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Big rockets and big budgets.
May 6, 2009 1:50 PM   Subscribe

There has been a lot of speculation lately about NASA's future plans for manned spaceflight, especially in light of the Obama government's review of Project Constellation, the Apollo-esque Orion capsule, and the effectiveness (or not) of the Ares rockets. More about this here, here, and here.

It appears that not a whole lot has changed since this previous Metafilter post on the subject from December 2006, and that DIRECT is a better alternative.
posted by futureisunwritten (49 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Space Politics is another good source for this stuff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:55 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You could always ditch the test ban treaty and get proper Orions.
posted by Artw at 1:59 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Maned space exploration is a waste of time and money. Robots are sooo much cheaper and practical. I remember the argument that robots can't "fix themselves" but it's not like humans can either. If you break your arm in space, or get a concussion you're pretty much screwed (yeah, humans can heal over time, but not because of their brain power) Robots on the other hand can have added redundancy so that individual mechanical failures don't diminish the effectiveness.

You don't need to spend nearly as much effort making an unmanned trip 'failure proof', you can send them off without worrying about getting them back. You don't need elaborate life support systems (probably the biggest cost driver with manned flight) and you don't need nearly as much space to house them as you would humans, housing which would add enormous weight to the payloads.

Maybe sometime in the future we can send enough robots somewhere that those robots can then build some infrastructure for humans directly from source material. But for now, for scientific research -- as opposed to wankery -- manned space flight is a waste of time and money, and of course, this means that it's a waste of finite scientific resources.
posted by delmoi at 2:11 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


The High Frontier, Redux (A.K.A. "Space: Don't bother", by mefis own cstross)
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Be that as it may, this bit from the Apollo-esque Orion capsule link caught my eye:

The building was gutted and rebuilt. The floors were designed so they can function as a giant air-hockey table; pallets carrying the capsule will be moved around effortlessly on a cushion of air.

That is fairly cool. Am I right in thinking that these pallets would be moved by overhead cranes or something of the sort (which would not nead to lift, but merely to drag)? I would guess that enough air jets to generate that much air-cushion effect would knock people over if they tried to walk across the floor.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:23 PM on May 6, 2009


Satellite deployment, recovery and repair is a big reason to have a decent manned craft. The Hubble would not have been the milestone success it was without the Shuttle, and the astronaut technicians that journeyed in it. A more reliable and inexpensive re-useable spacecraft capable of heading to high orbit would open up space to commerce and science in a major way, and that would be a Big Step for the local monkeyboys on the third planet in.

That said, Constellation and Ares are dumb, bloated, old-fashioned, and a complete waste of time and money. Work on a full-sized Delta Clipper should have been the priority for the past ten years. That it was allowed to wither and die after it was proven to work while never-were-gonna-work boondoggles like the Spaceplane got billions, was high-order idiocy... running back to Apollo-era tin-can-on-a-missile designs like Constellation is even worse.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:24 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Space 2.0, the neglected frontier.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:26 PM on May 6, 2009


It pains me to give up on manned space flight. It was a powerful childhood dream. But as an adult and an engineer, I have to admit that it is more practical to develop sentient robots and send them to explore. I know that too is a crazy pipe dream but at least I can see how that could happen. Our squishy, fluid filled bodies just won't hack any serious space travel beyond our front porch.

To put it another way, we are more likely to develop a space faring race than to become one.
posted by chairface at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


People are still too fragile and squishy to put into space for that long. Bone loss is tough to beat, even with our latest advances. Powerful magnetic fields will only deflect charged particles which are relatively slow-moving. Our life support systems are ridiculous, and there is no refueling on the way to Mars. We nearly killed the people in Biosphere 2, and they had to replenish some oxygen before they did it. We won't be putting something the size of Biosphere 2 into space any time soon, but we'd need something better than that just to get folks there.

Mars is far away. It's not like the Moon, where a second of lag is responding to joystick controls is a big deal. So we'd need something that could actively respond to the environment and navigate well. Meanwhile, we struggle to get vans to navigate obstacle courses to a goal without human intervention. First the probes, which can wander around the surface, scout out minerals and stable surfaces. Then agents to mine an area and built a base, including a large network of solar panels. Only then could be reasonably consider sending humans for anything more interesting than "We went there and we got some rocks."

