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NASA Unveils Design for New Space Launch System

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the still-no-word-on-jump-gate-development dept.

Space 288

wooferhound writes with an article in the Orlando Sentinel about NASA's Deep Space Exploration project. From the article: "After months of debate, NASA has settled on plans for its next spaceship — a space shuttle hybrid that will fly twice in the next decade and cost $30 billion through 2021, according to senior administration officials and internal NASA documents. That NASA decided to recycle elements of the shuttle is not unexpected. Last year, Congress and the White House agreed NASA should reuse equipment from old programs and the new design — which includes a giant fuel tank and two booster rockets — largely reflects that compromise. The most noticeable change is the plane-like orbiter will be replaced by an Apollo-like crew capsule atop the tank." The Space Launch System will be powered by a combination of the Shuttle main engine for the core launch stage, and the J-2 engine (from the Saturn V project) for the upper stage. The same solid booster rockets used for Shuttle missions will be used for at least the initial unmanned launch in 2017, but NASA will have a design contest to replace them for the 2021 crewed launch and beyond.

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So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399604)

And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399650)

yes there is something magical about working in any really large organization. it makes you stupid. yeah yeah you might be a Ph.d with a 170 IQ and all of that. maybe you can mind-meld. but after working for a huge organization you'll become a lobotomized drooling moron who craps his own pants and licks windows and cleebrates expensive technology that can't do what was done 40 fucking years ago.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (5, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400064)

In this case, the "lobotomized drooling morons" are the Congressional spec writers and component selectors who are also happen to be in charge of the budget. Imagine if someone told you to design an airplane, they'd pay for the budget, you just had to include a giraffe and 1963 Volkswagon Beetle in the final airframe design.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400474)

I'd build an SR-71, with a giraffe and a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle as removable attachments.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400170)

Well if you take inflation into account, they're actually doing it for a lot, lot less. But yeah, it's easy to become mediocre when you are surrounded with mediocrity and it's very hard to excel in such an environment.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

Kagura (843695) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400262)

After months of debate, NASA has settled on plans for its next spaceship — a space shuttle hybrid that will fly twice in the next decade and cost $30 billion through 2021, according to senior administration officials and internal NASA documents.

Don't worry, I RTFA and it's just the rocket stack that is a shuttle hybrid. It's a space capsule on the top of the stack, not a space shuttle mounted like an IDIOT on the side.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400612)

Upon reflection of observing the talent that administrates NASA. I've noticed that 1., physics hasn't changed since Newton. 2., the Saturn V launch gets the job done for 3 people to the Moon and back. 3., the Shuttle gets the job done for 8? into earth orbit. 4., there's a space platform in earth orbit right now that one can use to help build final assemblies with. And 5., there multiple space launches all over this planet, so why can't new technologies be applied accordingly.

So can someone explain why we're "reinventing the wheel" here?

And if the reply argument is, "it's all top secret." is applied, then google China. They're biggest librarian on the planet, but not the happiest.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399662)

A Saturn V that carries a Space Shuttle.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399704)

A "Space Shuttle" that is an " Apollo-like crew capsule". So a Saturn V that carries an "Apollo-like crew capsule", just like the original Saturn V.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399962)

Pedantically speaking, there was a design study for putting wings on the Apollo CSM so the Apollo crew could fly back to land rather than crashing into the sea. Though trying to land it with the limited view out of the CSM windows would have been entertaining.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400008)

Pedantically speaking, there was a design study for putting wings on the Apollo CSM so the Apollo crew could fly back to land rather than crashing into the sea. Though trying to land it with the limited view out of the CSM windows would have been entertaining.

Actually it was a para-sail that popped out after the parachutes slowed it down enough. They have one in the Smithsonian.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400074)

Actually it was a para-sail that popped out after the parachutes slowed it down enough. They have one in the Smithsonian.

Nope. It was pop-out wings from the service module.

