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 Post subject: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-14 02:18pm
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I figured this question belonged more in SLAM than in OT, so here goes. What if, we could bring Cape Canaveral L39 up to it's maximum launch capacity for heavy lift vehicles for ten years? It was designed to launch up to 100 Saturn Vs a year, according to some sources I've read. Even a more modest 40 vehicles a year for a decade would still be a massive spacelift program. This would probably involve completing three more pads as per the original designs, but so be it! What could we do with all that? 130 tons into orbit with each launch, assuming we launch nothing but exact Saturn clones, means that we could assemble up to a minimum of 52,000 tons in low-earth orbit. Or 20,000 tons TLI.

So are my numbers right, and if they are, just what would we do with this?



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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-14 05:28pm
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Setting up space infrastructure, like manned space stations ala 2001 [*] ? (Earth surface <-> spaceplane <-> LEO transit station <-> earth/moon shuttle <-> Lunar Orbit transit station <-> Orbit/surface shuttle <-> Moon surface)

If we have the technology, send automated systems to tug interesting asteroids toward earth orbit so that we can mine them ?

Assemble in orbit the "UNSN Humanity Fuck Yeah!!!" ?


Take your pick.




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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 12:05am
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One thing I've never really understood about the space program is what it's supposed to be for. The original justification went something like "America Fuck Yeah, and also Science!!" What's the current one?

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 06:36am
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Just science. The universe is there ; So why the fuck not go explore it?

Plus the tiny thing about long-term species survival.



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 11:33am
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I know species survival gets mentioned a lot, but how far from anything useful for that are we? If we can get terraforming technology and colony ships in the foreseeable future, great, but if it would take two hundred years of the entire combined GDPs of every major nation on Earth, wouldn't we be better served by spending the current NASA budget on vaccines and food aid?

These are genuine questions, by the way - I'm not promoting any agenda, I just want to know.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 11:37am
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Thing is, you won't get the technology needed for interplanetary and interstellar travel unless you invest in space technology. Kind of like if you never build ships, you will not get an ocean-going navy, no? :)



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 12:09pm
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Fair point. :D

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 05:33pm
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Why do we go into space? Science and the betterment of the human race. GPS, live tv from and to anywhere, weather prediction, etc., would not have been possible and have had a HUGE impact on our quality of life. R&D from space programs has made it into everyday products (TEFLON is the first thing that came to my mind) and of course it's a huge industry. Most of the cost goes into paying highly qualifyed specialists, you know. ;)

edit: Also, isn't the foreign aid budget of the US already higher than the NASA budget?



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This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-15 06:24pm
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Yeah, space is really cheaper than most people think. The US can certainly afford it at the current level, and could probably afford to throw an extra billion per year towards NASA (that would help a lot right now).

Hell, the Pentagon can LOSE a billion per year and have absolutely no idea where the money went :P



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-16 07:49am
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Actually, from a national economy point of view, space programs are a net benefit due to the "tech" that comes out of them. I.e. investing into space science and R&D makes a country's economy stronger in exactly the way dropping bombs on brown people doesn't.
So arguing about what the US can or can not afford is extremely short-seighted at best.

The space race started because Kennedy wanted to show his [spoiler]rocket[/spoiler] is bigger than Krustchovs [spoiler]rocket[/spoiler], but it has developed into essential infrastructure for one of the few industries the US is still leading in.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
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This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-16 09:22am
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Well, yes, but space colonization brings NO economic benefits. Satellites have revolutionized the world in a way that's reminescent of the industrial revolution, changed the way we live and work. Working on human spaceflight will bring advances in medicine, materials science, electronics etc. but there's a certain subset of people that won't be wowed by "we now understand radiation effects better and can treat an additional 5% of cancer patients!"

So space will always stay low on the priority list, and in that context it's very much a question of what can and cannot be afforded (ie. approved by congress).

Of course, thanks to the Shuttle, we're thirty years behind on development of space infrastructure, too :P



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-16 12:56pm
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How do you mean? Was the Shuttle's reusability a crutch that meant we didn't have to worry about space stations, etc. as much as we would have with rockets?

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-16 02:09pm
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No, the shuttle was meant to be a "build it and [the missions] will come" kinda deal. I.e. NASA thought that, when they had the shuttles lying around, congress would fund space stations and exploration mission. Unfortunately, in its infinite wisdom, the US governments since then collectively decided to only pay the fixed price of the shuttle program and not much more. Some also claim that the shuttle has deromanticized space travel, since the population at large has grown to take it for granted.


