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Moon Space NASA Technology

Ares V Rocket Bigger and Stronger For Moon Mission 295

Posted by timothy
from the ask-your-doctor-if-ares-v-is-right-for-you dept.
wooferhound writes "In a move to make the heavy-lift vehicle more robust (predicting an increased launch thrust requirement) to send four astronauts, a lunar lander plus supplies, NASA has announced the Ares V rocket will be beefed up to cater for our future needs to get man back to the Moon. This huge vehicle is now designed to carry payloads of over 156,600 lb (71,000 kg), some 15,600 lb (or 10%) more than the original concept. Ares V was originally designed to be approximately the same length as the original Saturn V lunar rocket (361 feet or 110 metres long), but to accommodate an extra booster engine and extra payload volume, Ares V will be 381 feet (116 metres) long. This upgrade will be capable of sending far more instrumentation into space, an extra 15,600 lb (7,000 kg, or the equivalent mass of a male African elephant)."
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Ares V Rocket Bigger and Stronger For Moon Mission

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  • Thank god. (Score:5, Funny)

    by sleeping123 (1109587) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @02:53AM (#23988099)
    Elephants have been rather underrepresented in space recently.
  • Bah. If it had been a gas-core nuclear rocket, we could put bases on the moon in a single shot.

    I would have said Orion, but there's even less chance of getting that to the moon, even if you could get rid of the outer space WMD ban -- just imagine the environmentalists' reaction to something that uses nuclear bombs as propulsion.
    • by LS (57954) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:08AM (#23988179) Homepage

      What exactly would be the impact of the radioactive matter expelled by an Orion rocket on the atmosphere and the environment in general? Has there been a study? Do you know? Please enlighten me as you seem to be sure that this type of propulsion is not a problem.

      LS

      • by kvezach (1199717) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:48AM (#23988353)
        The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says this about the subject:

        Freeman Dyson, group leader on the project, estimated back in the '60s that with conventional nuclear weapons, that each launch would cause on average between 0.1 and 1 fatal cancers from the fallout.

        A super-Orion might be more friendly (since it would use fusion bombs), but also might not be (since it would have to use larger bombs, and would need conventional atomic bombs for the first few "strokes" anyhow). In the worst case, one could use GCNR "nuclear lightbulb" (no radioactive release whatsoever) to assemble an Orion in orbit. But even with a GCNR, I'm pretty sure you would have heard "AAH! Hiroshima! Chernobyl!" all the way round the globe.
        • Can a nuclear light bulb design have enough thrust/weight ratio to lift itself and a vehicle and a payload out of a gravity well? The solid-core designs like NERVA were meant to start from orbit because the thrust-to-weight ratios were so bad. A gas-core reactor will have a way better specific impulse, but that's not the same thing as generating a lot of thrust for a given mass of engine.

          • by kvezach (1199717)
            The NERVA page linked to in another post here said they got NERVA up to a T/W of 3 or 4. It's unlikely that a closed cycle gas-core design would be that much heavier than a solid-core one that its gains in thrust were absorbed by its weight, particularly since both engine types heat up some gas passing through it (or around it, in the case of the nuclear lightbulb). Thus there are no obvious contention issues like those that plague ion drives.
        • by imipak (254310)
          "Zis is not nuts, zis is super-nuts!"
        • by delt0r (999393)
          The problem with nuclear rockets is not what happens if they work. But what happens when they go Challenger on you. The current failure rate for rockets is not so good that this can't be discounted credibly. Thats a lot of fallout.
      • by The Master Control P (655590) <`ejkeever' `at' `nerdshack.com'> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:58AM (#23988385)
        Freeman Dyson [wikipedia.org] estimated that launching a 6000 ton Orion would cause .1 to 1 fatal cancers, and it's been shown that efficiency increases with increasing size such that the amount of fissionables expended is almost constant on scales up to nearly 8 million tons.

        The fallout from a launch would be similar to that of a ten-megaton nuke, of which the Soviets and the US detonated quite a few. Seriously, if you had the chance to put an eight million ton starship in orbit in exchange for one random death, would you say no? The chance to set up a self-sustaining moonbase in one move? To visit the entire solar system in short order?
        • Seriously, if you had the chance to put an eight million ton starship in orbit in exchange for one random death, would you say no? The chance to set up a self-sustaining moonbase in one move? To visit the entire solar system in short order?

