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Poll

The Ultimate Joyride: Would you prefer to fly...

X-15 Rocket-plane?
- 4 (21.1%)
Skylon SSTO?
- 4 (21.1%)
The Space Shuttle?
- 6 (31.6%)
Saturn-V?
- 4 (21.1%)
Boeing X-51 Waverider?
- 1 (5.3%)

Total Members Voted: 19


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Author Topic: Space Stations, Space Shuttles and Beyond - The Aerospace Discussion Thread  (Read 9934 times)

BenRG

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So, it's clear that we have one or two engineering/space-head types here on the forum. This is good for me as an interest in these sort of things is one of my hobbies!

I thought that I'd get things going by discussing the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning-II. Depending on whom you ask, it's either the last word in crewed air superiority fighter aircraft or, alternately, a horrible clunker that will get people killed and whose only function is to divert public funding to LM.

My view? From the start, I've had reservations about the JSF. A combination of too many chiefs, too many different roles and certain limits imposed by low-observable architectures seem to have conspired against it having good performance in any single role or reasonable combination of roles. I have no doubt that it will go into service; there is too much political capital invested in it now. However, I suspect that, somewhat like its technological predecessor, the Hawker Harrier, it will suffer somewhat for its unique capabilities and, also like the Harrier, it will suffer for costing just a little bit too much to optimise to certain roles and no-one will be willing to pay for it.
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RedWolf4

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To be fair, I have heard from a few sources here and there that the American Harriers found themselves quite the niche in CAS and ground strike roles, though I suppose that was the result of design optimization.
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BenRG

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To be fair, I have heard from a few sources here and there that the American Harriers found themselves quite the niche in CAS and ground strike roles, though I suppose that was the result of design optimization.

Yeah, I was very much writing from a British perspective. Lots of good work was done in the US by McDonnell-Douglas to optimise the Harrier for the battlefield support role. Similar and even more advanced plans existed here in the UK but were never funded. However, if I get into a rant about that, I'll go way off-topic.
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my understanding of the f-35 is that it's supposed to be a cheaper replacement for the f-22, but that its budget has inflated over the course of the project to a point that may compromise that.

i may be misinformed though.
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The aerospace industry being what it is, the f35 was always going to be overpriced and overspec'd.
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Waste of good money.

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Defense, civil aerospace, and space exploration always cost a lot more than people expect them to.  Most of that expense is not inherently wasteful; rather, it's a large focus on safety, redundancy and environmental strain that most commercial products don't have to go through.
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The F-35 specifically is a waste of good money no matter how well designed it is or isn't, since we have no actual need for a next-generation air-superiority fighter at this time, or any time in the foreseeable future.
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That very much depends on how fast the Sukhoi T-50 and Shenyang J-31 start appearing on the export market.
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When I look at the F-35 and the cost overruns, delayed deployment etc I'm reminded of that great line from Mr. Scott "The more ye overtech the plumbing, the easier it is to block up the drain."

I think Her Majesty's Armed Forces need to cut their losses and work on a Navalised version of the Typhoon or look at Rafelle, which I believe the French are already using aboard their latest Carriers.
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That very much depends on how fast the Sukhoi T-50 and Shenyang J-31 start appearing on the export market.
I cannot speak for the Sukhoi, but my reading of English and Chinese language sources suggests that the J-31 can best be described as a learning exercise. Senior PLA officers have been publicly critical of the aircraft's performance.

I think Her Majesty's Armed Forces need to cut their losses and work on a Navalised version of the Typhoon or look at Rafelle, which I believe the French are already using aboard their latest Carriers.
Would that not require the UK to switch back to full-blown catapult-equipped aircraft-carriers?
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I don't think so. 

But even if it did, I think they're more likely to get the Queen Elizabeths OPERATIONAL quicker than waiting round for the F-35 the way THAT program is going.
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the f-22 is cooler anyway, vtol be damned.
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BenRG

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the f-22 is cooler anyway, vtol be damned.