Ah, here we are: I thought it was on NTRS, but it's actually US patent 3,576,298

"An aerospace vehicle is described comprising a substantially conical forward crew compartment or command module mated to a substantially cylindrical rearward service module. Aerodynamic fairings are provided along the midline on the sides of the cylindrical portion and a substantial distance aft thereof for providing lift at hypersonic velocities and approximately vertical fins are provided on the fairings for aerodynamic stability and control. Wings are mounted within the aerodynamic fairings at high velocities and pivotably extended therefrom at lower velocities and altitudes to provide low speed lift." (etc)

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

diersing (679767) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400328)

Meh, they filed that only for legal reasons and going after a later innovator of the technology.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400676)

Sounds vaguely like a variable delta-wing configuration like you see on some fighter craft.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400130)

Yeah, I think there were experiments with a rogallo wing for Gemini but it never really worked.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (3, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399720)

Except according to the article (and even summary), this "shuttle" is really just a somewhat larger version of an Apollo crew capsule.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399664)

And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

Don't worry. That's only this week's proposal. They won't build it and next week's proposal will be better. And it won't be build either.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (4, Insightful)

mlong (160620) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399912)

Oh no they will work on it at least until the next president and congress is elected...then they will scrap it and come up with something else to start and abandon

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399934)

And by "better" they mean smaller and more expensive.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (3, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399722)

Not really. More like, they're reusing designs for some Saturn V components (the J-2 engine for the 2nd and 3rd stages of that rocket) and designs for some Shuttle components (the orbiter's main engines) as analogous components in this vehicle. If it ain't broke, don't reinvent the wheel, we won't be fooled again etc.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399922)

they're reusing designs for some Saturn V components (the J-2 engine for the 2nd and 3rd stages of that rocket)

Actually TFA (vs the summary) says they're using the J-2X, which is almost but not completely unlike the original J-2. It's a redesign. Same fuels, same general design, but different in most details.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400660)

I'd hoped it was implicit that they were updating the designs!

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399826)

And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

HEY IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400196)

And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

HEY IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE.

Nope. Taking components from this project. Components from that project. Gluing them together. Hey maybe this is what they meant by "rocket surgery"...

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

mfh (56) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400228)

They need to add lots of glue to get these incompatible components to fit together. Hmmm cutting corners on space travel seems efficient!

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (4, Insightful)

emc (19333) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399966)

And for only $30 billion, and with 50,000 kg LESS lift capacity than it had in 1969.

To quote Neil deGrasse Tyson, "Apollo in 1969. Shuttle in 1981. Nothing in 2011. Our space program would look awesome to anyone living backwards thru time."

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400730)

Dude is totally underestimating the value of the shuttle.

He should know oh so much better.

Ask him how Hubble would have got up there--and got repaired--without it.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399984)

Well since this seems to be the Ares V but slightly less ambitious, which is sold as a lego like rehash of space shuttle and saturn technology it's really not worth getting too excited about as a piece of news.
Sorry I'm supposed to be a space geek - Go Mediocre rehash of 40+ year old designs!!!

Don't get me wrong I like small incremental steps, I believe it's essential to getting into space reliably and cheaply, but I just wish they would stop changing the specification and just build them. IME The thing that makes projects late and expensive is usually specification change, so can we just celebrate instead when they don't announce news of a change to the heavy lift plans?

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (0)

Rakshasa-sensei (533725) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400000)

Yes, and you'd also think a truck from the 1960's that has more horsepower than a (slightly less powerful) modern truck, right?

It's not like nothing else changed but the power of the engine...

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400172)

Not exactly. The Saturn V and the SLS are rather different. Aside from what should be obviously different--switching from vac-tubes to transistor style stuff--one of the interesting features of the SLS is that unlike the Saturn V it is mission configurable. It is possible to select a set of mission appropriate stages rather than being stuck with one heavy lift configuration. With respect to fuel at least this will make things considerably cheaper. If you aren't lifting 130 mT to Mars but rather 50 mT to LEO you would assemble a considerably smaller (fuel wise) stack.

With this design they're playing some of interesting political games as only engineers could conceive them. First off they're playing to the politicians by enabling them to build out a vehicle that uses those stupid SRBs however with a twist. The SRBs are intended for "initial" development, and the vehicle will initially lift 70 mT and be evolvable to 130 mT. I'm assuming this to mean they've created a design wherein they have paved a path to drop the SRBs in favor of better technology later (probably LOX/RP-1). They're also strapping on the Orion crew capsule--from their last canceled efforts--to the top (and?)/or a cargo module. Ultimately I get the impression they've got in mind goal to build everything according to how the politicians want it and once that's been achieved, incrementally develop what they really wanted/needed "since we've already invested so much in this system...". It's vexing that we've got another 10 year wait (yes I know they claim 2017 launch), but this will be a rather interesting process to watch play out.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400454)

Vacuum tubes my fat ass.
Back in high school my electronics teacher brought in one of his prized possessions. (He had worked on the Apollo project.) An IC removed from one of the Apollo command modules. (I do not remember which.) It was a defective module, but I remember it clearly. White ceramic, dripping with gold.
Little known fact: The Apollo project was one of the first practical uses of integrated circuits. (For weight savings.)