@PeZook: huh? Space colonisation would bring massive economic benefit. We just aren't there yet. IMHO it's more a problem of high-tech being sufficiently advanced and outside the life of "average Joe" that there is a disconnect. Everyone fundamentally understands cars but who can say that about rocket science? (Even though rockets are far simpler.) As soon as we have functional tourist destinations in space I expect that to change.



http://www.politicalcompass.org/test
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.74

This is pre-WWII. You can sort of tell from the sketch style, from thee way it refers to Japan (Japan in the 1950s was still rebuilding from WWII), the spelling of Tokyo, lots of details. Nothing obvious... except that the upper right hand corner of the page reads "November 1931." --- Simon_Jester

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-18 06:04pm
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Skgoa wrote:
Actually, from a national economy point of view, space programs are a net benefit due to the "tech" that comes out of them.
That's an old argument and not a so good one for spacey stuff, imho. I mean, whenever you sink billions of money in research and leave results up for grabs you do something good for the economy. As long as you strike a few cool results anyway.

It's just that it's not military stuff where all the interesting stuff ends locked behind curtains of TOP SECRET.

Esquire wrote:
Was the Shuttle's reusability a crutch that meant we didn't have to worry about space stations, etc. as much as we would have with rockets?
Definetly. The thing was a small space station in its own right, and allowed to do most of stuff you could have done on a proper space station without a proper space station



I'm nobody. Nobody at all. But the secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to nobodies who care.
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Stereotypical spacecraft are pressurized.
Less realistic spacecraft are pressurized to hold breathing atmosphere.
Realistic spacecraft are pressurized because they are flying propellant tanks. -Isaac Kuo

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-18 06:29pm
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Esquire wrote:
How do you mean? Was the Shuttle's reusability a crutch that meant we didn't have to worry about space stations, etc. as much as we would have with rockets?


Basically, for the price of the Shuttle program, the US could've built an entire SERIES of space stations vastly larger than the ISS, because one Shuttle launch cost as much as a lunar mission, and could only loft 20 tonnes of useable cargo.

So while the Shuttle was truly an awesome, incredible piece of technology, its expense hobbles construction of space infrastructure. Just look at Skylab: 90 tonnes, 300 cubic metres of space, launched with a single Saturn V.

Building such a station with the STS would've required FIVE Shuttle launches, and in-orbit assembly work.

Since space stations are the infrastructure, we've hobbled our progress by using the Shuttle.

Skgoa wrote:
@PeZook: huh? Space colonisation would bring massive economic benefit. We just aren't there yet. IMHO it's more a problem of high-tech being sufficiently advanced and outside the life of "average Joe" that there is a disconnect. Everyone fundamentally understands cars but who can say that about rocket science? (Even though rockets are far simpler.) As soon as we have functional tourist destinations in space I expect that to change.


HOW will space colonization bring an economic benefit? In the form of the most expensive steel ever produced? :D

The only reason for space industry to exist is to support space habitation. That will eventually become a pretty good reason, but we need to set space habitation as a goal in and of itself, rather than expecting some sort of massive economic boon for Earth.

Spin-off technologies will be useful, though.



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-19 07:42am
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Quote:
Basically, for the price of the Shuttle program, the US could've built an entire SERIES of space stations vastly larger than the ISS, because one Shuttle launch cost as much as a lunar mission, and could only loft 20 tonnes of useable cargo.
It is a bit more complex than that.
Technically, they did some research about making a non-reusable thingto place instead of the shuttle to lift cargo instead of pointless crap that comes back again. Using engines that reached the end of their human-rated life they could have sent up at least 3-4 skylab-sized stations (one at a time :roll: ) at an interesting low cost.

The point was that none with decisional power really gave a shit after the pissing contest with the reds was won.

To put this in context, the saturn V stuff was scrapped for cost reasons (lololololol), and none had the guts to do a shit about it, the shuttle program was approved only because NASA (and maybe the president) decided to tell bullshit about lower cost of this new program.

There was very little way to convince the congress that another rocket would cost less than Saturn V, other than drop the word "reusable" here and there and hope the chimps in the congress get fooled by a radically new design and some creative finance.

So the choice was "no more space access AT ALL or blatant fraud to mantain a token space access". "Decent architecture that would allow creation of space infrastructure and eventually colonization of solar system" was not an option before as it is not an option now.

Hell, they terminated even the fucking inflatable living module program, that would have obvious use for less-launch-intensive space stations for the usual bullshit reasons ("too costly" even if there is a private company that planned to make the first products for 500 millions total).

Quote:
HOW will space colonization bring an economic benefit?
By selling stuff to colonists that leave Earth and are ready to do some sacrifices for their dreams that will likely crash and burn.

For gold rushes worked like that if I'm not mistaken. The ones that made the REAL money were the supply-sellers, not the gold miners.



