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Space Science

Lockheed Martin unveils Space Shuttle replacement 549

Vegan Bob writes "Lockheed Martin released its proposal for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) in a recent Popular Mechanics article. NASA will choose this vehicle scematic or opt for the yet-released Northrop Grumman design in 2008. The CEV will replace the Space Shuttle program, and will eventually go to the moon (between 2015 and 2020)."
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Lockheed Martin unveils Space Shuttle replacement

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  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:40PM (#12435240) Homepage
    Wait, what?

    Why add an orbital rendezvous requirement to all missions? Why use a shape like this which, I presume, requires the use of failure-prone ceramic tiles for reentry protection instead of a tried-and-proven heat sheild when you're planning to use parachutes to land the thing anyhow? What's the advantage to using this thing over just a regular capsule if it's not necessarily reusable?

    How does it possibly make sense to use the same vehicle for LEO missions as for moon and Mars missions? What happened to the important ideas behind Mars Direct or Semi-Direct (aka, having a seperate hab module that you can leave for future missions and making your fuel on Mars instead of hauling it with)? Does this signal that NASA is planning for Mars as just a set of "footprints and flagpoles" missions? Why are they planning a fly-by of Mars at all when the most dangerous part of a well-planned mission would be the part in transit rather than the part on the planet?

    And perhaps most of all, why is it going to take us fifteen years to get back to the moon when we got there from scratch in less than ten the first time around? Heck, what's our goal in going back to the moon in the first place instead of concentrating on the much-more-promising Mars? Did we miss something the last time around?

    In short: Just what, exactly, is going on here?

    • Just what, exactly, is going on here?

      Lipservice and political grandstanding? I don't think there will be political will to carry out even a "footprint and flagpoles" Mars mission in the near future.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Exactly. You have to remember that a mission to Mars is a much bigger undertaking than a lunar mission. Even considering advances in technology since the 1960s, you're still looking at a multi-decade effort just to get the first human there. And in order to succeed at all, such a mission needs significant financial, and therefore political support for a couple of decades.

        It was one thing to race to the moon in the 60s when the US was all caught up in beating the Soviet Union. It's quite another to sust
    • by Anonymous Coward
      requires the use of failure-prone ceramic tiles for reentry protection instead of a tried-and-proven heat sheild when you're planning to use parachutes to land the thing anyhow? What's the advantage to using this thing over just a regular capsule if it's not necessarily reusable?

      You seem to be forgetting that the vehicle will be on top of the stack, not bolted to the side.
    • Nothing about this impresses me. The design being the biggest disapointment. Maybe its time to take bids from some of the new areospace startups instead of handing it off to old entrenched Boeing. Those dinosaurs look at space and all they see is nails, so of course they'd want to build the same old hammers.
      • This is just Lockeheed Martin's concept. No one has seen mockups of boeing's yet. I understand thiers is more of an Capsule type configuration, instead of a lifting body.
      • Actually I think they see huge piles of $$$ too, which isn't a good basis for new designs.
    • Is it just me, or does that design look a lot like the Big Gemini []? I was amazed at how similar the designs looked, and then I saw this line:

      The CEV is not designed to glide upon re-entry like the shuttle; rather, it will be equipped with parachutes and airbags to set down on land or water. Interchangeable computer systems will increase adaptability between modules.

      I'm thinking it *is* a Big Gemini. In which case...

      Way to go Lockheed! Reusing proven technology rocks! (Maybe they actually listened to my comments on reusing the design? ... Nah.)
    • "In short: Just what, exactly, is going on here?"

      NASA have to find some way to spend $16,000,000,000. It's not as if you could find any another way to spend that kind of money on space is it?

    • bleh, this is NOT the CEV that is going to the mars. Also, if you didn't notice, the CEV docks to a hab module in the back, so the hab module could in effect be parked nearby the ISS, or somewhere in orbit and reused.
    • No, you see, this time we're going to the moon for real!
    • I don't understand the orbital rendezvous thing either. If I was to guess, I'd say I think it might make the vehicle as a whole more flexible in terms of fuel and cargo space requirements.

