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Philippe Lemay
2010-Jan-28, 02:43 AM
Sorry if this has already been brought up. I did a quick search and found only this thread that dates back a few years: http://www.bautforum.com/universe-today-story-comments/73890-after-shuttle-should-astronauts-launched-satellite-rockets.html
So I figured I had better make a new one rather than revive that old thing.

I was discussing the space exploration situation with a friend and we came upon the topic of the shuttles. I know it's quite likely that the shuttles will be retired next year. And based on this article (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-no-moon-for-nasa-20100126,0,2770904.story) it seems like the Ares V might not have a go after all.

So I was wondering, how does NASA plan on repairing important satellites that get damaged without the shuttle? Like the Hubble for example, what will they do next time it needs a tune up? Is it possible to use a capsule to just send out a few astronauts with some tool boxes? Can we put a manipulator arm on a capsule maybe?

Or, from this point onward, do we just plan on using cheaper satellites that won't need any maintenance and are easier to simply be replaced periodically. Like disposable cameras.


Please discuss, I am quite eager to hear all your thoughts on the matter.

Jens
2010-Jan-28, 03:10 AM
So I was wondering, how does NASA plan on repairing important satellites that get damaged without the shuttle? Like the Hubble for example, what will they do next time it needs a tune up? Is it possible to use a capsule to just send out a few astronauts with some tool boxes? Can we put a manipulator arm on a capsule maybe?


I think the honest answer is, nothing. If a big problem comes up with Hubble, it will be left to die. Same with other satellites. I think it was somewhat unusual to do orbital repairs on anything other than the ISS. Maybe somebody will correct me though.

01101001
2010-Jan-28, 03:12 AM
So I was wondering, how does NASA plan on repairing important satellites that get damaged without the shuttle? Like the Hubble for example, what will they do next time it needs a tune up? Is it possible to use a capsule to just send out a few astronauts with some tool boxes? Can we put a manipulator arm on a capsule maybe?

You sound as if you think that satellite repair is currently a common practice. The list of satellites repaired or maintained by manned missions is minuscule.

Current satellites are not designed for manned-mission repair.

Hubble is done with human visitors. Maybe a robot craft will grab it and dispose of it.

Space.com: NASA Gets Out of Satellite Servicing Business (http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/090522-nasa-servicing.html)

Swift
2010-Jan-28, 03:13 AM
So I was wondering, how does NASA plan on repairing important satellites that get damaged without the shuttle? Like the Hubble for example, what will they do next time it needs a tune up?
I think the answer is they don't repair satellites. There are no plans for any further repairs or upgrades of the Hubble. And I don't think this would be any different if Ares goes forward.

There have been past discussions on BAUT on doing such things from a capsule and I think the general consensus was that it was not even close to practical.

Philippe Lemay
2010-Jan-28, 04:26 AM
So like... they really are comparable to disposable cameras. If a satellite gets damaged or stops working in any way, it's usually cheaper to just send up a replacement than to even try and fix the original?

Philippe Lemay
2010-Jan-28, 04:44 AM
Sorry, another question. Quasi-related.

Won't this lead to a serious problem of accumulating space debris. I mean I know these are small satellites, and that we can probably de-orbit most of them. But... is there a risk?

I recall the main storyline behind the anime series PlanetES (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlanetES). (Don't worry, it's Hard Sci-fi.)

Jens
2010-Jan-28, 04:57 AM
Won't this lead to a serious problem of accumulating space debris. I mean I know these are small satellites, and that we can probably de-orbit most of them. But... is there a risk?


About the first question, the thing is that manned missions are so expensive that it's really better to make things that don't get repaired. I think that a manned mission to Hubble cost about a billion dollars.

And yes, the space junk problem is an issue. There again, I think it would be much cheaper to design things with the capability to de-orbit rather than to send a manned mission to retrieve them.

astromark
2010-Jan-28, 09:06 AM
From what 'Jens' has added and, I agree. The case is growing for unmanned space probes. Our techknowledgy is quickly bringing the need for human presence in space down. The risk and the costs will dictate this.
As for the space junk question. Lets give the United Nations the job of de-orbiting disused or redundant space probes. Make it mandatory to de-orbit and destroy any space probes as there use is terminated.

joema
2010-Jan-28, 02:02 PM
...how does NASA plan on repairing important satellites that get damaged without the shuttle? Like the Hubble for example, what will they do next time it needs a tune up? Is it possible to use a capsule to just send out a few astronauts with some tool boxes?...Or, from this point onward, do we just plan on using cheaper satellites that won't need any maintenance and are easier to simply be replaced periodically. Like disposable cameras...
Excluding Hubble, the shuttle has captured repaired or retrieved these satellites:

STS-32: LDEF
STS-41-C: Solar Max
STS-49: Intelsat VI
STS-51-A: Palapa B-2 and Westar 6
STS-57: Eureca
STS-72: Space Flyer Unit microgravity experiment

Except for Hubble, the last of these was 14 years ago.