Until we can develop semi-autonomous robot probes, this is useless grandstanding. I said it before the economy fell through a hole, I'll say it again: we are not ready; manned missions are a waste of money and probably human lives until such time as we are ready.
posted by adipocere at 2:33 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


That said, Constellation and Ares are dumb, bloated, old-fashioned, and a complete waste of time and money. Work on a full-sized Delta Clipper should have been the priority for the past ten years. That it was allowed to wither and die after it was proven to work while never-were-gonna-work boondoggles like the Spaceplane got billions, was high-order idiocy... running back to Apollo-era tin-can-on-a-missile designs like Constellation is even worse.

The "Tin cans on missiles" worked and they were cheap. They're only "old fashion" compared to preposterous boondoggles that never should have been made in the first place. There's no good reason to try to make these things "reusable", and trying to single-stage to orbit mean hauling tons of useless crap into orbit with you.
posted by delmoi at 2:34 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have to admit that it is more practical to develop sentient robots and send them to explore.

You want to create a sentient robot and give it access to enough energy for useful interplanetary travel. Really.

Why not just call it Berserker now to get it over with?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:42 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Those Russian guys seem good at this, why not talk to them?
posted by Artw at 2:49 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Heh, arse rockets.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:52 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why isn't NASA partnering with transnational mining corporations to harvest asteroids? Get the raw materials, then manufacturing. Don't send people into space, send ships down to earth to pick them up!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:53 PM on May 6, 2009


You've been reading too many books about libertarians on the moon.
posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on May 6, 2009


Manned space exploration is a waste of time and money....over the short term.

Anyone familiar with the history of exploration, especially into uncharted and adverse territories, knows the pattern: far too much money spent on failure after failure, a repeated waste of time, money, and (all too often) human life. But we keep trying, even if the attempts seem futile, long after it is all-too clear that the only rational response is to cut our losses, turn back, and give up.

Telepresence of any kind will never be a satisfying substitute for seeing that shore for ourselves, making landfall, and getting our boots in the dirt, no matter how compelling or high-definition the transmission. I can show you all the photographs and video of Paris that you could wish for; does that mean that you'd want to visit less as a result?

I agree that a lot of manned space exploration is made for the wrong reasons, primarily jingoism. I agree that its wasteful, compared to robotic missions. I also believe that there's little alternative.

Long term, if you want the human race to survive in any form, we have to make it off the planet. Over the next million years or so (and possibly far sooner), something is going to happen to threaten the human species with extinction. When that happens, even if what we have become is no longer recognisably "human" to us, the only thing that will guarantee the survival of our descendants is the technology and knowledge that has evolved from the wasteful, ridiculous failures we embark on now, for all the wrong reasons.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:58 PM on May 6, 2009 [8 favorites]


we have to make it off the planet.

But I just bought a house!
posted by Burhanistan at 3:00 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why isn't NASA partnering with transnational mining corporations to harvest asteroids?

What do asteroids have that we can't get here on Earth more cheaply, more plentifully and more safely?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dino killin' power!
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a lay interest in this stuff (read: I watch documentaries, read astronaut biographies, and keep up in the news). Apollo 11 touched down on the moon a decade before I was born. I was a Shuttle-era kid all the way. My parents took my brother and I to "the Cape" when I was eight. It was better than Disney World, the Gatorland Zoo, and Busch Gardens combined.

NASA are still having some successes (as Slap*Happy mentioned with the Hubble servicing) but the public just isn't as engaged as it used to be. There's no space race, most young men and women aren't exactly racing to becoming aerospace engineers and rocket scientists, there's no daily newspaper covers showing new leaps and bounds in space exploration, and the paps ain't exactly out chasing astronauts (unless you're Lisa Nowak, but I digress).

Sending enormous payloads far out into space is, and always has been, incredibly risky and enormously expensive. The astronauts know and accept these risks. Every single space program in history has had its technical problems - no space documentary would be complete without a montage of rockets blowing up on the pad. Getting people into space is a complicated and precise process, dictated by trial and error. Unfortunately, fatal accidents are inevitable.

