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NASA Space Science

NASA's Ares 1 To Be Reborn As the Liberty Commercial Launcher 143

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the burninate-the-peasants dept.
MarkWhittington writes "When President Barack Obama canceled the Constellation space exploration program, it was thought the Ares 1, the much-maligned planned rocket that would have launched the Orion into low Earth orbit, was dead and gone. However, it looks like ATK, the aerospace firm that manufactures solid rocket boosters for NASA, has entered into a joint venture with Astrium, the European firm that builds the Ariane V to build a commercial version of the Ares 1."
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NASA's Ares 1 To Be Reborn As the Liberty Commercial Launcher

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  • from European powers, I'm giving up and joining the fringe-right libertarians.

    • by sznupi (719324)
      Why do you hate free market competition so much?
      • The point is that if we spent 10 years and billions of dollars developing this technology, then declare it "a dead end" and give up on it, only to turn around and pay other countries to utilize the technology that we ourselves paid to develop... then I am completely disheartened by the leadership of our space program and I begin to see the point of the hardcore libertarians who claim that we have no right to be spending tax dollars on a space program of any kind in the first place.

        • by spun (1352)

          I'd be interested in hearing the rational for the idea that "we have no right to be spending tax dollars on a space program." Why the space program? What else do we supposedly not have the "right" to spend tax dollars on? Or are you claiming that we have no right to be collecting taxes?

          • I didn't say I agreed (yet).

            The basic idea of the hardcore libertarians (I know several) is that taking money from individual A (via taxes) to pay for the pet program of individual B is essentially government approved and mandated theft and robbery. I've never been able to get out of them exactly what the dividing line is between "pet project" and "societal necessity", but it seems to me that they generally believe that almost everything we currently spend money on falls towards the former rather than the l

            • by spun (1352)

              Does your friend have any idea how many modern inventions were spawned from the space program? He only thinks it does not benefit him. He sounds like the type of person who would claim that nothing benefits him, and therefore he shouldn't have to pay taxes at all. But the thing is, he is benefiting. He could always shop around for a better deal. Society is offering him a deal, he is taking the deal, and then complaining that he doesn't want to pay. Well, the first step is NOT TAKING THE DEAL! He is free to

            • is that taking money from individual A (via taxes) to pay for the pet program of individual B is essentially government approved and mandated theft and robbery.

              Those hardcore libertarians clearly do not understand the term "cost of doing business". Taxes are the cost of doing business, a kind of a rent for the infrastructure and opportunities they have by living in in a particular society. If they pay rent for a flat, do they also complain about the landlord not using the money for their benefit? They are a

        • by vlm (69642)

          The point is that if we spent 10 years and billions of dollars developing this technology, then declare it "a dead end" and give up on it, only to turn around and pay other countries to utilize the technology that we ourselves paid to develop

          Isn't that basically the story of all heavy industry in the USA? Everything from steel mills to steel trashcans? Automotive industry? Most of the microelectronic industry?

          • Naw, pretty sure that most of that we made some good profit off of first before we sold it off. This we gave up on before it was even done (maybe with good reason, maybe not. I guess we'll have to wait and see).

        • by Smallpond (221300)

          The point is that if we spent 10 years and billions of dollars developing this technology, then declare it "a dead end" and give up on it, only to turn around and pay other countries to utilize the technology that we ourselves paid to develop... then I am completely disheartened by the leadership of our space program and I begin to see the point of the hardcore libertarians who claim that we have no right to be spending tax dollars on a space program of any kind in the first place.

          So you are against funding research of any kind or just space? Much other research funded by the government is then developed by private enterprise. The reason the government has a space program, instead of just funding it, is the interest by DoD.

        • by wizkid (13692)

          It's not the leadership of our space program. It was obama that decided it was a "dead end". NASA did good things for this country, then politics took over.

          • by Gravatron (716477)
            It was overpriced, and behind schedule. the only reason to keep it was pork to congressional districts. Obama made the correct call, but the people getting the kickbacks didn't like it.
        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          The point is that if we spent 10 years and billions of dollars developing this technology, then declare it "a dead end" and give up on it, only to turn around and pay other countries to utilize the technology that we ourselves paid to develop...

          This describes US economic history since Ronald Reagan. It's not specific to the space program.

          In fact, according to the leading geniuses on the political Right, getting government out of the space program and letting "private industry" do what they want with it is

          • by Gilmoure (18428)

            But, but, Walmart and MicroSoft and TBTF banks have my best interest in mind, right? If you can't trust big business, who can you trust?