Several of these were not repair missions, but retrieval of orbital science payloads. Those did not necessarily require the shuttle -- the data could have been obtained other ways had the shuttle never been available.

From this it's obvious the early plans for frequent satellite repair/retrieval didn't work out. After the shuttle is decommissioned, nothing will be lost because it's not used in that role today.

It costs about $200 million to launch a shuttle mission. That's all costs for the vehicle and support. However repairing or retrieving a satellite entails more costs. The repair parts for the last Hubble mission were an additional $200 million. Extensive astronaut training can also be expensive. For the last Hubble mission, that was an addition $500 million, for a total mission cost of $900 million.

Most satellite retrieval/repair would be less expensive, but would be considerably more than the $200 million per-launch base cost.

The shuttle program also entails several billion $ per year in fixed costs, whether it flies or not. While launching an additional mission is "only" $200 million, from another point of view you must divide the fixed annual costs by the number of flights per year, which could make each flight over $1 billion.

If the satellite cannot be repaired, it must be retrieved and re-launched, so the costs of a 2nd launch must also be valued against the cost of writing it off and building/launching a new satellite.

The shuttle can only reach low earth orbit. Many high value satellites are in orbits it cannot reach. Repair or retrieval was never an option in those cases. Another example: the European Envisat probably costs over $2 billion dollars, is within the shuttle's altitude capability, but is in a polar orbit. The shuttle cannot reach polar orbits.

In general losing the shuttle won't mean losing repair/retrieval capability, since that largely never existed. Excepting Hubble, that capability hasn't been used in 14 years.

In theory you can do repair (though not retrieval) using an Orion-type capsule. You'd obviously need a remote manipulator or free-flying astronaut capability. Because of similar cost issues as the shuttle, it seems unlikely that would be seriously explored.

ngc3314
2010-Jan-28, 02:03 PM
Current NASA policy is that anything orbited with a ground-debris cross-section calculated at (8 square meters)? or more must have controlled deorbit capability, and everyone has gotten much more careful about booster stages (for example, I watched the TV coverage of one of the later Atlas Iridium launches - reach orbit, pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, sats deployed, deorbit booster stage). HST has been an exception, deployed 20 years ago this April when the rules were not so stringent.

The people maintaining the standard code for the debris calculations are apparently very interested in observations of satellite entries, especially when breakups happen, to improve the modeling.

Philippe Lemay
2010-Jan-29, 12:55 AM
Ok, thanks for these answers. I guess the shuttle won't be as missed as I thought it would...

So, any thoughts on a possible next space plane, or is it capsules from here on? And what are your expert opinions on this X-37 business?

Murphy
2010-Jan-29, 02:29 AM
It costs about $200 million to launch a shuttle mission. That's all costs for the vehicle and support. However repairing or retrieving a satellite entails more costs. The repair parts for the last Hubble mission were an additional $200 million. Extensive astronaut training can also be expensive. For the last Hubble mission, that was an addition $500 million, for a total mission cost of $900 million.

Huh? Training the astronauts costs more than flying the actual vehicle? Heh, what are they paying them, movie star salaries? :lol:

joema
2010-Jan-29, 04:22 AM
Huh? Training the astronauts costs more than flying the actual vehicle? Heh, what are they paying them, movie star salaries? :lol:
Fleet of T-38 jets to fly them around, neutral buoyancy lab, 1,000 practice landings for commander in Gulfstream training aircraft, 1,000 practice landings for pilot, salary and benefits of support personnel, facility costs all of the above, continue training over several years for delayed mission, etc, etc.

astromark
2010-Jan-29, 06:30 AM
We are not encouraged to talk of things political...'Its against the rules.' and you can understand why... just watch.

