Notices
Results 1 to 48 of 48

Thread: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moon?

  1. #1 How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moon? 
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    What is it? Mach 24 puts you in low Earth orbit. About 100 kilometers altitude before air resistance becomes negligible. So, basically that combination of speed and altitude is necessary before you can safely say you're in orbit, right?

    From there, getting to the Moon certainly takes a lot more energy, but it doesn't matter how fast you exert it anymore. (Because gravity isn't pulling you down, just resisting your change to a higher orbit).

    I wonder how practical it would be for a private industry/ citizen to try and send a probe up there. They're holding a new X-games competition for someone to send an unmanned robot to the Moon and perform some basic tasks. I'm just curious how likely they are to get a winner.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    42
    It's nearly impossible in this day and age. You are talking about something that goes even beyond ICBM's. If an individual was capable of doing it, how long do you the the federal gov't would allow them to keep the instrumentation to achieve such a goal? They would probably end up in prison.

    Governments that sponsor terrorism have been trying to develope that technology for years. They would pay vast sums to any individual or corporation for that technology. The temptation to maximize profits would simply be too great and the government of this country would stop it before it ever got started.

    To do it to just win a competition would not give the necessary payback to warrant the investment. Especially considering that our government would sieze any of the equipment that could be developed.

    If it happened in a foriegn country, say an Arab state, the Israelis would blow it up as a matter of national security. If it happened in any other state that we did not consider "friendly," the USA would blow it up.

    Basically, I am saying, "don't count on it."


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    5
    It is really not possible in the modern techology. After 100 years, the possibilities will grow a lot.. ...
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What is it? Mach 24 puts you in low Earth orbit. About 100 kilometers altitude before air resistance becomes negligible. So, basically that combination of speed and altitude is necessary before you can safely say you're in orbit, right?
    Altitude really doesn't have anything to do with it. You can be in orbit 2 inches off the ground surface.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    From there, getting to the Moon certainly takes a lot more energy, but it doesn't matter how fast you exert it anymore. (Because gravity isn't pulling you down, just resisting your change to a higher orbit).
    The majority of energy needed is to escape Earth's gravity. Once in space, the amount of energy needed pales in comparison. That is one reason why such things as Moon bases and "space elevators" have been sought after. If you can eliminate the cost of getting objects from the surface, into high orbit, space missions would be almost dirt cheap compared to what it is now.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I wonder how practical it would be for a private industry/ citizen to try and send a probe up there. They're holding a new X-games competition for someone to send an unmanned robot to the Moon and perform some basic tasks. I'm just curious how likely they are to get a winner.
    Well, it's actually a matter of funding, not government or any of that. The testing and development, not to mention the materials, is expensive. As for being able to do it, it can be perfectly argued that private industry and institution has and can do this already.

    Further, if you ignore the transport issue (from ground to orbit) there's actually been quite a few private/non-government objects/probes put into orbit (and beyond). I myself helped put a few probes into space, and I'm not a government employee. Albeit, they all hitched a ride on the shuttle, but as for the probe part, it's doable.

    Now, getting from the ground to space? Well, with the x-games, the idea is to have private industry/persons do it from scratch. All the lessons learned have to be re-learned.

    The difference is that the private industry is not held to the same controls and constraints as the government is. Private industry doesn't have to account for its spending, prove each decision before implementation, maintain government safety standards, labor controls, etc. Private industry doesn't have to follow the same bidding rules, contracting rules, nor does it have to follow any guidelines surrounding perpetuation of the investment.

    As for governments shooting things down, that's crap. There already exists rules and regulations involving both aircraft, rockets, and airspace usage, not to mention materials and safety regulations, all of which would make any "hidden agenda" transparent quickly. As for being a threat, the only threat it would prove is to the government organizations who run their own programs for space flight. Unfortunately for that argument, the government (including NASA) is eager for someone to develop a cheaper, easier solution. Rather than "shoot it down" they're likely to acquire the technology instead, and, given private-sector business, that would mean contracting. The developers of new space technology are not going to die, they're going to become filthy rich.

    As for weapons...it's currently cheaper and easier for radical groups and nations to just buy weapons, rather than cobble them together themselves. Even so, it's doubtful any group could produce a conventional weapon on a scale that would concern anyone, and it's virtually impossible to produce a nuclear weapon without detection, so I don't think anyone's holding their breath.
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    42
    You can live in your pre-9/11 world if you like Wolf. In the post-9/11 world, we have come to realize that American is in no way "sacred" or safe from those that will do us harm.

    The biggest obstacle for terrorist nations is an adequate delivery system. I do not know what vacuum you live in but you need only watch the news to see that Israel will thwart any possibility of developement of any such delivery system by hostile nations in their own back yard.

    As for private American developement, it may be possible but the government will not allow it to go unchecked and without adequate safeguards. Those checks and safeguards will most likely make it unprofitable to engage in such research and developement.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    You can live in your pre-9/11 world if you like Wolf. In the post-9/11 world, we have come to realize that American is in no way "sacred" or safe from those that will do us harm.
    Your first mistake is somehow assuming that the world is so radically different AFTER 9/11. The histories, problems, organizations, and realities that led up to, and exist after 9/11, didn't suddenly come into being at 9/11. If anything, 9/11 was a wake up call to the US from a reality already in place.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    you need only watch the news
    That's your second mistake. The news is not an accurate window into the world. If anything, in regards to world events it is nothing more than a topic presenter and a sensationalist facade used for condensing the dynamics of reality into a format easily consumable by the masses. Use the news channels as your view of the world, and you'll end up zig-zagging through parking lots and duct-taping your windows...

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    to see that Israel will thwart any possibility of developement of any such delivery system by hostile nations in their own back yard.
    And this has relevance towards the private industry of the whole world, how? Anyone who is unaware of the Israeli reputation for preventative aggression against its neighbor states is obviously oblivious, but if I see Israeli jets swoop in and take out SpaceShipOne, I'll eat my car. :? Heck, the same goes for any American jets.

