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First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft 191

Posted by timothy
from the space-porn dept.
oliderid writes "The first official image of a Russian-European manned spacecraft has been unveiled. It is designed to replace the Soyuz vehicle currently in use by Russia and will allow Europe to participate directly in crew transportation.The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon, rivaling the US Ares/Orion system. This project is the Plan A for the European Space agency. The plan B is an evolution of the ATV proposed by a consortium of European companies led by Astrium."
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First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft

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  • Go Europe! (Score:4, Funny)

    by xpuppykickerx (1290760) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @09:58AM (#24303603)
    They can go visit the Moon, but the US has already claimed it with the cunning use of flags.
    • by rvw (755107) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:05AM (#24303703)

      They can go visit the Moon, but the US has already claimed it with the cunning use of flags.

      Yeah they claimed it, but we're going to take it! Muhahaha!!!!! :-P

      • Re:Go Europe! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by el_coyotexdk (1045108) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:26AM (#24304051)
        If we go there, who is going to stop us from removing the flags and claiming they never were there. All the conspiracy theorists would blieve us anyway. And the US doesnt have anything at the moment that can go to the moon :)
        • by 4D6963 (933028)

          All the conspiracy theorists would blieve us anyway

          You mean all the 0.003% of the population they represent? Hmmm.. indeed, you don't want that...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            I would love to believe that 0.003% number. However, I'm afraid, from personal experience, that the number of people not believing men were actually on the moon is freeking HUGE! I know some (otherwise) intelligent and educated people who are "sure" the moon landings were faked.

            The world sometimes *is* a scary place...
            • by MaWeiTao (908546)

              I'm not sure what sort of people you know, but I don't know a single person who believes the moon landings were faked. And more than that, they think its ridiculous anyone would suggest otherwise.

              • I know people that would question anything that the government says. If the government says crime is down, they'd refute it. If the government says that man has been to the moon, they'd give it a healthy dose of scepticism. If the government says that the moon isn't, in fact, made of cheese, they'd still pack crackers in their rocket ships.

        • This poses an interesting concept: how to destroy something on the moon?

          Say you're an astronaut tasked with removing a non-US flag from the lunar surface. What the hell do you do with it?

          * You can't hide it in your return vessel - someone might find it.
          * You can't "space" it once on your return vector since it might be spotted, plus the airlock activity would show in the mission log.
          * Burning it is out of the question.

          I guess that leaves "put it under a rock" as your only option, but someone could stumble

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord Lode (1290856)
      [not serious] No they didn't really place flags there, because it was fake! Here's the proof [stuffucanuse.com] [/not serious]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon? That's something I've always wondered.

      It would shut a lot of people up pretty quickly.

      Well that, or talk about how we just tied the thing to a missile and shot it at the moon like a javelin...

      • Rover? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Illbay (700081) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:40AM (#24305351) Journal

        Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon?

        Well, our esteemed Houston (Democrat) Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that the Mars Pathfinder could do that for us [nationalreview.com].

        But I guess then they'd claim Pathfinder [nasa.gov] was fake.

      • Re:Go Europe! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:25PM (#24306185)
        You could never, ever see the Apollo flags on the moon through a telescope. Partly it's because they are very, very small. But, mostly it's because they were not left behind. What is left behind on the moon are the LEM descent modules, plus miscellaneous equipment like those rover buggies from the later missions. Those are still too small to be seen from a telescope. However, once the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launches later this year, it's LROC camera (a close cousin of the HIRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) should be able to see evidence of the Apollo missions.
      • Is there any way we can look through a telescope from Earth and see the flag on the moon?

        Flag on the moon. How did it get there? Secret data. Pictures of the Moon. Secret Data, never before outside the Kremlin. Manâ(TM)s first rocket to the Moon.

        • There is plenty of proof that we went to the moon with out looking for the flags.

          The first if the radio signals themselves that the moon mission used. Those messages where on an open channel so anyone could listen in. You bet the Soviets where listening in to every word said. They would have went over those communications with a tweezers and microscope. If they found anything specious they would have screamed bullshit. Plus you know they had spies inside nasa watching everything.

