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NASA's latest five-segment solid rocket development motor (DM-2)   (Source: NASA)

DM-2 awaits its first test fire
Rocket will see first action in 2015 delivering new rescue capsule (Orion) to the ISS

The U.S. space program is about to go through some dramatic changes.  President Barack Obama has moved ahead with plans to retire the Space Shuttle in 2011.  U.S. missions to the International Space Station will be provided by Russia's aging Soyuz modular spacecraft.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government will work to fill its manned spacecraft needs with more permanent replacements from private sector companies like SpaceX and will fill in the gaps with NASA technology.  On Tuesday, NASA made a critical step forward to filling one of those gaps, completing a successful test of its DM-2 solid-fuel heavy-lift rocket.

Some may recall that NASA was contracting Lockheed Martin to develop a Shuttle successor named the Crew Exploration Vehicle, later renamed to the Orion.  That project was slated for cancellation by President Obama in February 2010.  The administration later recanted somewhat on that order, and in April decided to repurpose the Orion design for use as a rescue vehicle for the ISS.

Of course something needs to blast Orion into orbit.  That's where NASA's heavy-lift rocket comes in.  The five stage rocket is a marvel of engineering and is the largest solid-fuel rocket in history.  It can output 22 million horsepower and generate as much as 3.6 million pounds of thrust.  

The design is the result of a collaboration between NASA and an aerospace contractor, Alliant Techsystems' (ATK) subsidiary ATK Space Systems.  The test was carried out amidst a desert backdrop in ATK Space Systems' home state of Utah.

Aside from the brand-new fifth segment that helps the rocket set power records, the rocket also features other significant improvements from past designs.  It includes a modified nozzle throat and upgraded insulated liner.  These refinements make the rocket safer and more efficient.

The first test was a resounding success.  All segments of the rocket successfully fired at full power.  Better yet, they did so after being chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit, simulating cold weather conditions from likely launch locations like Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The rocket isn't slated to see action until 2015, so the program is well ahead schedule and has plenty of time for additional testing and fine tuning.  

Andy Schorr, first stage, five-segment motor lead for Ares Projects at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama comments, "The successful DM-1 test provided our team with great results.  All performance measurements were within specified limits and 46 total objectives, covering each significant design feature of the motor, were met."

"Our team is responsible for developing a robust propulsion system that can provide the thrust necessary to escape Earth's gravitational well and safely deliver astronaut crews and payloads to the International Space Station and beyond.  As we press forward, our goal is to optimize every aspect of the system for peak performance." 

Some haven't been impressed by NASA's recent direction, though.  Rob Zubrin, President of the Mars society in April lambasted President Obama's space vision, commenting:

Under the Obama plan, NASA will spend $100 billion on human spaceflight over the next 10 years in order to accomplish nothing"
Obama called for sending a crew to a near Earth asteroid by 2025. ... Had Obama not canceled the Ares 5, we could have used it to perform an asteroid mission by 2016. But the President, while calling for such a flight, actually is terminating the programs that would make it possible."
With current in-space propulsion technology, we can do a round-trip mission to a near-Earth asteroid or a one-way transit to Mars in six months ... Holdren claims that he wants to develop a new electrically powered space thruster to speed up such trips. But without gigantic space nuclear power reactors to provide them with juice, such thrusters are useless, and the administration has no intention of developing such reactors.

Despite the successful engine test, there's significant uncertainty, even with regards to the DM-2's purpose.  Initially the design was slated to carry a moon-lander called Altair for a mission by 2020.  Under Obama's new plan its left uncertain whether that mission will occur at all.  As there are no plans to currently fund a lunar push (the focus is instead on a Mars mission), it seems unlikely the DM-2 will every be put to this use, barring a change in direction by a future administration.

As an interesting side note, the DM-2 shares its name with the respectively diminutive Soviet Blok DM-2 rocket engine, designed in 1982.  That smaller engine has been used as recently as 2009, alone with Proton M, for GLONASS GPS satellite launches.

