Euros? The Japanese?

So please tell me why the shuttles are an embarassment. As far as I can see they're still the only space craft that lands on wheels.

Crew survivability? (2, Interesting)

Cutriss (262920) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448040)

"...and massive improvements in crew survivability."

No, I didn't read the article, but, assuming this poster is reasonably accurate with his description text, why is this necessary? Aside from Challenger, have we had any significant (or even insignificant?) problems with shuttle crews surviving the trip?

Re:Crew survivability? (1)

Jubedgy (319420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448054)

IIRC, Challenger is the only one. I think the problem is that there are so many things that CAN go wrong...that's why the survivability thing is important. I imagine the new thing'll have more redundancies, be more resistant to certain accidents, or other things to that effect, which will raise that number.


Re:Crew survivability? (5, Interesting)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448107)

Aside from Challenger?

Please note that during the first 2.5 minutes of every shuttle launch, there are NO abort modes that are survivable. If there are any problems with the SRBs, they cannot be turned off. If there are any catastrophic problems with the ET, it doesn't matter, you must continue your launch profile until the SRBs have stopped.

Three engine shutdown during SRB burn? Shuttle disintegration.

ET rupture? Shuttle disintegration.

Pretty much anything, dead astronauts.

The russians use 40 year old technology, but at least they have survivable aborts throughout the entire flight profile.

Re:Crew survivability? (3, Informative)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448211)

You also forgot to mention the fact that before every launch, an explosive demolition team arms a large satchel of c4 in the nose of the SRBs. Gee, I'd hate to be the one to press that big red button when the shuttle deviates from its flight plan.

Re:Crew survivability? (1)

ugliness (325797) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448150)

Maybe you should have (read the artivcle), it quotes the figure as being between 1 in 250 and 500.

Wanna go for a ride? :-)

Build a goddamn Snger-type launcher! (3, Interesting)

flowerp (512865) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448043)

A German concept, AFAIK. Way more reusable than anything NASA has come up with ... 8-)

The days of vertical launches are over.

Multi-stage Launch (5, Informative)

jchawk (127686) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448049)

This article is light on details but does mention that all of these systems that they are working on are two-staged.

At first you may think that two-staged launches are a waste of money, but some of it does at least look promising.

The design from Boeing is an interesting one. It looks like a smaller shuttle attached to a jumbo jet. It's then flown near the limits of space where the top ship would then come apart and finish it's journey into space on it's own.

The jumbo jet would then return to the launch site.

I must admit that I would love to see a 1 stage space craft. :-)

Re:Multi-stage Launch (1)

paganizer (566360) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448155)

Ahh, Clipper Graham [] , how I miss yee... I may be getting a bit cynical, but I just don't believe NASA will ever assist in the devlopment of something that will make them obsolete, like a truly inexpensive, safe 1-stage reusable spacecraft. Common, Mr. Gates! actually do something for mankind! put the resources of your evil empire behind this problem! Just PLEASE don't run the flight control computers with XP.

Re:Multi-stage Launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448194)

There's a book that was put out about a decade or so ago with about 20 some years worth of alternate shuttle designs from General Dynamics, Boeing, McDonald Douglas, etc. that were considered, but never implemented.

Lots of cool diagrams, from catamaran-style winged boosters to a Shuttle-C variant without a crew compartment, designed solely for launching cargo. I can't remember the name, but if you do a search on the shuttle you should be able to find it.

Aren't both Boeing stages identical? (4, Informative)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448224)

From what I could see from the photos [] , tthe Boeing stages appear to be identical (?), which would be a huge cost-savings in terms of parts reuse, interchangeability, etc.

Its true though that all of the designs share some stage to get you off the gorund, one to get you into orbit. Obviously this isn't by accident...the physics of the problem and materials/fuel presently available must dictate this design.

the usual suspects...defense contractors (5, Interesting)

Sir Elton John (577301) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448052)

The companies listed as possible contractors for the new project aren't incredibly surprising. When I met with Lockheed Martin executives a while back as part of a consulting gig that didn't pan out, I asked them a few questions about the industry.

Now, I am coming from a background where I am not incredibly familiar with either U.S. capitalism or with issues of defense. Basically, there are a handful of these companies that compete for every government contract. To maintain "competition," the government will try to spread the love around, going with different companies for succesive contracts.

