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Fw: SSRT: Space Access Update no. 70

> From: Chris W. Johnson <chrisj@mail.utexas.edu>
> To: Single Stage Rocket Technology News <ssrt-news@zimbazi.cc.utexas.edu>
> Subject: SSRT: Space Access Update no. 70
> Date: Friday, October 18, 1996 5:43 PM
> ----
> From: hvanderbilt@BIX.com (hvanderbilt on BIX)
> Newsgroups: sci.space.policy
> Subject: Space Access Update #70  10/18/96
> Date: 18 Oct 96 18:29:03 GMT
> Organization: Delphi Internet Services Corporation
> Lines: 274
> Message-ID: <hvanderbilt.845663343@BIX.com>
> NNTP-Posting-Host: bix.com
>                      Space Access Update #70  10/18/96
>                  Copyright 1996 by Space Access Society
> _______________________________________________________________________
> Rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.
> Yes, it's been eleven weeks since the last Update, and yes, the SAS web
> page is still a sporadically maintained construction site, and yes,
> we're way behind on answering our mail.  And no, there's been no dearth
> of news these last couple of months - quite the opposite in fact.
> But we've been trying a radical experiment in new operational styles
> here at SAS world HQ.
> We've been thinking.
> Which for us is a rather drawn-out process, because your humble servant
> the Update editor does not in fact make all this stuff up himself.
> Major SAS policies are generally a matter of consensus among members of
> our widely-scattered semi-formal mostly-anonymous SAS Advisory Board.
> (You would not believe the long-distance bills.)  And reaching consensus
> among a bunch of prima donnas like us can take a lot of thrashing even
> when we _haven't_ just seen our old main rocket fall over and catch
> fire, and our new main rocket get downselected in a manner that left a
> lot of us muttering to ourselves "that's not what we meant, dammit!"
> And now we once again think we know what's going on, and we're once
> again ready to opine on what should be done about it.  Though given the
> backlog that's built up, we're going to have to be a bit more terse than
> usual this issue.  Read on...
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                                   X-33
> If you haven't guessed, we're not wildly happy with the way the X-33
> competition came out.  In brief, no, it's not a matter of religious
> fervor for one vehicle configuration over another.  We at SAS have
> consistantly favored whatever configuration lends itself to reliable
> fast turnaround ops with minimum ground crew out of austere sites - IE
> max potential for radical cost reduction at high flight rates.  We don't
> care if what does this job is a vertical-lander, a horizontal-lander, or
> a Cavourite-fuelled Winnebago, as long as it works.
> Our problem with this spring's X-33 downselect is twofold: NASA is
> showing a distressing tendency to address NASA internal agendas rather
> than the national interest, and Lockheed-Martin is showing a distressing
> tendency to try to turn this into a monopoly on the current (rather
> limited) US space launch market, rather than treating it as a chance to
> be the Boeing of a vastly expanded 21st century spaceliner market.
> Shortsighted in both cases, to say the least.
> The details could fill a book (they have, see the next item) and we're
> in a hurry, so for now we'll just say that X-33 can still be a very good
> thing for the country, given two things: Continuing competition, and
> rigorous budget/schedule oversight.  We have already begun working for
> both.  SAS's X-33 policy is one of "constructive engagement".
> (A correction to a previous Update: We wrote that Lockheed-Martin's X-33
> bid called for spending $2 billion in corporate cash on the hypothetical
> "commercial RLV" (Reusable Launch Vehicle) followon to X-33.  We heard a
> rumor, we thought we'd found backup for it, we were wrong.  L-M plans to
> put about $220 million into X-33 (about a sixth of the total cost) and
> about the same again into developing a "commercial" followon (about 5%
> of the estimated cost of developing and building three ships.))
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                "Halfway To Anywhere" Hits The Bookstores.
> G.Harry Stine has written the best single account of the cheap space
> access movement we've seen so far.  It's called "Halfway To Anywhere -
> The Age Of Commercial Space", it's from M.Evans & Company, ISBN 0 87131
> 805 9, hardback, $21.95, and it should be in bookstores now - if yours
> doesn't have it, ask them to order it for you.  Harry's added a chapter
> on the X-33 downselect since we saw the galley proofs last spring, and
> we understand it's incendiary.  Highly recommended.
