News NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress

Wishbone

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This could help mount the barriers to making the ISS a teensy bit covering the expenses, and paving the way to Mars (at least trying out growing veggies in space). A big morale booster would be having undehydrated food... There are all kinds of experiments that are too heavy to bring to orbit on existing launchers...
 

GoForPDI

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Also, what is an MPCV? Why does Congress want to launch outmoded Rhodesian combat vehicles into orbit? :huh:

Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle, formerly known as the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

It basically covers them if the craft never does any exploration!
 

Urwumpe

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Exactly, with 3 launches, you can build another ISS. Makes the station building much easier (even better, the components can be pre-assembled & ready to power on).

But is also a fallacy - on orbit assembly of smaller modules that can be launched on a medium launcher can easily be much cheaper than such large "superlifts". Larger modules are also not always more mass efficient, despite them naturally having the advantage (for not needing docking/berthing/assembly provisions).

The problem is just: If you can assemble an ISS in three launches,you have a launcher that is only needed three times for such a project and then just consumes a lot of money for idling around. A medium lift vehicle, or even a heavy medium lift vehicle, can be sold to other customers or better used in other programs.

And also, on orbit assembly is pretty cost effective today: you don't need much more people for it, than you usually already have there. You would need the same number of people for a superlift station, than for one made of smaller module. and if a module breaks a smaller one is easier repaired or replaced (by better interface definitions) than a large one.

Many people are just, in their expectations, stuck in the 1950s, when big was beautiful and EVA maintenance and assembly appeared unrealistic.

Also, having a reliable, ready-to-launch HLV could be useful in the perspective of a lunar base or a Mars mission.

A warp drive would be much better. To mars in a few seconds. Just think about the possibilities and how much money we could save if we would have a warp drive ready.
 

T.Neo

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Larger modules are also not always more mass efficient, despite them naturally having the advantage (for not needing docking/berthing/assembly provisions).

Unless you plan to commit to on-orbit construction, with "superlifts" as the individual segments. There are projects that would require even multiple launches of superheavy launchers.

Though I would be more concerned about complexity increase than mass increase, a stronger structure in a larger module (for example) is not as expensive as a set of thrusters, batteries/solar panels, an automated docking system, and the actual docking mechanisms and hatches themselves. Now that might be more than offset by the economic advantages of multiple smaller launches, but it still makes me uneasy, especially considering that after construction, it is just parasitic.

The first three could be made redundant by either a space tug (i.e. parom) or some sort of orbital manuvering collar, that is attached to the payload on the launch vehicle, guides it to the construction site, and then deorbits after it's use is complete. I like the first more because it makes more economic sense, but I like the second more because it allows faster delivery and less chance for accidents. But I suppose the automatic docking system would be better at handling gravity-gradient torque induced rotation than an inexperienced orbinaut. :rolleyes:

and if a module breaks a smaller one is easier repaired or replaced (by better interface definitions) than a large one.

I would imagine that it would depend on the circumstance. It wouldn't do much good to try and replace Unity or Harmony, or Destiny, because too much of the station structure surrounds them. Whereas replacing Columbus or Pirs would be (relatively) easy.

Smaller modules allow you to better ride out failure in general anyway, if you have a loss of pressure. With three Skylabs you basically have the same pressurised volume as the ISS, but if one loses pressure, you loose a whole lot more volume. The only way to prevent that is to have internal pressure bulkheads, which adds mass and would increase the internal volume/mass ratio, negating any potential mass saving from a group of smaller modules.

The problem is just: If you can assemble an ISS in three launches,you have a launcher that is only needed three times for such a project and then just consumes a lot of money for idling around. A medium lift vehicle, or even a heavy medium lift vehicle, can be sold to other customers or better used in other programs.

Unless you have a market that is better suited to such a large vehicle. Of course we don't have that now, and we won't have it for quite some time, but I see no reason why it is impossible.

I actually did some research into launch economics a few days ago. By looking at the number of launches in 2010 of the Proton (11 launches), Delta IV heavy (1 launch), Ariane 5 (6 launches) and STS (3 launches), I came up with a figure of 21 launches in total, and 450 tons launched into orbit (created by adding together the maximum payloads of every vehicle). This is an average of 21.4 tons per vehicle.

To launch Saturn V 21 times a year would require a yearly up-mass of 2500 tons, to launch Ares V 21 times a year would require a yearly up-mass of 3950 tons, and to launch Sea Dragon 21 times a year would require a yearly up-mass of 11 550 tons. Whatever on Earth (or in this case, in space) those payloads would be, I have no clue.

Now, this is a very simplistic calculation, and it assumes a lot, because I never got bothered actually researching the real payload masses and figuring out what the real mass launched into space last year was, and I'm also discounting the fact that more up-mass on more launches is more economically attractive.

I also noticed how many payloads were destined for GEO, or other high orbits (such as for GPS satellites). The fact is that our current launch market doesn't really resemble that for a large manned spaceflight program at all. Hopefully that'll change over the coming years, with more commercial interest in space and the eventual- and much fabled- return to BEO operations.