      The craft does not appear to use ceramic tiles. They mention a carbon-carbon heat shield. Also, it would appear to be reusable. Capsules are limited in terms of maneuverability - this design appears to have some control over its descent into the atmosphere.

      And it makes sense to use the same craft for LEO as well as M
    • by macpeep ( 36699 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#12435380)
      The benefit of a lifting body (or winged vehicle) is that you have more cross-track navigation control. Also, the g-loads on people inside the craft are much lower that way, which is good when they are coming back from a two year trip to Mars in zero gravity (or very low gravity while on Mars). Even for a long trip to the moon, it will be very helpful.

      Orbital rendezvous is good for a number of things. It allows you to have modularity so you can assembler larger crafts, add special modules later on that you haven't even thought of now (as more advanced technology becomes available 10 years down the road), use it to dock with the International Space Station, use it to dock with possible rescue crafts, etc.

      This is a vehicle for carrying people. It's not the full set of technologies needed to get to and land on Mars.

      And it's taking 15 years because there's no Soviet Union that's making everyone piss in their pants in fear.
    • Why use a shape like this which, I presume, requires the use of failure-prone ceramic tiles for reentry protection instead of a tried-and-proven heat sheild when you're planning to use parachutes to land the thing anyhow?

      According to the linked Wiki article: "Its airplane-shaped design makes it far easier to navigate during high-speed returns to Earth than the capsule-shaped vehicles of the past, according to Lockheed Martin."

      Whether this makes sense or not, I don't know, but there's the answer to one

    • by JhohannaVH ( 790228 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:57PM (#12435439) Journal
      RTFA man.... and all you other commenters. Not only does it use a thermal shield instead of tiles, there IS a backup Carbon-Carbon shield.

      Also, this is not the final design, this is the one that Lockheed submitted for consideration in the competition. Final one to be chosen in 2008 with manned flights by 2014.

      I think that it's 'taking us so long to go go the moon' because the moon is most assuredly dead. It seems that the focus of everything is looking for life, which is great. Either that, or long-term bases on Luna, which is also great. If it's the latter, well, damn skippy it should take more than 15 years!!!! We've never tried to exist on another solar body, let alone one without supportive water or atmosphere.

      So, in answer to your question, this design is a stop gap measure to longer-term and better technically advanced systems to further our goal of living, flourishing and colonizing space and other bodies.
    • "what's our goal in going back to the moon in the first place instead of concentrating on the much-more-promising Mars"

      Other than even more welfare under a different name and more big government sponsorship of high tech R&D, what is "much-more-promising" about going to Mars? What does it give us other than a hideously expensive pissing competition?
    • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:59PM (#12435457) Homepage Journal
      And perhaps most of all, why is it going to take us fifteen years to get back to the moon when we got there from scratch in less than ten the first time around? Heck, what's our goal in going back to the moon in the first place instead of concentrating on the much-more-promising Mars? Did we miss something the last time around?

      We didn't go to the moon for science and exploration, we went there to give the Reds a big fat middle finger.

      Further, NASA was a part of the United States Air Force at the time, not a separate entity with its own (very limited ) budget.

      Third, the Apollo project cost over $25 billion. In modern dollars, that's aover $100 billion. And believe or not, government spending was more efficient back then. Environmental impact studies weren't necessary, the cost of doing business was lower, the bidding process was simpler and cheaper. NASA's entire budget for this year is under $17 billion.

      You can't just reproduce the Saturn V and fly it. The Saturn V was too big for the launch facilities and it had to be assembled with its own tower and hauled out to the launch site.

      The Apollo program was also cut short. We'd made our point: America can reach the moon, and the Soviets can't. Neener neener neener. The last three moon missions were cancelled due to budget cuts.

      So why will it takes 15 years to get back there? Because none of our current technology is appropriate for the task, the old technology is not only unavailable (there's no more Saturn V's left that could fly) but updating it to modern standards and safety requirements (not to mention refocusing the moon landing to a science mission more than thumbing our nose at the Eastern Bloc) would probably cost as much or more than just starting from scratch.

