Comments for en-gb 30 Tue 04 Aug 2015 09:47:22 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at spaceboosters This post has been Removed Sat 20 Mar 2010 21:07:54 GMT+1 callisto I went to the IGT awareness meet in London on Tuesday, to hear about this great vision in person.To say I was disappointed really doesn't say enough.Basically, the numbers being proposed appeared 'pie-in-the-sky' figures without basis in reality and, hence, doomed to failure. We have had many false dawns in the space industry in the UK over the past 20 years and the SIG would be better advised to think small and sustainable, rather than go for the throat at the outset, be considered foolish and achieve nothing.Where are these billions to come from, when the country will be paying off National debt for at least 20 years? I cannot see PPI generating so much in this area. How will the public react to this kind of spend on minimal commercial return and how do we justify this requirement for space when other 'good value' National STFC related projects (Gemini, LHC, ITER, LSO, etc) are being dropped?Where are the 100,000 jobs being created and where will apprenticeships appear from, when all efforts are in getting students to University and not into trades? Where will the facilities to house them be located?The arguments for the export markets, exponential growth in satellite size and quantity requirements and the UK's ability to lead such programmes is not borne out by reality or history (political or industrial) and is, more than likely, a fallacy. To quote Alphasat as being proof of the industry moving toward a new large capability is a nonsense - 1 unit has been sold to date.I also feel that an exclusive National strategy has no creedence when presented by a representative of a pan-European company with no corporate base in the UK (HQ in France, business centres in France, Germany & Spain). Commercial impartiality does not, in my experience, apply, where large European corporations are involved.The appearance (in my opinion) of this company at the head of the presentation was nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt by that company to propose taking a lions share of UK space funding for its own commercial gain, probably not to the UK's advantage, other than the supposed protection of jobs. It is more likely to be a protection of UK geo-return through ESA, or a cynical ploy to get the UK to train and other countries to gain.This was underlined with the presenters' statement that expertise had been given away recently and quoted the loss of propulsion and composites as two that had been lost. The fact that his employers were the company that was responsible for moving them out of UK seemed of little importance and not a little deceitful. The UK needs to have more care when choosing its representatives. The company in question selling UK space policy can be likened to Dracula working for the National Blood Donors.In future, strategic machinations would benefit more by being kept to believable levels (not sensationalist hype) and should be, at least, perceived to be independent of any non-UK commercial entity.These are my views, as I see them. They are not designed to be provocative, just realistic. If the UK has serious plans in space, it must support an independant, national capability. We should not position the UK as a subsidised training ground for dubious European behemoths. Fri 05 Mar 2010 14:05:43 GMT+1 Robert Lucien Its always the same thing, its money thats the real problem. Just imagine we (Britain) had a government that cared about science. We could scrap Trident saving at least 60 billion. We could build a reasonable small scale nuclear option - say 100 small tactical warheads based on cruise missiles, for about 1 to 2 billion. (Why should we need to be able to destroy the whole of Russia anyway?.) Then we could spend say 20 billion to have a full space program capacity and still have 40 billion left for paying the deficit.By some estimates the Iraq war cost America around 4 trillion dollars, with a rough calculation thats about 40 times the International Space Station. Before I mentioned Sea Dragon, the thing that really cancelled that program was the cost of the Vietnam war. I agree with KFVR, what we really need to do is to stop politicians choosing war so often, then we could do everything. Sat 13 Feb 2010 19:19:38 GMT+1 sky lab Mike, there is no doubt that Alan Bond is a brilliant engineer - he led (as I understand it) the work on HOTOL's propulsion system in the Eighties - there was (if I recall correctly) a UK Govt investment to support this of about £2 million. Withdrawal of support in the late Eighties - and now, two decades later, the E1M ESA support via BNSC. It should be noted that full implementation would necessitate an investment figure of £10 BILLION (Reaction's own estimate). Orders of magnitude difference - a few million R+D seedcorn funding is pretty small fry for a project of this scope.The X-43A program earlier this decade (total cost c.