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Dr. Jeff Bell, Monday, 9-7-15 September 8, 2015

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Dr. Jeff Bell, Monday, 9-7-15

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Guest: Dr. Jeff Bell. Topics: Dr. Bell offered us a critique of many aspects of both the NewSpace & traditional space industry. Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm. For those listening to archives using live365.com and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience.

 

After a long absence, we welcomed Dr. Jeff Bell back to the show for a nearly 2.5 hour critique of NewSpace as well as traditional aerospace. In the first segment of our very long program, Dr. Bell started off talking about the SpaceShip2 accident and the NTSB report, then he went into a lengthy discussion about hybrid rocket motors. Later in the segment, he turned his attention to first stage recovery efforts regarding the Falcon 9, testing procedures, ground testing, and more. Jeff had much to say about these & other topics which covered the first hour of the program.

 

In the second longer segment, Jeff from Tucson was the first caller. He started off by talking about a book Dr. Bell had recommended on a previous Space Show program “Ignition.” Per our discussion, it is a free download book at http://web.gccaz.edu/~wkehowsk/ignition.pdf. Other topics in this segment included the Ranger Program, lots on cubesats as Dr. Bell questioned the usefulness of very small satellites. Later on, Dr. Bell recommended another book, this one by George Sutton, “History of Liquid Propellant Rocket Engines.” Another topic Jeff seemed to go after was what he referred to as, “NewSpace Patent Wars. He particularly zeroed in on the Blue Origin-Space X patent dispute over landing first stage rockets on a barge to achieve reusable first stages. Jeff then told how patent wars had been used over the years and he cited many different examples, including going back to Robert Goddard. Later in the segment, he suggested many of these influences were a result of the influence Silicon Valley has had on the space industry, particularly NewSpace. He then talked about booster recovery in general. Doug sent in a note asking Jeff which he preferred, the SpaceX’s propulsive recovery or ULA’s airborne recovery of just the engines. Before the segment ended, Jeff addressed Antares and the use of Russian rocket motors. More was said about cubesats, then Jeff took off on government subsidized programs. His last topic or target one might say was suborbital tourism. Don’t miss what he had to say about this part of the industry.

 

Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above.

 

Comments»

1. Kelly Starks - September 9, 2015

Welcome back to the show Dr Bell

I’ve worked as systems engineer on several programs, including the cooling and life support systems on Orion and Dream Chaser. Yes there are bad dumb engineers. The Dream Chaser program had problems from political internal political issues, political issues dealing with the customer (Can’t embarrass Virgin Galactics use of our hybrids, by dropping hybrids on our Dream Chaser, and “we” [a subdivision they bought] sold the ones that flew on SS1. So several months after NASA was talking about how Dream Chaser was switching to liquid, SNC was still directing us to do the engineering [that was submitted to NASA] based on the Hybrid which made the craft to tail heavy to land).

For the Dream Chaser they brought in a lot of new engineers, who were rather shocked at the normal processes, tests, etc that were laughed off. The leed systems engineer for the division I was working at was even bragging that one of their strengths was that they weren’t going to “waste money doing as much unnecessary testing and quality efforts as Boeing would. (Though to be fair even they shuddered over the short cuts the SpaceX did on their quality control. Tons of shinny new test equipment, but no requirements traceability, test plans, etc. Every Falcon had a slightly different configuration, with no clear record of which configuration something was developed and tested for. Musk was very derisive of all old engineering quality management and processes.)

Also, that group couldn’t understand why folks were focused on hybrids. Saying they combined all the problems of liquid and solid motors with few new advantages.

Even smart designers fumble. Rutan for example had worked on space development programs before. But someone sold him on the idea that hybrids were intrinsically safe. Just laughing gas (like at the dentist) and rubber. Then for the first time in his career folks died on a project of his.

This is what scares me about how badly we’ve gutted out aerospace in the US, specifically manned space. The knowledge base of skilled folks, and even the physical infrastructure, are being dispersed and scraped out. Even for Orion they could still rely on old Apollo era guys who remembered the details – but old engineers don’t last forever. We need new programs where newer engineers can learn the old “tribal knowledge” and mix it with new tech.

