DailyDirt: Another Golden Era Of Spaceflight Ahead..?

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Successfully re-using a rocket seems to be on the cusp of being an economically practical technology. The traditional aerospace industry is going to see a bit more competition from cheaper rockets that can still launch satellites into high orbit. Private space companies are starting to catch up with NASA’s experience, but the business is still tricky because there’s always a chance a very expensive rocket will just explode on the launchpad.

After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Companies: blue origin, nasa, spacex

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Another Golden Era Of Spaceflight Ahead..?”

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10 Comments
Personanongrata says:

Steely-Eyed Missile Men and Women

Human space flight is still in it’s infancy.

In order for humanity to achieve the ability to make space flight as mundane as traveling by jet there need be a giant technological leap forward away from giant flaming missiles with their myriad of parts undergoing tremendous vibrations/stresses which make them very dangerous for any persons (or animals) to “fly” (ride atop).

Steely-eyed missile men and women indeed.

Paraquat (profile) says:

The whole space shuttle era should serve as evidence that making space craft “reusable” doesn’t necessarily make it cheaper. I do realize that the space shuttle itself was not the whole banana – it had to ride into orbit on booster rockets which themselves were disposable. But the space shuttle program was sold to Congress as a way of making space travel cheaper because the shuttle component could be reused.

Meanwhile, the vastly cheaper Russian disposable space capsules now provide the only way for humans to reach the ISS. However, supplies are occasionally sent up on disposable unmanned rockets.

Thanks to Star Wars and similar movies, we’re conditioned to seeing flying “space airplanes” with wings and wheels that can take off and land under their own power. As a practical matter, this just doesn’t work. One lesson we ought to have learned by now: bringing wings and wheels into space makes no sense.
[ reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

One lesson we ought to have learned by now: bringing wings and wheels into space makes no sense.
No, bringing wings and wheels into space still makes sense if the point of the spacecraft is to, you know, shuttle back and forth to low earth orbit.

The shuttle could and often did bring back large payloads. Far larger can capsules could.

And setting aside the political and design fiascos of the Shuttle, spacecraft are easier to recover from a runway than the ocean. And there’s a lot to be said for not dunking the entire spacecraft in salt water on every flight.

But a good, viable reusable winged shuttle will be a lot more expensive to develop, and will require a high launch rate to amortize the costs. The market for that hasn’t existed yet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

One of the main problems with the Shuttle was that it was designed for launching and recovering large payloads for the military. Missions which largely didn’t materialize.

It was much larger, more complicated and required more support personnel than should have been required for most of its missions.

So I wouldn’t use the Shuttle as proof that winged shuttles are generally more expensive to develop and require a high launch rate to amortize costs.

The X-37 is an example of cheaper, more conservatively designed, although admittedly unmanned, space plane.

And the Dream Chaser is an example of a promising manned space plane design.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It was much larger, more complicated and required more support personnel than should have been required for most of its missions.

It was all required for the Shuttle’s primary mission: To keep the standing army of Apollo engineers, technicians and support crews employed.

SLS has inherited this mission. And unfortunately, no other mission.

> And the Dream Chaser is an example of a promising manned space plane design.

Yup. Looking forward to it. It hasn’t had a business case until now. But between the ISS commercial cargo and commercial crew and the upcoming Bigelow station, one is emerging.

Anonymous Coward says:

DARPA Space Plane Challenge

DARPA recently announced Phase-2 of it’s Space Plane Challenge.

The two primary goals of the challenge (as I see it) are to “fly 10 times in a 10-day period (not including weather, range and emergency delays) to demonstrate aircraft-like access to space” and “launch a 900- to 1,500-pound representative payload to demonstrate an immediate responsive launch capability”.

It’s a shame that NASA killed the McDonnell Douglas DC-X project back in the ’90s, otherwise we’d already have achieved this.

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