We got to the moon, which is 238,855 miles away. Mars is roughly 35 million miles away. Yeah, it's a long shot. It should be a global effort.

Either that or get the evil empire du jour to tell NASA they're going to Mars in 2020.
posted by futureisunwritten at 3:05 PM on May 6, 2009


Why not just call it Berserker now to get it over with?

Do you want to mining rock, Berserker.
posted by adamdschneider at 3:06 PM on May 6, 2009 [7 favorites]


It pains me to give up on manned space flight.

Don't worry, the Chinese will be there big time, real soon.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:19 PM on May 6, 2009


Hmm. It's a bit of a leap from restaging the greatest hits of the space race to, say, Moonbases or going to Mars or anything like that.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Aside from the impracticability of making what would probably turn out to be an ROU that hates us, or the irritating fact that we are made out of meat, there's at least one compelling reason to do manned flight to Mars. It fuels dreams, and without the dreams, it's hard to convince people to spend the money to do it. We've done robots to Mars already. It would be good to have some return as a useful step. But ultimately, we ought to go. Especially if we're not going to spend the cash to figure out how to stop making Earth uninhabitable.
posted by Hylas at 4:16 PM on May 6, 2009


running back to Apollo-era tin-can-on-a-missile designs like Constellation is even worse.

When every tool you have is a hammer. . .
posted by absalom at 4:20 PM on May 6, 2009


Maned space exploration is a waste of time and money.

Thank God I'm bald.
posted by codswallop at 5:58 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


What do asteroids have that we can't get here on Earth more cheaply, more plentifully and more safely?

Lithium, coltan, irridium, platinum, to name four, and palladium's gonna run out completely in 20 years, copper's getting expensive, oh, and we're running low on uranium, too.

But, to be honest, you don't need manned spaceships to mine asteroids, Just find a few that are big enough where they won't burn up in the atmosphere, and small enough that they won't make too much of a "whump" when you drop them in the desert, and have little ROV spacecraft go fetch them and push them into the right trajectory.

You do need manned re-useable spaceships to launch, retrieve and maintenance your ROV fleet, tho.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:23 PM on May 6, 2009


The topic of whether we should spend money and resources on spaceflight comes up every few months on Metafilter, and I think it's a good discussion to have - because ultimately it is about human curiosity in general.

There are plenty of cliched arguments about why we should put people into space, but I think they're all legitimate. Humans like to explore - we need to explore, expand, spread out. We've done it moving from small migratory communities to sea faring peoples to those who settled on The New World.

Exploration and expansion are two inherent parts of humanity, as is our tendency to overpopulate, crowd out and annoy the crap out of each other, necessitating the need to move to new, uninhabited lands. And yes, someday something terrible is going to happen to Earth and we'll need a new home. Who knows when and how, but it'll happen sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

Spaceflight is *hard*, it is dangerous and it is technically complex. And that makes it inherently fascinating to someone like me. The space shuttle is enormously complex and dangerous, but dammit, the fact that we have flown that complex beast successfully over one hundred times is nothing short of amazing. Ares and Orion are, sadly, a major political boondoggle (perhaps no less so than STS was in the early to mid 1970s development phase), but in many ways the Ares and Orion programs seem like major technological, management and political steps backward. One would think we could do "Apollo on steroids" significantly faster, more efficiently and less costly 35 years later with the logrithmic improvements in materials, procedures and tools - not to mention 50 years of data to draw upon.

There is a big push for the Direct 2.0 program, which I have been a proponent of for several years now. I'm not so much dedicated to Direct 2.0 specifically as I am to doing the Constellation program significantly better than the course laid out so far. Our stable of Atlas and Delta heavy lifters could do what Ares I and V are proposing to do for significantly less money. Direct 2.0's modular approach would give us immense flexibility in serving ISS, satellites, lunar and other programs. Ares and Orion won't give us 1/10th of that.

