They can catch a ride with Trump's Space Force.
Thursday's failed Soyuz launch, carrying kit and astronauts to the International Space Station means NASA is fast running out of options for shipping stuff into orbit. Especially since its homespun solutions aren't living up to their earlier promise. The US space agency hasn't been wild about using the Russians as a delivery …
well, if ya think about it, maybe a 'space force' COULD become a nice emergency handling agency, for stranded astronauts. Kinda like a Navy. In space.
I'm surprised we haven't already done the 'space force' thing, actually. I think the shuttle was ORIGINALLY intended to be a stepping stone to that. It just never happened.
(a bit of google-fu seems to confirm my suspicions on this, from the sheer number of military-related STS missions to the floated idea that shuttles could replace ICBMs)
More like the Coast Guard as it doesn't get above LEO. A Navy is blue water, comparable with trans-Lunar space.
The USCG is actually a world-wide maritime service, but has a different mission than the USN. To quote (and this pains me) Wikipedia, "while the U.S. Coast Guard is the smallest of the U.S. military service branches, in terms of size, the U.S. Coast Guard by itself is the world's 12th largest naval force."
""I'm surprised we haven't already done the 'space force' thing, actually."
You have. It's called USAF Space Command."
Yeah, but they run the Stargate program and you can't use that to get to Earth orbit unless you gate to a planet with a goa'uld mothership (and that would be bad)
"Yeah, but they run the Stargate program and you can't use that to get to Earth orbit unless you gate to a planet with a goa'uld mothership (and that would be bad)"
Don't you gate off-world, then gate back to the second gate from Antarctica, with a scavenged DHD plugged in so it becomes the default gate for Earth's address? OK, you have to get the second gate into orbit first, but that's a once-only thing.
"I'm surprised we haven't already done the 'space force' thing"
I'm not. Such things were banned about half a century ago. Obviously international treaties can be flouted, but as long as the other side aren't flouting them, why be the first to embark on what is likely to be very public, very expensive, militarily pointless piece of wilful disregard for legal norms?
"Obviously international treaties can be flouted, but as long as the other side aren't flouting them, why be the first to embark on what is likely to be very public, very expensive, militarily pointless piece of wilful disregard for legal norms?"
There are two responses to that.
1) Militarily, owning the "high ground" is almost always a winning strategy.
This IS Trump's Space Force.
I lolled at SLS being "100% over budget".
How is this even possible seeing how this launcher thingy is supposed to be based on "trusted & true" technologies?
Did someone menace the Boeing project manager to compress his Gantt chart while demanding that various bells & whistles be added here & there?
"Second, we found flaws in NASA’s evaluation of Boeing’s performance, resulting in NASA inflating
the contractor’s scores and leading to overly generous award fees. Specifically, in the six evaluation periods since 2012 in which NASA provided ratings, Agency officials deemed Boeing’s performance “excellent” in three and “very good” in three other periods, resulting in payment of $323 million or 90
percent of the available award and incentive fees."
Oh. This sounds like something political.
> I lolled at SLS being "100% over budget".
> How is this even possible seeing how this launcher thingy is
> supposed to be based on "trusted & true" technologies?
The problem is likely to be the old "we need more votes in <State X>"... "Quick, move production of <Component Y> to <State X>" game!
The original budget was a joke for what they were being asked to do, but it is easier to sell to the tax payer if you only approve half the required funds first and then years down the line approve the other half and say "Who could have foreseen these budget overruns?".
SLS is designed to be a cheap to launch super heavy lift vehicle which means that the development costs are high, so lots of things need redesigning from the Shuttle designs. For example the engines have been massively simplified from the shuttle design and can now be 3D printed (and the 3D printed ones have passed all tests).
After the first few launches (the first few will costs more) the cost will be $500m per launch. Whether the additional development costs are worth it depends on how many times they end up using it.
Spacenews says "The problem with the Space Launch System is that it is a fully expendable rocket that could cost between $1.5 billion to $2.5 billion to launch. NASA is struggling to make the SLS more affordable to operate"
Where did you get the half billion cost per launch from?
