Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lost in Alabama

Take one external tank, add a couple/three RS-68s, plus two four-segment shuttle SRBs, place one steroidally large capsule on top, and you have a Jupiter 120. The Jupiter is the latest heart throb on the "save my job in Florida" circuit. Presumably carrying out 118 iterations past the Robinson's Jupiter 2, the subversive minions at MSFC have been hiding (but getting paid for) their efforts under the ARES 5 advanced technologies development budget (Mr. Emperor, RandS told you where to look several months ago) and just about everyone in Alabama knows about it except our favorite soon-to-be Italian waiter and the man with deficient wardrobe.

And yet, like every other half-baked idea, the Jupiter concept is yet another answer to the wrong question.

So why are our eyes turning red over Jupiter? Since it's the political season, we'll twist a popular quote and just say, "It's the capsule, stupid." Just as the pony-tailed engineered ESAS architecture started from false premises, this shuttle spin-off is designed to carry a 5m capsule and Broom Hilda's trappings. For what should be a less than six hour flight to/from the space station, just why do you need to carry all that weight and volume along for on the short rides?

(And isn't COTS taking care of that mission anyway, snicker snicker.)

Well, we're also going to the moon, you say? Ok, well, we didn't need quite that much space per person on Apollo to get back and forth, now did we? And, what about using some of that space in the lunar lander to provide habitability for the three day ride. You're going to have to live in that space for maybe nine days anyway on the moon. So, why, oh, why, do we need to carry the big beast up and down through the atmosphere?

Our friends, the Russians and the Chinese, have it figured out. Use a small capsule to get up and down through the atmosphere, attaching some nearby, throw away, volume for more homey accommodations. This approach minimizes the size, weight, and complexity of all of the other things that affect safety going up and coming down through the atmosphere (e.g., abort system, parachutes, airbags, etc.). And that's where this whole started, wasn't it? "Soon, simple, SAFE."

When you try to develop something like a strategic exploration architecture in 60 days, you're bound to make mistakes. Every schedule slip and cost overrun since then pays tribute to that.

But, we digress. Back to the Jupiter 120. Given that it avoids the problem at the root of the exploration architecture, what other fall-out can we expect going forward? First, the safety issue. It's a brand new rocket. Kudos to the designers for using off-the-shelf parts, sort of. You would still have to man-rate the RS-68s and integrate the whole thing. But, its first flight will be just that, its FIRST flight. All of those millions of parts working together for the first time. Experienced S&MA folks will want a number of flights (call it 10) to gather the statistics to demonstrate its safety.

But, you say we put two guys in the cockpit of the first space shuttle to lift-off. Given the broken struts, thermal clips, and foam that flew off that vehicle, do you still think that was such a smart decision in retrospect? Spaceflight is a risky business, you say? Negligence should be hard for an engineer to sleep with at night (unless you're the chief engineer of the universe). Only when we can look in the mirror and say to ourselves that we started from first principles and did the very best job we could with the resources we have, should we commit our friends to fate.

Pssst! You-who! We have two rockets over here that are flying already, have a pretty good track record, have a significant amount of previous generations of heritage in them, and, by the way...they are already paid for! We just need a right-sized capsule (or space plane!) to fit on top and we can close the gap for you (and then some) without Ms. Mikulski's $2B. Did we mention closing the gap? That means those jobs in Florida stay put, too.

Finally, the Jupiter 120 is an evolutionary dead end. In its "heavy" form, it tops out around 92 mT. With the lunar surface support studies indicating that a lunar base will require two 140 mT flights a year to keep it stocked with air, water, and food (and those blu-ray disks for those long lunar nights), the price tag for the many measly Jupiter-heavies will sink it in the end.

It should be a crime to appropriate budget resources for such short-sighted ideas, even when the money is being siphoned off from shorter sighted ideas. But when you are friends with the Alabama sheriff you can get away with things. No, at this point we need some enlightenment, we need the everyreadys. We don't need Gene Kranz telling us to stay the course, lighting a candle in a thunderstorm.


Anonymous said...

Enlightenment - two EELVs, the Atlas and Delta, and the so called Delta V - space shuttle main engine whatnot reusability demonstrator thingum, using just those 14 or so engines.

Plus a couple of COTS vehicles and a whole host of international assets.

No heavies need apply.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your assessment that you can more cost effectively do moon missions with a few medium lift launchers such as COTS or EELVs than you could with big HLVs.

Still, your number regarding the J-232s lift capability is low. It can lift 106 metric tonnes, not just the 92 you stated. Those are LEO numbers, not payload to trans-lunar injection.

Even if the J-232 could only lift 92 tonnes, though, it would still only take three launches a year to provide the approximately 280 tonnes of needed payload, as opposed to two Ares VIs. Flying three Jupiters a year would cost less than half as much as flying two Ares VIs. The costs wouldn't have to "sink in", because they would be lower to start with.

Where is the evolutionary capability of the already too big for the crawler Ares VI, and why would you even want anything bigger?

Like I said, I agree with your sentiments regarding the EELVs, but I don't believe your comparison of DIRECT to ARES is fair.

