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Comment: Re:what a joke.... (Score 2) 27

by downix (#37049514) Attached to: NASA Taps 7 Commercial Firms For Suborbital Flights

NASA does many such contracts on a regular basis. This is for suborbital research, commonly done on vehicles such as the Black Brant and Terrior, a class of vehicles called Sounding Rockets. Several small companies have stepped forward with new suborbital programs which cost far less than these older systems, such as Scaled Composites SpaceShipTwo, Blue Origin's New Shepherd and the XCOR Lynx, and the old contracts expire next year, so this is the right time to gather replacements.

The last contract setup cost us $4 million, but was in 1998, so with inflation in place, $10 million sounds about right.

Comment: Check the sources (Score 5, Insightful) 954

by downix (#36918102) Attached to: New NASA Data Casts Doubt On Global Warming Models

The article in Forbes is written by a fellow for the Heartland Institute, one of the numerous front organizations for the coal and oil industries alongside other such groups as "CO2 is Green". The study is not peer reviewed, it has been published *for* peer review, there is a dramatic difference between the two. Beyond that, you have the issue that the study argues 180 degrees opposite to the articles claims. In short, the article is complete bunk, written by a fraud with an attempt to reinforce the positions of those who wish to kill scientific progress and research.

Comment: Re:Frankenstack (Score 1) 275

by downix (#34895444) Attached to: NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

He's not the only person, or company, with heavy lift designs, and many of those involved have a longer track record. There are, in fact, 13 companies now submitting heavy lift designs now. Boeing's proposal is already relatively well known, as is SpaceX. But I am curious what Orbital is proposing. They are, after all, the operators of more models of launch vehicles than any other company out there (having 6 operational rockets at the moment) and the engines on their upcoming Taurus II happen to have come from a previous Heavy Lift Vehicle. (literally, when it was cancelled, they yanked the engines off of the 4 units which hadn't been launched and mothballed them. Refurbished, the engines are now the powerplant behind the Taurus II launch vehicle)

Comment: Re:A Bit Left Off (Score 1) 275

by downix (#34895424) Attached to: NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

Aerojet, the other solid rocket engine company, warned of this in the 1960's. They built large single-piece solids, including the most powerful rocket engine ever built, the mighty AJ-260-2. The AJ-260-2 was part of the evolved Saturn program. Stage 1 of the Saturn I would be replaced by this one, huge, solid rocket motor. This would reduce the cost to operate the unit dramatically it was felt. After Challenger, they again offered the skills to manufacture the single-piece solid, but were rejected.

Incidentally, the AJ-260-2 is still sitting in Florida, all but forgotten in an abandoned warehouse.

Comment: Re:Let's get this straight (Score 1) 275

by downix (#34895384) Attached to: NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

The name Ares V pre-dates Constellation, actually. It was attached to the ESAS study, which produced the Ares V, and of which this rocket is a carry-over from. Ares I was added later on in the program. This may well be called Ares, who knows. This is not a new design, it is something NASA's kicked around, in one guise or another, since the 1970's.

Comment: Re:What, this is nonsense (Score 1) 275

by downix (#34887400) Attached to: NASA Pitches Heavy Lift Vehicle To Congress

The RS-68 is not capable of being used in manned flight. It lacks the safety features to tell the flight control computer "Oh shit, we're about to blow up!" If the computer doesn't know soon enough, one accident and your astronauts are deep fried spacemen.

In addition, NASA had a program for throwaway SSME's in the late 1980's/early 1990's. The technology for doing that is still there. They would ressurect this plan, removing the reusability from the SSME entirely. Makes them almost as cheap as the RS-68, and are far more capable. Less thrust, more isp. And once out of the atmosphere, isp is king.

"All my life I wanted to be someone; I guess I should have been more specific." -- Jane Wagner