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The Liberty rocket and the 'genetics' of human spaceflight

Jonathan Amos | 19:49 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

I wondered how long it would take before we saw Europe's biggest space company, Astrium, step into the race to develop a follow-on to the soon-to-be retired space shuttle.

It needs a US partner to get involved in the Nasa commercial crew development programme, of course, and in ATK it has one of the key companies in human spaceflight rocketry.

The firms' proposed Liberty rocket would mesh elements from the shuttle launch system with Europe's Ariane 5.

The new vehicle would incorporate a shuttle-derived, five-segment, solid-fuelled booster provided by ATK as the first stage, with an Ariane 5 cryogenic-core-stage and Vulcain-2 engine from Astrium making up the second stage (Vulcains are produced by French firm Snecma).

ATK is emphasising proven flight heritage, inherent safety, and speed of development

ATK is emphasising proven flight heritage, inherent safety, and speed of development

It's a meaty combination that could put 20 tonnes in low-Earth orbit. The companies say Liberty could launch any of the commercial crew capsules now in development.

I've written about quite a few of these concepts, most recently the Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser. Back in the summer I also looked at the Boeing CST-100 vehicle.

ATK, as the lead in the partnership, has entered the Liberty proposal into the second round of Nasa's Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev), hoping to secure some funding assistance. We'll find out in the coming weeks just how successful that's been.

Nasa is likely to be investing hundreds of millions of dollars in various concepts over the coming years in a bid to seed operators that can then sell crew launch services back to the agency and anyone else who might want to go into orbit.

Companies like Boeing are developing new capsules which could launch on Liberty

The "anyone else" could be other government bodies like the European, Japanese and Canadian space agencies, which do not currently possess indigenous human launch capabilities, or privateers looking to establish new space enterprises.

Here, tourism is an obvious contender.

Just looking at the artist's impression of Liberty rolling out to the launch pad at Kennedy on a crawler-transporter, I'm immediately reminded of the Ares-1 rocket that Nasa was pursuing as a crew launcher until President Obama and the US Congress decided to abandon the project.

Ares and Liberty are both stick thin; and of course ATK would have provided the Ares first stage as well.

ATK is hoping this will be part of the appeal of the Liberty concept - the new vehicle would be seen as taking advantage of all the investment that US taxpayers put into Ares before its cancellation. That investment included the test firing of two giant five-segment boosters on ATK's range in its home state of Utah. In that sense, Liberty can be said to be off and running already.

Kent Rominger is a former Nasa Chief of the Astronaut Corps who now works for ATK. Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, he was keen to emphasise the safety aspects of the Liberty design:

"In my mind one of the most important attributes is providing a launcher that is very, very safe, and reliable. Our Liberty rocket is inherently reliable. You do that by starting with a system that is as simple as can be.
You minimise the number of areas where we've learnt in the past that failures can result in a catastrophe. So an as example, we have only two stages, meaning we have just one staging event. Each stage has only one engine - so there's only one place that can fail there.
In addition to that, we're leveraging all the experience that both companies have - and the hardware that has been proven."

 

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Liberty rocket

 

For ATK's employees also, the announcement of the Liberty project must be most welcome. The company has indicated it would have to slim down given that its shuttle boosters are no longer required beyond this year.

For European commentators like myself, the Astrium involvement is most interesting. I was in the company's Les Mureaux facility near Paris just last month, walking around the Ariane 5 core stages as they were joined to their Vulcain engines just prior to shipment to the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

The Ariane 5 is "a vehicle that has human spaceflight in its genes". That's how Silvio Sandrone, Astrium's vice-president of launcher sales and business development, described the rocket to me today.

The Ariane 5 core stage with its Vulcain-2 engine has proven its reliability in recent years

 

It was conceived with the intention of launching Europe's Hermes crew ship, before that project - like the US Ares rocket - was cancelled on the grounds of cost.

It's as if Ariane 5 has been waiting, though, for those genetics to be re-discovered. Most of us thought that if it happened it would come through European governments deciding to upgrade Esa's robotic freighter, ATV, into a crew ship and launching it off the top of an Ariane 5.

That idea still looks a long, long way away, especially in the current economic climate across Europe.

Taking the Ariane 5 core stage and sticking it atop a shuttle solid-rocket-booster is not entirely left-field but I doubt it would be many people's first suggestion.

The idea came from ATK, apparently, which first approached Arianespace, the company that sells Ariane launch services. Arianespace then spoke to Astrium, which leads the European Ariane manufacturing consortium. They love the idea.