        • by strack (1051390)
          cool sunk costs fallacy bro.
    • by IrquiM (471313)
      If it ends up saving NASA tons of money - what's the problem?
      • NASA and "save money" are like oil and water. NASA was born under the blank check "just get it done, price be damned" environment of the cold war era. I don't see them as having ever truly moved away from it, not to menion they are now politicized all to hell and have all the penalties of "You'll do it this way because senator asshat from arkansas pulled some favors to have congress vote this way in order to keep jobs in his district".

        Aside from that, it works out like this:
        Launching a rocket costs X dollar

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Your equation leaves out about 12000 other factors also involved in building a rocket.

          X+Y can be cheaper then X+Y+Maint+Dev+transport

          All large machines cost money just sitting around.

          Different country have different priorities. So leveraging one of there systems or visa versa is a perfectly sound financial decision.

        • So what you're saying is:

          1) If NASA builds something, they'll waste money.

          2) If the private sector does it, they'll overcharge.

          3) If they're not overcharging, they're probably cutting corners.

          So... what's your solution?

          • Honestly, my solution is to kill every politician within 1500 yards of NASA engineers, write the remaining NASA (After the politician purge) a check that the DOD would envy, and say "get our asses to Mars".

            But then, I'm a romantic.

  • by sznupi (719324) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:35PM (#35142502) Homepage
    It's not Ariane V, it's Ariane 5. And also not Ares 1, but Ares I... don't do it, it looks & feels bad.

    (the end result is not really Ares anyway... yes, it will use the solid stage from ATK. But the rest would be mostly Ariane 5-derived, it seems)

    PS. WTF, "Liberty" rocket?! How on Earth Astrium agreed to such ridiculous name?... (will any possible manned spacecraft launched by this rocket include "freedom fries" in its menu?)
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Liberty was also the name of the American built 400 HP engine for WW I fighters, bombers and tanks to be sold to all the Allied Powers, but in the end only the Americans, French and British used them.

      The program back then led to Cadillac engineers leaving GM and forming the Lincoln company which was bought by Ford.

      • by sznupi (719324)
        There's even more profound example of cooperation / etc. - Liberty ships from WW2. But the times of those examples had an... unique character. The current one (and for somewhat different reasons...) would somehow cheapen the undertone of historical ones, IMHO)
    • by Nyeerrmm (940927)

      Also, Re: "Liberty," if you read the press release it refers to ESA as specifically NATO-alligned. I guess that has a better connotation than simply being European.

      Clearly they're trying to play politics here and play up shallow patriotism to win over some in congress rather than simply compete on technical merit. Par for the course for ATK.

      • by sznupi (719324)
        Yes, the press release itself would also seem as a bit of a lip-service, considering ESA just finishes in Kourou a launchpad for Soyuz rocket ;>> ... generally having a long and very fruitful cooperation with the Russians. One of its major members is even the only instance, I believe, of leaving the alliance ;p (granted, they recently returned; were in the meantime still very much aligned, as well as ESA members which never were members)
    • by matrim99 (123693)
      Yeah, "Liberty". The name "DRM I" (Dynamic Recovery Module version I) ran into a few little legal issues...
    • PS. WTF, "Liberty" rocket?! How on Earth Astrium agreed to such ridiculous name?... (will any possible manned spacecraft launched by this rocket include "freedom fries" in its menu?)

      Like Americans have a lock on that word? You do realize Astrium is French, and the national motto of France has been "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" officially since the founding of the Third Republic? I realize what you stated was in jest, but "Liberty" isn't necessarily synonymous with "American", despite the political attempts to make it so during the last decade or so.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Don't forget that the French gave the US the Statue of Liberty too. Strangely when they hated the French so much they could no longer serve French Fries they didn't get around to toppling that thing over like a statue of Saddam.

        • by smithmc (451373) *

          Don't forget that the French gave the US the Statue of Liberty too. Strangely when they hated the French so much they could no longer serve French Fries they didn't get around to toppling that thing over like a statue of Saddam.

          Who's "they"? Not all Americans are the same. The Statue of Liberty is in New York (no matter what New Jersey says!) and I would at least like to think that we are just a tad bit more cosmopolitan than the dolts who came up with "freedom fries".

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Yes, sorry for tarring you all with the same brush. Being British I should know better considering the shit some of my fellow subjects get up to.

      • by sznupi (719324)
        Though there's a tad of a difference between "catchy" name of a project meant to... catch pork, and longstanding national motto - don't you think [slashdot.org]?
  • The faster we launch people into space for no particular reason, the quicker we can get rid of those annoying fossil fuels under the ground!

    • Unless we just start burning liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in our rockets, like the Delta IV Heavy and such. At that point, we're more likely to start burning our oceans.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Pretty much all commercially produced hydrogen is made by reformation of fossil fuels.

