Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, October 01, 2005

  The Stick

Google and NASA have teamed up. At one level I figure this is a PR compatible way for NASA to get rid of some excess space.

At a second level I've been remembering Saturn V (from the official histories, I wasn't even born before the vital design decisions had been made) and thinking about what some in the community call "the Stick". Maybe I'll have time to write that up... but the key observation:

For 5B dollars NASA proposes to develop a new manned vehicle for a shuttle replacement.

Invested at 6% interest, that would be 300m a year.

The Russians are selling manned flights to all comers for 60 million dollars each, or at 20 mil a head. (at, so far as anyone can tell, a profit). America could buy 5 3-man flights a year and we could keep flying, every year, even through the standdown period of 2010-2014.

And that's without ever touching the principal!

The frequency of flights (basically doubling the current pace) would lead to a natural rescue mode - with a monthly rocket on the pad.

The biggest problem with finishing the station and having that use rate is we have yet to get the biggest parts up there, and at the moment - it's safe to fly a shuttle up - if, not necessarily, down, again.

Maybe we could up the 5B as a prize to anyone that can make a spaceship operational, in the US, at a cost per flight of less than that. Or, just give up on manned capability for now, and offer that 5B up as a prize to anyone that can develop a heavy lifter that's worth a damn in the next decade.

Lastly...

I most ferverently hope that someone from google goes down to whatever Marshall Center subbasement the Saturn V plans are stored in, scans the microfiche, and puts them on the web.

The more educated the debate is the better.
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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