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                            DC-X Hits the Dirt
> Y'all likely know by now that DC-XA had a landing gear problem on its
> fourth flight (at the end of July, 12th flight for the DC-X overall),
> fell over post-landing, caught fire when the liquid oxygen tank split
> open, and was essentially destroyed.
> Another correction of a previous Update: DC-X's landing gear was
> pneumatically operated, not as we reported hydraulic.  And the "repeated
> partial gear extensions" we thought we'd spotted on the tapes of the
> last flight were in fact a spring-hinged pad-umbilical hatch cover
> flapping in the breeze.  Oh well.  (You can check the tapes yourself
> now, see the next item.)
> It turns out the reason one gear leg didn't extend was that a pneumatic
> hose was disconnected during servicing then not reconnected.  Nothing
> fancy, just a mechanic's error in a single-string no-backup system.
> Given how long the ground crew had been working ridiculous hours in
> desert heat on God's own reflector-oven of a lakebed, eight hundred
> miles from their homes and families, on a project with the axe poised
> over it, and we hear with major hiatuses in paychecks, we hereby offer
> to punch the lights out of anyone who faults them for this.
> X-vehicles inherently have a lot of single-string, no-backup subsystems.
> It's a tradeoff; build it cheap, dirty, and quick and try to collect the
> data you need before it breaks.  Then you put multiple-backup landing
> gear actuator systems into the operational vehicle that comes after.
> The main lesson to be learned here is already known: Build two copies of
> your X-vehicle, since you almost certainly will break at least one -
> probably in a manner that in 20-20 hindsight seems pretty dumb.  EG, the
> X-31 lost to air-data-sensor icing.  Beyond that, we'd guess that not
> jerking your field test crew around for months on end with funding
> interruptions and threatened program terminations is also a good idea.
> NASA's Brand Commission is due to come out with its formal accident
> report sometime before the end of this month.  If they say "build two
> copies, don't burn out the ground crew, don't use marginally-welded
> testing-damaged aluminum-lithium propellant tanks", we agree.  If they
> recommend microscopically comprehensive written procedures and lab-
> coated clipboard-bearing hordes of overseers to enforce compliance, we
> will likely have one or two negative things to say about that opinion.
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                 Revised Video Has All Twelve DC-X Flights
> Late but better than never department: We now have a revised 3.1 version
> of our DC-X/SSTO 3.0 tape, with about twenty minutes of footage of all
> four DC-XA flights copied onto the end, including two views of DC-XA's
> final flight and post-landing fire.  Two hours total, includes
> animations of all three X-33 bids and considerable SSTO background
> material including aerospike engine test-stand footage.  US standard VHS
> NTSC only.  Same price as the 3.0 tape, $25 US, $20 for SAS members.
> $5 off if you've already bought the 3.0 tape - there's a lot of overlap.
> Add $8 for postage outside North America.  Mail a check to SAS, 4855 E
> Warner Rd #24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044.
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                        Space Access '97 Conference
> And earlier than ever before, we have a hotel signed up for next year's
> "Space Access '97" conference.  It'll be the last weekend in April,
> evening of Friday the 25th through evening of Sunday the 27th, at the
> same hotel as last year, the Safari Resort in downtown Scottsdale,
> Arizona, fifteen minutes from the Phoenix airport.  Room rates are $63 a
> night, up a whole dollar from last year, call 1-800-845-4356 for
> reservations and mention "Space Access" for the rate.
> This will be the fifth time we've done our annual conference on the
> technology, economics, and politics of radically cheaper space access.
> Ask anyone who's been to one already: everybody who's anybody is there,
> talking informally about the absolute latest developments in cheap
> access.  Hear more new ideas in an hour than you'll catch all weekend
> anywhere else.
> SA'97 registration is $80 through December 31st, $100 through mid-April,
> $120 at the door, $10 off for SAS members.  $50 student rate.  We're
> holding the line at last year's prices; these things are not cheap to
> put on - but they're worth it!  Mail us a check now and save.
> _______________________________________________________________________
>                            Miscellaneous News
> $25m in FY'96 DOD reusable rocket finally cleared OSD (Office of the
> Secretary of Defence, where the financial comptroller seems to think he
> has a policy-making role) and got to where it's needed.  Just as well,
> as FY'97 money was reduced to $10m in the last-second scramble to make
> an election year budget.  Largely, we gather, due to the lack of a high-
> profile reusable rocket program in DOD, post DC-X.  Stay tuned for more
> on this subject - FY'97 has barely begun.