      What's going on: I have no idea, but I honestly don't think they'll even hit the moon in 15 years unless some thing major changes about how NASA or the government does business.

      • by McSpew ( 316871 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:36PM (#12436300)

        Further, NASA was a part of the United States Air Force at the time, not a separate entity with its own (very limited ) budget.

        Erm, what?!?

        NASA has always been a separate, civilian agency. It grew out of the old National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), itself a civilian organization.

        The Air Force did have its own space program during the late 1950s and early 1960s (around the same time as the creation of NASA), which centered around the X-20 Dyna-Soar [] and the Manned Orbiting Laboratory []. The USAF even built an astronaut school at Edwards Air Force Base [], and Chuck Yeager was the commandant []. However, that whole program lost steam in the mid 1960s and was abandoned by 1969. This led the USAF to send its best remaining astronaut pilots to NASA, and convert the school into a test pilot school.

        Even so, many of the most famous astronauts from the Apollo days were not USAF pilots. Neil Armstrong [] was a civilian (he worked for NACA in the X-15 program), and Buzz Aldrin [], Jim Lovell [] and Alan Shepard [] were US Navy pilots.

        The difference between then and now, in terms of budgets is this: First, the entire nation was deathly afraid of the Red Menace and national pride was on the line (nobody wanted go to sleep by the light of a Commie moon); Second, a very charismatic US President had staked his legacy on the US getting to the moon before the end of the 1960s (this at a time when the US had only put one man in space, and briefly, at that) before being assassinated and leaving the entire nation in shock.

        Congress voted big dollars to the space program because it helped fight the blasted Commies, and because Lyndon Johnson, among others, helped spread the pork to important states (California, Texas, Missouri, New York, Florida, etc.). It also helped the nation pay its final respects to JFK. By the early 1970s, however, Americans began to question the investment in the space program, regularly saying things such as, "I don't think it makes sense to spend so much money to send people to the moon when we have so many problems here on Earth that we need to deal with first, such as hunger, pollution, disease, poverty, etc."

        You made some valid points in the rest of your piece, but your glaring fallacy about NASA's status kind of undermines your credibility, don'tcha think?

      • by reality-bytes ( 119275 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:36PM (#12436304) Homepage
        Do modern safety requirements = Shuttle?

        One glaring safety issue that I can see is that the Shuttle lacks the crew-saving 'abort modes' that Saturn V and even Gemini / Mecury had ie: The Launch Escape Tower.

        If anything had gone wrong ie: vehicle exploded on pad / during initial climb, the Launch Escape System would drag the capsule clear of the rocket and then land using the normal parachute system.

        The Shuttle has very limited launch abort modes and very optimistic ideas about how the crew could leave the vehicle. Ultimately, if the Shuttle's main tank burnt fast / exploded on the pad, that would be curtains for the crew. As Challenger demonstrated, the Shuttle is vulnerable during ascent too where a catastrophic failure of the SRBs would destroy the entire vehicle and crew.

        If you search around, you can find the NASA descriptions of both Shuttle and Saturn V abort modes and just in the way they read, you can see that the Saturn V escape system was a *serious* concept whereas the Shuttle abort modes are no more than lip-service to any significant malfunction.

        Although the NASA launch escape systems were never tested on an exploding rocket, the Russian space program did demonstrate on a couple of occasions that the escape towers (I think on N1 boosters) worked. This is the same launch escape system used on manned Soyuz flights to this day.

        If someone told me I had to ride in a rocket to LEO tommorow, I would choose a Soyuz flight over a Shuttle flight purely for the ammount of 'options' provided throughout the flight.
  • Couple LocMart Links (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:41PM (#12435246) Homepage Journal
    A few links right to locmart:

    Main CEV Page [] Has the graphics shown in the other articles, etc.

