Agencies Join Forces for Orion Crew Egress Testing in Gulf of Mexico

When astronauts return to Earth from destinations beyond the moon in NASA’s Orion spacecraft and splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, they’ll still need to safely get out of the spacecraft and back on dry land. Using the waters off the coast of Galveston, Texas, a NASA and Department of Defense team recently tested Orion exit procedures in a variety of scenarios. Credit: NASA

A joint team from NASA’s Orion and Ground Systems Development and Operations programs, along with the Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force, spent July 10-14 practicing crew egress procedures off Galveston, Texas to get astronauts out of the deep space crew capsule after splashing down under parachutes in the Pacific Ocean on return from their missions beginning in the mid 2020s.

Astronauts returning to Earth in Orion will have spent many days in space, and we want to make sure the last part of their journey goes smoothly no matter what kind of conditions they land in,” said Tom Walker, rescue and recovery lead for Orion at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Our testing in the Gulf of Mexico gives us an opportunity to practice and evaluate our plans and hardware for how to get crew out of Orion as safely and efficiently as possible.”

Getting out of the spacecraft and back on dry land safely might sound easy, but a number of things could go wrong, and astronauts returning from deep space missions will need time to become used to feeling 1G gravity again, so multiple methods to get the crew out are being developed and evaluated.

On a nominal retrieval, small boats of Navy personnel will arrive soon after landing to assist astronauts as they exit through Orion’s side hatch and onto rafts, then taken back (with the spacecraft) to a Naval ship waiting nearby.

Unfortunately life isn’t nominal, so crews are training to be ready for worst case scenarios such as Orion splashing down off course where recovery teams cannot arrive quickly, or water intruding into the crew module before they arrive, because the bottom line is that astronauts must be prepared to get out of the spacecraft alone if they need to.

Photo: NASA

Orion can therefore support a crew after splashdown for 24 hours, and will be equipped with a raft and additional emergency supplies such as water, tools and signaling mirrors, just in case the astronauts end up in a situation where recovery teams are not immediately available to help.

Astronauts and engineering test subjects wore Orion Crew Survival System spacesuits, modified versions of NASA’s orange Advanced Crew Escape suits in development for use during Orion launch and entry, making the testing as true to mission scenarios as possible,” said NASA.

NASA, the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard held one of their first astronaut rescue exercises of the commercial crew era off of Florida’s “Space Coast” in March 2016 too, which helped Guardian Angel airmen with the Cape’s local 920th Rescue Wing an opportunity to refine existing techniques they will use to rescue astronauts during a spacecraft landing contingency.

 

Read my exclusive sit down interview with the 45th Space Wing in late 2015 HERE, where we discuss their plans for supporting American human spaceflight ops off Florida’s coast again in the coming years.

 

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32 comments to Agencies Join Forces for Orion Crew Egress Testing in Gulf of Mexico

  • Beautiful images Mike, they dramatically show how large this thing is compared to the Apollo CM.

    The Orion CM is so much better than the toxic Dragon! Somehow, Aerojet Rocketdyne has invented a way to make the Orion reaction control system (RCS) emit unicorn flatulence from the several hundred pounds of RCS hydrazine in the event of a stuck manifold valve or ruptured fuel line at CM splashdown. Musk should take note.

  • Derek

    se jones – I disagree. I can’t wait to see Dragon 2 land back on Earth, the way a 21st century spaceship should land, under controlled power.

    • Derek, I was just indulging in a little parody for our favorite messianic authoritarian socialist who always refers to Dragon as the “toxic” Dragon. The unicorn flatulence was a dead giveaway.

      Long story short: the original Orion CM design for project Constellation was to use gaseous O2 and methane for RCS propellant, but after Constellation was axed, Orion’s CM design went to tried-and-true hydrazine. That was eight years ago, some guys didn’t get the memo.

      21st century spaceship should land, under controlled power – I agree 100%.

      • Tracy the Troll

        Hydrazine is completely safe and breathable …Right?

