General Space Discussion (Thread 1)


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Unobscured Vision

Since we enjoy discussing general Space-related matters (politics, business, conjecture, etc), I thought it would be appropriate to create a dedicated thread for that very purpose. Now we can express all the hyperbole we want without fear of "getting off-topic", because it is the topic!

 

Let's spin the turbopump, shall we? :rofl:

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DocM

The US National Space Council is taking shape.

 

Structure

 

Chairman: VP Mike Pence

 

Executive Secretary:  Scott Pace (Director,  Space Policy Institute at George Washington University)

 

As Executive Secretary Scott Pace will run the day to day activities of NSC. The reaction to his appointment has been a thumbs up in both the aerospace industry and govt.  

 

Members

 

Industry members: TBD

 

(Candidates: SpaceX, ULA  Boeing,  Lockheed Martin, Blue Origin, OrbitalATK, Sierra Nevada Corp., Aerojet Rocketdyne, etc.)

 

NASA Administrator
Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense
Secretary of Commerce
Secretary of Transportation
Secretary of Homeland Security
Director of National Intelligence
Director of the Office of Budget and Management
National Security Advisor
Homeland Security Advisor

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Unobscured Vision

I'm okay with that list, but they should add some representation from Bigelow (who will likely be designing most of the modules that'll be going uphill and downhill wherever we'll be landing at). That's really the only issue I have, that Bigelow isn't specifically named and I feel they need a bigger push. ULA, LockMart and Boeing .. eh, okay. Different areas but I feel there's quite a bit of overlap and the influence is gonna be lopsided in their favor.

 

We'll see how this goes. If things start going back to "business as usual" then we'll know for sure that nothing has really changed after all. The strong representation by OldSpace gives me pause.

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Jim K

^^ moved the above the post(s) from the Universe News thread to this one.

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DocM

Bigelow will likely be in there too, either singly or as a partner. I just neglected to include them.

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DocM

Dr. Scott Pace, National Space Council Executive Secretary, says....

 

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/transportation/323969-space-is-bigger-than-just-nasa

 

Space is bigger than NASA



Space exploration, from the iconic Apollo lunar missions and robotic explorations of Mars to the discovery of distant Earth-like planets, has long been a symbol of American leadership and prestige.
>
But dark clouds threaten this optimistic view, in the form of actions by nations that could extend conflict from the Earth into space. Russia and China have tested anti-satellite weapons that could create space debris lasting thousands of years. At the same time, our security and the global economy are more reliant than ever on space-based information services, like the Global Positioning System.
>

When speaking about civil space programs, Trump said, "A cornerstone of my policy is we will substantially expand public private partnerships to maximize the amount of investment and funding that is available for space exploration and development."

Exactly the same logic applies to meeting national security space needs.

Leadership in space today is far different than during the Cold War. Today, with many more countries in space, leadership is less about what we can do alone — perhaps better than anyone else — and more about what we can get others to join with us in doing.

The Trump administration's national security team will find that space-related issues permeate a wide range of national interests, affecting relations with every major power with space capabilities, as well as developing countries that depend on space services for commerce, security and safety.

If we want greater depth and resilience for national security space systems, then we must organize, train and equip our armed forces to operate under realistic combat conditions.

If we want to enhance stability by broadening international support for productive and stable norms of behavior in space, then we need to establish and lead space initiatives in which other nations can participate.

If we want to shape the values and norms of the new frontier, then we must ourselves be on that frontier. New societies are shaped by those who are there, not by those who stay home.

If we value the peaceful exploration and development of space, we must make it so.

And above all else, we must recognize with deeds beyond words that these are not separate ideas to be parceled out to separate agencies, but complementary aspects of U.S. national power in the world as it is today, where primacy in space is inseparable from primacy in the world.
>

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DocM

NASA + BWXT for nuclear thermal propulsion

 

https://gameon.nasa.gov/gcd/files/2016/05/FS_NTP_160525.pdf

 

http://www.bwxt.com

 

Quote


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR)  As NASA pursues innovative, cost-effective alternatives to conventional propulsion technologies to forge new paths into the solar system, researchers at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, say nuclear thermal propulsion technologies are more promising than ever, and have contracted with BWXT Nuclear Energy, Inc. of Lynchburg, Virginia, to further advance and refine those concepts.