    Couple Page PDF Early on stuff about CEV []

    Interesting.... [] This page doesn't say much but what it does say is this, "The Space Exploration Vision Center is now open in Washington D.C. This facility showcases the latest developments in space exploration, concepts and technologies for NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle program, including a full-scale cockpit simulator. Government tours and meetings are available five days a week." I want on one of those tours.
  • curious... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wcitech ( 798381 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:43PM (#12435277)
    are there any obvious oppurtunities for advancement here? There are going to be billions in production costs, so we can -=go to the moon=- in 2015-2020. I'm going to be a little more than upset if we spend this much money to accomplish something that will have happene already almost 70 years prior. Can we at least shoot to that red one next door?
    • The first lunar landing was July 20, 1969, so that will make this almost 50 years after the original (not 70), which is bad enough. No need to exaggerate the problem. ;)
    • by stinkyfingers ( 588428 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:54PM (#12435405)
      // begin conspiracy

      Maybe we have to get to the moon to put footprints and flag up before some other country finds out the truth. We can always *make* more money.

      // end conspiracy
    • Yeah there definetly should be. The design being shown in the article is a Re Entry Vehicle with a small habitation module + propulsion module. A Mars version would probablly have a large Propulsion module and Habitation module. As far as landing on the moon goes, I dunno how lockmart wants to do it.
  • Since the early days of the space program, lives have been wasted and money shoveled down the gaping maw of the 'status-quo' machine.

    We should/could have been out there by now. There are overwhelming reasons, political and economic, to get this freaking horse to run already.

    So now they give us a 'new and improved' assbox that has limited mission goals, is incapable of leaving orbit, and cant get itself to space. Whats new in that?
  • Shields! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lugor ( 628175 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:44PM (#12435284)
    3 Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris protection shield

    One step closer to Ionized Hullplates, then real Shields!!
  • by TheKidWho ( 705796 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:44PM (#12435287)
    This is a lifting body, it does NOT have wings like the shuttle's. Where the "wings" are on the LM CEV,LOX/Fuel Cells/and other avionics equipment is stored there.

    Also, this is NOT the CEV that is going to be going to Mars. The Mars mission isn't until past 2020 and when that happens, the CEV will have been updated quite a bit.

    So now, lets have a Capsule vs Lifting body debate!
  • Where's the CRV? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:45PM (#12435308)
    Now if we can get a Crew Return Vehicle turned back back on we have a chance of fully populating the ISS. It would be a nice bonus if such a vehicle was a striped down (toilet-less, stowable) CEV that could use the same launch system.
  • Not again! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Baldrson ( 78598 ) *
    Oh God, not again!

    Hasn't the space shuttle program done enough damage to the pioneering heritage of the US already?

    First, NASA delivers a space transportation system with a cost per lb to leo that is an order of magnitude higher than it promised.

    Then, NASA stomps out private investment in launch service companies because it would dilute the monopoly value of the bad technology NASA produced.

    Then when grassroots space enthusiasts try to get NASA to stop stomping out privately financed space transp

    • ...

      you're being completely illogical here.

      Also Let's not forget the CEV is designed to go to the moon and mars, not just LEO.
    • Indeed, when all is lost and humanity buckles under it's own weight, and we listlissly go through the motions of our meaningless lives, the blame will lie on NASA.
    • Re:Not again! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Androk ( 873765 )
      the delta clipper xa.htm [] would have been a great replacement for the shuttle. It took a ground crew of 6 and demonstrated quick turn-aroud launches (on the 1/3 scale prototype). McDonnall Douglas made many successful test launches, Nasa crashed it the first time, and the project was cancelled. Androk
      • Truax's Sea Dragon [] would have been a better replacement.