Big agree that NewSpace execs, and NewSpace advocacy fans, is they keep buying into the idea that silicon valley (or internet) management and “failing forward” are revolutionary ideas that are the Rosetta stone for developing space. Their pet guy is a techno-god. Disagree and your burned at the stake.

Always did think Musk starting with a ICBM style booster and capsule expendable – then trying to refit it to be a RLV seems nut. Its like building a dragster and then adapt it to be a pick-up truck.

Oh the Dream Chaser hull predates the Soviet version. There was a still older version developed by the Air Force flight dynamics lab. And the Air Force has developed sharp leading edges out of ultra high temp ceramic – composites. These can allow sharp, low drag, hypersonic shapes. Though why you would want to plow through the air at 4,000-5,000 mph for any distance and eat all the fuel costs, I don’t get. Might as well do suborbital, and save the effort (unless your building low altitude hypersonic missiles).

Matt - September 10, 2015

Hello Kelly, it is surprising to me that SpaceX’s launch failure did not happen earlier if I take a situation description for real, in which normal modern systems engineering methods might be not applied as necessary in that company.

2. The Space Show - September 8, 2015

Dr. Bell sent me this reading list which I am posting to the blog on his behalf:

Origins:
William Sims Bainbridge: THE SPACEFLIGHT REVOLUTION Howard E. McCurdy: SPACE AND THE AMERICAN IMAGINATION

Soviet Space:
Asif Siddiq: THE RED ROCKETS’ GLARE
CHALLENGE TO APOLLO

Space Shuttle:
John Logsdon: AFTER APOLLO
James E. David: SPIES AND SHUTTLES

Rocket Engines:
George Sutton: HISTORY OF LIQUID-PROPELLANT ROCKET ENGINES J. D. Hunley: THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROPULSION TECHNOLOGY FOR
U.S. SPACE-LAUNCH VEHICLES, 1926-1991

Steven B. Johnson: THE SECRET OF APOLLO: SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT
IN AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN SPACE PROGRAMS

Rocket Aircraft:
Dennis R. Jenkins: HYPERSONIC: THE STORY OF THE X-15 Jay Miller: THE X-PLANES – X-1 TO X-45

From runway to orbit:
T. A. Heppenheimer: FACING THE HEAT BARRIER: A HISTORY OF HYPERSONICS Chris Gibson & Tony Butler: BRITISH SECRET PROJECTS: HYPERSONICS, RAMJETS,
AND MISSILES

SSTO:
Andrew J. Butrica: SINGLE STAGE TO ORBIT (semi-official history of DC-X) Elizabeth Weil: THEY ALL LAUGHED AT CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS (Rotary Rocket)

Space Espionage:
Dino Brugioni: EYES IN THE SKY (U-2 and CORONA) Dwayne A. Day et al: EYE IN THE SKY (CORONA and ZENIT) Jeffery T. Richelson: THE WIZARDS OF LANGLEY (telemetry intelligence) Jeffrey T. Richelson: AMERICA’S SPACE SENTINELS (missile warning)

3. B John - September 8, 2015

This guest is obviously stuck in the 1960s. He doesn’t use cell phones? Because they are worse than telephones in 1965? What does that mean? I don’t understand.

Concerning rocket engines in parallel or many rocket engines, well it might be different nowadays when we have stuff like ELECTRONICS which this guest seems to be completely oblivious of.

Matt - September 8, 2015

No, Dr. Bell is not stuck in the 1960s (what would be not bad as such). That he is man, who is very interested in technology, is obviously. I assume that he is only fed up by all the life style which is associated with cell and smart phones. I would support him in this view. He may be also significant older as you, with growing age many things become less important and of interest, compared to real important, because left living time becomes smaller. In addition, he is true, my simple normal desk phone display a much better connection quality as my cell phone.

Electronics make no large difference between todays’s rocket engines and that of the sixties, important are better production technology, better materials and quality assurance methodes. Engine/combustion scheme and performance are quite the same.

Matt

4. Matt - September 8, 2015

Hello Dr. Bell, I appreciate very much your come-back. It is always very refreshing to listen to you. It is so very different to the usual not realistic, religion-like space-cadet-stuff. I wish you a sound health.

Matt


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