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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 5294 times)

LTK

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Ah I see. It's an interesting shape but the highlight in the picture you posted is clearly 'enhanced'. Here's the same cutout magnified twice.

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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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I dunno, 'The Ghosts of Mars' sounds like a pretty awesome story to me.
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It does sound fun to write a story of, but John Carpenter kind of added a bad stigma to the name for me since his movie.
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BenRG


I've just learnt that the name of China's standard carrier-borne fighter, the J-15, translates into English as 'Flying Shark'. For some reason, I can't stop grinning at that. Was it because 'Sharknado' was already trademarked?
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Cue the "More water on Mars than in California" jokes.
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Just don't let Nestle get the franchise.
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So this happened today.   :-D

A friend was at the launch and streamed it via periscope. The crowd were cheering like mad for the landing. Wish I could have been there.

Full webcast
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BenRG


There were enough people who said that this literally could not be done. I'm glad to see them proved wrong.

Now comes the hard part: Doing it again and again and again until it becomes routine and about as exciting as watching an airliner land after another scheduled flight.

Looking forward to the two next launch attempts, both slated for next month: SES-9, a European communications satellite to Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) from the Cape and then Jason-3 a NASA oceanic observation satellite from Vandenberg in California.
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Just listen to the crowd! :-D :-D :-D

Louder and more enthusiastic than any sports fans at a stadium. (IMO)
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There were enough people who said that this literally could not be done. I'm glad to see them proved wrong.
Now that is how spaceships ought to land; on pillars of fire! <--- Space Cadet Akima.

That's a major technical achievement, and congratulations are due to the team. The rub will be the economics. Let us not forget that the Space Shuttle was supposed to usher in an era of lower-cost access to space, and ended up more expensive in terms of kilogrammes to LEO than the Saturn V. Every gramme of mass devoted to systems needed to land that first stage is a gramme of payload sacrificed. I'm sure the Falcon team has done its financial modelling, and I hope it works out in practice.
« Last Edit: 24 Dec 2015, 17:19 by Akima »
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They would have done Akima if the Airborne Launch Development had had the funding it required to develop
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Akima

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Coulda, woulda, shoulda... Everything works perfectly on paper.
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Quote
Milner, meanwhile, is also funding the Breakthrough Message project, which will award up to $1 million in prizes to people who craft the best messages to send out to any intelligent life that may be listening.

My message is "We taste horrible and are likely poisonous."
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A "buttload" is an actual measurement, next time someone tells you that they need a buttload of something, tell them 126 gallons might be a bit too much.

BenRG


Interplanetary Transport System

Is it crazy? Yes. Is he crazy? Yes. However, I would argue that this might, just might, be the right sort of crazy.


[edit]
Basic technical power-point slides including a description of the mission profile and the projected performance of the engines.
« Last Edit: 28 Sep 2016, 02:08 by BenRG »
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I shudder to think of the complications and risk of attempting to land a rocket on its tail like that.  Also, the return and landing would likely take more fuel than was required simply to get into orbit, and this fuel has to be carried there and back again (requiring extra fuel), hugely increasing the overall fuel required, and the size of the booster.  Then how many one-way Mars trips would be required to carry enough materials out there for even a single trip back?

Maybe it'll happen.  Maybe.  But I won't be around to see it - and I don't see it becoming useful without a huge leap in technology (and even the basic physics underlying it).
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BenRG


I shudder to think of the complications and risk of attempting to land a rocket on its tail like that.  Also, the return and landing would likely take more fuel than was required simply to get into orbit, and this fuel has to be carried there and back again (requiring extra fuel), hugely increasing the overall fuel required, and the size of the booster.  Then how many one-way Mars trips would be required to carry enough materials out there for even a single trip back?

Sorry, I should have posted this before: There are some technical Powerpoint slides archived here. Bottom line, the ship is refuelled in Earth orbit for the flight out and on Mars's surface for the flight back (the latter being based on Dr Robert Zubrin's famous 'The Case for Mars' proposal).

You're right about landing on the launch pad, though; that's a huge risk. I expect to see that get quietly edited out in future revisions of the plan in favour of having more boosters ready to go for every mission. The returing ones can land on a separate landing pad and get rolled back over when needed.