    The volatile nature of certain places in the world does not dictate the happenings everywhere. The Israelis might be upset if some backyard Pakistan company starts building large-scale rockets, but that is clearly understandable given the relations and histories of the area. So yeah, perhaps we won't be seeing any privatized space industry out of the middle east anytime soon, but that doesn't mean we're not going to see it anywhere else.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    As for private American developement, it may be possible but the government will not allow it to go unchecked and without adequate safeguards.
    Most already exist. There are already regulations regarding all these things.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Those checks and safeguards will most likely make it unprofitable to engage in such research and evelopement.
    It's all relative. Given the nature of what's happening, there's a lot to cover. That's one reason why the relationships between the private/commercial industry and the government exist. Further, it's in the best interest of the US government to allow private industry to develop new technology, since that is where the next contracting gigs will likely be.

    In fact, NASA is already moving towards getting the commercial and private sectors to help with the ISS and shuttle program, and they already work with the commercial and private sectors for research functions.

    Given the nature of a private company launching an orbit-capable rocket, it is unlikely that such actions will go without government notice and consideration because of the obvious factors involved in such an operation...but they're not likely to can such projects. The reasons are grounded in the practical, not the conspiracy-theory.
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    42
    Cherry pick all you like Wolf. Keep living in your vacuum. Adequate delivery systems are the only thing that keeps us from further attacks. This is the real world. It is not any type of conspiracy theory.

    Pakistan is already looking to obtain stealth submarines. Luckily, they are still considered an ally. They, nevertheless, stand on shaky ground, politically speaking. Parking one near our coast is not outside the realm of possibility.

    http://mysite.verizon.net/jialpert/P...s/HwdBloom.htm

    Our safegaurds are imperfect. Profit motives are a very powerful reality. We cannot ignore the possibity. Remember WMD's in Iraq? So far, we have yet to discover them on the scale that we had supposed "proof positive" that WMD's existed in Iraq. I do not doubt they could have existed at one time. We still haven't found that "smoking gun," however.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What is it? Mach 24 puts you in low Earth orbit. About 100 kilometers altitude before air resistance becomes negligible. So, basically that combination of speed and altitude is necessary before you can safely say you're in orbit, right?
    Altitude really doesn't have anything to do with it. You can be in orbit 2 inches off the ground surface.
    I only include the altitude requirement because air resistance has to be negligible in order to stay up there without exerting more fuel. Otherwise you'll slow down until you fall out of orbit.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    From there, getting to the Moon certainly takes a lot more energy, but it doesn't matter how fast you exert it anymore. (Because gravity isn't pulling you down, just resisting your change to a higher orbit).
    The majority of energy needed is to escape Earth's gravity. Once in space, the amount of energy needed pales in comparison. That is one reason why such things as Moon bases and "space elevators" have been sought after. If you can eliminate the cost of getting objects from the surface, into high orbit, space missions would be almost dirt cheap compared to what it is now.
    How much energy does it take to climb from low Earth orbit into high Earth orbit? I've heard Ion drives are kind of promising for these kinds of tasks, so long as you can actually reach orbit by another means.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    In the circuitous haze of my mind
    Posts
    1,028
    I was just watching a show where this multi-millionaire inventor is planning on launching his own rocket, with him in it, into space for a minute and back down. I've also watched other things discussing how a few millionaires are trying to do things like send a robot to the moon. To me, and how they were discussing it, it seems reasonable with enough money and resources. The U.S. government does not appear to take any offense towards individuals doing these things.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

    -Einstein

    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/download.php

    Use your computing strength for science!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    WYSIWYG Moderator marnixR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Cardiff, Wales
    Posts
    5,810
    you mean this one ?
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." (Philip K. Dick)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    You can live in your pre-9/11 world if you like Wolf. In the post-9/11 world, we have come to realize that American is in no way "sacred" or safe from those that will do us harm.
    Your first mistake is somehow assuming that the world is so radically different AFTER 9/11. The histories, problems, organizations, and realities that led up to, and exist after 9/11, didn't suddenly come into being at 9/11. If anything, 9/11 was a wake up call to the US from a reality already in place.
    911 didn't really change anything. It just made less informed people aware of something that had been true for quite some time. It's always possible to perpetrate terrorist attacks against any country, no matter how well guarded. It barely even takes intelligence.


    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    to see that Israel will thwart any possibility of developement of any such delivery system by hostile nations in their own back yard.
    And this has relevance towards the private industry of the whole world, how? Anyone who is unaware of the Israeli reputation for preventative aggression against its neighbor states is obviously oblivious, but if I see Israeli jets swoop in and take out SpaceShipOne, I'll eat my car. :? Heck, the same goes for any American jets.
    More likely Mossad would handle this, and they'd be a lot more subtle, but just as effective as the jets. Of course, this assumes that Isreal would even be threatened by delivery systems. Their enemies already have long enough ranged rockets to stage out of Syria.


    The volatile nature of certain places in the world does not dictate the happenings everywhere. The Israelis might be upset if some backyard Pakistan company starts building large-scale rockets, but that is clearly understandable given the relations and histories of the area. So yeah, perhaps we won't be seeing any privatized space industry out of the middle east anytime soon, but that doesn't mean we're not going to see it anywhere else.
    If there is a fear, it would be the fear that someone will come up with a way of doing long range rockets on the cheap, and then make the technology public enough for terrorists to see and copy it.


    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    As for private American developement, it may be possible but the government will not allow it to go unchecked and without adequate safeguards.
    Most already exist. There are already regulations regarding all these things.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Those checks and safeguards will most likely make it unprofitable to engage in such research and evelopement.
    It's all relative. Given the nature of what's happening, there's a lot to cover. That's one reason why the relationships between the private/commercial industry and the government exist. Further, it's in the best interest of the US government to allow private industry to develop new technology, since that is where the next contracting gigs will likely be.

    In fact, NASA is already moving towards getting the commercial and private sectors to help with the ISS and shuttle program, and they already work with the commercial and private sectors for research functions.

    Given the nature of a private company launching an orbit-capable rocket, it is unlikely that such actions will go without government notice and consideration because of the obvious factors involved in such an operation...but they're not likely to can such projects. The reasons are grounded in the practical, not the conspiracy-theory.
    Probably what they'd do is give you a security clearance and then classify the project. The question here is whether the contractor industry is a very exclusive club. What if Lockheed Martin doesn't want to share the spot light with some up and coming small fry?

    If the newcomer is already well established and powerful, sure. They'll probably get a contract, but if they're a shoe-string operation maybe it won't be so easy.