      • by juhaz (110830)

        Unless someone flipped the magical "free energy" switch, there's no unless. Producing hydrogen and oxygen uses a shitload of energy that comes mostly from getting rid of those annoying fossil fuels. Not to mention that the vast majority of hydrogen is produced by steam reforming the aforementioned annoying fossil fuels, not electrolysis.

    • by maillemaker (924053) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @04:58PM (#35142806)

      Man does not explore for "no particular reason". Man explores for personal gain.

      We are going into space to make money. What it is that is going to make us money is as unknown to us as the wealth of America was known to Christopher Columbus. But we know that there is a high likelihood that something worth some money is going to be found.

      And hell, it just might be fun.

    • The faster we launch people into space for no particular reason, the quicker we can get rid of those annoying fossil fuels under the ground!

      I thought is was: the quicker we can get rid of those annoying humans above the ground!

      "I'm sorry Ms. Lindsay Lohan, but this ticket that you are holding is only one way, to Mars."

  • Auntie Beeb's article has pictures. [bbc.co.uk]
  • Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wiredlogic (135348) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:01PM (#35142838)

    The Ariane 5 is already man rated as it was designed to be the booster for Hermes. You could easily slap an Orion on top and call it a day without having this international make-work project.

    • As far as that goes, we still have the Atlas platform (Remember the Gemini Program) as well as the Delta IV. Both are proven designs that could be retrofitted and man rated to carry the orion capsule.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Atlas platform (Remember the Gemini Program)

        (and Energia & Zenit & Angara & Rus... considering current Atlas main engine; anyway, Gemini was on the shoulders of Titans - Atlas was with Mercury)

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:01PM (#35142842) Homepage Journal
    Have fun dealing with some of the premier assholes of the U.S. space industry.

    On the other hand, I suppose ATK can't really lobby Astrium the way the lobby the U.S. Congress....
  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Silm (1135973) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:08PM (#35142936)

    No, just No.

    This rocket can be described in a few words: it is a desperate attempt from ATK to find a possible justification for their 5- segment booster.
    That is all. There is no technical merit for this rocket.
    I can guess the design process went like this:
      "Hey, We need an upper stage for our 5 segment booster!"
    "How about that Ariane 5 center ( ! ) stage?"
    "Sure!"

    The press release is an exercise in PR. Flexible, Commercial, hell, the name is LIBERTY!
    There are a few things that make this rocket BAD.

    The Vulcain engine is not air startable. They will have to fix this; it is not clear how much this will cost
    You don't want a Solid rocket engine for manned launches. They are not able to do a hold down test before launch. Once it is lit, you are going, whether it is working or not.
    With this rocket, there is once again no Horizontal stacking.
    It lifts less than just the ariane 5 as it is RIGHT NOW!
    The Ariane center stage will have to be radically altered - right now it is build for bearing the load of boosters on its sides. Now it will be pushed up?

    Really, this is ATK lobbying and marketing. It is just not efficient, safe or even a good idea.
    If NASA adopts this it will be because of the ATK lobbying lawmakers, not because of technical merit. Because it just has less merit than anything else currently being discussed. They want a piece of the pie, and they will ask for a bigger piece of it while paying less for it then other ideas being discussed.

    All in all, I hope this bombs hard.

    • This is political rocket science!

    • by geekoid (135745)

      IT's nice to know rocket science is following razor science. More blades..er boosters!

      I joke. I was recently sent a 5 bladed razor as a promotion, and no shit best razor I have ever owned.

    • They are not able to do a hold down test before launch. Once it is lit, you are going, whether it is working or not.

      That's pretty much the point - you don't *need* to do a hold down test. If it lights, it's working.

    • by Virtucon (127420)

      And your point?

      ATK has what was Thiokol and Hercules so who else in the US has Very Large Solid Rocket Manufacturing capabilities? Nobody

      And it's all about lobbying and demonstrating capabilities. I bet ATK can put a 10 segment motor together if they wanted to. There's probably enough segments out in those bunkers in North Utah to do so.

      We've been running manned missions on Solid Rocket engines since the 70s, it was called the Space Shuttle. There are safeguards with the RSRM technology, but you are cor

      • ATK has what was Thiokol and Hercules so who else in the US has Very Large Solid Rocket Manufacturing capabilities? Nobody

        Aerojet also produces large solid rocket motors for use on missles.

        • by Virtucon (127420)

          You are correct, I had forgotten about the Atlas V but that's not a man rated system either.

