Northrop unveils XS-1 spaceplane design

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posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 11:45 AM
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Remember a few years ago when the Chinese demonstrated an ASAT (anti satellite) capability? A decision was taken at that time to respond to the threat in an asymmetric manner (very much in the Sun Tzu, Art of War, way). The strategy came to be called "responsive Space".

The idea is to be able to replace capability in space faster and in different ways than an opponent can remove it. This requires the critical space-based components to be numerous and redundant, and therefore small and relatively inexpensive. One half of the equation is to design and produce highly capable small spacecraft quickly and inexpensively, and there are a lot of people working on that.

The other half of the equation is be able to launch small spacecraft to space, essentially on demand and also relatively inexpensively. No one has ever really developed that capability. The SpaceX Falcon 1 set a new mark for low-cost-to-orbit, but it never was a quick-response vehicle and is no longer in production, in any case. For commercial launches, all the economics drive in the direction of bigger vehicles to reduce the cost per pound to orbit. That's fine if you want to put a few large payloads into space, infrequently, but it doesn't cut the mustard if you want a "responsive Space" strategy. DARPA decided--correctly in my opinion---that the government had to become the "anchor" customer for a small, cheap, quick response launcher system.

The traditional, large spysats, flying on very large and very expensive launchers take--I would guess--a minimum of 5 years and 5 B$ to put into space, once a "go" decision is made. Once they're in space, they are so valuable, that all decisions on how to use them go through a massive bureaucratic decision-making process that is the exact opposite of "responsive". The decision to fight the first Gulf War was made by George H. W. Bush in August of 1990, but bullets didn't start flying for another 5 months. That time delay was driven in part, by the time it takes to motor a spysat from one spot in the sky to another in an economic manner. In order for a "responsive Space" strategy to work, the authority to make a decision about when and where to put a space asset has to be moved from a 4 star officer down to a field officer--let's say a colonel, and cost no more than ≈10 M$.

a reply to: Brotherman




posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 11:49 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Asteroid-Comet chaser / space observation craft. Does it refuel in space?
Nice find Zaphod58



posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 03:35 PM
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Commercial space flight will never amount to much while its bread and butter is only satellites and joyrides for billionaires. The fact is there is no destination except for the moon a radiation bleached wasteland so inhospitable even the hardiest of microbes cannot survive. You can buy Mediterranean island for the price of a sub orbital flight in one of these tin can rocket planes and that will be the case for a long long time.



posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 03:41 PM
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a reply to: brianporter

And without programs like this to bring costs down, there is no drive to.



posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 06:40 PM
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Great thread, I love this stuff. It's exciting to see all the new ideas concerning space flight.

I dream of the day when you can just jump into your own spacecraft, and zoom away to another Solar System. Make no mistake about it, one day this will no longer be fiction. Too bad most of us will be long gone by the time that comes. ~$heopleNation



posted on Aug, 21 2014 @ 11:34 PM
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C'mon, y'all didn't think the so called "skyquakes" in the early '90's that rattled CA were from the "Aurora" did you?





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