Saturday, February 1, 2020

Why NASA can't take us to the Moon

They're not just a bloated organization staffed with screw-ups, they always have been.  Read the whole thing, including the comments.

Holy cow.

UPDATE 2 February 2020 13:48: Beans in the comments lays out the sordid history of stop-start space efforts under the last few administrations.  He's entirely correct that political jousting has prevented the government from having an effective space program.  The only thing I would add is that this problem has been endemic to government for hundreds of years, if not forever.  The privatization of space launch is quite frankly the only thing that we've seen (over the centuries) that can allow long term progress.


Old NFO said...

Yep. Private is the way to go now.

Beans said...

Private wouldn't be, if NASA wasn't such a punching bag for every administration.

This admin approves Shuttle advanced (Bush 1.)

That admin cancels it and scales back space flight (Clinton.) And approves it then cancels it (Clinton again.)

This admin approves Shuttle Replacement, the Ares program and Constellation capsule (Bush II.)

That admin cancels everything, and shuts down any and all advanced flight research (bye-bye Ares...) and plays 'hug a muslim.' Then approves SLS, without using any of the previous Ares architecture except for the Constellation capsule called Orion (Obama.)

This administration wants to advance man space flight, yet gets yanked around for wanting Constellation (now on almost 15 years of development yet still hasn't made it to space) and for sticking with SLS while also looking into a private ride (Trump.)

I remember when the Shuttle HLV variant was supposed to be made. When NASA wanted to build nex-gen Rocketdyne F-1 engines, remade into F-1B variant, dropping most of the welding and fiddly bits and cutting tens of thousands of parts into hundreds of parts using modern CNC manufacturing making a more powerful and less expensive engine (almost 1.8 million lbf thrust initially, probably going over 2.1 million lbf in succeeding generations,) while looking into reuseability of the mighty F-1B which could have been.

And, want to really bake your noodle? Go look up all the post-moon plans using Apollo, the LEM, all Saturn variants already in use and newer, more powerful Saturns using an improved F-1A engine generating 1.5-1.8 million lbf each. Skylab was small potatoes in what was planned and what could have been, including nuclear propulsion stages.

Sigh. Dangit. We could have been to Mars in the late 80's. Been on the moon making stuff in the late 80's to early 2000's. Space manufacturing of space components using lunar material and reused satellites and rocket stages, in the 80's to 2000's. All planned. All... pissed away.

Seriously, NASA was considering small solid fuel or liquid fuel rocket thrusters in 2nd and 3rd stage components in order to permanent orbit those components and fairings, and mating rings and any other 'disposable' components into a 'junk yard' in order to reuse, in space, those components to build stations, or all sorts of stuff. Even some crazy schemes to recover and reuse 1st stage components, like the mighty F-1 engines (parasailing individual engines was one plan, with aerial recovery being one possibility, using C-130s or such. Now that would have been a sight.) Crazy stuff all thought up by the late 60's to early 70's.

And that's not even touching the original Orion Drive systems...


Chris said...

I am angry and weeping all over again regarding these events. Far too similar to negligent discharges to be called accidents.

Borepatch said...

Great point, Beans. I added an update to the effect that this problem with governments repeatedly changing their minds as the political winds shift is really nothing new.

LSP said...

Right on, and just for kicks have a look into the occult origins of NASA (Jack Parsons/JPL/Crowley etc).