SpaceChampion

SpaceX--Spacecraft, rockets, and Mars

367 posts in this topic

8 hours ago, Theda Baratheon said:

I don't know why I've never read this thread before - whenever I feel like the world is a bit shit now I'm going to read about space because it always makes me feel better 

I haven't contributed much to this thread but it's my favourite one to read because, like you say, it always cheers me up. Can't take the sky from me.

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20 minutes ago, Liffguard said:

I haven't contributed much to this thread but it's my favourite one to read because, like you say, it always cheers me up. Can't take the sky from me.

Definitely will be reading this thread a lot now - just love space and everything about it - makes the earth and everything that happens here feel tiny and insignificant in comparison 

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I'm glad you both and others like it.  Do we need another thread to cover non-rocket stuff such as space science, astrophysics, exoplanets and other cool space news?  If so, someone else would have to start it and maintain it, but I'd certainly read and contribute.

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SC,

I really enjoyed watching that launch last week keep linking to them please. :)

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Posted (edited)

I will.

News came out that 72% of costs for the SLS rocket contractors are building on a cost-plus basis for NASA is overhead / administrative costs.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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1 hour ago, SpaceChampion said:

News came out that 72% of costs for the SLS rocket contractors are building on a cost-plus basis for NASA is overhead / administrative costs.

They're including development in overhead. What are they supposed to do - just say "hey, build us an SLS - it's some kind of rocket thing" instead of providing detailed design specifications? All the article is saying is NASA gets a bigger share of the funds if it does more of the work. Oh, and it also compares the costs unfavourably to the Apollo project, which is like complaining about a 747 costing more to make than a Spitfire.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, that's exactly what they should be doing -- but not build us an SLS.  Provide us with a service of flights to get X many tons of payload to Moon or Mars.  NASA doing the development eats up 72% of the budget without building anything, and costing 100's of times more.  It's vastly inefficient.  The same article points out the commercial crew and cargo programs seeing only 14% of the budget going to NASA overhead, while costing vastly less in gross numbers.  NASA's own analysis of what it would take to build the Falcon 9 rocket would take spending 20-25 times the amount SpaceX spent.

If SLS is just a Spitfire compared to the Apollo program being a 747, then why does the Spitfire cost half the amount of the 747?

Edited by SpaceChampion

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9 minutes ago, felice said:

Oh, and it also compares the costs unfavourably to the Apollo project, which is like complaining about a 747 costing more to make than a Spitfire.

Not exactly. The sad thing about the US space program is that the Saturn V rocket at the heart of the Apollo project is still by far the most powerful rocket humanity has every made -- even though it has been half a century since its first launch in 1967. The SLS will come close to it, but, depending on how one counts the payload, even SLS Block 2 either does not reach it or does not significantly exceed it. Block 1B definitely does not reach it and that's not coming until 2022. The one and only system projected to go way beyond the Saturn V is SpaceX's ITS.

31 minutes ago, SpaceChampion said:

If SLS is just a Spitfire compared to the Apollo program being a 747, then why does the Spitfire cost half the amount of the 747?

It doesn't. The costs being compared are at very different stages of completion. The Apollo cost is the value computed years after the end of the program (i.e. it includes multiple launches, landings, etc.). The $43B for the SLS is the projected cost up to the first flight in 2021 (i.e. it is only the development). Also, given that this is still years in the future, it is probably underestimated.

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2 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

Yes, that's exactly what they should be doing -- but not build us an SLS.  Provide us with a service of flights to get X many tons of payload to Moon or Mars.

That's an ideological position, not a scientific one.

2 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

The same article points out the commercial crew and cargo programs seeing only 14% of the budget going to NASA overhead, while costing vastly less in gross numbers.  NASA's own analysis of what it would take to build the Falcon 9 rocket would take spending 20-25 times the amount SpaceX spent.

There's nothing about gross numbers in the article, and nothing inherently good about budget going to contractor overhead instead of NASA overhead. If NASA is being inefficient, then that's a problem that needs to be addressed, but the article doesn't make any case for that.

2 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

If SLS is just a Spitfire compared to the Apollo program being a 747

Other way round. Though a better comparison would Spitfire vs F-15. I'm assuming the SLS is significantly more advanced than the Saturn V.

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12 minutes ago, felice said:

I'm assuming the SLS is significantly more advanced than the Saturn V.

It is not. There are arguments about what counts as payload and if you take the side that favors the SLS, its final Block 2 form comes out slightly ahead. However, this is an edge on the order of 130 vs. 122 -- it's not of a different class.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, felice said:

That's an ideological position, not a scientific one.

Neither your statement nor mine was about science.  It's about engineering and management decisions, which can be examined for logic, efficiency, cost in real numbers and to opportunity, and likelihood of obtaining the goal.

 

Quote

There's nothing about gross numbers in the article, and nothing inherently good about budget going to contractor overhead instead of NASA overhead. If NASA is being inefficient, then that's a problem that needs to be addressed, but the article doesn't make any case for that.

 

"the report estimates the agency will have spent $43 billion before that first flight, essentially a reprise of the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon."

"the Apollo program cost between $100 billion and $110 billion in 2010 dollars."

