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space shuttle obsolete

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  • Jon Mann
    Ever since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff I realized NASA technology is neither safe nor cost effective, but a multi billion dollar business.
    Message 1 of 10 , Jul 29, 2005
      Ever since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff I realized
      NASA technology is neither safe nor cost effective, but a multi billion
      dollar business. I believe that the Russian approach to orbital
      launches is cheaper and far less dangerous. It appears the Chinese
      will also be relying on rocket launches rather than expensive and
      inefficient orbital vehicles.
      Here is my idea that I have proposed to friends who have far more
      knowledge and expertise than a layman such as myself.
      Use tried and true disposable solid fuel boosters to launch satellites,
      robotic missions, scientific experiments, etc. And when necessary,
      human astronauts to work on the space station, make repairs on the
      Hubble, etc. Rather than using an antiquated shuttle system it would
      by more practical to develop nuclear powered smaller vehicles that
      could be launched like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Capsules, but
      with better propulsion and maneuvering technology. It could remain
      docked to the space station, providing additional living space, and
      available for interorbital missions, such as repairing the Hubble and
      eventually returning to the moon. It is impractical to launch heavy
      shuttles out of the gravity well and then return them to earth,
      subjecting them to re-entry damage and endangering the lives of our
      hero astronauts. Continue to use them in orbit and return the
      astronauts the old fashioned way. The logistics should not be
      difficult.

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    • Nick Lidster
      ... From: brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com [mailto:brin-l-bounces@mccmedia.com] On Behalf Of Jon Mann Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 4:10 AM To: brin-l@mccmedia.com
      Message 2 of 10 , Jul 30, 2005
        -----Original Message-----
        From: brin-l-bounces@... [mailto:brin-l-bounces@...] On
        Behalf Of Jon Mann
        Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 4:10 AM
        To: brin-l@...
        Subject: space shuttle obsolete

        Ever since the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on takeoff I realized
        NASA technology is neither safe nor cost effective, but a multi billion
        dollar business. I believe that the Russian approach to orbital
        launches is cheaper and far less dangerous. It appears the Chinese
        will also be relying on rocket launches rather than expensive and
        inefficient orbital vehicles.
        Here is my idea that I have proposed to friends who have far more
        knowledge and expertise than a layman such as myself.
        Use tried and true disposable solid fuel boosters to launch satellites,
        robotic missions, scientific experiments, etc. And when necessary,
        human astronauts to work on the space station, make repairs on the
        Hubble, etc. Rather than using an antiquated shuttle system it would
        by more practical to develop nuclear powered smaller vehicles that
        could be launched like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Capsules, but
        with better propulsion and maneuvering technology. It could remain
        docked to the space station, providing additional living space, and
        available for interorbital missions, such as repairing the Hubble and
        eventually returning to the moon. It is impractical to launch heavy
        shuttles out of the gravity well and then return them to earth,
        subjecting them to re-entry damage and endangering the lives of our
        hero astronauts. Continue to use them in orbit and return the
        astronauts the old fashioned way. The logistics should not be
        difficult.

        _______________________________________________
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        I'll say this First before I go farther, I really don't want to be a nay
        sayer to your idea as I have similar views about the current and future
        manned space exploration outlook. However, there are several things that I
        would like to highlight from your post as some food for thought about it.

        "I believe that the Russian approach to orbital launches is cheaper and far
        less dangerous. It appears the Chinese will also be relying on rocket
        launches rather than expensive and inefficient orbital vehicles."

        Though I do agree that "now" this approach is a safer bet for crew
        survivability, there were quite a few launch failures with loss of payload
        and crew, the US shuttle program can only see 2 massive failures to date
        Challenger and Columbia.

        Before I make my next point off of this I will make some admissions, I will
        not argue that the Shuttle is tres expensive. However at the time it was
        built is was the cutting edge in technology, and as was said in a previous
        post if you were to ask a shuttle engineer if they thought the shuttle would
        be flying in '05 they would laugh, the thing simply was not meant to be in
        operation for 30+ yrs. (yes I know they all didn't come out in '75 but the
        design has been around since the)

        The reason why the vehicles themselves are cheaper is because they are toss
        away, im sure someone with more knowledge will tell me that they salvage
        much of the electronics from one Soyuz for one under construction replacing
        as needed to reduce cost, but I don't know that for sure. The shuttle was
        designed to be a multi task vehicle, which it still is, what is needed is a
        modular system with a return to earth capability something again modular but
        in the sence that the payload module can be launch automated and return to
        earth automated after dropping off its payload, and have a reuse of say
        15+/- flights. I would want the option that the crew module can launch and
        return on its own, so if you have to do a crew change on the ISS you don't
        have to launch an entire vehicle. In the same breathe I would want it to
        have the option of launching with the payload module.