          We could do that now if we wanted to. It would be expensive but so would be building an Orion.

          As for how: consider using ion thrusters and small fission reactors.

        • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:12AM (#23988431) Homepage

          As long as it's not someone you care about that is.

          • We allow devices to be used that we absolutely KNOW will kill hundreds of thousands of random people every year. They're so dangerous that if you accidentally twitch your hand, it's entirely possible you will die and take other people with you. They're called cars.

            Hell, using your BBQ slightly increases the risk of a random person getting lung cancer from the fumes.

            Everything we do creates some amount of risk. Not to say we shouldn't work to minimize the risk, but it's absurd to worry about this level of statistical significance. Unfortunately, Mr. Dyson dramatically overestimates the public's understanding of risk and probability. He thought he was reassuring people, but most people have the same reaction as you, "OH NOOOOS, SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE????"

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) *

          eight million ton starship in orbit in exchange for one random death, would you say no?

          I find that question so incredibly fucking hypocritical, it borders on insanity just to comprehend it.

          Americans are the most unhealthy people on the planet. Shoving fast food, dioxins, heavy metals, high fructose corn syrup, and god knows what else in shitty prepared foods into their bodies every single day.

          I tried to clean up my act and just ate Tuna as protein with fresh vegetables for 6 months. I now have mercury poi

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by JustOK (667959)

            I now have mercury poisoning since I was not aware that the FDA actually allows small amounts of mercury to be sold in fish.

            Caveat eator.

          • I put the screw in the tuna!
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by CougMerrik (1221450)
            They still sell raw veggies and lean cut meat at your grocery store. Probably even tofu, sushi, etc. As long as you don't reach for the corn syrup, all that stuff should be as healthy for you in America as it would be anywhere else. Lots of people manage healthy eating habits in the US; put the tuna down and grab a cookbook.

            By the way..don't try to switch to raw potatoes (Solanine poisoning) or crawfish (Iodine poisoning) now that your all-tuna diet has failed you. Everything in moderation is probably
        • by damburger (981828)
          It isn't your choice - it is the choice of the random schmuck who gets to die, and of course you can ID them in advance.
    • just imagine the environmentalists' reaction to something that uses nuclear bombs as propulsion.

      And what would your reaction be if they launched the thing within 10000km of your home?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        they can launch it within .1 km of my home as long as they give me nuclear space launch life and house insurance before they do so.

    • Bah. If it had been a gas-core nuclear rocket, we could put bases on the moon in a single shot.

      Which kind? The open-core, spewing radioactive gas into the atmosphere kind? Or, the closed-core, made of unobtainium that is transparent and physically stable at all temperatures even under the influence of heavy radiation.

      I was excited by the prospects of closed-cycle gas core rockets myself for a while, but I'm just not sold on the engineering anymore.

      I would have said Orion, but there's even less chance of getting that to the moon, even if you could get rid of the outer space WMD ban -- just imagine the environmentalists' reaction to something that uses nuclear bombs as propulsion.

      All those "wacky" environmentalists not wanting to set off continuous chain of nukes in the atmosphere on a semi-regular basis. Never mind what the EMI

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kvezach (1199717)
        Which kind?

        The one with the quartz. If one's to use the open-cycle, it'd have to be in space - the velocity of the gas would bring it far away as long as the engine isn't pointed at the Earth. And if one's in space, perhaps the salt-water rocket would work better -- that is, if its particular neutron-absorbing (near?) unobtainium actually exists.

        What are the main engineering problems with the closed-cycle GCNR? As far as I know, the continuous reaction will be outputting EM in a range to which the quar
      • by mangu (126918)

        Which kind? The open-core, spewing radioactive gas into the atmosphere kind? Or, the closed-core, made of unobtainium that is transparent and physically stable at all temperatures even under the influence of heavy radiation.