    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Cherry pick all you like Wolf. Keep living in your vacuum. Adequate delivery systems are the only thing that keeps us from further attacks. This is the real world. It is not any type of conspiracy theory.

    Pakistan is already looking to obtain stealth submarines. Luckily, they are still considered an ally. They, nevertheless, stand on shaky ground, politically speaking. Parking one near our coast is not outside the realm of possibility.

    http://mysite.verizon.net/jialpert/P...s/HwdBloom.htm

    Our safegaurds are imperfect. Profit motives are a very powerful reality. We cannot ignore the possibity. Remember WMD's in Iraq? So far, we have yet to discover them on the scale that we had supposed "proof positive" that WMD's existed in Iraq. I do not doubt they could have existed at one time. We still haven't found that "smoking gun," however.
    Yeah. I don't think delivery systems are the problem, really. It's possession of a WMD, and getting around MADD. It's easy to smuggle anything into the USA that you want, even enriched uranium. (Anyone read the most recent issue of Newsweek? I think they have an article on that)

    The biggest problem is retaliation. If a nuclear weapon goes off in Isreal or the USA, and it's traced back to Pakistan, they'll be a smoldering crater in a week's time. If it's a random terrorist group that somehow managed to steal and/or enrich some of its own WMD materials........ we'll probably nuke the entire middle east (except the parts right around the oil fields).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,216
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What is it? Mach 24 puts you in low Earth orbit. About 100 kilometers altitude before air resistance becomes negligible. So, basically that combination of speed and altitude is necessary before you can safely say you're in orbit, right?

    From there, getting to the Moon certainly takes a lot more energy, but it doesn't matter how fast you exert it anymore. (Because gravity isn't pulling you down, just resisting your change to a higher orbit).

    I wonder how practical it would be for a private industry/ citizen to try and send a probe up there. They're holding a new X-games competition for someone to send an unmanned robot to the Moon and perform some basic tasks. I'm just curious how likely they are to get a winner.
    On a another forum, we are playing around with this new X-prize idea.

    Using existing launch vehicles and, for the most part, "off the shelf" technology, you could deliver a small (100 kg) lander to the surface of the Moon.

    For instance, you could use the Eurockot launch service to achieve LEO. Then an solid rocket engine supplied by Thiokol to boost to transfer orbit.

    The problem is that the $10,000,000 prize money would only defray the cost of the mission. The Eurockot launch costs from 10 mil to 13 mil in itself and it is about the most economical you will find.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Cherry pick all you like Wolf. Keep living in your vacuum.
    The underlying points are, contrary to your claim and regardless of any risk to the US, private development of space, including probes to the moon, is approved by the US government, is promoted by the US ogvernment, is facilitated by the US government and shall become a reality. (Arguably it already is a reality.)
    Last year, for the first time, private spending on space was greater than government spending. If anyone is eating vacuum it yourself uncommonman. Wolf has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    42
    In case you hadn't heard this...the US sent 4 Minuteman missile nosecones to Taiwan by "mistake" in 2006. They had ordered 4 helicopter batteries. Taiwan recently discovered the "mistake" and returned the nosecones.

    This is an embarassment to our flawed system.

    If you think that more precautions will not be taken because of this, you are only fooling yourself. This government will not be allowing any potential delivery systems to end up in the "wrong" hands.

    It would be great if private industry could pick up where the government has left off (and basically ignored as of late) but the financial and reality based viability does not hone well for such endeavors.

    We are far more likely to have joint international efforts (as with the international space station) to bring about space exploration.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Cherry pick all you like Wolf. Keep living in your vacuum.
    My "vacuum" has a lot more to do with reality than you think. If you insist on following sensationalist news reports and Mr. Bloom as your eyes of the world, by all means, go right ahead. Enjoy.

    9/11 did not mark the dawn of terrorism, and the only reason it seems that we're under more threat now than before is because the American public has finally woken up (at least partially) to the realities of the world around them. The media, combined with advancements in communications have brought a pre-existing reality into the light of the populace, nothing more.

    Assuming we're separated from anything happening in the middle east is as naive as it gets, as well. Osama isn't a problem that just sprang out of the ground.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Adequate delivery systems are the only thing that keeps us from further attacks. This is the real world. It is not any type of conspiracy theory.
    It's a lovely rose-colored idea, but aside from being insulting to the intelligence of the human species, it's also a bit short sighted. The terrorist groups aren't sitting around, waiting for someone to re-invent the ICBM, nor do they need someone to. They're smarter than that. Then again, apparently the terrorists are smart enough to hatch a plan to buy several dozen nuclear missiles without attracting attention, and some obsolete missile subs which they are going to evade the world's superpowers with. I'm shaking in my boots.

    Thankfully the American populace sleeps easy at night, knowing that according to the news, the terrorists haven't figured out how to attack us yet.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Pakistan is already looking to obtain stealth submarines. Luckily, they are still considered an ally.
    Unless they develop it themselves, they won't get it until it's obsolete to the superpowers selling it. Even if they develop it, Pakistan isn't dumb enough to plunge head-on into a war with the US that will easily cascade into a global war against them.

    The world isn't held in balance by a lack of ways to hit people.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Parking one near our coast is not outside the realm of possibility.
    Of course not. The Russians did it all the time (among other nations). Now, without being noticed? That's a different story. Especially today.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Our safegaurds are imperfect.
    There is no such thing as a 100% safeguard from terrorism, or even conventional aggression...except unless you're the last person on Earth and aren't suicidal.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Profit motives are a very powerful reality. We cannot ignore the possibity.
    Ignore, no, but believe it's something new? Ha. Terrorism and radical arms movements is nothing new. Not to this century, or a dozen before it.

    Fortunately, power is also a powerful motivator for the higher levels of the factional world, too. Those -with- power are not likely to roll over and give it up as easily.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    Remember WMD's in Iraq?
    Ah yes... Well, we needed a reason to go after Daddy's attacker, didn't we?

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    I do not doubt they could have existed at one time.
    If a certain nation gave the weapons to Iraq, and then those weapons later became the center of a heated issue, to whose advantage would it be for those weapons to disappear?

    But all this is a waste of time. Like I said already before, this isn't an issue preventing private space development across the globe. If a known volatile group starts building large-scale rockets in the Middle East, it's a bit different than some millionaire toy manufacturer trying to get to the Moon, isn't it?