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400652)

You were able to get those surplus TI components for quite a wile in the late 70's and early 80's. I had several NASA spec 74xx series logic chips that I bought as surplus parts from various parts houses and even at the Dayton Hamfest. They were NOT "dripping with gold" it looked like gold on the outside as the legs were gold plated for corrosion and the Die cover was a gold color but was not gold. The cool part was getting your hands on NASA/Aircraft grade sockets. milled pins with a latching mechanism to lock the chip in place.

What your teacher had was not "special" unless it really was removed from one of the command modules that was being prepped for flight. Removed from the assembly line modules during initial testing is not really that special. Anyone into electronics back then got their hands on a lot of "NASA" Military and Aviation surplus parts. I was using milspec jet fighter connectors on projects for a very long time until the surplus market dried up and all we had left was the china junk.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (2)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400862)

Removed from a command module. He worked fro NASA, during the Apollo project. This is what we were told.
He could have been making it up. But I prefer to believe I held in my hand part of the Apollo project.

Re:So basically, they're reinventing the Saturn V? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400410)

Not really a modern saturn V would have been better.
Why don't they use the F-1a upgraded engines they built and tested in the late 60s with a modern LiAl structure for the first stage? Get ride of the SRBs unless you want an even higher lift version. Heck you could even later develop a fly back first stage at some point in the future.

SRBs, again?! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399730)

I thought Mormons didn't eat pork.

Re:SRBs, again?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400158)

Orrin Hatch has been feeding Thiokol a steady diet of it for 30+ years now.

They canceled the Ares for this? (2)

RetiredMidn (441788) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399732)

How is this different from the canceled Ares? Or they just trim out the LEO variant?

Re:They canceled the Ares for this? (2)

bigpat (158134) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400756)

How is this different from the canceled Ares? Or they just trim out the LEO variant?

They painted it white.

Before the ranting starts...* (2)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399738)

about how much NASA costs, I just posted this same link on another site. It shows an outstanding graph of the overall federal budget for 2011 broken down by Agency.

As the Bad Astronomer says in his writing, find NASA's budget.

The link [discovermagazine.com] .

*Ok, I'm a bit late as the ranting has already begun

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400004)

Interesting chart. It would be so easy to cut anywhere from 1/2 to 3/4 of that budget and the country would be such a better place. NASA is trivial compared to other spending.

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400340)

Interesting as that graph may be (and mildly deceptive as well.. but I'll ignore that), that doesn't change the fact that NASA is spending quite a lot of money. Comparing it to the DoD budget is like saying "well, I'm spending $500,000 dollars on a house, so I should be able to buy 5 iPads, right? It's cheap by comparison, so I'm not wasting my money!" It isn't a valid argument, not by itself.

What you need for an argument is that NASA is far more important than the other sections of the budget. Which is true and false at the same time. Yes, space travel is important. Manned space travel? Well, maybe not so much. Sending robots to Mars? Cool. Helpful? Well, as an aspiring scientist, it is to me, but it isn't to the 300+ million others in the USA. The defense budget, on the other hand, is (ok, yeah, a lot, and I mean A LOT, is a waste, but having a military and a large one at that is kinda important to a nation as large as us, and that isn't cheap.) And a lot of DoD research ends up benefiting people in rather significant ways (the Internet comes to mind). NASA projects do have useful technologies too, but just how many and how worth it they are is a rather large debate in and of itself.

When talking about government spending, a good rule that should hold (but never does) is that the spending should benefit everyone indiscriminately. So, interstate highways, a military, education system, Social Security, et alia. Sending people into space? Sure, it has future benefits for research, but you really need to balance those potential benefits against the immediate ones you can get for the same amount or cheaper. Especially difficult since future benefits are potentially infinite... or potentially nothing. Point is: you need a bit more than just that chart to justify NASA's budget.

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400904)

the spending should benefit everyone indiscriminately

Long ago proved to be a false goal.

Spending that benefits some directly and others indirectly and some barely is spending you can manage. Trying to make sure that you, personally, see a tangible benefit from every dollar of spending is a limitation that no budgetary process can tolerate.

