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Author Topic: Life Beyond Shuttle…it’s already here: Ares I-X stacked at VAB for 10/31  (Read 815 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

By now we all probably know the space shuttle fleet is retiring next year, closing the door on one era, a great era, but opening the door to the next.

How far along is Project Constellation that will succeed the shuttle fleet? Probably more so than you think…

Online Oniya

So - this looks a little like a step backwards to the days when a space launch involved one-time-use vehicles.  I was sort of hoping that the next step would continue to allow for re-use of the launch vehicle.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

So - this looks a little like a step backwards to the days when a space launch involved one-time-use vehicles.  I was sort of hoping that the next step would continue to allow for re-use of the launch vehicle.

On the surface it does look like a step back, yes, but that’s because you’re looking through preconceptions based on the old-generation command capsule.

The Orion will be reusable for up to ten flights, and building a fleet of these is going to be easier and likely cheaper than an equal capacity shuttle fleet.

The boosters for the Ares I and Ares V are just taller stacked SRB’s from the STS program, and reusable like them.

The Constellation program is going to be more cost effective because it’s employing proven off the shelf technology from Apollo and STS.

While the Ares I will enjoy a slightly greater cargo capacity than the shuttle to Low Earth Orbit (25,000 kg vs. 24,400) the true star of the rocket heavyweights will be the Ares V. It will be able to launch an astounding 188,000 kg vs. the old Saturn V’s 118,00 kg.

At least the boosters on the Ares V will be reusable, which compared to the Saturn V, only the command capsule returned, and was not even reused.

The shuttle is an all in one pickup truck for orbit, but is always a manned vehicle. By using the Ares I for crew transport and the Ares V for massive unmanned cargoes, NASA will no long be putting all their eggs in one basket so to speak. Risk to crews will be minimized as freight ranging to space station modules to lunar landers and surface equipment will be sent up separately on the automated Ares V.

When we actually do the next lunar landings, the Ares V will bring up the Altair lunar and equipment separately, where the Orion vessel will link up in low orbit and then begin their journey to the moon.

Among the cons of the STS program most notable is the base configuration of the assembled launch vehicle, where foam from the upper portions of the external tank have stuck and damaged the shuttle to varying degrees in multiple instances, eventually leading to the destruction of the Columbia. On the old stacked capsule style, nothing is above the crew section that can damage it.

Of course there is the technological edge that forty years of progress can deliver. Students regularly employ drafting calculators with more computational power than the computers onboard Apollo command modules; expect Orion to be apples and oranges here.

Advanced and more powerful J-2X and RL-10 engines from the Apollo project.

The one big flaw that was brought up by Buzz Aldrin regarding the new system and the STS is the use of solid boosters. Once they’re lit they’re going up, and there is no ‘off switch’. Also, the solids do not have the compression of liquid fueled boosters, which could be used to be more efficient and powerful. However, even the alternative proposal DIRECT design does not change this, as it’s likely too much of a fundamental design alteration to realistically consider at this point in the game.
« Last Edit: August 19, 2009, 04:08:12 AM by The Overlord »

Online Oniya

Well, that's good to hear.  The shot in the first article looked very reminiscent of the Saturn Vs.

Offline Dexter Wiggles

I thought the Are's projects were over budget and that NASA didn't have the funding anymore for it. Or am I just thinking of a lunar landing? I hope not though, just what I don't need is more competition on the unemployment line. It's interesting to know they are using solid fuel, but I guess that makes sense, simplicity was the idea for this project if I remember right.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Solid fuel is allegedly settling for simplicity in the place of efficiency. It makes more sense for safety reasons to used liquid-fueled all the way, because when the situation goes awry, it will be anything but simple.

That being said, the SRB’s actually have been very successful throughout the STS program. In the case of the Challenger disaster, a SRB did lead to the shuttle’s destruction at launch, but that was because of the NASA brass being complete and utter dumbfucks. Morton-Thiokol Inc., who at the time was producing the boosters, gave their official stand to NASA that launching in the rare freezing temperatures that seized central Florida that morning was the equivalent of playing Russian roulette. NASA gambled and lost bigtime.

The SRBs do function very well, WITHIN their design specifications.

Columbia was destroyed by foam damage from the external tank, which is something of the weakest link in the launch configuration, and in every sense.

A resemblance to the Saturn V is not a bad thing however. The Saturn V was made to do what had NEVER been done before in history, not even close, and it succeeded six in seven times. Even in the case of Apollo 13, the resilience of the crew and ground engineers got the ship back safely, so the Saturn V’s record stands as tall as the rocket itself in the annals of space history. The Ares V is taking that legacy and improving on it.

As far as things go, I’m sure politics and economics will wrangle with the final return date, but the first manned return flight to lunar soil is slated between 2017-2020 last I heard…not really that far off anymore. By then the Constellation fleet will be well-driven and ready.