But each individual contract is too big for a single company to fulfill on its own, so whomever ends up winning the contract will turn around and outsource some of the work to...the same "competitors" whose bids they beat out!

As a retired rocketman, I am the first to support expansion and improvement of any nation's space program. I just wanted to point out that the notion of "who will build the next generation shuttle" should be taken with a grain of salt.

You seem a little naive for a retired rocketman (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448232)

Really, you must realize that the range of companies who can bid on this type of project is very limited, and that obviously the government wishes to spread the mindshare for this project over mutliple vendors if possible.

Large scale aerospace and military projects have operated as such for decades. This really isn't news.

It's about time (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448055)

Shouldn't they have been looking into this years ago? The fact that the shuttle is massively expensive compared to rockets isn't very new.

I find it kinda ironic how they're doing this only a year or two after canceling practically every alternative-launch-system project NASA had (X-33, X-34, and a few others that I can't remember). I'd think it would be cheaper to just finish a few programs at once rather than stop and restart them constantly, as NASA seems to be doing lately.

Re:It's about time (2)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448159)

I'm a big fan of the X-33 (I have a model on my desk at work and it's my Winamp skin) and I thought GWB was more or less responsible for the cancellation of the X-33, not NASA. Either way, it's a damn shame.

Re:It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448164)

since when have government contracts been issued with the intention of being cheaper! it's news to me..

Reminds me of this: (5, Funny)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448058)

"Rockhound: You know we're sitting on four million pounds of fuel, one nuclear weapon and a thing that has 270,000 moving parts built by the lowest bidder. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?"


Fore more quotes from that movie go here []

Another favorite: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448145)

Lev Andropov: American components, Russian components, all made in Taiwan!

I saw (1)

Morgahastu (522162) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448071)

the head of the canadian space agency looking for a space shuttle too. Yeah I seem him often there at "Jim Scean's Used RVs and Trailers"

Druish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448072)

They should talk to my cousin Murray, down in the Valley. He'll give you a very good deal...

George Bush calls on NASA to put a man on the Sun (3, Funny)

Caractacus Potts (74726) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448075)

With everything that's been going on lately, you might have missed this important piece of 'news'.
Anyway, here's the link [] .

I am still waiting (1)

Morgahastu (522162) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448077)

for NASA to pour all its funds into an over-hyped dot com and then have them go bankrupt so I can buy myself a space shuttle at their bankruptcy auction.

Pics (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448080)

More pics here [] . Dig the one with 6 jet engines.

good link, mod parent up. (0)

primenerd (100899) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448156)

It's a real link, not some link to goatland or something.

Re:Pics (1, Interesting)

PMM (68176) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448185)

this [] one?

yeah its pretty cool looking in a bloated insect kind of way

timothy SUCKS BALLS (-1, Flamebait)

Shaklee3 (576563) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448085)

timothy you should realize that NO ONE FUCKING CARES you stupid cocksucker faggot

Kerosene? (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448089)

I understand the space savings advantages of kerosene, but how does the thrust produced per unit weight compare to that of the current SRB/LRB compare? Having to (hypothetically) double the fuel weight to double the thrust seems like a waste of money to me.

Re:Kerosene? (5, Informative)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448175)

I understand the space savings advantages of kerosene, but how does the thrust produced per unit weight compare to that of the current SRB/LRB compare? Having to (hypothetically) double the fuel weight to double the thrust seems like a waste of money to me.

On another article a few weeks back, someone posted an answer that cleared this up for me. (I'm too lazy to track down the posting now.)

Bottom line is: hydrogen is like a high-horsepower, high-RPM turbo racing engine; it's best for driving light vehicles at high speeds (upper stages). Kerosene is like a high-torque diesel truck engine, good for getting a lot of weight moving from a dead stop.

The difference has to do with the physics of exhaust density, speed, momentum, etc.

Here's an idea... (2)

NewtonsLaw (409638) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448090)

Why not just wait until all those brave entrants in the X-Prize [] contest have had a go.

Who knows, mybe that crazy Englishman [] with his "Thunderbird" rocket made from plywood will astound us all.

Or not.

One big name missing? (1)

Devil's BSD (562630) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448113)

Venturestar seems mysteriously out of the picture here...

Re:One big name missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448238)

They couldn't fix the leaky composite LH tank so the whole thing was scrapped. The Pentagon may resurrect a scaled-down version.

