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End of Constellation

Posted by: TerraMrs - Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:37 pm
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End of Constellation 

Is the end of Constellation good or bad for the US Human Spaceflight program?
Good 52%  52%  [ 14 ]
Bad 15%  15%  [ 4 ]
A bit of both 33%  33%  [ 9 ]
No opinion 0%  0%  [ 0 ]
Total votes : 27

End of Constellation 
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Post End of Constellation   Posted on: Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:37 pm
So it's official, Obama wants to kill Constellation in favor of commercial investment and longer term technology research geared towards developing Heavy Lift and Interplanetary flight capabilities. Space.com has a poll on Constellation that so far is showing overwhelming opposition to its cancellation. Let's see how this forum's opinions differ.

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Last edited by TerraMrs on Mon Feb 01, 2010 5:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Mon Feb 01, 2010 6:39 pm
It's my opinion that Constellation was flawed from the start. It's a pity that NASA have no manrated vehicles (apart from STS) but that's what happens when a bunch of unrelated organisations all try to push NASA in different directions without proper funding. Too many cooks spoil the broth.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:34 am
End Of constellation, Good.
End of Shuttle, Good.
Lack of Vision, Bad.

Instead of having a bad Goal, Nasa now has no goal and more money with which to persue it.

Even so, they should get a lot more done now. All the tech programs and research will be fully funded.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:08 pm
my 2 cents,

end of Aries I, good. interesting concept, but just wasn;t completely up to the task.

end of Ares V, mixed. While I don;t believe much of any work had been done on the project, the need for a Heavy lift vehicle is there,moving to a more shuttle derived inline HLV would be a good 'stop-gap' measure. would give us the lift capability until we can finish developing all that new fancy technology they keep talking about in the budgets.

end of Orion, bad. development of the program was quite far along, and really the Orion capsule and escape system should be independent of launch booster (assuming the booster has the lift capacity of course). I'd bet that Orion is closer to being ready to go than any of the commercial crew systems. If the current Orion could be used as a "Block I" system on a commercial booster until they can take over with their own capsules, then a "Block II" Orion used for future Beyond LEO, to me, it seems like it would a good use of the resources at hand. the trick would be getting a commercial booster modified quick enough to make it worth while.

End of Shuttle, good/bad. Good in that it is time to retire this workhorse. It's done the work it was designed to do, and has done it well. It's time to press foward. Being a part of the shuttle program, that means I'll be out of a job (bad, lol). the real downside i feel to retiring the shuttle is the loss of capability. namely the ability to capture and service items on orbit.

Continuation of ISS, very good. hopefully this exetension will allow us to get the full benefit that the station was designed to provide, especially considering how long it has taken to get it up there in the first place.

Above I mentioned that one of the good reasons for retiring shuttle was that it was time to push foward. Unfortunately, with the cancellation of Constellation without a suitable near term goal/replacement to me feels like takeing several steps backwards. Despite alot of the research they say they are getting all this funding for, if they dont have anything to apply it to, what good is it? If the commercial space industry doesn't ahve a goal to strive after other than LEO ops, what incentive and profit is there in it for them? Increased funding for 'weather and climate' research? isnt that NOAA's (and other agencies) job?

to me this whole situation seems like it will lead to a stagnation of the American Space program. Yes I feel very strongly about this, as I'm sure others here do as well. Unfortunately, the majority of the American public doesn't know/care enough about the situation to truly understand what is goign on and the consequences of it.


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Wed Feb 03, 2010 5:14 pm
I can understand killing off Ares1. It was sort of necessary at the time, but not really now. AresV I am sad to see that go. So much potential with that amount of lift. The cancellation of Orion though? No matter what happens, we will need that vehicle.

Although I would not mind a bit if they moved main propulsion and reaction control to methane / Lox. There has been a bit more success on that front now. Nod to Armadillo.


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 1:14 am
They could still do Shuttle 2 or shuttle upgrades.

Change out the APU's and Hydraulics for electrics/fuel cells. Change the OMS for Meth/Lox. Rethink the TPS. Back the pressure off on the SSME's by opening their throats and increasing their thrust. Maybe go to Liquid Boosters with pressure fed kerosene clean sheet engine.

Completely redo the crew bays with 30 years of new knowledge and Tech. Aim for five weeks on orbit capability. Maybe a Crew compartment that can survive a break up of the orbiter.

Maybe do the frames in Titanium.

And all the other little upgrades that have been racked up.

Do all that, fly em for five years. See where the flight rate is at without having to rebuild the engines, play with APU's or Toxic OMS pods. Then stand back and make a decision on the future based on that.

Then you would have Massive Liquid engines availabe, reliable SSME's and all new avionics etc with which to look at doing *sane* shuttle derived vehicles.