As for the rules, they are: 1. Congress may tax you as it chooses. 2. Congress may spend as it chooses. The treasury is thiers, not yours.

There are no other rules, as long as they don't somehow violate other binding parts of the Constitution in the process. Anything you think should hold is an assumption, a personal desire, a long piss in the blustery wind of politics.

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400450)

about how much NASA costs, I just posted this same link on another site. It shows an outstanding graph of the overall federal budget for 2011 broken down by Agency.

Yeah, you know, maybe spending $200 on a pair of shoelaces might not seem all that much when compared to my annual budget, but it's still friggin' ridiculous.

Look, I LOVE NASA, and would be happy to see them receive 10 times the funding ... but spending it like this? Screw that. If they're not going to make a real effort, then give the $30 billion to SpaceX and let NASA do the stuff they're good at: science.

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400452)

The prison system gets almost as much as NASA.

Re:Before the ranting starts...* (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400778)

Best part of that (so far): whoever coded that widget made the rollover info box STAY OUT OF THE WAY OF THE CURSOR.

(Standing ovation.)

This is disappointing as hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399782)

All that work on new propulsion technology and vehicle design (spaceplane, anybody?) and we're doing the same roman candle approach. That is actually worse than something we had 40 years ago.

Re:This is disappointing as hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400204)

You mean the same approach that has produced well over 100 successful launches? Why would any one go with what works really really well?

Re:This is disappointing as hell (1)

Muros (1167213) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400710)

All that work on new propulsion technology and vehicle design (spaceplane, anybody?) and we're doing the same roman candle approach. That is actually worse than something we had 40 years ago.

I'm not a physicist, so I don't really know a huge amount about this. Is there actually a viable design for a spaceplane with a large cargo capacity in the works anywhere? I understand that planes are more economic in the lower atmostphere, where you rest the weight of the plane on the wings, but for upper atmosphere I believe you still need a vertical thrust and to carry the oxygen aboard as well as the fuel you're burning with it. How would you go about this? Maybe a spaceplane that takes off conventionally and refuels in the air for the final burn?

If the shuttle was a political compromise (5, Insightful)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399806)

So if you thought that the shuttle was a political compromise of various different interests this will look even worse. There's one primary reason that this new design uses so much of the shuttle: whiny lobbyists and politicians who want to make sure that the factories in their home districts stay doing the exact same thing. To most Slashdot readers the space program isn't what may be the first stepping stones to the stars, and we imagine people a thousand years from now looking back on this early age as we look back on the great achievements of the past. These people don't look at that way. They look at this as one more form of pork. And frankly, given how bad the economy is, I sort of understand that. Their home districts need every job they can get.

But even given that, this still pisses me off. This will have less lift capacity than the Saturn V or the shuttle, will be less frequently launchable, will be essentially not reusable. This is a clear step backwards. More expensive and less capable. Great way to go.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399900)

Initially the rockets will be able to carry into space 70 tons to 100 tons of payload, NASA said, which would include the six-person Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle capsule and more. Eventually it will be able to carry 143 tons into space, maybe even 165 tons, officials told the Associated Press. By comparison, the long-dormant Saturn V booster that sent men to the moon was able to lift 130 tons. The plans dwarf the rumbling lift-off power of the space shuttle, which could haul just 27 tons. The biggest current unmanned rocket can carry about 25 tons. Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/09/14/nasa-to-unveil-giant-new-rocket-design/#ixzz1XwZ5jLiC [foxnews.com]

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400584)

Why the frack dont they just open source the design. The accumulated wisdom of /. would certainly come up with a race horse and not this camel.

Altho! ... camels are far more suited to space travel than race horses ... they can go further, with greater payload, requiring only minimum fuel intake(of low quality) than any race horse, left dying in the desert thru heat exhaustion.

Camels FTW, FOSS camels for the stars..

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399950)

Admittedly, pork that puts you on the moon is still pretty good pork. Apollo was pork for Boeing, Douglas, North American, Grumman -- oh look at that, the top four military jet manufacturers got one stage each! Pork that everyone wants to see spent and achieves awesome goals takes on a different character.