$200 Million) got some flight data (about half a minute's worth) at Mach 9-10 or thereabouts on three actual flights .I remember Alan Bond mentioning in his talk at the Appleton Space Conference that he had been Stateside to garner interest - it would be interesting to know what Lockheed Martin, Boeing and perhaps EADS think of his proposals. I noted at that conference that he didn't reaaly mention what US opinions were.At the end of the day, looking at what Bolden and Obama have said (and also bearing in mind the UK Space IGS) the future will be built on public/private funding partnerships rather than full Governmental investment. Sat 13 Feb 2010 13:54:36 GMT+1 Mike Mullen Sky Lab, I understand the skepticism, I too have been disappointed by past projects that promised much and didn't deliver but Reaction Engines seems to have some solid engineering and sooner or later someone is going to make a breakthrough. If it is RE lets hope we don't just hand the technology over the US the way we did with the jet engine... Sat 13 Feb 2010 12:29:20 GMT+1 Jonathan Amos Just to wade into the issues being raised by Stephen - the phrase to search for in the documents is "disruptive technologies"; as on page 10 of the summary: "UK companies are also developing disruptive manufacturing technologies, for example, Reaction Engines Ltd is developing propulsion technology for next generation 'single stage to orbit' Spaceplanes." I guess this is the phrase of the moment - "disruptive technologies". It is the same as "game-changing technologies", which is the phrase Nasa chief Charlie Bolden is using a lot. Alan Bond, MD at RE, was sitting at the back of the hall for Wednesday's launch of the S-IGS, wanting to put his views forward in the Q&A session. He never got to speak. That was a pity. Isn't the Sabre engine just the sort of thing Bolden is looking for? Surely his people will want to check it out. Fri 12 Feb 2010 21:37:12 GMT+1 KFVR We once ruled many major Nations and Territory's around the globe. If the whole of the United Kingdom did as is named and unite(perhaps also the Commonwealth?) we could have a second British Empire. A greater Empire. As we develop our space programme, with all of our population behind it, we will surpass the ESA, and if continued and concentrated on, NASA.Forget Afghanistan, forget about aircraft carriers costing millions if not more, if we set aside Terra-warfare for several years and transfer that budget to the Ministry Of Space (I like that too) we could easily do it. Once we are a strong power and contender in space, increase the MODs funding. That, combined with the MOS will prevent any worries here on Earth. In the long term it'll all be peachy.If all goes to plan... Fri 12 Feb 2010 21:13:13 GMT+1 Robert Lucien The design I was actually referring from was Sea Dragon, it wasn't nuclear, its main fuel would be RP-1 kerosine jet fuel and liquid oxygen. - would need a lot of heavy infrastructure for launch preparation but the actual launch pad was free - it was to be sea launched. Sadly I agree with you entirely on the probability of them trying a project like this for real. BTW I didn't actually say but I don't think that much of current "space" tourism either. The one method that really stands out for real space tourism as most practical is a space elevator. Someone could almost certainly build a space elevator for less money than Ares and before Ares could even get to the moon. A lot of what NASA have done is good, but at the top its always been run by people who could hardly tie their shoe laces and things have got a lot worse under Bush and Clinton. Imagine a bus company, they generally have a plan to replace the buses at the end of their lifespans - NASA couldn't even do that. I'd like to blame Bush but it was Clinton - or his government who really did it. If the X33 hadn't been cancelled it would be flying today - for half what the Shuttle costs. Short term saving Long term cost. - the mantra of today. Fri 12 Feb 2010 19:09:29 GMT+1 sky lab Robert, Mike - you both make pertinent points so I hope you don't mind my responses contained in the same posting.With respect to safety, at first glance it would seem that the arguments about mountaineering and other high-risk activities are relevant to the space tourism point I raised. However, ther are some key diffences.In terms of mountaineering, many thousands take part in climbs every weekend globally - I'm not sure on fatality rates but they are far less (by orders of magnitude) than the statistical 1 in 30 for current human spaceflight. If the comparison is then made with Everest - well, death rates are over 10% (or of that order) and people still are willing to pay many thousands to take part in a summit attempt. However, even those who "pay their way" to the highest spot on Earth have considerable mountaineering experience - it's not the case (unlike how the media portrays) that anyone with the money and no experience can just try for the summit. I feel that the entire business plan for space tourism could easily be de-railed by one passenger death (actually, more likely multiple deaths given the likely nature of any accident) due to the fact that all the vehicles proposed are experimental test craft at best.As someone who's been involved in high-altitude