Humanity can no longer afford a space program of the type as the NASA shuttle program.
I would very much like to convince our politicians that the very survival of humanity depends on the space research and activity to gain the tools we need to avoid a catastrophic impact event. The fact that no one seems to care is a little alarming and certainly disappointing. Frighteningly the replacement for the shuttle may not ever fly... its over.
In the vain attempt to capture the attention of some political activists... Just look at the News. Natural disasters are a real and ever present risk. Every year that passes without a significant impact event raises the potential risk. Sorry but the phrase 'Farting at thunder' springs to mind... But if that lightning has hit you.. *:(

Jens
2010-Jan-29, 06:38 AM
I would very much like to convince our politicians that the very survival of humanity depends on the space research and activity to gain the tools we need to avoid a catastrophic impact event.

It might, but specifically impact events. And the space shuttle can do nothing about those. I agree that impacts are something we should worry about, and should get something global in motion to figure out how to deal with it.

But it has nothing to do with other natural disasters. The space program is not going to get rid of earthquakes or hurricanes for us.

Philippe Lemay
2010-Feb-02, 01:14 AM
What I always find funny about the global catastrophe argument is that even assuming a hard hit from an asteroid, or a nuclear winter, good old Terra is still plenty more habitable than most other rocks out there. lol

Mars doesn't have enough of a magnetosphere to protect us from cosmic radiation (I'm pretty sure that Luna has NO magnetosphere). And Venus and Mercury just aren't realistic options at the moment. So were we to move up into space, we'd have to live deep underground.

If it comes to that, I'd rather live underground here on Terra.

BigDon
2010-Feb-02, 01:22 AM
It might, but specifically impact events. And the space shuttle can do nothing about those. I agree that impacts are something we should worry about, and should get something global in motion to figure out how to deal with it.

But it has nothing to do with other natural disasters. The space program is not going to get rid of earthquakes or hurricanes for us.

True but without the space part of NASA we would be seeing hurricaines coming a month out.

Dragonchild
2010-Feb-02, 02:35 AM
What I always find funny about the global catastrophe argument is that even assuming a hard hit from an asteroid, or a nuclear winter, good old Terra is still plenty more habitable than most other rocks out there. lol

It's a real argument, but not necessarily a politically pragmatic one. Earth is doomed, but we're talking about disasters on the scale of once per millions to billions of years whereas places like the Moon or Mars are doomed NOW. Furthermore, science geeks are unquestionably outsiders. We ask these questions to each other, but go out on the street and people aren't concerned with long-term species survival so much as 1Q profits, the winner of the Super Bowl or what to wear/eat tomorrow. It's a political issue but note it's not a partisan one.

I'd like to think we have a better chance of pushing this forward from a legacy or jobs creation standpoint, but science and nationalism aren't as compatible in American culture today as it is in other areas. Once again, if a state has a few billion to spare, they'd rather spend it on local sports teams. Meanwhile, NASA's budget is under attack daily.

Gah, I'm depressing myself. Getting back to point, the space shuttle's death and the stagnation of space exploration are two intertwined but separate issues. The shuttle turned out to be a dead end (satellite repair included), and we're making great progress with unmanned observatories, probes & rovers (Spirit & Opportunity, Cassini, New Horizons, Spitzer et.al.) This combination makes manned spaceflight difficult to justify. That said, I do sense a concurrent public apathy toward astronomy. One is not related to the other, so it's almost like manned space flight is getting hit by two sucker punches from two different directions at the same time.

Jens
2010-Feb-02, 03:10 AM
We ask these questions to each other, but go out on the street and people aren't concerned with long-term species survival so much as 1Q profits, the winner of the Super Bowl or what to wear/eat tomorrow.

Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a geek and I still care more about what to wear/eat tomorrow than I do about long-term species survival. :)

On the other hand, it's not just an American problem. Obviously I am (like many other people, not just geeks) at least supportive of the project, and I'm sure that on a global scale, there are sufficient resources to do work on this. The fact that a number of nations still send people into space is a demonstration that everything is not hopeless. Maybe China or India will end up beating the US to it, but who cares, it's the future of humanity we're talking about, not national pride of any country.