The challenge has been in trying to keep the program moving forward scientifically. When there was a challenge and people were getting these vast sums of money in order to invent new technologies and put them into production, you could justify the expense because we were inventing new things. When we transitioned to the shuttle, there really wasn't any new innovation because the goals of the program were quite circumscribed compared to a lunar or planetary mission, and the contractors just get paid for maintenance work, instead of inventing the next microchip, materials process, energy source, or medical technology.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400006)

Admittedly, pork that puts you on the moon is still pretty good pork.

If this thing ever goes to the Moon they'll find tourists waving at them at the landing site, having flown there for a fraction of the cost using a Falcon 9 Heavy.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400258)

Nota bene, my point is that Apollo was good pork in 1969. If there were private contractors designing heavy-lift vehicles in the late 60s, or Mars rovers today, I guess you'd have point. The problem with the private contractors is they only want to make what others will buy, and nobody would have paid $100 billion for a ticket to the moon.

And if all SpaceX is doing is taking NASA-funded inventions and reselling them to our defense establishment at a 20% markup, meanwhile packing along tourists at $1 million a kilo... I see no achievement, or likely any profit, in that. At least if America does it you can be proud and say "we" did it. When it's a tourist it's just some embarrassingly rich prick who comes back with a Blu-ray of his vacation, gives inept interviews about the magic of how "small" the Earth looked, and spends the rest of his life "finding himself" while running a succession of failed charities, all the while trying to ignore the fact that he liquidated the GDP of a small country in order to walk on a sandy rock, and added nothing in the process.

Foul mood this morning...

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400510)

Nota bene, my point is that Apollo was good pork in 1969. If there were private contractors designing heavy-lift vehicles in the late 60s, or Mars rovers today, I guess you'd have point.

No-one was building heavy-lift rockets because they make no financial sense. One of the biggest contributors to launch cost is flight rate, and with similar technology levels a smaller rocket which flies a hundred times a year will almost always end up costing much less per pound in orbit than a huge monster than flies once a year; there are a lot of payloads for a $50 million ten-ton launcher but tthe 100+ ton payloads that can afford to pay a couple of billion dollars a time just don't exist outside of NASA and the military.

No-one would have adopted the heavy-lift approach for Apollo if not for the unlimited budget and the demand to get to the Moon by the end of the decade. It was too expensive and a technological dead-end because you could only take whatever would fit on a single launch.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400614)

So if I were in Congress and I was asked to spend money on something that would bring no obvious benefit to the folks that elected me and would almost certain to be used against me in the next election, how do you think I would vote?

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400666)

Why does everyone say this is worse and more expensive than the Shuttle system was? The average cost to launch a Shuttle mission was $450 million, and it demonstrated a 1.4% complete-destruction safety record. Isn't this system supposed to be cheaper than that on a per-mission operation and per-pound-lift basis, and less likely to asplode? I think those are good things.

And I like that they dropped the wings from the orbiter. They weren't doing a lot of good.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

andydouble07 (2344014) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400910)

This will have less lift capacity than the Saturn V or the shuttle

No need to say things that are patently false.

Re:If the shuttle was a political compromise (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400950)

This will have less lift capacity than the Saturn V or the shuttle

Half right. Read TFA.

make sure that the factories in their home districts stay doing the exact same thing

Only until 2017. Read TFS.

Jeebus.

30 billion? C'mon guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399810)

it's not like this is rocket science...

Re:30 billion? C'mon guys... (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400242)

it's not like this is rocket science...

Well, it's rocket budget science.

So (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399812)

Is this the DIRECT proposal, and if so are they going to design a new crew vehicle or use all the work already poured into Orion?

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399974)

Orion -> MPCV

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-Purpose_Crew_Vehicle

James Webb Funding (1)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399870)

Anyone? Beuller?

What we really want to know is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37399938)

Is this the first or subsequent submission for this poster?

say no to ATK. (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 3 years ago | (#37399946)

Solid rocket propulsion is inappropriate for manned spaceflight.
This message has been brought to you by: Basic Common Sense.

What was wrong with the X-33? The concept had flaws. In 1996. So. . . we turn our backs and never try again for a fully, TRULY reusable system? Just so we can continue to funnel billions of dollars of pork to powerful senators from Louisiana and Utah? Wow. We do not deserve space. We just don't.

Re:say no to ATK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400048)

we arent going to get space either so what the problem ? The chinese can launch their nuclear powered battleships on fission drives while we sit back and let them take space for themselves. theres plenty of it anyway.

