reply to post by Stari
OK, hang on. Yes I was the first to get very seriously upset about the cancelation of the Orion projects and follow-on launchers to the space shuttle
when canceled by Obama. I can honestly state no one is as pro human space access then me. Including simple national security reasons (I will not go
into the "other" US space program run by the US military, through the NRO and other agencies that does ensure the US does have access to space,
including manned capability. Having an independent civilian capability is also an adjunct to national security interests, thats another discussion)
economic, and technology development, etc.
Then I took a closer look at the programs Obama cancelled and all I can say is what took ANY President so long? A wonderful example of missed
engineering targets, production schedule delays, and more delays. And cost over runs? You don't want to know. Consider the fact it was known a decade
ago that the shuttle was on the way out. THATS when you have to prepare for something as bureaucratically and financially complicated as a launch
vehicle replacement. Thats when previous administrations should have done what Obama did. Invest in private, many very new, space launch developers
and vehicle manufacture's.
The Apollo Project was structured in many ways as was the Manhattan Project. Money was (more or less) no object. And of course with that kind of
passion and national commitment, you can achieve the amazing technological leaps we did in the 1960's. In many ways what the US did was not really
invent anything fundamentally new. The Germans did that in the 1940's. The US with its technological and mega-$$ resources was able to optimize,
enhance and augment a rage of technologies with the needed scientific and industrial support behind them to get to the moon less then ten years later.
Even the US could not sustain that kind of open ended program. Sadly the dreams of bases on the moon and missions to Mars were planned and though
immensely difficult they were doable even with comparatively primitive 1960's technology. By now it would be "been there, done that", but for a
major debacle called the Vietnam War. You can help to create a "Star Trek" future, or drop more bombs on Vietnam then in all of WW-2, but you
can't do both.
I don't have to tell anyone in which direction that nightmare went. This pre-amble is important because the entire space shuttle program was an
attempt to REDUCE the cost of getting into space on a regular, consistent schedule with a vehicle that was not a one-trip wonder. Problem was, the
entire space shuttle program, began under Nixon and frequently starved for cash as a convenient place to cut spending to say, buy more bombs by his
and subsequent administrations, is the best example I can think of of how NOT to design, build, and operate a cutting edge technology when the main
consideration by the government-client is: "OK, but is there any way to make this 1.4 million part rocket pretending to be a true aerospace plane
The early designs for the shuttle were to have a fully re-usable vehicle, often presented in a mated two vehicle VTO/HL arrangement. And while
materials and electronics/computer science had seen great advances since Apollo, the one area where there had been no effective changes, just
"tweaks" in engineering was in that before-mentioned 1940's rocket technology. At least in the conventional, largely unclassified NASA power
plants. With out an all-out "Apollo-program-like Shuttle-program" national commitment, the result was frustratingly predictable. It would require
developing new rocket et el technologies for a "REAL" re-usable STS, and no one in the morbidly depressing, socio-political climate of the 1970's
was willing to do it the right way. So we had a shuttle far more expensive, more "complicated", not to be confused with sophisticated, and in such a
system things were inevitably going to go wrong, catastrophically. With tragic results twice.
Its ironic to me, that an arguably better approach (IMHO) for the US to get into manned spaceflight and onto the moon would have been in a program
that followed-up the incredible 1950's-60's era X-15 rocket plane. It had the first, (as far as I know) liquid fueled engine where the pilot could
vary the specific impulse. It had a throttle. There has been a glaring lack of progress, at least openly in rocket propulsion ever since. That
approach would have taken longer then ten years to get men to the moon, but after the Russian early accomplishments (and how it REALY freaked out the
US public), it was expedient to replace astronaut-pilots in a rocket plane they flew, with astronaut-passenger's on top a ballistic missal they rode.
The need for new technologies was confronted by the founder of Space-X Corp (also founder of Tesla Motors) when he tried to enter the