      • James

        By “our favorite messianic authoritarian socialist” you must mean the guy who was an expert at always getting lots of government money for his ‘Mars now’ company right from the beginning, correct?

        Yep, in sharp contrast to “our favorite messianic authoritarian socialist” we have Mr. Jeff Bezos who isn’t a silly ‘Mars now’ guy. Mr. Bezos is a different kind of leader. He wants to help NASA get to the Moon and he expects humans and robots to make some money by tapping and selling Lunar resources.

        Mr. Jeff Bezos pays for that Lunar resource tapping dream out of his own pocket to the tune of around a billion dollars a year.

        Happily, that little farcical parody of a “messianic authoritarian socialist” Mars Colony funded by digging deeply into the pockets of American taxpayers is finally over.

        • Chris

          James, the quote machine, swoops in like Superman to the aid of Lois Lane (aka Gary C)….funny stuff

          • James

            Chris –

            Playing Russian Roulette in space is a great way to kill off astronauts, space tourism, and interest and investment in expanding human spaceflight capabilities in Cislunar Space and across our Solar System.

            Advocating for folks to play Russian Roulette in space won’t help us to get “A Trillion Humans in the Solar System”.

            Not treasuring human lives in space and elsewhere will simply get us back to dropping nuclear weapons on folks and killing them with poison gas. And when we run out of nuclear weapons and cities to drop them on, we’ll throw rocks at each other. No thanks.

            Thankfully, such ignorant Russian Roulette stupidity doesn’t appeal to most folks on the Home Planet. Most folks treasure her, or his, own life and the lives of other humans.

            Since you obviously lack critical thinking skills about the value of human lives, maybe you need some quotes to improve your wisdom:

            “Bezos also said at the gala that ‘it’s time for America to go back to the moon, this time to stay.’

            ‘We should build a permanent settlement on one of the poles of the moon,’ he said.”

            From: “Jeff Bezos’ Vision: ‘A Trillion Humans in the Solar System”
            By Leonard David July 21, 2017
            At: https://www.space.com/37572-jeff-bezos-trillion-people-solar-system.html

            “For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”
            Alexander Pope 1711

            • Chris

              I’ve watched people, on multiple occasions, bite the big one in a flaming wreck while performing airshow stunts to amuse a crowd of people on a hot summer day. You can get off your high horse carefully my friend.

              • Chris

                I should add, I was in the crowd being entertained up until it wasn’t entertaining. So if you have ever been to an airshow where some hot shot was flying 20 feet off the deck to amuse you I find your position untenable.

                Furthermore, no one is asking people to cut corners or simple roll dice, anymore than getting on the rocket in the first place is de facto Roulette. The point is to move the ball down field will require leaps of improvement. Those leaps will have risk associated with them and that risk cannot be mitigated to zero. At SLS speed a 1000 people in space, let alone a trillion will never happen. NASA status reports and anemic flight rates are not s substitute for actual progress.

              • James

                “The point is to move the ball down field will require leaps of improvement. Those leaps will have risk associated with them and that risk cannot be mitigated to zero.” – Chris

                Yep. That is life. But only fools take unneeded risks.

                And certainly only super ignorant egotistical jerks take unneeded risks with the possible future of the only planet we know of that has a rich diversity of life or the future of the human species across our Solar System.

                We need to find ways to grow NASA and international missions while also growing national and international business missions.

                Neither governments nor businesses can do all that is clearly needed to be done in space.

                Neither governments nor businesses have enough access to the financial and political resources and trust that is needed to efficiently develop space and thus businesses and governments need to carefully work together.

                It might be useful to see some 5 meter diameter SRBs on the SLS, New Glenn, and BFR.

                A launcher based on a 5 meter diameter SRB might give America reliable and robust options for super quick replacement of any nonfunctional military satellite or satellites.

                By using graphene and other advanced materials and advanced boosters the SLS, New Glenn, and BFR could evolve to much higher payload launch systems.