mountaineering and other "high-risk" activities over the past two decades my perspective is that there is a difference between intellectualising a risk factor and dealing with it emotionally when exposed to an event actually occuring. The market for potential space tourists may well be those who have the money, think they understand the 1 in 30 risk but don't fully appreciate what this means.......unless of course they come from a background of similar-risk activities or aerospace test flight. If they HAVE got either of these background, then the number who have access to the monies required is certainly not in the millions!In terms of future orbital tourism and Skylon - I would love this to happen......but I've been watching and waiting ( and been disappointed) since I did my high school leaving certificate in the mid-Eighties and to me the Skylon hype is just a case of HOTOL all over again. With respect to vehicles getting thousands as opposed to hundreds of tonnes into LEO (the whole scaling of costs) I think the times of any potential "Nova" class vehicle (as originally mooted pre- Saturn V) are well and truly over. Even if it were practical cost-wise, where would all the infrastructure for such a behemoth launching be located? Not at KSC, for sure........the necessary exclusion zone would take in most of Cocoa Beach and Titusville. Who would invest the millions/billions required for a new commercial launch facility and associated support infrastructure with the right degree of isolation and correct latitudinal location?Sorry to sound like such a naysayer! Fri 12 Feb 2010 16:18:49 GMT+1 The Realist The UK's space agency motto should be "Bolding going nowhere because we never get Space money!" Fri 12 Feb 2010 13:48:15 GMT+1 Robert Lucien Yes Sky lab space research is like an ancient oak it grows imperceptibly at a rate of one ring a year. Thats why todays designs are very slightly better than they did in the 1960's. There is a very simple equation for costs of efficiency verses payload (size) - the bigger the cheaper. In fact a technology lifting thousands of tons into orbit would cost little more than one lifting hundreds - but we actually seem to be going the other way, to one that can lift only 10's of tons. Just think how much air travel would cost if the biggest planes were jet fighters (£30,000 - 40,000 London to New York). For the same reason bigger is greener and safer as well. Thu 11 Feb 2010 23:26:17 GMT+1 Mike Mullen Sky Lab I doubt anyone is envisioning using SpaceShipTwo for launching thousands of people. A passenger module for Skylon is probably closer to the mark. Granted it would start as an umanned cargo carrier around 2020 but for the 2030 timeframe a passenger module would be attractive, especially if it could be paired with Bigelow's inflatable orbital modules. As for the desire to go, how many people die mountaineering, hang gliding, or in airplane accidents each year? And yet those markets survive.Also SpaceX's current schedule is looking at a manned Dragon being available by mid decade, first launch of Falcon 9 should happen by about April and a cargo carrying Dragon is aimed to launch by 2012. Thu 11 Feb 2010 22:56:25 GMT+1 sky lab Stephen, I don't honestly feel your second scenario with respect to human spaceflight is a starter. Consider the 500 people who have gone into space since 1961 - 18 have died during the process, and this was on human-rated vehicles. Several existing launchers for unmanned orbital payloads could not be modified for human spaceflight due to the exceeding of human safety crieria during ascent - for example, g-loads too high, potential pogo effects etc. The much-touted "revolution" in "space tourism" is more accurately a sub-orbital space theme park ride - a ballistic trajectory that may get you FAA-approved "Commercial Spaceflight" wings for having exceeded 100km (or 50 miles if you are a US citizen) but still only reaches a peak velocity of Mach 3. Considering the 7 fold increase in velocity you'd need to get to Low Earth Orbit (and hence 49+ times more kinetic energy) at the moment, up and down in a few minutes is as far as is currently realistic in the next few years. Also remember that the only prototype vehicle from the one company to achieve this was essentially a test vehicle.....and problems emerged on each flight that would deem it unoperational for commercial passenger carriage at the time.We must be careful to differentiate between the marketing hype and the reality. In the US, the proposal for COTS services to take NASA astronauts to and from station will take at least a decade to develop - and the idea that this could be commercialised to thousands of passengers visiting Earth orbiting hotels in the next twenty years is a tad optimistic. ISS has taken 10+ years to build, only now has the capability to have a permanent crew of 6 and has cost nearly $US 100 biliion (I know that there's been some project squander that could be avoided in a purely commercial venture).Couple the energy, vehicle development, human rating and ultimate risk factors and I think that orbital tourism is a no-go for the foreseeable future. If one