back to article Third Soyuz does not explode while auditors resume poking around NASA's big rocket SLS

A third Soyuz was successfully launched yesterday, effectively clearing the way for crewed operations to resume, while the results of the US midterms may have unfortunate consequences for NASA. Three for three for Soyuz A Soyuz rocket launched ESA's MetOp-C meteorology satellite from French Guiana, lifting off at 00:47 GMT. At …

Anonymous Coward

SLS and Orion: not actually made by NASA...

This is a bit of a side issue, but:

John Culberson might well have been in favour of NASA being well funded and that's not a bad thing at all. But if what he's been doing is supporting development of the Orion spacecraft and the SLS (both mentioned in the original article), what he's been doing is supporting funding for the contractors who are making the things.

That is not necessarily the same as doing the best thing for NASA and the US space programme and it might be that an alternative approach would make better use of NASA funding.

It might well be argued at least in the case of the SLS that alternative contractors would be able to do a better job more quickly and more cheaply. Certainly SpaceX has a track record in developing reliable launcher designs and its BFR design should be able to do everything the SLS is meant to do at considerably lower cost. So much of the SLS is based on 1970s technology - the solid boosters and main engines derived from the Space Shuttle - that it's to be expected that SpaceX's BFR will almost certainly prove itself cheaper while being just as capable and reliable.

As far as the Orion space craft goes - well, the project isn't going quickly, but then again the contractors (Lockheed Martin and the ESA) are working on developing a completely new orbital space craft, which is something that's not been done for some decades. No current engineering team has any experience doing the job so I'd not be one to argue that NASA should scrap Orion and go for an alternative supplier like SpaceX. Oh yes, I expect SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will turn out to be a reliable people carrier in the crewed version, but it does make sense to have a few different crewed spacecraft developed to service: they'll be optimised for different roles, and if a problem grounds one design for a while, there'll be others available.

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Re: SLS and Orion: not actually made by NASA...

While less powerful, the SLS's LH2-fuelled upper stage will always be more efficient, which will likely make it measurably more effective for interplanetary missions. But yeah, the cost...

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Re: SLS and Orion: not actually made by NASA...

Perhaps if SpaceX could get the 31 boosters to all land in separate congressional districts ?

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Re: SLS and Orion: not actually made by NASA...

Perhaps if SpaceX could get the 31 boosters to all land in separate congressional districts ?

Hmm.... Tallahassee state house as a replacement for "Of Course I still love you". Interesting idea...

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Re: the SLS's LH2-fuelled upper stage will always be more efficient

Not true. SEP(solar electric propulsion) in its current iteration is up to 10 times more propellant efficient, with theoretical margin to become an additional 10 times better.

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Boffin

Re: Dragon vs Orion

Crew Dragon and Orion are already optimized for different roles. Dragon for LEO, short duration missions, acting as a lifeboat for a few months before deorbiting. Orion for long-duration, beyond LEO missions where the radiation protection and support system requirements are much more critical. You could use an Orion for runs to the ISS (common docking mechanism, I suppose), but that's like taking the Class A motorhome RV to Tesco for a milk/bread run. A Dragon run around the Moon has been proposed and could be a thing, I suppose, but it's really stretching the limits of the life support/protection systems to do that. That would be like taking the family of four across the USA in a Ford Escort, possible, but the memories made probably won't be of the sights as much as the smells. But, if Elon's looking for a volunteer...

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sh1t is pretty solid though

"The Russian space programme has been dogged by quality issues for years. An exploding Soyuz due to errors in assembly and a mystery hole in an orbital module are just the latest examples."

Yet they keep sending them up every couple weeks and they get the job done and no one dies. And the sh1t is what, about 60 years old design? Stop patronizing the Ruskis when it comes to space reg... There is definitely sh1t on their heads but this is not it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: sh1t is pretty solid though

> And the sh1t is what, about 60 years old design? Stop patronizing the Ruskis when it comes to space reg

And it was a successful test of escape system.

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Meh

... insisted that funding levels cannot be used as an excuse for the situation

Easy to say when you're just telling everyone else what to do.

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Boffin

three or four launches enough to assemble the ISS

Not just about weight though. Stuff has to fit in the fairings. So while on pure tonnage BFR could do it in 3-4 launches, if stuff don't fit the fairings the launch count goes up.

At 9m diameter BFR has a lot of space though...

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Re: three or four launches enough to assemble the ISS

Flat-pack it - sorted. I bet Ikea will have a Røcketstüff pack sorted out in time. Best strap the Allen key to your wrist or something though.

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Childcatcher

Re: three or four launches enough to assemble the ISS

I bet Ikea will have a Røcketstüff pack sorted out...

That's the plot for a space horror movie scarier than any in the Alien franchise!

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Re: three or four launches enough to assemble the ISS

"Not just about weight though. Stuff has to fit in the fairings. So while on pure tonnage BFR could do it in 3-4 launches, if stuff don't fit the fairings the launch count goes up."

Bigelow :-)

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Flame

Re: three or four launches enough to assemble the ISS

The recent BFR redesign lowered the payload to LEO to 100 tons (this might go back up later). However, it significantly expanded the payload fairing, which could help in the "launch a new ISS" scenario.

What will make the BFR truly great is not the payload or fairing size, although both are impressive. No, it's the full reusability that really matters. A single BFR could start launching space station parts, land back at the launch site, refuel, take up the next batch 24 hours later, and repeat until complete. The SLS pork rocket will be burnt to a crisp after each launch.

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MAF

Good to hear.

Slightly irreverent question with all this focus on rocketry blowing up - Do NASA, ESA or SpaceX ever do launches on Nov 5th? Asking for some other Guy :-)

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Mushroom

Somewhat surprisingly, no Soyuz or Shuttle has ever launched on November the 5th*.

China did launch a Long March 3B last year on 5/11/17, and back in 2013, India launched their Mars Orbiter on the 5th.

That's as far back as I could be bothered to look, but feel free to trawl through these archives to find more.

* (that I can tell from five minutes on wikipedia)

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Trollface

mini - BFR

Did Elon Musk hold his pinky finger near the corner of his mouth when he said "mini-BFR" Just wondering!

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Anonymous Coward

are we still using the product of million year old dead dinosaur carcasses to get us into space?

jeez no wonder there've been no confirmed evidence of alien life. they probably think we're a bunch of country hicks and keeping well away.

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