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Nice 3D modelling, but that's about it.

I love the way they describe how the Alcubierre Drive "works" in the present tense, when it is no more than a mathematical speculation presenting many theoretical difficulties (that I freely admit I am not competent to assess). Regardless of the physical possibility of such a method of faster-than-light travel, I am sceptical about a nuclear-powered (presumably) spacecraft that is apparently equipped with no heat radiators, and is decorated with flags fluttering in space!
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NASA Telescope Reveals Largest Batch of Earth-Size, Habitable-Zone Planets Around Single Star




https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-telescope-reveals-largest-batch-of-earth-size-habitable-zone-planets-around
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BenRG


There are a string of 'but...' qualifiers to this story. The most important of which is that TRAPPIST-1 only just barely qualifies as a star so the 'habitable' planets are in orbits far tighter than Mercury's around the sun: Years measured in a few dozen solar days and which lend themselves to tidally-locked diurnal periods with baked dry deserts on one hemisphere, deep-frozen ice fields on the other and a strip of potentially-habitable surface running around the terminator (the point where the sun is just touching the horizon).

Add on top of that, the planets are going to be so close to the primary that anything alive not under several meters of rock or several dozen meters of water are going to be cooked by the star's UV- and X-frequency radiation. It isn't as bad as Proxima Centauri (Alpha Centauri C), of course. That hellstar has high enough an X-ray flux and powerful enough flare events that it literally would have boiled away the atmosphere of its one confirmed planet!

Overall, any system whose primary is of spectral class M can be crossed off the 'ET lives here' list; the combination of low output and small size make for planets that really orbit a bit too close for comfort. They could be made at least habitable if you wanted to invest in domed or underground cities but I doubt that they'd have complex native life-forms and even simple would would need to be either subterranean or deep-swimming.

No, overall, please offer me a planet in the habitable zone of a star of spectral classes K, G or the smaller variants of class A. That requires an orbit wide enough in thermal terms that the inverse square effect turns the high-frequency radiation into something less than instant death for complex biology.
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after reading all the blather posted by "highly esteemed scientists",
the sci-fi geek in me says: "yay. future targets for strip mining water and other valuables."
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the sci-fi geek in me says: "yay. future targets for strip mining water and other valuables."

Well, first you have to deal with all those light-years...
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And the Natives

If there are any and just how advanced they might be.
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James The Kugai 

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BenRG


SpaceX plans to send two space tourists around the Moon some time in 2018.

Once again, he's crazy but it might be the right sort of crazy. With the Trump administration leaning towards scrapping the open-ended and expensive Mars objective in favour of returning to the Moon, proving that one's commercial product could handle cargo and crew delivery to cis-Lunar space is a bit of commercial good sense.

It is quite possible that Musk is planning to get his ship to the Moon in December 2018, the hemicenteniary of Apollo 8 (the first time humans had ever left the Earth's sphere of influence). It's a mostly meaningless milestone in practical terms but would have powerful symbolic value. FWIW, I consider the time-line Musk proposes is probably unachievably aggressive but I believe that this is doable by 2020.

Regarding NASA's interest in this matter, this may all feed into the possibility of a 'MoonLab' station at EML-2 for various bits of crewed exo-magnetosphere research. This is something that NASA has been toying with as it became clearer that the asteroid redirect and rendezvous mission proposal for the first crewed SLS flight wasn't generating political support. If Falcon Heavy/Dragon can prove this mission profile, then NASA have a CRS provider lined up and ready to go to support any such program. So, it is at least in their best interests to cooperate and encourage.

If SpaceX can rig up an Main Propulsion System (MPS) for the Dragon (maybe a knock-off of the pressure-fed Kestrel engine used on the small Falcon-1), it might even be useful as a crew transfer vehicle for cis-Lunar space, enabling NASA to concentrate SLS on throwing large cargoes (including Boeing's proposed ultra-simple lander) to the Moon or cis-Lunar space. As crewed Falcon Heavy will launch from LC-39A (and any NASA supporting mission will probably have NASA decals on the spacecraft), NASA will be able to claim with a straight face that it is a 'NASA vehicle and mission'.