                Launcher payload flexibility could be useful.

                There are diverse needs and political roles for the SLS, New Glenn, and BFR.

                Sustaining and growing America’s and the Earth’s political will and interest by clear and obvious security, economic, and environmental benefits to everyone is what will get us huge numbers of humans and AI androids living across our Solar System and eventually way beyond our Solar System.

                Politics, economics, the environment, and trust both on the national and international level are critical to what happens or doesn’t happen in space.

                Sustaining and growing that trust, political will, and broad support to get people living permanently off Earth is not an easy task, nor is it a task that can be done by not very trusted snake oil hustlers and egotistical billionaire whiners that lack broad political trust and support.

                Even sober and careful planning, implementation, and assessments of missions made by serious and super smart folks can and will still get astronauts dead and leave their families devastated and trust in space and political leaders diminished.

                To sustain and immensely grow human interest and investment in space we need to reduce the risks, costs, and even the negative environmental impact of launches and spaceflights or at least clearly demonstrate that space resources can help us to improve the Home Planet’s environment and security.

                America and the rest of the Home World need low risk, efficient, multiple, functionally redundant, and strongly politically supported launch systems to get us and our machines to Moon bases and to bases that are far beyond Cislunar Space.

                Our current Mutual Assured Destruction international peace system is not stable and needs to be modified or completely changed.

                Too many folks are anti-technology, anti-science, anti-rockets, anti-space, and don’t trust their political leaders because of ideas and fears concerning terrorism or the possibility of nuclear warheads raining down on where they live.

                We need new and secure ways of promoting and insuring peace, building national and international trust, and decreasing the fear and realities of terrorism.

                If that new national and international system of assuring peace means Star War and Brilliant Pebble technology and an American Space Force are needed, so be it.

                Mutual Assured Destruction is non-useful, nonfunctional, replaceable, and attracting the strong desire to own nukes and missiles by far too many folks that aren’t reliable at doing anything other than killing people.

                Space and its extremely vast resources offer us inspiration and many economic benefits, challenges, and opportunities that are far beyond what most folks and their politicians on the Home Planet understand.

                Our doable task is to demonstrate to folks everywhere those opportunities by using the diverse resources of space to help everyone on the Home Planet live more securely and have more comfortable and productive lives.

                On the international political level we need to build trust and economic benefits by devising win-win missions such as flying with international crews on the Orion and strongly encouraging the international development of space resources.

                See also:

                ‘Unexpected Connections: The Strategic Defense Initiative and Space Resources’
                By Paul Spudis June 14, 2017
                At: http://www.spudislunarresources.com/blog/unexpected-connections-the-strategic-defense-initiative-and-space-resources/

    • Tracy the Troll

      Darek,
      When do we see the D2? any ideas?

  • Neil

    SpaceX has decided against powered land landings for D2, probably not worth it as they already have water sorted for Dragon Cargo. They’ll be doing water landings.
    Cheers

    • Tracy the Troll

      January 27,2015—
      The human-rated Crew Dragon spacecraft being developed by SpaceX will return to Earth under parachutes for splashdowns in the ocean, and not execute helicopter-like propulsive touchdowns on land, a SpaceX official confirmed Monday. Although the spacecraft is still designed for eventual propulsive landings, its initial flights with astronauts will come back to Earth much like the cargo-carrying version of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which splashes down in the Pacific Ocean a few hundred miles west of Baja California. “The integrated launch abort system is critically important to us,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer. “We think it gives incredible safety features for a full abort all the way through ascent. It does also allow us the ultimate goal of fully propulsive landing. “We won’t be certifying the propulsive landing initially,” Shotwell said. “We will be certifying the water landing with parachutes, but that vehicle will be prepared for a fully propulsive landing, which I believe is in the best interests of the astronauts.”

      so how long will this take to certify? Never? The water landing is so …1960s… As for the Russian death drop …That’s just wrong..