Re:say no to ATK. (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400060)

My understanding was that the X-33 couldn't be build as the composite fuel tanks never worked, and without that, the thing could not be built light-enough to actually fly with the available fuel. I'm sure these hurdles could have been overcome, but 'they' decided not to throw good money after bad, although 'they' were willing to fund a decade of useless wars. Go figure.

And yes, this design looks like it's just about continued funding for certain contractors who have paid off the right senators.

Re:say no to ATK. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400310)

The composite tank did fail but they came up with a lighter aluminum tank that did work. They killed the program anyway. Really it is called RnD. Research and Development. Sometimes things work some times they do not but you always are learning.

Re:say no to ATK. (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400782)

There have been significant advances in composite materials since the 90s, it's fairly cutting edge stuff. One would think that it would be worth another try with these new materials - it should be comparatively cheap to test just the fuel tank to see if this were true.

Re:say no to ATK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400384)

I can't comment on the X-33, but I must say I agree with the statement on Solid Rockets. They work great for Estes but not for carrying anything you care about.

Both Shuttle disasters can be directly attributed to the SRBs. Challenger in a very obvious way, and Columbia in a less obvious way- due to how solid fuel burns, it creates horrific vibrations. So much so that one of the major issues of the Ares program was the extra structure (and weight) they were going to have to add to keep the upper stage from falling apart. If you watch shuttle launches up close and in slow-mo, you can actually see it pulsing off the pad- due to the SRB burn.

This vibration caused the falling foam and ice issues that plagued the shuttle program and brought down Columbia. If they had been liquid fueled boosters, it would not have happened. Period.

Re:say no to ATK. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400610)

Both Shuttle disasters can be directly attributed to the SRBs.

WRONG

Columbia hand nothing what so ever to do with the SRBs. In the SRBs have had 134 successful launches making it a 0.7% failure rate. Nasa would be stupid not to use SRBs. They are cheap, powerful and work reliably.

Re:say no to ATK. (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400798)

The current four segment SRBs work reliably. The SLS is going to use five segment SRBs which means the new ones will be a completely different design. Solid rocket motors need a very specific geometry in order to burn correctly and provide the amount of power they need to help lift a rocket. Increasing the length by another segment means the geometry is complete altered so too are the methods of pouring and curing the propellant. Every single manufacturing process Thiokol had working for the Shuttle's SRBs needs to be revamped or thrown out completely and rebuilt from the ground up. The new SRBs will start no safety rating whatsoever.

Re:say no to ATK. (1)

Bill Hayden (649193) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400850)

The X-33 was not designed be an orbital vehicle, though perhaps it could have paved the way for orbital vehicles of a similar design. It was never designed to fly over 100km or above 50% orbital speed.

Why not simply use Space X? (2)

director_mr (1144369) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400102)

Space X is developing the falcon heavy, ( The link [spacex.com] . ) Why not use that instead. It lifts 53 metric tons for only $80-125 million a pop. Sure, the payload is a lot less, but the cost is 1/10 of what Nasa is thinking about. And those are hard numbers, not NASA will go over-budget numbers. I suppose the one drawback is in scenarios where you want to send a vehicle up there all in one piece.

Re:Why not simply use Space X? (1)

Gravatron (716477) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400150)

because congress gets to dictate who NASA has to build with, and they want their precious tax kickbacks.

Re:Why not simply use Space X? (0)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400244)

Why not use that instead.

Because some congress-critter somewhere will scream "How can it be that the United States can no longer have its government space program" just like Nancy Pelosi silenced criticism of the GM bailout with a spurt of patriotism, and yet another excuse to print a few more hundred billion dollars will be found. By the way GM is losing money again - surprised? Don't you realize yet that budget caps are not limits, they are goals? Promises to reduce debt are never met.

Re:Why not simply use Space X? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400346)

"And those are hard numbers, not NASA will go over-budget numbers."
It hasn't flown yet so no those are not hard numbers. They may make those numbers but until it happens it is still just an estimate. A problem with all government projects is feature creep. Since no one really has to pay this group or that adds "Wouldn't it be nice ifs" all over the place. Sort of like software development.

So let's see... (0)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400110)

will fly twice in the next decade and cost $30 billion through 2021,

In other words, $15 billion per flight.

With a "lift capacity" (not payload, so that figure has to include mass to carry the payload -- but we'll assume it's all payload) of 70 metric tons -- 154,000 pounds. That's just under $100,000/lb ($97,402/lb, or $214,285/kg) launch cost.

