In this FIRETACULAR epicsode of Spacevidcast we look at fire, Europa, fire, Konrad, fire, NASA’s Constellation Program and fire.
Fire! Fire! Fire!
R.I.P. Konrad Dannenberg
Ok, Ben’s not allowed to have any more energy drinks right before the show…
Just thought I’d let you guys know, the fireball over Texas was a meteor. http://www.space.com/news/090217-texas-fireball-update.html
Ben, I’m curious, why are you so gung-ho about the Aries I? The highest end Delta IV heavy lift already has more payload to orbit capability and Falcon IX heavy lift will have even more than that. All those extra billions we’re going to have to spend getting Ares I going could be used for other space projects!
I’m NOT gung-ho about the Ares I, in fact I was asking if we even need the silly thing. I did give props to the Ares V as it can lift a lot more weight in to space than anything we have today.
I apologize if I did not make myself clear. When I said “gung ho” I didn’t necessarily mean that you’re all fired up about Ares I. What I meant was you seemed certain that it is going to be built. I think when Falcon 9 starts sending Dragon to the space station, even some congress critters are going to start looking at Ares I and asking “Why?” Just think of all NASA could accomplish in the next few years if the billions that are going to be spent on Ares I were instead applied to COTS-D!
And as I (and many others in the new-space community) have said, Ares V is also an unnecessary waste of billions. The alternative to having an Ares I launch of crew along with an Ares V launch of the remaining sections of the interplanetary spacecraft is to have multiple launches of one or more of the following launchers with different modular parts of the final spacecraft: the upper end Delta IV heavy, the yet to be built Atlas V heavy, or the Falcon IX heavy. This method would require some extra assembly in orbit, but NASA has plenty of experience with that with building the ISS. Yes, it took a long time to assemble the ISS, but the reason it took such a long and drawn out time to assemble was primarily due to the financial difficulties of the Russians in the early days resulting in large time gaps between each module delivery to orbit. Once each module was gotten to the station’s orbit, assembly of a module to the station was almost ridiculously quick and easy.
Both Ares launchers will have solid boosters that were derived from the shuttle solid rocket boosters. Both rockets are more about saving shuttle related jobs in key congressional districts than they are about an efficient way of getting out into the solar system.
Good thing you didn’t film this episode in a crowded theater…
(‘Cause that’s where you’re never supposed to yell “Fire!”)
On the topic of Europa (Must…resist…2010…reference…), why choose one planetary mission over the other? If this is a joint NASA/ESA (and anyone else who wants to ante up) mission, why not load for two encounters? If you’re going to go as far as Jupiter, why not use the Jupiter encounter as a gravity assist to send a Saturn package on its way? Hmmm… lose mass and velocity as you get rid of part of your payload. Yeah, that works (I think).
I know, I know — the mission scientists will cram everything possible into an instrument package and chew up the payload capacity. I’m not a rocket scientist and no, I haven’t checked out the orbital mechanics either. I’m just trying to think outside the box a little. I guess I’m a little bit greedy and wish that they didn’t have to choose one over the other.
BTW — If you could plan a Europa or Titan mission, what kind of probe would you send? And why? Let’s not worry about the possibility of contamination (if what you want is a lander) — I just want to hear what everyone else is thinking.
Me, personally? A lander with a drill and a robot sub.
If you want to see some really cool animation for what a probe to Europa would look like, the following talk by Bill Stone goes into some detail about a prototype he has been working for NASA that may end up on that moon of Jupiter:
He also shows some footage of using a similar probe for some underwater cave exploration. This is definitely worth watching for space geeks.
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