The core stage will necessarily need some modifications. For a start, the Vulcain engine will have to be made to ignite in a vacuum - something it doesn't have to do currently. But the big thought running through my head today is not technical but philosophical.

Europeans often bemoan reliance on US systems and talk about developing an independent crew launch capability. But isn't this a rather outmoded idea? Surely, the direction in which "new space" is taking us is one where big multi-national concerns dominate, buying and selling services in ways that cut across borders and traditional government lines and ties.

This is true of the wider economy. Oil, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, media - the biggest companies operate globally. They may have a HQ in a particular country but their outlook is trans-national. Silvio Sandrone told me:

"It's a good question. From Europe's point of view, you want to be independent to do in space the things you really want to do.
One can think of navigation, Earth observation - those kinds of things. These we would want to do on our own, and for me it is clear that these types of applications are necessarily linked to European sovereignty and have to have their own launcher.
It's up to the politicians to decide if human spaceflight is something we want to do on our own or in some sort of international cooperation. Only European governments can tell us what they want.
But maybe Liberty will be an intermediate step. If there were an American launcher with significant European industrial participation, this might spur Europe to think again and to think more proactively about affording itself a crew capability, at least with a capsule first."

 

 

Comments

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  • 1. At 8:31pm on 08 Feb 2011, delmn8ed wrote:

    Liberty is down on performance compared to the Ares 1, it won’t be able to lift Orion.

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  • 2. At 11:51pm on 08 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    This is just ATK looking to score a piece of CCDev for a rocket that really isn't needed. We already have launchers that can lift 20 tonnes operational and several of them either are or could be man rated. I guess when you've had your snout in the trough like ATK its hard to pull it out.

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  • 3. At 01:15am on 09 Feb 2011, brobof wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 08:53am on 09 Feb 2011, Robert Lucien wrote:


    What a funy name for a rocket, for the first few milliseconds when I saw the title I thought maybe they are actually looking seriously at the Liberty Ship design (by Anthony Tate) - sad delusion.
    Lets see
    Liberty original design - ATK rocket.
    - payload 1000 tons - 20 tons.
    - 100% reusable - est 0% reusable.
    - 1 stage - est 2-3 stages.
    - engines 7 or 8 nuclear closed cycle - 1 Liquid fueled, 1 solid fueled.
    - redundancy approx 2 engine fail, ATK rocket zero engines fail.
    - landing retro soft landing, ATK rocket 20 tons.


    I'm not actually criticizing the design but with the same name as the Liberty ship its always going to be suffering rocket envy.

    The Liberty essay -
    http://www.nuclearspace.com/Liberty_ship_menupg.html

    About the engine -
    http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/enginelist.php#Gaseous_Core_Nuclear_Thermal_Rocket_

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  • 5. At 09:11am on 09 Feb 2011, Robert Lucien wrote:

    That posted by itself! halfway through editing so its a little rough.
    (when I kit the tab key)

    Anyway here's the corrected list :)
    Lets see
    Liberty original design - ATK rocket.
    - payload 1000 tons - 20 tons.
    - 100% reusable - est 0% reusable.
    - 1 stage - 2 stages.
    - engines 7 or 8 nuclear closed cycle - 1 Liquid fueled & 1 solid fueled.
    - redundancy approx 2 engine fail - zero engines fail.
    - landing full retro soft landing - atmospheric friction reentry.

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  • 6. At 09:30am on 09 Feb 2011, Ricky Jones wrote:

    Interesting idea, but what about ITAR? Co-operation between companies in the US and Europe for the good of mankind sounds great on the pages of a blog, but it's generally not the view of the US State Department, even when the US company involved needs the work to save jobs. This is especially the case when so much US Taxpayers' money has already been spent on the 5 segment SRB for Ares. They (the US Government) are not going to give that away freely to any Tom, Dick, Harry or Pierre who comes along with an alternative upper stage.

    If anyone thinks that forming a JV between a company in the US and one in Europe gets around ITAR, think again. Virgin Galactic had to learn that lesson the hard way and Astrium will too. Nice idea but politically very naive.

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  • 7. At 09:38am on 09 Feb 2011, delmn8ed wrote:

    One way to bring Liberty’s performance up to that of Ares 1 would be to add Boeing's Ares 1 second stage to ATK first stage.
    It could then loft all the capsules now in development.
    We could call it Ares 1.