I'm nobody. Nobody at all. But the secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to nobodies who care.
--
Stereotypical spacecraft are pressurized.
Less realistic spacecraft are pressurized to hold breathing atmosphere.
Realistic spacecraft are pressurized because they are flying propellant tanks. -Isaac Kuo

--
Good art has function as well as form. I hesitate to spend more than $50 on decorations of any kind unless they can be used to pummel an intruder into submission. -Sriad

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-19 07:59am
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Well, yes ; I understand the politics of the Shuttle and why it came to be and why there was little chance of anything else, like continuing with the Saturn series ; That said, we're thirty years behind on space infrastructure thanks to all this crap :)

Although you do have a point that it was either Shuttle or nothing at all. I suppose we're lucky there's an overpriced and understaffed space station there at all :P



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JULY 20TH 1969 - The day the entire world was looking up

It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.
- NEIL ARMSTRONG, MISSION COMMANDER, APOLLO 11

Signature dedicated to the greatest achievement of mankind.

MILDLY DERANGED PHYSICIST does not mind BREAKING the SOUND BARRIER, because it is INSURED. - Simon_Jester considering the problems of hypersonic flight for Team L.A.M.E.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-19 03:26pm
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Esquire wrote:
One thing I've never really understood about the space program is what it's supposed to be for. The original justification went something like "America Fuck Yeah, and also Science!!" What's the current one?


The tv show 'West Wing' had a good explanation of why.


I've never heard it better or more succinct.



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You kinda look like Jesus. With a lightsaber.- Peregrin Toker
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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-20 08:04am
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Quote:
The original justification went something like "America Fuck Yeah, and also Science!!" What's the current one?
The only thing left is "giving money to whatever company the senator in charge of the project decides", at least for big-budget projects like STS.

Quote:
That said, we're thirty years behind on space infrastructure thanks to all this crap
Only if you count pissing contests with Reds as "beginning of space age". That was just propaganda, sadly.

They made the Shuttle in a rush and systematically under-used it, they made the space station and it sits there doing no goddamn thing. Both priojects began in the last gasp of "Murrica is Da Best" feeling that carried over from the moon race, and managed to kinda survive well past what would have been their actual purpose (look cool and more advanced than anyone else).

Space age will begin with the first private space access that pays for itself (like say Bigelow's space hotels served by SpaceX or that flying thing of Virgin Galactic), not with massive shows of rocket-powered penis without any intention of doing stuff for real. Imho, at least.



I'm nobody. Nobody at all. But the secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to nobodies who care.
--
Stereotypical spacecraft are pressurized.
Less realistic spacecraft are pressurized to hold breathing atmosphere.
Realistic spacecraft are pressurized because they are flying propellant tanks. -Isaac Kuo

--
Good art has function as well as form. I hesitate to spend more than $50 on decorations of any kind unless they can be used to pummel an intruder into submission. -Sriad

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-25 09:10pm
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someone_else wrote:
They made the Shuttle in a rush and systematically under-used it, they made the space station and it sits there doing no goddamn thing. Both priojects began in the last gasp of "Murrica is Da Best" feeling that carried over from the moon race, and managed to kinda survive well past what would have been their actual purpose (look cool and more advanced than anyone else).

Using the space shuttle more would have necessitated throwing a lot more money at it. Put it this way, according to shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane, the shuttle program peaked at a launch rate of ten missions per 12 months just before the Challenger incident. To accomplish this rate, the agency was taking shortcuts that shouldn't have been taken, and the NASA workforce overall was starting to buckle under the enormous workload.

Put bluntly, the space shuttle was never going to achieve the cost efficiency that was promoted during development (or hell, even during operation).

someone_else wrote:
Space age will begin with the first private space access that pays for itself (like say Bigelow's space hotels served by SpaceX or that flying thing of Virgin Galactic), not with massive shows of rocket-powered penis without any intention of doing stuff for real. Imho, at least.

This is a nitpick, but yours does not sound like a humble opinion.

I would also contend that providing a playground for the ultra-wealthy is no more noble an endeavor than nationalistic dick-waving.



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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-26 02:33am
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Thinking about it, it might still have been more cost-effective to launch the shuttle once a month and spend 2X money than to launch four times a year and spend X money. Higher absolute expenses don't always translate into higher per-use costs.

That said, yeah, the Shuttle was never really going to live up to what it was dreamed as, not without the support structure of ambitious space programs for it to service.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-26 04:43am
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Uraniun235 wrote:
Using the space shuttle more would have necessitated throwing a lot more money at it.
Not necessarily. Most of the cost of the Shuttle program was in the wages of the people working at it (which where a lot, a lot more than for a conventional rocket). Which was more or less a fixed cost. The more launches you make the more you can split the fixed costs, the less is the cost-per-launch.

