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Unmmannedspaceflight Ares V missions, How would a big rocket change the paradigm
AscendingNode
post Oct 19 2007, 08:34 PM
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So I've been thinking a lot lately about the BFR (Big Fantastic Rocket) being developed for the NASA manned spaceflight program, the Ares V. And I was wondering what sort of robotic missions it would make possible that before weren't possible.

At first I was thinking you could take something like the proposed Europa Explorer mission... which launches on a Delta IV heavy and orbits Europa.... and you could take that spacecraft and put it on a bigger rocket and do things like add extra radiation shielding so it could last longer or add extra propellant so that it could orbit Callisto, Ganymede, and Europa or something like that.

But that's just an improvement to an existing concept... what about things that no one has really thought about because they've been just thinking about things that could fit on existing rockets.

Sure, we could do things like putting an armada of spacecraft on one vehicle... but that would cost a lot of money for all of the separate power systems (RTG or Solar) and avionics... and that concept could be done anyway with multiple launches of existing rockets.

But with a BFR, we could do a Cassini style mission to Neptune (i.e. get to Neptune fast and carry enough propellant to stop from a high-speed encounter and do a tour). Or we could maybe carry enough shielding to orbit Io smile.gif

So, what do y'all think? How would you fly a BFR?
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AscendingNode
post Oct 19 2007, 08:41 PM
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BFT (Big Fantastic Telescope) on BFR

Nasawatch had a link to a youtube video of a concept for a big telescope on the Ares V

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOsHAA000z0

Cool.
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The Messenger
post Oct 19 2007, 08:45 PM
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I think a Saturn or Neptunian Flagship BFR mission would be a fantastic good test of the rocket before using it in manned space applications...and after. What a great way to earn a manned space rating while supporting a major science goal in the process!

A probe with this kind of oommph could reach Saturn in less than three years! In fact, it could be launched for Neptune and smash a couple of probes into Iapetus & Dione (for Cassini to observe) along the way - plug a New Horizons head on the beast=, and a mission could be only two years in the making!
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ugordan
post Oct 19 2007, 08:53 PM
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@The Messenger: And then if the test flight of the rocket fails (doesn't have to be a spectacular failure, a mere couple of seconds too early upper stage cutoff would do) and several billion $$$ goes essentially down the drain?


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nprev
post Oct 19 2007, 11:20 PM
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Brings up an interesting point, Gordan: Wonder how many unmanned test flights of Ares V are planned? IIRC, the Saturn V had five (Apollos 2 through 6). If a similar campaign is designed for Ares, then maybe we could do an interplanetary mission for the last test, assuming all the bugs are worked out...

EDIT: There were only two tests of the Saturn V: Apollos 4 & 6. What's amazing in my perspective from the current era is that 6 had many serious problems...so they figured them out, fixed them, and launched Apollo 8 less than eight months later... blink.gif We need to figure out how to do things like that again.


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Juramike
post Oct 20 2007, 12:52 AM
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Maybe we could use one of the later test flights to deliver and drop a few more MSL's down on Mars.

(Building a few more MSL's would also make it easier to justify adding the ChemCam back into the program - it would help dilute the cost.)

Using an Ares V vehicle to put serious hardware in Mars orbit would also provide proof of concept for a far-future manned Mars mission.

-Mike


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dvandorn
post Oct 20 2007, 06:55 AM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Oct 19 2007, 06:20 PM) *
Brings up an interesting point, Gordan: Wonder how many unmanned test flights of Ares V are planned? IIRC, the Saturn V had five (Apollos 2 through 6). If a similar campaign is designed for Ares, then maybe we could do an interplanetary mission for the last test, assuming all the bugs are worked out...


There were several different missions proposed to make use of the amazing capability provided by the Saturn V -- Mars landers, outer planet flybys and orbiters, Venus orbiters... a plethora of missions that could all benefit from the incredible lifting capability of the massive Saturn.

They all ended up shelved. Mostly because a Saturn V was immense in every respect, including its cost. It became glaringly obvious that no one was willing to spend the kind of money it would cost to buy a Saturn V to launch their unmanned probe.

They became incredibly reliable vehicles, but they were never cheap.

QUOTE (nprev @ Oct 19 2007, 06:20 PM) *
EDIT: There were only two tests of the Saturn V: Apollos 4 & 6. What's amazing in my perspective from the current era is that 6 had many serious problems...so they figured them out, fixed them, and launched Apollo 8 less than eight months later... blink.gif We need to figure out how to do things like that again.


In some ways, we need to figure out how not to *ever* have to do things like that again. But first, let me say a couple of things:

The guys at Marshall, German and not, overdesigned the vehicle such that there was enough margin to absorb potentially fatal events and keep going. Not just keep the crew alive, but keep going.

Apollo 6 seemed to have a lot of unrelated problems when it flew, that's true. But they actually boiled down to only two basic problems with the first two stages of the rocket (with one simple wiring error compounding the problem), an easily-solved problem with the in-flight ignitor system for the S-IVB, and an easily identified and fixed problem with the materials used in the SLA adapter between the S-IVB and the CSM.

The Germans built those vehicles (especially the early ones) to telemeter so much information about themselves that the problems were rather easily diagnosed and fixes readily identified. So, while the problems seemed to be nearly insurmountable, the direct way in which the problems could be diagnosed led to a lot of confidence in the performance of the next rocket.