        There's at least one alternative that's at the same time highly efficient, being able to be throttled in a wide range of power, has all the radioactive material contained, and needs no exotic materials. It was called the "DUmbo" project (a rather dumb name, IMHO), a top-secret developmen

    • even if you could get rid of the outer space WMD ban --

      Honestly.. we're developing "rods from god", etc etc.. i'm sure china and russia both have satellites overhead with releasable warheads.

      Who is going to enforce this? anti-satellite weaponry isn't exactly prolific or well proven through real-life exercises.

      I suppose it would be a good thing for bush 3 (mccain) or bush for (our new pro-fisa obama) to use as an excuse.. "wmd's IN SPAACE"...

      "The war in the vacuum above iraq is on it's 678th day"

      • And exactly, which nation has the most sats that are 5-10x the size need to perform their stated job? Careful where you point the finger.
        Now, with that said, yeah, China and Russia has similar sats in space. That is also why China and Russia have land-based lasers that are capable of hitting our sats. Also, why we are developing the ABL? You did note that the ABL has a nose mounted turrit that is capable of pointing straight up, yes? What is interesting about those 747's is that they are being modified to
      • by kvezach (1199717)
        It's a holdover from the Cold War, basically. The major powers didn't want to militarize space with nuclear weapons platforms and their defenses - or rather, they didn't want to waste resources building ASATs, ASAT counters, counter-counters, more sophisticated platforms, etc..

        Rods from god are "just" conventional weapons, and thus aren't prohibited. I don't imagine the people at ground zero will notice the difference, though. "Ahh, I'm being turned into superheated vapor by a tungsten rod, but at least I
        • "Ahh, I'm being turned into superheated vapor by a tungsten rod, but at least I'm not being turned into superheated vapor by a nuke!"

          have you ever been blown off the face of the earth by a nuke before? well I have, and for that first ten-billionth of a second the stench is horrible! Thank god for those clean tungsten rods.

    • by imipak (254310) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:52AM (#23988789) Journal
      Posit, for the sake of stimulating discussion (feel free to -1 troll me if it helps you to relax):

      I assert that this entire thing is a waste of time money and cycles. A pound to a penny the supposed manned lunar landings are cancelled long before launch. I can believe the Ares-1 will fly, because without that there's no US manned launch capability so big political symbolism, but with the economy guaranteed to be in the toilet for the next five years and with oil permanently at least ten times more expensive than the historical average, "Apollo (slight reprise)" simply won't have enough domestic political support to avoid the axe. No doubt Dubya had something like that scenario in mind when he announced the ludicrous and engineeringly illiterate "first the Moon, then Mars" scheme but denied it the funding in the first place. And with the relative costs of fantastically amazing missions like MRO, MER and Phoenix compared to manned operations, then frankly I'm glad.

  • God bless them, they really do think of everything...


    NASA Engineer: "The extra weight it can carry is equivalent to a male elephant."
    The Press: "Oh yeah, African or Indian?"
    NASA Engineer: "Why African of course."
    The Press: [wanders off trying to find someone to interview who will make them feel smarter]

  • by KGIII (973947)
    Am I the only one? (I should have learned my lesson about asking at /. for video but I haven't.) I don't care *what* the video is made of really. I just really want video with my space stories. When something launches, when something crashes, when something oh, lands on Mars or something... I want video. I don't care if it is computer generated, you (and I) know that the NASA folks made a video to present to someone somewhere.

    Maybe I grew up in the wrong era. I watched, while on detention (recess restrict
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      I don't care *what* the video is made of really. I just really want video with my space stories. When something launches, when something crashes, when something oh, lands on Mars or something... I want video. I don't care if it is computer generated,

      Take it easy Son. I had to walk 50 kilometers uphill in the snow to watch Neil Armstrong take that first step.