For example, the reusable solid boosters started making economic sense only with more than X flghts per year, and this X was something like 15 or 20 or some number the Shuttle never came close.

Quote:
I would also contend that providing a playground for the ultra-wealthy is no more noble an endeavor than nationalistic dick-waving.
Never said it was or had to be noble, very little was "noble" in history as well so I would not cry over it.
The point was that if it starts to make money on its own, then it does no more depend from people that don't give a shit about it like it is now.

If it starts having a half-decent revenue with multibilionaires, it will drive down the cost for other stuff and satellites too, until even puny millionaires can go and this drives down costs again. It's not awesome like a flight of Orion-drive-battleships taking off to the skies riding nuclear fire to fight Space Reds From Mars, but that's the only damn thing that has any chance of letting humanity eventually reach stars in the current situation.

Politically-backed projects tend be as short-sighted as politicans, and long-term stuff like space projects suffer a lot this issue.



I'm nobody. Nobody at all. But the secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to nobodies who care.
--
Stereotypical spacecraft are pressurized.
Less realistic spacecraft are pressurized to hold breathing atmosphere.
Realistic spacecraft are pressurized because they are flying propellant tanks. -Isaac Kuo

--
Good art has function as well as form. I hesitate to spend more than $50 on decorations of any kind unless they can be used to pummel an intruder into submission. -Sriad

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-26 05:02pm
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Skgoa wrote:
Actually, from a national economy point of view, space programs are a net benefit due to the "tech" that comes out of them. I.e. investing into space science and R&D makes a country's economy stronger in exactly the way dropping bombs on brown people doesn't.

That's not true at all.

Those bombs don't just drop themselves, but come at the end of a sophisticated aerospace logistics train that has received far more investment and physics and engineering expertise in the past decades than the space program. It is responsible for dramatic advances in electronics, sensors, materials and engines, not to mention those achievements with less carry-over but which are nonetheless impressive, like radar stealth.

---

We're moving away from the question, however, which was not whether we should have a space program or what form should it take, but given a lift budget for free, what would you do with it?

This is a tricky question because the mass on offer is too large for modest scientific goals, like probing the solar system, but too small for something really dramatic. My two favourites would probably be:

Permanent moon base - Ideally as self-sufficient as possible. The main interest would be how to survive for extended periods in such a wilderness, which strictly could be done in a NASA car park, but it would also have good element of exciting historic achivement.

Unmanned probe to Alpha Centauri - Not that that's hard, but making one that would return data in the next ~100yrs presents interesting challenges. Probably would need to nuclear powered, which creates political problems.

Runner-up would be seeding the universe with a large number of small, slow probes. However I feel like that's more of a tomb stone with a long shot of even being found than a project of real scientific use.

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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-26 05:31pm
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We could go with the plans NASA and Los Alamos had in the late 60's to replace the S-IVB with an S-N nuclear thermal rocket stage for long-duration Mars missions and Venus flybys.



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 Post subject: Re: RAR: Cape Capacity! PostPosted: 2012-03-27 10:30am
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Quote:
This is a tricky question because the mass on offer is too large for modest scientific goals, like probing the solar system, but too small for something really dramatic.
Lol?
An unmanned probe to fucking alpha centauri in 100 years? You have any fucking idea of how absurd is that?

The main reason is that you have to develop an engine that does not suck balls first. :mrgreen:

Quote:
Permanent moon base - Ideally as self-sufficient as possible. The main interest would be how to survive for extended periods in such a wilderness, which strictly could be done in a NASA car park, but it would also have good element of exciting historic achivement.
That's plain idiotic. With the same money you could fill the whole fucking moon with platoons of prospecting bots, and if lucky enough, start a relatively profitable teleoperated mining operation by having Uncle Sam paying for start-up costs.
Still a total murderous ripoff, but for a much better reason.

I'd say keep funnelling money to SpaceX and hope they deliver, and then focus on fixing and maintaining orbital satellites for a while (they cost billions and there are loads of them that could use some help for the right price), again having Uncle Sam swallow the start-up and development costs (minusucule if compared to the STS, but who cares).

Then proceed with the moon as above with the money from orbital mainteneance services.



I'm nobody. Nobody at all. But the secrets of the universe don't mind. They reveal themselves to nobodies who care.
--
Stereotypical spacecraft are pressurized.
Less realistic spacecraft are pressurized to hold breathing atmosphere.
Realistic spacecraft are pressurized because they are flying propellant tanks. -Isaac Kuo

--
Good art has function as well as form. I hesitate to spend more than $50 on decorations of any kind unless they can be used to pummel an intruder into submission. -Sriad

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