Dragonchild
2010-Feb-02, 03:17 AM
Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a geek and I still care more about what to wear/eat tomorrow than I do about long-term species survival. :)

Oh, same here, and I agree; I'm just saying this is precisely why it's difficult to push manned space exploration forward. I obviously don't have high regards for the short-term consumer mentality, but that by itself isn't passing judgement on the collective ambivalence toward manned space flight. Manned space flight may be flat-out unviable. I just daresay most people are against it for entirely irrelevant reasons!

danscope
2010-Feb-03, 09:44 PM
We can do a lot here on Earth with that money. A lot.
How do you justify spending trillions of dollars you don't have on intangibles you will not see? Hmmmm......
Hey.. I'd like to go to Maui for a month and play golf. just to sharpen my game for the week I play Pebble Beach and then play in the pro-am.
Those would be good times. But I have to pay my bills and I don't recklessly borrow money like that. I'd love to buy an Aero Commander and fly into Myrtle Beach for the week end. But it won't happen,see.
You need to be practical. You can still dream. No problem. And you have to work tomorrow. And other things.

neilzero
2010-Feb-05, 12:42 AM
In the past decade or more, manned flight has been losing ground. That may change, but my guess is the space elevator will be the next USA man in space success. We are likely winding down the shuttle. The gap for manned flight could be decades long, even to LEO = low earth orbit. Neil

DrRocket
2010-Feb-05, 07:46 AM
I would very much like to convince our politicians that the very survival of humanity depends on the space research and activity to gain the tools we need to avoid a catastrophic impact event. *:(

I look forward to hearing the results of your efforts to energize the New Zealand space program to address this pressing need.

Slyder
2010-Feb-05, 03:31 PM
I guess we can now forget about things to do after the shuttle.

Obama has canned the Constellation program, and of course, divided reactions now are all over the place.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7011322.ece

Swift
2010-Feb-05, 03:46 PM
I guess we can now forget about things to do after the shuttle.

Obama has canned the Constellation program, and of course, divided reactions now are all over the place.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article7011322.ece
And those divided reactions are being expressed in multiple threads in Space Exploration. Let's continue to add them there.

Delvo
2010-Feb-06, 03:26 AM
Does the name "Constellation" refer to only the goal of getting to the moon (& Mars), or to the Orioin-Ares combo for putting people and stuff in space in general? (And if the latter, then what's really been killed here: just the trips to M&M, or all Orion-Ares work?)

Going to M&M was never the only thing Orion & Ares were supposed to do; they'd also do what the shuttles have been doing (minus the exploding & disintegrating). It's hard to believe any American President would cancel the only way we would have had for even putting anyone in space at all.

danscope
2010-Feb-07, 08:18 PM
You can't go to Mars without knowing how much and how heavy the
equipment and supplies to do the job are going to be. It's like hopping into a
volkswagen and going to California from New Jersey non-stop . You can't carry that much gas and water and food and parts. See? And there are no watering holes or gas stations along the way. 0.0000 stations.
Building Constellation for that purpose doesn't hold water. No Question.
Going to the moon????? Why? Just for the clam diggers back home?
Rah...rah...rah. You already went there, remember? Think back.
Oh yes, we did. Got samples. Yep.
Spending billions on the wrong rocket doesn't make scientific logical sense.
You have a lot more thinking, desgning and real world testing down here before you will EVER be ready to go to Mars. No question.
When Napoleon went to Russia, he ran out of water. It wasn't pretty.
Frankly, the only reason for manned space flight right now is to service what we need to repair . It is argued that it is far cheaper to build and launch a new one. It is increasingly more difficult to justify man in space.
That is the problem.

Delvo
2010-Feb-10, 02:33 PM
Does the name "Constellation" refer to only the goal of getting to the moon (& Mars), or to the Orioin-Ares combo for putting people and stuff in space in general?:confused:

NEOWatcher
2010-Feb-10, 03:05 PM
Does the name "Constellation" refer to only the goal of getting to the moon (& Mars), or to the Orioin-Ares combo for putting people and stuff in space in general? (And if the latter, then what's really been killed here: just the trips to M&M, or all Orion-Ares work?)
Per Nasa's site (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/constellation/main/index.html) it is: "The new program for space exploration."
It is the program to get us out of LEO.
Although born from the goal of Mars, it is everything needed for human spaceflight.
So is Constellation killed? Hard to tell. It can be considered to be drastically changed, or the new approach may be called something else.


Going to M&M was never the only thing Orion & Ares were supposed to do; they'd also do what the shuttles have been doing (minus the exploding & disintegrating).
Correct.

It's hard to believe any American President would cancel the only way we would have had for even putting anyone in space at all.
Not exactly; he's looking toward commercial alternatives at least for LEO.