        " Rather than using an antiquated shuttle system it would by more practical
        to develop nuclear powered smaller vehicles that could be launched like the
        Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Capsules, but with better propulsion and
        maneuvering technology."

        Ok here I go sounding like a crazy scared old nuclear watch dog...... I
        think that giving a larger power source to manned and unmanned missions is a
        great idea, and very necessary as it takes away power limits for scientific
        payloads on DS missions. However the more you launch them and return them
        the higher the chance of a catastrophic failure and we have a nuclear could
        falling over the world..... even as you have put it they would stay docked
        to the ISS there has to be away for the crew to return home, so they have to
        have reentry capability, and poking a nuke on a one hop capsule to me just
        isn't cost effective. Granted as I said above you can salvage from each cap.
        And drop cost but I'm still wary about having a crew return vehicle that has
        a nuke on board. Before you say well we can have it removable in orbit and
        it can be connected to the ISS for additional power, just how many of these
        do you plan on launching? also with the amount of Liquid launches done with
        the shuttle would it not be reasonable to say that Liquid launches are tried
        and true?

        "It is impractical to launch heavy Shuttles out of the gravity well and then
        return them to earth, subjecting them to re-entry damage and endangering the
        lives of our hero astronauts. Continue to use them in orbit and return the
        astronauts the old fashioned way. The logistics should not be difficult."

        Ok 2 things on this part; is not every reentry vehicle possible of taking
        damage and loosing the crew? After all these years of shuttle launches we
        have lost only one on reentry, and granted it was well into its life span. I
        will not argue at all that the shuttle is far too expensive to launch
        maintain etc. As for your suggestion to launch the existing shuttles to
        orbit and leave them there for orbital use, the infrastructure is simply not
        there, doing a rough in head calculation it would cost about 1.5 billion to
        add the docking ports to the ISS not to mention the requirement for massive
        LF tanks to be brought to orbit and also attached to be able to refuel the
        fleet. The fleet would be grounded, enough said.



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      • Dan Minette
        ... From: Jon Mann To: Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 1:40 AM Subject: space shuttle obsolete ... In what sense
        Message 3 of 10 , Jul 30, 2005
          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Jon Mann" <jonmann@...>
          To: <brin-l@...>
          Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 1:40 AM
          Subject: space shuttle obsolete


          > Use tried and true disposable solid fuel boosters to launch satellites,
          > robotic missions, scientific experiments, etc. And when necessary,
          > human astronauts to work on the space station, make repairs on the
          > Hubble, etc. Rather than using an antiquated shuttle system it would
          > by more practical to develop nuclear powered smaller vehicles that
          > could be launched like the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo Capsules, but
          > with better propulsion and maneuvering technology.

          In what sense would these be nuclear powered? Nuclear propulsion is
          practical for long, slow accelerations, not lifting off a massive body like
          the earth. Relatively little progress has been made in that area because
          the physics is straightforward, and the chemistry basically just chemical
          engineering. I think material science is probably the area where the
          advances would be most useful. The next most important advance would be
          rugged electronics. In my own limited field, we subject electronics to far
          greater stresses than anything one would expect going to space.


          >It could remain
          > docked to the space station, providing additional living space, and
          > available for interorbital missions, such as repairing the Hubble and
          > eventually returning to the moon. It is impractical to launch heavy
          > shuttles out of the gravity well and then return them to earth,
          > subjecting them to re-entry damage and endangering the lives of our
          > hero astronauts.

          No matter how you slice it, space travel is still a risky business. I
          would hope that the advances in technology of the last 30 years would allow
          us to build a safer means of transport. Especially since manned space
          fight is still in the PR stage, so very little in terms of scientific
          advances can be attributed to it.

          Dan M.