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Good news but...
By NanoTube1 on 9/1/2010 9:48:07 AM , Rating: 2
...where are the more advanced technologies for space flight?

RE: Good news but...
By marsbound2024 on 9/1/2010 10:05:59 AM , Rating: 2
Waiting on something that will never happen... proper funding.

RE: Good news but...
By puckalicious on 9/1/2010 11:45:59 AM , Rating: 4
Any potential funding went down the toilet known as Iraq.
While our space program dies on the vine, our own infrastructure crumbles, and 10's of millions of americans can't find a job, isn't it nice to know we got to kill those responsible for 9/11? Wait, er, no, they were from Saudi Arabia. We prevented Saddam from attacking us with WMD's? That wasn't it either... hold on, it was that yellow cake uranium stuff. Nope not that either. Um, we brought democracy to the middle east? Was that it?

Remember when Wolfowitz told us Iraq's oil revenue would pay for the war? Those were the days.

RE: Good news but...
By tallcool1 on 9/1/2010 11:58:00 AM , Rating: 3
President Obama's economic-stimulus program dwarfed the cost of the Iraq war...
It was an $800 billion misadventure that will be wreaking havoc on the economy for years to come.

No, not the war in Iraq, where an American combat-troop presence officially comes to an end tomorrow.

We're talking about President Obama's economic-stimulus program.

Remember the stimulus? The miracle cure Obama said would boost the economy and save millions of jobs?

Well, the president's panacea turned out to be an $862 billion bottle of snake oil -- and it cost $100 billion more than the entire Iraq campaign to date.
You can read more and see the money charts here:

RE: Good news but...
By puckalicious on 9/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good news but...
By Dorkyman on 9/1/2010 12:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
Hate to tell ya but you are about 7 years too late.

Oh, and you aren't a member of Congress. They were the ones who voted (on an overwhelming BIPARTISAN basis, by the way) to go to Iraq.

Wars are costly. Always have been.

RE: Good news but...
By Skywalker123 on 9/2/2010 1:32:41 AM , Rating: 1
"Wars are costly, always have been"

Duh, maybe thats why we shouldn't get into so many, especially two at once.

RE: Good news but...
By torpor on 9/1/2010 12:52:32 PM , Rating: 5
Economic stimulus that amounts to the Federal Government spending nearly 1 trillion dollars to pay back special interests, prop up failing unions, and underwrite over-spending State governments, will never stimulate anything but the pensu of major Democrat donors.

There are two things that always work, and would work today, if done together:

-Let people keep their cash
-Let businesses be confident in a view of the future where they're not bent over the Oval Office desk

Those are the only two things holding back a recovery.

RE: Good news but...
By wiz220 on 9/1/10, Rating: -1
RE: Good news but...
By JediJeb on 9/1/2010 11:50:16 PM , Rating: 4
I would have to say that giving a large ownership portion of GM to the Unions would go towards propping them up. Why were the unions allowed to buy into GM when there were many other creditors that were just left out in the cold with nothing but pennies on the dollar for what was owed to them?

As for the second point, maybe not so much in corporate tax structure, but maybe the little nickle and dimeing that is being done now like the new law that requires any business to fill out paperwork to report any purchase over $600 so the IRS can track their vendors and make sure they are not somehow making small sales off the books. Heck even in the small company I work for that will be a good part time job, I can imagine large companies with a multitude of vendors it will add a few people to the payroll just to keep the paperwork filled out. And don't say that it will create jobs, because if it does either the companies are going to have to charge more for what they make to compensate or they will have to cut back their other workforce to make up for it, either way it is a dumb move.

RE: Good news but...
By VitaminTee on 9/4/2010 1:32:13 AM , Rating: 1
I'm going to guess that this is referring to corporate tax rates. If so, the GAO put out a report a few years back showing that 60% of US corporations paid NO federal taxes from 1999 to 2005, the rest typically pay an EFFECTIVE tax rate much lower than the statutory tax rate of 35%. When you look at what corporations ACTUALLY pay, it comes out to be lower than many European corporations. Don't forget, corporations are not taxed like individuals, they get to deduct all expenses and pay taxes on PROFIT only. Building a new plant or hiring another employee will never cause a corporation to go into the red due to taxes, it's a mathematical impossibility.