      • by KGIII (973947)
        I'll get off yer lawn mister but, well, don't you recall the exciting (even a whole room of excitiment that radiated from person to person) moments of watching the video of them taking off, landing, etc? Hell, when was the ACTUAL landing of a space craft shown live on the major networks? (Crashing, while landing, doesn't count but at least it got media attention though all of the attention was in the wrong way I think.)
    • by durrr (1316311)
      Blame the engineers. They build the vessels as tools for scientific study. All good for themself and other scientists, but for the nontechnical public it's old and boring. We need more HD videorecorders in space.
      • by KGIII (973947)
        I am heavily biased and think that the additional weight would cause to increase a renewed interest in space exploration or understanding (more so with today's youth) so if anyone's got a mod point or two to spare - mod that post up please.
    • Re:Video (Score:5, Interesting)

      by FleaPlus (6935) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:51AM (#23988361) Journal

      Am I the only one? (I should have learned my lesson about asking at /. for video but I haven't.) I don't care *what* the video is made of really. I just really want video with my space stories. When something launches, when something crashes, when something oh, lands on Mars or something... I want video. I don't care if it is computer generated, you (and I) know that the NASA folks made a video to present to someone somewhere.

      Here you go:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PMvS1hQKxM [youtube.com]

      (Computer-generated video from last year of Ares V concept)

      • by KGIII (973947)
        See? Now you are a god, in some small country at least, for that. That was one that I hadn't actually seen and, mind you, I watch a LOT of them as often as I can. So, if someone's got mod points... Fix that for me. :) I'm not certain but I think I actually got to send my name on this mission on a disk as I recall. (Whenever given the chance I point and click and blame alcohol in the morning when my wife wakes up and finds my spreading our names across the galaxy.)
    • Amen. And again I say, amen. It blows my mind that we HAVE A FRICKIN" REAL WORLD SPACE STATION and it gets almost no coverage in the mainstream press. Last coverage I saw beyond page 15 was about the toilet malfunctioning because oooh-funny!

      So, I agree. You agree. We should see more coverage and this should be partnered with more interest on the part of kids, teachers and parents.

      Nice theory. Whatcha gonna do about it?

      Personally, if the group I rent my space from, with their 26,000 square foot building a

  • by Lendrick (314723) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @03:06AM (#23988159) Homepage Journal

    If China manages to put a man on the moon, we'll put a goddamn elephant on the moon, because we're America!

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, putting a Chinese man on the moon is no problem but putting an average weight American man on the moon is (nowadays) as hard a challenge as putting an elephant but the latter just sounds better.

    • Then have the elephant trample the man.
  • That's no moon...that's a male African elephant!
    • by mikelieman (35628)

      Cool. But isn't the *REAL* metric for rockets US$/kg lifted?

      All the capacity in the world won't matter if we can only launch one a month and it costs a billion dollars a launch...

      e.g.: The shuttle's payload is 22,700kg. At a billion a shot, that's $44053.00/kg.

      What's it cost to ship a kg of mass via UPS?

  • Seems like the Moon is a dead end - not much water there, no atmosphere. Mars on the otherhand, has water, a slight atmosphere (to protect against radiation).

    Obviously we haven't even really tried to place a person on Mars yet, and can not do so practically, as opposed to the moon. I guess the Moon could be a learning "tool", so that we can get Mars right.

    I always thought that the excessive radiation present on the Moon would make any long term colonization impossible, due to the doses people would receiv

    • by pembo13 (770295)
      The moon is close by, and has less gravity. Think launchpad.
      • by RustinHWright (1304191) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:29AM (#23988497) Homepage Journal
        Yes. Launchpad.
        And source of materials out of which to build larger vessels and simply bulk matter to provide more shielding for stuff in space. (If we're ever going to have real settlements at L5 we're going to need many tons of matter of whatever the frack is cheapest to protect them from radiation.
        And, if we can mine it and refine it cheaply enough, even "sparklers", low Joule but cheap supplementary rockets.
        And, if nothing else, a place to stop and "catch our breath". If you're planning to climb a mountain, it makes it easier if you have a place to stop a third of the way up to refuel, do repairs, etc. The moon provides that.

        I just don't understand why we have to keep going over this again and again and again any time the idea of going back to the moon is raised. This is basic logistics, people. A base near the top of the gravity well makes it easier to reach anywhere beyond that gravity well. It's just that simple.
    • Whats your point?

      The moon is closer, cheaper, wasn't very well investigated, is essentially stationary, and has a far more direct correlation with Earth. We shouldn't have ever stopped going, and just skipped that whole bullshit with Vietnam.