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  • 8. At 12:54pm on 09 Feb 2011, Mike Atkinson wrote:

    NASA no longer "man-rate" launchers. Instead CCDev has introduced the concept of certification. The whole system: launcher, launch site, ground control, processes and space craft are certified for particular missions.

    The mission in this case would be to the ISS. For the whole system loss of mission and loss of crew probabilities are computed. This makes sense as details of the launcher can have effects on the space craft in terms of mass margins, time to dock with ISS, abort options, vibration and g forces, and many other factors.

    Starting with "man-rated" stages would help towards certification, but not much.

    For Liberty the 1st stage is new, it is a 5 segment solid rocket booster, which is similar to the 4 segment boosters on the space shuttle, it uses different propellant, end segment, motor and attachment to the rest of the vehicle.

    The second stage is based on the Ariane 5 core, but will have many differences. It will need a different tanks (in Ariane 5 the solid rocket boosters hold up the full oxygen tank which sits above the hydrogen tank) and Vulcain rocket engine (air start, possible nozzle extension, possible restart capability).

    The electrics, electronics, emergency detection system, interstage and probably payload interface will be new.

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  • 9. At 1:05pm on 09 Feb 2011, thespacegnome wrote:

    I dont think ITAR is going to turn out to be a big problem here. As a large European space manufacturer, Astrium has to deal with ITAR all the time, they regularly import some ITAR controlled components and this will surely have been taken into account by them.

    Also an important thing to note here is that this is essentially being sold as an ATK product with a significant European component. So the ITAR controlled information require to interface the components will be all that needs to be covered. Its not like ATK will be giving away the entire SRB design.

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  • 10. At 1:15pm on 09 Feb 2011, Mike Atkinson wrote:

    The reported payload of 20 tonnes is a bit strange.

    As delmn8ed said above it is not enough for Orion. Orion which is designed to travel out of low earth orbit to the moon and beyond, was originally meant to be launched on Ares 1. Performance shortfalls in Ares 1 was forcing Orion to loose mass, adversely affecting Orion's performance, features and safety. Liberty will have a smaller payload than Ares 1 and is therefore unlikely to be able to launch an Orion for beyond earth orbit missions.

    The two capsules which are furthest ahead are the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100, both of these are about 10 tonnes fully loaded and as such can carry 7 astronauts to the space station. At that mass they can be launched on either the SpaceX Falcon 9 or the ULA Atlas V, both of which cost significantly less than Liberty.

    The Dream Chaser space plane and other potential crewed spacecraft are less advanced and hence it is less certain of their mass, however they should fit on one of the medium Atlas V variants.

    At the other end of the scale SpaceX have announced the Falcon 9 heavy which will launch about 32 tonnes into low earth orbit. ULA have the Delta IV heavy which is flying now (a launch last month), but which would need some modifications (e.g. emergency detection system) before it could be certified for manned missions.

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  • 11. At 1:54pm on 09 Feb 2011, knowles2 wrote:

    May be it just me but this look a bit of outdated, ne rusability built from what I see. It seem that ATK is only building this to get its money on government funds rather than thinking about what they are going to do with it an what they are going to launch with.

    Given the way Ares 1 went an it budget, it I was Nasa I immediately turn down ATK request for funding the grounds of no innovations an it based on a rocket that already went way over budget.

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  • 12. At 3:11pm on 09 Feb 2011, Mike Atkinson wrote:

    Another thing that strikes me is that there are no obvious growth options.

    Most modern launchers are in families. The Atlas V family starts with a 4m single core, then adds 1-3 small solid rocket boosters, then moves to a 5.4m core, then adds up to 5 more solid rocket boosters, that is a range of about 9.7-20 tonnes (there is also option for a 3 core heavy version, but for various reasons it is unlikely to be built).

    The Delta IV similarly has light, medium and heavy variants. There are growth plans to combine the Delta and Atlas in various phases with payloads of up to 100 tonnes to LEO.

    Falcon 9 has single and triple core variants with payloads to LEO of 10 and 32 tonnes. There are growth options for a Falcon X and Falcon XX with payload of up to 150 tonnes to LEO.

    Some flexibility for all of these (Falcon 9 currently has only a single upper stage option, but a cryogenic raptor upper stage is planned) is introduced by having various upper stages, optimised for low earth orbit or for geostationary transfer orbit.

    Previous generations of launchers, including the shuttle and Saturn 5 had basically just one variant and limited growth options.

    It seems that Liberty is going back to having just one variant with limited growth options.

    For various technical reasons it seems unlikely that they can add another segment to the first stage, or that the upper stage could be made bigger. The performance of both stages is already close to the theoretical limits of a Vulcain based stage and a solid rocket booster. Adding a small kick stage might be possible, but the vehicle is already very tall and near the limits of the VAB if a pull type launch abort system is used, so even this might not be possible.

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  • 13. At 4:04pm on 09 Feb 2011, brobof wrote:

    This will never get of the ground I have explained why but the BBC doesn't want to hear. Your loss.

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  • 14. At 5:02pm on 09 Feb 2011, tu8ca wrote:

    Astrium simple isn't ready for human space flight. The Arian V was designed to be human rated from the start, yet by its fourteenth launch had only a 70% success rate. Using the Arian V stage in a new rocket isn't as easy as it sounds, and Astrium just doesn't have the competency that NASA has. 'Liberty' is the same design as the Ares I, but with greatly reduced capacity and a partner that has no human space flight experience.

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  • 15. At 7:01pm on 09 Feb 2011, charlie wrote:

    surely we should be redirecting funds and expertise into finding reusable craft instead of continueing with current solid fule rockets?
    are there funds directerd into new propulsion systems?

    just a thought:)

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  • 16. At 8:04pm on 09 Feb 2011, Raymond D Wright wrote:

    Charlieclutz has it just right. This Liberty proposal is very unimpressive. Ares I was going to cost a staggering $1Bn to lift a crew into space. The cost of a single launch would go a very long way to developing a completely re-usable launch system that would bring the cost of a launch down to fuel and maintenance - that is, by a factor of 100 or more. To keep on developing and using expendable launchers is profligate, wasteful, fiendishly expensive and will cripple commercial space exploitation (beyond broadcasting, communications and remote sensing that is) until space flight eventually becomes too expensive to do it at all.

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  • 17. At 9:53pm on 09 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    Well luckily there are more cost effective proposals in the pipeline. The big problem will come if this piece of junk siphons off CCDev funds that might have gone on the likes of Dragon or Dreamchaser, or the CST-100.
    Someone on another board pointed out that since CCDev is supposed to be about crew vehicles and NOT launchers Liberty shouldn't even be in the running.

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  • 18. At 01:07am on 10 Feb 2011, Stephen Ashworth wrote:

    I agree with Ray Wright above. Jonathan, when you're reporting on these proposals, particularly as we're talking about a successor to the Shuttle, please be sure to ask pointed questions about cost per seat to orbit, turnaround time for the entire vehicle (not just the capsule), and marketability to operators other than NASA.

    NASA have gained 30 years experience of a partially reusable or recyclable vehicle with the Shuttle. So how is this heritage being capitalised upon? SpaceX are doing the best they can, but have been forced back onto the traditional ballistic missile plus capsule architecture. The question is, how do we build on the Shuttle and move ahead?

    The maximum flight rate for any one Shuttle orbiter was 4 flights in one calendar year (Discovery, in 1985): how much of an improvement on this can Liberty offer? The current cost per seat to orbit and back is 30-50 million dollars: what reduction might Liberty offer? The record of flights to orbit per year stands at 11 launches with 63 seats, and this was a full quarter century ago, in 1985: how quickly would Liberty get manned spaceflight out of the doldrums and back onto a growth trend, with how many launches per month?

    Thank you for your excellent reporting ... but please don't be afraid of embarrassing industry executives by reminding them that these are the pertinent questions they need to be addressing!

    Stephen
    Oxford, UK

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  • 19. At 08:52am on 10 Feb 2011, delmn8ed wrote:

    The Ares 1 was to be competitive on price, provided it flew regularly. I haven’t been able to find out what thy mean by regularly but the price per flight was to be around about the same as a Soyuz launch.

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  • 20. At 3:47pm on 10 Feb 2011, Jonathan Amos wrote:

    By my calculation then, these would be the leading submissions to CCDev-2 (in no particular order)? (1) SpaceX, to further work on Dragon; (2) ULA, to continue the process of getting the Atlas and Delta rockets ready for human missions; (3) USA, with a speculative(?) proposal to keep flying shuttles; (4) Orbital, to further work on their lifting body called Prometheus; (5) Sierra Nevada, to continue work on the Dream Chaser; (6) ATK/Astrium, to work on the Liberty rocket; (7) Boeing, to get additional support to develop the CST-100 capsule. Anyone I've missed? What do all these companies have in common bar one (SpaceX)? They are the same "old space" companies that have always done business in this sector. Which goes to the point Elon Musk's frequently makes and which the US Congress seemed not to grasp last year: What is changing is not the companies so much as the way the process of procurement is being done.

    @Stephen. ATK/Astrium have stated that they believe a unit price of $180m per launch can be achieved. But which capsule/mini-shuttle are you putting on the top with how many crew? A Dream Chaser would have a crew of seven. Price-wise it will not be the paradigm shift you frequently - and so eloquently - espouse in your postings ;-) It's still an expendable rocket.

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  • 21. At 7:58pm on 10 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    delmn8ed:

    Ares I was originally projected to do that but the spiraling costs and complexity put an end to that. if it ever had flown it would have been expensive and infrequent, especially as I doubt it would have been permitted to compete in the commercial sector.

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  • 22. At 8:04pm on 10 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    Jonhathon Amos:

    Intersting response but it does bring up a couple of question for me.

    Firstly does NASA potentially directing CCDev funds to ULA mean they've had a change of heart? During the Ares I debacle NASA were quite insistent that manrating either rocket would take billions of dollars and six or seven years, which seems inconsistent with the current plans.

    Secondly how does Liberty stack up against the Falcon 9, Delta IV, or Atlas V in cost per launch? I mean strictly as a launcher for a manned vehicle, leaving aside maximum payload.

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  • 23. At 06:46am on 11 Feb 2011, marcos anthony toledo wrote:

    As I have written before NASA should dupped the rocket and gone on to develop real reusable spacecraft and a better propulsion systems instead playing around with the same old unreliable rockets. As for a mutinational cooperation the late President Kennedy propose a joint luna program between the US and USSR to save money and duplication and that idea died with the Kennedy assination the problem is the powers that be then to be nausnestic idots so they will try their best sabatoge this program.

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  • 24. At 07:30am on 11 Feb 2011, marcos anthony toledo wrote:

    As have wrote before we should been developing new space craft and propulsion systems for the last forty years instead wasting it time with stupid rockets. As a multinational spaceflight the late President Kennedy proposed a joint US-USSR moon mission which died with Kennedy assasination so I think the narcenistic idots will attempt to sabatage the project.

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  • 25. At 3:47pm on 11 Feb 2011, Dan wrote:

    Blatant pork belly politics. Regrettably it might even succeed, but that does look less likely now as people are getting wise to it.

    I'm not sure why anyone takes this seriously when there are multiple off the shelf launchers doing the same job now - Ariane 5 is just one. It makes no logical sense to splice together an Ariane with something else, a crewed version of the ATV (which is the most advanced spacecraft currently flying) is the only way to go for both performance and reliability.

    The US spaceflight community is going to have to wean itself off the established high cost and low performance contractors that win contracts based on political favours. SpaceX is doing a very good job of embarrassing them so far - with just 1000 employees they have had a successful orbital launch.

    The US Government will eventually get tired of propping these organisations up but it's going to take a new generation of politicians to make that choice.


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  • 26. At 04:10am on 16 Feb 2011, Robert Lucien wrote:

    Just reading the article on Tempel 1 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12433138 and two things occur to me...
    The first is that the specification- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen is about as good a mixture of chemicals as we could ask for vis space mining. People have long dreamed about mining gold from asteroids or comets but surely the real gold would be air, fuel, and water, and thats exactly what we would have here. All we would need to make fuel is a large enough source of energy like a large array of solar panels.

    The second is that this fear of being hit by something big (actually a very low probability year to year) rises immensely if we do start space mining. The useful place to park a body is an outer Earth orbit but to get it there it must first be aimed directly at the Earth, then corrected as it gets close. Of course this isn't as bad as it sounds, if we have the technology to turn a rock towards Earth we should be able to stop it when it gets there to.

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  • 27. At 9:23pm on 16 Feb 2011, bhavik117 wrote:

    why not sell the ariane 5 as a carrier rocket for orion? It has a 25t capacity and was designed to be man rated, surely this is easier than designing a new stage?

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  • 28. At 11:23pm on 16 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    Bhavik117:

    The answer is simple, the US congress would never stand for it, there is no way they would sanction funding such an option, hence Astrium's willingness to join up with ATK.

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  • 29. At 01:19am on 21 Feb 2011, AllenT2 wrote:

    Jonathan Amos wrote:

    "Europeans often bemoan reliance on US systems and talk about developing an independent crew launch capability. But isn't this a rather outmoded idea? Surely, the direction in which "new space" is taking us is one where big multi-national concerns dominate, buying and selling services in ways that cut across borders and traditional government lines and ties."

    "This is true of the wider economy. Oil, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness, media - the biggest companies operate globally. They may have a HQ in a particular country but their outlook is trans-national. Silvio Sandrone told me:"

    When it comes to high tech things are handled in an obviously different manner, and rightly so. If that were not the case you would obviously have had things like the SR-71, the Space Shuttle, the F-22, and many other high tech products in foreign hands. Thankfully such highly sensitive and advanced technology will never be easily acquired by foreigners.

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  • 30. At 11:11pm on 21 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    29. At 01:19am on 21 Feb 2011, AllenT2 wrote:

    When it comes to high tech things are handled in an obviously different manner, and rightly so. If that were not the case you would obviously have had things like the SR-71, the Space Shuttle, the F-22, and many other high tech products in foreign hands. Thankfully such highly sensitive and advanced technology will never be easily acquired by foreigners.

    ---------------------------------------------------

    Absolutely, I mean the US Navy would never hand over development of an advanced weapon system to a foreign country, oh wait:

    http://www.baesystems.com/Newsroom/NewsReleases/autoGen_109116154945.html

    Well the USAF certainly wouldn't need foreign help with their new fighter, well except:

    "For specialized development of the F-35B STOVL variant, Lockheed consulted with the Yakovlev Design Bureau, purchasing design data from their development of the Yakovlev Yak-141 "Freestyle"."
    Quote from here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II#Manufacturing_responsibilities

    You really need to spend less time on flag waving and more on dealing with reality AllenT2.

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  • 31. At 00:35am on 22 Feb 2011, AllenT2 wrote:

    Mike Mullen wrote:


    "Absolutely, I mean the US Navy would never hand over development of an advanced weapon system to a foreign country, oh wait:

    http://www.baesystems.com/Newsroom/NewsReleases/autoGen_109116154945.html"

    Well the USAF certainly wouldn't need foreign help with their new fighter, well except:

    "For specialized development of the F-35B STOVL variant, Lockheed consulted with the Yakovlev Design Bureau, purchasing design data from their development of the Yakovlev Yak-141 "Freestyle"."
    Quote from here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II#Manufacturing_responsibilities

    You really need to spend less time on flag waving and more on dealing with reality AllenT2.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    What does purchasing knowledge and technology have to do with keeping completed weapons systems I mentioned from falling into foreign hands?

    You "really need to" read more carefully what people write before responding.

    As for "flag waving" I have little doubt that you do plenty of your own. Nothing wrong with that either, so long as you respect others doing it for their country.

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  • 32. At 11:44pm on 22 Feb 2011, Mike Mullen wrote:

    31. At 00:35am on 22 Feb 2011, AllenT2 wrote:



    What does purchasing knowledge and technology have to do with keeping completed weapons systems I mentioned from falling into foreign hands?

    You "really need to" read more carefully what people write before responding.

    As for "flag waving" I have little doubt that you do plenty of your own. Nothing wrong with that either, so long as you respect others doing it for their country.

    =====================================================

    Oh now it's only completed weapons systems that your counting, not the programs that have been mentioned here and in the ATV thread where the US military has turned abroad for it's needs?
    And you shown not one bit of respect for any other countries achievements so your last comment is patently ridiculous. One might hope your some Stephen Colbert type satirist making your ludicrous posts as a subtle form of humour but sadly I suspect you actually believe what you are writing.

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  • 33. At 4:39pm on 27 Feb 2011, michael wrote:

    The Liberty launch vehicle looks stupid and daft, just to have a bit of good old American engineering tacked onto it.
    Ariane 5 was built and is rated for Human Space Launches.
    Why not simply built the appropriate crew capsule to fit the top of Ariane 5 and launch it. Oh that might put another crimp in the USA's attitude of not build or invented here, if a ATV had a 7 man crew capsule added to it and it was plopped on top of the Ariane 5, well ESA could do the constructions and have a launch ready capsule is less than a year. Everything else is already there!
    Hmmm seems to me the USA is trying to re-invent the wheel but taking massive steps back.
    Personally IF I was an astronaut, I would rather be launched into orbit by ESA, Roscomos, JAXA or even the Chinese - than to trust my life to the private company trying to launch humans as cheaply as is financially viable in their business plan...

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