Orion is so uninspired, even its heatshield. I wished, they just let the project die already.
@ skipjack - Unispired though it may be, it is still better than the alternative which is nothing.
We saw what inspired got NASA and the taxpayer for the last 30 or so years. While the Shuttle system was useful as the transport of various systems into space, in the end it served more as an extreme environment repair/maintenance vehicle and never fulfilled one of its most important promises of being a lower cost system for manned space travel.
Unfortunately, government bureaucracy and inspired can not co-exist. NASA had it's turn and ultimately failed. Until the few companies in the civilian sector that are working toward space flight can get their programs/projects/systems fully approved and functioning, the Orion is our best bet for continued space travel.
I will even go sar far as to say that, even when the civilian systems come on line, Orion or its descendants will continue to have a place int the U.S. space program for quite some time.
just a noob question, why is immediate re-entry needed after deep space mission? Wouldn't it be more simple to stop over on ISS and come back on next crew change?
@ Slaven - From my very basic understanding, as a layman, there is nothing that is simple to accomplish in space. The way I understand it, to dock with the ISS requires everything to be planned as part of the overall mission. You can't just arbitrarily go to one point in space and then expect to meet up with something else, at another point in space, on a whim.
Everything that was purposely put into space and is still functioning properly has its own distinct orbit at its own distinct altitude to keep all of them from interacting with each other in a disastorous fashion.
As a recent example of jumping from point A to point B (from the film Gravity, and which , with a high degree of certainty, wouldn't/couldn't happen in real life) -
ISS orbits at about 51 degrees, at an altitude of about 420 kilometers, at about 17,300 miles per hour.
Hubble orbits at about 29 degrees at, an altitude of about 560 kilometers, at about 16,800 miles per hour.
In this example, to make it from Hubble to ISS you would first have to wait until their orbits intersected (or within a relatively small window of that intersection). You would then need to have enough fuel to make the maneuver and make the necessary calculations to leave point A at such a time as to get you to point B at just the right time to make contact.
That's it? With all the material science research going on, the best we have is what grampa came up with 50 years ago, and even then, we have to figure out how it was done? Why not just use the Apollo capsule, as is, and just retrofit the avionics? Works for another innovative US machine...the B-52 bomber
@Rt1583 - You are incorrect in your statement. It was not vision or inspiration that gave us 30 years of the shuttle. It was unmitigated, blind stupidity by congress. They couldn't even follow their own plan.
The shuttles we grew to know and love were prototypes. They were never intended to fly more than 15 missions between them. The originals were meant to be used to understand reusable vehicles better. Once we gathered that data they were to be reengineered for easy and quick turn around. They were even going to figure out how to carry the external tank all the way to orbit so it could be used as habitable volume in space.
Then some fool sold congress on the "space plane" and convinced them to gut the shuttle budget to chase it. This meant that the redesign never happened so each and every time these prototypes flew they needed to be stripped to the chassis and rebuilt rather than merely serviced.
The money was then thrown at a project that had too many new systems in it to ever succeed. Pretty much the entire vehicle was a complete long shot. The lifting body had never been tried before, the aero-spike engines hadn't ever been past pencil doodles, the fuel tanks relied on material properties the sience of the 80's had never achieved, the list goes on. So as it was destined to do it went over budget, over time, and congress killed it when the material they selected for the tanks in the draft design phase failed during vibration testing.
If they had stuck to the original iterative design approach of add one new system, test, crunch the data, improve the design, add the next new system and repeat we'd be watching news of the latest space hotels being transferred to a lunar or even mars orbit by now. Instead we are rebooting the whole process and returning to 1960's tech then iterating up from the beginning.
The thing I always remember from the Apollo missions was that re-entry was at escape velocity of 25,000 mph, which is knocking on a bit to use a technical term. They flew the capsule in by initially digging it into the atmosphere so that it could lose a lot of the speed. This, of course, raised the temperature of the heat-shield. So to give it a chance to cool down, they tilted the capsule so that it 'bounced' upwards (relative to the earth's surface below), something akin to a bouncing pebble on water. When gravity brought it back into the earth's atmosphere, it was traveling much slower, allowing a normal decent to the surface from then on.
It is interesting to note that some politicians were calling for essentially the same procedure to be used to achieve lunar orbit and thus save the cost of the planned orbital burn. Unfortunately, they all refused the offer to try it out first, even though the name 'Calamity Crater' had already been reserved for the (desired) outcome.
VENTURE STAR was to be THE replacement for The Shuttle. From what I have been told by my NASA contacts, and what I have read, it was screwed up from within per engineering on purpose!
And of course there are the Congressthings and $$$. A friend at NASA said that funding is hard since Congressthings are constantly trying to get voters via promises and NASA just does not get that many voters.
A good friend who worked on the Shuttle --managing orbit rendezvous-- had nothing good to say per what she saw per NASA. She quit eventually.
The Right Stuff, per management, imagination, follow through was/is not there, and the Federal Budget is but pocket chump change from Uncle Sugar Daddy, thus we get the Back to the Future retro Apollo redo but with a nicer comfy Sci Fi inside. The Von Braun days are long gone and even then he saw the righting on the wall. His plan was to get the US to Mars by about 1985!!!
"Dave, I sense a complete failure coming..." "Yes HAL, I do too."
The shuttle had wings. It was not a lifting body. Lifting bodies were tested as far back as '63 in the form of the M2-F1.
The shuttle was an example of deciding on a solution before determining whether or not it was the best route to the objective - reducing the cost of transporting people & materiel into space. A private sector effort would likely have produced a similar result given the same parameters.
Orion, in contrast, is designed to accomplish a mission within current parameters, which include cost & safety. If existing tech is the best solution at the best price, it should not be discarded because it isn't sexy. Interplanetary travel poses enough new challenges to consume all the money that will be available.
NASA got the short-shrift because the American Gov's been spending too much tax-payer dollars on ahem, "defense".
And it doesn't look like it's abating.
Translation: "Orion doesn't look enough like the millennium falcon for my taste."
There are alternatives that are cheaper to boot. SpaceX Dragon V2 for one.
In the end a heat shield is a cheap and very reliable way to generate a change in velocity when you have an atmosphere to work with. It takes about 8X the energy to gain orbital velocity than it takes to go straight up to the height of the orbit. you have to loose this velocity to get back on the ground in one piece.
@ Suckerberg Mark
It is massively expensive and does not offer anything that Dragon V2 does not.
Thanks for explanation guys
it just seamed impractical to have the same vessel for two totally different applications, 1st being exit and reentry which are extremely stressful for all equipment + extra weight and unnecessary equipment stress for 2nd application - interplanetary journey (all of this, of course, when considering that transport costs might fall considerably if SpaceX reusable rocket systems come into service - and they probably will, and together with it also the cost of building a reusable space vessel in space..)
Seems way to small for a trip to mars and back, small quarters for a 6 to 8 month to mars and then yet back.
I do not see how the orion is big enough or even capable of going to mars and have no interest to see them go back to the moon.
Where are the launders ? vehicles, ect ? to go to the moon.
This seems like a throw back of old ways and nothing more then a upgrade.
even some of the rockets built already to go to mars, collecting dust, we don't even hear about them,
tell me, they gonna sit or sleep in a cramped capsule for 6 to 8 months just to get to mars ! Does not seem like the orion is even close to being capable of a mission for more then a month !
The wheel was invented centuries ago and it still is the best machine for hundreds of jobs today.. If Orion gets the job done for whatever it is needed for then use it. When a new wheel is invented then use it.