Part of NASAs Game Changing Development Program, the Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (NTP) project could indeed significantly change space travel, largely due to its ability to accelerate a large amount of propellant out of the back of a rocket at very high speeds, resulting in a highly efficient, high-thrust engine. In comparison, a nuclear thermal rocket has double the propulsion efficiency of the Space Shuttle main engine, one of the hardest-working standard chemical engines of the past 40 years. That capability makes nuclear thermal propulsion ideal for delivering large, automated payloads to distant worlds.

As we push out into the solar system, nuclear propulsion may offer the only truly viable technology option to extend human reach to the surface of Mars and to worlds beyond, said Sonny Mitchell, Nuclear Thermal Propulsion project manager at Marshall. Were excited to be working on technologies that could open up deep space for human exploration.

An NTP system can cut the voyage time to Mars from six months to four and safely deliver human explorers by reducing their exposure to radiation. That also could reduce the vehicle mass, enabling deep space missions to haul more payload.

Given its experience in developing and delivering nuclear fuels for the U.S. Navy, BWXT will aid in the design and testing of a promising, low-enriched uranium-based nuclear thermal engine concept and Cermet  ceramic metallic  fuel element technology. During this three-year, $18.8-million contract, the company will manufacture and test prototype fuel elements and also help NASA properly address and resolve nuclear licensing and regulatory requirements. BWXT will aid NASA in refining the feasibility and affordability of developing a nuclear thermal propulsion engine, delivering the technical and programmatic data needed to determine how to implement this promising technology in years to come.

The companys new contract is expected to run through Sept. 30, 2019.

Nuclear-powered rocket concepts are not new. The United States conducted studies and significant ground tests from 1955 to 1972 to determine the viability of such systems, but ceased testing when plans for a crewed Mars mission were deferred. Since then, nuclear thermal propulsion has been revisited several times in conceptual mission studies and technology feasibility projects. Thanks to renewed interest in exploring the Red Planet in recent decades, NASA has begun new studies of nuclear thermal propulsion, recognizing its potential value for exploration of Mars and beyond.

In late September, the Nuclear Thermal Propulsion project will determine the feasibility of using low-enriched uranium fuel. The project then will spend a year testing and refining its ability to manufacture the necessary Cermet fuel elements. Testing of full-length fuel rods will be conducted using a unique Marshall test facility.

The Nuclear Thermal Propulsion project is managed by NASAs Game Changing Development Program, part of the agencys Space Technology Mission Directorate.

To learn more about Game Changing Development technologies, visit:

https://gameon.nasa.gov

For more about NASAs Nuclear Thermal Propulsion project, visit:
 

 

 

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Unobscured Vision

Nuclear propulsion again? Agh ... :no: seriously ... as a power source they're fantastic although I'd prefer that they perfect the Thorium-based systems. As a means of propulsion, no. There are way better alternatives that need all the R&D funding they can get. The first one that comes to mind is the Hall Thruster -- the various R&D Teams can't get enough funding to make them more efficient, more powerful, etc ... and they're already being funded "with priority" along with Ion Propulsion (nearly the same thing, slight differences though -- one is meant for RCS and the other is Primary Thrust). Those two are the future. :yes: 

 

Nuclear propulsion for space is a waste of time, imo. Chasing pink elephants and Wolpertingers.

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DocM

And other missions may have also suffered from fraud by the supplier, Norway based Sapa Extrusions of Portland, Oregon.

 

Sounds similar to a certain bad batch of stainless strut ends that caused grief.

 

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2017/08/after_failed_space_flights_nas.html


After failed space flights, NASA investigation leads to Portland

Twice in the past decade, NASA launched unmanned spacecraft ferrying advanced satellites into Earth's orbit as part of a mission that could offer researchers an unprecedented new source of data on climate change.

But the satellites failed to deploy and, within minutes, NASA's $550 million investment and years of work vaporized in fiery balls of space junk.

NASA has been investigating ever since. Now the inquiry has led to a nondescript industrial building in Northeast Portland, where a company called Sapa Extrusions acknowledges it has been dealing in bad aluminum and bad faith for as long as two decades.

 The company concedes its Portland operation systematically concealed failed quality tests and altered test results so parts that didn't meet strength requirements were sold into the marketplace, including to NASA. The Norway-based multinational company acknowledged the ongoing investigation in its last annual report and notified customers of the altered tests in late 2015.

