by: francopoli

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francopoli  ·  link  ·  parent  ·  post: Space and Space Launch Updates

The problem is not politics, its physics. The Apollo Program was sent into space on a 50 story building made with some of the most advanced metals yet created then filled with high explosives. All that to get about 60-70 tons into space; the "payload" ie the people and the return capsule, was under 2500 pounds when all was said and done. The rocket equation is a bitch that will be obeyed no matter what you want to do. As long as we are using chemical rockets, we are bound to the limits of fuel and engine efficiency. No manner of cash will change the laws of nature. The only way to play with the rocket equation, in a chemical rocket, is to burn lightweight fuel, very hot, and kick it out the back as fast as possible.

The Falcon Heavy will have a max, realistic, payload of 80 metric Tons, limited by the size of the fairing (the part on the nose) and will be closer to 60-70 tons when it starts lofting payloads. these numbers are to low earth orbit, ie where the space station is. To go to the moon, cut the weight in half as the other half of the payload is the fuel to go to the moon. To land? Cut in half again to get a guess on usable payload numbers. The BFR is going to be a massive metal tube full of fuel, with the volume of a 60 story skyscraper, and it is looking, realistically, like a max weight into space of 110-120 tons. (FYI, Musk is saying 300tons to Low earth Orbit and the guys I follow that build working space hardware and engines are all doubting this.) The main benefit is that the rocket is going to be reusable which drops the price per pound to space to something that makes a real space-based economy viable.

To put this in perspective, the Shuttle weighed 99 tons empty. It had a payload of 50-60 tons. It used the most advanced, most efficient engines ever built; they were using hydrogen, as hot as you can get it, sending the exhaust out as fast as it could possible go, and not explode the engines or melt them. Then you had to add in the biggest solid rocket motors ever made JUST TO GET THE THING MOVING. The Solid rocket boosters provided some 75% of the oomph to get the shuttle to orbit. Then you had to deal with the fun and engineering of dealing with hydrogen. Short answer? Liquid Hydrogen is shit to deal with. It seeps into whatever metal you make its container out of, the tanks cannot be reused (unless there has been a breakthrough I am not aware of) and the stuff is so light that you need massive tanks to hold it.

The only way to get more efficiency is to use ion engines, but the thrust is so light you will never get off the ground. Once in space? nothing right now is better. On the ground? Burn some kind of fuel in an engine is the only game in town. If all you need is a gentile nudge and have a lot of time, the efficiency of an ion engine is some factor of 100 better than chemical rockets. The total "delta V" aka change in speed of the Dawn mission, for example, was in the order of 10 kilometers per second which is just not possible with the limits of the current tech.

The modern next-gen rockets are all going to use super chilled, densified liquid methane, which has its own issues. Because methane is much denser than H2 you get more actual hydrogen in a volume, the molecules don't imbrittle your tanks and you can reuse the tanks, piping etc. LCH4 is also much warmer that H2 so you need less energy, insulation etc to handle it. Oh and you can use solar energy on places like Mars to make Methane and Oxygen out of the air and dirt. One tank design was using liquid oxygen pipes as the cooling for the liquid methane, which helps if you want redundant systems to reduce weight. That big tank on the Shuttle Stack? Almost all Hydrogen storage That little, tiny tank on top is the LOX. The problem with methane is that darn carbon atom. CH4 and O2 make water and CO2... if the engine is not hot enough and engineered well enough. If the engine is not engineered correctly, you get a carbon soot covering your impellers, turbines and combustion chambers instead of that CO2 and that causes all kinds of issues. Most of these are being solved now as the main rocket fuel for, say SpaceX, is avionic kerosene which is why the exhaust looks "sooty" on the launch videos. They traded some of the chemical efficiency of the engine for reliability and lower cost. With Methane, from what I have read in the past, the same tricks to prevent soot in the engine won't work because Methane needs higher temperatures and tighter tolerances, and it is harder to use the fuel-rich mixture they currently use to cool the engines and parts.

The Sea Dragon is the largest rocket that I am aware of that had actual design work done on it outside of science fiction. The sound from the rocket was such that everything within 50 miles of the engine bell would be shook to dead or deafened. That rocket had a max payload of 500 tons, on paper-take about 75% of that for the real value. Then there is the cost to pound and do we really need to send a payload that large into orbit any more?

The short answer to your question? 100 tons usable cargo to orbit reliably is doable and a realistic goal; if cash is thrown at the problem, they can make the rockets cheap and reusable reducing the price per kg to orbit. Any more than that is limited by chemistry, physics, and the politics of what you need to launch such a large rocket.

    I'm sure the state is full of lovely people.

Sure, they live in Louisville and Lexington. And Bowling Green, maybe. This is a state that voted for Cheeto 62/33 and keeps McConnell employed.

    I've even stopped buying bourbon.