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Altitude really doesn't have anything to do with it. You can be in orbit 2 inches off the ground surface.
    [/quote]
    Eh, it's still orbital...but yeah, I'm nitpicking! :P


    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    I was just watching a show where this multi-millionaire inventor is planning on launching his own rocket, with him in it, into space for a minute and back down....To me, and how they were discussing it, it seems reasonable with enough money and resources. The U.S. government does not appear to take any offense towards individuals doing these things.
    Well, technically they are, to a degree. They still have to obey the standard laws of public safety, airspace, etc. But, be that as it may, the trend is started. Getting cheaper and better space technology is going to require the interest and investment of the wealthy private citizens.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    911 didn't really change anything. It just made less informed people aware of something that had been true for quite some time. It's always possible to perpetrate terrorist attacks against any country, no matter how well guarded. It barely even takes intelligence.
    Terrorism has spun out of control. Not by the actual bomb-strapped dudes and radical groups, but by our own people (as in, the supposed non-terrorists). There was no shortage of militant terrorist acts in the world before 9/11, but after 9/11 the "world of terrorism" became a spotlight for the media and press. Now, millions of oblivious people are freaking out over what they're seeing and hearing, practically for the first time. It's like everyone thinks there's now a terrorist around every corner.

    Think about that little bomb that went off in New York City recently. How likely do you think the press would report it as a "terrorist act" before 9/11?

    It's a topic that is far more complex than people give it credit. And, really, it doesn't belong in this thread.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Of course, this assumes that Isreal would even be threatened by delivery systems. Their enemies already have long enough ranged rockets to stage out of Syria.
    Seriously. Another misconception of the public is that all terrorists are pointed towards the US. There are many terrorist groups out there who have access to all sorts of nasty things. If they were just waiting for a way to deploy their weapons, to use them, then they already would have.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    If there is a fear, it would be the fear that someone will come up with a way of doing long range rockets on the cheap, and then make the technology public enough for terrorists to see and copy it.
    It's still doubtful that if some private organization in America develops a cheaper commercial rocket, that it's going to make much of an impact on the underworld arms race. Having a rocket capable of reaching orbit isn't the whole picture. It's also not very discrete.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Probably what they'd do is give you a security clearance and then classify the project. The question here is whether the contractor industry is a very exclusive club.
    Depends. Actually, the government technology sector already is a "good ol' boys" club, so that's no surprise. Private sector is, too, of course.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What if Lockheed Martin doesn't want to share the spot light with some up and coming small fry? If the newcomer is already well established and powerful, sure. They'll probably get a contract, but if they're a shoe-string operation maybe it won't be so easy.
    Corporate squabbling aside, it's likely that the small corporations won't have the abilities needed to actually put a new idea into full swing, and sustain it. If they do build something new, and good, the next step will likely be to put it up for bid, either to the government or to the private/commercial sector. A powerhouse like Lockheed, which swings both ways in the government and private sectors, will likely be a big contender for the technology.

    The other issue is that it is highly unlikely that any private group who develops their own rockets capable of orbit, are going to have any sort of refined product. The concept, and even the proof of concept, are very rarely the same as what gets put into production. So if some small group develops their own orbit-capable rocket, it's likely they'll have something that works, but doesn't work well enough for practical use.


    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Yeah. I don't think delivery systems are the problem, really. It's possession of a WMD, and getting around MADD. It's easy to smuggle anything into the USA that you want, even enriched uranium. (Anyone read the most recent issue of Newsweek? I think they have an article on that)
    Well, weapons classified as "WMD" aren't particularly hard to get a hold of, but even so, it brings up a good point. Why go through all the expensive and exposing efforts to build/buy an ICBM, when you can put something together within the country already? And why go through the efforts of acquiring a nuclear weapon, when a biological weapon is easier to get and can cause more fear?

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    The biggest problem is retaliation. If a nuclear weapon goes off in Isreal or the USA, and it's traced back to Pakistan, they'll be a smoldering crater in a week's time.
    It's a big concern, and certainly one large enough to cause some "inconsistencies" in the arms trade. If we trace a weapon back to Russia, Russia can get in hot water. Why did they sell to a group they knew was dangerous? It could potentially spark a world war...and it could potentially be the point all along.

    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    we'll probably nuke the entire middle east (except the parts right around the oil fields).
    That's unlikely. The use of nukes in retaliation would be almost as much suicide to us, as it would be to them.


    Quote Originally Posted by Janus
    The problem is that the $10,000,000 prize money would only defray the cost of the mission. The Eurockot launch costs from 10 mil to 13 mil in itself and it is about the most economical you will find.
    Well, the prize is a bit more personal. You also have to factor in that whoever makes a solid win, likely will get some lucrative contracts.


    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Wolf has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
    No I don't...they're resting on my desktop! :P


    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    In case you hadn't heard this...the US sent 4 Minuteman missile nosecones to Taiwan by "mistake" in 2006. They had ordered 4 helicopter batteries. Taiwan recently discovered the "mistake" and returned the nosecones.
    Really. And you believe it all is exactly as you heard. Honestly, can I live in your world for 5 minutes? Do you actually honestly believe that we "accidentally" gave Taiwan nose cones, and they just cheerfully gave them back?

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    This is an embarassment to our flawed system.
    Actually the naivety is an embarrassment, not the system.

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    If you think that more precautions will not be taken because of this, you are only fooling yourself.
    If you think that shipping classified military material to foreign countries is so easy and chaotic, "you are only fooling yourself."

    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    It would be great if private industry could pick up where the government has left off (and basically ignored as of late) but the financial and reality based viability does not hone well for such endeavors.
    Tell that to the private industry. They think they're having a blast. Both on their own, and also to the sound of government funding...
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    42
    That is an interesting bubble you live in Wolfie. Hope nobody pops it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Quote Originally Posted by uncommonman
    That is an interesting bubble you live in Wolfie. Hope nobody pops it.
    I hope so too, cause if it does pop, reality ends.
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Janus
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    What is it? Mach 24 puts you in low Earth orbit. About 100 kilometers altitude before air resistance becomes negligible. So, basically that combination of speed and altitude is necessary before you can safely say you're in orbit, right?