      • Chris

        Probably be a lot easier with non-NASA BIC (butt in couch). This is why we need to have private astronauts ASAP. Pushing into new technologies (propulsive landing, composite tanks…) is inherently risky, as is mountain climbing, aerobatic flying and lots of other activities humans engage in. Need to remove “national treasure” from the the equation.

    • Zippy

      They’ll do water landings at first. But they have always stated they want to do powered landings.

    • Chris

      NASA decided not SpaceX.

      • Tracy the Troll

        This sucks!

        “SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon capsules will not return astronauts to Earth for powered landings as originally envisioned, company boss Elon Musk said Wednesday, a design change that raises questions about the space transport firm’s plans to send commercial landers to the surface of Mars.

        Musk cited safety concerns for eliminating plans for propulsive Dragon landings in remarks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington. He also said the original Dragon landing concept, in which four landing legs would extend from the base of the capsule’s heat shield as throttleable SuperDraco thrusters slowed the craft’s speed for touchdown, was not as useful as he initially thought for SpaceX’s plans to send humans to Mars.

        “That was a tough decision,” Musk said in response to a question on the matter. He added that the human-rated Dragon, which SpaceX is developing with mostly NASA funding, is “technically” still capable of propulsive landings.”

        And so we go back to the wonderful past of Apollo Era landings where only the few, rich and powerful have the ability to return to earth from space…

        • Chris

          No, Musk cited qualifications of the safety as the driving problem. Your cliff notes don’t do his comments justice. If NASA makes the qualification process too expensive it isn’t worth it. Plus Musk has doesn’t to move on and simply push out propulsive landing to the next release (9M core BFR/BFS).

  • James

    What task could our international Orion and its powerful SLS launcher help humans accomplish?

    “Asked what opportunities space affords, Musk cited several things, but said, “If you want to get the public fired up, you’ve got to put a base on the moon,” adding that it would be the “continuance to the dream” of the Apollo missions.”

    From: ‘Elon Musk: We need to build a base on the moon’ By Robert Ferris 7/19/2017
    At: http://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/19/elon-musk-we-need-to-build-a-base-on-the-moon.html
    By Robert Ferris 7/19/2017

  • James

    Basics to consider about the possibility of using graphene to evolve many launchers and spacecraft into more efficient and easier to reuse space transportation machines include:

    “Melting point
    An early prediction suggested a melting point of ≈4125 K.[151] Recent, more sophisticated, modelling has increased this temperature to at least 5000 K. At 6000 K (the sun’s surface having an effective temperature of 5,777 K)[152] graphene melts into an agglomeration of loosely coupled doubled bonded chains, before becoming a gas.”

    And, “Graphene is the strongest material ever tested,[155] with an intrinsic tensile strength of 130 GPa and a Young’s modulus (stiffness) of 1 TPa (150000000 psi).[155]”

    And, “Later in 2014, the researchers announced that graphene showed a greater ability to distribute force from an impact than any known material, ten times that of steel per unit weight.[167]”

    From: ‘Graphene’ Wikipedia
    At: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene#Melting_point

    And for those folks who are unhappy with spacecraft landing in the water:

    ‘Sierra-Nevada’s space plane ‘Dream Chaser’ to launch atop Atlas V’
    At: http://floridapolitics.com/archives/241702-sierra-nevadas-space-plane-dream-chaser-launch-atop-atlas-v

    Good times in spaceflight and on the Moon are coming.

  • Tracy the Troll

    This just In

    “In recent weeks, there have been rumors that SpaceX is no longer planning to send an uncrewed version of its Dragon spacecraft to Mars in 2020, or later. Now those rumors about the Red Dragon concept have been largely confirmed.”

