If you're a company executive, maybe don't piss off everybody in your industry (and Congress) (and the military)



  • This article is pretty amazing.

    Brett Tobey, an executive with United Launch Alliance (the company that launches the US military's GPS satellites, notably), gave a talk to the University of Colorado, and used it to totally badmouth-- well as the article says, pretty much everybody involved in the aerospace industry. He was forced to resign the next day.

    (He's also kind of an idiot. The extra fuel used to soft-land boosters is such a tiny fraction of the total fuel load that it's well-worth being able to refurbish the booster. Remember, to land the booster SpaceX not only runs 1/9th of its rocket output and literally the smallest throttle position possible, but even has to pulse that to prevent there from being too much thrust. And while ULA has a "plan" to recover the booster, the most expensive component, they've never bothered actually developing or trying it.)



  • Wow. That guy is...an idiot of the highest degree.

    "Yeah, we had this bid rigged and then had to pull out."




  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    [QUOTE]He described a system where the engines would be jettisoned after firing and parachute back down toward earth, but would be recovered by helicopters before they hit the ocean. Then, it would be fairly inexpensive to re-use the engines in another rocket.[/quote]

    I can only imagine the reason this has not been tried is because every helicopter pilot they've ever asked about it has stared at them dumbfounded for a few moments before replying:

    "So let me get this straight. You want to drop a 12000lb rocket engine on a parachute and to grab it with a helicopter before it lands. This means you need a helicopter that can carry 12000lbs. That's a Skycrane or CH-47, minimum. And you want to catch a falling object with one of the biggest, fattest, slowest helicopters on the planet... Without crashing into a parachute big enough to make a negligible dent the fall of a 12000lb rocket engine. And then you want to drag a rocket engine with attached mega-drag-inducing parachute, because the only reasonable place to grab it is going to be the damned parachute, all the way from out in the goddamned middle (YMMV on middle) of the ocean to a land-based LZ? Or are you also going to want to put it down on the ship the helicopter took off from?

    You do realize it would be cheaper and safer to just land the fucking rocket, right? And you'd only have to do that R&D once - it ain't hard, computers are a thing now, ya know, and not put pilots at insane risk every time you want to do the stunt. I hear there's this Tony Stark guy who's nearly cracked it. Dude also owns a car company, and a solar panel company, oh, and Skynet too."



  • I thought about that too. You either have a huge engine that almost no helicopter can carry, much less catch. Or you have the SpaceX arrangement where you have 9 reasonably small engines, but you have to catch all 9 simultaneously. Chinooks ain't slow, really, but they're not sports cars, either. They're big and have a lot of inertia. (Actually Wiki says they were the fastest helicopter in the US military's fleet when initially built back in the 60s.)

    Both variations sound ridiculous.

    BTW, Chinooks? Best helicopter ever made? Boeing. Natch.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    Senator asks Pentagon to investigate “troubling” launch contracts

    "But... we saw it as a cost shootout between us and SpaceX. So now we're going to have to figure out how to bid these things at a much lower cost."

    Translation: "Oh, ■■■■! Now we have to learn how to compete." The rage-cry of incumbent companies everywhere.

    ULA had a government-enforced monopoly, and this is a perfect example of the result: fat, slow, and stupid.



  • Do expended rocket boosters float? Alternatively, can we attach a sufficient volume of self-inflating balloons?



  • @PleegWat said:

    Do expended rocket boosters float?

    Those for the Space Shuttle did.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    Yes, they float. BUT, while this worked fine for the shuttle's SRB's, they were reusing the casings of solid rocket boosters (which have all the mechanical complexity of a cardboard Estes model rocket motor), not liquid engines.

    Salt water does unfortunate things to hot metal. Salt water does unfortunate things to fine pitch components. Freshly used liquid rocket engines are both very hot and have a lot of fine pitch components, and are effectively destroyed instantly upon immersion.



  • @Weng said:

    this worked fine for the shuttle's SRB's, they were reusing the casings of solid rocket boosters (which have all the mechanical complexity of a cardboard Estes model rocket motor)

    And I think I heard once that reusing them wasn't really cheaper than building new ones.



  • This gave me joy, you get cookies!



  • Oh, and no matter how much you slow it down with a parachute, it's still a near constant velocity when the helicopter "catches" it. That's thud is not going to be scary at all....

    Inertia, bitches!


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    The solution is obviously to attach another booster rocket to the helicopter.



  • What's really amazing - this wasn't some closed-room meeting between executives that somebody managed to get a recorder into. He just openly said all of this stuff in front of a bunch of random college students! undefined


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said:

    You either have a huge engine that almost no helicopter can carry, much less catch.

    Oh, ye (and @Weng) of little faith. Just get a big net and put a helicopter at each corner of the net.



  • That would work if the helicopters were actually CombinersTM TransformersTM



  • @ufmace said:

    He just openly said all of this stuff in front of a bunch of random college students!

    Most of whom probably didn't have sufficient life experience to realize what a undefined it was. Fortunately, somebody did.


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