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Space Program Needs The Right Stuff



 
 
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  #1  
Old December 18th 03, 12:15 AM
Rand Simberg
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

That's Fox News' title for my column. I just called it "Daring."

The third in a trilogy, and I think that I'm overwraught, or at least
overWrighted...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106062,00.html

No mas.

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  #2  
Old December 18th 03, 05:31 AM
Jim Kingdon
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

The third in a trilogy, and I think that I'm overwraught, or at least
overWrighted...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106062,00.html


It does seem like a bit much to read them all 3 in a row. Like,
"haven't I seen this part before"?

The Fox News one may be the best of the bunch, going into the bits
about incremental testing and such. Although the Tech Central Station
musings about whether the Wrights or Langley were more scientific is
also good.

  #3  
Old December 18th 03, 05:42 AM
Rand Simberg
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

On Wed, 17 Dec 2003 21:31:55 -0800 (PST), in a place far, far away,
Jim Kingdon made the phosphor on my monitor glow
in such a way as to indicate that:

The third in a trilogy, and I think that I'm overwraught, or at least
overWrighted...
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106062,00.html


It does seem like a bit much to read them all 3 in a row. Like,
"haven't I seen this part before"?


If you think reading them was tough, think about writing them all
(about thirty-five hundred words total) inside forty-eight hours...

It was a challenge to come up with three essays on the same topic
right on top of each other without being somewhat redundant, and
obviously it was somewhat insurmountable. But I did try to have a
different theme for each one.

National Review: "The Wright's achievement wasn't flying an airplane,
but landing one."

TCS: "The difference between science and engineering, and why rocket
scientists generally aren't, but the Wrights were airplane
scientists."

Fox: "In avoiding risk, we almost ensure failure." In some ways,
that's the most important message.

And of course, the Langley vs Wright theme (analogy with government
versus private theme) prevailed throughout.

Just a little excursion into what passes for the writer's mind...

The Fox News one may be the best of the bunch, going into the bits
about incremental testing and such. Although the Tech Central Station
musings about whether the Wrights or Langley were more scientific is
also good.


The Fox one was the last. The other two were written to be published
this morning, when I wasn't sure what the president was going to say.
My Fox deadline was a little later, and I'd had time to digest
everything else I'd been thinking about before writing it. Also, I
managed to slip in at the last minute the news about SpaceShipOne,
even though there was nothing notable about Bush's speech (though I
enjoyed his little dig at the NYT about "a million years." It doesn't
quite top their Goddard gaffe, which was basic physics, but the timing
of it was delectable).

  #4  
Old December 18th 03, 01:18 PM
LooseChanj
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

On or about Wed, 17 Dec 2003 21:42:24 -0800 (PST), Rand Simberg
made the sensational claim that:
If you think reading them was tough, think about writing them all
(about thirty-five hundred words total) inside forty-eight hours...


That's how I've written every paper in my life.
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  #5  
Old December 18th 03, 01:59 PM
Tom Merkle
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

h (Rand Simberg) wrote in message . ..
That's Fox News' title for my column. I just called it "Daring."

The third in a trilogy, and I think that I'm overwraught, or at least
overWrighted...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106062,00.html

No mas.


I especially liked this paragraph:
"... A long, drawn-out program, with many incremental tests, offers
many opportunities for test failures with their attendant bad
publicity and potential for embarrassing congressional hearings.
Moreover, the risk of such failures is increased if there is
inadequate analysis before committing to hardware--hardware made all
the more expensive by attempting to minimize the risk of failure, thus
making any possible failure more expensive as well."

I notice that some of the same people who claim to agree with this
analysis when it applies to spaceflight like to throw it out the
window when talking about any military test program like the
"excessively crash prone" V-22 Osprey, or the "expensive and
unnecessary" X-50 Canard Rotor Wing. Apparently, permission to fail
during testing of a new vehicle only exists for entrepeneurs testing
rockets and fixed wing craft.

Tom Merkle

  #6  
Old December 18th 03, 02:57 PM
Kaido Kert
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

"Rand Simberg" wrote in message
...
That's Fox News' title for my column. I just called it "Daring."

The third in a trilogy, and I think that I'm overwraught, or at least
overWrighted...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,106062,00.html

No mas.


concept works, practical application
Automotive: Daimler-Benz ( 1886 ) Ford Model - T ( 1908 )
Aviation : Wright ( 1903 ) Glenn Curtis ( ~1909 ~1911 )
Space : Rutan ? ( 2004-5? ) blank ( 200x ? )

I wonder who will fill in the blank and when ?
BTW, there were equivalents of STS, EELVs etc. both in aviation and
automotive as well. Aviation: dirigibles, Langley & Co. hot air balloons,
steam cars and whatnot.

