DEPARTURE:  I rarely post here:  Fasten your seat belts!

This site is for topics that float between heaven and space, between faith and science.  But it is connected to my space posts, so welcome to Spirit Space.  I have illustrated possible solutions for space launch, identifying large satellite markets as a good business case.  There is already some service for that sector, including more reusable potential.  That is all good business, but I am confused about the spirit of current launch vehicle development.  A lot is aiming at tiny satellite markets that may be cut off as orbital debris accumulates.  But some are departing from earth orbits to destinations that have virtually NO real market or customers whatever..aside from some suicidal loonies.  Why don’t they just go pet the bison in Yellowstone?

STAR TREK, STAR STRUCK, SEEING STARS.  Are we ready to boldly go?

Yes, ventures are already building anti-matter and tachyon propulsion for inter-stellar missions now.  And the grand obsession of chemical rocket firms is MARS.  I proposed an expensive vehicle development to serve real satellite markets.  With no funding we are “small fish” but at least we offer real bait to real big fish customers.  The big launch ventures are all better businessmen than me, so where are their buyers?  Is that a dumb question?

RODDENBERRY FUNNY  Gene pulled a lot of jokes on us.  He painted a world with no money, where poker is the entertainment of choice.  Are we planning on space with no profits?  The Ferengi will clean us out!  How could Bashir challenge Quark to a dabo game with no latinum?  The Roddenberry universe is about soap opera with poverty, and you know that dates do not happen without latinum!  But apparently we believe that Mars travelers will bring lots of money to die in space…??  I think some Virgin Galactic customers cancelled after a little crash and burn here on earth.  This is why I published on this blog; it takes a LOT of faith to believe in all this.  Or will the government pick up the tab like Star Fleet?

PLAN TOO GRAND, STAR TOO FAR  compare to Apollo or Shuttle?

We published an article about the Rockwell StarRaker as a bold initiative towards both space and energy solutions.  It was too much too soon, but still a brave vision and a manufactured market.  Let’s look at the record.

POWER FAILURE  Energy motivation during oil crisis

Because of threats of oil and energy our government was offered a space based power source.  This need faded as oil prices dropped and we returned to our gas guzzling cars and fossil fuels.  No one mentioned greenhouse gasses back then.  Still, Rockwell was creative in manufacturing a future market for their services, even if neither came to be.

ENGINEER WITHOUT FEAR  bold designs; still no SSTO

They were so far out front that we still have no single stage to orbit options.  But they did spend the money to do serious analysis and marketing on this.  Unfortunately much of the technology is still out of reach.  And the fear factors of energy and the cold war have faded.


Looking at the NASA budget drop after the moon missions we see little money for such a big project.  The shuttle too was not to fully deliver reusable economies either.  This was a hard sell era.

MOON DAZE: MINE IS BIGGER…no more cold war posturing (?)

The thrust behind the moon program budget was fear.  If we were not more powerful than Russia, we feared being seen as inferior to godless communism.  God knows we should have been afraid of godless capitalism!

SPACE SHUFFLE:  was delivered at 1% TO 0.5% of fed budget but lessons were learned:

The Boeing X-37 still operates missions for the Air Force using space plane technologies from the shuttle program today.  And they were able to run on a budget, if not as often as hoped.

NA$A CO$T$: a moving target

The Apollo program cost $109 billion in 2010 money. Since 11 Apollo missions were flown, that amounts to $9.9 billion per flight.  This was done at a NASA budget over 4% of the national budget, now down to only 0.5% for NASA.

“Early during development of the space shuttle, NASA had estimated that the program would cost $43 billion in 2011 dollars in development/non-recurring costs, and $54M in 2011 dollars per flight.

The total cost of the actual 30-year service life of the shuttle program through 2011, adjusted for inflation, was $196 billion.  The average cost to launch a Space Shuttle as of 2011 was about $450 million per mission.”  At least a partially reusable system did seem to save some on launch costs.

NEXT MIS-STEP PORK BARREL: SLS  moves backwards to the future Apollo

Now we are building a new space vehicle after 6 years of buying Russian rides and engines.  The Space Launch System salvages shuttle parts to build an Apollo era retro-rocket.

GUDNUZBADNUZ: escape capsule, booster behind, throw away

Well, the Shuttle lacked a good escape system, so the SLS at least offers a capsule escape system.  And returning to in-line staging moves the crew or payload ahead of the potential booster problems.  Booster troubles doomed two shuttle missions, so this is good.  But we are re-using the solid boosters that caused one failure, and tossing all the reusable features that saved some on launch costs.  But disposable is not an attractive option.  At least the capsule may (?) be reusable.


WHYNOT? 4.3% of budget then, but only 0.5% available now

NASA seriously thinks we can return to Apollo era when we have only 1/4 of the NASA budget of that era.  NASA’s budget peaked in 1964-66, when it consumed roughly 4% of federal spending instead of 0.5% as today.