Seems you don't understand that companies do not pay taxes, consumers pay all taxes . Even if a company sends a check to the IRS they simply adjust the price of the product to reflect the taxes they paid to the government. If an oil companies tax goes up do you think the price of a gallon of gas remains the same? Get it??

RE: Good news but...
By ekv on 9/1/2010 1:32:10 PM , Rating: 4
"The economy is slipping now that most of the stimulus has been spent."

According to article you reference, the stimulus has not been spent and won't be until 2019. Who's right? Has the stimulus been spent or not? And while we're at it, why don't we analyze all the pork-barrel earmarks in the stimulus, ad-nauseum.

Or perhaps discuss the tripling of the Health Care bills cost [and it hasn't even started yet...].

RE: Good news but...
By Reclaimer77 on 9/1/2010 3:14:22 PM , Rating: 4
The economic stimulus, while large, wasn't large enough. The economy is slipping now that most of the stimulus has been spent. How is it a "misadventure" to create or save millions of jobs, or to pump up GDP by several percent? Would it be a "misadventure" to spend a trillion on space exploration?

Sorry but you are wrong in two key areas. First off, most of the stimulus has NOT been spent. In fact a tiny percent of it has.

Secondly, are you actually claiming that the government borrowing money it doesn't have, and spending it, can be some kind of economic boost? Millions of jobs created by the stimulus? WHERE!? And there is no way to calculate a "saved job", that's just political buzzword.

I don't care what costs more, stimulus or Iraq, that's just ammunition for partisan arguments. The point is the Stimulus was fundamentally flawed and could never work in the first place. You cannot spend your way out of debt by borrowing money to pay it! This is simple economics here.

The simple reason government spending fails to end recessions is that Congress does not have a vault of money waiting to be distributed. Every dollar Congress "injects" into the economy must first be taxed or borrowed out of the economy. No new income, and therefore no new demand, is created. They are merely redistributed from one group of people to another. Congress cannot create new purchasing power out of thin air.

RE: Good news but...
By phantom505 on 9/1/2010 10:21:06 PM , Rating: 1

It's economic fact get use to it.

That guy was proved wrong by Republicans long long ago. Just look at Arizona today and you can see that.

RE: Good news but...
By Reclaimer77 on 9/1/2010 11:27:15 PM , Rating: 3

It's economic fact get use to it.

No, it's an economic THEORY. Even your Wikipedia states that. Get used to THAT. There isn't a single relevant example of it actually working as advertised.

RE: Good news but...
By JediJeb on 9/1/2010 11:56:00 PM , Rating: 4
Saw a statistic today that kinda brings it all into perspective. From George Washington's first year in office to the end of George Bush's last year our total deficit spending was 9 trillion, Barak Obama has already totaled up 3 trillion in less than two years. Bad when you can spend 1/3 as much in two years as everyone else spent over 200 years.

RE: Good news but...
By iwanttobehef on 9/2/2010 9:21:28 AM , Rating: 1
your perspective has been skewed jedi jeb. Obama has not even completed his first fiscal year in office. By that I mean the first budget he is responsible for is fiscal year 2010 which began Oct 1 2009 and ends sept 31 2010.

Let's give you some perspective. In the eight years GWB was responible for running this country he took the deficit from 5.8 trillion to 11.9 trillion at the end of FY 2009. I don't know even where to take this, there are just so many ways to point out who is to blame for this mess and question why you are so misinformed. I'll just stick to correcting your mistakes.

RE: Good news but...
By Reclaimer77 on 9/2/2010 4:23:54 PM , Rating: 2
The country lost 5 trillion because of 9/11 though. The economic impact from the attacks was massive. Of course the deficit went up, but you can't put that all on GWB.