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        • Gautam Mukunda
          ... Let me toss in a different technology - nanotech. The single most interesting thing I attended in my year at MIT was a talk by an aeronautical engineering
          Message 4 of 10 , Jul 30, 2005
            --- Dan Minette <dsummersminet@...> wrote:
            > In what sense would these be nuclear powered?
            > Nuclear propulsion is
            > practical for long, slow accelerations, not lifting
            > off a massive body like
            > the earth. Relatively little progress has been made
            > in that area because
            > the physics is straightforward, and the chemistry
            > basically just chemical
            > engineering. I think material science is probably
            > the area where the
            > advances would be most useful. The next most
            > important advance would be
            > rugged electronics. In my own limited field, we
            > subject electronics to far
            > greater stresses than anything one would expect
            > going to space.

            Let me toss in a different technology - nanotech. The
            single most interesting thing I attended in my year at
            MIT was a talk by an aeronautical engineering
            professor here on the aerospace implications of
            nanotech - in particular, the nanotech developments
            _already working in his lab_. One of the things that
            he showed us were massive increases in the efficiency
            of jet and rocket engines. He actually handed out a
            working jet engine about the size of my thumb. The
            engine for the F-22 - probably the most advanced
            "normal" jet engine in the world has (IIRC - it's been
            several months now) an 8:1 power to weight ratio,
            which is pretty good. This little thing, a first
            generation engine using nanotech, has a 50:1 power to
            weight ratio. It was astonishing - one of the most
            interesting hours of my life, really. I've never seen
            a presentation anything like it - and it was most
            impressive not because it was all "blue sky" projects
            but because everything he was talking about was either
            _already working_ or very close to being so. He
            thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students could, if
            they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs in
            LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing - I
            wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could show
            it to people.

            Gautam Mukunda
            ulysses02143@...
            "Freedom is not free"
            http://www.mukunda.blogspot.com



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          • Doug Pensinger
            ... Fascinating stuff, Gautam, but why _wouldn t they choose to do it? -- Doug _______________________________________________
            Message 5 of 10 , Jul 30, 2005
              Gautam wrote:

              > He thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students could, if
              > they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs in
              > LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing - I
              > wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could show
              > it to people.

              Fascinating stuff, Gautam, but why _wouldn't they choose to do it?

              --
              Doug
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            • Gautam Mukunda
              ... Well, among other reasons, because I think it might be illegal, as such a rocket would also qualify as an ICBM :-) In all seriousness, I don t actually
              Message 6 of 10 , Jul 30, 2005
                --- Doug Pensinger <brighto@...> wrote:
                > Gautam wrote:
                >
                > > He thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students
                > could, if
                > > they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs
                > in
                > > LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing -
                > I
                > > wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could
                > show
                > > it to people.
                >
                > Fascinating stuff, Gautam, but why _wouldn't they
                > choose to do it?
                >
                > Doug

                Well, among other reasons, because I think it might be
                illegal, as such a rocket would also qualify as an
                ICBM :-) In all seriousness, I don't actually know.
                He said they've actually gone ahead and designed all
                the hard parts, and actually built some of them, so he
                didn't feel it was much of a challenge. OTOH, I'm not
                sure what _use_ putting 10 kgs into LEO would be right
                now. 10 kgs isn't that much. If someone were to
                right him a check for the amount, he seemed very
                confident he could do it. My guess is that scaling it
                up to launch heavier payloads is a bit more of a
                challenge, but, judging by his talk (I am not, after
                all, a specialist in nanotech) eminently doable.

                Gautam Mukunda
                ulysses02143@...
                "Freedom is not free"
                http://www.mukunda.blogspot.com



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              • Robert Seeberger
                ... From: Gautam Mukunda To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:49 PM Subject: Re: space
                Message 7 of 10 , Jul 31, 2005
                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Gautam Mukunda" <ulysses02143@...>
                  To: "Killer Bs Discussion" <brin-l@...>
                  Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:49 PM
                  Subject: Re: space shuttle obsolete


                  >He thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students could, if
                  > they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs in
                  > LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing - I
                  > wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could show
                  > it to people.
                  >

                  Any info would be appreciated. That is a pretty geewhizbang story!


                  xponent
                  Uranium Tri-Carbide Maru
                  rob


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                • kerri miller
                  ... If true, its neat.. but sounds awfully like the talk I heard presented by the guy who was gung-ho about Tesla turbines.. -kerri, finally decompressed from
                  Message 8 of 10 , Jul 31, 2005
                    --- Robert Seeberger <rceeberger@...> wrote:

                    >
                    > ----- Original Message -----
                    > From: "Gautam Mukunda" <ulysses02143@...>
                    > To: "Killer Bs Discussion" <brin-l@...>
                    > Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:49 PM
                    > Subject: Re: space shuttle obsolete
                    >
                    >
                    > >He thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students could, if
                    > > they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs in
                    > > LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing - I
                    > > wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could show
                    > > it to people.
                    > >
                    >
                    > Any info would be appreciated. That is a pretty geewhizbang story!