          The only people wit

      • Re:Go Europe! (Score:5, Informative)

        by camperdave (969942) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @01:24PM (#24307287) Journal
        The Apollo astronauts left retroreflectors [ucsd.edu] on the moon. These are devices that reflect a laser beam back in the direction it came from. If you were to shine a laser beam at the moon, you would see its reflection (given a powerful enough laser).
      • When I meet a lunar landing skeptic, I tell them about the LLRE [wikipedia.org] laser ranging program. In short, during Apollo, we put a bunch of reflectors on the Moon, and to this day, we shoot lasers at them to gauge the precise distance from the Earth to the Moon. Kind of hard to fake that on a soundstage.

      • I remember seeing an actual video of the command module orbiting the moon taken through a big ass schmidt-cassegrainian camera telescope, you could just barley recognize the CM and it as on the ragged edge of the usage resolution. To image the flag from Earth or LEO is probably impossible but the Hubble would be the tool of choice to find out for sure.

    • by oni (41625)

      the US has already claimed it

      "Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the moon. We came in peace for all mankind."

      I wonder if China or Russia would make such a profound and inclusive statement.

  • the hell? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:01AM (#24303645)

    Looks like a goddamn iCapsule. Damn you, Jobs!

    Anyone else getting depressed with the space race? We've been at it for decades and the latest and greatest the Ruskies and Americans come up with looks like pretty much the same shit we've been doing for years, or in America's case, a 30 year wasted effort and then we come back to capsules. Repackaging the same old shit, up the price and call it a new version for the future, where have I seen this before? Oh, right, Microsoft. Apollo would be something along the lines of Win9x, better than what came before but not great. The shuttle would be like WinMil, we skipped XP and went straight to Vista with this Constellation debacle, and once that fails the next next shuttle successor will be something like Windows 7, a looming future failure.

    *sigh*

    • Re:the hell? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cyberax (705495) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:05AM (#24303719)

      The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

      There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets. That's why there's no revolutions in spacecraft-building.

      We need something like space-plane, launch loops or space elevator for new space revolution.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:32AM (#24304121)
        The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

        I thought they pushed -- opposite and equal reaction and all that
        • by rrohbeck (944847) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @02:54PM (#24309011)

          The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

          I thought they pushed -- opposite and equal reaction and all that

          They blow.

          Reminds me of the woman at HP Germany where I gave a training many years ago. When we talked about a cooling fan, she asked: "Does it suck or blow?" Yes I was able to control my face, but it was hard.

      • Re:the hell? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:32AM (#24304123)

        The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

        There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets. That's why there's no revolutions in spacecraft-building.

        We need something like space-plane, launch loops or space elevator for new space revolution.

        Indeed. I always thought space elevators seemed so fantastic as to be beyond belief but damned if that might become practical before the seemingly less-challenging Buck Rogers rockets.

        I always liked the idea for the old Orion drive ships. "We're not going to be building these things like dainty tinfoil creations, they'll be welded together in drydocks like navy destroyers and weigh about as much. Float 'em out to see, light off the a-bombs, they can handle the weight." Now I don't think even Dick Cheney could go along with the idea of a bomb-powered ship but I wonder if anti-matter would be a suitable replacement charge? Aside from the issue of not being able to manufacture it in any sort of significant quantity, I'm wondering how bad the gamma flashes would be. Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean? How much ocean water would it take to block the rays? Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

        I've heard some other crazy ideas for non-chemical rockets. One design has pellets of deuterium dropped into a chamber where they are precisely hit by multiple lasers and causes a tiny fusion explosion that is forced out the bottom of the ship, giving a far better bang for the buck than conventional propellants.

        It just seems like we're rehashing the way things were done before instead of coming up with something new. Is it that the technology is so bleedin' difficult to invent, is it a lack of money and political will, or would the danger of the technology be so great that there's no way in hell anyone would sign off on it? I mean, we could have built Orion in the 50's, we could crash-build one of those things in the event of some planetary emergency (i.e. needing to get Bruce Willis up to an asteroid to blow up), but nothing short of that would convince people to use nukes for go-juice.