Meanwhile, SpaceX is quoting costs of $62 million for the Falcon 9 Full Thrust and $90 million for the Falcon Heavy, both of which have actually flown. The ESA has a target price of 90 million euros for the upcoming Ariane 6. Meanwhile, the SLS remains expensive vapourware and by the time they actually finish it, SpaceX may well be ready with their BFR.
Personally, I would be quite surprised if the SLS project ever actually gets used at the cost/performance it has.
"Like Excel, the Shuttle was a bad idea implemented badly."
No, it was a good idea implemented badly. Mainly due the the "special" requirements of the military causing huge added costs and complexity which, IIRC, was never used, ie the ability to launch, deploy and land cross range in less than one full orbit (or however they described it)
Although your analysis of the use-case for the large wings on the shuttle is correct: it was *still* a bad idea: It turns out to be *MUCH* cheaper and more reliable to use ICBMs over the North (or South) Pole to do this, than launch the shuttle over a pole, nuke Russia, re-enter, turn through 90 degrees (what the big wings were for) then land.
You forgot 1 little detail.
Apollo?/Saturn consumed c5% of the entire USG budget while that budget was inflated due to running the Vietnam war.
Today the NASA budget is 0.9% of USG spending. There is no clear goal for SLS or Orion (both of which have kept shifting) aside from shovelling cash and jobs into the Senators states that support it.
Remember they chose to put big jointed solids (which cannot be shut down) on SLS after Challenger showed what happens if the joint fails.
Remember they chose to put big jointed solids (which cannot be shut down) on SLS after Challenger showed what happens if the joint fails.
At least they did two things right about that.
1. The crew compartment is at the top of the stack where the FSM intended it to be.
2. There actually is a Launch Escape System
(side note: Apollo 11 landed on 1969-07-20.
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The report is utterly wrong though. The SLS is exactly on track, on time and on budget. It's just that the programme's objectives are secret. The real aim is simply to build the rocket so tall, that you can climb up a ladder from the launch tower straight up to the ISS. The fuel savings alone are massive...
@ seven of five, totally agree, They didn't lose the capsule, that part worked perfectly and the crew walked away after a normal landing.
This event was a launch booster failure and that is an astonishingly rare event with these rockets.
The Soyuz rocket assembly is a nailed down example of a good simple design being improved in small incremental steps and achieving excellent results on several hundred flights over many decades.
At first sight this seems to be just the latest quality control problem that has occurred in the recent past. I'm expecting the investigations to be very detailed as this is 'National Pride' territory.
I love the easy way people chuck around statements like:
At first sight this seems to be just the latest quality control problem that has occurred in the recent past.
As if a series of quality control problems is just a minor thing.
The two things that get astronauts killed are rushing to meet deadlines and complacency.
Apollo 1 and the two fatal Soyuz accidents were caused by ignoring problems in the rush to meet deadlines. The 2 Shuttle crashes were caused by complacently assuming that they'd carry on getting away with problems that hadn't caused accidents before.
There is no just when talking about regular quality control problems. And that's what Roscosmos have been getting away with for several years now. Mostly they've been in the unmanned side of things, so it might be that there's no serious problem - and there might be a simple cause for this malfunction - but it's not exactly reassuring.
>> This event was a launch booster failure and that is an astonishingly rare event with these rockets.
Russian rockets have quite a tendency of failures recently. Not to mention holes drilled at random in the sides of spacecraft.
So the problem usually is not in design or materials, but in deteriorated work ethics and skills.
Even if it's basically a fifty years old design, it has been tweaked and production is not made the same way, changes have been applied along the way.
They still have to assert what went wrong and why - it could be a one-off issue, it could be an issue that could repeat - losing a rocket is expensive, even when the crew survives.
Um, sorry, but the wheel is a thousands-of-years-old design, where's the problem ?
If it was a 50-year-old rocket, yeah, I could see the issue.
