The Cult of The Throw Away

Robot Guy blogs on NASA's proposed new launch architecture:
They are not trying to recover the SSMEs on each launch, and would instead be building new ones every launch. At first glance, this might seem like an increased cost in comparasin to the shuttle, but that first glance would be wrong. The requirement to build a great many such engines means that production line methods can be brought to bear, decreasing the total per-unit cost. Furthermore, the current system of refurbishing engines with every launch means increased wear on each engine (reducing safety) without reducing cost, as each engine currently needs to be completely rebuilt by hand.

I've often wondered just about that. The conventional thinking with the design of the shuttle was that by creating a reusable launch system the costs of the system would reduce. In the 60's the Cult of Throw Away dominated everything. Little of any launch system designed was reusable.

Instead of costs dropping, they've increased. Now there are many other reasons why the Shuttle is a flying brick financially and not just physically, but I can't help but wonder if NASA got it all wrong right then and there with that whole assumption.

If NASA had stuck with ablative heat shields, throw away capsules and rocket technology, and instead focused on using manufacturing production line methods for increasing efficiencies and output like Six Sigma initiatives and the like would that have shown more success at reducing launch costs?

Maybe. If so that's at least one good thing about "The Stick" I hadn't thought of.

1 comment:

  1. These might make good lofters for Orion.

    Here's the CLV and Orion flying together, but not attached yet.