Like a heavy booster made entirely out of shuttle parts.

If the flight rate improved to what it could be, it might hit 12 flights a year or more.

There is so much *Obvious* stuff that could be done. The Shuttle diagrams are not even electronic, 80,000 pages of physical blueprints.

Everything that was wrong with the STS stemmed from the fact that Nasa turned a prototype into a thirty year operational system. It really deserves a second shot.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:26 am
I would only do another shuttle design if there was an improvement in the tile design. Inspecting and replacing them after each flight is expensive and tedious. how expensive would it be to replace the critical areas with a pica ablator that just got replaced every time?


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:54 am
you might go with a metal shingle shield today. Or, redesign the the tanks.

Plenty of options once you commit to a total overhaul loosely based on the current design.

Not very many options when you are looking for a low cost stop-gap measure for a few flights on a retiring system.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 12:00 pm
idiom,
there is reason a the good majority of the shuttle documentation is not in electronic format. Cost.
It is insanely expensive to get drawings redone, usually ebcause it is done by an outside company.

idiom wrote:
Everything that was wrong with the STS stemmed from the fact that Nasa turned a prototype into a thirty year operational system.


wha??? that makes no sense. of course it started as a prototype, all operational systems do. the Shuttle was intended to be used for at least ten years from the begining. It was intended for the assembly of a space station in LEO.
Many of the upgrades you suggested have been investigated/attempted in the past, and usually were axed by congress/budget woes. It's a sad state of affairs, yes, but one that cannot be undone, only changed for the future (hopefully). Of course that would require a level of mautrity that just ins't present in the US government, but that is a topic for a different thread.

Are there better Tile systems than the ones currently on the STS? yep, Buran had set that were, and even since then I'm sure even better materials have been developed. Not that it really would matter. In order to keep flying the shuttle any longer than it currently will be, major overhauls and inspections will be needed, and that costs money. in the end, there just isn;t a budget for it, and the airframes are aging.

When teh ISS is completed, STS will have completed its missiona nd it will be time to move on. Something that should have been done by the early '90s. Challenger (RIP) stopped all that from happening.

but you are right, there are not many things that could be done for shuttle to keep it as a stop-gap measure. just more flight waivers and ops money. It's sad, it really is. Both me and my wife have been lucky to have been a part of the program, and while it's only been for the last couple years, i still feel for those who have been with the program for the last 10, 20 and 30 years. The fact that NASA won't, and isnt planning on having anything of its own to replace it, or to do manned exploration anytime in the forseeable future i think is a great tragedy, and an insult to those who have given their lives for this program.


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:09 pm
I think it was going to take eight years and $40 Million to digitise the plans or something, in 2005. If they had started then the plans would be done three years from now. Three years too late.

Yes, the Shuttle has a long history of short-sighted cuts. Right from the get-go which is when we lost the fly-back booster. But after 30 years, we should have been flying a third generation shuttle for ten years right now. Our options on the board and tech sitting on the shelf would be a lot broader.

All of the upgrades have been on the board earlier, the guys at Nasa know whats needs to be done far better than I. They're not still fyling APU's that burst into flames because of a lack of ideas.

Still, the budget isn't law yet. It might turn out to be impossible politically to kill either Shuttle or Constellation yet.

Now they have the money but not the permission to upgrade it.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:57 pm
unfortunately, even if they did for some unknown reason extend shuttle, I pretty certain no upgrades would take palce. the most that would be done is to resertify the shuttles as safe to fly for another X number of years.

But you are right in that we should have been in the next gen vehicle by now, but when you look at Programs like the X-38, programs that would really have done NASA some good, you almost always have Congress coming in and killing them, because "NASA needs to cut its spending" or some BS like that.

I almost get the sick feeling that Congress is goign to tell NASA to push foward with Constellation (including Ares I) just to spite Obama.


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:43 am
I suppose a private consortium could buy a Shuttle (as an exmplar) and license all the Shuttle documentation and software at a fire sale price, (like $3-400 Million), do the upgrades, hire a lot of staff, rent space at Kennedy and fly Shuttle 2.0 in competition with SpaceX, Soyuz, and ULA.

It would probably need US$2 Billion to get to first flight, and then a lot more till it started into black ink.

I reckon a lot of the staff would work hard and cheaply for shares and to see a project they put decades into reborn.

Plus there a tonne of stuff you could do to fly them more cheaply. Most of the upgrades would cut turn around time, but others would cut overhead costs significantly.

