Over half a century ago the first flight of the Saturn V took place and this launch vehicle, more than any other in history, is the benchmark by which all others are measured. The five F-1 engines in the first stage generated over 7.5 million pounds of thrust and the million-pound-thrust second stage lifted over 100 tons into Low Earth Orbit.
And now, a half a century later, we are ready for the first launch of a very different vehicle. The most controversial feature of the SLS is that it is expendable. Due to the designs of the available components, the RS-25’s and SRB’s, reuse was not considered economical. It is notable that the Space Shuttle used these SRB’s as a cost-cutting measure which led to them being far more expensive to reuse than the originally specified pressure-fed liquid boosters. Likewise, the extreme engineering that went into the RS-25’s in the quest for the necessary power and efficiency made them equally uneconomical “hot rods” that needed to be rebuilt after each flight. A lack of funding for more appropriate reusable engines made reuse of the Space Shuttle engines necessary and a lack of funding for other parts of the Space Launch System has led to delays driving the costs up to very high levels. There is no cheap.
The greatest amount of criticism is leveled at contractor mismanagement and ironically this is also a result of going cheap in that oversight actually costs a great deal of money and cutting back on it results in much higher costs down the road. A very hostile and dishonest popular culture portrayal of the system by the Cult following of a certain company competing for funding has now led to extreme criticism of the new Super Heavy Lift Vehicle. This does American astronauts a great disservice while being a boon to the adversaries of Human Space Flight. These anti-space and anti-American entities love to see the libraries of death-to-SLS internet content generated by gullible fanboys doing their job for them.
The best course for space advocates is to support more missions for the SLS to bring costs down and funding for future iterations replacing the SRB’s with reusable boosters and a module allowing recovery and reuse of the RS-25s. This would realize the original concept of the Space Shuttle; a Saturn V class launch vehicle that sacrifices a single tank on the altar of the rocket equation and reuses everything else.
You know they made sure to never orbit an External Tank as a wet workshop because they were afraid what that would inevitably precipitate? The first time the public saw someone floating inside an empty ET it would have made a giant Skylab the only acceptable ISS. As for the Shuttle not being able to stay up…well, I trust we can just disagree on that and remain open to new ideas. I am not ashamed to admit my views on space are quite fixed on a list of fundamental suppositions. One of those is that LEO is a dead end. After Apollo 8 escaped Earth orbit I don’t think we ever should have went back to LEO. One of the worst wrong turns NASA ever made. I view large GEO crewed platforms, shielded with lunar water, as the primary future Earth Orbit revenue generator. My views are fairly well know due to the intense criticism they receive. The NewSpace Fanboys have no problem posting endless SpaceX adverts and howling at the Martian moons so I do not take kindly to being trolled for simply expressing a different view of the future. I do not mind disagreement though. But there is a point where it becomes malicious nagging and pernicious naysaying. You do not do that of course. You are not one of them.
Tell me how a Space Shuttle could not carry extra life support pallets and solar panels and had the pallets switched out every 3 or 4 months by another shuttle- or simply transferred the lab hab module to another shuttle? Explain it to me Robert and I will delete my comments. I have looked at the shuttle payload and EDO pallets and it seems true to me. I could be missing something though. Unlike fanboys that lie like the rest of us breathe, I trust you to point out my errors. Let me know. I blocked Zed the Troll so we will no longer be reading each other’s mail.
Blah blah blah blah blah….if spacex is not doing it then it can’t be done. Riiiight.
It is EASIER returning the engines without the tankage. Duh. In fact, if launch vehicle development had progressed logically then that would have been how they did it; step by step by first returning the first stage engines and expending tankage, then both the first and second stage engines without tankage, then returning the first stage with the tankage attached, then the second stage with tankage attached (that is essentially what Starship is, a Shuttle external tank with engines, tiles and cargo bay). The third stage would be a wet workshop with that engine doing a free return around the Moon, re-entering and being reused. If the money had been available that is what would have been done with the Saturn V, year after year new iterations until the whole thing was reusable or used in some form.
This deification of a certain entrepreneur is absurd. As if he is the only one that can save us. Phil Bono proposed VTVL years before Elon was even born.
