Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saturn V

He's worked up about problems with Ares.
People say, "Oh, but we couldn't build the Saturn V now! We'd have to rebuild all the tooling!" And we don't have to build tooling to make the asinine junk they're planning? We have all the engineering data and designs for a mature, man-rated platform, and the stuff that isn't available any more (primarily electronics) could be replaced with smaller, cheaper, lighter, more reliable parts. No we can't just go into the parts room and come out with what we need to build a Saturn V, but it would be a hell of a lot easier and cheaper to haul out the plans and update them than it would be to design an entirely new system from the ground up.

And faster, too, I'd wager.

We could build a fleet of Saturn V launchers, upgraded with nifty composite material and modern computers.

We utterly lack the organization to operate them. We build a fleet of launchers and give them to .. NASA. Recall that this is the same organization that took the last ones we had and used them for lawn ornaments a generation ago . . .

No, that option was closed out when Apollo ended and NASA was given the mission to become the National Space Truck Agency and drive around in circles for a generation. This ain't your father's NASA and they're still good for a lot but owning and operating a whole bunch of rockets seems not to be an area of core expertise.


If the hole was just a little bit bigger that bird would not have flown home.

Nobody but a government can afford to operate a Saturn V. Since our government can't (or won't) we need to bootstrap or way back into space with boosters that private enterprise can afford.

These will be small and non-impressive but they'll get the job done. Shuttle may be the largest flying machine to operate in the atmosphere, ever. But she will not be the largest ever spaceship.

At least that's the way to bet.
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