It would be kind of ironic if the oft-derided CLV/CaLV launch profile happens after all, just with Falcon-9/-Heavy as Crew Launch Vehicle (CLV) and SLS as Cargo Launch Vehicle (CaLV) instead of Ares-I and -V (Yes, I'm suggesting that Falcon-9 could launch a Lunar Dragon to LEO to meet up with the lunar lander and EUS).
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I was eight years old when Armstrong took his "one small step". First time i got to stay up past 8pm.

This country does not lack the technology, or the people, or the money to go back to the moon. Even the orbital junkpile that is a Kessler event waiting to happen is not an impediment. What this country (and maybe even the planet) lack is the WILL.

This isn't worrying about falling off the edge of the world, like a fair share of Columbus's crews worried about.

The Admiral wrote about Lunar travel limited by the tech of his day. I have to think that he passed away utterly astonished that we hadn't been back. (He died in 1988.) The tech of this day and age is way more than enough to do what exploration in the past only did in limited amounts: advance parties.

It is possible to gun stuff at the moon in either fast or slow orbits and make controlled landings. And with those landings, probes could be deployed. WORKING probes, able to deploy equipment for later live crews, conduct surveys... even BUILD from lunar regolith.

These things are absolutely possible at a mere 400,000 kilometer range. Proof of that is on the surface of Mars, in the shape of the active Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity and the sadly nonfunctioning Spirit. These devices were only supposed to work for ninety days. Spirit worked for over 2000 days before failure... and Opportunity has done more than TWICE that, and is still working. This all being done  with solar power, on a planet subject to dust storms, wind speeds, abrasive fines, and orbital mechanics that makes for long periods of radio down time. For the same money and launchers, I'd bet a DOZEN larger, more robust rovers could have been on the moon. And more than just science packages. Construction... and even repair of each other... or get REALLY ambitious and go to the cold war era probe sites and see how they stood the test of time.

Frustrated musings, perhaps.

 
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Ohh, that would make me happy. I'd add another project along with the heavy construction work. If there's ice in polar craters, another good job for the robots would be to split it into hydrogen and oxygen and fill cylinders. It would be handy to having breathing materials and fuel cells ready to go when the humans arrive.
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DuneCanid

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Ohh, that would make me happy. I'd add another project along with the heavy construction work. If there's ice in polar craters, another good job for the robots would be to split it into hydrogen and oxygen and fill cylinders. It would be handy to having breathing materials and fuel cells ready to go when the humans arrive.

The Byrd Crater Hypothesis. Better to confirm the resource is there before building something to use it.

First thing on the moon for building should be mirrors and solar arrays. If what I saw of the Apollo data on the regolith is what I think I saw,  boil out the oxygen using mirrors for heating and shade for cooling. The industrial chemical groups woefully under represented on the moon are chlorides, nitrates and hydrates 
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BenRG


It's amazing what you can do if you decide to use human biological waste products in the area of increasing the chemical diversity of an extraterrestrial planetary body.
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Some nostalgia for people who still remember the cold-war hype about the Soviet "Energia" and the "Buran" space-shuttle. IIRC, they even featured in some 80's SF-lit, e.g. John Shirley's Eclipse Trilogy - the best Cyberpunk you never heard of ...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/28/mission-impossible-abandoned-soviet-space-rocket-waits-lift/



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/16/russias-abandoned-space-shuttles-at-the-baikonur-cosmodrome-in-p/

« Last Edit: 28 Mar 2017, 12:05 by Case »
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BenRG


Poor Snowstorm! She deserved better; I'd have hoped that one of the billionaire space nerds would have bought her so she could be restored and put in a museum for future generations to admire!
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Kugai

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Especially since she only ever got to fly once - and that was in a Remote Controlled Unmanned Test Flight I believe.
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James The Kugai 

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Akima

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I never knew that Buran meant Snowstorm... :-(

I thought the spacecraft was destroyed when her hangar fell down in a storm.
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The Buran Programme wiki page has a rundown of the various craft built (many were test articles for one specific parameter) and their current state/fate:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buran_programme
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Chapter 6, Part 2 added 11/12/09

BenRG


In other news, SpaceX yesterday successfully flew and recovered Falcon-9 serial no. 1021, marking the first time that the company has re-used in a full flight cycle one of its recovered Falcon-9 first stages. The mission was to launch the SES-10 communications satellite which, in a footnote, successfully reached Geostationary Transfer Orbit about 20 minutes after the historic second landing of booster 1021 on the drone ship Of Course I Still Love You.
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Akima

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Someone at SpaceX obviously reads Iain M. Banks.
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Akima

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On 16th June 1963 Valentina Tereshkova launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome to become the first woman in space, and one of the first two astronauts in history (I should say cosmonauts really since the other participant, Valery Bykovsky, was also Soviet) to perform an orbital rendezvous, and communicate between two vessels in space.