      Its the perfect platform for a lot of things, some for immediate results, others as practice, and future results. I don't think anyone is really that worried about the Planet suddenly becoming inhabitable, Mars isnt going anywhere and we already have a signifigant amoun

    • by soldeed (765559) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:52AM (#23988573)
      Lunar soil contains; Oxygen 40% Silicon 20% Iron 12% Calcium 8.5% Aluminum 7.3% Magnesium 4.8% Titanium 4.5% Sodium 0.33% Chromium 0.2% Manganese 0.16% Potassium 0.11% Sulfur 540 ppm Carbon 200 ppm Nitrogen 100 ppm Hydrogen 40 ppm Helium 4 28ppm Helium 3 0.01 ppm Don't you think all that stuff would be useful?
    • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @06:23AM (#23988907) Journal
      A couple of things:
      1. The moon almost certainly has water at the poles. In addition, it has plenty of hydrogen/oxygen. So that is a none issue.
      2. The radiation is a none issue. We will almost certainly bury outselves in the ground, wether at the moon or mars (really no choice for long-term living).
      3. The moon has uranium. That provides us CHEAP power. In particular, it provides us power to go places, send big sats, go fast to mars, live on mars, etc.
      4. On the moon, we can build a rail launcher. Since the moon is 1/6 our gravity, it should be relatively cheap and doable (of course that ignores our not having manufacturing there).
      5. If we settle the moon first, then when we go to mars, we send a PERM team i.e. it is a one-way flight.

      Going to the moon is not that bad of an idea.

  • If Ares V can't do it, Arianne 5 will! If we don't explode while launching, that is... :p
    • by damburger (981828) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:48AM (#23988561)
      On a serious note, I don't see why an interplanetary mission can't be assembled from a bunch of ~20t pieces instead of putting it all up in one shot. There are a lot of working, proven 20t launchers (Ariane 5, Delta IV, Proton, Long March 5) so international cooperation would be relatively simple.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ford Prefect (8777)

      Of course, the Soviet Energia [wikipedia.org] beats all of them, hands down.

      A hundred metric tonnes to low Earth orbit!

      Two launches, in 1987 and 1988, both successful (Polypus' problems weren't the launcher's fault) - and then the project was closed down.

      Oh well...

      Of course, it cost an absolute fortune - so much so that it and its sister project Buran (the 'Russian Space Shuttle') arguably contributed to the downfall of the Soviet Union.

  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:14AM (#23988437)
    Your rockets are both strong and big, while Chinese rockets are big in nothing important in good elephant. Of course, if NASA screws up the calculations the front of the rocket will be a lemon avenue flying straightly but as they say, worry to lose is to lead to the evil augury, so you shouldn't worry about that too much. Just don't let the land kill the project to let it going to bed.

    Anyhow, rock on NASA. The wish power are together with you.
    • by glowworm (880177)
      Via Korean, Russian then - because I like the muppets... Swedish

      Your rocket is both powerful and big, big Chinese rocket in it is also important for a good elephant. Of course, when calculated on the front of the rocket, NASA flight for NASA lemon Avenue in a straight line, but as people say, the devil is a precursor to worry about losing the link, so you should worry too much not to speak. Please do not kill only the countries of the project to just go to bed.

      Anyway, NASA cancer. Power, along with yo
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @04:15AM (#23988443) Journal

    The Ares V is certainly cool from a "bigger, shinier" perspective, but not so good from the perspective of wanting to reduce our immense launch costs to something even marginally more manageable. A big part of the (somewhat shoddy) reasoning for going with a shuttle-derived system was that it would be able to make use of currently-existing facilities and infrastructure. It's now looking like the Ares V is getting to be too large to use those facilities, so NASA will have to revamp its facilities, raising the cost even more.

    In general, it was pretty peculiar of NASA to not devise a launch system which would take advantage of what we've learned (the hard way) from the ISS and use in-orbit assembly, which would've allowed NASA to use the already-existing launchers available from the private sector. Instead, NASA decided to compete against the private sector and create a new family of Ares boosters, basically from scratch.