        My experience with Truax was to get him to cross the street (literally) and meet with Ron Packard -- the congressman who sponsored the Launch Services Purchase Act of 1990. The LSPA was signed into law. I testified before Congress [] on follow-up legislation for commercial incentives. While in Washington DC, I met with Dana Rohrabacher and told him of Truax's desire to do a trans-Pacific rocket-delivery system for over-night "FedEx" type services base

  • by StuffJustHappens ( 869989 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:47PM (#12435340)
    I haven't RTFA (hey, this is Slashdot!), but based on my observations of the shuttle landings - ie: like a 'regular' passenger plane, I can see how this all pans out:

    1. Moonbase 1 is built with a modern, high-tech arrivals terminal for the new craft.

    2. First craft arrives and personnel enter the arrivals lounge.

    3. Crew awaits baggage only to discover it's been sent to Mars.
  • LockMart? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If they win the contract, I hope they have their budget firmly in place before they build anything.

    They are notorious for delivering under spec'ed products many millions above budget.
    • Re:LockMart? (Score:3, Informative)

      While it might be easy to bash LM, this is common among the entire Aerospace industry. Especially the big system integrators (LM, Boeing, NG, ATK, OS, etc). Because, as a system integrator, if 1 sub-contractor increases their cost by 1%, not only do you have to increase your cost my 1%, but then you have to increase it by another 1% to cover the additional costs of handling and reviewing the sub-contractor's extra 1%.

      IE a sub-contractor decides that a series of bolts were not up to specifications, so they
  • Grumman is teamed up with Boeing on theirs. So if this goes anything like the JSF contest Lockheed will win over the pregnant space guppy.
  • by mbancsu ( 881336 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:50PM (#12435371)
    this design isn't new!? these are images from shuttle prototype designs that were made back in 1991. Maybe the technology is finally available, hence the release of this material/info to the public/media?
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:51PM (#12435373)
    Why don't we just re-use an updated version of the Saturn rocket and capsule design if we're going back to the moon? It won't have the sex appeal of a new sports space shuttle but it would work.
    • Why don't we just re-use an updated version of the Saturn rocket and capsule design if we're going back to the moon? It won't have the sex appeal of a new sports space shuttle but it would work.

      Well, as I recall, someone on a previous thread said that all of the Saturn V blueprints were destroyed as part of the deal that lead to the creation of the original Space Shuttle (doesn't make a lot of sense, does it?) But, as the guy above me suggests, an updated Saturn V-scale rocket is the form-factor for their

    • by pjt48108 ( 321212 ) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `80184tjp'> on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @07:58PM (#12436968) Homepage
      I think we are more likely to see a Soyuz launch from Kennedy than we are a 'new' Saturn V. I have many reasons for saying this, but basic economics pretty much underscores them all.

      Now, I am no rocket scientist, physicist, engineer or whatnot. I am just a very curious person with a penchant for sites like (BTW, I recommend a visit there to all and sundry). But that is beside the point...

      First, the Soyuz line is still in production. But I can dream, too, so let's assume the Saturn concept is an option...

      Could we launch a Saturn? Well...

      Second, American space launch infrastructure has been down-graded from the Saturn days. What wasn't downgraded (or cross-graded, or otherwise euphemistically condensed and compacted) was left to rot-in-place. It was more cost effective to let it rot and rust--after all, we had the shuttle, and everything rebuilt to its associated scales.

      Therefore, any sort of similar shift to "ramp-up" to Saturn V levels would carry multiplier costs, what with the need to chop out the walls again at the Vehicle Assembly Building, upgrade or newly-design and construct Saturn-rated launch platforms and support structures, yada yada yada. This paints a very unfortunate situation. Bleak, I must confess, as I am a Saturn baby, born in 1968. Ah, the days of the TRUE boosters--I get sentimental for Skylab, sometimes...

      Finally, current capability trumps the theoretical capability of as-yet unrealized systems, ANY DAY OF THE WEEK, if you are a bean-counter (and there are a few out there, I understand.... Bean-counters, I mean). Soyuz beats US Brand 'X' launcher with what I feel is an INHERENT advantage to them: they are (in my opinion) overbuilt in order to compensate for launching, historically, from facilities further from the equator. It isn't a big shocker, then, to read that Russian rockets will soon actually be launching from South American bases, where this translates into larger load capabilities, or higher orbits, being closer to the equator.