Designs do not grow old, they get replaced by better designs.
SpaceX et al are apparently in the process of doing that, but the Russkies have a design that works now. They might just have to tweak it, but with its track record, I'm not sure that's a very good idea.
Technically Soyuz* has a slightly worse loss rate of spacecraft than the Shuttle for a similar number of launches (Soyuz overtook the Shuttle in the last year iirc).
Although, due to the larger crew capacity, more lives have been lost on the Shuttle.
Not quite one in 50 years, but definitely not a bad record.
1969 - Soyuz 5 - Separation failure on re-entry caused off-course, rough landing; no casualties
1975 - Soyuz 18a - Separation failure on launch - 1 serious injury due to 21G acceleration on abort
1976 - Soyuz 23 - Broke through ice and sank during landing; no casualties
1979 - Soyuz 33 - In-orbit engine failure forced abort and steep ballistic re-entry; no casualties
1981 - Soyuz T-10-1 - Fuel spill and fire forced abort on launch; no casualties
2003 - Soyuz TMA-1 - Capsule malfunction caused 8+ G re-entry; 1 minor injury
2008 - Soyuz TMA-11 - Separation failure on re-entry caused high G re-entry; 1 minor injury
They dream of Mars, but know that NASA is basically a one-programme-at-a-time agency (because those same politicians wouldn't dream of properly funding it)
Hence a desire to kill ISS.
Which explains the very grudging funding (usually below the requested level, while that for SLS/Orion has been above request)
Also note the progress Boeing and SX have made compared to Orion (which cannot even afford to build its own Service Module. It'll we be bought in from ESA on a barter deal for ISS access).
Funny how much progress when there's even a little bit of competition in the game, is it not?
ISS and the shared transport to and from it is an example of science rising about all the poiltical chest-beating, sanctions, threats and all the other stuff we get from the sociopaths that are attracted into politics and nation leadership.
It's the example that shows the way. Cooperation. Of course there are a lot of $$$$ changing hands but $$$$ are better than warheads and nerve agents.
"NASA is basically a one-programme-at-a-time agency"
Er, you don't seem to have noticed but NASA has programs going on all over the solar system, and has done for years.
They've got two separate rovers (hopefully, maybe only one now) and three separate orbiters going around Mars right now, all of which are separate programs. And that's just Mars.
Let me amend my comment.
Where human spaceflight is concerned Marshall (the bit that designs launch vehicles) is a one-programme-at-a-time center. JPL and Goddard (who do probes and remote systems) do rather more with rather less.
In fact in Marshalls case it's about 1 new system every couple of decades. (Shuttle in the 70's and 80's was the last new system they worked on.
Personally I think they should be shut down, but NASA is not allowed to to make that decision (about it's own centers). I'm not sure if any of the other 22 Federal agencies have that right. I think they do.
Just missread your post as "It needs the constant nuns to keep it up in space."
My brain is now full of images of space nuns. I can imagine conversations like:
MC: "This is Vatican control. You are go for EVA."
Sis1: "This is Sister 1, copy your go for EVA."
MC: "Sister 1, seal up space wimple and prepare for airlock procedure."
Sis2: "Space habit and space wimple sealed and checked. We are go for EVA."
MC: "This is Mother Superior. Depressurise airlock."
And that's before we've even mention Ken Russell...
Rumor has it that a certain group in the US *may* have made some progress but not sure how much.
Their device is based on using positrons in a Rydberg or other highly excited quantum state based on tuned lasers to generate what they are describing as a "Dirac Hole generator".
If it is able to lift a 5mm diameter silicon disk weighing about 180mg against gravity using off the shelf 22Na as they describe then to scale it up is feasible albeit somewhat expensive.
What is not clear is whether CERN's antimatter storage unit can be retrofitted with a conduit to direct the positrons into the drive which is also under vacuum, electromagnetic shielding keeping air out until at >60K feet where power can be ramped down without losing efficiency and other important aspects like radiation shielding of the crew capsule and cryogenic coolants.
