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NASA Space

Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight 135

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the galaxy-is-on-orion's-belt dept.
gilgsn writes "Preparations for Orion's first mission in 2013 are well under way as a Lockheed Martin-led crew begins lean assembly pathfinding operations for the spacecraft. The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup to verify the tools, processes and spacecraft integration procedures work as expected."
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Orion Spacecraft On the Path To Future Flight

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  • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @05:11PM (#33656262) Journal

    Have reports of the program's demise been exaggerated?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sonny Yatsen (603655) *

      Constellation was defunded (although Congress may block this), but Obama singled out Orion to be repurposed an escape module for the ISS.

    • by rijrunner (263757) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @05:43PM (#33656534)

      In theory, it could be launched on another platform. Right now, there is a lot of development in capsules and the like from various companies. Boeing has its capsule under development. There are a few others in various levels of development.

          Ares is mostly toast now. It will rise or fall under a political fight, but honestly, whether Constellation flies, or not, the Orion capsule is no longer is the only game in town. The problem with a lot of this positioning of such-and-such program as THE next step rather ignores the simple fact that we are no longer in a single path of development. Its no accident that this article was released on PRWire a day after a flurry of articles about Boeing being ready in 2014 with an article claiming that Orion will be ready in 2013.

         

      • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:17PM (#33658878) Homepage Journal

        In the meantime, the Dragon capsule being designed by SpaceX is making it first real flight next month. Heck, it is already at the cape ready for launch, and all they are doing now is a waiting game to get a launch slot to open... and some last minute tests to take care of some engineering questions they have about the rocket. This is both a test for the Falcon 9 (its second flight) and the capsule, but in this case they are doing some in-orbit testing of the avionics, the Draco thrusters, and the heat shield for re-entry purposes. They are also testing recovery procedures in what is for now an unmanned vehicle.

        I'd have to agree that the timing of this is a little suspect, and the rocket that the Orion is supposedly going to be flying on has yet to even be approved for funding in the first place. The Obama administration may be eying a variant of DIRECT right now, but that isn't really ready for prime time. Boeing, on the other hand, is going to be flying their CST-100 on a Delta IV. That is a proven rocket system with over a dozen flights to certify its reliability and to work out the bugs in terms of getting things into orbit.

        The question for what the Orion is going to be flying on in order to make this test is a very real question that ought to be asked. Perhaps a heavy launch variant of the Delta IV, Atlas V, or the Falcon 9 might be able to get it up into space, but there was some explicit engineering done on the Orion vehicle to make sure it couldn't fly on the EELVs. Yes, this was by design and it was done to make sure it had to fly on the Ares I rocket. How Lock-Mart is going to refit this to fly on something else is going to be real interesting. I thought they were well past the raw specification stage and were making mock-ups and building actual hardware.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by camperdave (969942)
          The Delta IV isn't man rated. Neither is the Atlas-V. NASA is not going to be sending astronauts up on either of them for quite some time. Dragon/Falcon is man rated, but it is quite a bit smaller than an Orion capsule, or even the CST-100
          • Dragon/Falcon is not man rated.

            It was designed by SpaceX to meet NASA's existing requirements for human space flight.

            However, requirements for commercial crew companies under the new model haven't even been released yet.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Teancum (67324)

              However, requirements for commercial crew companies under the new model haven't even been released yet.

              I find it disingenuous to be having NASA come up with commercial crew regulations when they clearly are acting as a competitor to the companies who are trying to put commercial crew vehicles into service. If that doesn't strike you as something odd, I am at a loss as to what would. I don't understand why Congress is insisting that NASA set the standards here.

              My largest concern is that the standards, if they ever get published, will be written in such a way that nobody could possibly meet those standards.