The U.S. Department of Justice contends that 251 Sapa customers, which include transportation companies, automakers and builders, bought $6.8 million worth of product that failed to meet quality standards.
>
NASA officials were stunned to learn that there may be a connection between their failed flights and a subcontractor's deception. "I would be very angry to hear that," said Bryan Fafaul, the flight director for one of the missions, known as Glory. "People at NASA were devastated. They had poured their lives into these missions."
>
Sapa is one of the world's dominant aluminum suppliers, with 2016 revenue of $6.7 billion and more than 22,000 employees in 40 countries. It employs more than 600 in Portland.

The Oslo-based company sells aluminum that has been heated and formed into a variety of shapes. It made its first entry into the United States in 2000 when it bought the former Anodizing Inc. of Portland. At the time, Anodizing was one of the largest private employers in the city with 932 workers and $132 million in annual revenue.
>

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Unobscured Vision

OHHHH DAMMNNN ....

 

Two decades' worth of bad structural aluminium (and various alloys) sourced from this supplier?! That'll end up being three-digit-millions in fines, and that's JUST on the NASA side of litigation.

 

Throw in the General U.S. Government use of this material. More litigation, more $$.

 

Add up ALL of the Companies around the U.S. that use Aluminium in fabrication and manufacturing of parts. Then add in the Companies that source their parts from these Companies. ALL of them are going to be [bleeping] furious, then they'll call their Legal Teams to deal with the situation. The fallout to Sapa could be in the Billions.

 

Now add the MILSPEC suppliers that have used product from this source that has either failed or was otherwise subpar -- their Legal Teams are quite a bit more skilled than most -- more litigation in the BILLIONS.

 

Then we get the PRIVATE Space interests (SpaceX, Boeing, LockMart, OrbitalATK, etc) in the U.S. who have suffered losses either directly or indirectly as a result of this negligence. More litigation from lost income resulting from those projects, the hardware that would have been serviceable 10-15 years or more; including IDA-1. That'll end up being, again BILLIONS. 

 

Then, then we look Internationally. Any structural or part failures attributed to this source? I bet they're gonna find some! ROSCOSMOS, ENERGIA, and the outfits that build Russian engines, perhaps? They've had failures centered around "poor materials" ... potentially going to be litigation there too, eventually in the TENS OF BILLIONS, Internationally. Highest Courts in the respective Nations like all of the above. Rinse and repeat ...

 

THIS IS GONNA END SAPA. I used to work in an Aluminium Injection Molding shop starting in 2000, and we got our billets from Sapa. Now I can see why they were cheaper compared to other sources.

 

We haven't heard the last outta this story. Not by a long shot.

Edited by Unobscured Vision
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DocM

Yup. This is a major criminal act that going to have huge ramifications. I can already hear DoJ digging out the RICO cookbook. 

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Unobscured Vision

Well, well. Looks like somebody is trying to dodge prosecution the really old-fashioned way.

 

Norsk Hydro acquires Sapa to create a global aluminium champion

Public Announcement link (Sapa Website)

Quote

Norsk Hydro has agreed with Orkla to acquire its 50 percent interest in Sapa for a total enterprise value of NOK 27 billion, giving full ownership in the global leader in extruded aluminium solutions and making Hydro a leading force in the global aluminium industry.

Meh. Figures. I doubt that would completely clear Sapa of liability, but it might stall the litigation proceedings. Who knows.

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DocM

It won't clear those responsible of any criminal liability in the US. That's what RICO is for.

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Unobscured Vision

Well, on the ISS/Mission side of things that's not a bad problem to have ...

 

On the OrbitalATK side, I'd think it's an annoyance. They've been paid already, so ... they're probably more like "ugh, whatever" and push on. They've got other things to do anyway.

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DocM

Sept. 1, 2017


RELEASE 17-071


NASA Statement on Nomination for Agency Administrator

We k 
The following is a statement from acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on Fridays announcement of the intended nomination by President Donald Trump of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine to serve as the 13th NASA administrator:

??
I am pleased to have Rep. Bridenstine nominated to lead our team. Of course, the nomination must go through the Senate confirmation process, but I look forward to ensuring a smooth transition and sharing the great work the NASA team is doing.
I look forward to working with a new leadership team, and the administration, on NASAs ongoing mission of exploration and discovery. Our history is amazing, and our future is even brighter, as we continue to build on this nations incredible global leadership in human exploration, science, aeronautics and technology.