        • by NiceGeek (126629)

          "I've heard some other crazy ideas for non-chemical rockets. One design has pellets of deuterium dropped into a chamber where they are precisely hit by multiple lasers and causes a tiny fusion explosion that is forced out the bottom of the ship, giving a far better bang for the buck than conventional propellants."

          Isn't that the description for the Enterprise's impulse drive?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by sexybomber (740588)

          Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean? How much ocean water would it take to block the rays? Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

          Uh, I always thought that the Orion system was intended to be used in space (where fallout isn't exactly a problem), rather than for getting the vehicle off the ground. That said, and I digress here, it would actually be a decent answer to the whole nuclear proliferation problem:

          1. US and Russia draw up specs for nuke-pro

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ianare (1132971)

            4. BOOM. (Yeah, I know, in space, nobody can hear you detonate your nuclear weapons. Bear with me here.) Ship is now traveling very fast away from point of detonation.

            a. it would be inefficient, as only a small portion of the blast would be used to actually propel the craft, the rest would just go off into space.
            b. it could only be used for non-fragile payloads (i.e. water, food) due to the sudden acceleration.
            c. how do you control direction ?

            then there's the political issues ...

            • Re:the hell? (Score:5, Informative)

              by budgenator (254554) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:13PM (#24305927) Journal

              The blast is deceptive, it is generated by the released gamma radiation being absorbed by surrounding matter rather than by the contents of the bomb absorbing energy. On Earth nuclear explosions have a big blast because their is plenty of atmosphere to absorb the gamma, radiate less energetic photons, and expand, a nuclear burst in the water is much less effective blast-wise than an airburst and a in-ground blast is down-right disappointing. In space there is no practically atmosphere so there is little to expand due to the energy release except for the ablative coatings in the engines themselves. Eventually we'll be pushing asteroids around by detonating nuc's near them which will vaporize the surface facing the release and generating the expanding reaction mass.

              • by ianare (1132971)
                Interesting, thanks for the correction.
                However, wouldn't it make more sense to have a controlled output rather than a big blast ?
              • On Earth nuclear explosions have a big blast because their is plenty of atmosphere to absorb the gamma, radiate less energetic photons, and expand, a nuclear burst in the water is much less effective blast-wise than an airburst

                What, you don't think water absorbs the energies from the bomb (gamma and x-rays) in the same way that the atmosphere does?

            • it would be inefficient, as only a small portion of the blast would be used to actually propel the craft, the rest would just go off into space.

              That's why Orion pulse units have focusing systems to focus more of the blast in the direction of the vehicle being propelled.

              it could only be used for non-fragile payloads (i.e. water, food) due to the sudden acceleration.

              Nope, pusher plates mounted on shock absorbers absorb the blast and deliver it smoothly to the main vehicle.

              how do you control di

            • by oni (41625)

              a. it would be inefficient, as only a small portion of the blast would be used to actually propel the craft, the rest would just go off into space.

              Inefficient compared to what? An orion drive has the highest ISP of any propulsion system possible with our technology. In other words, it's *still* more efficient than a regular rocket.

              b. it could only be used for non-fragile payloads (i.e. water, food) due to the sudden acceleration.

              false. Shock absorbers would be used. See project orion [wikipedia.org]. This has been studied by engineers a lot smarter than you or I.

              c. how do you control direction ?

              This question shows an incredible ignorance of how space travel works. You seem to be imagining a need to turn a corner.

              then there's the political issues

              Only because we're all pansies. An orion drive operating in outer space wouldn'

        • by vlm (69642)

          Aside from the issue of not being able to manufacture it in any sort of significant quantity,

          Yeah, other than that, magic pixie dust would be even better

          Would it be safe if we towed launch vehicles out in the middle of the ocean?

          In summary yes as it would be far less polluting than the numerous above ground nuclear tests that were done.

          Would there be any ionizing radiation to produce fallout?