      So, it would seem easier and more cost-effective, in my fantasy/opinion, to recycle current American facilities for Soyuz launch business: in the end, Soyuz is a well-proven product with a good number more launches on its resume, and an arguable launch advantage, to anything in current production inside or outside of Shuttle-Land, USA.

      So, sorry. As much as I'd like to see more Saturns launch, I think it is more likely I'll get a chance to see a Soyuz launch without ever leaving the USA. ...Of course, I still argue that Micro$oft will soon dump everything and pull a Steve Jobs (again), by gutting Windows in favor of some *nix. And I also voted for Kerry. So take it all with a grain of salt, I guess. ;)
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @04:56PM (#12435434)
    The most anticipated--if least glamorous--advancements will include a means to generate power for long-duration stays in space and a diagnostic safety system to troubleshoot problems.
    Wow, that's way to complicated... could you please explain that in layman's terms?
  • Compared to the shuttle, I mean.

    So -- I'm guessing this means a whole new operational strategy, reliying on the presence of large permanent space station for orbital research facilities and unmanned launches to get big stuff up there?
  • Size Matters (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AviLazar ( 741826 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:01PM (#12435496) Journal
    So they say it could be used for longer missions - but is it big enough. From the diagram it looks like the crew has a place to sit. For any missions, especially long term, the crew really needs a place to move around.
  • by pair-a-noyd ( 594371 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:05PM (#12435538)
    This thing looks like it can't carry much of a payload.

    What about schoolbus sized satellites?

    This looks like a simple space taxi, not a space truck...

    Waste of money..

    I think we need to go back to basics and use the simple rockets to lift huge payloads, like the Russian Energia.

    The Russians space program is pretty basic and could be very effective..

    First step is to keep meddling politicians out of it all...

    • Its not the space shuttle, nor is it intended to be.

      The space shuttle can launch 20ish tons to LEO. But what if youre just going to the space station for a crew transfer? Its about as economical as taking a semi-truck down to the drugstore instead of a 4-cylinder coupe.

      We dont always needs huge payloads. The other interesting idea with this concept is that this vehicle is being designed to be launch from current launch vehicles. Given the current budgetary situation, doing more with less is vital.
    • The problem with a jack-of-all-trades vehive is that it is a master of none. We can already get heavy payloads up into space with more conventional rockets, like the Energia you mention. What we need is a way to effectively get people up there too. It seems that this is the primary goal of this CEV. The payload will get there one way, and the crew another. Then, they don't have to bring the truck back home empty all the time.

      A reusable crew vehicle beats a capsule any day, no?

      And what sense is there in us
    • You should NOT launch space equipment on manned launch vehicles. The safety requirements drive the cost through the roof. There is no argument for launching satellites on the same vehicle as people, all that ends up happening is you drive the costs of both up.

      It's much cheaper to launch equipment on Expendable Launch Vehicles (ELVs) and people on a small system designed to get just people up. In orbit rendezvous is easy for us now and this way you don't have to launch wasted mass in the form of quadruple
    • Why on earth (or in space) would you want a manned spacecraft like this to carry a payload? If you try to build a manned craft that can carry "schoolbus sized satellites" you'll end up with something like the space shuttle, only even more expensive and even less reliable.

      This is a "space compact car" to carry humans up. The shuttle is a "space SUV" that is horribly inefficient as a cargo platform or a people-mover. "Space trucks" should be (and are) unmanned.
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:08PM (#12435563) Homepage Journal
    If the device cannot land like a plane it has no hopes of recovering anything from space.

    Still has to survive re-entry so losing the ability to land like a plane is a great loss. While it makes it possible to land anywhere I dont believe our money is best put to use in this fashion.
  • by IronChefMorimoto ( 691038 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:09PM (#12435574)
    I swear to God that photo on the Popular Mechanics website and Wikipedia article looks like a damned LEGO set.

    At least NASA won't have to put much engineering into future spacesuits, what with the limited arm/leg mobility of LEGO peeps.