So I was rather surprised to read this headline: "The First Woman In Space Turns 80, And You Probably Never Heard Of Her." Really? Seriously?
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Gotta love American Exceptionalism
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James The Kugai 

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BenRG


Poor Valentina has always been fated to be a name without a face and then rarely even that.

I love the way she's the namesake of the smarter of the two pilot Kerbals in Kerbal Space Program. Most fans agree that she's Jeb's Thinking Brain Copilot.
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Those who matter remember her...

(IE - Us geeks! :) 
(And those of us born 4 days before she actually did it!)  :)
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Has anyone here any further FACTS (not political screeds, not competition talkingdown points, nor hyperoptimistic featherheaded mouthings) about the proposed SpaceX "Lunar Dragon" flight or flights?

I'd like to get out of the bottom of this Well... but I'm too bloody old. Seeing Humanity get Up High and Out Far is about as much as I can ask for and hopefully see happen.

If some of the folks here might remember a TV show back in the late 70's called SALVAGE 1... I'd love to see someone getting up in the LEOs and start catching the junk up there  for salvage
or just plain getting it out of the lanes. The movie GRAVITY, while not particularly my dose of diaminodiphenyl sulfone, has shown the atrocious result of cluttering up orbits and at orbital speeds. Kingman event, I think they call it. A cross between spheriical table no-gee billiards and running a minefield. Start shooting up spacecraft with large blocks of aerogel strapped to their front to start snagging the small stuff, and get VULTURE class craft up there to grab and tow the bigs, or even rework them in-situ.  Sort of what SLS, did but a bit more vigorously.


Musk was talking about developing parts of Falcon Heavy to be self landing or at least retrievable. I wonder if he is gonna go sun-never-sets on SpaceX... Eastern tip of Brazil, Woomera, Heck, maybe even Galapagos. heck, it'd be stunning if he could manage coast to coast launches  at the same time. 

 
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BenRG


Fully reusability is critical for Musk's plans for Mars colonisation. The proposed Interplanetary Transport System would require perhaps six Saturn V-class launches just to ship propellent into orbit over less than a day for every primary launch to Mars. That is impossible with any conventional rocket design. The only option is to have rockets that go up, come back down again and can be turned around airliner-style in a matter of hours.
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Akima

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I'd have thought that Woomera was too far south for a good launch site to LEO, assuming you wanted to launch or land in Australia. Admittedly China's Jiuquan (酒泉 pron: jio-chuen) launch facility, and Baikonur Cosmodrome are both further from the equator, but a commercial operator, unconstrained by political/nationalist considerations might want to consider one of the islands off the Cape York Peninsula, or somewhere on the north coast of Western Australia.
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Woomera has been used as an orbital launch site before. Actually, if you're shooting for polar or sun-synchronous orbits (some of both of these tend to be retrograde), a higher latitude can be helpful. Any where in South or West Australia would be horrible for any low inclination, prograde orbits though. You'd absolutely want somewhere near Cape York for that (overflight of the Solomons and New Guinea would be a problem though, best bet would probably be somewhere around Cairns or Townsville and try to shoot the gap between the Solomons and Vanuatu). You can actually be a little lax with your latitude if your target is a Hohmann transfer trajectory (you can make up some inclination error in your Earth escape burn), but launching eastward near the equator is always the best option because of the free velocity boost. As for SpaceX setting up launch sites in other countries, that's probably going to be very difficult due to ITAR. I'm not sure if the rocket engines are subject to the technology transfer rules since they were developed in house (though a vengeful regulator may try to put them under MTCR rules) but I know that the heat shield material on Dragon capsules is absolutely covered and I think even the fairings may be covered (yes, ITAR is kinda stupid).
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