Many people are just, in their expectations, stuck in the 1950s, when big was beautiful and EVA maintenance and assembly appeared unrealistic.

B...but... big is always beautiful, what a real space program needs is a big manly rocket, that can get the masses inspired and that every 8 year old boy can own a model of. Preferably something like Sea Dragon, so they can launch even the largest payloads at ease, and also kill thousands of hapless fish. :shifty:

In all seriousness though, early science fiction had plenty of examples of space construction... Von Braun's vision had the pointless hamster wheel space station, and the absurdly gigantic moon ships, and 2001 had both an under-construction space station as well as moon landers and interplanetary spacecraft that were undoubtedly constructed- at least in part- in space.

A warp drive would be much better. To mars in a few seconds. Just think about the possibilities and how much money we could save if we would have a warp drive ready.

Fat chance. You'll save months of travel time, but all that negative matter comes with a hefty price tag.

Let's just say that the mass of the warp bubble will not be the only number in the negative... :lol:
 

Urwumpe

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Pictures?

Supervixensposter.jpg


I don't know what you now think about it, but I seriously researched big boo...sters
 

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I'm confident that if the space industry really develops and the "commercial flights" prove to be a good alternative, there will soon be demand for HLVs.

Why not 100-tons orbiting (automated) factories producing exotic materials that can be only done in a 0g environnement ?
 

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Why not 100-tons orbiting (automated) factories producing exotic materials that can be only done in a 0g environment ?

Do you deliver 16,000 ton factory halls on Earth in one piece? :lol:
 

T.Neo

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Do you deliver 16,000 ton factory halls on Earth in one piece?

Of course not, but they are also not delivered in the back of sedan cars...

Still, a collection of 100 ton space factories wouldn't warrant such a large vehicle, but the feedstock and products of those factories might encourage an interesting mass flow to and from orbit.

Also, the Space Island Group's plans are utterly hilarious. :lol:
 

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Things have to grow naturally. You design launchers for the current payloads, but leave a bit of performance extra for growing payloads. And that in every generation. or you design for dual launch, and suddenly can only launch a single satellite with the current generation (as it happened to the Ariane 4).
 

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If there is sufficient demand for large and heavy payloads a HLV would certainly make sense. Terrestrial examples have proven that large vehicles generally are more economical. For example we ship oil in supertankers, iron ore or coal in huge bulk carriers, containers in ever larger container ships and build larger and larger cruise ships and airliners. When there is demand vehicles tend to grow very large. I see no reason why space launch market would be different if there is actual demand for multiple heavy payloads.
 

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Yes, but you can't design the demand. (The attempt is called communism and failed). You can't just say "Here we have a 100 ton launcher, fill it".
 

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Yes, but you can't design the demand. (The attempt is called communism and failed). You can't just say "Here we have a 100 ton launcher, fill it".

Exactly!!! :yes:

If NASA has to service the ISS with a 100t launcher, they'll run out of $$$ very fast.
 

GoForPDI

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Article up on SpaceRef regarding the response to the proposal.

''Senate Commerce Committee Members Respond to NASA Report''
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=32471

"We appreciate NASA's report and look forward to the additional material that was required but not submitted. In the meantime, the production of a heavy-lift rocket and capsule is not optional. It's the law. NASA must use its decades of space know-how and billions of dollars in previous investments to come up with a concept that works. We believe it can be done affordably and efficiently - and, it must be a priority."
 

N_Molson

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Hehe... so, the law forces them to develop an HLV, but without money... Easy ! :blink:
 

C3PO

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We believe it can be done affordably and efficiently

I don't!

And the fact that it's in the law doesn't mean that it's a good idea.
 
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River Crab

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If there is sufficient demand for large and heavy payloads a HLV would certainly make sense. Terrestrial examples have proven that large vehicles generally are more economical. For example we ship oil in supertankers, iron ore or coal in huge bulk carriers, containers in ever larger container ships and build larger and larger cruise ships and airliners. When there is demand vehicles tend to grow very large. I see no reason why space launch market would be different if there is actual demand for multiple heavy payloads.
That's the idea behind Big Dumb Booster, isn't it? Inexpensive giant rockets, built like ships. :p
The problem being, whatever HLV architecture NASA ends up with will probably still be quite expensive to build and operate, just like the shuttle and EELVs...and seeing that they want NASA to create jobs, rather than cut costs...:facepalm:

Falcon 9H looks more promising...

Also:
Supervixensposter.jpg


I don't know what you now think about it, but I seriously researched big boo...sters
Small can be beautiful... :rolleyes:
skylonmm01.jpg
 
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T.Neo

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That's the idea behind Big Dumb Booster, isn't it? Inexpensive giant rockets, built like ships.

The oil tanker metaphor goes further than this, if I remember correctly Sea Dragon was actually a gigantic orbital tanker.

Considering that propellant is a bulk payload that is expended by means of it's very nature and is best kept in high-volume containers, it would probably be the first thing start to make larger launch vehicles practical.

Small can be beautiful...

Hey, that's unfair... she has SABREs on her back... :p
 
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