    Here's some interesting commentary from a couple of knowledgeable folks within the aerospace industry:

    http://chairforceengineer.blogspot.com/2008/06/directly-seeing-light.html [blogspot.com]

    In a recent post, I discussed the weight issues associated with Ares V (probably to be renamed Ares VI if the extra RS-68 engine is slipped in.) The rocket is growing to address performance shortfalls, but it has become too heavy for the existing crawlers, too heavy for the existing launch pad, and too heavy for the hard stand on which the mobile launcher sits. I suggested that NASA should have initially determined weight and size limits on their rocket, based on the existing infrastructure, and limited the weight and size of Ares V to fit within those requirements. If that rocket were insufficient to meet the lift requirements for Project Constellation, use two heavy-lifters instead of one heavy-lifter and one crew launcher.

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/archives/2008/03/out_takes.html [transterrestrial.com]

    As noted, the vehicle has come a long way from the originally advertised "Shuttle-derived" system that was supposed to save us so much money and time, and utilize the existing Shuttle infrastructure (though the latter was always a politically-induced pork-driven bug, not a feature, if one wanted to actually lower launch costs). It (like Ares I) is now essentially a new vehicle, including components, though if Ares I ever comes to fruition, Ares V will probably be at least in part derived from it. ...

    So, they're going to launch the Orion, with crew, on an Ares I, and hope that they can get a successful Ares V mission off within four days, because they can't afford the duration. They build this mondo grosso launch vehicle to avoid having to do multiple launches, and yet, they not only have dual launch, but it's one on a tight window. And if they can't get the launch off on time, the lunar mission is scrubbed, and the crew comes back home from LEO, having wasted the cost of an Ares I launch (and an Orion, if they end up not making it reusable).

    This is an affordable, resilient, sustainable infrastructure?

    http://www.transterrestrial.com/archives/2008/06/thoughts_on_the.html [transterrestrial.com]

    The rationale for the heavy lifter has always been to avoid the complication of orbital assembly (apparently, the false lesson learned from our success with assembling ISS is that we should throw away all that experience, and take an entirely different approach for VSE). But it's already a "launch and half" mission, needing both Ares 1 and Ares 56, so they're not even avoiding it--they're only minimizing it. And even if the lunar mission doesn't outgrow the Ares 6, it won't be able to do a Mars mission in a single launch. So if we need to learn to do orbital assembly (and long-term

    • by vought (160908)

      Instead, NASA decided to compete against the private sector and create a new family of Ares boosters, basically from scratch.

      Seriously, this is so naive as to be laughable. You do realize that NASA, in the vast majority of items and processes in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and Constellation, contracted with defense and space contractors, right?

      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        Instead, NASA decided to compete against the private sector and create a new family of Ares boosters, basically from scratch.

        You do realize that NASA, in the vast majority of items and processes in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle and Constellation, contracted with defense and space contractors, right?

        Sure, and the Ares I and Ares V are primarily contracted to ATK. However, the fact remains that NASA is funding the development of two new launchers which will compete (albeit poorly) against existing launchers in an already-crowded rocket marketplace.

  • We have Libraries of Congress for measuring data, furlongs and fortnights for distance and time, but mass was sorely lacking. Leave it to highly trained professionals to come up with a meaningful elephant analogy regarding weight!
  • Dreams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TopSpin (753) * on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:06AM (#23988613) Journal

    First, dear NASA: Permitting whatever mission creep that has led to this embiggining of Ares V is a fatal mistake. Driving up the cost only provides a larger surface on which to paint a bullseye.

    Ares V is a pipe dream. Learn why by reading this [orlandosentinel.com].

    US citizens generally elect the young shiny guy in any given election. McJowls doesn't stand a chance against Obama by that criteria. That means Ares V will whither on the vine after it's defunded to pay off Obama's NEA campaign support (a.k.a 'education').

    Yes, I know Obama's current (dramatically revised) position only threatens 'later stages' of the Constellation program. Ares V is the later stage, because no Moon and no Mars means no need for heavy lift. He'll let NASA build Ares I to replace some fraction of the Shuttle's capability and send the rest of the money off to whichever interest group will deliver the most votes in 2012.

