News NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress

Sky Captain

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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".

Yeah that is the problem. Let's make some hardware and then see what mission can we do with it.
Mission goals should come first and then the question what kind of hardware we need to accomplish the mission. when mission defined and hardware recquirements defined then STICK TO THAT. If every new adminstration cancels the previous project and tasks to do something else then it will be only billions of $$$ worth of ppt presentations and some half made prototypes.
 

Wood

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"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."

Oh, wow. Really? They demand experts to write a report on a topic, then do the equivilent of sticking their fingers in their ears and crying "LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" and threaten THE LAW when they're told things they don't like? Ignoring a problem and hoping it just sorts itself out isn't going to work. Why does it seem that the whole world is run by morons?
 

Urwumpe

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The Shuttle was still pretty economic for its size. It was a large rocket, but NASA paid almost 6 times more per launch when the Saturn V was still around. And twice as much for the tiny Saturn IB. It was a huge improvement, but not as huge as advertised.

It is VERY hard to replace the Shuttle.

About doing what the law demands of them, why do I now have to think of a classic European inscription...

Ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα, τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.

"Stranger, announce to the Spartans that here
We lie, having fulfilled their orders."
 
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Ark

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Giving all the money to SpaceX seems faster, more economical, and more effective at the present time than anything NASA can do. It sucks, but it's really the truth. What NASA wants to do can't be done with the money, and what can be done with the money is impossible because of NASA's bureaucratic nonsense and Congressional obligation to give the empire of Shuttle employees something to do.
 

T.Neo

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But hold on... not to support misadministration here, but these shuttle workers are people, with careers, lives, families.

It's only fair that when we suggest axing Congressional stupidity, we allow or discuss options for what to do with this workforce that would be more economically and practically sound to NASA and the US as a whole.
 

tblaxland

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Also, Congress have just told NASA 'Do it our way' -> http://nasawatch.com/archives/2011/01/full-text-of-na.html
An interesting comment on that blog post:
Congress said:
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.
Dennis Wingo said:
Ah, little birdies have been chirping that this declarative statement originates from some people that spend a bit too much time listening to those who drank DIRECTly from the koolaid dispenser.
:lol:

Who is Dennis Wingo? http://www.apogeespacebooks.com/Author_Bios/dennis_wingo.html
 

zerofay32

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One problem that I through into the ring, is NASA and Congress is looking for the next long term program and rocket to suit. The problem, as many have stated, they are designing for so far into the future (for markets that aren't conceivable today) that the HLV will be unsistainable until that nich is cut (if it ever is cut). One solution I propose is to design a new family of lanchers using state-of-the-art tech that utilizes the same componets and/or facilities. Of course, the question is, how far can you push a design until you reach its limits (whether that be cost effectiveness, payload mass, payload volume, or safety/realiability)?
 

Sky Captain

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On the other hand, would a shuttle derrived HLV be that bad? The most expensive part of the stack is shuttle itself and it is eliminated in this proposal. IIRC single SRB cost ~40 million, external tank ~10 million, if they come up with cheaper single use modification of SSME (suppose ~20 million $ apiece) it would be ~200 million in hardware costs. Much smaller DeltaIV Heavy has similar price.

I'm wondering why they put a Ares 1 second stage as EDS. It severely limits the fairing diameter. It might be ok for Orion but what about moon lander or some other large payloads? It would make sense to have EDS similar in diameter to main stage to make available maximum possible payload volume.
 

T.Neo

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On the other hand, would a shuttle derrived HLV be that bad? The most expensive part of the stack is shuttle itself and it is eliminated in this proposal. IIRC single SRB cost ~40 million, external tank ~10 million, if they come up with cheaper single use modification of SSME (suppose ~20 million $ apiece) it would be ~200 million in hardware costs. Much smaller DeltaIV Heavy has similar price.

Which combined with the larger launcher size could lead to a lower cost/kg?

If it ends up being as expensive as Delta IV heavy, that is quite a feat and would make it quite a remarkable vehicle... that doesn't stop the launch economics issue.

Is $20 million USD per SSME realistic? SSMEs as they are now are $50 million... RS-68 is $14 million.

I'm wondering why they put a Ares 1 second stage as EDS. It severely limits the fairing diameter. It might be ok for Orion but what about moon lander or some other large payloads? It would make sense to have EDS similar in diameter to main stage to make available maximum possible payload volume.

I hope they mean "Ares I second stage derived", because if they're choosing the some ~5.5 meter upper stage, it is complete lunacy.

If it can fit Orion, big deal. You don't need such a large vehicle to launch Orion, and you're not going to send something like Orion outside of LEO without another spacecraft- either a lander, a long-duration habitat, or both.
 

Sky Captain

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Is $20 million USD per SSME realistic? SSMEs as they are now are $50 million... RS-68 is $14 million.