  • who cares?? (Score:3, Funny)

    by eestar ( 874541 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:10PM (#12435581)
    why do we care?? I mean seriously why do i care what we are going to do in space? Why are we geeks and why do all geeks have interests in the same geeky stuff? Lets make slashdot cool together. Lets talk about American Idol... I cant, do it. I like space more than pretty pop singers. whats wrong with us??
  • by jzarling ( 600712 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:10PM (#12435586)
    What about the X-33 and the VentureStar? Couldn't we just restart that program? The design is already worked out and the protoype of the X-33 was well on it way to completion.
    • by CompressedAir ( 682597 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:48PM (#12435919)
      The relevant phrase here is: "Don't throw good money after bad."

      The X-33 is an example of how NOT to design a good spacecraft. If your design relies on not one, but several totally unproven systems (the main two being a composite fuel tank and Aerospike engines) it should not surprise you when it doesn't pan out.

      My personal jury is still out on this Lockheed design, but remember: just because it has a lifting body does not mean it has anythin design-wise in common with the Shuttle.
  • by Ars-Fartsica ( 166957 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:15PM (#12435637)
    How many times have we seen "shuttle replacements"??? And Popular Mechanics/Science has just turned into military industrial porn. Do even 1% of their "artist renderings" of nuclear fighter aircraft or nanotube-hulled destroyers or hypersonic submarines (yes, all improbable/impossible, that is my point) ever make it even into the clay mockup phase?
  • by Is0m0rph ( 819726 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:34PM (#12435805)
    Like Arnold Schwarzenegger was saying on Howard Stern a couple weeks ago. The moon is not good for anything. The tides are a nuisance, most crime is committed during a full moon, female cycles follow the moon, no need for moonlight when we have fire and electricity. He said if he can't get government backing to blow up the moon he would go up there using his own money and blow it up himself.
  • Duct tape? (Score:3, Funny)

    by loconet ( 415875 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:39PM (#12435844) Homepage
    Is it just me or does this image [] of the model look like the Propultion Stage is being held together by duct tape? I mean, I know duct tape can achieve some unbelievable things but this might be pushing it just a bit no?

    • What concerns me in that picture is what looks like exposed superinsulation material with no aluminum shell covering it around the propulsion stage. Seems rather susceptible to ice damage. Now that insulation is probably covering a tank that is strong but if you lose the insulation your fuel could boil off rather quickly. And if you can afford to have less fuel, you wouldn't be carrying it in the first place. And what about all the wires and plumbing on the outside of the tank that are not as strong a

  • by JJ ( 29711 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @05:50PM (#12435941) Homepage Journal
    Because the costs of getting into space hasn't changed much, this is really just a reusable capsule which will be launched on a disposable rocket. The other components will be launched on seperate disposable rockets (or one day, built in space.) It's more efficent than the shuttle, much cheaper and safer. Splashdowns used to be my most favorite part of the space mission and it looks like we'll be having them again. Probably not nationally televised though.
  • by WillAffleckUW ( 858324 ) on Wednesday May 04, 2005 @06:24PM (#12436191) Homepage Journal
    The SEV is put into orbit - once.

    The space elevators bring up the fuel mass (split by solar cells in orbit), the solar cells, and the supplies, which are then transferred from the space elevator orbital end to the space station (or the spacecraft going to Mars to find Oil).

    But what will they do with the military space shuttle?

  • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Thursday May 05, 2005 @03:34AM (#12439238) Homepage
    and will eventually go to the moon (between 2015 and 2020).

    Whereupon they'll be given a warm welcome by Mike Melville and the crew of Tycho Station, who'll present them with their very own "Welcome to the Moon, Inc." wings.

  • by JohnPM ( 163131 ) on Thursday May 05, 2005 @07:06AM (#12439852) Homepage
    From NASA's published schedule:

    2015 - 2020 - First moon landing by astronauts in lunar spacecraft.

    So they finally admit it never happened in the 1960s!

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