I'd have gone for the F-23 Black Widow, personally. Give it 2D vectored thrust engines and I'm sure it would outperform the Raptor in every significant way. I suspect that the USAF assumed that, as Lockheed Martin had developed the F-117, it made them more likely (at least in the mind of the top brass) to produce a useful finished product that Northrop.
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i have no idea of whether it's actually true or not, but i've heard stories that during training exercises the f-22 would sometimes fail to show up on other planes' instruments, even when the other pilots could literally see it with the naked eye.
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I think Her Majesty's Armed Forces need to cut their losses and work on a Navalised version of the Typhoon or look at Rafelle, which I believe the French are already using aboard their latest Carriers.
Would that not require the UK to switch back to full-blown catapult-equipped aircraft-carriers?

Yes it would. The French, like actual modern naval powers, use a proper CATOBAR system as opposed to the patently ridiculous and tactically stupid STOBAR system the Russians seem to like so much. If I was the PLN I'd be considering bringing suit against whoever in the Russian government sold us that backwards technology. Or just convincing the Politburo and PLA to take Siberia in retribution.

Some points:
The French have a solitary aircraft carrier the Charles de Gaulle. As of 2013, the second French carrier, which was to be based on the original Queen Elizabeth class before the MOD got workshy and decided they weren't ready to expand into real Naval Aviation yet, has been completely canceled with no present plans for revival. The De Gaulle operates Dassault  Super Étendards in the Strike Fighter role and the  Rafale M model as an air superiority fighter and interdiction. It's worth nothing the  Rafale M is a 95% parts commonality type with it's land based compatriots, the B and C models, but this leaves it at a bit of an odd spot in it's carrier role, as like it's land based predecessors the Rafale M is unable to fold it's wings for storage below deck, reducing total aircraft capacity significantly.

Meanwhile the United States is leaving steam powered catapults behind in favor of the new EMALS system. Which means we're shooting planes off our carriers basically via rail gun. Which is awesome.

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I do kind of chuckle at the people who think that cancelling a commitment to the F-35 and doing something new wouldn't somehow have huge overruns or problems.  The last 30-50 years of defense aircraft procurement says otherwise.
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I also find a lot of the "reported" specs don't match up to what pilots, the first and loudest to complain about fucking anything, are saying. Marine Corps Harrier pilots are in love with the B model, probably because it's faster, more maneuverable and longer range with more payload capacity their current ride by a significant amount so that's a fairly easy lot to please, but from what I heard about initial sea trials for the C model Marine and Navy Hornet drivers are pretty damn pleased too, and the F-18 is a performance aircraft and a half.
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The thing is, the RN had the option very early on of going down the route of CATOBAR and developing it's own combat aircraft - either a development of the Typhoon or taking the plunge and going with the Navalised version of the Rafelle, but some bright spark in the DoD decided to go with the F-35.


Then you got all the chop and change that went on with the Queen Elizabeth Class during development and construction, the DoD and the Govt hemming and hawing over which projects to fund/defund, what to change etc, etc, etc, and now their lumbered with two very large ornaments in Portsmouth, which probably won't even go to sea for another year or two at best.

Can anyone remember TR-2?

Anything strike you as similar?
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BenRG

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Okay, new topic!

SpaceX Plans to Recover First Stage of Falcon-9 Rocket!

On the various space forums I frequent, SpaceX's plans have been a hot topic for about two years now. In essence, the first stage of the Falcon-9 launch vehicle has landing legs, variable-drag aerodynamic steering surfaces and, at least in theory, the ability to soft-land (in this case on a ocean-going barge).

Now, NASA used to recover the casings of the solid rocket motors for the Shuttle all the time. However, Elon Musk (never a guy to do things by half-measures) is proposing to land, service and re-use a first-stage rocket, a bit like how the shuttle orbiters were reused. There is one big difference, though: Musk's ultimate plan is for the turn-around service to be ultimately in airline time-scales - hours rather than the months it took for the shuttle - and also for it to be simple - just a quick once-over by the mechanics, refuel and ready to go again.