Well Done! (1)

vchoy (134429) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448119)

improvement in per-pound launch costs (from $10,000 per pound to $1,000) and massive improvements in crew survivability."

Given the current time and effort put into safety aspects of today's space shuttle programs, the plan of "massively" improving this demonstrates NASA's "it can always be improved" attitude and forward thinking ability.

Well done!

Crew and Cargo Seperate (2, Interesting)

Cerrian (545606) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448122)

"Furthermore, a second-generation reusable launch system is being sought that lowers the cost-per-pound to orbit from $10,000 to just $1,000 a pound. The second-generation launcher would be capable of lofting crew and cargo separately" Finally!! I was wondering how much longer NASA/Aerospace industry planned on trying to keep crew and cargo on the same payload. Yes, it's not as efficient, but it's more economic and it's the economics that's the space industry's main obstacale. It never made sense to me as to why you would launch a billion dollar payload on a risky rocket transporation system and then on top, make a crew part of the payload. As if there wasn't enough risk and cost to the whole operation.

Need For Shuttle? (3, Interesting)

ONOIML8 (23262) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448127)

Not that I'm an expert by any means but...

I would hope that they start by questioning the need for a shuttle to begin with. Manned orbital flight is pretty well handled with the ISS and the Russians have a cheaper, time proven method of transport to/from ISS that is pretty hard to beat.

As far as repair of orbitals, has that proven to be worth the expense? Maybe it is, especially if they use such a vehicle to do trash collection. Again, I'm no expert but I hope those who are will be considering these things.

It would seem to me that some of the would be costs of new shuttles would be better spent on upgrading the design of Soyez/Progress and making them even more efficient. The rest of the money could be better spent on other projects including unmanned deep space research or manned missions to other planets (assuming those make sense).

About time. This is imperative. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448129)

Well they also need to reduce a lot of fucking red tape

Northrop is still obsessed with the flying wing, again.

It's cheaper to use the Russians to launch satellites by a factor of, oh, 100

It's cheaper to ship/build your shit to Russia and have them put it on a rocket
Space is no longer really a government application

We need to help make it commercial

It's bullshit, fucking 10,000/lb.

As it is now, the Russians have a better launch record than the USA. Over the past 5 years tons of our shit has blown up on the pad.

Russia is going to walk off with a lot of business

They already HAVE the business. THE USA needs to promote space tourism too.
I predict space and biotech

Space is already lost (in terms of satellites) to the Russians

Space and biotech are unlimited

No Mores law in space or biotech

The Russian space agency is fully capitalist now, its kind of fucking ironic

USA needs to be capitalist as well

But even if ours was - a lot of regs have to come down

"permission to launch" in this the USA is a pain in the fucking ass.

Whereas Energiya calls up the Russian NORAD and says "were launching something" the other guy says "ok" and that's the end of it

If we could get a 747 sized thing to fly into space, would be interesting, need ramjets or something of this nature.

NASA is a little too anal, or other forces are within the US government.

The end result is its not conducive to space exploration - everything in the USA is going to become "regulated to death."

Some random thoughts.

Waste of Time??? (1)

farfolen (567038) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448131)

I don't know how the rest of the /. community feels, but it seems like the shuttle is a tremendous waste of time. Instead of focusing on other planets (the natural "next step" after the moon) NASA's spent the last few decades blowing most of it's cash on a ferry service to and from LEO. While I'll admit it's important and I'll admit that NASA HAS been spending on other projects, it's seems to me like the money being spent on the shuttle and it's replacement would be better utilized by the SCRAMjet researchers or a possible trip to Mars.

Re:Waste of Time??? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448165)

Mars stuff would have to start in LEO. So it only makes sense to build that out first.

Cost growth (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448138)

The current Shuttle was supposed to reduce the cost per pound to orbit to around $1000. It came in around 10x that price, partly because the Shuttles need a lot more refurbishing per launch than originally anticipated, and can't be used as many times as planned.

The Saturn V was cheaper than the Shuttle in cost per pound to orbit. Which is embarassing.

ugh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448148)

2002-05-01 06:50:35 Snapshots from the upgraded Hubble (articles,space) (rejected)

Fucking assholes.

Correct me if I'm wrong.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448162)

But this marks the third? Fourth? attempt to try to replace the shuttle. The last time they tried, they canned the project, saying it was too expensive. Now they not only want it to be faster and safer, but cheaper by AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE?! Sorry, but it don't work that way.