          Mostly no. The components would probably not be heavy metals that fission into terribly radioactive substances. Why use anti-uranium when anti-hydrogen is probably easier to deal with. Also nukes throw tons of neutrons out making massive neutron activated fallout problems whereas the antimatter reaction throws out lots of gammas which ar

        • Now I don't think even Dick Cheney could go along with the idea of a bomb-powered ship but I wonder if anti-matter would be a suitable replacement charge?

          The problem is storing and transporting the antimatter. It can't be done reliably. So instead, you'd need to create the antimatter on board the ship. That'd need to be a pretty damn big ship.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kestasjk (933987)
        Google the Orion project; space launches with nukes, payloads that could carry the entire ISS up in one go, along with a few spares, large enough to make inter-planetary colonization realistic, and it's not science fiction.

        The problem is the fallout from the bombs of course. But if you take that radiation in perspective it does make you wonder if that would be a show-stopper for an important enough mission.
        • by Cyberax (705495)

          Orion is not feasible in the current political situation. Risk of hijacking of a space vessel fueled by _nuclear_ _bombs_ is too high.

          Also, I don't really care about "important missions". I want a sustainable continuos space program.

          There are projects of nuclear rockets (where a nuclear reactor heats gas to very high temperature), however. Maybe one day something will come out of them.

        • Google the Orion project; space launches with nukes, payloads that could carry the entire ISS up in one go, along with a few spares, large enough to make inter-planetary colonization realistic, and it's not science fiction.

          The problem is the fallout from the bombs of course.

          Well, Orion becoming practical was always predicated on cheap, clean (nearly pure fusion) bombs becoming practical - which never happened. The 'cheap' part is important too, as with the current cost of the bombs Orion is so expe

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WhiplashII (542766)

        Um, no. It costs $20 per pound delivered to orbit for rocket propellant. Since only, say, 1/4 of that is payload, say the true cost of propellant is $80 per pound of payload in orbit.

        The vast majority of rocket launch expense is human salaries. The next largest expense is the expendable hardware. The propellant costs are down in the noise, approximately the same price as the celebration pizza party.

        If you want to lower the cost of space access, don't bother with the engine technology - launch more often

        • by Cyberax (705495)

          $20 per pound is WAY too small.

          Let's calculate. The kinetic energy of 1 kg moving at 8km/s is 3.2*10^7J. The enthalpy of H2 combustion is 286kJ/mol but if we take O2 required for this reaction into account it'll be just 15.8kJ/g=1.58*10^7J/kg

          So we'll need to burn at least:
          1/2(m+Mf)*v^2=Mf*Jc where m is payload, Mf - mass of fuel and oxidizer, Jc - specific heat of combustion per 1 kg of fuel and oxidizer.

          1/2(1+Mf)*6.4*10^7=Mf*1.58*10^7
          (1+Mf)*3.2=Mf*1.58
          Mf~=5.5kg of stochiometric fuel and oxidizer mix in the

          • Re:the hell? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by WhiplashII (542766) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:41AM (#24305365) Homepage Journal

            Obviously, you have never designed a rocket. Fortunately I have!

            Here are the real equations:

            delta-v = 9.8 * Isp * ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass)

            delta-v to orbit is about 9000 m/s

            Isp is an engine parameter. Simple Lox/Kerosene engines come in around 350s, complex lox/hydrogen engines come in around 450s. (Rocket engines do not run stochiometric, they run fuel rich - the reasons are complex, but essentially hydrogen is better at converting heat into thrust than water.)

            OK, so let's do some numbers:

            9000 = 9.8 * 350 * ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass)

            ln(launch_mass/orbit_mass) = 2.62
            launch_mass/orbit_mass = 14

            So you need 14 pounds of propellant for every pound of orbited mass. of that 14 pounds of propellant, about 3/4 are LOX - which is essentially free (pennies per pound in large quantities). So really you are paying for 10 pounds of kerosene, about $5 or so.

            Now, for real rockets it ends up closer to $20 per pound, because 1) rockets tend to use more expensive liquid hydrogen, and 2) rockets stage, which is slightly fuel inefficient.