Proof positive is the recent set of reivisions to the Orion capsule - which continues to be scaled down, now from 6 to 4 crew, has already been reduced from land based landings to water, has been changed from reusable to disposable, and whose Ares I lifter is now considered disposable instead of reusable. The program is a complete disaster so far, mainly because of the restraints placed upon it by the poorly thought out Ares I launcher.
posted by tgrundke at 6:42 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like big budgets and I can not lie
You other citizens can't deny
When a gov'ment program gets approved with haste
with big fat funds for your place
You get giddy, gettin' money like fiddy
'Cause you notice the oversight was shitty
Locked in that appropriations committee
I'm hooked and my pockets filled with plenty

Oh NASA I wanna get wid ya
and get up in ya contract mixture
My accountant said don't be so needy
But damn that budget make me so greedy
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 PM on May 6, 2009 [6 favorites]


100 years from now I'd like to think we'll have made the paradigm jumps in propulsion and life-support to make manned exploration feasible.

Until then, robots do it cheaper, faster, and safer.

NASA has limited resources, and squandering them on non-robotic exploration until then should get people fired.

And for lack of a better phrase, sending people back to the moon, something that was done almost a half-century ago, is fucking moronic.
posted by bardic at 7:33 PM on May 6, 2009


And for lack of a better phrase, sending people back to the moon, something that was done almost a half-century ago, is fucking moronic.

I know, if it's been done before, why do it, right?

No, what's fucking moronic is someone saying we should wait 100 years or so until propulsion and life-support systems magically improve, rather than say continuing to work on those systems now can we can get to that magical 100 years in the future.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on May 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Maned space exploration is a waste of time and money.

Yeah, water filters, insulation, cordless tools and pill transmitters that help monitor fetuses are complete wastes of time and money. Goddamn you NASA for the side benefits of manned space exploration!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:52 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


And by sending more human guinea pigs into space we improve these systems how?

And by sending more human guinea pigs to the moon, we accomplish what?

You do understand how science works, yes? That we're better off utilizing resources with a long-term view for space exploration beyond "keep shooting them up and hoping they don't disintegrate on launch or while returning to Earth?" It's hard to tell.
posted by bardic at 8:54 PM on May 6, 2009


Y'all anti-manned space program haters are just envious because you don't have the right stuff to be an astronaut.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:56 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Goddamn you NASA for the side benefits of manned space exploration!"

What, no Tang?

The benefits of manned flight have been reaped, for now. The "science" currently done on the space shuttle is total junk. And it's morally dubious junk at that, considering it puts competent pilots and scientists at an undue risk.

You seem incapable of separating an anti-manned flight atittude ca. 2009 from one back in 1955 or so. Obviously the space program did a lot of great things (political and scientific).

But now? Putting people back on the moon? Really?

You're also laboring under the delusion that NASA somehow has a magical super-budget and gets whatever it wants when in fact it has to make decisions between manned flight and robotic exploration.

Right now, as of 2009, manned flight is stupid both in and of itself, and because it takes away resources from the most wildly successful programs NASA has been involved with over the past two decades -- robots and probes.
posted by bardic at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Over the next million years or so (and possibly far sooner), something is going to happen to threaten the human species with extinction.

Our extinction is inevitable.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:45 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


You want to create a sentient robot and give it access to enough energy for useful interplanetary travel. Really.

posted by ROU_Xenophobe


Eponysterical.
posted by zippy at 9:56 PM on May 6, 2009


capturing and mining an asteroid is something i spend far too much time thinking about. my general take on it is that when it happens it will cause chaos on several levels. i can't imagine the major powers being thrilled about someone bringing a world killer like you'd need in order to justify the venture into earth's gravity well. if you don't you need somewhere else to process it and that is a whole other can of worms. if you you try and make a mistake the consequences could be catastrophic for all of humanity. say you do suceed in safely getting the minerals to earth; we're talking volumes that would play havoc with markets and probably entire industries worldwide.