RE: Good news but...
By callmeroy on 9/3/2010 10:48:43 AM , Rating: 2
Not only what Reclaimer77 stated,

But I'm really getting friggin' annoyed at folks on the jobs thing in general..

First how are we defining job in the context of when the government stated "..created x many more jobs"....

what standard has to be met --- do part time jobs at Burger World count? Because boy yeah wow...that's a lot of tax revenue being paid to the government on what $200 a week gross (figure 30 hours x 7.25/hr (min wage) = $217)...not to mention the consumer buying power of that person helping to stimulate the economy....

Oh wait are you failing for the "jobs growth surge" of a few months back -- yeah that was temporary ...that was census now temporary and contract term workers who have a job for less than a year are counted...again how does that help the economy.

You need REAL jobs...."PERMANENT" Jobs (or at least jobs of substantial contract lenght) for people paying taxes and able to spend for bigger ticket items like homes, cars, large appliance or furniture purchases, etc.

RE: Good news but...
By menace on 9/2/2010 5:54:50 PM , Rating: 2
Randy Hoven used to be my boss (aerospace engineer). He helped turned me into a Libertarian thinker. He's a very sharp guy but also a pretty good pianist I hear. He's been blogging at American Thinker for a while, good to see people are taking notice.

RE: Good news but...
By arazok on 9/1/2010 12:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
If America had never invaded Iraq, the money would have been squandered somewhere else anyways. It would have gone into fancy new war planes, inefficient windmills, gold plated social security programs, non-universal yet still more expensive than anyone else’s Medicare system, the bloated education system that gobbles infinite amounts of money for zero return, or god knows what.

All I know is that it wherever that money had gone, you’d still have nothing to show for it.

RE: Good news but...
By ekv on 9/1/2010 1:35:20 PM , Rating: 2
sure pal.

Like helping Haiti. Chile. Indonesia. Etc.

But I'll say this, less gov't would mean less squandering.

RE: Good news but...
By arazok on 9/1/2010 2:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly like Haiti etc. How much money has been given to Haiti over the past, say 50 years? It would be in the tens of billions, and yet they are still the poorest country on the continent.

Thanks for proving my point.

RE: Good news but...
By ekv on 9/1/2010 6:00:10 PM , Rating: 2
So we're both saying that gov't squanders money. Agreed?

My point, while not fully elaborated, was that Americans are a giving and charitable people. I draw this distinction as a simple reminder ... "the Consent of the Governed" and all that.

RE: Good news but...
By shaidorsai on 9/3/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good news but...
By FITCamaro on 9/1/2010 1:51:43 PM , Rating: 2
You're a f*cking idiot. Iraq is the problem? Gee we sure seem to have plenty of money (more than NASA's budget in fact) to give to ACORN, fund giving monkeys cocaine, build civic centers, and a host of other worthless things. But no money for NASA right?

I repeat again. You're an idiot.

RE: Good news but...
By danrien on 9/1/2010 7:27:38 PM , Rating: 1
Really? Really? Below is a link to Republican website from 2008, which states that ACORN has received $31 million since 1998. I'd take that money any day, but it doesn't approach the near $20 billion/year budget that NASA has.

RE: Good news but...
By FITCamaro on 9/1/2010 11:19:34 PM , Rating: 2
1) "That number is likely substantially higher because ACORN also received money indirectly from federal block grants distributed by states and localities."

2) The stimulus bill slated ACORN for $5 billion. Yes they had a funding cutoff. But it doesn't take away from the fact that liberals seem to think we have plenty of money to spend as long as it doesn't go towards something truly worthwhile like NASA. No only paying off unions and other Democrat constituencies matter these days. And Democrats have been trying to get ACORNs funding reinstated. Even today they still get some funding. Just not as much as the stimulus bill planned.

RE: Good news but...
By xxsk8er101xx on 9/1/2010 7:57:35 PM , Rating: 2
Or, when Obama is removed from office and replaced with someone who is hopefully not a anti-capitalist/anti-space neo-socialist.