    • You have noticed that the dems are the ones pushing the upped funding of NASA. yes?
      The general dems are NOT going to allow funding to be cut to NASA. Overall, this is about where we want to see ourselves in another 20 years. And I think that most dems have decent enough vision to build the ARES V.
    • Re:Dreams (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:14PM (#23995139) Homepage

      First, dear NASA: Permitting whatever mission creep that has led to this embiggining of Ares V is a fatal mistake. Driving up the cost only provides a larger surface on which to paint a bullseye.


      Dear Topspin: It's not mission creep - it's the way of world. Paper projects are light and cheap, real world projects are neither. Let's take the Saturn V for example - it's paper version had four F1 engines. In the last revision before bending metal, they had to add a fifth F1 (a 20% increase in 1st stage thrust) and despite this Saturn V performance was still barely enough.

  • I'm only up to v 2.09.3030. I'd better check for updates.

  • by ab8ten (551673) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:50AM (#23988783)
    The Ares V is not being super-sized because it's the best way of getting back to the moon. This rocket is the result of NASA administrator Mike Griffin's desire to build the biggest mofo rocket ever built. It is so big, much of the Kennedy Space Center infrastructure will have to be rebuilt. This will cost billions more. The main fuel tank is much wider than the shuttle tank. This requires a new production line, transportation barge and infrastructure at the cape. The 'extended' solid boosters require extensive design work and are not cheap either.

    Meanwhile, the Ares I is ,undersized. At every design review, it is struggling to meet the thrust requirements for getting the Orion capsule into orbit. The Orion itself is suffering as a result, having to be stripped back to the bones before safety systems are carefully added back in.

    So, instead of designing two badly sized, expensive rockets that has almost no hardware re-used from the Shuttle, NASA could be building a direct evolution of that hardware. Luckily, such a design already exists. It's been proposed by NASA engineers twice in the past - after the fatal Shuttle accidents. The idea is simple: Retain the existing Shuttle tank and solids. Place engine on the bottom of the tank. Place a payload on top of the tank. This concept has been around for years, but today it's being promoted as DIRECT.

    http://www.directlauncher.com/ [directlauncher.com]

    lots of discussion here: http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=12379.0 [nasaspaceflight.com]

    This architecture will meet all the lifting requirements for getting back to the room whilst being: Cheaper (by many billions), and Sooner (the 'flight gap' after shuttle retirement is reduced from 6 years to 2. This retains all the technical staff that would otherwise be layed off. A similar brain drain after Apollo did massive damage to NASA and we don't want that to happen again

    I could go on and on. It is obvious that DIRECT is the better option. They are actively lobbying congress and have plenty of support within NASA. In fact, an internal NASA study found that DIRECT was superior to Ares in every way, but this study was squashed by management. With DIRECT, the next president can have astronauts back in space in his administration. But only if his NASA administrator cancels Ares and Chooses DIRECT.
    • by Phairdon (1158023) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @12:13PM (#23991113)

      I work at Marshall Space Flight Center, and I can't get into too much detail about the specifics due to security reasons, but the ARES will fly and the design is coming along nicely. It's beyond naive to suggest that NASA does not want to use the best possible rocket.

      You mention an internal study found DIRECT superior in every way? Can I ask, have you read this study? I have, and it does not say what you suggest that it says. Are you just spouting what you read from a newspaper, or do you have higher access than I do? Newspapers live on sensationalist reporting. Keep in mind that it takes a lot more effort to send a rocket to the moon that it does to send a rocket to orbit. Also, (and I am making up these percentages here but the trend is real) it takes a lot more effort to raise the safety rating from 85% to 95%. I would not sit on top of a DIRECT rocket.

      Additionally, the quality of your opinion goes down further when you mention that almost no shuttle or previous equipment is being reused. That is simply not true. The J-2X engines are a direct evolution from the J-2. The RS-68 is a direct evolution from the Delta IV. The solid rocket boosters and recovery system are also improvements. Not a single solid rocket booster was ever lost on the space shuttle (they are all re-used) and the design for the ARES is almost identical.