Anonymous said...

106 metric tons. Wow. That's pretty darn good for an imaginary rocket!

Damocles said...

First, the Direct concept is not new. It has been around for a couple of years and essentially has it's roots in NLS.

Direct is the most politically viable option for heavy-lift to the Moon. 2 lauches of a Jupiter 232 can send more mass to the moon than Griffin's Ares I and Ares V.

The Jupiter 120 not only has enough of a performance margin for Orion to Iss, but can accommodate cargo as well.

Face it, the 5m capsule will be built. You eelv fanboys lost a long time ago, the architecture is going to be shuttle derived, it's only a question of how much.

If you could launch Orion by 2012 on a Jupiter 120 you shorten the gap and save much of the workforce now in place. You spend far less in development dollars than the ARES system. You use the same infrastructure STS does instead of building new MLPs doing extensive pad/VAB modification. That is more politically viable than sitting around for 6 years sending astronauts to Baikonur.

Yet you seem to gloss over the facts as if it's some afterthought someone has brought up after dinner. An internal NASA team had concluded that Direct has better LOC/LOM numbers than Ares. The team was quietly disbanded and scattered to the 4 corners of NASA because the answer was not what the emperor wanted to hear.....

Anonymous said...

Face it, the 5m capsule will be built. You EELV fanboys lost a long time ago, the architecture is going to be shuttle derived, it's only a question of how much.

Hahahahahah hahahah ahahah ...

You murkans are not only ignorant, you're delusional :

You murkans need a five meter prima donna capsule almost as much as you need a 10 trillion dollar national debt, an unwinnable war and a congress that stumbles over itself to relieve you of your constitutional rights.

You bought it, you deserve it.

Damocles said...


I love how you change the subject concerning my comment about Direct. Congress has mandated Nasa to use to the fullest extent possible SDLV heritage. As far as your comments about the budget, "unwinnable war" and your preconceived notions about my political views, don't presume anything. I've defended this country during war, have you? You call me ignorant yet instead of debating my points about Direct, you have to go elsewhere to attack me. You fail.

Anonymous said...

Congress has mandated NASA

Yada yada yada you.

Reality mandates otherwise.

Who do you think is gonna win here?

Damocles said...

I'm simply stating facts while you're just rambling.

Ares V won't survive not flying for another couple of administrations. The reality is that Direct has a LOT of support. Reality is that the Ares architecture is going to go forward regardless until something bad happens or the cost gets too high.

You are too simplistic to have a decent debate with. At least I'm trying to keep the debate on topic while you spout babble. I'm done here. Apparently this comment section isn't for differing viewpoints. You must be an Obama follower....

You haven't "won" anything because you haven't argued the points about Direct that I've posted, all of which are fact. Your argument reeks of Kool-Aid...

Anonymous said...

You are too simplistic to have a decent debate with.

If you want to debate PHYSICS with real numbers, you go right ahead.

Reality is tough, but after a while, you'll get used to it. Go ahead and try it, you might just like it.

Damocles said...

Again KT you engage in holier-than-thou sarcasm while avoiding the issue.

Sean O'Keefe tried develop an eelv-based architecture to go to the moon. Why is he no longer the NASA administrator?

How much money do you think it would cost to man-rate an EELV vs. using what you already have? Any EELV we have cannot put a CEV into orbit without modification, and I doubt they are going to downsize the spacecraft. That's reality for you.

Anonymous said...

Again KT you engage in holier-than-thou sarcasm while avoiding the issue.

The issue is physics pure and simple.

Sean O'Keefe tried develop an eelv-based architecture to go to the moon. Why is he no longer the NASA administrator?

No he didn't, he was a bureaucrat, passing time, and spending money.

You are singularly uninformed.

How much money do you think it would cost to man-rate an EELV vs. using what you already have?

What's money?

No, better yet, what money?

Physicist :

Payload a real rocket deliver to low earth orbit right now, today.

You people need to GROW UP.

Carlos said...

You people need to GROW UP."

LOL! Who do you think you're talking to? I got news for ya KT, you don't know everything and you don't have all the answers. Why don't you take a long walk off a short pier. Good day to you.

Anonymous said...

you don't know everything and you don't have all the answers.

I'm absolutely sure the solution to manned space flight isn't an inline SRB with a high performance upper stage sitting on top of it, from fundamental physical arguments alone.

It's also quite clear from Ares IV and Direct that HEAVY LIFT isn't the solution to manned space flight either. You idiots can scream and hollar all you want, you are the guys that ran up a 10 trillion dollar national debt pursuing outright folly, not me.

My conscience is entirely clear.

I have a short concrete pier, which I built myself out of locally available materials. It sits in the Atlantic ocean exposed to the weather, and has already survived a category 3 hurricane.

I know piers, as well.

Anonymous said...

So NASA's measly budget somehow contributed more to the "10 trillion dollar national debt" than the prescription drug program or the Iraq war?

This new learning astounds me!

Anonymous said...

Let's just get one thing straight.

I will never stop criticizing ESAS, even if it does manage to fly.