This is all very exciting because, at least in theory, it could massively bring down the cost of space flight if you could recover and reuse parts of the rocket multiple times rather than having to continually build new ones.

So, is he crazy... (no, wait, this is Elon Musk; of course he's crazy). Is this idea realistic or will it fail? What do you all think?
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I think that high-speed tube thingy will come to fruition before that will.
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Or the Space Elevator


Which, on the whole, is a lot better idea.
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The only real down-side I can see to that idea is the Muzak on such a long ride.  Well, and potentially nasty effects in case of catastrophic failure (see Heinlein's "Friday"), so it'd best placed away from population centers.
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Regarding SpaceX's decision to abort the launch of one of it's Falcon 9 rockets this morning.

"There's about 500,000 moving parts on this sucker. So even with a 99.9% success rate, there's still 500 failures that you have to contend with."

Times ten, for SpaceX. Nine first stage M1-D engines on the first stage and one on the second stage.
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The only real down-side I can see to that idea is the Muzak on such a long ride.
The downside I see with a space-elevator is that our materials technology is, I think, well short of what is required.

As for reusable rockets, it is a great idea, if in fact it can be made to work both technically and economically. If Mr. Musk's rapid-turnaround leads to a higher proportion of rockets that blow up on the launch-pad than "fresh from the factory" rockets, the overall cost, including the destruction of their payloads, insurance, cost of capital etc. will not necessarily be as low as he suggests. Bearing in mind all the hot air about private space flight, Mr. Musk's launch system will have to satisfy clients who might not be impressed by having their very expensive hardware blown to bits.
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That of course is why you test the idea extensively first.
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And why the current trend is towards Private Organisations such as Space X, Virgin Galactic etc.  Been that way since the Federal Govt cut NASA's balls off.

Though I do hear there are still some good ideas floating around in JPL
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Privatization was the only way space exploration was truly going to get massive.
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Speaking of seagoing space facilities, wasn't there some Russian organisation doing that?


Went looking for it, and here it is.  Sea Launch

Seems they're currently out of business though thanks to the events in the Ukraine.
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Privatization was the only way space exploration was truly going to get massive.
I'm dubious about that. You don't generally see the private sector funding big basic-science projects like the Large Hadron Collider for the same reason I suspect we won't see it funding space exploration: there's no foreseeable profit in it. That is not to say that the private sector can't do space stuff where there is a profit in it, like launching commercial satellites. Nor is it to deny that it might well be able efficiently to do stuff like shipping supplies to the ISS profitably, but that is sucking on the state's funding-tit just like any other government contractor who is ultimately gets paid by the taxpayer. And there is nothing new in that; the Lunar Excursion Module was built by private sector firms led by Grumman Aircraft.
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Actually, there's already multiple asteroid mining firms that are developing the tech needed to push to the asteroid belt for resource extraction. http://www.planetaryresources.com/

The Private sector doesn't fund basic science projects, that's true... but the development of space flight has reached the point where where private firms can not only access space on their own, either by developing their own launch platforms or using multiple private sector launch services.
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I just got the image of a midwife and a woman giving birth swinging towards each other on a trapeze - when they meet, the midwife pulls the baby out. The knife juggler is standing on the floor and cuts the umbilical cord with a a knifethrow.

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They found the Beagle Mars probe!
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Oh?

Where was it?
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James The Kugai 

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Can we embed vines yet? :P

I'm looking at a possible way of doing it, but I need to do some tests first as there's a possibility it might break all our existing embedding!!
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They found the Beagle Mars probe!
Oh?

Where was it?
On Mars.
:clairedoge:
« Last Edit: 16 Jan 2015, 17:59 by SubaruStephen »
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Actually, there's already multiple asteroid mining firms that are developing the tech needed to push to the asteroid belt for resource extraction. http://www.planetaryresources.com/

The Private sector doesn't fund basic science projects, that's true... but the development of space flight has reached the point where where private firms can not only access space on their own, either by developing their own launch platforms or using multiple private sector launch services.

Mining asteroids isn't really space exploration; it's space exploitation.

