Sunday, July 5, 2009

Virtual Reality

It's the summer movie season and the computer graphic artists have been working overtime to entertain us. After seeing one of the top ticket sellers, you were probably a little bit more apprehensive about your blender transforming into something a little bit more aggressive this weekend. Good luck with the toaster tomorrow morning. And. heaven forbid you are driving a yellow Camaro to work.

Even more scary though, is the damn-near-real-looking computer animations we've been seeing coming out of the Constellation Program Office. Ares 1-X, Ares 1, Ares 5, Orion, Shuttle Sidemount, moon missions, and Mars missions. You can almost hear the Viceroys, "if we make it look real, it will become real." If the money being expended on these movies was instead being applied to some of the problems being encountered, we might actually have been closing the gap.

No need to be afraid of that happening though. Just keep telling yourself, "it's only a movie."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Did anyone read Griffin's half page missive on his pride and joy in the Huntsville Times?

I had no idea just how disconnected program management can be from reality! His assertions were astounding to say the least.

One thing is for certain, he will tolerate no scrutiny of his baby! Apparently nobody knows how to build rockets but him. If that is true, while the thousands of minions on the program? Anyone who questions his wisdom is an idiot.

I read the diatribe with disbelief increasing exponentially with each passing minute. Then I turned the page only to see an interview with Gary Lyles and wound up having to stretch the bounds of incredulity further than I had ever imagined.

Is Ares a modern version of Moby Dick? Is Starbuck about to give up all hope and humanity in pursuit of the white whale? The irrational has now become the norm.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing this out, because the first thing I thought when I saw the shuttle sidemount presentation during the public hearing was "WTF?"

I think John Shannon himself was actually a little embarrassed about it if you go back and watch it again.

How did NASA find the motivation and the money to create such a long, complicated, impressive video for something that NASA doesn't even support? Was the plan to come up with something that *looked* better than the non-NASA alternatives, yet was in NASA control so they could tweak it to make Ares look good?

BenRG said...

@ Anonymous (5/7 @5:43pm)

Well, if nothing else, I think that the experience of being the public face of the hastily-conceived 'plan-B' has apparently made Mr. Shannon think very carefully about whether the Stick and Bloat are automatically the way to go. If a major program manager tells the Viceroys he has doubts (and the Commission knows about it too), things could easily get very, very interesting.

Sidemount has a lot of advantages but, ultimately, it is only a 'our budget has been cut' emergency fall-back. You'd get a far more flexible system if you stuck the engines on the bottom of the tank and the payload on top of the tank in an 'in-line' configuration. In-line is also good for crewed launches as you don't have the problem of the mass of the ET blocking abort trajectories.

Hmm... Now, what does that remind me of?

Anonymous said...

How did NASA find the motivation and the money to create such a long, complicated, impressive video for something that NASA doesn't even support?

You need to question the last three words of the sentence.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually kind of fond of SD-HLV or Shuttle-C
or whatever you want to call it this week.

It's imperfect and the NASA tech staff is ill suited to design it, but it starts with a reasonable shot.
The SSME's are in place, you reuse all the Ground equipment, it's basically Shuttle with updated avioinics.

If you did an EELV for the capsule to ISS and flew Shuttle-C, you would be close to a modular architecture. If you later replaced the SRB's with big pressure fed liquids, you'd simplify a lot of stuff, and still keep the lines running.

if you wanted to toss 10% of your performance i'd replace teh SSME's with RS-68's. It's a lot of work but you'd be along the road to an evolved booster, and if you ultimately replaced the SRB's with Pressue fed liquid's you would have an all liquid vehicle.

Anonymous said...

The original USAF manager of DC-X once said “Fine, I’ll meet you at White Sands next year. You bring your viewgraphs, I’ll bring my rocket!”
And he did.

Anonymous said...

The Space Shuttle Program probably has the motivation and the money.

kT said...

if you ultimately replaced the SRB's with Pressure fed liquid's you would have an all liquid vehicle.

Pressure fed, huh? Oh sure ...

So tell me then why are you side mounting again? Because you can't design a straight stack is it?

Anonymous said...

the only reason to start with SD-HLV is
because so much is known.
You stay with the MLP, The Launch Complex,
the Gantry's don't change, the SRB's stay the same,
the ET stays the same, the SSME stays the same.

What is new is the fairing and the internal stuff
of the payloads.

kT said...

the SSME stays the same.

Well that claim seems to directly conflict with my observation that the SSMEs are returned by the shuttle after every flight, whereas with most of the proposed heavy life shuttle derived vehicles, they are not.

Can you explain that discrepancy away with some inadequate hand waving arguments, or do you just choose to continue to ignore it?

Anonymous said...

Well that claim seems to directly conflict with my observation that the SSMEs are returned by the shuttle after every flight, whereas with most of the proposed heavy life shuttle derived vehicles, they are not.


it's okay to throw out a 50 million dollar SSME if you enable a multi billion dollar booster.

The folks at Rocketdyne would be thrilled to reopen production and start turning out SSME's if they had a customer.

kT said...

it's okay to throw out a 50 million dollar SSME if you enable a multi billion dollar booster.

Er ... no ... it's not. You can't pay for multibillion dollar boosters, they won't be ready in time, and by the time they appear they'll be obsolete. The reason you have multibillion dollar boosters is precisely because you are throwing away engines and stages that you don't yet have, because they are fantasies in your mind.

SSMEs are here right now. You have fourteen of them at the most. Throw them away, and you've got none.

I guess you just don't 'get it'. But that's ok, we can't expect anonymous logic to be coherent.

On the other hand, you can read white papers from smart people :

Smart Person

Pissed Off Smart Person