And you thought Shuttle was expensive...

(Mind, this is just the initial cost estimate. Given NASA's track record on such projects, it'll probably come in at around $100 billion by the time they're finished. That's a stack of dollar bills half way to geosynchronous orbit.)

Re:So let's see... (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400144)

Actually, it's too bad they haven't developed a rocket engine that burns a tank-full of $100 dollar bills. That would be cheaper to run.

Re:So let's see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400558)

And help solve out inflation problems.

Re:So let's see... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400392)

$30 billion dollars for two flights includes all the R&D to build the freaking rocket, each flight does not cost $15 billion as you imply. Your math is like saying Sony spent $400 million dollars over 4 years to build the first two Cell processors, therefor they will never be able to sell a PlayStation for less than $200 Million each. To put it in perspective, Shuttle R&D was originally bid at $43 billion in today's money. The actual cost per flight was $1.5 billion dollars if you include every dollar that went to the Shuttle program.

Re:So let's see... (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400812)

Yes, but Sony sold way more than 2 PlayStations, so R&D is spread out over millions of units. The chances of this boondoggle ever flying more that 2 flights is infinitesimal, so it really is $15 billion per flight. Actually the chances of it even flying 1 flight is small, so cost per probable flight is approaching infinity.

I miss the old days. (3, Interesting)

freaxeh (1962440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400138)

If only the US Government had more balls and more incentive to launch a great big rocket into space, we might all be space cowboys by now.

If only NASA had the budget of 5% of the US Military, I could take my space guitar to a much larger International Space Station and sing the blues all with my other space buddies.

If only we all could see the amazing opportunities and forward thinking plans which a healthy space program can produce, I could retire on a farm on Mars.

You know what is missing from this so-called modern world? Ego, If only the US had the biggest Ego to orbit the center of the galaxy, we would all be better off. Just having the opportunity to say to the world, hey, I've got a plan for the world, let me build a space station orbiting around every single planet in this galaxy and we can all see the wonderful beauty that is our Solar System, we can all bring back to earth ideas for peace and ideas for bigger and better scientific projects, and oh yeah, We're the U.S of Effin' Aye, and we have a Saturn X. 5 Times the size of Saturn V and a beautiful sight to see as it takes off, this is our mark on society, this is our Image for the future free for all to look up to, and we love doing it too. Because we're the USA!

But no, instead, we've shut down it all and dug our heads in the sand, for fear of financial collapse.

This isn't the america I remember.

We are all cowards.

Re:I miss the old days. (1, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400222)

Oh, we're not exactly cowards. We just stroke our ego on manly war escapades. Keeping the world safe from (non aligned) tinpot despots by using the world's largest military industrial complex to stomp a bunch of backwards, third tier, fourth world countries into molten dust!

Or not.

Re:I miss the old days. (1)

gilleain (1310105) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400264)

let me build a space station orbiting around every single planet in this galaxy

Using our FTL drives?

Do it properly or not at all (3, Insightful)

tp1024 (2409684) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400154)

What is NASA going to do with those two flights and what are they going to do next? There is no credible plan at all. Fly to some asteroid, then maybe to mars. But in order to do what? Put a flag in the sand of Mars so that half a century later somebody can fly a space probe to the planet and make a picture to combat the conspiracy theories that the Mars flight was all fake?

There is no vision in this other than giving even more money to the firms that provided overpriced space ships and rockets in the past. There is no research in this, other than whatever happens to be picked up along the way by some great coincidence, just as with Apollo that had a grand total on one scientist flying to the moon.

If you want to do manned spaceflight, you need a vision or it doesn't work. Because manned spaceflight in and of itself is stupid. As stupid as plonking down huge stones after dragging them for kilometers through the dirt in order to build Stone Henge. As just as stupid as breaking out stones in a quarry, carrying them along the Nile and building pyramids. Or wasting your time to write a symphony, playing football, chess or go (my favorite).

There is no credible economic reason. There is very little indication, that the scientific gains of manned spaceflight will be worth the monetary expenditure for centuries. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth it, if that is what you decide to focus on. If you say, we think it's worth it, because human nature sometimes requires a higher goal that doesn't have a lot to do with the individuals of the society, but the society as a whole - and as such can truly be enjoyed by all because nobody has any tangible benefit - then this is a good enough reason.