    From there, getting to the Moon certainly takes a lot more energy, but it doesn't matter how fast you exert it anymore. (Because gravity isn't pulling you down, just resisting your change to a higher orbit).

    I wonder how practical it would be for a private industry/ citizen to try and send a probe up there. They're holding a new X-games competition for someone to send an unmanned robot to the Moon and perform some basic tasks. I'm just curious how likely they are to get a winner.
    On a another forum, we are playing around with this new X-prize idea.

    Using existing launch vehicles and, for the most part, "off the shelf" technology, you could deliver a small (100 kg) lander to the surface of the Moon.

    For instance, you could use the Eurockot launch service to achieve LEO. Then an solid rocket engine supplied by Thiokol to boost to transfer orbit.

    The problem is that the $10,000,000 prize money would only defray the cost of the mission. The Eurockot launch costs from 10 mil to 13 mil in itself and it is about the most economical you will find.
    You don't think there might be any cheaper ways?

    I'm thinking in terms of just how much thrust you need to get where you're trying to go. 100 kilometers straight up to get out of the atmosphere, and then you have to accelerate to mach 24.

    However long it takes to get to that point is how long you have to continuously generate thrust equal to gravity + air resistance. Or well, as you start approaching mach 24, I'm sure gravity resistance gets to be less and less important, and air resistance gets less and less the higher you go.

    One advantage to an unmanned mission is that you can accelerate faster than 4 g's without worrying that you'll kill the crew.

    In principle, it just seems like there must be an easier way than the ones that have been tried. I can't think of one off hand, but it seems like they must exist.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,216
    [quote="kojax"]

    You don't think there might be any cheaper ways?

    I'm thinking in terms of just how much thrust you need to get where you're trying to go. 100 kilometers straight up to get out of the atmosphere, and then you have to accelerate to mach 24.

    [\quote]That's not how its done. You only go straight up for a short distance and then you start to turn "down range". As you climb, you slowly "flatten out" your trajectory, so that by the time you reach orbital height you are flying parallel to the ground. You then continue to fire your engines until you've established orbit. Essentially, the trajectory follows the reverse of that of a "gravity turn" landing. It is the most efficient trajectory to follow to establish orbit.

    However long it takes to get to that point is how long you have to continuously generate thrust equal to gravity + air resistance. Or well, as you start approaching mach 24, I'm sure gravity resistance gets to be less and less important, and air resistance gets less and less the higher you go.

    One advantage to an unmanned mission is that you can accelerate faster than 4 g's without worrying that you'll kill the crew.

    In principle, it just seems like there must be an easier way than the ones that have been tried. I can't think of one off hand, but it seems like they must exist.
    As stated above, we already use the most efficient method of launch in terms of trajectory. The only way to make it more efficient is to develop better rocket engines.

    The gist of it is this:

    The determining factor for reaching orbit is delta v. It takes a given amount of delta v to achieve orbit. How much delta v can be gain by a certain mass ratio (mass of fueled ship divided by mass of un-fueled ship) is determined by the exhaust speed generated by the engine. the relationship is as follows:

    dv = ve * ln(MR)

    dv = delta V

    ve = exhaust velocity

    MR = mass ratio.

    Here's the problem: Higher exhaust velocities mean high combustion chamber temps and pressures. At present, we can develop high efficiency engines only at the cost of thrust. But to lift payloads into orbit we need high thrust. So, for now, we with are stuck with the lower efficiency, high thrust chemical rockets for launch vehicles. Once in orbit you can use the higher efficiency engines(Ion engines for example). One drawback to the ion engine is that it is a bit more complicated than a chemical rocket, and has a grater up-front cost. So, for some operations, it is still more economical to use chemical rockets.


    So, if your soul intention is to land a small package on the Moon, you are not going to it cheaper than using existing launch systems, as the cost of developing a new launch system would exceed that cost greatly.

    If on the other hand, you are looking at maintaining a presence in space, it could be to your advantage to develop your own launch system if you can. (And if you can develop a cheaper/better one, then you could probably re-coup your investment by hiring out launch services)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20 X-prize videos 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,216
    In case anyone's interested here are a couple of videos I created with the "Orbiter" sim of a X-prize type mission. The sim is based on real world physics and the propulsion is based on off-the-shelf systems

    This first starts at LEO and covers the Earth_Moon tranfer.

    The second picks up the craft at an elevation for 200 km above the Lunar surface and follows it through a gravity turn trajectory to touchdown at the Eastern edge of Sinus Medii.


    YouTube - Lunar lander sim 1

    YouTube - X-prize lunar landing
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    [quote="Janus"]
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax

    You don't think there might be any cheaper ways?

    I'm thinking in terms of just how much thrust you need to get where you're trying to go. 100 kilometers straight up to get out of the atmosphere, and then you have to accelerate to mach 24.

    [\quote]
    That's not how its done. You only go straight up for a short distance and then you start to turn "down range". As you climb, you slowly "flatten out" your trajectory, so that by the time you reach orbital height you are flying parallel to the ground. You then continue to fire your engines until you've established orbit. Essentially, the trajectory follows the reverse of that of a "gravity turn" landing. It is the most efficient trajectory to follow to establish orbit.

    However long it takes to get to that point is how long you have to continuously generate thrust equal to gravity + air resistance. Or well, as you start approaching mach 24, I'm sure gravity resistance gets to be less and less important, and air resistance gets less and less the higher you go.

    One advantage to an unmanned mission is that you can accelerate faster than 4 g's without worrying that you'll kill the crew.

    In principle, it just seems like there must be an easier way than the ones that have been tried. I can't think of one off hand, but it seems like they must exist.
    As stated above, we already use the most efficient method of launch in terms of trajectory. The only way to make it more efficient is to develop better rocket engines.
    Suppose we use different rocket configurations to accomplish different purposes.

    Part 1:

    We know that wind resistance increases as the cube of velocity, but the amount of time needed to go a given distance only decreases linearly with additional velocity. So, getting to the 100 kilometer limit is best done with a slower, but longer sustained burn.


    Part 2:

    After hitting the 100 kilometer limit, we want to accelerate as much as possible as fast as possible, so a shorter & faster burn is called for.

    Part 3:

    Once we're in orbit, all we want is maximum specific impulse/ efficiency. An ion drive or something like it.