          • by sznupi (719324)
            It can probably be made that way faster and cheaper than the stick. At least Atlas V main engine is already sort of man-rated (derived from Energia, Zenit (which was meant to launch Zarya "Super Soyuz"), used in future Rus manned launcher) and the estimated costs of whole operation weren't too high IIRC. HLV version (because single-core non-solid most likely wouldn't be enough) doesn't even use solid rocket motors.

            In contrast, the only way for Ares I to pass man-rating standards was to relax the standard
    • by sznupi (719324)
      While generally agreeing with you...

      The Ariane center stage will have to be radically altered - right now it is build for bearing the load of boosters on its sides. Now it will be pushed up?

      ...this one doesn't necessarily seem too hard - say, mostly via two structural supports mimicking the way boosters transfer their load (probably not the most mass-efficient structure, but not requiring too many changes).
      And... yeah, that's pretty much it as far as finding some positives goes.

  • by lax-goalie (730970) on Tuesday February 08, 2011 @05:12PM (#35142988)

    So, the Liberty will be able to put about 20,000 kg into LEO for about $9,000 per Kg. The Falcon 9 can put just over half that (10K kg or so) into LEO for somewhere between $5,400 - $6,000 per kg, depending on the load factor. (Numbers pulled from the SpaceX web site.)

    Of course, there are other costs besides the raw launch cost (insurance, etc.), but it will be interesting to see how these two vehicles compete. For things like ISS resupply missions, it may make sense to just shoot the Falcon twice.

    Once the Falcon 9 heavy gets into the mix (32,000 kg to LEO for $95M), ATK & Astrium will need to sharpen their pencils a bit. That'll be one and a half times the payload for half the cost or so.

    Price wars for space launch capacity? I can't wait to watch!

    • by sznupi (719324)
      Such price per kg (basically, at this point, claimed one...) of Falcon just matches the ranges of Zenit, Proton, Long March or Soyuz... (a launchpad for the latter is almost ready in French Guiana BTW)
      • by strack (1051390)
        dont forget the soyuz and long march are made by engineers being payed itty bitty chinese and russian dollars compared to the u.s. engineers who make the falcon.
        • by sznupi (719324)
          You mean US engineers with lots of experience in the field, grabbed by SpaceX?
      • Soyuz... (a launchpad for the latter is almost ready in French Guiana BTW)

        That will be only for unmanned Soyuz launches, an important distinction to make.

        • by sznupi (719324)
          There is no distinction when talking about costs of kg in commercial launches (in fact, launch pad so close to the equator gives noticeably lower costs...); manned spacecraft is pretty much fixed in configuration.
    • The ones with the most heavily funded lobbyists will win. Innovation and efficiency always take a back seat, if they're in the car at all.
      • by strack (1051390)
        yeah, by the way, did you hear spacex just opened some offices in washington? elon musk is just as ready to play the game as the rest. and its about time i say.
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Exactly, ATK (Thiokol/Hercules) have been building things to government contracts for years, therefore they have to get lean to make this work.

    • by maswan (106561)

      But, Ariane 5 (ATV version) already can put 21000 kg into LEO, at what seems to be competitive cost (one number I saw was just $180 million launch cost, but I'm not sure if that's for the ATV version, anyone with proper numbers?).

      So, I don't get the why of this, other than making it half American to be a little bit easier for NASA to swallow politically than sending money to other than directly to ESA. Otherwise, this seems like a big development undertaking just to end up with the same capability that alre

  • I think we can sum up many of the comments as follows. "How dare ATK try to use "our" commercial space subsidies to keep your jobs after you lost direct government support, instead of dying quietly. That would have been much more convenient for our particular views/politics."

    *shrug* I doubt it'll go anywhere, but if they can convince someone to try to make a go of it, more power to them.

  • This is just one of multiple attempts by ESA to get NASA to fund their work. In addition, is one of the few American space companies that makes NOTHING when it comes to launch vehicles. They are pretty much a worthless company in that arena.

    I would much rather see NASA, COTS, etc. be awarded to American companies that produce the majority of the work in America. That would be SpaceX, Boeing, and even SNC's Dream Chaser, which will launch on Delta, Atlas and F9H. My guess is that those 3 will be the big wi
  • I hear that Samsung [slashdot.org] has already expressed interest for launching commercials this way.
  • 1. Get billions of dollars from government to build a launch vehicle for NASA.
    2. Get billions more due to cost overruns.
    3. Develop mechanical problems which will cost billions more to fix.
    4. Project is deemed to expensive and gets canceled by government.
    5. Take launch vehicle private so you can resell it back to NASA for billions more.
    6. No question marks here. Just profit.

  • This is something from Freelancer, isn't it?

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