              • by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @08:14AM (#33661112)
                Hey, the customer is always right. Even if NASA doesn't get a right to define what 'man rated' means by rule of law they still have the choice to buy or not to buy. SpaceX has to build to NASA's requirements because if they do not someone else will. I suppose the FAA could add to the requirements if they wanted to but if both agencies published requirements then SpaceX would have to meet both, not ignore their customer (NASA). They can't just build what they want to build and then expect NASA to be obligated to buy it from them. I suppose there are other customers out there but not so many they can afford to lose NASA. As for the FAA I don't think they would bother, NASA has been doing this for a while without them already. Plus, I think it's only within their jurisdiction until it reaches a certain height anyway. If the Senate bill goes through NASA will not be competing with SpaceX or any of the other commercial companies. Instead NASA will be focused on heavy lift rockets and getting beyond low Earth orbit. If they are doing that then dealing with building another orbiter would be a distraction at best. I'm sure those writing the checkes would be happy to just pay SpaceX or whomever else shows up and be done with it. Now... if the House version of the NASA appropriation bill goes through then things will get strange. NASA would be stuck building another orbiter and buying from SpaceX. Heavy lift and exploration beyond low Earth orbit would get sidelined for another generation or two. I hope that bill dies.
                • by Teancum (67324)

                  Just who is this "somebody else" that is building to NASA's still yet to be published manned spaceflight requirements?

                  I firmly believe that the manned commercial spaceflight market is going to swamp and overwhelm the NASA projects in time. That isn't quite the case right now, but I think it would be bad business planning to depend solely upon NASA as the only potential customer. I'm not saying "if we build it, NASA will buy it", but rather think more along the lines of how aircraft manufacturers design ne

                • by rijrunner (263757)

                  If NASA does not buy, who cares? Dragon is aimed right at Virgin and other commercial tourist groups. NASA is not the only customer in town either. Falcon and Dragon are looking like they have a price point that might actually allow other commercial development.

                  The FAA is *the* legal body to authorize launch vehicles. NASA is a research and development body and has no regulatory authority in any area, at all. Any company wishing to fly *has* to meet the FAA requirements. (The

              • Legally, NASA is not allowed to compete in the commercial crew arena. This includes ISS access. The standard is here [nasa.gov] by the way.
          • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n ... minus physicist> on Wednesday September 22, 2010 @07:26AM (#33660684) Homepage Journal

            If you can define man-rated, I'll bite here. Both the Delta IV and the Atlas V have enough thrust to place a capsule like the Orion up into orbit, or at least a manned vehicle.

            I should also point out that it was an Atlas launcher (admittedly a predecessor to the current Atlas V) that has already seen service in the manned spaceflight program for NASA: It put John Glenn into orbit! Seriously, the argument that these vehicles aren't man-rated is overblown and isn't even a realistic argument here.

            If you are willing to trust sending into orbit billion dollar payloads that represent a million man-hours of effort or more, that is something that at least exceeds the safety margin given for Shuttle launches and is likely to be better. There may need to be some minor tweaks to finish any honest assessment to make these vehicles man-rated, but that is very trivial compared to what is needed to get a brand-new launcher up to speed and rated for carrying astronauts. The NRO wouldn't have been sending their satellites up on these launchers if they weren't reliable.

            • I didn't say they weren't reliable, or that it would be difficult to do. In fact, there are initiatives underway to man-rate both rockets. This largely involves adding sensors to the engines to tell the launch abort system when they are about to go critical so that the system can pull the crew module away from what is about to be a giant fireball.
            • Both the Delta IV and the Atlas V have enough thrust to place a capsule like the Orion up into orbit, or at least a manned vehicle.

              Actually, it appears that they don't. At least, they don't according to publicly available specifications. It appears the the Atlas V can, indeed lift the Orion to LEO.:
              Atlas V Payload Capacity to LEO: 9,750–29,420 kg (21,490–64,860 lb) (Reference [wikipedia.org])
              Meanwhile, the Delta IV can only lift ~23,000 kg to LEO:
              Delta IV Payload Capacity to LEO: 8,600 - 22,560 kg (18,900 - 49,740 lb) (Reference [wikipedia.org]
              (Though it should be noted that the Heavy variant is supposed to be able to lift up to 23,040 kg).

              Ac

              • Apparently the Orion was designed so that it could *not* be launched on the Delta IV or the Atlas V, in order to justify the ARES-I. Of course, it wound up that the ARES-I couldn't launch it properly either.
            • I should also point out that it was an Atlas launcher (admittedly a predecessor to the current Atlas V) that has already seen service in the manned spaceflight program for NASA: It put John Glenn into orbit!

              That's the equivalent of claiming that's there is no need to perform crash testing on a 2010 Corvette because crash testing was already done on a 1953 Corvette. (To use Slashdot's favored form of analogy.) It should be obvious on it's face that this is a ludicrous claim.