Despite all this it seems inevitable that it will happen eventually, barring cataclysm, and I just hope I get to see it happen.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:04 PM on May 6, 2009


Where are these revolutionary new life-support and propulsion systems supposed to come from? By exclusively developing probes scientists and engineers will spontaneously develop paradigm changing devices? Technological progress is pretty incremental, so to assume that people will be working various life-support devices that have no current application, (including ones that just go nowhere, because, you know, not all hypotheses hold up,) and that they will be funded, just so they can be possibly used at some vague point in the future seems a bit silly.
posted by Snyder at 10:11 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


At the present time, the only reasonable course for funding of programs ultimately involving human space travel, is the beanstalk/space-elevator. Otherwise, for research, it is clear that unmanned probes are the greatest cost/benefit.
posted by Goofyy at 3:57 AM on May 7, 2009


capturing and mining an asteroid is something i spend far too much time thinking about. my general take on it is that when it happens it will cause chaos on several levels. i can't imagine the major powers being thrilled about someone bringing a world killer like you'd need in order to justify the venture into earth's gravity well

feloniusmonk, I think the whole point of mining asteroids is that you do it in space, and can then make stuff up in space without having to get all of those materials up out of Earth's gravity well.

We've got plenty of iron down here, what's the big PITA is getting the iron up into space.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:17 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


The "science" currently done on the space shuttle is total junk.

The Hubble Space Telescope program would not have been possible without the shuttle. That's only one example I don't have to go trotting off to Wikipedia to look up. It's a potent enough example to blow this argument completely out of the water all by itself.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:10 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


And by sending more human guinea pigs into space we improve these systems how?

If you want to get to the 100 year future you cite, where life support and propulsion is more suited to whatever metric you're using, it probably helps to continue using and revamping those systems

And by sending more human guinea pigs to the moon, we accomplish what?

Improving the systems you mentioned above and designing new systems to enable people to live long term in space and on the moon, which based on the links I provided, impact and improve technology here on Earth.

You do understand how science works, yes? That we're better off utilizing resources with a long-term view for space exploration beyond "keep shooting them up and hoping they don't disintegrate on launch or while returning to Earth?" It's hard to tell.

I don't understand what you're saying here. The current goal is put people on the Space Station to do various medical and scientific research, not simply send people up. Are you even paying attention to the current manned space program?

What, no Tang?

God no, that shit is terrible.

The benefits of manned flight have been reaped, for now.

You're mistaken:
The STS-119/15A crew brought the JAXA experiment Dome Gene (Dome gene experiment) to the ISS for a 10-day incubation in the CBEF (Cell Biology Experiment Facility) within JAXA’s Saibo rack. The purpose of this experiment is to investigate the formation of amphibian A-6 cell kidney cell and A-8 liver cell lines in microgravity. On Earth, these cell cultures form a characteristic spontaneous dome shape as they grow; however, when grown on Earth in simulated microgravity conditions (such as a 3D clinostat), this dome shape is significantly reduced. These ground-based results imply that changes in gravity influence the morphogenetic properties of these cells, which has implications on liver and kidney cell development in microgravity. Images of the cell formation on-orbit were captured and sent to the ground for analysis. The samples will be returned to Earth on a future shuttle mission, and gene expression analysis will be performed via DNA array assay.
The "science" currently done on the space shuttle is total junk.

The current science on the space shuttle seems to be learning how to build a space station. Are you really saying that's "total junk" and useless?

And it's morally dubious junk at that, considering it puts competent pilots and scientists at an undue risk.

This makes no sense to me. Risk is involved in everyday life. Considering the side benefits that have come from manned space exploration, it seems the risk is worth it, IMO.

You seem incapable of separating an anti-manned flight atittude ca. 2009 from one back in 1955 or so.

Not at all. I've providing links that show how current and potential future benefits from manned space flight. I really just don't understand the anti-manned space flight attitude. I'm not saying the shuttle or space station is perfect or that NASA is faultless, but the science of learning how to put people and space and keep them alive seems to have enormous benefits to the technology and science here on Earth.


But now? Putting people back on the moon? Really?

Yes. The most conistent theme from manned space flight seems to be that NASA has to figure how to keep people alive in space and develops various technologies and systems to do. These technologies and system often benefit those who are not in space. Seems worth it to me. We get to explore and the rest of the world gets side benefits. Win Win!

You're also laboring under the delusion that NASA somehow has a magical super-budget and gets whatever it wants when in fact it has to make decisions between manned flight and robotic exploration.

