DailyDirt: Getting Back Into Space

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Despite a few mishaps with rockets headed for the International Space Station (eg. SpaceX, Orbital Sciences and the Russian space agency all failed to deliver re-supply cargo ships), there have also been some interesting space-faring developments in the last year or so. Fortunately, none of the lost spacecraft were manned missions, and the ISS also has the Japanese HTV as another backup cargo ship. And with SpaceX’s awesome recovery with a successful launch, it looks like re-supply missions are getting back on track — so the ISS will probably keep going until at least 2020 (and maybe a few years more? 2024? 2028?).

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Companies: intuitive machines, nasa, orbital sciences, spacex, united launch alliance

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Getting Back Into Space”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: France & Germany could pull their support of the ISS after 2020...

The elephant in the room is that ISS has too high an orbital inclination to serve as a way station for moon missions and beyond. A station in a more equatorial orbit would be much more useful.

Bigelow Aerospace has a contract with NASA to connect one of their expandable modules to the ISS as a technology demonstrator. I think it’s only a matter of time before launches are cheap enough to start building a private, commercial station using Bigelow modules.

If I were Elon Musk and I wanted to retire on Mars, an LEO way station in an equatorial orbit is where I’d focus my energies next.

Just saying.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: France & Germany could pull their support of the ISS after 2020...

Sure, an equatorial orbit gives you the most mass to LEO. But that’s not the only factor you need to consider.

For manned missions to the moon and beyond you DON’T want to start from an equatorial orbit. That would take you through the worst of the Van Allan belts. The Apollo missions, leaving from Cape Canaveral’s 28.5 degrees north, missed most of the radiation. It would be the same for trips to Mars.

ISS’s 51.6 degree inclination is better for tourism and earth observation science. The view from an equatorial orbit is the same on every orbit, it’s almost all water, and the rest is mostly poor Third World countries. Those tourists will want to see their own countries and cities from orbit.

Even the step up from 28.5 degrees to 51.6 degrees greatly increases the percentage of Earth’s land area you cover. Skylab went to a 50 degree orbit for Earth-resources coverage, despite the payload penalty.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: France & Germany could pull their support of the ISS after 2020...

You make a point about Van Allen belt radiation, but the orbits of the moon and Mars lay close to the equatorial plane, so the higher the orbital inclination you start from, the more delta-v you have to burn to correct your course.

If your goals are moon and Mars missions, then you have to balance the two.

The reason for ISS’s high orbital inclination is because “51.6 degrees is the lowest inclination orbit into which the Russians can directly launch their Soyuz and Progress spacecraft.” Any earth observation science is a fortuitous secondary.

Anonymous Coward says:

The odds of SpaceX sending people to the ISS on a reused rocket in the next decade are slim. It’s a big difference between certifying it’s ready to fly again and certifying it’s ready to fly again for a a manned mission. The scrutiny is vastly different and the amount of risk NASA is willing to take for the two mission types is vastly different.

They’re best bet is to fire a new one off for a manned mission then reuse it for a commercial satellite payload.

Anonymous Coward says:

The TRV is a return only vehicle as described. It is basically an escape pod that can be used to send small cargo back to Earth. It can’t ferry anything to the station as it has minimal thrust. The article doesn’t describe how it “flies” but based on the size it doesn’t have the power of fuel capacity to have anything more than manuvering thrusters.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

SpaceX’s reusable rockets is huge, a much bigger deal than most people realize.

To put it into perspective, think about the last time you flew on an airplane. It cost a few hundred dollars, most likely, to take a trip on a jet valued in the tens of millions of dollars. Imagine what air travel would be like if, for every flight, you had to build an entirely new plane.

That’s what SpaceX is on the verge of overcoming.

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