fare-paying passenger is killed in any flight, would the rest still have the same desire to go? Thu 11 Feb 2010 18:28:52 GMT+1 SRK Stephen, it is in there, but is very much only touched upon.Page 17 of the Exec summary has a heading "Rocket Launchers" and it mentions Virgin Galactic directly and also mentions SSTO spaceplanes - which I suspect refers to Reaction Engines and their Skylon concept. I think Reaction Engines are mentioned properly in the full report, but I don't have the time at the moment to provide a reference.TBH, I think the report team didn't make a big fuss of low cost launchers exactly because it would change the space market so dramatically, and writing about space hotels would sound outlandish to the uninitiated and the skeptical. I reckon they've intentionally gone for a considered and business tone to show people that space nowadays is about mature, conventional business that makes robust profit, instead of expensive flag-waving.Nevertheless I agree low cost launch technologies is a possible proverbial ace up the UK's sleeve; it really could bring about a NewSpace revolution and it should be fully supported by the UK's space agency when it is up and running, whatever its name is. Thu 11 Feb 2010 17:01:15 GMT+1 Stephen Ashworth Have skimmed the Exec. Summary and Recommendations, but can't find any mention of the critical importance of lowering the cost of access to orbit, or the UK's leading role in this area. Must read it more carefully.So far as manned spaceflight is concerned, there are basically two scenarios for 2030: a few dozen astronauts per year venturing into orbit (last year the figure was 46) on expensive, controversial, specialist government missions, or many thousands of fare-paying passengers visiting space hotels in orbit, at a ticket price of under a million dollars a head, to marvel at the view of Earth from space and experience zero-gravity for themselves. Any space strategy for 2030 needs to take a position on this question, and again I can't find any discussion of this in the document.The document seems to think the space agency will be called the UK Executive Space Agency, thus making it look like part of ESA. On the same subject, the Department of Business Innovation and Skills has appropriated the acronym of the BIS (the British Interplanetary Society, established in 1933), which in a space context is very confusing!Stephen, Oxford Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:11:43 GMT+1 Rallister As a Robotics engineering student these announcements would come as great news. It shows the UK is serious about investing in technology and will certainly keep many skilled workers (such as myself) from leaving the UK to satisfy our ambitions. Thu 11 Feb 2010 15:03:28 GMT+1 callisto One of the main problems with the current UK arrangement is that there is no direction or leadership. Its a bunch of bureaucrats, chasing other bureaucrats around in a self-perpetuating black hole. Very inefficient and extremely frustrating for those of us trying to get some support for space innovations and put the UK in the vanguard. We (the UK) have a great deal to offer the space community in engineering, innovation, operational expertise and ground and flight services, but without solid support and unbiased guidance at the political level, not just for major corporations, but ALL those involved, we will remain a poor cousin.How about Her Majesty's Astrospace Agency (HMAA). Novel. Thu 11 Feb 2010 13:28:54 GMT+1 knowles2 It does not matter who owns the, What matters is that they have there manufactoring, design an controle, an reasearch facilities in this country employing people in this country an paying taxes.What the government needs to provides are people with the training an the skill set an some hard cash to peusuade them to come an invest in this country. Space has great protential, an we should not limit outselves to just ten percent of the market, we should aim to dominates as much of it as we can. We need knew an better ways of making money in this an the Space interest is prime real estate, especially with the British tendency to think outside of the box. An what gives the UK the biggest advantage is that we have not tide all our money into launch vehicles or the space station like our main competitors have, which means the UK should be able to be more nimble an act faster than our competitors Thu 11 Feb 2010 11:33:21 GMT+1 Wee-Scamp How many of these companies are actually British owned? Surely we've missed the opportunity already. Thu 11 Feb 2010 10:22:57 GMT+1 SRK George Osborne quote from his interview on the Andrew Marr (covered by Sophie Rayworth in this particular week) show on 31st of January:"we need a new British economic model that finds new sources of growth - exports, business investment, the private sector starting to create jobs instead of just having jobs in the public sector being created. That's what we need."Well Mr. Osborne.... I think you need to read this Space IGS Report - it might give you what you're asking for! Thu 11 Feb 2010 09:27:09 GMT+1 phuzz I think 'Ministry of Space' has a nice ring to it. Thu 11 Feb 2010 08:38:53 GMT+1