Re:Correct me if I'm wrong.. (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448172)

Yes you're wrong. Better manufacturing, design, concepts...

Isn't your PC better, cheaper, faster by several orders of magnitude than one available 10 years ago? Did your last VCR cost $1000?

How soon until we have ships built in space? (2, Interesting)

The Evil Beaver (175641) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448163)

Considering what all the artist's renditions of what the ISS is supposed to look like in about 10 years from now, there shouldn't be a problem with building space vehicles up there (other than getting the materials to build them, but that's for the logistics monkeys to figure out). Ones that don't have to worry about reentry. Such a vessel would undoubtedly be useful for manned missions outside the earth's current sphere of influence (currently earth orbit and the moon), for example going to Mars or even to our Trojans.

My only concern is using such a vessel for travelling to other planets, we'll need something like the shuttlecraft from countless sci-fi series and movies to move from orbit, to surface, and back.

Of course, build the ship large enough (perhaps a standing crew of 50 - 100) and with a large cargo space, and part of the problem may be solvable about setting up colonies offworld. The cargo space can house a dropship that can deploy into a base. Just a notion I've been toying with in my (still unpublished) stories.

Roton ??? (2)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448173)

Whatever happenned to the Roton [] ???

CNN's bit (2, Interesting)

sehryan (412731) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448184)

There was an article [] at about this, and something interested me from that article. Speaking of the common specs each design must have:

"They must be developed and operated by private industry."

Now maybe I am misinterpreting what "operated" means, but that sounds like NASA is planning for someone else to run these bad boys. Could this the first step towords commercialization?

My apologies... (1, Offtopic)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448193)

There once a dude on _this_ site,
That thought haiku's would be cool for a night
little did he know
of the seeds he would sow
when posted, the copycats he would incite

Venture Star? (1)

Jarvo (70205) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448197)

Wasn't the Venture Star (X33 (?)) meant to be a space shuttle replacement?

Or was that just a Lockheed Martin et al. feasibility project?

A few things to consider (-1)

CmdrStkFjta (565570) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448205)

It seemed to me that the shuttle is sort of bulky and excessive in many ways as far as design versus meneuverability. A beautiful bird in it's time, but the design has been dated. Trying to use it as a utility vehicle but looking to the future of what these vehicles are capable of doing should become two different things., if not more. We have explored orbital flight and now we know that we also need well equipped science stations for study. We also need vehicles that are able to haul cargo. NASA may wish to consider having many different types of vehicles that are designed to do each task more efficiently.

If only... (2)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448216)

First off, I thought the main advantage to using kerosene is that you don't need a cryogenic gas tank.

Anyway, didn't Bush start talking about pushing nuclear propulsion in space (maybe ala NERVA)? Does anybody think there's a snowball's chance in hell of one of the competitors for SLI to team up with General Atomics or Electric Boat or anybody else with experience in portable nuclear power plants? After all, a rocket that simply can't explode has got to do wonders for crew survivability, not to mention the weight savings of not having to carry around LOX.

Yeah, and while I'm dreaming we can use those rockets to send manned missions beyond Mars...

Make sure it doesn't use Windows. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448227)

Unless they don't mind turning the shuttle off then back on, several times a day.

all we need to do this is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3448231)

the infinite improbability engine

NASA's Plan (1)

GreatOgre (75402) | more than 12 years ago | (#3448247)

Here's what I've been told. One of the professors here (Miss. State) is actually involved with some of the research. I'll break this down by topic as I think of them.


The concept is that by having multi-stage rockets is that you can maximize thrust while minimizing cost (both construction and fuel). The multi-stage rockets, to the best of my knowledge, have more reusablity than the current boosters (which find themselves at the bottom of the ocean most of the time).

Crew Safety:

Don't have much to say there. Most of what I've heard is dealing with construction and ground testing of the rockets.


Don't remember much, but seems like I remember a lot of talk about that back when I was an undergrad and taking fluids. Supposed to be a little more aerodynamic and the ability to land on other landing strips than the usual suspects.

This is most that I can remember off the top of my head. If I remember more, I'll post. FYI: most of the research that I've seen being done here deals with the uncertainty involved in the design. Lower the uncertainty involved in the overall process, the better engineers can predict the life and responsiveness of the materials involved in the spacecraft. Hope this helps somewhat.
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