            But my original numbers are correct. Yours are wrong - or at least misrepresented. 5.5 kg of propellant, 3/4 of which is LOX would not get you to orbit, but would cost about $1.

            • by Cyberax (705495)

              Thanks for correction!

              I really should have used the rocket equation rather than simple energy balance.

              That's really interesting, if we can cut launch costs to about 3x fuel costs (as in airplanes) then we'll have a pretty viable space transport system.

              • True that - it is often said that we dream of having fuel costs matter in this industry!

                (Actually, right now the airline industry launch costs are almost entirely fuel!)

            • I'm curious. What is your take on the NERVA/Nuclear Light Bulb style rocket?
              • My take:

                Really cool technology. Totally impractical, mainly for political reasons.

                If you gave me one for deep space missions, I would use it. But I wouldn't pay for it - and it really does nothing for the real problem, going from Earth to LEO.

                • It seems plausable [archive.org] as an Earth to LEO system to this guy. I haven't verified any of these figures, but it sounds very promising. A million kilos to LEO is nothing to sneeze at.
      • NASA went on the Single Stage to Orbit pipe dream throughout the 1990's. What Spaceship 1 got right was a Dual Stage to Orbit platform where you have a large conventional aircraft haul the orbiter to 60k feet, drop it, then let the orbiter boost from there. It's still expensive, but far cheaper per pound than the current systems and it could be done with current technology.

        Basically SS1 did what Mercury/Redstone did in the 1950's. Granted we didn't have the unknown factors that they faced back then, but

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cyberax (705495)

          "Spaceship" 1 is garbage. It's not even close to orbital speed (its maximum speed was 3518km/h while you need about 29000km/h to enter the LEO).

          The whole "two stage" system is also mostly junk it just gives an extra 1000km/h which is totally lost when compared with the orbital speed.

      • The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

        If you've built a rocket that sucks you are doing it wrong. They need to blow!

      • by AJWM (19027)

        The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.
        There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets.

        Your second sentence doesn't quite say the same thing as the first. Current chemical rockets suck. NASA seems enamored of solid fuels which are low-powered (low Isp), require ridiculously heavy structure (the whole thing is combustion chamber), and messy. They claim they're "reusable", when what they mean is they crash them in the ocean and then salvage them. The H2/O2 liquid fuel m

        • by Cyberax (705495)

          A lot of Russian rockets actually use http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsymmetrical_dimethylhydrazine [wikipedia.org] and NO3 as an oxidant. And Methane + O2 is a bit worse than UDMH+NO3 mix.

          Personally, I like the idea of nuclear rockets. But they are just too far from reality.

          • by AJWM (19027)

            NO3? I think you mean NO4 - nitrogen tetroxide. At least that's what the US Titan uses and is used in the reaction control systems on eg Shuttle. The advantage is that mix is hypergolic, the disadvantage is that both components are highly toxic and corrosive.

            I'm not sure by what criteria you're evaluation CH4+02 as "worse" -- it's less toxic and has a higher Isp.

            • by Cyberax (705495)

              Yes, of course it's N2O4 (I need to to write less posts after 20h coding session...).

              Yes, and UDMH/N2O4 has a much bit worse Isp - about 330 seconds against 350-380 for LOX/CH4.

              • by AJWM (19027)

                Whoops, you're right, N204, not NO4. D'oh. I need to go get more coffee, I don't even have your excuse. ;-)

      • by jedie (546466)

        1. Drag asteroid or other rock into geostationary orbit.

        2. Dangle carbon nanotube based ropes onto planet surface

        3. ????

        4. Profit

        • 3 drag carbon nanotube cable through a thunder storm
          4 light up like Uncle Fester

          The electric potentials on Earth often get pretty extreme during an electrical storm and carbon nanotube are conductive. I've seen videos of carbon nanotubes exploding when irradiated with a flash of light, that's a bad combination! If they shoot rockets [wikipedia.org] into the sky to bring down lightening trailing a thin conductive wire or even a conductive contrail [wikipedia.org] imagine what something massive like a space elevator cable will do!