The obscene spending displays of the super-rich are especially outrageous in space. As Bezos remarks thanking his employees for paying for his joyride machine show. Now he has a union to deal with. The number of anti-union zealots that comment here complement the anti-government libertarian elements of NewSpace ideology.
Unions are what made America great. Not capitalism, which nearly destroyed democracy in the 1930’s. Of course the Neoliberals have rewritten an Orwellian reversed version of that history with libraries of think tank generated and paid for propaganda. It was labor unions, and the American communist party (which nobody likes to talk about), that suddenly everyone was joining when they could not feed or house their families, that went to FDR with an ultimatum. They told him if he and his capitalist friends did not want what happened to Tsarist Russia to happen to America’s robber barons that he better do something. And that is where The New Deal, social security, unemployment insurance, medicare, and all the other social entitlement programs came from. And a 91 percent tax rate on billionaires and corporate profits to pay for those safety nets. Unions appear when workers are not paid a living wage- which is happening now. Communists appear when Unions are suppressed. And revolution begins when they start shooting dissidents. Fascists take over when enough thugs take to the streets to enable a strong man to con a ruling minority. FDR kept that cycle from playing out and said his greatest accomplishment was he saved capitalism. See how that works? Space Tourism is a huge red flag.
That tax rate faded and ultimately ended with the Reagan Revolution and now we have space tourists who the rest of us look upon not as astronauts (well, those of us who are not drinking the NewSpace Kool-Aid), but as bizarro fools floating in a radiation bath and vomiting while looking out a window. Fake astronaut wings mean something only to fake human beings. And there seem to be a lot of them commenting here. I have blocked 27 of them so far this week. After I found out disqus had changed their blocking feature to go both ways.
The original concept was by Arthur C. Clarke, who proposed a GEO human-crewed telecom space station where “ISAM” would happen.
An international fleet of large shielded space stations in GEO would solve most of the issues that are becoming problematic in Earth orbit.
The methodology to create these true stations is to first send SHLV upper stages to the Moon, where lunar water will fill their cosmic ray outer envelopes of double-hulled “Fat Workshops.”
These crew compartments would then transit back across the cislunar sea to GEO where they would be connected to other workshops and spun on tethers to provide artificial gravity. An equipment/docking mast would be attached coaxially at the center of the tether system.
The stations would provide three critical functions:
1. They would be immune to even a Carrington level solar event and thus guard against the loss of overhead assets in that event.
2. With “laser brooms” they could continually sweep lower orbits clear of space junk.
3. They would enable the ISAM activities the author proposes.
I just explained to P.K. in another comment that, “Unfortunately, it is true. Mars has always been this gimmick they bring out to distract and run out the clock.”
I hold to a set of fundamental ideas concerning HSF and that seems to drive the fanboys batsh-t crazy because they are mostly opposite of NewSpace Dogma. I don’t do it to antagonize, just to educate.
The couple dozen who would dogpile me with toxic malevolent replies are now blocked with the new disqus feature that goes both ways so I am happy to express my view on this freely;
I do not believe we should be landing on the Moon yet. Make no mistake, I want the Moon turned into a giant factory complex as soon as possible but just landing with some people as a goal is not the way to go. I would suggest first they land robots able to find and process lunar ice into water and propellants. The second step would be for those robot landers to ferry water up to “Fat Workshops” with double hulls to fill them with water as cosmic ray shielding.
Only then….should we send astronauts to the vicinity of the Moon as they will have a place to stay that will protect them from cosmic radiation and solar events. The third step would be to attach a tether system to two workshops and spin them for one gravity. Then astronauts can stay out there for a year or more without suffering dosing and debilitation. The fourth step is to have several of these true space stations equipped with propulsion and utilized as Lunar Cyclers so that transporting people between the Earth and Moon can be accomplished without dosing from solar events while protecting the long duration Cycler crew from dosing and debilitation. The fifth step is to have GEO true Stations as well as Lunar Stations and Cyclers. The sixth step is to then build Human Landing System spacecraft.
And the seventh step is to start building factories on the Moon. All it takes is money and with enough all seven steps could be completed in as little as ten years…like Apollo.