It may be less of a problem however as any 511keV gamma rays would be produced upon annihilation with electrons which due to the quantum effects might be several seconds ie >1200 feet away from the craft.
If something like that was true then it would be a direct experimental test which General Relativity fails: the first such test it has ever failed in more than a century. The same sort of thing that pople at CERN are trying to find with the antimatter-falls-which-way? experiments. GR would then be a dead theory.
Anyone who does, and publishes in such a way that it can be replicatd, such a test is going to win an automatic Nobel prize and be the most famous scientist of the 21st century.
Strange that no-one does, then.
Actually the latest idea is that Evgene accidentally discovered that cigarette smoke was weakly diamagnetic due to graphene present in the fumes and repelled upwards in the "magnetic beam" now known to emanate from spinning superconductors but may not have been understood at the time (aka London moment)
Either that or the effect was a combination of LN2 buoyancy, other equipment in the lab interfering in some way, an actual one in a million chance impurity in the materials which couldn't be replicated and led to some sort of unexpected Higgs field interaction etc.
I believe that they tried this on "Mythbusters" along with a few other experiments but the only effect they could see was ion wind.
"All of which leaves NASA with zero options for resupplying the ISS with crew and supplies until the Russians work out what went wrong on Thursday."
They could send a remote-controlled Soyuz up with some supplies if they don't want to leave the ISS empty. AIUI, the problem is that the current return pod on the ISS has a "use before" date on it. Normally they'd send a Progress up for resupply, but no reason they can't use a Soyuz capsule (outside of cost and smaller cargo capacity) with no crew.
Obviously, they'd prefer to finish their investigation first. But if it came to risking an unmanned flight or abandoning the ISS, I think it's quite reasonable.
NASA doesn't seem to be fit for purpose anymore.
Justs seems to be going backwards after closing down the shuttle programme.
Next step should have been creating space craft that take off and land like normal aircraft.
Isn't there anything they can swipe from the secret alien technology department A51 to get a more viable reusable space craft built?
>>>Isn't there anything they can swipe from the secret alien technology department A51 to get a more viable reusable space craft built?<<<
That's not how it's done! The secret stuff stays secret until there is no other option than it being used publicly for a 'must do' mission.
Secret govt. money develops secret stuff - Public govt. money develops not so secret stuff.
The origin of $1,000 hammer stories is from the early days of spreading the secret costs across the entire expenditure then somebody actually giving a correct raw cost printout to legislators when asked.
Well it's easy then. Simply gold-plate (OK paint is maybe lighter) the rocket with the new untested capsule on top. Then tell Trump it's Trump Tower Florida, and please can he open it. Launch it while he's not looking. Test, sorted!
The first Mercury test was done with a chimp, so I don't see too much difference.
The booster stage failed, but the soyuz capsule worked fine.
Imagine if they could bolt a soyuz onto a SpaceX Falcon, or whatever other combination of reliable sections... There would be no issue now. Part X fails, replace it with known-good part Z from someone else's program.
But no, they wouldn't do that because ... umm ... they want competition or something.
If only life were that simple. But it really isn't. And everything has to be tested with everything else.
They also don't do that because space hardware is all small batch manufactured - they only make a handful a year.
Also, we don't know if this was a Soyuz design flaw - after all it's a well-established and reliable system. Or a one-off event. But it could be that Roscosmos are having quality control issues, and this was one of them. If that's true, no part built by them at the moment can be considered safe. Until they've had a management shake-up and sorted out new and better procedures. That's the most worrying thought. How long was the Apollo program delayed for after Apollo 1? At least a year, if I remember right. And they were spending a lot more cash, in order to achieve quicker results.
It costs the wrong side of $1bn to launch and won't be remotely ready for a manned launch until 2022 at the earliest. Better to launch an unmanned Soyuz capsule to use as a replacement for the current crew (being unmanned there's less concern over another failure).
"the engineering requirements and the thorough testing needed means the timing of those experiments have slipped badly."