              But since it isn't, I sh

              • by khallow (566160)

                Man rating an existing launcher requires a complete ground up review of it's engineering and a ground up study of it's potential failure modes and the engineering required to bring the safety up to man rating requirements.

                No vehicle current or past has ever been man-rated. The Shuttle, for example, has a lack of abort capability for certain parts of its launch which is part of NASA's current man-rating requirements. This killed seven astronauts in the Challenger accident in 1986. It also had for most of its lifespan a lack of ability to inspect heat tiles prior to reentry, which killed another seven astronauts, another thing that a man-rating would require.

                It annoys me when people speak so glibly of "man-rating". In the p

    • The crew is conducting simulated manufacturing and assembly operations with a full-scale Orion mockup

      You thought it was a mockup - but now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battlestation.. err, spacecraft!

    • by Heian-794 (834234)

      Have reports of the program's demise been exaggerated?

      For a project named Orion, you should quote not from Sam Clemens, but rather find something from his older brother!

    • by Gilmoure (18428)

      Last I'd heard, they'd canned it back in '63 with the test ban treaty [wikipedia.org].

      Would love to watch one of these babies take off (from a long way back).

  • by DeWinterZero (1757754) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @05:15PM (#33656302)
    The word Spacecraft & Orion instant brings to mind Project Orion. For a brief moment I thought NASA had gone for something cool & insane. https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion) [wikimedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      Ah yes, old bang bang. I doubt that one will be launched from Canaveral.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by genican1 (1150855)
      No, it's the Orion spacecraft [wikipedia.org] they are referring to, not Project Orion [wikipedia.org]
    • Anyone passingly familiar with the space program but not up-to-date is going to think the same thing.

      It's not quite as bad as calling it "Apollo" or "The Space Shuttle" but still, they should have known it would confuse people.

      Hey, I've got a great idea for an email virus scanner. I'll call it "Carnivore!" Ooh, and I have a way to detect if anyone has tampered with your computer, I'll call it "Palladium."

      • by lennier (44736)

        It's not quite as bad as calling it "Apollo" or "The Space Shuttle" but still, they should have known it would confuse people.

        Hey, I've got a great idea for an email virus scanner. I'll call it "Carnivore!" Ooh, and I have a way to detect if anyone has tampered with your computer, I'll call it "Palladium."

        And I've got a digital video playing technology I think I'll call "DivX". :)

        Sometimes names get repurposed and the new purpose sticks. If there hadn't been the historical connotations, "Orion" is actually a much better name for "manned spaceflight" than "Apollo" (which is only slightly better than "Icarus" if you're not planning a mission into the Sun).

        On the other hand, Apollo was a good solid brand, and it's a pity they can't do an "Apollo Phase II" or "Apollo Next Generation".

        • by morgauxo (974071)
          Yes, Apollo was a good solid brand but I wouldn't want to see it re-used any time soon. Then all the little kiddies who think going back to a capsule after 30 years of winged craft that could do no better than low Earth orbit would REALLY get annoying with their 70s technology cracks.
      • by khallow (566160)

        Anyone passingly familiar with the space program but not up-to-date is going to think the same thing.

        Fifty years out of date yet they're "passingly familiar" with NASA? No way.

      • Yup, my first thought was project orion as well, and within half a second i realized that wont ever happen, so it had to be some small part of current projects

        Project Orion would have been awesome though, just think of rocketing of the face of the earth in your milion-ton spacecraft powered by nuclear bombs, with heavy metal blasting through the speakers!

        • by morgauxo (974071)
          I could see Korea or Iran doing this 20-30 years from now just to piss the US off. China might even be a contender for that... they would certainly have the capability quicker though they might be a little too diplomatic to go there. Not that diplomatic though given the weather satellite they blew up. (Yes the US did that too but at least they picked one in a orbit where the debris would fall to Earth rather than create long term shrapnel)
      • by mrsquid0 (1335303)

        Anyone with just a passing familiarity with the US space programme is unlikely to know about the nuclear Project Orion of yesteryear. Anyone who is familiar with the US space programme is not going to confuse the two.