So have the Chinese and Europeans. And the fuckwits here still vote R at the end of the day.

This is a state that elected a Republican troll with a punch-able face who ran ads decrying the lack of patriotism of a real, honest to USA, war hero and badass. In the precinct I worked there were 460ish residences, 18 of those were registered Democrats. I worked with two other people in a place no other people went this cycle to knock on doors. My gal got 49/49 in that one area. But when the Dems won't fight for every vote (we still miss you, Howard Dean) you lose elections.

We can sit here and blame Fox news, coal miners, opiods etc but at some point we have to acknowledge that these people are adults and need to have consequences for their actions. Oh, you just voted someone who wants to gut government spending? LOL fuck your check. As a human being it would suck, but as an American, what I think needs to happen is 2-3 million people in this state need to lose their SSI and Medicare for a few months and suffer for their fuckup and pay the consequences of their voting. All of these rural Republicans, EVERY FUCKING ONE OF THEM, exists because the Blue districts generate all the tax money. California sends money to Kentucky, Louisville sends money to people who vote to fuck over the "Big City Liberals." And all these red areas do nothing but consume tax revenue. We have a group in the statehouse that are sarcastically called the 'Fuck Louisville" Caucus. If there is a away to screw over the cities, they will find it even if it means cutting their own funding. These are the same people who decry spending on welfare while they cash the same fucking checks, only we call them farm subsidies and rural economic development. I think I've gone on a rant here before, but the second biggest welfare queens in the USA are rural farmers, the first are energy companies. And boy, do we have both here. Add in Boomer entitlement and you have a shitty toxic mix of morons.

I'm too much of a bleeding heart to turn off my empathy completely, but I'm getting close. McConnell is not the target (even if he is a giant cunt), all he is at the end of the day is a symptom of the real issue. It's the 62% that keep voting for him that you need to whisper "no" towards. I kinda wish the NorthEast and the West Coast would tell middle America to go fuck itself, but we know that won't happen. The good news is that the median age in these regressive places is 65 and all these fuckers are fat and unhealthy and are dying off. The bad news is that they are not dying fast enough. The good news is that with the end of the Obama EPA rules, the process of killing them off is getting a shot in the arm. This and the push to get younger people into the voting booth and we can start to fix this shit. I just hope I can stay upright on top of the dirt long enough to watch it happen.

    I don't know Kentucky politics. I know the governor and the legislature don't have to be in lock step.

Take all your previous posts about how fucked Rural America is. Throw in your hate of the coal country idiots. Add in a few fanatic religious sects. Then give all those people a coalition and the keys to the state government. The whole platform is fuck poor people and do everything you can to fuck over the two Blue-Voting Cities (The same two cities that are 2/3 the state economy).

Kentucky is everything wrong with what is going on at a national level, only with the crazy cranked up to RONPAUL2008 levels. Only the crazy here wins because everything is shit, everything is terrible and the only option left is to fuck it up for everyone else while you laugh as it all burns down.

This is why I posted it. I'll never run a marathon; I'm a tank class not a DPS class. I wanted to see what the runners and joggers of Hubski had to add.

I sat and though about this for a few while working. I'm not angry, not really. I'm pissed off at a lot of things: the direction of my country, the regression of politics, internet cultures, education, etc. But being pissed off is not the same as angry.

When and where I grew up, men did not display emotion. We were supposed to be Stoic rocks around which we build friendships and families. Emotions were for women and children. If you cried as a man there better someone in a casket, and once the box was in the ground you better stop that shit. If you got overly emotional you better be drunk, and we are all going to make fun of you in the morning.

This of course leads to the inevitable conversation:

    Kid: Gee, Mister, a lot of these older guys are alcoholics, and the younger ones are killing themselves. Why is that?

    Adult: Well, Billy, it is a great mystery, isn't it.

I got lucky. About the time my friends started on the path to having this shit eat them alive I discovered the online world and anonymity. With an anon account I could be angry, sad, etc and not have to deal with parents and family telling me to snap back into shape. Some people I grew up with were not so lucky. So I come off as an angry bitter cunt online sometimes (most times?) but that is not really what I am for the most part. 25ish years ago I was living in the void asking, legitimately, why bother keeping on. Then, yes I was angry. At the world, but mostly myself. Now I have a job I love with people I enjoy working with. I have a seven-figure net worth (at least on paper), a house I love living in, a car, money to do fun shit once in a while. I have a hobby that brings me joy with people who appreciate my contributions. I even use my hobby to better the community I live in and can say I'm doing my part to make the place suck just a bit less than when I found it.

I can honestly say that right now, I am content. But that is not really the word I am looking for. The word is Happy. I Am Happy. It's weird typing that out as there have not been many times in my life I could say that and mean it. But yes, now is one of those times. It takes getting used to somedays because I still have that Stoic anti-emotional mindset and appearance that was beaten into me from childhood. But, yea, happy.