For example, the booster rockets that ended up solid due to a short sighted trade study 3 decades ago... With liquid boosters the crawler would have a much easier time. The Solid rockets have complex steerable motors that liquid boosters wouldn't need. The liquids would be pressure fed and not gimballed. They wouldn't have to go back to Utah to be refurbished. The reason they SRB's are steerable is because the SSME's With one shut down don't have enough control authority if one SRB hits theoretical maximum burn time while the other hits theoretical minimum burn time. Even with solids, thats a corner that could be cut pretty easily. With liquids its not even a failure mode.

Without a hypergolic OMS, you wouldn't need an entire separate processing facility.
Without Hydrazine/APU hydraulics you wouldn't need to flush the vehicle after landing and inspect every pipe and fitting.
Without running the engines at full pressure they wouldn't crack every blade on every flight.
Without the tiles flaking off, you wouldn't need a full inspection and bespoke servicing every flight.
Without the need to put hubble class military sats into polar orbit the Orbiter could be smaller too.
Without the Nasa Astronaut cores political control, an automated landing system could be added and uncrewed cargo flights could be launched.
With CAD design the read end could be laid out sensibly making the engines easy to remove and plumb.
With a five week loiter time you could launch a shuttle before de-orbiting the last one and have continuous presence.
The cargo bay could host a jettisonable passenger module for 20 person joyrides while the Hotels are still being built.

Its would take serious courage and salesmanship, but its probably something that could be IPO'd at the moment, especially in wake of Obama's announcement. Millions of Americans would buy shares just to see it keep flying, and then it would probably be bailed out with a gimme contracts even if you couldn't get costs down enough to compete with SpaceX, Soyuz or ULA. The state of Florida and the Fed would probably hook you up with serious tax breaks if you ever managed to make a profit.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Fri Feb 05, 2010 2:33 pm
idiom wrote:
The liquids would be pressure fed and not gimballed.


i think you may be mixing up a couple things on that one.
the SSMEs are also gimballed, and even if the SRBs were replaced with liquid fueld engines they would be as well. the Gimballs are just a way to steer the thrust of the engine, doesn't matter if its liquid, solid, or hybrid.

idiom wrote:
Without a hypergolic OMS, you wouldn't need an entire separate processing facility.
Without Hydrazine/APU hydraulics you wouldn't need to flush the vehicle after landing and inspect every pipe and fitting.


Oh yes, i vry much agree on that one. Isn't SpaceX liscencing the Trusters they developed for Dragon?

idiom wrote:
Without the tiles flaking off, you wouldn't need a full inspection and bespoke servicing every flight.


if it weren't a side mount this would not be nearly as big an issue as it is

idiom wrote:
Without the need to put hubble class military sats into polar orbit the Orbiter could be smaller too.


*cough* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37 *cough* :mrgreen:
supposedly that one is going up sometime early this year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA_X-38
A project that should not ahve been cancelled, and would deffinitly be worth resurrecting (especially if all that went into the X-38 could be bought/leased)

really, if someone in the private industry wanted to have the shuttle, they'd be better off resurecting Buran.
Better Tiles, Autonomous capability, a main booster that is useful for more than just the shuttle, design stydies on flyback booster capabiliteis already completed.....same lift capability.
And you could probably snag it all from Energia for cheaper as well....lol


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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Fri Feb 05, 2010 8:15 pm
Yeah I thought about Buran... it would be harder to raise money for though. and it has already been privatised. The PR value of privatising the Space Shuttle would be huge.

Quote:
i think you may be mixing up a couple things on that one.
the SSMEs are also gimballed, and even if the SRBs were replaced with liquid fueld engines they would be as well. the Gimballs are just a way to steer the thrust of the engine, doesn't matter if its liquid, solid, or hybrid.


The SSME's are the only things needed for steering. The boosters don't need to assist steering, so they wouldn't need to be gimballed, the solids only have steering for an event that hasn't happened in 30 years of flight. Just looking for systems that don't need to be there.

Also, nearly all of the changes have already had all the design work done, even more so than the x-vehicles.

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Post Re: End of Constellation   Posted on: Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:52 pm
They did try to pricatize the shuttle already, back in teh early '90s.
Its one of the main reasons the company i'm a part of (United Space Alliance) was formed. NASA was goign to hand over the shuttle and its operations to Lockheed and (at the time, later it was Boeing) Rockwell. One issue they ran into however, is that they could not get insured ( icant remember the name of the insurance company, begins with an L, and i think is out of the UK). so they formed USA as an LLC to get by this. However....lol NASA just wasn't able to give up complete control of the system. Can't say i blame them.
This is the story as told to me anyways, lol, so take it for what it's worth.

was Buran privitized? or just the company (Energia)?
it really is too bad that it would cost so much to even resurect just the Energia core. Especially in an attempt to build the Vulkan :D
http://www.buran-energia.com/energia/vu ... n-desc.php


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