    • That's why it's tagged !therealorion [slashdot.org], and was since before you posted.
      • bah, tags (or any form of concattenated words) should use some form of CammelCase, i parsed that as "there al orion" at first...

        so i propose "theRealOrion"

    • by shess (31691) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @07:49PM (#33657636) Homepage

      I totally want them to make a Footfall movie and really use a Project Orion craft. Usually they just have a technobabble solution for how the humans beat the aliens, but in that case you didn't need to use technobabble. The humans really did have a big stick, they were going to kick your ass, and there wasn't anything you were going to be doing about it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall [wikipedia.org]

      • "God was knocking, and he wanted in bad."

        One of my favourite lines.
      • by Teancum (67324)

        Unfortunately I don't think the Space Shuttles are going to be available for use with the Orion-class vessel (called "Michael" in the book). They were supposed to be acting like fighters from the mothership being more like a carrier. I don't know if that ever would have worked, but at least it was plausible and something other SciFi movies have tried to take advantage of.

        I agree it would make a might fine movie and something that ought to be made. The whole plot line with the Soviet Union isn't nearly as

        • Then again, I have no idea how you would put a nuclear Iran into the story or if it would be wise for the producers to even consider how to do that.

          Drop The Foot in the Arabian Sea and drown them?

        • by Agripa (139780)

          Unfortunately I don't think the Space Shuttles are going to be available for use with the Orion-class vessel (called "Michael" in the book). They were supposed to be acting like fighters from the mothership being more like a carrier. I don't know if that ever would have worked, but at least it was plausible and something other SciFi movies have tried to take advantage of.

          I agree it would make a might fine movie and something that ought to be made. The whole plot line with the Soviet Union isn't nearly as im

          • The biggest problem I see off hand is explaining why the aliens do not subvert our own computer networks which are much more important now then when the story was written but it would be easy enough to make a point that such subversion was insufficient in itself without military action. The aliens would at least have considered it.

            The bigger problem is that the alien strategy didn't make a lick of sense. If they were truly alien, unknowable alien, then we could accept that. But their psychology was so human they may as well have been human. So then you get back to the question of what the hell they thought their strategy was going to be.

            As an example of a historic screwup, Japan vs. the US. The Japanese believed in their racial superiority over the decadent, honorless West. They also believed that they had a right and duty to conquer

            • by Agripa (139780)

              Truely alien aliens do not make very good stories because of the difficulty of the audience identifying with them. Niven wrote an essay about how to write science fiction that mentions this. The Fithp psychology was not human but was that of a herdbeast. One either submits or fights (or runs away but the humans could hardly leave Earth).

              As an example of a historic screwup, Japan vs. the US. The Japanese believed in their racial superiority over the decadent, honorless West. They also believed that they h

        • by Thuktun (221615)

          [...] the Orion-class vessel (called "Michael" in the book).

          Full name Archangel Michael, field commander of the Army of God [wikipedia.org].

      • I totally want them to make a Footfall movie and really use a Project Orion craft. Usually they just have a technobabble solution for how the humans beat the aliens, but in that case you didn't need to use technobabble. The humans really did have a big stick, they were going to kick your ass, and there wasn't anything you were going to be doing about it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Footfall [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org]

        Footfall had some good ideas but was a fairly dreadful book, not up to their usual standard. I did like the idea of Earth fighting back with an orion drive ship. The only problem is that it required a lot of colossal stupidity on the part of the aliens to ever let it become a human-winnable fight. There had to be the right combination of immaturity, lack of forethought, idiotic assumption that aliens will react to your gestures with the exact same psychology, etc. If you're going to war, dropping rocks is a

      • by Thuktun (221615)

        "God was knocking, and he wanted in bad."

  • Is it related to this [wikipedia.org] Orion or did they just reuse the name?

    • by gerddie (173963)
      No, its related to that [wikipedia.org]!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      They reused the name. Specifically, Lockheed-Martin, the prime contractor on this system, chose to name their system Orion, while NASA had previously named on of its own projects Orion. So really, there's the Lockheed Orion and the NASA Orion. The Orion referred to in the article is here [wikipedia.org].
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      i prolly need to get my eye glass prescription changed... on first glance i read it as being named "onion."
  • by Unkyjar (1148699) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @05:18PM (#33656336)
    I found another one: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/orion-spacecraft-on-the-path-to-future-flight-2010-09-21?reflink=MW_news_stmp [marketwatch.com] It appears that they've brought all the manufacturing and testing facilities to Kennedy Space Center, which makes cost saving sense to me. I guess Orion is still going forward despite reports to the contrary.
  • Orion the Hunter was killed by a scorpion
    Orion Pictures went bankrupt
    Orion spacecraft ???