-kert

  #7  
Old December 18th 03, 06:19 PM
Derek Lyons
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

Jim Kingdon wrote:

The Fox News one may be the best of the bunch, going into the bits
about incremental testing and such. Although the Tech Central Station
musings about whether the Wrights or Langley were more scientific is
also good.


However all three hammer the 'four legs good two legs bad' dogma that
Rand, and many others here, peddle uncritically. They *love* to
trumpet Big Government and Big Science failures while slinking away
from discussing their successes and the distinct lack of
accomplishment by the 'mammals'.[1] Langley's problem wasn't his
science per se, but his ego. There is no intrinsic reason other than
that why he, or any other government sponsored individual/organization
will automagically have failed while the Wrights succeeded.

[1]For instance; SS1's current demonstrated performance barely matches
the X-1 (nearly fifty years ago), and in it's final form will barely
match the X-15 (over forty years ago). Simple bald facts, but
embarrassing to the 'four legs/two legs' mindset.

D.
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at the following URLs:

Text-Only Version:
http://www.io.com/~o_m/columbia_loss_faq.html

Enhanced HTML Version:
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Corrections, comments, and additions should be
e-mailed to , as well as posted to
sci.space.history and sci.space.shuttle for
discussion.

  #9  
Old December 18th 03, 09:43 PM
Jim Kingdon
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

There is no intrinsic reason other than that why he, or any other
government sponsored individual/organization will automagically have
failed while the Wrights succeeded.


Agreed on that. The failure of Kistler (despite adequate funding) and
any number of other space startups (mostly due to failure to raise
funding) is worth remembering.

For instance; SS1's current demonstrated performance barely matches
the X-1 (nearly fifty years ago), and in it's final form will barely
match the X-15 (over forty years ago). Simple bald facts, but
embarrassing to the 'four legs/two legs' mindset.


Ah, but much of this debate is about changing the figures of merit
away from performance and towards measures such as cost per flight,
reliability (only demonstrable with large numbers of flights),
turnaround time between flights, size of ground crew, etc.

Now, I don't happen to know just where the X-1 and X-15 score on those
metrics. Just to pick one I could quickly find: 199 missions over 10
years ( http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/Hi...15/chrono.html )
isn't much by aircraft standards, but it is still more than just about
any launcher (with the possible exception of a few Russian models).

  #10  
Old December 18th 03, 11:00 PM
Tom Merkle
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Default Space Program Needs The Right Stuff

(Derek Lyons) wrote in message ...
h (Rand Simberg) wrote:
Fox: "In avoiding risk, we almost ensure failure." In some ways,
that's the most important message.

And of course, the Langley vs Wright theme (analogy with government
versus private theme) prevailed throughout.


Hyman Rickover may debate you on that. The conspicuous *lack* of
failure in Naval Reactors compared with the well documented
failures[1] of commercial reactors provides an interesting counterpart
to your themes.


frickin' nukes. Always worshipping at the altar of Hyman G. The point
wasn't really a government vs. private thing, it's a focused,
incremental effort thing vs. a 'perfect end product on the first try'
thing. Both government and private programs are easily capable of
selling out this way.

Actually Rickover probably would have gotten on exceptionally well
with the Wrights, as they approached difficult engineering problems
following the same basic steps:
1. identify a moderately ambitious goal. For rickover it was a safe,
working reactor. For the Wrights it was a working airplane.
2. postulate a design to meet that goal. The Wrights sketched out a
rectangular glider with propellers. Rickover sketched out a working
reactor design.
3. analyze smaller, less risky versions of that design to find flaws.
The Wrights built & tested different airfoils, as well as smaller,
unpowered humn gliders. Rickover's program analyzed non nuclear
versions of their design to thermal, hydraulic, and material
properties. They invented new methods of testing metal samples to
determine vessel strength.
4. Figure out the underlying scientific cause of these flaws. If
insufficient scientific knowledge exists, create small scale
experiments to provide the necessary data. Numerous examples from the
Wrights, including insufficient propeller force (the wrights designed
a more efficient propeller), too much engine weight (The wrights
developed a engine 4 times lighter per horsepower than any previous),
unstable turns (wrights developed coordinated rudder/bank turn).
Rickover's program did countless experiements on metal samples and
non-nuclear heat exchangers to maximize their design effectiveness.
5. exercise excessive micromanagerial control over the end product to
ensure that compromises made do not compromise the overall design.
Rickover's micromanaging was legendary, but he kept the design as
simple as he wanted, which turned out best. The Wrights were obsessive
with details and secretive to the point that they were unable to turn
their revolution into a successful company.
6. build and test.

Tom Merkle

 




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