    These stages kind of overlap in certain ways. Like the 100 kilometre limit isn't a discreet moment. As we get closer and closer to it, wind resistance gets less and less. As we get closer and closer to Mach 24, gravity becomes less and less important as well.


    The gist of it is this:

    The determining factor for reaching orbit is delta v. It takes a given amount of delta v to achieve orbit. How much delta v can be gain by a certain mass ratio (mass of fueled ship divided by mass of un-fueled ship) is determined by the exhaust speed generated by the engine. the relationship is as follows:

    dv = ve * ln(MR)

    dv = delta V

    ve = exhaust velocity

    MR = mass ratio.
    We want that delta V to happen at different rates during the different stages if possible. It's just as important to minimize the influence of air and gravity as it is to maximize our thrust.

    Here's the problem: Higher exhaust velocities mean high combustion chamber temps and pressures. At present, we can develop high efficiency engines only at the cost of thrust. But to lift payloads into orbit we need high thrust. So, for now, we with are stuck with the lower efficiency, high thrust chemical rockets for launch vehicles. Once in orbit you can use the higher efficiency engines(Ion engines for example). One drawback to the ion engine is that it is a bit more complicated than a chemical rocket, and has a grater up-front cost. So, for some operations, it is still more economical to use chemical rockets.
    So what we want is:

    Part 1: Exactly enough thrust to match gravity. In the first few seconds we need enough thrust to reach whatever we consider our cruising velocity for the trip to 100 kilometres.

    Part 2: As much thrust as we can get as fast as we can get it without burning through our fuel before we can reach mach 24.

    Part 3: Something akin to an ion engine.


    So, if your soul intention is to land a small package on the Moon, you are not going to it cheaper than using existing launch systems, as the cost of developing a new launch system would exceed that cost greatly.

    If on the other hand, you are looking at maintaining a presence in space, it could be to your advantage to develop your own launch system if you can. (And if you can develop a cheaper/better one, then you could probably re-coup your investment by hiring out launch services)
    If I figured out it was possible..... well it's more an issue of having fun I guess. I could use that knowledge to predict the likelihood that someone will win.

    There's an interesting requirement for the contest: only 10% of the money can come from any public source. So I'm not sure what that means for piggy backing on the space shuttle or whatever other similar options. It's probably ruled out.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22 Re: How difficult, exactly, is it to get into space/ the Moo 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,216
    [quote="kojax"]
    Quote Originally Posted by Janus
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax

    You don't think there might be any cheaper ways?

    I'm thinking in terms of just how much thrust you need to get where you're trying to go. 100 kilometers straight up to get out of the atmosphere, and then you have to accelerate to mach 24.

    [\quote]
    That's not how its done. You only go straight up for a short distance and then you start to turn "down range". As you climb, you slowly "flatten out" your trajectory, so that by the time you reach orbital height you are flying parallel to the ground. You then continue to fire your engines until you've established orbit. Essentially, the trajectory follows the reverse of that of a "gravity turn" landing. It is the most efficient trajectory to follow to establish orbit.

    However long it takes to get to that point is how long you have to continuously generate thrust equal to gravity + air resistance. Or well, as you start approaching mach 24, I'm sure gravity resistance gets to be less and less important, and air resistance gets less and less the higher you go.

    One advantage to an unmanned mission is that you can accelerate faster than 4 g's without worrying that you'll kill the crew.

    In principle, it just seems like there must be an easier way than the ones that have been tried. I can't think of one off hand, but it seems like they must exist.
    As stated above, we already use the most efficient method of launch in terms of trajectory. The only way to make it more efficient is to develop better rocket engines.
    Suppose we use different rocket configurations to accomplish different purposes.

    Part 1:

    We know that wind resistance increases as the cube of velocity, but the amount of time needed to go a given distance only decreases linearly with additional velocity. So, getting to the 100 kilometer limit is best done with a slower, but longer sustained burn.


    Part 2:

    After hitting the 100 kilometer limit, we want to accelerate as much as possible as fast as possible, so a shorter & faster burn is called for.

    Part 3:

    Once we're in orbit, all we want is maximum specific impulse/ efficiency. An ion drive or something like it.





    These stages kind of overlap in certain ways. Like the 100 kilometre limit isn't a discreet moment. As we get closer and closer to it, wind resistance gets less and less. As we get closer and closer to Mach 24, gravity becomes less and less important as well.


    The gist of it is this:

    The determining factor for reaching orbit is delta v. It takes a given amount of delta v to achieve orbit. How much delta v can be gain by a certain mass ratio (mass of fueled ship divided by mass of un-fueled ship) is determined by the exhaust speed generated by the engine. the relationship is as follows:

    dv = ve * ln(MR)

    dv = delta V

    ve = exhaust velocity

    MR = mass ratio.
    We want that delta V to happen at different rates during the different stages if possible. It's just as important to minimize the influence of air and gravity as it is to maximize our thrust.

    Here's the problem: Higher exhaust velocities mean high combustion chamber temps and pressures. At present, we can develop high efficiency engines only at the cost of thrust. But to lift payloads into orbit we need high thrust. So, for now, we with are stuck with the lower efficiency, high thrust chemical rockets for launch vehicles. Once in orbit you can use the higher efficiency engines(Ion engines for example). One drawback to the ion engine is that it is a bit more complicated than a chemical rocket, and has a grater up-front cost. So, for some operations, it is still more economical to use chemical rockets.
    So what we want is:

    Part 1: Exactly enough thrust to match gravity. In the first few seconds we need enough thrust to reach whatever we consider our cruising velocity for the trip to 100 kilometres.

    Part 2: As much thrust as we can get as fast as we can get it without burning through our fuel before we can reach mach 24.

    Part 3: Something akin to an ion engine.


    So, if your soul intention is to land a small package on the Moon, you are not going to it cheaper than using existing launch systems, as the cost of developing a new launch system would exceed that cost greatly.

    If on the other hand, you are looking at maintaining a presence in space, it could be to your advantage to develop your own launch system if you can. (And if you can develop a cheaper/better one, then you could probably re-coup your investment by hiring out launch services)
    If I figured out it was possible..... well it's more an issue of having fun I guess. I could use that knowledge to predict the likelihood that someone will win.