          • by jedie (546466)

            what if your cables do not touch the earth but are rather holding up a floating base/platform at a certain height that could be helicoptered to?

      • by TheSync (5291) *

        The main problem is: chemical rockets suck.

        Nuclear thermal [wikipedia.org] rockets are the only way we can expect to efficiently become a space faring people. The problem is that there are some risks...

      • by khallow (566160)

        There's just no way to cheaply lift payload to orbit using our current rockets.

        Sure there is. High launch frequency and reusable vehicles. Rocket propellant isn't expensive.

    • We've been at it for decades and the latest and greatest the Ruskies and Americans come up with looks like pretty much the same shit we've been doing for years

      I wouldn't expect it to look like anything else. Like airliners or submarines the design is driven mainly by aerodynamics (hydrodynamics) and engineering constraints, not by the need to 'look' different in order to be fashionable or meet the expectations of someone who expects it to look.. I don't know, modern? Science fiction-y?

    • Actually, I think it bears an uncanny resemblance to E.V.E. [google.com]

    • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. As long as we are stuck using chemical rockets launched from the Earth's surface the basic capsule design works.

  • Lunar? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:01AM (#24303647)

    The choice of words "towards the moon" is very well done. Article states this is capable of bring six people into Terran orbit, and four into Lunar orbit. I understand the difficulty in getting down to the moon and back up, but if you're capable of getting there and back with four people, odds are you can get down to the surface. Why not just go for broke? At the very least it'd be a huge PR coup.

    • Re:Lunar? (Score:5, Informative)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:06AM (#24304703)
      Article states this is capable of bring six people into Terran orbit, and four into Lunar orbit. I understand the difficulty in getting down to the moon and back up, but if you're capable of getting there and back with four people, odds are you can get down to the surface.

      Not a bit of it. It's a question of fuel.

      Having reached the Moon, you have to fire engines to slow down into orbit. Otherwise you loop around the back and head straight back to Earth like Apollo 13. So you need to carry fuel for this.

      So now you're circling the Moon like Apollo 8. Good. To come home, you need to fire engines again to speed back up. More fuel.

      But wait, you want to visit the surface? Then you need a lander. Those things are heavy. And it needs fuel: fuel to land, and fuel to take off again.

      That's the trouble with spaceflight. It's all about fuel. Every manoeuvre burns fuel. Every kilogram of fuel means you need even more fuel at the start, just to carry that fuel into space with you. It's why the Saturn V rocket was the size of a skyscraper, but only carried something the size of a minibus to the moon, and brought only a tiny capsule home to Earth. All the rest? Fuel tanks.

      • It's why the Saturn V rocket was the size of a skyscraper, but only carried something the size of a minibus to the moon, and brought only a tiny capsule home to Earth.

        As you so correctly state, fuel is the key. Except, the Saturn V only got them to the moon. Getting into orbit, landing, coming back up, and getting back to earth was the job of your minibus and tiny capsule. Clearly, it is quite possible to pull off the whole shebang by throwing a huge rocket at the back of it to get it off the planet (by far the hardest part). Using a system like the Saturn V or current boosters is by no means a far reach for them. It sure as hell wouldn't be easy, but if they're a

        • Re:Lunar? (Score:4, Informative)

          by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:51AM (#24305561)
          Except, the Saturn V only got them to the moon. Getting into orbit, landing, coming back up, and getting back to earth was the job of your minibus and tiny capsule.

          Saturn V got Apollo to the Moon, with the fuel and equipment necessary to stop and land there and to come home again.

          Let's see: the service module, the lunar excursion module, all the fuel for both of them... that's got to be three or four times the mass of the command module, which was all that got back to Earth (I haven't looked it up so this is probably well off). A rocket whose sole purpose was to send a crew around the Moon, but not to land, could have been a whole lot smaller than Saturn V.

          Look at it this way: suppose that bringing along a lander and fuel supplies for a Moon landing doubles the mass of your spacecraft at the Moon. Then clearly, that must require that you at least double the size of the rocket on the pad.