                    If true, its neat.. but sounds awfully like the talk I heard presented by
                    the guy who was gung-ho about Tesla turbines..

                    -kerri, finally decompressed from World Series of Poker-


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                  • Dan Minette
                    ... From: Gautam Mukunda To: Killer Bs Discussion Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:49 PM Subject: Re: space
                    Message 9 of 10 , Jul 31, 2005
                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: "Gautam Mukunda" <ulysses02143@...>
                      To: "Killer Bs Discussion" <brin-l@...>
                      Sent: Saturday, July 30, 2005 10:49 PM
                      Subject: Re: space shuttle obsolete


                      > --- Dan Minette <dsummersminet@...> wrote:
                      > > In what sense would these be nuclear powered?
                      > > Nuclear propulsion is
                      > > practical for long, slow accelerations, not lifting
                      > > off a massive body like
                      > > the earth. Relatively little progress has been made
                      > > in that area because
                      > > the physics is straightforward, and the chemistry
                      > > basically just chemical
                      > > engineering. I think material science is probably
                      > > the area where the
                      > > advances would be most useful. The next most
                      > > important advance would be
                      > > rugged electronics. In my own limited field, we
                      > > subject electronics to far
                      > > greater stresses than anything one would expect
                      > > going to space.
                      >
                      > Let me toss in a different technology - nanotech. The
                      > single most interesting thing I attended in my year at
                      > MIT was a talk by an aeronautical engineering
                      > professor here on the aerospace implications of
                      > nanotech - in particular, the nanotech developments
                      > _already working in his lab_. One of the things that
                      > he showed us were massive increases in the efficiency
                      > of jet and rocket engines. He actually handed out a
                      > working jet engine about the size of my thumb. The
                      > engine for the F-22 - probably the most advanced
                      > "normal" jet engine in the world has (IIRC - it's been
                      > several months now) an 8:1 power to weight ratio,
                      > which is pretty good. This little thing, a first
                      > generation engine using nanotech, has a 50:1 power to
                      > weight ratio.

                      There is a long article at:

                      http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/04/11/freedman1104.asp

                      about this guy. There are a few caviats involved. While the power/weight
                      ratio is wonderful, the efficiency is worse than a conventional engine.
                      So, the nanotech involved is making an engine turbine a bit smaller than a
                      dime, letting it spin 1 million RPMs and keep it working for a long time.
                      According to this article, the jet cannot work continuously, the turbine is
                      unstable, etc. The develops think it will take 2-3 more years to iron out
                      these wrinkles.

                      If things go well, they would probably have a good battery substitute for
                      military use in about 4-5 years.


                      > He thought, IIRC, that he and his grad students could, if
                      > they chose, build a rocket that could put 10 kgs in
                      > LEO for about $50,000. It was just mindblowing - I
                      > wish I had a tape of the presentation so I could show
                      > it to people.

                      Given the fact that he is getting millions in contracts from the military,
                      it's hard to believe that they would not have an interest in this. A 50k
                      contract would not buy much of his time....or that much in hardware for
                      that matter. It would have to be a modest grad student project, with only
                      a bit of advice from the major prof. Sounds like a neat engineering PhD
                      topic; I'd guess that the successful student would have little trouble
                      getting a job for a big defense contractor. So, I'd be a bit more
                      skeptical of that claim.

                      Dan M.


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                    • Dave Land
                      ... Which, I think, is the point -- it doesn t have to be as efficient as a conventional engine, it only has to be more efficient than a battery. Which reminds
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 1, 2005
                        On Jul 31, 2005, at 8:40 PM, Dan Minette wrote:

                        > While the power/weight
                        > ratio is wonderful, the efficiency is worse than a conventional engine.

                        ...

                        > If things go well, they would probably have a good battery substitute
                        > for
                        > military use in about 4-5 years.

                        Which, I think, is the point -- it doesn't have to be as efficient as a
                        conventional engine, it only has to be more efficient than a battery.

                        Which reminds me of the old joke, you don't have to be faster than the
                        bear, just faster than your companions.

                        Dave "Bomb squad: If I'm running, try to keep up" Land

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