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View Diary: Golden Spike to shoot for the moon by 2020 (175 comments)

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  •  And, I should point out (1+ / 0-)
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    that there aren't really a lot of unknowns, from a technical standpoint (the big one being suits and lander).  Which, is what they are working on.  

    •  There are vast unknowns. (1+ / 0-)
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      Eric K

      They're not trying to replicate Apollo - they're promising to achieve safe and affordable manned lunar missions.  Even with the backing of multiple billionaires and a decade of development, the industry hasn't even achieved operational suborbital manned spaceflight - they're still testing aircraft frames and rocket engines.  And getting off the ground has a hell of a lot fewer unknowns than sending people beyond the Earth's magnetic field and landing on the Moon.  

      Thousands upon thousands of rockets have been flown, and millions of aircraft, but they're still running into all sorts of ridiculous problems with making something that can safely lob people on a parabolic trajectory above the atmosphere.  There have been exactly nine manned spaceflights beyond LEO in the entire history of spaceflight, one of which was nearly fatal, and only six of which landed on the Moon.  Of those six, as far as I can recall, two of them encountered potentially fatal problems that were only dodged by sheer luck and piloting genius.  And the cost of just building the infrastructure to make it possible was more than the construction of the Great Pyramids of Giza.

      That isn't to say it can't be done, but I don't think these people are serious.  I think they're on the level of Excalibur Almaz, or that EADS spaceplane, or the Spanish space hotel venture.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

      by Troubadour on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 08:31:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If they were propsing (1+ / 0-)
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        to build all their own hardware, that would lower them down much further in my mind.  

        But what they are doing is using hardware that is already developed and flying right now.  

        Is there reason to have a somewhat critical eye?  Yes (the old adage about making a small fortune in the space industry starts by having a large fortune), partially as a result of the issue of funding.  But technically wise, its all doable, at prices they are pretty close to

        •  They have to develop their own lander (1+ / 0-)
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          and there is no manned BEO system flying now.  Dragon is the most viable method of getting them to LLO, but that isn't even man-rated to LEO yet, and won't be until 2015 at the earliest - and BEO-robust is a quantum leap beyond the requirements of just ferrying astronauts to ISS with the capability to abort and be back on the ground within hours.  

          But let's just imagine they're just handed manned BEO Dragon for free - who is even close to having a flight-worthy lander?  The NASA Morpheus lander exploded on the pad in August.  Armadillo and Masten regularly lose vehicles just doing hovers and basic horizontal translations.  Blue Origin, with its billionaire owner, Big Aerospace-poached talent, and DC-X heritage, lost its vehicle last year.  The systems at the heart of Grasshopper look promising, but it's only flown twice - once 6 feet for 3 seconds, and then to 18 feet for 8 seconds, and given how every other VTVL developer has done, it would be a miracle if the original vehicle completes the testing program.

          We're talking about four major steps before they can even offer the possibility, three of which they have no control over and are unlikely to contribute much funding to advancing - Falcon Heavy, manned LEO Dragon (prerequisite for BEO), manned BEO Dragon, and then a VTVL lunar lander.

          In Roviet Union, money spends YOU!

          by Troubadour on Thu Dec 06, 2012 at 09:05:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Couple of things. (0+ / 0-)

        1. Who cares if there's been thousands and thousands of rocket launches?  Even if these thousands and thousands of launches (world wide) had the same heritage, we'd still be talking about the equivalent of a few years worth of data from the earliest days of aviation.  Of course, we're only interested in those heritages that will mount emerging manned vehicles, and the most experienced of those has about 30 launches.

        2. Our current approach to safety in manned spaceflight is ludicrous.  We either abandon it entirely and deal with inevitable loss of life so we can learn, or we stick with the program to nowhere we have now.

        3. Excalibur Almaz might be an apt comparison, especially if Golden Spike sees itself more as a service contractor.

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