> NASA's FY'97 RLV budget, meanwhile, passed essentially unchanged.  Good
> news, in that theoretically this allows the X-33 project to get off to a
> running start.  Now if only the Lockheed-Martin public affairs types
> would figure out that this is NOT a black project, that times have
> changed and they're supposed to spread info, not hide it.  We might then
> have some idea what we're getting for this year's couple of hundred
> million of our money.
> Meanwhile, in the commercial world...
> Kistler Aerospace's engine contractor has taken delivery of the first
> three shipsets of Russian NK-33 engines for Kistler's planned commercial
> reusable medium-lift two-stage-to-orbit cargo ship.
> Kelly Space & Technology has taken delivery of two surplus F-106's (a
> fifties-vintage delta winged long range interceptor with a 15' by 3'
> internal missile bay) they plan to use for proof-of-concept demos of
> their proposed "Eclipse" winged air-launched (towed by a 747) reusable
> medium-lift cargo ship.  Motorola announced they're buying options on
> ten Eclipse satellite launches for 1999-2000, valued at $8.9 million.
> This can't hurt in Kelly obtaining development financing.  No word on
> how much Motorola has paid for the options.
> The Boeing-Zenit Sea Launch project (Boeing will fly Ukranian SL-16
> Zenit boosters off a mobile ocean platform) is moving forward briskly,
> as are McDonnell-Douglas's Delta 3 and Lockheed-Martin's Atlas 2AR.  All
> of these are essentially commercially financed expendable booster
> projects, intended to compete for commercial launches.  Not yet cheap
> access, but the fact that commercial funding is available for well over
> a billion dollars of new launch projects is extremely encouraging.
> Between these (and several new/surplus-military small boosters coming
> soon) and the various medium-launch reusable companies starting to get
> financing, we see the beginnings of a major commercial space expansion
> that will be financing, building, and flying low-cost commercial
> reusable ships a whole lot sooner than most people expect.
> We like it.
> -----------------------(SAS Policy Boilerplate)------------------------
> Space Access Update is Space Access Society's when-there's-news
> publication. Space Access Society's goal is to promote affordable access
> to space for all, period.  We believe in concentrating our resources at
> whatever point looks like yielding maximum progress toward this goal.
> Right now, we think this means working our tails off trying to get the
> government to build and fly high-speed reusable rocket demonstrators,
> "X-rockets", in the next three years, in order to quickly build up both
> experience with and confidence in reusable Single-Stage To Orbit (SSTO)
> technology.  The idea is to reduce SSTO technical uncertainty (and thus
> development risk and cost) while at the same time increasing investor
> confidence, to the point where SSTO will make sense as a private
> commercial investment.  We have reason to believe we're getting close.
> With luck and hard work, we should see fully-reusable rocket testbeds
> flying into space well before the end of this decade, with practical
> radically cheaper orbital transports following right after.
> Space Access Society won't accept donations from government launch
> contractors - it would limit our freedom to do what's needed.  We
> survive on member dues and contributions, plus what we make selling
> tapes and running our annual conference.
> Join us, and help us make it happen.
>             Henry Vanderbilt, Executive Director, Space Access Society
> To join Space Access Society or buy the SSTO/DC-X V 3.1 video we have
> for sale (Two hours, includes all twelve DC-X/XA flights, X-33
> animations, X-33, DC-X and SSTO backgrounders, aerospike engine test-
> stand footage, plus White Sands Missile Range DC-X ops site footage)
> mail a check to:  SAS, 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044.  SAS
> membership with direct email of Space Access Updates is $30 US per year;
> the SSTO V 3.0 video is $25, $5 off for SAS members, $5 off for previous
> version 3.0 purchasers, $8 extra for shipping outside North America, US
> standard VHS NTSC only.  SA'97 conference registration (April 25-27
> 1997, at the Safari Resort in Scottsdale Arizona) is $80 through
> December 31st, $10 off for SAS members.  $50 SA'97 student rate.
> __________________________________________________________________________
>  Space Access Society      "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere
>  4855 E Warner Rd #24-150               in the Solar System."
>  Phoenix AZ 85044                               - Robert A. Heinlein
>  602 431-9283 voice/fax
>  www.space-access.org                     "You can't get there from here."
>  space.access@space-access.org                          - Anonymous
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