Bridenstine, a pilot in the U.S. Navy Reserve and former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium, was elected to the U.S. Congress in 2012 to represent Oklahomas First Congressional District. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.


For information about NASAs missions, discoveries and activities, visit:
https://www.nasa.gov

-end

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Unobscured Vision

Yep. Neither system can compete. Vulcan is so unsafe that whoever designed it should never be allowed to design anything ever again, and Ariane 6 is change for the sake of change for really limited return on their investment and all the effort they'll go through just getting it flying.

 

It's SpaceX's time now. And BO's once they get NG sorted. ATK is a toss-up right now, and ULA is running on fumes at this point.

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DocM

Not just SpaceX but Blue Origin and others who want to stay in business. 

 

Some may need to be dragged into reusability kicking and screaming, and others will just die, but we are rapidly approaching a horse vs motorized vehicle moment. 

 

Universe Today...

 

Quote

Musk's era of routinely re-flown rockets (ala SpaceX) a 'major sea change getting closer every day' says  SES CTO Haliwell

 

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL  Elon Musk's extraordinary vision of an era when re-flown rockets are offered as a routine service rather than the exception is 'a major sea change' getting closer to fruition with each passing day thanks to SpaceX,'said SES CTO Martin Halliwell in an exclusive interview with Universe Today, following the stunning sunset blastoff of the SES-11 UHDTV commercial satellite on another flight-proven Falcon 9 booster that also re-landed  thus completing another remarkable round of rocket recovery and recycling or 'launch, land and relaunch!'

"As I've said before, I think in a couple years time you wont even consider whether it's a pre-flown rocket or a new rocket or a second time rocket," SES Chief Technology Officer Martin Halliwell told Universe Today in a one-on-one post launch interview.

"It will just be a flight and you will buy a service to get to orbit  and that will be that!"

"It's a major sea change," Halliwell explained. "That's absolutely true."

"We're getting closer to that every day. It's exactly where we are going. There is no doubt about it."
>

 

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DocM

And now the Air Force is on board,

 

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-16/u-s-air-force-general-endorses-elon-musk-s-reusable-rockets

 

Quote

Musk's Reusable Rockets Win U.S. Air Force General's Endorsement

 

-SpaceXs recycled Falcon 9s bring down industry flight costs

-Air Force Space Command head also praises autonomous abilities

The head of U.S. Air Force Space Command said he's completely committed to launching future missions with recycled rockets like those championed by SpaceX's Elon Musk as the military looks to drive down costs.

"It would be absolutely foolish not to begin using pre-flown rockets, which bring such significant savings that they'll soon be commonplace for the entire industry," General John W. Jay Raymond said in an interview Monday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.
>

 

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Unobscured Vision

:yes: Yessir. They see the benefits are so good and the risks are so minuscule that they might as well not even be risks. SpaceX has done their homework and done it WELL.

 

Nobody can compete. NOBODY. 

 

All arguments to the contrary were completely without merit, as we're seeing. Those of us who knew better called them out on it and were right to do so.

 

Even the USAF -- some of THE most "by-the-numbers" types anyone could use as a measuring stick are now saying that Reuse is "the measuring stick".

 

Nothing more to be said if they're calling it a done deal. NASA will follow suit shortly.

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DocM

The NASA technical review of launcher re-use has been completed with a positive outcome, so now it's in the agency managers hands. 

 

If they give a rapid approval the first NASA mission using a Flight Proven™ booster could be CRS-13 using the CRS-11 booster. If that's too tight for decision-making then it's possible CRS-14 could be first.

 

Either way, the first DoD and NASA re-uses going well nukes  the OldSpace paradigm from space - literally :yes:

 

Back to the drawing board for everyone but SpaceX and Blue Origin. The others aren't even on the same lap.

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Unobscured Vision

Yep. And the Vulcan "capture the engine module" approach to reuse is drawing a lot of "wtf's" from Academia and Industry. Some sources, like my newest Professor, are of the opinion that ULA's approach is all designed to enable them to keep charging high prices so that the parent companies can turn a profit. She also thinks that SLS/Orion is a prime example of this business practice; and that "throwing away a couple billion dollars worth of hardware each launch is the only way they'll stay in business with SpaceX showing them up on a consistent basis".

 

She's probably not wrong ... and she'd know. My new Professor used to work for LH/M twelve years ago and got wholly fed up with the culture of waste there so she quitShe's like us, @DocM:yes: 

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