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/07/spacex-appears-to-have-pulled-the-plug-on-its-red-dragon-plans

    This is strange during the same day elsewhere…

    In a talk at the ISS R&D conference on Wednesday, Elon Musk shared some more insight into SpaceX’s path to fast and full rocket reusability. The company hopes to achieve its 24-hour turnaround window for used Falcon 9 rockets sometime next year, he said, and there is already “a technical path in place to achieving that.”

    https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/19/spacex-targets-24-hour-first-stage-rocket-re-use-turnaround-by-2018/?ncid=mobilenavtrend

    So by 2018 the F9 booster will be capable of a 24 hour turnaround …But preparing a Mars Dragon propulsive landing is just not possible…Or will the embarrassment to Senate Launch System Committee be too great in how they continue their Cost Plus Sham on US Tax Payers ?

    Musk has to realize that he needs to get away from GOVERNMENT business at all costs

    • James

      “Musk has to realize that he needs to get away from GOVERNMENT business at all costs”
      – Tracy the Troll

      Be real. Mr. Musk has made billions of dollars through government subsidies of various sorts.

      Why should he stop playing the politics based subsidy game that has made him super rich?

      • Tracy the Troll

        James,
        Of course the Government spends Billions on SpaceX …But that is instead of Tens of Billions with LM, Boeing, Gruman …Legacy space..

        • James

          What is the ‘Legacy space’ from Mr. Musk/SpaceX?

          Political destruction of our American Lunar return program, trust and leadership lost by endlessly annoying our international space exploration partners with Mars noise, his goofy Mars minions loudly and endlessly taking over national space policy discussions and repeatedly insulting and like mad dogs endlessly barking and howling and snarling and attacking and roaring nonsense at those folks that didn’t accept the non-funded and extremely risky, costly, and nonscientific Mars colony noise.

          Taxpayer money was endlessly flowing into his pockets. And now when his political friend is no longer the President, the guy whines for a bit and then finally realizes his easy access to taxpayer money is at risk so he admits that, “If you want to get the public fired up, you’ve got to put a base on the moon”… Duh. ‘Brilliant’ new scam. Get the money coming and going.

          How many billions of taxpayer dollars, costly Launch Pad 39A, and years did we throw away because of Elon Musk’s endless ‘Mars soon’ nonsense and because his political friend the President demanded NASA’s ‘educational outreach’ folks repeat the ‘Mars soon’ and ‘SpaceX is great’ political refrain endlessly like a broken record?

          We could save billions of political hack money by forever shutting down NASA’s idiotic ‘Mars soon and SpaceX is great educational outreach’ noise machine.

          Was NASA really supposed to be an advertising agency for a private company owned by a political friend of a President?

          Boy, that former President sure was great at selling American ambassadorships, wasn’t he?

          He and Elon Musk made a great ‘lost in space’ team.

          Oh well.

          And whatever happened to the ‘rapid response’ Falcon 1 that the taxpayers of America paid for? Rocket vaporware.

          How long will the overly complex Falcon Heavy last when it gets some competition from Blue Origin’s much simpler and probably more reliable and easier and faster to reuse New Glenn launcher?

          Will the Falcon Heavy simply become more ‘rapid response’ rocket vaporware?

          Yep Tracy the Troll, if you want lots of used and smelly Mars political rocket snake oil and nonfunctional national space policies that were paid for by taxpayer money, you know just the guy to buy them from.

    • James

      “So by 2018 the F9 booster will be capable of a 24 hour turnaround”
      and will still be delayed again and again in launching due to weather and wind issues along with glitches in an overly complex launcher that will need to be fixed prior to launch.

      If you want a robust, simple, and reliable launcher that rarely has technical, weather, and wind issues that limit or delay launches, use a solid propellant launcher built by Orbital ATK.

      The politicized Air Force claims it wants fast response launches and then repeatedly throws tons of taxpayer money at a highly complex and fragile liquid propellant launcher family and wonders why folks laugh or get angry at the Air Force’s odd claims to understand and efficiently deal with critical space issues.

      “Rogers and the top Democrat on the subcommittee, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), said in a joint statement on Tuesday that this reorganization is needed because ‘the strategic advantages we derive from our national security space systems are eroding.’ They blame not only advances being made by adversaries, but the ‘crippling organizational and management structure’ imposed upon the U.S. national security space enterprise by the existing organization of the Air Force. They chastised the Air Force for not being able to ‘even recognize the nature and scope of its problems’.”