RE: Good news but...
By Goty on 9/1/2010 10:26:17 AM , Rating: 2
Such as? For getting into orbit, rockets are pretty much the only viable method.

RE: Good news but...
By superPC on 9/1/2010 11:13:10 AM , Rating: 2
well how about space elevator? or mass driver? or a host of other tech?

RE: Good news but...
By Goty on 9/1/2010 12:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
And which of those methods are viable technologically, physically or economically?

RE: Good news but...
By Omega215D on 9/1/2010 7:15:53 PM , Rating: 2
Space elevator hahahaha...

*timer resets*

RE: Good news but...
By NanoTube1 on 9/1/2010 11:17:41 AM , Rating: 3
I'm not saying that having this rocket is bad or anything - it actually looks awesome.
But where are all these X-Planes with ramjet or whatever. They had planned for years to produce a true space craft that will not need rockets attached to it. When you are planning an actual vehicle it means that you at least have the science to begin, even if the production is tricky and there are setbacks. I am asking, what happened with these things? Where is the real innovative stuff?

RE: Good news but...
By FaceMaster on 9/1/2010 2:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
I am asking, what happened with these things? Where is the real innovative stuff?

Hidden on page 2 and beyond of Dailytech's news, along with loads of other promising breakthroughs that never see the light of day.

RE: Good news but...
By danobrega on 9/1/2010 10:32:28 AM , Rating: 2
You want them to build starship Enterprise?

RE: Good news but...
By RugMuch on 9/1/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good news but...
By WSpaceport on 9/1/2010 2:09:25 PM , Rating: 3
@RugMuch -- Considering NASA has yet to cross over the first trillion dollar threshold (after 50-plus years of operation), perhaps you should be a little less melodramatic and a little more accurate with your facts and figures. For starters, you can reduce your claim of one shuttle launch failure by a factor of ten from $30 billion to less than $3 billion.

RE: Good news but...
By Suntan on 9/1/2010 12:48:15 PM , Rating: 2
Yes. Yes I do.


RE: Good news but...
By FITCamaro on 9/1/2010 1:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
Well they built the Space Shuttle Enterprise....

But yes I want a space ship with large nuclear powered engines and the ability to travel through the solar system in a reasonable amount of time.

RE: Good news but...
By NanoTube1 on 9/1/2010 3:11:38 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Good news but...
By xxsk8er101xx on 9/1/2010 8:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Actually they have ION engines that are a lot more efficient and would last as long.

Currently it takes about 6 months with conventional rockets. The latest I heard on TV about the ION engine is 2 weeks with this technology.

ION > Nuclear

RE: Good news but...
By JediJeb on 9/2/2010 12:03:15 AM , Rating: 2
Where do you get the electricity to run the ION engine without a nuclear power plant? Solar cells won't come close to providing the energy needed for anything bigger than a milk crate sized probe.

The ION engines needed to take a manned mission to Mars in two weeks needs megawatts of power, that means either nuclear or some really really big energizer batteries.

RE: Good news but...
By FITCamaro on 9/2/2010 10:10:28 AM , Rating: 2
Hence me saying nuclear powered engines.

RE: Good news but...
By geddarkstorm on 9/1/2010 2:25:01 PM , Rating: 2
Or the reasonable goals?

It's all so frustrating lately with the space program. No one can make up their minds what to do. We want to go to Mars? Sure.. but we have no idea how to build a successful base in a place that's utterly remote and inhospitable. Why don't we do that on the Moon, where there's plenty of water and resources to develop ways to mine (and thus apply those lessons elsewhere) as well as an actual chance for rescue if things go wrong (unlike with Mars).

And hey, if we're going to even send a manned ship to Mars, we probably have to build it in orbit. A lunar base would be instrumental in such an endeavor. Not only can you harvest metals and resources and launch them out for exponentially lower cost than from here, but you're also closer to useful assembly sites than from the Earth.

I just don't get it. The Moon is our gateway to space and we're ignoring it because...?