    There's an interesting requirement for the contest: only 10% of the money can come from any public source. So I'm not sure what that means for piggy backing on the space shuttle or whatever other similar options. It's probably ruled out.
    I think your making the air resistance factor more of an issue than it is, but even if it was a large issue:

    Accelerating slower during the early part of the trip uses more fuel, so you would need to balance out the loss of efficiency due to air resistance to the loss of efficiency due to slow acceleration.

    But besides that, what leads you to believe that present day rocket engineers don't already take all this into account?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    I guess they probably do.


    You'd be surprised what a factor air resistance can be, though. There's a reason it's hard to make a car that can go faster than 200 mph. Compare the amount of power it takes to travel at that speed to the amount of power it takes to climb a 60 degree incline.


    My point is that there's an optimum speed to travel at when approaching the 100 kilometer limit. Go too slow and you're spending longer than you need to under the force of gravity. Go too fast, and you're facing too much wind resistance.

    -----------------------------------------------------
    Wind resistance = Velocity cubed times the coeficient of friction times length of trip

    Gravity resistance = your mass times length of trip
    -------------------------------------------------------

    The fact that wind resistance is your velocity cubed means you can actually go *too* fast in the early stages of the trip.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Good lord...don't quote a huge post like that!

    Anyway, I think our solution, short time, is going to be finding both cheaper fuels, and more survivable launch equipment.

    If we could find a fuel that was cheaper to produce, then we could continue to build big rockets without a problem.

    If we could build a launch vehicle that didn't have to be completely disassembled and reassembled after each mission, we could launch more missions.


    We should also look at smarter ways of launching our rockets. Mobile sea platforms are in development.

    I think we should also continue and expand our efforts in the areas of nuclear rockets (despite fears from the uneducated public).
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Nuclear would be nice. If we have better fuel efficiency in our launch device, then maybe we wouldn't need sky-scraper sized rockets.

    Scramjets are an interesting technology. A nuclear fueled scramjet probably wouldn't have to be all that big to hit orbit. Only problem with scramjets is you need to be able to change the shape of the combustion/intake chamber in order to accomodate more than one speed and altitude.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Chicago Area
    Posts
    101
    anyone know why light (photons), which move inbound and outbound through Earth's atmosphere at high speed, do not burn up? i understand ligh is basically a wave frequency caused by energy but some beleive its an energy packet of photons moving through a medium like the earth's atmosphere, shouldn't it then experience some type of friction visible to the eye?
    .................................................. ...............
    The truth is difficult to obtain.
    They conceal it in books.
    *************************************
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    I think the thing with photons is that they either come to a complete stop or just keep going, with no in betweens. Basically a photon is so small that it's possible for it to make it all the way to the ground without hitting a single air molecule.


    I think the big fear with nuclear propulsion systems is that it basically excludes the private sector from full participation. If Nasa wants to keep a monopoly on space, the smartest thing for them to do is go nuclear. If we want the private sector involved a lot, though.........
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Posts
    14,168
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    If Nasa wants to keep a monopoly on space, .
    They don't: neither its administrators, nor its government mandate support exclusivity. Quite the reverse.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Anyway, I think our solution, short time, is going to be finding both cheaper fuels, and more survivable launch equipment.

    If we could find a fuel that was cheaper to produce, then we could continue to build big rockets without a problem.
    I don't think fuel is a significant cost of most space launches. Liquid hydrogen and oxygen are basically "free" once you buy the generator to produce them, and the kerosene that they use in rocket fuels like RP-1 is pretty cheap. Even if the fuel really was free, I don't think costs would go down much.
    If we could build a launch vehicle that didn't have to be completely disassembled and reassembled after each mission, we could launch more missions.
    I think this is where it's at. Or, we could go the other way and try making really really cheap big, simple rockets like the Sea Dragon concept. (google it and be awed).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Posts
    2,216
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Anyway, I think our solution, short time, is going to be finding both cheaper fuels, and more survivable launch equipment.

    If we could find a fuel that was cheaper to produce, then we could continue to build big rockets without a problem.
    I don't think fuel is a significant cost of most space launches. Liquid hydrogen and oxygen are basically "free" once you buy the generator to produce them, and the kerosene that they use in rocket fuels like RP-1 is pretty cheap. Even if the fuel really was free, I don't think costs would go down much.
    That seems a fair assessment. Using the Eurockot as an example, the cost of the fuel would run about $40,000, which is just a bit more than 1/3 of one percent of the cost of the launch price of $10,000,000.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Forum Sophomore Skiyk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    176
    It's more the repercussions of rocket launches that we are worrying about now
    A biophysicist talks physics to the biologists and biology to the physicists, but then he meets another biophysicist, they just discuss women.
    http://www.gifs.net/Animation11/Scie...inking_eye.gif
    E-Mail - skiyk@hotmail.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    grail search
    Posts
    811
    If you really know any better, I suck, right?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Forum Sophomore Skiyk's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    176
    I'm not sure.

    Do you "suck"?
    A biophysicist talks physics to the biologists and biology to the physicists, but then he meets another biophysicist, they just discuss women.
    http://www.gifs.net/Animation11/Scie...inking_eye.gif
    E-Mail - skiyk@hotmail.com
    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    Anyway, I think our solution, short time, is going to be finding both cheaper fuels, and more survivable launch equipment.

    If we could find a fuel that was cheaper to produce, then we could continue to build big rockets without a problem.
    I don't think fuel is a significant cost of most space launches. Liquid hydrogen and oxygen are basically "free" once you buy the generator to produce them, and the kerosene that they use in rocket fuels like RP-1 is pretty cheap. Even if the fuel really was free, I don't think costs would go down much.
    If we could build a launch vehicle that didn't have to be completely disassembled and reassembled after each mission, we could launch more missions.
    I think this is where it's at. Or, we could go the other way and try making really really cheap big, simple rockets like the Sea Dragon concept. (google it and be awed).
    What would the impact be of producing the gear on an assembly line, like if interest became widespread enough?


    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    If you really know any better, I suck, right?
    What on Earth are you talking about, Quest?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    I mean, if it became cheaper to assemble and produce launchable sized rockets, do you think that would make space colonization more realistic? Instead of trying to re-use the launch vehicles, maybe we could just mass produce them so it would be less expensive to use them up?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Much of the cost is in executing safe launches. Fragile components, human lives. Why Space Shuttle is a commercial failure.