That being said, NASA must get dollars from the pool, and the pool is empty. You people are like Easter Islanders, who suddenly realized that they have neglected to build a boat, after they have chopped down all the trees.

The ESAS architecture will do nothing to appreciably advance the state of the art of rocketry.

History will not be kind to you.

Anonymous said...

So now the DIRECT concept is part of the "ESAS architecture"?

The learning continues. Thank you so much for lifting the veil of my ignorance.

Anonymous said...

It uses RS-68s, ETs and has a bloated and unnecessarily heavy capsule on the top of it, it's all ESAS, just a bit smaller. You just don't 'get it'.

What is the application that they intend to use Direct for? Apollo 2.0.

Again, you just don't get it. No amount of satire and sarcasm of Rocket Man will bring you around.

Your understanding of physics is demonstrably weak, you have nothing to offer this forum except more Michael Griffin (GWB) cheerleading.

Not only will history be harsh to you, but reality itself will be extraordinarily cruel to you, in real time, you know, time that you need to launch rockets, that you already have, but fail to use.

When your brain is a whacked out on steroids that yours appears to be, no amount of rational debate will convince you of the folly of your ways, and since you are unable to grasp the simplest satire presented to you here, we all anxiously await reality to bring you back to Earth.

It won't be long now. If you really want to fly an RS-68, right now, I can suggest the Delta IV Medium.

You're gonna need a better capsule.

Hahahah ahahaha ahahaha ha ha ha.

You people are so stupid you don't even realize the entire world is laughing their asses off at you.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Michael Griffin is DIRECT's biggest fan.

He even has a T-shirt.

Really. I saw it.

Rocket Man said...

Aside from the snits, we would like to respond to a couple of comments.

a.) Evolutionary capability of shuttle derived hardware. There isn't much in the ARES family. But we have seen Atlas V Phase III designs up around 140 mT. If you want one family of rockets to minimize life cycle costs, that is one option. So what's going wrong with the single family ARES? First, there isn't much commonality in a 4 segment shuttle SRB and a 5/5.5 segment, new propellant loaded, bladder punishing SRB. Second, does anybody remember the rocket equation anymore? Single stage to orbit just isn't very mass efficient.
b.)A 5 m capsule is not inevitable. Just ask the skunkies about CEV-lite. Uses all the same systems inside a scaled diameter. We'll see which one flies first.
c.)Direct team was disbanded. Check the dates on the latest slides and tell us when that happened?
d.)O'Keefe is no longer administrator because the Bushies subsumed control from the Chenyites in the second term, not because he was overseeing the wrong answer.
b.)There is room for everyone's comments here. Only through a thorough and open discussion can the truth be approached. Stating a conclusion and working backwards to it is the wasy ESAS came together...not the way RandS works.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rocket Man, it looks like Google's AJAX 2.0 needs a little further work as well. It wasn't me.


Redacted Link

Ross said...

Whoever it is doing this blog, I'd love a chance to try to convince you differently in a private discussion.

Would you please contact me by email or over on using a Private Message.

Anonymous said...

So you think that solid rocket boosters are going to be competitive with liquid powered boosters in the 21st century? Get a grip man.

You think Rocket Man is gonna blow his cover? Man, you are 'out there'.

Steve Harrington said...

The hardest part of any rocket project is getting the money to make it happen. The engineering is trivial compared to raising the money. When president Bush proposed the VSE, he was still dreaming that the war in Iraq would go well, with all the Iraqis converting to Christianity and Capitalism and happily signing onerous oil contracts with Exxon.
Since the economy is tanking, and we need to spend money on education, infrastructure and technology to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we can't afford to develop any of the vehicle designs (Ares, Jupiter, Direct) to get us to the moon. While we are arguing which one is best, we also need to consider what is best for out country as a whole, because partisan bickering is getting us nowhere.


Anonymous said...

Kettle: "When president Bush proposed the VSE, he was still dreaming that the war in Iraq would go well, with all the Iraqis converting to Christianity and Capitalism and happily signing onerous oil contracts with Exxon."

Pot: "While we are arguing which one is best, we also need to consider what is best for out country as a whole, because partisan bickering is getting us nowhere."

Anonymous said...

Black : Reality.

Meanwhile, physicists continue to argue physics with nature, and nature always wins. What's up with that?

Veritas said...

I know what reality is! Reality is that Thomas Lee Elifritz is an inbred moron who is retarded enough to think he is fooling anyone calling himslef "kT".

That's where his backwards, inbred thinking belongs, at the Cretacious-Tertiary boundary with all the other dead dinosaurs.

Anonymous said...

Go Veritas! Go!

Thomas Lee Elifritz (a.k.a. kt) not an Engineer?

Ah Hahahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

I'm enough of an engineer to know the difference between my perception of reality and my mathematical, numerical and computational models of reality, and what reality really is.

Only the vain think they really know what reality really is.

Veritas needs to go back to posting on his local Craigslist rants and raves. He's entirely at home there.

Anonymous said...

kt: I read the COTS 2 proposal and got a good laugh.