RE: Good news but...
By delphinus100 on 9/1/2010 8:20:46 PM , Rating: 3
And hey, if we're going to even send a manned ship to Mars, we probably have to build it in orbit.

You were fine, up to that point, but...

A lunar base would be instrumental in such an endeavor. Not only can you harvest metals and resources and launch them out for exponentially lower cost than from here, but you're also closer to useful assembly sites than from the Earth.

Now, I don't disagree that there are many reasons to not merely return to the Moon, but to have a permanent human presence there.

But this isn't one of them.

All human manufacturing infrastructure is down here.

Earth, in spite of the 'deep gravity well' that many love to worry about, has plentiful fuel resources.

You can't say the same for the Moon. Water there (which may be in useful quantities only at the poles), may be too scarce for anything but life support. A case might be made for sending regolith-derived O2 from the Moon, back to LEO or the Lagrange points...for rockets that need it. Nuclear thermal rockets will likely use plain H2 for reaction mass.

Now, ask yourself how much mining and manufacturing of everything that goes into a spaceship down here, and imagine re-creating that infrastructure on the Moon, just for a handful of deep space ships (including any kind of plastics, largely derived from hydrocarbons that won't be there at all). Not to mention getting people to/from the moon to operate all this (no matter how robotocized you think you can make it...and that, too, is worthwhile only for mass production), which requires pretty cheap access to space from Earth, anyway.

All that, just because it takes less delta-v to get your finished product off the Moon, than off Earth.

LEO is what space assembly is for...

I just don't get it. The Moon is our gateway to space and we're ignoring it because...?

But yes, Mars or no Mars, Earth's moon is still worthy of exploration and utilization in its own right. We will learn valuable lessons from it, but it doesn't have to be justified as 'practice' for anywhere else.

RE: Good news but...
By Nyu on 9/1/2010 3:01:43 PM , Rating: 2
By Kutcher on 9/1/2010 12:30:32 PM , Rating: 3
It can output 22 million horsepower

Is horsepower really a valid unit of measurement when you're talking about a rocket? Are there even 22 million horses on the planet?

...maybe something like elephantpower would work better at that scale? or Norrispower?

RE: Horsepower?
By Suntan on 9/1/2010 12:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
I was already thinking about Chuck as I was half way through that last sentence... great minds think alike.


RE: Horsepower?
By FITCamaro on 9/1/2010 1:56:25 PM , Rating: 3
This rocket came no where close to a single Norrispower.

RE: Horsepower?
By twhittet on 9/1/2010 12:51:55 PM , Rating: 2
A Norrispower start to approach infinity the harder you try to measure it.

RE: Horsepower?
By NanoTube1 on 9/1/2010 3:20:00 PM , Rating: 2

A Norrispower starts at infinity and grows beyond it when you try to measure it.

RE: Horsepower?
By twhittet on 9/2/2010 1:37:25 PM , Rating: 2
Lmao - nice. New math will need to be developed to handle the calculations.

By Cheesew1z69 on 9/1/2010 10:59:16 AM , Rating: 3
RE: Video
By SilentSin on 9/1/2010 11:13:10 AM , Rating: 2
O_O I just wonder how they strapped it down and kept 22 million horsepower from moving. Was Chuck Norris in that America box at the other end holding it back?

RE: Video
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/1/2010 11:14:57 AM , Rating: 1
No idea but that had to be a hell of a setup to hold that thing. That's a shit ton of power.

RE: Video
By Cheesew1z69 on 9/1/2010 1:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Video
By FITCamaro on 9/1/2010 1:55:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well it moved the whole planet closer to the sun a little.


For the idiots out there. This is sarcasm.

RE: Video
By ekv on 9/1/2010 1:46:36 PM , Rating: 2
Turn up the volume. Turn on bass boost. Have ear muffs at the ready 8)

Btw, did they really have the DM-2 chilled to 40F for THAT test?

