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"We need to fly some rocket ships."

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That's my recommendation. We don't need a conference. We need an X program. DC/X showed the way. Next step is to build a larger one. I'd go for the full 600,000 GLOW SSX, but we can settle for something smaller (that can never make orbit, or even scare it much, but can teach us a lot about engines and control). DC/X used hydrogen. One of the things we learned from DC/X is you really don't want hydrogen rockets; they are an operational nightmare. Max Hunter always thought we'd end up using propane. (There are those who like methane, but rocket fuel grade methane is hard to obtain and has operations difficulties. Propane is easy to come by and we know a lot about handling it.) The conclusion is obvious, at least to me: build the best propane LOX ship using at least 8 engines that we can build with present technology. Make it somewhere between 100,000 and 600,000 pounds GLOW. Build it, take it to Edwards, and fly it. Build three tail numbers. Fly the first one closer and closer to the envelope and learn all we can. If it prangs -- sometimes X ships do -- you've got the second tail number to fly until the tests are over. With luck the third one is a hangar queen that eventually goes to the Smithsonian.

We don't need a conference, we need to fly some rocket ships.


He ought to know. RTWT.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2010 01:45 am (UTC)
Your honor I object. This argument (the rocket equations) is not about "Gross Liftoff Weight (GLOW)" it is about ISP (specific impulse). For Earth atmospheric launches only Liquid Hydrogen 2 (LH2) can provide the best ISP. Yes,it is very expensive technology but it is well understood with more than 40 years of experience. A LOX / LH2 engine is the cheapest and friendliest way to get Off The Planet. Once we get off this rock there are a host of other propulsion systems that show great promise, Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) is my current favorite but Orion is a romantic possibility. Alas, none of these get us away from the star that is our ultimate doom. I refer, of course to the Sun. We need a high fraction of the speed of light if we are to survive.
And don't get me started on the little grey guys that have our number. How are we to defend against them? You thought the Reagan "Star Wars" was to be used ageist reentry vehicles? Hah!
MRT
wombat_socho
Jun. 13th, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
Well, your technical quibbles may be accurate, but his basic point is still correct. Stuff needs to fly.
(Anonymous)
Jun. 13th, 2010 10:28 am (UTC)
Indeed!
MRT
otherles
Jun. 14th, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with you there.

Even some big dumb boosters or a two-stage to orbit (like the shuttle was supposed to be) would be a step in the right direction.
wombat_socho
Jun. 14th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see that the private space companies are finally getting close to the point where they don't need NASA's launching pads any more - or the Russians' either, for that matter. Faster, please.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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