      From: ‘Rogers Warns Air Force Not To Resist Space Corps Proposal’
      By Marcia S. Smith 22-Jun-2017
      At: http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/rogers-warns-air-force-not-to-resist-space-corps-proposal

      • Tracy the Troll

        James,
        Aren’t we stuck with the SLS because of Senators and Congressmen want a “piece of the action” whether that be direct kickback, jobs in their district, or other compensation? Why wouldn’t the Air Force be the same…How many weapon systems do he have that never made it to the battlefield because the Military couldn’t use the POS?

        As for the Orbital ATK what’s the turnaround time on that? What’s the cost?

        • James

          Tracy the Troll –

          How we got the SLS and International Orion transportation system is a long story. I suspect some of the more interesting aspects of that story are only known to a few people and might simply cause trouble or embarrassment for some good folks that aren’t interested in publicity or glory.

          Nonetheless, all of our SLS and International Orion folks have done well and our nation, Europe, and the Home Planet will benefit from and owe them a real debt for their ongoing efforts to get everyone to the Moon and eventually, because of our Lunar resource and industrial bases, far beyond Cislunar Space.

          Our useful International Orion and SLS Cislunar transportation system is almost here. It is affordable and our international space exploration partners, many other nations, and lots of companies everywhere are interested in using that system to help their folks, landers, habitats, and resource exploration and exploitation robots travel to and work and thrive in the polar regions of the Moon.

          Building permanent international bases on the Moon is going to be risky and will need robust and reliable launchers and spacecraft from many nations.

          And yes, if we are not wise, we could fail to maintain and benefit from international human and robotic bases on the Moon.

          As to weapons “that never made it to the battlefield”: If we end up fighting on a battlefield, that means our diplomacy, weapons, strategy, wisdom, and diverse national strengths have clearly failed to help us avoid a war and we are now squandering our national treasure of many young human lives.

          Since today’s battlefield could rapidly spread across the Home Planet, having diverse and powerfully attractive tools in our diplomatic tool kit, and encouraging other nations to do the same thing, is a smart way to go.

          The SLS and International Orion transportation system, International Space Station, ‘private’ American launchers, NASA’s Low Lunar Orbit Gateway Station, our experienced space folks, and American business habitats, mining units, and supporting systems on the Moon will all form a comprehensive set of attractive ‘pizza, ice cream, carrot cake, and apple pie’ diplomatic tools that may help us to avoid some costly and foolish wars and other nasty problems.

          Smart leaders lead by attracting folks and heading in a useful and wise direction. Foolish leaders think their empty rhetoric and threats of extreme violence is all that they need to lead.

          An American Space Corps with extensive NEO and missile interception capabilities could be quite useful, especially since it could sometimes fly SLS and International Orion investigation, inspection, and defensive response missions with mixed crews from America, Europe, Russia, China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran, Brazil, and various other nations.

          Most Space Corps missions would use robotic spacecraft, but some missions could benefit from or require international human crews.

          NASA will also use the SLS and International Orion to support various Lunar resource and industrialization missions with a wide diversity of companies and countries.

          International cooperation and profitable win-win trust building efforts in space are a far better economic deal than ugly bickering, international terrorism, and super costly wars on the Home Planet.

          For more information about Orbital ATK’s Next Generation Launcher see:

          ‘Orbital ATK seeks a starring role in military space launches’
          At: http://thespacereview.com/article/3235/1

      • reply to “James” aka Moon Miner aka??