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well to be fair, in the myths you are referring to, Orion is the best hunter that ever lived according to the Greeks. He died by scorpion sting in most variants of the myth due to either boasting about his hunting abilities, or threatening to kill every beast on the surface of the Earth because he was such a great hunter. As such, various gods (usually Artemis or Gaia) designed the scorpion (either giant or tiny, depending on the variant of the myth) to prevent him from doing just that. So the only reason
    • Orion the Hunter was killed by a scorpion
      Orion Pictures went bankrupt
      Orion spacecraft ???

      ??? = Causes nuclear explosions [wikipedia.org]. Therefore that one is much more awesome.

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @05:27PM (#33656434)

    Hmmm, the link looks like it has been slashdotted, but since it says "archives," it might not even be the right one. Maybe they meant this one? [marketwatch.com]

    As inspiring as the STS program was, it's time to move on. Thinking about a craft that weighs several thousand tons being used to move crew and cargo into space on the same ride just doesn't make sense. We can send an unmanned cargo ship into orbit quite easily, without needing all of the protection that a "human cargo" would require. Having a tiny Orion spacecraft bring the people makes a lot more sense.

    How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm? Perhaps it was because of the difficulty in providing unmanned vessels that made it to the specified destination, or perhaps it was because the Gemini and Apollo astronauts really hated being compared to the "chimp in a suit" and forced NASA's to put people on every ship.

    I'll just be glad when I see something smaller than a double-wide mobile home being used to ferry the humans into space.

    • by gilgsn (239700)

      Hi, it is the right one... I added maxconnections to MySQL, but still having trouble... I am using a CDN, but there is a video on the page which I think is still pulled from the server, and I think that's what causing the overload. Last time I was slashdotted, that didn't happen... Sorry about that...

      Gil.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Inspiring?
      More like sickening. The shuttle was my first lesson that management will fuck up anything engineers ever do. The Shuttle was designed to bring bacon to senate districts not explore space in any meaningful way, and surely not reduce costs doing it.

      • Like, you haven't owned a toaster, car, or cell phone?

        You lead a sheltered life, my friend. Lots of crap doesn't work nearly as well as it might, just because Management said to make it cheaper. The Shuttle works pretty damned well, in spite of Management making insanely stupid decisions.

        Orion will, of course, be perfect. Right. Like your cell phone.

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          At the time no, I was a little kid when the shuttles were first launched.

        • by khallow (566160)
          The Shuttle would have worked even better, if they had instead, dropped the program and stayed with the Saturn 1B. That kind of "doesn't work nearly as well as it might".
          • by rickb928 (945187)

            No Shuttle no Hubble.
            Much harder to do the ISS.

            The Shuttle is a good deal if it only teaches us what not to do.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by camperdave (969942)
              The ISS could have been done with four or five Saturn launches instead of the 40+ shuttle launches it has taken so far, and the thing isn't even finished.
              • by Teancum (67324)

                Considering that Skylab has just over half of the volume of the ISS, I think you are being quite generous here suggesting it would take that many flights with a Saturn V. 2-3 flights for the habitation modules and a couple more perhaps for the power farm, and it would have been a kick-ass station that would put to shame what is currently called the ISS. I think it certainly could have been built for far less than the $100 billion that the ISS has burned through too.

                • The ISS is 400+ metric tons in mass. The Saturn V could only lift 119. Volume-wise, you could do it with fewer launches, but mass-wise...
            • i've seen calculations about how many hubbles the americans could have sent up for the cost of the repair missions (and that is just the mission costs, not counting the cost for the shuttles actual ability to do this), hint, it is more then one...

              As for the shuttle teaching you what not do, fair point, but does it really take 30 years or keeping an expensive space el-camino in service to figure out it isnt the best idea?