But...

The Apollo-Saturn development philosophy of "All-Up" testing was an *extremely* risky approach. It relied on the design and, moreso, the engineering philosophy upon which the Saturn was based being *so* well done that you just had to have confidence based on the engineering. Period. It's true that independent testing of the stages incrementally would have taken too much time (and incidentally cost more money) -- but in Mueller's original concept, he was willing to man a Saturn V after only a single successful test flight.

Saturn V had a magnificent flight record, mostly due to the margin built into all of its systems by those methodical Germans. But even after the deadline had been met and the time pressure was off, we nearly lost a crew when a malfunctioning engine came within about one second of vibrating itself out of the thrust assembly and tearing into the tankage above.

The problem with a huge and expensive launcher like a Saturn V or an Ares V is that they will always be too expensive to test a little bit at a time, and so will have to be over-engineered. Problem is, aerospace engineering these days seems to be all about doing as much as you can within your power/mass envelope, to cut your margins as slim as you possibly can and still get away with it. So I have doubts that the Ares V will be as immensely successful as its predecessor.

But I have no doubts that the all-up concept, carried over from Apollo to the Shuttle, will continue to prevail and that NASA, in its arrogance, will likely plan to man the Ares I and place Orion equipment for actual manned flights on the Ares V -- both after one successful test flight.

-the other Doug


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Paolo
post Oct 20 2007, 07:03 AM
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I don't like the idea of flying planetary missions on large, expensive launchers like the Ares V (or the Saturn V if you like). The size of the spacecraft and the scale of its mission would probably be such to make it extremely expensive (à la Voyager Mars lander or JIMO), which would in turn make it unlikely to be ever approved.


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Jim from NSF.com
post Oct 20 2007, 12:48 PM
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QUOTE (Paolo @ Oct 20 2007, 03:03 AM) *
I don't like the idea of flying planetary missions on large, expensive launchers like the Ares V (or the Saturn V if you like). The size of the spacecraft and the scale of its mission would probably be such to make it extremely expensive (à la Voyager Mars lander or JIMO), which would in turn make it unlikely to be ever approved.



I would agree. Cost is proportional to weight
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djellison
post Oct 20 2007, 12:54 PM
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QUOTE (Juramike @ Oct 20 2007, 01:52 AM) *
a few more MSL's down on Mars.


Sorry - I've got to pick you up on that. 'a few more MSL's' is the same as saying 'a few more billion dollars'. Given that space science has about..ohh..12 cents to spare - 'a few more MSL's' on one LV is sci-fi.

Doug
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Jim from NSF.com
post Oct 20 2007, 12:59 PM
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QUOTE (nprev @ Oct 19 2007, 07:20 PM) *
Brings up an interesting point, Gordan: Wonder how many unmanned test flights of Ares V are planned? IIRC, the Saturn V had five (Apollos 2 through 6). If a similar campaign is designed for Ares, then maybe we could do an interplanetary mission for the last test, assuming all the bugs are worked out...

EDIT: There were only two tests of the Saturn V: Apollos 4 & 6. What's amazing in my perspective from the current era is that 6 had many serious problems...so they figured them out, fixed them, and launched Apollo 8 less than eight months later... blink.gif We need to figure out how to do things like that again.


1st Ares V has no upperstage, 2nd flight is fullup with LSAM
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algorimancer
post Oct 21 2007, 02:37 PM
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Of course, the Shuttle didn't have any test flights (other than approach & landing on Enterprise). They flew the prototype manned.
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nprev
post Oct 21 2007, 03:29 PM
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Great point...dammit! sad.gif wink.gif I don't know what the man-rated certification process entails, but obviously unmanned test flights are not a hardline prerequisite.


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dvandorn
post Oct 21 2007, 04:48 PM
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Actually, the Shuttle is a beast unto itself when it comes to man-rating a launch vehicle. As designed, it cannot be flown unmanned -- you would need to make several major modifications to it if you wanted to fly it unmanned, which were considered to be too expensive (and, in some cases, dangerous) to build in.

But the Shuttle is its own launch vehicle in some ways -- the main engines are integral to the manned vehicle. So you cannot actually fly any portion of a Shuttle stack unless the orbiter is manned.

So, the Shuttle flew for the first time (and has always flown) with "exception waiver" documents. The basic approach is that there are some issues, inherent in the design of the vehicle, which render it potentially unsafe -- the location of the orbiter in the stack and the inability to shut down the solid rocket boosters once ignited, among other things -- which make the vehicle impossible to man-rate. So the Shuttle flies, every single time, with signed waivers which state that the program managers and crew are willing to undertake the risks associated with the items that cannot be man-rated.

In that way, the Shuttle has never actually been man-rated.

The Ares I approach will also require a Level One waiver for the use of a solid rocket booster as its first stage, for the same reason the Shuttle requires the same waiver -- the motor, once ignited, cannot be shut down. And, in at least that one aspect, it, too, will never actually achieve the status of man-rated.

-the other Doug


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Jim from NSF.com
post Oct 21 2007, 05:39 PM
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QUOTE (algorimancer @ Oct 21 2007, 10:37 AM) *
Of course, the Shuttle didn't have any test flights (other than approach & landing on Enterprise). They flew the prototype manned.


The 1st four mission were categorized as test missions
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