      The local newspaper here, The Huntsville Times, ran an article from the Orlando Sentinel that basically says exactly what you posted. The next day they printed a response from a higher up NASA executive. Keep in mind the importance of safety and reliability when humans are on board.

      "NASA has an excellent plan in place for its future space fleet

      The Huntsville Times reprinted an Orlando Sentinel story on June 23 that suggested NASA, now hard at work on the Ares I rocket that will return human explorers to the moon in the next decade, passed too hastily on "Direct 2.0," an alternative next-generation rocket concept some say is worthy of further consideration.

      That decision was not hasty. Nor was it the only alternate concept considered - literally thousands of options were set aside for one compelling reason or another in the run-up to Ares development. Why?

      Because the Ares family is the right set of rockets for the mission.

      It's the best possible solution to our 21st century spacefaring challenges: flying humans routinely to space, supporting groundbreaking research on the International Space Station and sending explorers to the moon and worlds beyond.

      To reach this solution, NASA has embraced a multitude of opinions, as it always has done. We value open debate and rational dissent, and rely daily on the innovative minds and voices of gifted engineers and developers who think around corners and buck conventional wisdom. They have been heard, and their insight has helped set us on our chosen path - which began in earnest in 2005 when NASA announced its formal plan to develop the Constellation Program vehicles: the Ares I and Ares V rockets and the Orion crew capsule, and which have continued to mature ever since.

      Designing any rocket - particularly a rocket intended to accomplish such bold, far-reaching exploration initiatives - is a tough proposition. It takes years of training and rigorous analysis. In getting to where we are today, the agency has been thorough and conscientious in its evaluation of thousands of possible options. On the Ares family alone, we have evaluated more than 1,700 concepts since 2005, using proven, validated launch vehicle design models and techniques.

      Was each rejected option a drawing-board failure, flawed from the start? Not by any means. The prodigious talents of our engineers and developers across NASA and among its partner organizations is second to none.

      But NASA works within its budget to accomplish three goals above all else: maximizing the safety of our crews during launch and spaceflight; ensuring the highest-value, most cost-effective mission operations possible; and increasing the boun

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by khallow (566160)

        I work at Marshall Space Flight Center, and I can't get into too much detail about the specifics due to security reasons, but the ARES will fly and the design is coming along nicely. It's beyond naive to suggest that NASA does not want to use the best possible rocket.

        Ares I isn't even close to launching (2014 for first unmanned launches, ignoring demo launches like the one that might be next year). There's a surprising lack of momentum behind this project. And nothing aside from some J-2X development has been done on Ares V. Maybe Ares V will survive the two and a half presidential terms, but that's a huge gamble. Certainly the "ARES will fly" line is unrealistic.

        Further, if NASA were interested in using "best possible rockets", they'd be going with EELVs over Ares I. M

        • correction (Score:3, Interesting)

          by khallow (566160)

          Atlas V already launches as much as the Ares I theoretically ever will.

          My apologies, Atlas V launches less frequently than I recalled. For 2002-2006, it launched about 3 times every two years. In 2007, it launched 4 times. In 2008, it has launched twice and plans are to launch 5 more times this year. That probably means 5-6 times this year unless a significant accident postpones things. Delta IV has launched less frequently with 1 launch every year from 2002-2006. In 2004, they test launched the first Delta IV Heavy which was a partial success (it had a significant problem but

      • "Not a single solid rocket booster was ever lost on the space shuttle (they are all re-used) and the design for the ARES is almost identical."

        I'll say it in one word...Challenger.

        From what I recall the loss of the orbiter was caused by the failure of the solid rocket booster. Subsequent to the explosion of the shuttle both solid boosters were ordered to self-destruct [nasa.gov]. By my count that is two that were lost during flight.

        Now being really nit-picky, if we count any flight related damage that results in a SRB

  • NASA is designing new rockets for Mars mission. It can be launched two times that weigh what on that moon rocket. And NASA needs few of those to get all the stuff to mars. It was bretty amazing to watch those documents of Mars mission planning.

  • by rbanffy (584143) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @09:53AM (#23989911) Homepage Journal

    I for one welcome our new moon elephant overlords.

One small step for man, one giant stumble for mankind.

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