The Age of Exploration was full of government contracted explorers {Columbus, Magellan, de Soto, Cortés} whom made the maps and subdued the locals.  After the explorers came the private sector {Dutch West India Company, Hudson Bay Company, Virginia Company} to exploit the new world.
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They're currently looking at pushing further and harder then our governmental agencies, if they make a buck on the way I can't say I care.

In fact, you could draw comparison to all the initial flight testing, solar exploration and mapping, etc as a comparison to the age of exploration, so the time is ripe for the private sector in initial exploitation and expansion into space.
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Went looking for it, and here it is.  Sea Launch

Seems they're currently out of business though thanks to the events in the Ukraine.

Sea Launch also had a series of high-profile launch failures including a spectacular somersault off the pad. Customers ran for the hills and bankruptcy followed. Right now, the only reason it hasn't been wound up is because its investors, US and Russian alike, are searching for a way to get at least some of their money back. This was all about a year before the Ukraine thing but it makes a useful excuse for having zero activity.
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BenRG

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Dawn has reached Ceres orbit!

I've been watching this mission with increasing interest for some time. Ceres has always piqued my interest - much larger than all the other asteroids and in an orbit that suggests that it belongs in the middle solar system (between Jupiter and Neptune) rather than the asteroid belt proper.

I, for one, can't wait but find out what those bright spots in that crater might be!

Dawn itself is a fascinating spacecraft, using solar-electric propulsion (SEP) or, more coequally 'ion drive'.

Although generating very little thrust, these engines can  run continually for weeks at a time, slowly increasing or decreasing the spacecraft's velocity. Ion engines are so efficient that some theorists have suggested they could be used to propel probes to other star systems, whilst NASA and Boeing are looking seriously at powering their crewed Mars ships with clusters of thirty or more of them. Without the high efficiency of ion drive, Dawn would never have achieved its' most interesting first - the first spacecraft to orbit two different major planetary objects other than Earth.
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Has NASA Designed a Real-Life Impulse Drive?

I'm still trying to get my brain around the figures that the development team are casually throwing around about this thing. Apparently, their 'mark 2' flyable prototype can generate 3 tonnes of thrust per kilowatt of electrical power supplied. The ISS's solar arrays (which are the largest solar power array ever flown) should generate 330 tonnes of thrust or comparable to SpaceX's Falcon-9 medium-lift rocket.

Now, consider what you could do with that with no fuel limits; this thing runs so long as there is electrical power available. Attach that to a small space-going nuclear reactor and you can basically run the engine continually for decades!

It's still early days but the old Trekkie/Space Geek in me can't help but be excited!

For now, at least, NASA refuses to confirm or deny that this project exists. However, Chris Bergin, the editor of the website that broke the story, NASASpaceflight.com isn't given to accepting stories like this without a lot of confidence in the contributor. In any case, if such an engine does exist, it would be such a game-changer in terms of space flight that the development project would be blacker than night.
« Last Edit: 01 May 2015, 05:22 by BenRG »
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Now where did I put that Omega Class Destroyer Design  :-D
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A couple of Martian photos are making waves on the internet lately.

Martian Woman

It looks more like a ghost than an alien which sensationalists are calling it.  to be honest I am sure its probably just some sand/dust being blown upward by the winds.  Dust devils are common on Mars.

Martian Crab-Spider

Honestly don't know what to make of this one.
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LTK


So where are the original photos?
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BenRG

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It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the second picture was a fossil of the root system of something tree-like.
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LeeC

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So where are the original photos?

They're from nasa's jet propulsion lab's mars website.  Due to the large size of the pictures I am just posting a link.
http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/01001/mcam/1001ML0044610000305331D01_DXXX.jpg

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl-raw-images/msss/00710/mcam/0710MR0030150070402501E01_DXXX.jpg

It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if the second picture was a fossil of the root system of something tree-like.

That seems plausible.
« Last Edit: 10 Aug 2015, 07:02 by LeeC »
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You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it. - M. Gustave
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