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Gorn
2013-Nov-10, 06:51 AM
Hello. I was wondering. I heard once that Peter Diamandis thot..that 'we' are not there yet but the 'space program' needs an exothermic economic reaction. By the way..I like that expression.

I am thinking the 'only' way to achieve it is to use chemical rockets that use different more powerful fuels and or 'work in' material science. That's it.
Basically..simply do what you are already doing..but have spacecraft that are 'smaller' and or 'lighter than what they have now. The 'lighter' part is where the material sciences part comes in.

What materials are being worked on to lighten the weight of rockets? Did the shuttle and its rockets use 'titanium...or tungsten'? Is there a 'way' to use 'other' metals? obviously not.
What about metal alloys with 'ceramics' mixed in?

Thanks for any and all responses
Bye
SC

Colin Robinson
2013-Nov-10, 09:06 AM
Hello. I was wondering. I heard once that Peter Diamandis thot..that 'we' are not there yet but the 'space program' needs an exothermic economic reaction. By the way..I like that expression.

I am thinking the 'only' way to achieve it is to use chemical rockets that use different more powerful fuels and or 'work in' material science. That's it.
Basically..simply do what you are already doing..but have spacecraft that are 'smaller' and or 'lighter than what they have now. The 'lighter' part is where the material sciences part comes in.

What materials are being worked on to lighten the weight of rockets?

For inexpensive, light-weight spacecraft, why not make them out of paper?

At least one feasibility study (http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/space/stories/paper-airplane-released-from-space-flutters-back-to-earth) has already been done…

Noclevername
2013-Nov-10, 11:00 AM
I am thinking the 'only' way to achieve it is to use chemical rockets that use different more powerful fuels and or 'work in' material science. That's it.
Basically..simply do what you are already doing..but have spacecraft that are 'smaller' and or 'lighter than what they have now.


I think there's a better way than just doing what we're already doing. We're basically using one-use, throw-away rocket engines, and making them out of lighter and stronger materials will just make them more expensive to throw away. Composites and titanium-ceramics are fairly pricey to manufacture.

The current trend in development/testing is re-useable stages like the SpaceX Grasshopper. That way you might get much more use out of the same rocket instead of just discarding 3/4 of it with every launch. In the UK they are also working on a Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) launcher called Skylon. If it works, and there are some indications that it might, it would constitute a whole reusable spacecraft (unlike the Space Shuttle which had to be basically rebuilt after every use).

Part of the reason NASA is currently hiring private rockets like the Falcon to resupply the ISS is that a private company can avoid some of the costs of a government agency directly run by politicians. That too will help lower costs in the future.

Spaceflight still won't drop to "average Joe" affordability for many generations. But we've already begun taking the first steps in that direction, which pleases me.

Noclevername
2013-Nov-10, 11:56 AM
Spaceflight still won't drop to "average Joe" affordability for many generations.

And that's only if the average continues to rise, as has been the trend worldwide for a couple of centuries; our current economic woes are hopefully temporary.

publiusr
2013-Nov-10, 09:45 PM
To me, if it is suborbital--it isn't space--I don't care what arbitrary line is supposed to be 62 miles up. Spaceship 2 is a joke.

Take this instead: http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2391/1

That new balloon launch lets you go up very high--and let's you look around at leisure. More importantly, it doesn't push you in your seat violently. For that hassle--I want orbit.

Noclevername
2013-Nov-10, 10:53 PM
To me, if it is suborbital--it isn't space--I don't care what arbitrary line is supposed to be 62 miles up. Spaceship 2 is a joke.


I agree. A whale occasionally poking its head out of water to breathe, does not make it a land animal. Poking a vehicle above the atmosphere briefly does not make it a spaceship.

cjameshuff
2013-Nov-10, 11:38 PM
I am thinking the 'only' way to achieve it is to use chemical rockets that use different more powerful fuels and or 'work in' material science. That's it.
Basically..simply do what you are already doing..but have spacecraft that are 'smaller' and or 'lighter than what they have now. The 'lighter' part is where the material sciences part comes in.

You're talking about making ever more minor increases in payload by dramatically increasing the costs and hazards of building and operating the vehicle. How exactly will this make things cheaper?

SpaceX is pursuing almost the exact opposite approach to what you suggest, with considerable success: they use a lithium-aluminum alloy for the tank and structure, a less efficient but simpler gas generator cycle engine design; cheap, safe, and easy to handle kerosene fuel instead of liquid hydrogen or something even more exotic, and so on. They have instead focused on reducing production and operational costs, doing as much as possible in-house and simplifying and reducing waste where they can. As a result, they're selling launches at prices far below anyone else's. And now they're planning on sacrificing around 25-30% of the payload to orbit in order to bring the first stage (with 9 out of 10 Merlin engines) back intact...reuse will allow even more reductions in cost.