    Suppose we try an unabashedly *cough* Chinese *cough* unmanned launch vehicle the costs $/kg 25% space shuttle rate, and, (fine print) 1/3 of them don't achieve orbit or simply blow up on the pad. It is still a better way to launch your hypothetical rolls of aluminum and blocks of FCOJ wanted by a large space station.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Much of the cost is in executing safe launches. Fragile components, human lives. Why Space Shuttle is a commercial failure.

    Suppose we try an unabashedly *cough* Chinese *cough* unmanned launch vehicle the costs $/kg 25% space shuttle rate, and, (fine print) 1/3 of them don't achieve orbit or simply blow up on the pad. It is still a better way to launch your hypothetical rolls of aluminum and blocks of FCOJ wanted by a large space station.
    I believe the marginal cost of a space shuttle launching 24 tons into low earth orbit for about $60 million, which means the shuttle can put things into orbit for about $2500/kg...that's a lot less on a $/kg basis than anything the Russians or Chinese can do.

    The problem is that often people only need to launch a few tons (instead of that shuttle's 24 ton capacity), so it's cheaper to buy a $15 million Russian rocket to launch for 3 ton cargo, even though you're paying a lot more per kg.

    I think the real question is whether or not we can build a smaller, cheaper reusable craft that only has, say, 4 tons of LEO cargo capacity. Would something like that cost 1/6 as much as the shuttle per launch? Or would it cost 5/6 as much?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Forum Ph.D. Wolf's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Here
    Posts
    969
    Unfortunately the costs associated with building and checking a rocket are great. The costs for running the continual inspections needed to ensure the function of all components is estimated to consume nearly half the cost of the launch (excluding the payload itself).

    The current most successful commercial rocket is the Russian produced Proton-M, which costs roughly $100-million to launch. At less than a fourth of the cost of launching the space shuttle, it's still expensive.

    The American made Atlas V, which now uses a Russian RD-180 engine as its propulsion source, costs an estimated $160-million to launch.
    Wolf
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    "Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you." Alan Alda
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by Wolf
    The current most successful commercial rocket is the Russian produced Proton-M, which costs roughly $100-million to launch. At less than a fourth of the cost of launching the space shuttle, it's still expensive.
    I found many sources listing the total cost of a soyuz launch (including the price of the rocket itself and all the associated work by the launch team) as just $15 million, which explains why it's by far the most-used rocket in the world. It's so cheap that the cost of the payload (either the manned soyuz spacecraft or unmanned progress supply ship, which both cost many millions each) is a substantial part of a price.

    The shuttle suffers from under-use. The fixed costs of the program are high, but the marginal costs are relatively low. You can get a $300-400 million price/launch if you divide the total yearly cost of the shuttle program by the number of yearly launches, but the marginal cost of adding one additional launch is only around $60 million. Looked at that way, the shuttle is actually a very good deal. Remember, when the shuttle was designed NASA and the military were expecting at least one launch/week, possibly more - they even started building another shuttle launch facility in California because they didn't expect NASA's pads in Florida to be able to handle enough launches. But now it's only flown a few times/year, so we're paying huge fixed costs for a tiny number of flights.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    The problem is that often people only need to launch a few tons (instead of that shuttle's 24 ton capacity)

    ...

    The shuttle suffers from under-use.
    So both volume and frequency are too low. Volume, that's a longstanding logistic problem, maybe owing to poor unpacking and release of multiple payloads in orbit? *Slowly scratches head with Canadarm* Ouch. Frequency, well honestly we're afraid to use the thing. We just keep rechecking everything that can go wrong, like this activity is a goal in itself.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    So both volume and frequency are too low. Volume, that's a longstanding logistic problem, maybe owing to poor unpacking and release of multiple payloads in orbit?
    Sending up more than one thing at a time is probably impossible, unless you happen to have two things that you want to put into almost exactly the same orbit.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    Maybe Shuttle could pack along individual payload positioning thrusters. So, release a full load of satellites, each with ground-controlled throwaway package that delivers to the final "address". These could be relatively cheap and standardized so the guys building a satellite have less to reinvent.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    If shuttle launches are so cheap on a per use basis (and well, by cheap I mean...... y'know..... ) , why don't we just start sending up ion drives, and attach them to the international space station, and send it to the Moon when we're done with it. (I'm pretty sure we'd want to get all the people off of it first, in case the trip has some problems)
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    5,328
    I think Scifor Refugee exposed the Shuttle's design flaw:
    Quote Originally Posted by Scifor Refugee
    Sending up more than one thing at a time is probably impossible, unless you happen to have two things that you want to put into almost exactly the same orbit.
    On Earth one might use ground shuttle for the major leg of a trip, then taxicab for the remainder. But there is no such service from the low Earth orbit. You want different orbits, higher orbits, geostationary, etc. you pack your own propulsion or use a dedicated launch vehicle. Then, adding maneuver capability onto each satellite or tin of cookies costs the makers dearly and adds some risk too.

    I agree Kojax empty Shuttle capacity should be filled with something. Blocks of ice even.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    You know, the jump from low earth orbit to the Moon could be resolved if we started sending unmanned probes to the moon, fueling them there, launching them from the Moon back into low earth orbit, then having them rendezvous with the shuttle and carry stuff back to the Moon with them.

    As long as we can refuel them using in-situ materials, and they don't break down, we could have a regular bus service going.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    1,893
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    You know, the jump from low earth orbit to the Moon could be resolved if we started sending unmanned probes to the moon, fueling them there, launching them from the Moon back into low earth orbit, then having them rendezvous with the shuttle and carry stuff back to the Moon with them.

    As long as we can refuel them using in-situ materials, and they don't break down, we could have a regular bus service going.
    Actually turning moon rocks (or even water, if we find a lot of it) into large amounts of fuel would be a big job - I doubt we could do it completely automated. We would probably have to send people and set up a little base.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Time Lord
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    8,035
    Check out this documentary:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...04440707682179

    Starting at about the 42nd minute, and going to the 45th minute, this guy at Lockheed Martin, Larry Clark claims he's found a way to extract water from the Moon rocks using a pressure cooker at 800 degrees C.

    If we could automate that process, electrolysing the water into hydrogen and oxygen (a very effective rocket fuel) would be fairly easy.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •