[FPSPACE] as the new year dawns, the next steps in space travel
kgottschalk at uwc.ac.za
Sun Dec 30 07:19:26 EST 2012
as the clock creeps closer to the western & orthodox new years, a question, & a thought.
Now that North Korea has finally, after a decade of struggle, succeeded in launching a satellite, will the next state to launch a satellite be South Korea or Brazil? & of course, will the North Koreans improve on their 25% success rate in launching satellites?
Equally interesting, it seems that we are starting to enter a transition phase of one or two decades between ELVs & RLVs. The STS, X37B, Dragon, can all be termed RRVs - reusable reentry vehicles. Orion & CST, if flown in future, will be the same. Space X's grasshopper now has videos on-line showing it can do what the DC-X Clipper & Hope achieved one or two decades ago. Of course, if it is to save some propellants for its return to launchpad, that will reduce the total mass it can launch of its 2nd stage & payload.
The potentially first true RLV, Skylon, has only got as far as demonstrating a scale model of its heat exchanger. The UK Govt has been politically astute in not giving grants to them directly, but via the ESA juste retour, in the hope of luring other investors. This of course implies that, even if all goes well with engineering & funding, only the SABRE engine could be made by UK firms. The Skylon fuselage would have to be made by companies in another ESA country such as France or Germany, & the avionics etc in a 3rd & 4th country's companies - a contractor political prerequisite well known to NASA & Congress.
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