          I don't actually know what the plan would be for a Moon landing with this vehicle. The fact that it has its own thrusters for landing suggests to me that it might have a direct-ascent mission profile: no separate lander, just bring down the whole ship. NASA considered this approach when planning Apollo: it has the benefit of simplicity, but would have needed a more powerful rocket even than Saturn V to bring enough fuel. Perhaps with modern materials and engineering it could be done this way: but as the article says, no rocket powerful enough currently exists.

          • by Urkki (668283)

            Alternative: have ability to refuel on orbit, so you can send the fuel with separate rocket or two, and fuel the landing capsule on lunar orbit (probably twice, once for landing and takeoff from the Moon, second time for the trip home).

            Then you can cope with much smaller rockets. But of course refueling in lunar orbit is probably quite a complicated operation, and fatal if something goes wrong, and might be very hard with some rocket fuels... I guess all these complications are why it wasn't done with Apoll

            • by tirerim (1108567)
              Yeah, that's definitely the ticket. I think what you actually want to have is sufficient fuel to make it to lunar orbit and back again, so if anything goes wrong with the refueling, you're not stranded. Other possibilities include refueling in LEO, at the space station, say; since getting to orbit at all is by far the biggest fuel cost, this could work pretty well.

              Of course, at that point you're talking about establishing infrastructure in lunar orbit, so the next step is to establish infrastructure on
  • by H+FTW (1264808) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:07AM (#24303755)

    I'm not sure I'd be too happy if I was being put in that, the booster landing thing sounds like its asking for trouble if you get low on fuel, or they get knocked out of alignment or a floating point error messes up their servo controllers....

    At least with a parachute or wings you know that so long as they are they they will work. Also I imagine that it will require a huge amount of fuel to turn it around and then slow it.

    Or have I got the wrong idea and they're going to parachute in and then just use these at the end at which point again you have to ask - why bother?

  • Why thrusters? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kipman725 (1248126)
    Why land on a planet with a thick atnosphere like earth using thrusters causing you to have to waste spcae and launch weight on alot of propelant. I understand that this thing is also meant to land on the moon so requires some landing thrusters (no atnosphere) but the moon has a mere fraction of the earths gravitic attraction and so if the capsuale use parachutes aswell as thrusters there would still be a weight saving. Even probes that land on mars usualy use parachutes aswell as thrusters even though it
    • Almost certainly, they are thinking mars and the moon. But I consider this a backwards step. It seems that all of the initial steps should be specialized rather than generalized in the same fashion that the shuttle was. The Orion and Dragon are highly specialized. I suspect that we will see other countries heading in the right direction, by specializing rather than making it the end-all.
  • by RealErmine (621439) <(commerce) (at) (wordhole.net)> on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:49AM (#24304423)

    The reusable ship was conceived to carry four people towards the Moon

    Apparently the ESA / Russia are ushering in a new age of "close enough" space exploration.

    News Report, 2021:Today astronauts from the ESA will begin a new chapter of space exploration by first going up really high, and then kinda drifting off in sort of a that way direction. The mission captain was interviewed recently concerning the importance of today's historic flight.

    "We are confident that the up portion of the mission will go smoothly. We then plan to transfer to the next stage where, God willing, we will be the among the first humans to end up somewhere over toward the Moon." He commented, waving vaguely off toward the sky.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KlausBreuer (105581)

      The worst thing about this is that, given our trust in gouverment and media, by 2021 we expect to see that kind of vague information...

  • Okay, it looks cool, I'll give you that. An it is much better design than that repackaged Apollo wanna be that nasa is going to put up. But you know what? It's still dead end technology. It's the same crap we've been doing for the last 40 years, just in a shinny new package. The landing thrusters are something new, I'll give you that.

    But it's the 21 century now. Time to do something new. Why don't we build a fucking space ship? Not capsules or orbiters but a honest to god ship. We've got most o

  • I don't see a man in there.

    After Soviet Russia, suspicion is hard to allay.

  • Orion is already five years into design, testing, and production, despite being behind schedule.
  • I like the unofficial images better [clevelandseniors.com].

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