I have no idea. Given that 50 million cost current reusable version designed to survive multiple launches it should be possible to make simpler expandable SSME version hopefully for half that price.

If it can fit Orion, big deal. You don't need such a large vehicle to launch Orion, and you're not going to send something like Orion outside of LEO without another spacecraft- either a lander, a long-duration habitat, or both.
Yeah to launch Orion to ISS this is overkill. Heck, if you just want to send Orion to ISS I'm fairly sure an external tank based launcher like described here
http://www.spacefuture.com/archive/a_single_stage_to_orbit_thought_experiment.shtml
with 5 - 6 SSMEs could lift Orion to LEO into SSTO mode without the SRBs.
 

Urwumpe

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I have no idea. Given that 50 million cost current reusable version designed to survive multiple launches it should be possible to make simpler expandable SSME version hopefully for half that price.

Not automatically. also the research program costs a few billion again.
 

Victor_D

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I think Zubrin has made a good point:

building a heavy-lift launch vehicle makes little sense unless you have a mission for it. (Of course we all know what he thinks the mission should be - Mars in 10 years.)

Even if NASA produces some kind of an HLV that will satisfy all the political interests attached to the programme, it will be hugely expensive and critically underutilized. In order to lower the cost, you need to be producing a reasonable number of these rockets per year and keep sending them up. Anything else is a waste of money. If you develop an HLV just to have an HLV, and then launch once every couple of years while still paying for the armies of workers, engineers and bureaucrats who maintain the production line, launch pads and whatnot until you think up a suitable mission, the whole thing will end in a disaster (and most likely, cancellation).

NASA needs to have some concrete goal, it must know what it is trying to achieve, and then procure all the necessary hardware needed for successful accomplishing of that mission.

(Oh, and the crap about whether you can build an HLV in 6 years - it took 4 to build Saturn 5, and back then those guys were literally starting from scratch. Today, NASA has all the building blocks it needs. If it received a dose of common sense combined with an antidote to politics, it could have an HLV on the launch pad in 2 years with the current budget.)
 

T.Neo

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All the technology for such a vehicle already exists; the ET, the SRBs (though needed to be upgraded to 5 segment), the SSMEs (though needed to be upgraded to expendability), and even the J-2X, not to mention the launch and production infrastructure.

So in all logic, it should be easier to construct this vehicle, than it was to construct the Saturn V. But clearly things differ due to less funding, interest, an insufficient economic climate for such a vehicle...
 

Urwumpe

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So in all logic, it should be easier to construct this vehicle, than it was to construct the Saturn V. But clearly things differ due to less funding, interest, an insufficient economic climate for such a vehicle...

Can you also afford an development that is so expensive? ;) Or build a rocket that is again so expensive to operate... the Saturn V was pretty terrible in terms of economics, it was a brute force solution.
 

Lunar_Lander

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Because someone mentioned the similarity to the Jupiter I, I would like to point out that the team behind DIRECT proposed to develop no new rocket to lift cargo and astronauts to the ISS, but rather modify the Delta IV for the cargo and the Atlas V for the astronauts. How expensive and difficult would that be?
 

T.Neo

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Can you also afford an development that is so expensive? Or build a rocket that is again so expensive to operate... the Saturn V was pretty terrible in terms of economics, it was a brute force solution.

I never said that, I just said that it would be easier and cheaper to develop than the Saturn V. Not that it'd be easy or cheap to develop. :p

insufficient economic climate for such a vehicle...

Or economic to operate. ;)
 

tblaxland

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The HLV Cost Information NASA Decided Not To Give To Congress
Keith's note: During its recent deliberations the HEFT II activity look at a variety of scenarios, reference missions etc. One of them, DM1, actually meets the costs and schedule specified by Congress. DM1 entails creation and use of an in-space propellant depot and refueling capability. It also makes use of EELVs and other commercial launch assets. But forces within NASA ESMD personnel - led by Doug Cooke - have purposefully sat on such ideas and have made certain that they were scrubbed from presentation charts and reports to Congress and other "stakeholders". Charlie Bolden is aware of this tactic.
:blink: I can understand NASA's aversion to the risk of in-space propellant transfer, but it would be a great technology to develop. Watching with interest...
 

Urwumpe

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Victor_D

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Can you also afford an development that is so expensive? ;) Or build a rocket that is again so expensive to operate... the Saturn V was pretty terrible in terms of economics, it was a brute force solution.

I don't see why it needs to be too expensive. Again, all the building blocks of a Shuttle-derived HLV already exist or are in development.

About the operating costs: it would probably be cheaper than launching Shuttles. And NASA's been doing that ~4 times per year for the past 30 years.

If NASA can't do it with its current $18 billion-per-year budget, it should be dissolved and replaced with a more competent (read less bureaucratic) agency. Or there should be a different agency for human spaceflight, NASA could keep its science programme which is run much more competently.
 
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