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Space Science Technology

First Images of Russian-European Manned Spacecraft 191

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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  • 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.

  • by __aarcfd8085 ( 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 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:14AM (#24303851)
    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 has a much lower density atnosphere than earth.
  • 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.

  • Re:the hell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kestasjk ( 933987 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:40AM (#24304275) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:the hell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sexybomber ( 740588 ) < minus painter> on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @10:58AM (#24304593)

    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-propelled ships.

    2. US and Russia point all their remaining ICBMs straight up, instead of at each other (I'm sure that's where they're still aimed), and launch them into orbit. Maybe dock them at the ISS or something.

    3. When we need to launch a mission, we send up the ship either on a conventional rocket or via a space elevator. Ship maneuvers to the ISS, picks up a bunch of ICBMs. Ship then maneuvers away from ths ISS (and everything else) and lights one of the ICBM payloads behind it.

    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.

    5. ???

    6. Profit?

  • Re:Go Europe! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IllForgetMyNickSoonA ( 748496 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @11:12AM (#24304823)
    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...
  • 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.

  • Re:the hell? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2008 @12:01PM (#24305723) Journal

    yup, eight engines and the same firing order as a small block chevy engine.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll