Author Topic: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)  (Read 8049 times)

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Offline Avan

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Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« on: November 30, 2011, 01:48:39 pm »
So, as some of us may know, NASA axed the Ares I/IV/V program in 2010; the V in particular would have had taken too long to develop, and would not have been ready until the mid to late 2020s. The I had actually already flown, in the form of a single prototype, and a May 2010 launch of a V first stage with a I upper stage was planned (Something of a proto IV). The Ares V would have been able to carry a larger payload than any other missile (188 metric tons to LEO [Low Earth Orbit]) aside from the USSR's proposed Energia-Vulcan (200 metric tons to LEO) and NASA's Nova Mars-variant design proposals (of which one of the smallest would have lifted OVER 300 metric tons to LEO! All of these variants would have also been taller than the Saturn V and the Ares IV [which would have become the tallest had it been built]. Their costs were unfortunately equally impressive (in the bad way))*. It by far dwarves the lifting capacity of the most powerful missiles built to date including the Saturn V (120 metric tons to LEO), the Energia (100 metric tons to LEO, only flown in 2 test flights), and the N-1 (4/4 failures, 90-100 metric tons to LEO).

Ok, so it was too expensive and slow to develop. So what now?

Some people were advocating going with a Shuttle derived launch system, resulting in the Space Launch System (SLS).

The SLS comes in a number of upgradeable designs, meaning there wouldn't need to be the Ares I & V [the Ares IV was really an Ares I 2nd stage on an Ares V 1st stage), which would make its development cheaper. It also re-used existing shuttle technology, again, giving it a lower base R&D price-tag. Its lifting capacities are a bit more modest, clocking in at 70-80 metric tons for the 'light' version scheduled for 2017, and 130 to LEO for the 'heavy' version which is not expected to be ready before 2031. But wait(!) Something doesn't smell right about this.
Apparent issues:
1) The heavy lifting version would be done AFTER the Ares V would have been!
2) You still have to start development from scratch, and the Ares I already had a successful prototype flight! (note that BOTH the Ares I & V were axed, not just the V)
3) To add insult to injury, you have a significantly lower maximum lifting capacity.

The overall budget had better be less than the Ares missiles' remaining R&D budget or this should be axed now before any more tax dollars get wasted on it.


*There were other proposals, but those were ones that had the highest likelihood of actually getting constructed; they actually intended to build the Nova line because the Saturn V wasn't originally thought to be capable of actually getting something to land on the moon. There have been some sketchier designs with high LEO payload limits, like a nuclear N1 which barely made it over 300 tons to LEO, and a Nova variant which could put a whopping 455 tons to LEO, again, taking the cake for greatest payload to LEO).

*Incidentally, the most powerful civilian missile to fly will be the Falcon Heavy prototype in 2013, however, this is "only" 55 metric tons to LEO; though that will also make it the most powerful launch vehicle in service until the 70 ton version of the SLS flies in 2017, IF it manages to not get axed by then.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2011, 02:07:54 pm by Avan »
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Offline Kobuk

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 09:24:46 pm »
I don't think NASA or our government as a whole, is ever going to get another space vehicle developed..........not in the next 5 years, or the next 10, or the next 25........that will replace what the shuttle did and/or take us to the moon or further. FAILURE.......was not an option back in the glory days of NASA during the 60's and 70's. But now? Now, everything is a failure with NASA today.  :P They seemed to have lost that technological, revolutionary, and/or "pioneering" spirit so to speak that they had so long ago. Now all that agency does is waste taxpayer money on failed projects or "technology demonstrator" programs which just demonstrate new technologies, but don't go any further on the drawing boards.  :P
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Offline Sk Skunk

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2011, 11:26:31 am »
I recall the Ares system had problems with vibration, from the size of the SRBs. So much that it would have been a rough ride to orbit. In some of its forms, it would have been deadly. They were engineering a vibration damping system, with a noticeable weight penalty. It may be a good thing this system has been stopped.

The SLS, is a proven base platform. Even then, it's also a proven killer, has limitations. I have to wonder if it is being kept, not because it's proven, but because of political considerations of the congress critters where the manufacturing is located. The STS, as awesome as it was, never really did all the things it was supposed to do. It ended up being a catch all, it's design altered to fit the desires of multiple groups.

I'm just a user of others engineering skills. It seems to me, trying to build one thing, to do many different things, leads to too many compromises. These seldom, if ever, do anything really well. The ISS is another example of this. We need different equipment to do the different jobs required. Could the SLS be adaptable enough? We will find out, likely at an enormous cost. And then, it may never even get off the ground.

I also think NASAs glory days may be behind them. :'( It's time for the privet sector to build systems, prove them to be safe, and have at it. There looks to be several that are promising, some are currently flying non-manned systems. Like general aviation, in time, many will not think twice about being launched, There will be problems, large costs, deaths, but this should be the model for the space industry. Maybe in our lifetimes, catching a ride, visiting a Bigalow hotel at Lagrangian point 1 for a fur con might actually happen! 8)
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Offline Kobuk

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2011, 07:54:01 pm »
As far as what types of rockets and other space vehicles could take us to the moon, Mars, or beyond, I have no idea. I just know that NASA will not be able to do it alone, nor will the private sector. IMO, to go to the moon and beyond would take a "global effort". I think that countries of the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, and others should pool their technological know-how and build a launch system together instead of countries trying to go their own seperate ways.  :P In other words: United we stand. Divided we fall.

As far as vehicles to put satellites into orbit, or go to the International Space Station, etc., I kinda had my hopes on a shuttle replacement back in the 1990's called the X-33/Venturestar.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_X-33
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VentureStar
The X-33 program was plagued by technical difficulties which led to it being cancelled. But I still think that if given enough time and more funding, it could have worked. The Lockheed Martin company was the one selected to build a test vehicle and such. If anybody could have made that program work, it was them. ;)
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Offline Chiscringle

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #4 on: December 02, 2011, 07:40:35 am »
I like the idea of the private sector taking over orbital and suborbital stuff and taking up the parts so that NASA can use their stations and bases to launch missions to the Moon and Mars, which I think is the eventual plan here.  I still can't figure on why we can't have a space elevator.  It'd do all the orbital stuff on the cheap once its built and would make constructing a big butt space station a workable solution.  We could then start slingshotting material and personnel to Mars and Luna to build elevators and stations there and have a workable if slow infrastructure up so that we can move to a form of space travel that's all the faster and better for being entirely built in space.
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Offline Old Rabbit

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2012, 11:38:04 am »
According to Carl Sagon the sixties race to the moon was more about how much
we could lift with a rocket for military use than anything else. Of course it gave
us the prestige of doing it before the Russians.. Even the space shuttles size
was increased due to military needs..

After all that said I often wondered why worry about a huge heavy lift rocket.
We built a large space station in pieces, why not use multiple launches to
build interplanetary vehicles. Then the crews could go up in smaller earth
to orbit vehicles which should be safer.
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Offline Avan

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2012, 11:49:25 am »
The lower your lift capacity, the less instrumentation you can bring, the slower the escape trajectory will be, the longer your transit time will be, the more energy, fuel (and life support for manned missions) you will require, so on, so forth
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Offline Old Rabbit

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2012, 12:35:58 pm »
The lower your lift capacity, the less instrumentation you can bring, the slower the escape trajectory will be, the longer your transit time will be, the more energy, fuel (and life support for manned missions) you will require, so on, so forth

Yes for one small independant craft, but using multiple lanches to build a larger
vehicle in low earth orbit should work well. They only need the ability to dock with
each other. Also if you have a launch failure you only loose a part, not the whole
thing.

I am sure there is a cost savings for one large rocket over mulitple launches, but
I wonder due to long development times will congress stay the course.  Perhaps
when the Chinese put a base on the moon the people in this country will press
congress to follow.



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Offline Rocket T. Coyote

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Re: Ares V vs. SLS (Heavy Launch)
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2012, 10:13:43 pm »
Man-rate the Atlas V. Meanwhile Elon Musk has a project in development.
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