But unfortunately our societies have devolved to the point of regarding everything that doesn't have a tangible benefit to identifiable individuals as a waste of time - unless it is part of those practices that were grandfathered in from eras when people thought otherwise.

Re:Do it properly or not at all (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400618)

So, what exactly is your beef against?

Manned spaceflight projects that do not promise a tangible economic benefit - or - the society that has devolved to a point that it treats such projects as a waste of time?

Make up your mind.

Will fly only twice? (1)

Froeschle (943753) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400186)

So it will take NASA over 10 years to launch only two more missions? So what do they plan on doing after the second launch? I'm sure by that time that Russia and China will have launched more than just two missions a piece. I really don't like the sound of this.

Re:Will fly only twice? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400256)

Perhaps after that they plan on then fixing the problems here on earth?

Not just designed by committee... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400296)

Most Senators and Congresspeople aren't exactly rocket scientists. And yet here they are mandating major design parameters...

Spiffy.

Let's do this instead (0)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400354)

Take that $30B and invest it in Space X.

Space X already has something a lot more concrete than the NASA plan. While lifting less, Falcon Heavy costs way less money per launch. $30B would go a long way to making Space X a reality, faster. I, as a taxpayer/investor, would definitely vote for that over funding NASA's idea.

For all those people complaining about jobs lost due to retiring the shuttle components: Get them jobs associated with Space X. Maybe part of that $30B could go into employee reeducation and retraining for Falcon assembly.

Re:Let's do this instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37400698)

If the government were to invest $30B in Space X, it would also want to have a big say in everything that gets done. And we all know what happens when the government gets involved [wikipedia.org] .

China needs to get to Mars first... (4, Insightful)

thefuz (1076605) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400492)

What is being overlooked here, imo, is the factor that drove the Apollo program to such fantastic feats on its relatively short timescale. That type of commitment and effort is _never_ going to be undertaken without the threat of another country topping the US. Barring the type of wake-up-call moment like Sputnik or Gagarin, the necessary desire to get us to the aspirational next level will continue on this iterative path of fits and starts. The key factor that allowed for Mercury -> Gemini -> Apollo was the race to the moon. Right now we have these wishy-washy blurred objectives like wouldn't it be great to visit an asteroid or maybe we'll be walking on Mars in 20 years. F that. We really need a challenger. China. Like the title says, they need to get to Mars. Will them putting something real into orbit do the trick? Is that even attainable given their current launch capabilities (I think so). Until something like that happens, we're doomed to live in this bureaucratic netherworld of pork. The public (I'm guilty too) is too apathetic to realize the country could really use something inspiring like this. Otherwise all the wonderful brainpower out there will continue to funnel into the world of spooky finance transactions... who can blame them!!

Criminal waste of money (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400506)

This is a prime example of why NASA should be terminated. Spin off the space science/weather programs and kill the rest. $30B to re-use existing technology to get something in space 6 years from now? Are they that fucking hopeless?

Space Lunch System?? (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400708)

I knew I shouldn't have skipped lunch. When I first saw the title I thought this was a "New Space Lunch System" for underprivileged aliens and astronauts.

So, they catch up with the Mid-1980's (1)

DanielRavenNest (107550) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400792)

I worked on a "Shuttle-Derived Cargo Launch Vehicle" in the Mid 1980's. It was an obvious answer to the low payload capacity of the orbiter. I see NASA has finally caught on to this idea after we proposed it to them about 5 times over the years in various studies.

(Given the rate of management turnover, they would forget someone already did the study, and pay for it again and again)

I look forward to when they catch up to studies we did in the 1990's (giant space guns, and ultra-tall towers)

This is NOT repeat NOT the Aries V. (1)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400828)

Yes, it came from the same concept drawings, but we scratched out the name dangit! Aries was canceled so it is NOT the Aries 5!

increase NASA's budget! (3, Informative)

lazn (202878) | more than 3 years ago | (#37400912)

NASA is one of the FEW places where the $ spent MORE THAN PAYS OFF in actual $$s into our economy:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_NASA#Economic_impact_of_NASA_funding [wikipedia.org]

Every dollar spent on NASA actually GENERATES between $7 and $22 for our economy:
http://www.bu.edu/sjmag/scimag2005/features/NASA.htm [bu.edu]

People who think spending $ on NASA is bad are the same kind of people that think treating an infected wound with HIV infected dog poop is good.

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