Solid vs. liquid
By chartguy on 9/1/2010 11:18:12 AM , Rating: 2
One of the biggest differences between solid and liquid fuel is control. Once you light a solid fuel rocket, it burns until all the fuel is burned. With a liquid fueled rocket, like the Saturn V, you can control the fuel flow into the motor, throttling back or even shutting it down early.

For a satellite, solid fuel makes a lot of economic sense, but an astronaut might prefer the flexibility of liquid fuel.

RE: Solid vs. liquid
By NanoTube1 on 9/1/2010 11:34:01 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but a solid fuel rocket is safer and very quick to deploy.

RE: Solid vs. liquid
By delphinus100 on 9/1/2010 8:24:17 PM , Rating: 2

As with all things, it depends...

RE: Solid vs. liquid
By JediJeb on 9/2/2010 12:11:01 AM , Rating: 2
To be honest though, the solid rocket on Challenger would have made it through its part of the mission, it was the liquid fuel that it ignited that exploded. Had it been solid rockets only, it may have been a successful mission.

RE: Solid vs. liquid
By ekv on 9/2/2010 2:18:01 AM , Rating: 2
Ares DM-2 (Demonstration Motor #2)

ATK's second test and they're going for the extremes? Fascinating.

solution in search of problem?
By chromal on 9/1/2010 1:39:27 PM , Rating: 4
This seems like a strange boost platform. Does it have some edge over liquid-fueled or hybrid liquid/solid boost systems? Could it be this is in fact Pork Barrel / corporate welfare work for the Utah-based contractor? After all, with the sunset on the space shuttle, ATK Space Systems wouldn't have a contract to build the shuttle's SRBs anymore. Unless it has a throttle, this is just a big version of what's essentially an ancient Chinese technology, but it doesn't seem like a very flexible platform.

By dlapine on 9/1/2010 7:36:04 PM , Rating: 3
This is the 5 Segment SRB (Solid Rocket Booster) slated to be used for the now defunct ARES I, the first part of the Constellation program for Lunar exploration. It would have been the first stage of a 2 stage rocket with a lift capability of less than 25Mt. The follow-on Ares V would have been something like the old Saturn rocket, save that it would have had 2 of these SRB's as well.

Since the Constellation program was canceled, work on these SRB's is truly pork barrel politics, only due to a rider on a defense department bill that stated that work on Constellation was not to stop in 2010. Thank Senator Shelby for that mess.

Fortunately, the senate seems to have come to it's senses and realized that spending $40 billion over 10 years to build this useless piece of crap (The constellation program) was stupid, given that we could build the Direct J-130 (with a 75Mt lift) in 4 years for $4 billion. The current year's appropriations bill in house hasn't changed yet, because the guys in the house can't really do math quickly. The second phase of Direct is a J-246 (essentially J-130 with a 2nd stage and more engine on the core), which can do 118MT to orbit. That costs another $3 billion and 3 years

To sum it up:

Constellation: $40 billion 10years over $1 billion per flight

Direct: $7 billion 7 years $400 million per flight

Oh yeah, this is some big time pork barrel work for ATK.

By neilmacengi on 9/3/2010 3:25:21 AM , Rating: 2
nasa is doing good work....

By NanoTube1 on 9/3/2010 3:11:53 PM , Rating: 2

By fireofenergy on 9/1/2010 11:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
Here's what once would be considered a far fetched idea, now it's just another reseach topic that has been replaced by "more conventional spending"

Here it is... Once robotic slave appendages make SOLAR PV FOR DIRT CHEAP, we can afford to not only overcome eco-logical and eco-nomical obstacles, we will be able to exploit space! Tens of thousands of square miles will need to be covered {just to do any good}... Imagine the installation jobs...

Now, this is what everybody has GOT to together about... The perfect solution that many have already thought of...

By drunkenmastermind on 9/2/2010 7:40:25 PM , Rating: 2

Advanced Technologies
By rbrtw on 9/1/2010 9:19:07 PM , Rating: 1
Dramatic changes could be made with investments on more advanced technologies for space flight.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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