        …“F9 booster will be capable of a 24 hour turnaround” and will still be delayed again and again in launching due to weather and wind issues along with glitches in an overly complex launcher that will need to be fixed prior to launch…If you want a robust, simple, and reliable launcher that rarely has technical, weather, and wind issues that limit or delay launches, use a solid propellant launcher…politicized Air Force…throws tons of taxpayer money at a highly complex and fragile liquid propellant launcher

        Oh for sh*$# sake, only a few weeks ago on this very web site you were blathering on about the wonders of the LOX/LH2 RS25 (the most complex engine ever made) and how specific impulse is the only thing that matters! So now you’re saying the USAF is “laughable” because their EELV fleet uses high-performance liquid fuel, and instead they need the Orbital ATK SLS-SRB.

        Your notion that an SLS-SRB booster would “rarely have technical, weather, and wind issues” is ridiculous. All launch vehicles are subject to the same range safety constraints on surface winds, wind shear aloft, thunderstorm proximity, cloud ceilings and so on. And “Rarely have technical…issues”, oh please, the SLS-SRB launch vehicle would still have a high-performance upper stage, not to mention the complex payload itself, which would be subject to the usual technical glitches and delays. The SRB itself would have complex hydraulic power units to drive the thrust vector controls, along with the usual avionics, communication and range safety destruct systems.

        The space shuttle suffered many scrubs and launch delays because of issues with the SRBs, there’s nothing simple about big solids. Because of the extreme danger in handing “loaded ordnance”, SRBs are much more complex to transport and stack than liquid boosters.

        USAF…repeatedly throws tons of taxpayer money at a highly complex and fragile liquid propellant launcher family and wonders why folks laugh or get angry at the Air Force’s odd claims to understand and efficiently deal with critical space issues

        Besides being a colossal nitwit, you’re spectacularly hypocritical. One of those “fragile liquid propellant launchers” is your own vaunted LH2 fueled Delta IV. On this and other web sites, you’ve argued vociferously the wonders of the RS68 engines, and how they should be used on SLS instead of RS25.

        In other past threads, while you were arguing for all-LH2 rockets, you slammed methane fuel as being “Martian pixie dust” and “costly and environmentally damaging”. But Now you’re saying the USAF is criminally stupid for NOT launching their satellites with giant solid rocket boosters belching out one and a half million pounds of burning rubber, aluminum and ammonium perchlorate.

        Tap tap tap.

        • James

          You’re confusing my posts with those of some other folks and generating lots of noise to cover up the new and realistic SLS and International Orion based space policy of focusing on the Moon and its resources.

          Now that your oddball Martian pixie dust selling hero wants us to build an affordable and useful base on the Moon you’re obviously upset and confused by the sudden change. Grasping the simple fact that ‘the Moon is the only real game in town’ must be a real challenge for a Mars limited fantasy thinker like you.

          As for me, I mainly want ‘A Trillion Humans across the Solar System’ which is perhaps a little beyond your narrow ‘Mars now’ attack dog mental capacity.

          All launchers are likely going to have some problems with the folks that are concerned about the environment.

          Minimizing the need to launch dumb mass like propellant from Earth by tapping Lunar resources could help us to reduce some of those environmental concerns.

          As much as possible we need to get our propellant from the Moon and asteroids. That is part of the logic of why humans and our robots are initially going to the polar regions of the Moon to mine water and other volatiles.

          Solid launchers are based in Trident submarines and in large American missile silos. If you absolutely need to be able to launch promptly, you go with a robust and reliable solid propellant launcher. Fast response means fast response, not ‘well we need to wait a few days until the winds aloft won’t damage our super complex and fragile liquid propellant launcher’.

          Replacing critical military satellites to avoid a war or during a war is about super fast response capabilities, not waiting and waiting and waiting.

          Hydrolox based rocket engines are probably less polluting of the upper atmosphere than most or perhaps all other propellant combinations, however at high launch rates:

          “Our results show that H2-fueled launch vehicles can have significant global impacts at sufficiently high emission or launch rates. Compared with estimates of the global impacts of a hydrocarbon-fueled rocket [Ross et al., 2010], our results substantiate assertions that, by some measures, H2-fueled rockets are indeed ‘clean,’ though such conclusions must be made with caution.”