The Apollo program also built a lunar lander, an ascent vehicle, a service module, a return capsule, spacesuits, and a deep space network.  SLS/Orion is a fraction of the work.

The article was clearly saying this is a problem.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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7 hours ago, Altherion said:

It is not. There are arguments about what counts as payload

Surely payload isn't the only factor in determining which is more advanced? Would you say the Falcon 9 is much less advanced than the Saturn V and SLS because it has a much lower maximum payload?

6 hours ago, SpaceChampion said:

"the report estimates the agency will have spent $43 billion before that first flight, essentially a reprise of the Apollo 8 mission around the Moon."

But that has nothing to do with the percentages. No costs are given for the SpaceX, Boeing, and Orbital ATK programs, so 14% has no meaning. You could reduce NASA's share of the Orion costs to 14% by paying the contractors 8 times as much for the same work, but that obviously wouldn't be a good thing. And writing off development as "overhead" is ridiculous.

The Apollo program had spent $60-$65 billion in 2010 dollars by the end of 1967 (60% of the total budget), a year before the launch of Apollo 8. If the SLS is only spending $43 billion to reach the same point, it's not doing too badly.

I'm not saying the report's recommendations are necessarily wrong, but this is a bad article, biased and failing to make any real case for the recommendations.

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13 hours ago, felice said:

Surely payload isn't the only factor in determining which is more advanced? Would you say the Falcon 9 is much less advanced than the Saturn V and SLS because it has a much lower maximum payload?

It's not the only factor, but it is one of the most important ones. Here are the factors I can think of:

1) Reliability: how likely it is that the rocket performs as intended and delivers the payload safe and sound to its destination. It's difficult to compare to something that is only in the development stages, but you can't really beat Saturn V on this because it never failed to the point of losing a crew or a payload.

2) Payload weight: how much stuff the rocket can bring to space. The Saturn V has been the unchallenged champion here for half a century and it probably will be for at least another half a decade and possibly more.

3) Cost: how much work and material (summarized in financial terms) it takes to launch. This is the point where the Falcon 9 and other SpaceX rockets are intended to have an edge: if the rocket can be reused with only modest refurbishment costs, then it is superior despite the lower payload because you can increase the frequency of launches with roughly the same result. However, the SLS is no different from the Saturn V in this respect: it costs about the same and it cannot be reused.

Incidentally, SpaceX has completed the static fire test for the first reused Falcon on Monday and if everything is satisfactory, they may launch it as early as this Thursday.

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The thing about the SLS is that it costs a lot of money to develop and won't see any meaningful use (because the budget isn't there). But that's not NASA's fault. They're just doing as they are told by Congress. The argument in the report seems to be that if they outsourced R&D  to contractors, those contractors might find other uses for the stuff they develop. But that would just be more subsidies to the aerospace industry, which is what that report is really calling for. 

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19 hours ago, Altherion said:

1) Reliability: how likely it is that the rocket performs as intended and delivers the payload safe and sound to its destination. It's difficult to compare to something that is only in the development stages, but you can't really beat Saturn V on this because it never failed to the point of losing a crew or a payload.

 

To be fair the Saturn V only flew what, thirteen times? Sure it never failed but that's not a great sample size. And it's not like the Apollo programme as a whole was particularly safe.

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5 hours ago, Liffguard said:

To be fair the Saturn V only flew what, thirteen times? Sure it never failed but that's not a great sample size.

It's a medium-sized sample, but you have to keep in mind that this was something completely new. It was literally 5 times more powerful than anything that came before with the corresponding increases in size and to some extent also complexity. It's pretty amazing that it worked as well as it did.

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Posted (edited)

16 hours ago, Loge said:

The argument in the report seems to be that if they outsourced R&D  to contractors, those contractors might find other uses for the stuff they develop. But that would just be more subsidies to the aerospace industry, which is what that report is really calling for. 

Not at all.  That's the cost-plus system.  The argument is to go with the same fixed-cost price that SpaceX, Orbital and Boeing have been operating under for their commercial cargo and commercial crew contracts where you only pay for results and milestones.

 

The launch window for the SES-10 mission with the previously flown F9 booster opens on Thursday March 30th at 6:27 PM EDT and will be live streamed on SpaceX.com.

Edited by SpaceChampion

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Did anyone watch this? As I write this, the second stage still needs to get into the proper orbit, but the first one (the one that was reused) did its job properly and landed on the drone ship again. It was pretty awesome.

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16 minutes ago, Altherion said:

Did anyone watch this? As I write this, the second stage still needs to get into the proper orbit, but the first one (the one that was reused) did its job properly and landed on the drone ship again. It was pretty awesome.

No, I missed it but NPR posted an update.  How much money does it save to be able to re-use stages?

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8 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

No, I missed it but NPR posted an update.  How much money does it save to be able to re-use stages?

I've heard various rumors that this specific launch was roughly 30% cheaper than usual. However, keep in mind that the first time something is done is typically a whole lot more expensive than doing it once the equivalent of an assembly line has been set up. If they keep doing this, the cost should go down by an order of magnitude or more as it does in the airplane analogy that they keep using (i.e. imagine the cost of air travel if you had to discard the plane and build a new one after every one-way flight).

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