PROMISES, PROMISES Senate Launch System dictated to NASA by congress pork-barrel

Estimated Project cost: US $7 billion to $35 billion

Cost per launch  US $500 million


“NASA Still Has No Idea What a SLS Launch Will Cost… the SLS program has not positioned itself well to provide accurate assessments of core stage progress – including forecasting impending schedule delays, cost overruns, and anticipated costs at completion – because at the time of our review it did not anticipate having the baseline to support full reporting on the core stage contract until summer 2016 – some 4.5 years after NASA awarded the contract.”

LOOKEE SEE: gaze at YOUR crystal ball

Seeing what the Apollo cost, and what we offer to spend now, where is the money for SLS?  Even the shuttle made a bump!  Do YOU see another Apollo program in here?



OK, a few moon trips were expensive.  Now let’s shoot for the Moon and Mars too!  If we could not justify more moon ventures without a big bad communist threat, how are we going to justify missions to Mars on a 1/2% of the budget allowance?  We no longer have the big fear factor UNLESSWe must build another earth because we are DETERMINED to ruin THIS ONE!  Hey, our corrupt congress has us right on course! 

FRIDAY 13 TO MARS  Take a trip to mars huh?

I demonstrated a simulated trip to Mars right here in Wyoming.  I had not one, but two flat tires.  I had other trouble potentials but help was only an hour away.  I detached the car from the disabled trailer and drove an hour to Wheatland and back for repairs.  With the tires fixed, I was able to resume my adventure.  How many tire dealers, gas stations, or friendly helpers are there on the way to Mars?

APOLLO 13 TO MARS  You REALLY don’t want to go there!

Remember how much fun it was on Apollo 13?  I want you to scale this up and consider the rescue mission between here and Mars.  I can provide you with a scale representation.

This model is linear, so add in the circular route, as we cannot take a straight line in orbital mechanics.  The distances here do not include racing around the sun trying to catch up with the orbiting planet.  So multiply the distances A LOT!  Select the planet symbol at the top for earth; a circle with a cross in it.  then you can see the moon in scale too.  Remember, that was the Apollo 13 misadventure.  Now set out for Mars, circle with an arrow, like a male symbol.  you can subtract the orbit of Earth from Mars for a linear distance.  Or perhaps square the Mars radius and multiply by 2 x pi for a circumference of your orbit.  Are you ready to have mechanical troubles now?

LOST IN SPACE  unmanned missions miss more than hit.  Are you really ready to boldly go?

“With so many successful missions to Mars, it’s easy to forget that getting there has never been easy. In fact, more missions have failed than not: 28 flops compared to 19 successes.”

Check out your odds:


Moving even farther away from a solid business case, we witness a new space race.  Government and private rocket ventures are racing to Mars.  Has anyone identified who will pay for the winner of this race?  Or is this just another chance to posture and show off your big male ego?  Looks like the communists are not the problem that our capitalists are!  To be fair, rich guys contribute, as Howard Hughes gave a lot to early aviation, but he had a few buggy issues too.

Yeah, yours is bigger but…mine is really symbolic!



If the StarRaker was missing the business case, where are our present space programs taking us?

Wherever our leadership fantasies lead, however expensive and dangerous that may be.  We will spend huge sums of money and energy on likely fatal missions to Mars.  One might ask where our leaders are really taking us.  Is a Hollywood fantasy really worth this cost?  Of course our leaders are a reflection of our voters.  Our willingness to be led to our death is not unlike that of lemmings.  Just because one has votes or lots of money does not validate their wisdom.  Can we see any evidence of this yet?


As Christopher Columbus took three ship,s a fleet of rockets could provide salvage and rescue if one was lost.  You could send all three rockets to Mars if you are willing to multiply the cost by the number of vehicles.  But then how can we even afford ONE trip to Mars considering the cost of the moon missions?  It kind of hammers that 1/2% of the budget idea doesn’t it?  WHY NOT?  READ THIS!


Now NASA thinks we need a leader to protect earth from alien invaders.  And they can also protect the other planets from us too, which is a far better idea.  What planet wants an invasion of earth-wrecking Republicans anyway?  Should we protect the other planets from the lawyers who are already claiming their mineral rights?


Our planet may be at risk, not of alien invasions, but of native invasions.  We are the only threat to this planet.  If you truly believe that we are not changing the climate, then we should not be afraid to keep taking measurements to confirm that.  That sounds like a good space investment to me.

MARS STARS AND BARS.  You can’t get there from here.

Our leadership seems to have substance abuse problems, even if they aren’t from Colorado.  Our best napkin designs are coming from some dark dank barroom.  Show me a business plan that saves the earth from our leaders and we should sign up.  When aliens arrive and say “Take me to your leader”, show them the way.  If those true guardians of the galaxy have their way, we may be rid of our real enemies.

INVESTORS BEWARE.  Are you spending on a one way ticket?

If you leader is planning bigger dreams than the Rockwell Star-Raker on a depression era shoestring budget consider doing due diligence.  Some investments will never come back from Mars, including our tax dollars.


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