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Ares I Rocket Rumored To Be Too Heavy 165

eldavojohn writes "In an article entitled "Constellation Battles the Blogosphere," problems with the Ares I lift vehicle are dispelled by NASA. An e-mail containing the rumor that the payload was a metric ton too heavy spurred this post which caused a lot of sidelines speculation that NASA might be setting themselves up for failure and simply need to start over. From the article, '[M]any who carp from the sidelines do not seem to understand the systems engineering process. They instead want to sensationalize any issue to whatever end or preferred outcome they wish," wrote Jeff Hanley the NASA official leading the development of the rockets and spacecraft the United States is building to replace the space shuttle and to return to the Moon.' The article also mentions that NASA looked at 10,000 to 20,000 different iterations of designs in their "Exploration Systems Architecture Study." As armchair speculators of space exploration, do our posts & blogs create negative fallout for NASA or is public criticism like this healthy for keeping government agencies in line?"
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Ares I Rocket Rumored To Be Too Heavy

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  • by thewiz ( 24994 ) * on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:32PM (#16916132)
    Why not ask questions of the people at NASA? They have been designing, building, and testing rockets for decades. Most arm-chair rocket scientists have no practical experience in doing things on the scale NASA does. Asking questions instead of making claims that NASA has screwed up would help us learn more about what NASA is doing and, perhaps, help them look at what they are doing from a different view-point.

    Sounds like we need to be open-source in our approach to communicating with NASA - ask questions, offer ideas, create a solution that all may benefit from rather than firing the cannons of FUD.
  • Not news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @12:51PM (#16916458) Homepage
    First, this is just a rumor, second, every rocket program since Goddard fastbaked the first potato during his first liquid fueled rocket experiments has had weight problems. Phase I is to set the basic requirements of thrust and payload, phase II is to make it work. Things start heavy and get lightened. At one point during the Apollo program, the program managers were offering bounties to people who could cut an ounce so that they could meet the performance requirements needed for the missions.

    This is not news, this is sensationalism. The stick concept will probably work just fine. It grates on me because I've got real problems with the SRB as relates to the shuttle, but with an actual launch abort system that can pull the capsule away, I guess it's a good and cheap solution. It'll probably be quite a ride, too.

    C'mon folks, this isn't rocket sci- well... let me rephrase. C'mon folks, this isn't a new problem, and it's not even unexpected. It's a standard part of rocket development, just like debugging compile problems is a usual part of large software development projects.
  • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:12PM (#16917752)
    The very fact that they're planning to recycle designs from the astoundingly overpriced and underachieving shuttle program, which is one of the costliest technology boondoggles in the history of human civilization, is prima facie evidence that they're still operating in design-by-committee group-idiot mode.

    They're still making design decision based on issues like which defense contractors have sites in which key congressional districts. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that. What makes you think that it would be wise to just defer to the judgement of NASA bureaucrats given the results of their past 35 years of manned space efforts?

  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <> on Monday November 20, 2006 @02:35PM (#16918164) Homepage
    Well, if the Shuttle program (which was a design-by-committee charlie foxtrot extraordinaire) yielded one of the best rocket engines currently available (which it did), why not use that engine?

    NASA works the way NASA works because that's the way Congress likes it. Sometimes, you get Apollo. Sometimes, you get Shuttle. I hope that the Ares program yields results more like Apollo, although I think the moon is a waste of resources.

    Mars, baby. Whoever gets there first gets to name it.
  • by maddogsparky ( 202296 ) on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:13PM (#16918818)
    We already did Apollo! It's time for something different, but you're not going to get it out of NASA. Every program with a significant engineering advance eventually gets pidgeon-holed or cancled by various factions composed of scientists ("unmanned-probes are a better return on investment, spend the money on my pet project") or politicians ("foster interanational cooperation" or "send jobs to my district").

    Space is not for rocket scientists anymore than climbing Mt. Everest is only for explorers. Lots of average people want to go there because it is interesting. How many people are interested in sending unmanned probes to the top of Everest or to the ocean bottom? Some, for sure, but a lot more people are interested in visiting in person for reasons that have nothing to do with science.

    Why do we have a government agency who has mottos like "doing [insert activity] ... as only NASA can"? Enough people with financial means have finally asked themselves this question wo that there is finally a private space station ( and private human space flight. Does anyone find it that difficult to believe that a private individual or group will have functioning spaceship ready before Ares flies? I predict when that happens, NASA will undergo a tremendous shake-up as people see it has done more to hold back human spaceflight than to promote it.

    Ares is just an Apollo repeat (initial Apollo plans called for a moon base too). Lets have them try for something better, like a true spaceship that can be reused. Ancient mariners were vastly limitted as long as they were unable/afraid to sail out of sight of land. We need a space equivalent to the vast ocean liners, container ships, research vessels, etc. that are capable of staying away from ports for long periods of time and with an open-ended lifespan. Think of the aircraft carriers that are nuclear power and capable of staying at see for several years!

    Let's move past the current life rafts that can't even hold a dozen people and have NASA work on the big stuff that nobody else can do (yet). Hopefully NASA or its successor will get its charter changed to have it really work on space exploration instead of trying to be all things to all people and failing at most of them. But I wouldn't bet on it starting down this road until Ares fails or it gets shown up by private efforts doing the same thing at a fraction of the cost.

  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <> on Monday November 20, 2006 @03:18PM (#16918922) Homepage
    Take it up with the Air Force. They're the ones that decided they needed a winged orbiter to steal satellites. There's nothing wrong with the engines.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.