Nope, I've known for years that NASA's budget was around 16 or 17 billion and that has increased slightly under Obama. That amount is down considerably from the Apollo area and many of the faults of the space shuttle are due to it not having a super budget and having to comprise with the Air Force, who ultimately wound up not using it much.

Right now, as of 2009, manned flight is stupid both in and of itself,

How and why is it stupid? You keep saying so, but you're not providing any evidence. I'm serious here, what's your reasoning behind the your seeming desire to completely kill manned spaceflight?

...it takes away resources from the most wildly successful programs NASA has been involved with over the past two decades -- robots and probes.

No, they've been the most photogenic and got the most attention. Most people (me included until I started looking) simply haven't seen the information provided above on the news or the cover of magazines. That stuff, for whatever reason, tends to fly under the radar and not be seen or noticed as a benefit of manned space flight.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 AM on May 7, 2009 [8 favorites]


There's a good article in the Air and Space magazine about the SpaceX (private sector) program that is in a way competing with NASA's Orion program. There are real technical issues with the NASA solid fuel concept being able to meet the new man-safe spec. SpaceX is using old fashioned multiple engine liquid propellant, and claims to be able to do it safer and cheaper than NASA and even the Russians. They estimate a $15 million dollar fare compared to the Russian $35 million dollar tab.
posted by Gungho at 6:48 AM on May 7, 2009


I work for NASA, so I usually try and stay out of these discussions (and I'm speaking for myself, natch, not the agency), but...

One, Brandon Blatcher is my new favorite person on metafilter. This comment hits the nail right on the head. It also looks like we may have developed a vaccine for a form of salmonella onboard the ISS. Don't forget, we're just now finishing the damn thing, and will be going to six permanent crew onboard later this month. The science is just beginning...

Two, I tend to agree that Ares and Orion have a lot of problems- NASA's great, but we're not perfect. I personally have a lot of hope in SpaceX and Orbital Sciences- I think one of the greatest days for space exploration and humanity in general will be when NASA is no longer needed.

(Also, BB, I just sent this to a bunch of my coworkers...awesome.)
posted by zap rowsdower at 7:20 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK. You've convinced me. Let's dump all our funds into going back to the moon. The future awaits!
posted by bardic at 10:44 AM on May 7, 2009


No, that's overly simplistic. I'd like to see America draw down its military budget and put a big chunk of that money towards spaceflight, both man and unmanned. It's terrible that we've gone and done the bulk of the work to build the space station and now don't have a way of getting there on our own, that's just tragically stupid. But so be it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:04 AM on May 7, 2009


Meatbomb, I meant more along the lines of what you do with the finished materials once you've mined them. Presumably you need to get them to earth somehow, and that's a lot of mass.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:01 PM on May 7, 2009


Orion is creeping in mass, like every other manned spacecraft. Annoying, because we should *just assume* that it's going to creep mass, but not horrible.

Ares V hasn't proven to be broken, because we haven't really started working on it.

Ares I -- the Stick -- however, is broken. B0rken. FUBAR. Just fucking wrong. It's no more Shuttle derived than I am. Recently, they've extended the SRB stack again -- it's now 5.5 segments, rather than the 4 that the STS uses. The current launch orbit for the booster is -30x160nm. Read "It can't put an Orion into orbit *unless* the Orion has a booster to circulize the orbit to 160x160nm." The one thing left that is Shuttle Derived is the spray-on insulation on the 2nd Stage.

Yay. We're taking foam from the STS, and rebuilding everything else.

Currently, it appears that one of two things will happen when you launch it. It either flies into the launch tower, or vibration destroys it before Max Q.

So, the original ESAS CAV put a 6 crew Orion into a 160x160nm. The *current* version of the Ares 1 puts a 4 crew Orion into at -30x160nm orbit. The Orion then needs to boost further to stay in orbit.

In other words, it's a *three stage booster putting four men and zero cargo into LEO.*

WHAT.
THE.
FUCK.
NASA?

Dear Mr. President. Kill this thing. You've got plenty of time to do so (First full up flight? 2016. I mean 2017, now...) But kill it before we fuck up the VLB, Pads 39A and B, and the MLPs.

If you do that, we can build something that's really Shuttle derived and *really works*.

This won't.
posted by eriko at 9:48 PM on May 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


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