              • by Teancum (67324)

                Considering the cost of building the Hubble Telescope was between $2-$3 billion dollars, it would take several shuttle launches to equal that cost. Admittedly, a series of telescopes that were each costing about $1 billion and launching them for another half billion on EELVs might have been more cost effective, but not substantially so. Overall, the total cost of the program has been calculated at the high end as being about $6 billion. That would have covered the cost of only 3-4 telescopes. Presuming

            • by khallow (566160)

              No Shuttle several Hubbles.

              Much cheaper to do the ISS.

              Fixed it for you.

              The Shuttle is a good deal if it only teaches us what not to do.

              It is possible that even in the late 80s, people might not have legitimately realized what a waste the Shuttle was. So charitably, the lesson should have been learned by 1990 that the Shuttle would hinder US space development. No further commercial payloads and military/spy payloads were running out. So what was the Shuttle doing flying another two decades? What lessons of failure did we still need to learn, that we hadn't already learned by 1990? I can't think of anything. But continuing t

              • by rickb928 (945187)

                "It is possible that even in the late 80s, people might not have legitimately realized what a waste the Shuttle was."

                I have this sinking feeling that the Apollo program would be, by similar standards, also a waste. I'm interested in what NASA program you think is not a waste, and why.

                "So charitably, the lesson should have been learned by 1990 that the Shuttle would hinder US space development."

                Um, I disagree, but we may well have wasted a decade being limited to just the Shuttle program. Was this really a

                • by khallow (566160)

                  I have this sinking feeling that the Apollo program would be, by similar standards, also a waste. I'm interested in what NASA program you think is not a waste, and why.

                  Any activity which contributes to an enduring US presence in the Solar System is not a waste.

                  Using S1B sounds good, but do we actually want 70s technology?

                  We have the EELVs, Delta IV and Atlas V. They can be extended beyond their current payload limits and/or new rockets developed within the lineage. SpaceX also has a proposal for extending the Falcon series all the way to Saturn V class. My thinking on this matter though is that we should learn how to do more with existing launch infrastructure rather than expend effort to build large rockets again. All of the above

          • by Teancum (67324)

            I still assert that had NASA kept the Apollo/Saturn program going... including perhaps a scaled back but continued production of the Saturn V and certainly the Saturn 1B vehicles... that NASA would have put more astronauts into space, had fewer casualties, and been to many more places besides running around in circles at low Earth orbit. We know that the Apollo spacecraft were capable of interplanetary spaceflight... because it went places other than merely orbiting the Earth.

            Of the bold plans for using Ap

    • How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm?

      Well, Apollo used it quite well. Y'know, send the crew up with the LEM, etc. The reason for this was that NASA felt it couldn't successfully validate the two different launch systems (one for the LEM, etc. and one for the crew) in time to meet the "end of the decade" schedule.

      In the case of the space shuttle, one reason was that NASA was going to use satellite launches to subsidize the manned space program. We're going to send a rocket into space. If we can get people to pay us to take some satellites w

      • by Teancum (67324)

        It might have been in theory a way to subsidize the flights, but the practical matter of how it turned out is that it was the shuttle flights that subsidized the satellite launches... to the point that it took out private spaceflight efforts like the Conestoga [wikipedia.org] rocket. I have no idea if these guys could have been commercially successful, but competing against the insanely low cargo rates quoted by NASA was one of the reasons why this company never was able to make a profit and ultimately why it shut down.

        It

    • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @11:16PM (#33658870) Journal
      How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm?

      Why not? The only time you need to separate the crew and the cargo is during an abort. The cargo is expendable. The crew, not so much. Where the shuttle failed is that it did not have a crew abort mode.
    • How did we get into the "combined crew & cargo" paradigm?

      Because Congress refused to fund the expensive heavy lift launchers required to support the "separate crew and cargo" paradigm. Without expensive heavy lift launchers to place destinations for a cheap Shuttle into orbit, you end up with an expensive medium lift launcher to carry the destinations into orbit inside the (expensive) Shuttle.

      Or, IOW, the "separate crew and cargo" paradigm we're adopting is only possible because the Shuttle has

  • by Waste55 (1003084) on Tuesday September 21, 2010 @06:52PM (#33657192)
    Since the summary link is dead.

    Includes video: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/news/press_releases/2010/0921_ss_orion.html [lockheedmartin.com]
  • Hello, I seem to have fixed the problem, playing with httpd.conf and my.cnf... Now I need better hardware! Sorry about the downtime.

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