The engineering requirements and thorough testing were known about well in advance. They have nothing to do with why the timing has slipped, that's purely down to the people who knew about them not actually taking them into account when creating the original timetable. Whether that's due to incompetence or deliberate lies may be an open question, but at this point there's really no excuse for not understanding the challenges involved in getting to low-Earth orbit given that we've been regularly managing it for over 60 years.
Maybe, but when you're designing new technology you really can't predict timescales that easily. They were given a target that everybody knew they weren't going to achieve, but as long as they were in that ballpark it was expected to be fine. Speed could have been increased a bit by upping the budget, I'm sure.
"Whether that's due to incompetence or deliberate lies may be an open question, but at this point there's really no excuse for not understanding the challenges involved in getting to low-Earth orbit given that we've been regularly managing it for over 60 years."
Yeah, they must be incompetent. It's hardly rocket science is it? Oh no, wait, it literally is rocket science.
My guess is that you have never built anything in your life, and certainly not anything even moderately difficult.
If this were a movie and not real life we would have a scene where two NASA bigwigs (I'm thinking Clint Eastwood as the old duffer in a sinecure job and Dulé Hill as the new-broom director) would be strolling through a certain Kennedy Spaceport attraction while discussing the shortfall in vehicular inventory when one would say, well there *is* an option (and the other would say what, no, you're crazy! and so forth) as the camera swung round to show the men (or perhaps one is a woman - swap Clint Eastwood for Cloris Leachman) standing in front of Atlantis in all its glory as the music swells.
Later, a rag-tag team of former Thiokol employees cobble together a working rocket on which the Old Girl can hitch a lift into LEO carrying an if anything even more rag and quite a bit more tag pair of astronauts, maybe two who washed out of the shuttle program years before or, no! Who were due to fly but got shitcanned when he shuttle was pulled from service. One of these should be Jack Black because he's in everything and the other could be any hot property du jour.
Tension mounts when it turns out that the special rescue module (mothballed at Boeing years before but easily pressed into service by the Boeing CEO who should be like Jason Bourne or the last James Bond) has a stowaway - none other than the treacherous Doctor Smith!
A fight ensues in the shuttle just before docking and it turns out that Doctor Smith is an android with Elmers white glue for blood when his head gets pulled off by the astro who isn't Jack Black! Dr Smith's headless body goes berserk and smashes the shuttle controls, forcing the team to pilot her in on manual controls.
They rescue everyone on the ISS, but cannot undock because the door latch doesn't work! Jack Black, who it is revealed is some sort of electronic genius works with one of the astros from the ISS - maybe a Russian, NO! A Ukranian! - to improvise a conversion of Dr Smith's body into a telepresence Waldo, allowing everyone to escape in the nick of time.
We cut to some exciting CGI of the shuttle re-entering and some stock crises so the actors can shout at each other and work all those switches and levers, all the while an anxious CAPCOM played by that Idris Elbow limey actor tries to establish radio contact.
We cut to a picture of the shuttle breaking through the clouds and a cheer goes up. Montage of the astros returning home followed by a twilight shot of Cloris Leachman (or Clint Eastwood) on the stairs up to Atlantis' door patting the skin of the shuttle and saying "That'll do, girl, that'll do".
DOORS, and the associated Requirements Traceability, >>>AS IMPLEMENTED<<< by the usual PMP suspects, has set back humanity by about ten years per decade.
We'd have been on Mars by now if they'd restrict such onerous processes to *only* those >>>relatively<<< few requirements that are directly tied to Safety (perhaps 5% of the usual Requirements Traceability loadng).
If the spacecraft had curtains, the mindless PMP-imposed Requirements Management of the colour of the curtains would cost $10M. They'd demand formal testing to ensure the colour precisely matched the unnecessary overly-precise specification. There would be a 40-page report. They'd have to redo it because the calibration of the lighting was calibrated by an unapproved lab. They'd delay the launch for a year to recheck the colour of the curtains.
If you disagree, then you're just wrong. You've not seen it first hand.
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