          From: ‘Global atmospheric response to emissions from a proposed reusable space launch system’ By Larson, Erik J. L., Portmann, Robert W., Rosenlof, Karen H., Fahey, David W.
          Daniel, John S., and Ross, Martin N.
          1/4/2017
          At: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016EF000399/full

          Unfortunately for you, your ‘political friend of the last President’, and the nasty and bizarre Mars colony fantasy crowd that proposed enormous hydrocarbon based launchers and thousands of launches from the Earth most of which consisted of trying to get dumb mass hydrocarbon and oxygen propellants into LEO, usually the Home Planet’s environmentalists can read.

          Carry on with your “tap, tap, tap” American taxpayer paid for Mars colony fantasy nonsense while the rest of the world, including your super lost in space Mars hero, gets ready to tap Lunar resources, industrialize the Moon, and accelerate the development of Cislunar Space.

          Cheers!

          • Chris

            Your SLS is going to look like a joke by the mid-2020s between 9M BFR and 7M New Glenn.

            • James

              Correction: It is not my SLS.

              The SLS and Orion belong to every American. That you cannot grasp such a simple fact is pretty sad.

              America is a nation of great and extreme diversity. Our country needs functional and universal national symbols that everyone owns, contributes money to, is proud of, and give us inspiration, hope, and confidence in our future national successes.

              The SLS and International Orion have the broad bipartisan political support of Congress and the American taxpayers. Every time they launch on mission that national system will represent all of America, our international origins, and America’s strong and diverse political, economic, and military commitments to the world.

              Wanting the SLS and International Orion to fail or become a joke is simply a foolish example of wanting America and human space exploration and resource exploitation to fail.

              It is thinking that is not worthy of any Space Cadet or even a pretty and petty peacock.

              And which powerful and petty peacock promotes and encourages his nasty followers to hope for the political and economic failure of America, NASA, the SLS, the International Orion, and our national interest in leading the world in tapping the Moon’s resources?

              In stark comparison, Jeff Bezos seems to be smart enough to understand that if NASA and America aren’t united and seriously interested in our astronauts being on the Moon, which has been the unfortunate case for forty-five years, then the market for his New Glenn launcher is going to be much smaller.

              A rising tide lifts all boats.

              Some folks need to get it through their narrow pseudo Mars dust polluted and addicted brains that lots of folks around the world understand that SpaceX got exactly where it is today because it was encouraged by our government to suck hard on the American government’s technology and money and launch pad teats.

              Government selected and subsidized loud mouth teat sucking billionaires tend to poison the broad national and international political and economic support that is crucial to human resource and industrial bases on the Moon and across the Solar System.

              Your foolish comment reminds me of the sentiment expressed quite clearly by one of our planet’s most violent, blood thirsty, and nasty leaders:

              “It is not sufficient that I succeed — all others must fail.”
              – Genghis Khan

              Most Americans and Space Cadets around the Home World don’t want to promote, live with, or see the crazy and blood thirsty ideology of Genghis Khan spouted on the Moon and across the Solar System.

              Too many pseudo Mars attack dogs and some billionaire peacocks seem to have an unending problem with treasuring and respecting the lives and positive space goals of other humans.

              Ignorant and petty peacocks and their well programmed pseudo Mars attack dogs should and probably will just hang around here on Earth forever with their tunnel vision supporters and admire each other while they spout new, slick, and sick versions of Genghis Khan’s old and stupid politics of killing everyone and destroying everything that didn’t bow down to or meet his peculiar and petty demands.

              My mother’s father was a kind, capable, and good man. But until he died decades later, he often had terrible nightmares from his days as a soldier during World War II.

              Wars are bad for everyone and had best be avoided if at all possible. Diplomacy and win-win deals for everyone are far better goals.

              I’m done with the Cold War days and fears. I expect the world and certainly we Americans to work together seriously to build a better future for everyone on the Home Planet, the Moon, and across our resource rich Solar System.

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