Monday, September 19, 2005

NASA's New Spaceship

After 40 years, NASA uses same plan for a moonshot, except now with 2 rockets for double the tax payer money.

Label this plan as STUPID and move on.

I can see a 2 rocket system could work; one for parts, one for umm technical crew. Why launch them at the same time? If we can land little robots on Mars, we can land a tractor-trailer worth of supplies on the moon remotely.
Then maybe some real work can be done on the moon instead of golfing and rock collecting.

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Blogger AKAImBatman said...

except now with 2 rockets for double the tax payer money.

No, it's not. At least one rocket is basically existing technology. And the second one appears to be nothing more than an SRB with a stage 2 SSME. Which again, means that it's the same rocket, just smaller.

Label this plan as STUPID and move on.

It's attitudes like this that have kept the space program from going anywhere. The Space Shuttle was a BAD idea. There should always be two types of rockets, one for cargo, one for humans. Combining the two results in the Space Shuttle where the entire process gets buried under 30 miles of paperwork because it has to be "man rated". The result is a vehicle that costs as much as 5 rockets instead of two inexpensive vehicles.

6:30 PM  
Blogger PsyWhale said...

My problem with this plan, granted is is still very much on the chalkboard, is that the two rockets are launched at the same time or close to it. Then,after docking, what looks like the 'heavy lifter' rocket propels both crew vehicle and equipment to the moon. This seems to me to be a waste of precious cargo capacity for supplies and crew.
I would envision a 'construction yard' on a rocket sent first. Then a larger crew vehicle (24 crew maybe) sent to the moon to lay down a foundation of a moon base. Rotate out crew, resupply as needed.

9:24 PM  
Blogger AKAImBatman said...

Fair enough. But I'm afraid that it's not that easy. Back when the Saturn V flew, there wasn't mountains of paperwork to "man rate" a rocket. Which meant that their primary concern was building a generic heavy lifter that "won't blow up" when they launch it. In addition, the Apollo missions were designed to get to the moon as fast as possible. To that end, no one really cared that they were firing off a Heavy Lifter (118 metric tonnes to LEO!) to carry some humans weighing in at less than a ton.

That worked then, but it's was wasteful. There really wasn't an in-between for if you just wanted to get some humans into orbit. This plan is designed with future flexibility in mind. The smaller rocket will be designed to be as reliable as possible and "man rated" so that it can carry the humans into space. The larger rocket will be designed with a different goal in mind: Get lotsa stuff where-ever you need it.

Now in the initial NASA plan, they're just trying to land a man on the moon. To do that, they're replicating the exact conditions of the 1969 flight, with the minor addition of the space docking. Long term, however, it's pointless to take stuff to the moon in such an inefficient fashion. Did you see how much hardware they lost in the video? Start with something like ten million tonnes of stuff, end with barely 10-20 tonnes. That's a lot of hardware to shed!

Instead, a long term plan would call for tugs to shuttle people and supplies between the moon and LEO. Now the larger rocket is perfect for this. It can launch the tug, which will remain in orbit. Supplies (perhaps an entire base!) could be launched that the tug could tow to the moon on super-efficient ION engines. Then the heavy lifter will launch a faster tug that uses traditional engines. That tug could be used to take the CEV back and forth. Refueling the tug would require launches from the large booster, but imagine how much more fuel you can launch if you don't have to send an entire ship with it!

Baby steps, friend, baby steps. :-)

10:02 PM  

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