NASA puts a TOMBSTONE on ALL "alternative" ESAS rockets
September 1, 2007

When NASA has announced its VSE/ESAS plan two years ago, the news has "flamed" the interest of the scientific and aerospace (professional and amateur) community around the world, then, since we are in the "internet era", this new plan has produced an incredible flow of news, articles, websites, forums, blogs, etc. (to discuss or support or do critics) including suggestions and several "alternative" ESAS rockets and missions architectures.

That's also the thing I'm doing (as space enthusiast from the age of ten) publishing many articles on my website and posting opinions and comment on my ghostNASA blog and on several space forums and blogs, with my suggestions, proposals, critics, alternatives and (also) some new/different rockets and capsules designs (each just made of drawings and descriptions, since I'm not the owner of an aerospace company, with army of engineers, test facilities and, most important, very large "FUNDS"...).

Other people have proposed ideas and alternative designs on space forums and a few of them have published graphs and basic calculations about their proposals (having also the support of "friend-forums", "friend-blogs", "friend-websites" and "friend-associations") ALL them hoping to "sell" their advices, ideas and projects to NASA.

These critics and alternative-rockets' designers have increased their hope when LOTS of rumors have circulated about an "underpowered" Ares-I and an "overweigted" Orion (that still could be true, of course) that seem open the door to an alternative (more powerful) Ares-I design; hopes further reinforced when Scott "Doc" Horowitz (chief of the NASA Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, head of the Constellation Program and "father" of the SRB-based Ares-I aka "Stick") announced to resign in october "to dedicate more time to my family..." he said (a news/claim that nearly all have read as "fired").

But, in a few weeks (between june and august) NASA has put a big TOMBSTONE on ALL "alternative" ESAS rockets and on ALL forums/blogs-guys' dream to become soon a NASA adviser and suggest them "the right way" ...that happened when NASA has assigned the Ares-I contracts to ATK (for a 5-segments SRB Ares-I 1st stage) Lockheed Martin (for the Orion) Orbital Science (for the LAS) Pratt&Whitney Rocketdyne (for the J-2x and the RS-68) and (last week) to Boeing (for the Ares-I 2st stage and avionics).

That choices are like a "tombstone" on all alternatives since the ESAS rockets' R&D and hardware are very expensive and the U.S. Congress can/will give to NASA enough money to develop and build just ONE Ares-I (not two, three or more) and ONE Ares-V (not two, three or more) also, NASA seems to have not enough engineers and scientists to follow/develop many rockets or big projects at the same time.

Now that NASA has "promised" the FULL Ares-I funds ("promised" to NASA by Congress) to its main contractors (ATK, Boeing, etc.) for (at least) the next ten years will be NOT EVEN "a cent" to develop ANYTHING ELSE than ONE Ares-I and in its CURRENT design.

Some think/write (mainly on an "independent" space forum...) that in 2009 the next U.S. President could change the NASA chiefs, but, apart of the (bigger than Ares-I) problems he will face in the early years (wars, oil, economy) it's not likely he'll fire them (without any good reason) just after two years of work... however, assuming that could happen I believe that NOTHING will change about the Ares-I nor any alternative will be developed (since that would cost too much and NASA has no extra-money to spend).

Maybe... some could say (or "hope") that this Ares-I will never fly due to its bad design (that in several points I agree) but, if it's true, that will be "visible" and known ONLY in 2013-2014 when the first (complete) unmanned Ares-I should fly and reach its orbit, so IF the Ares-I will fail, the 2013's President (or the next President in his second mandate) could (or could not) decide to fire the NASA chiefs and change the ESAS plan (of course we can be sure that NASA will take all efforts to avoid that its Ares-I will fail...).

Also, I doubt that the big aerospace companies will insist to push their EELVs (Atlas and Delta) since they are the same companies that will award all ESAS contracts... and their EELVs are not powerful enough for the ESAS payloads.

The main consequence of the DEFINITIVE choice to adopt the current Ares-I design, is that every (present or future) problem to match the Ares-I power with the Orion weight, can't be solved adding more power to the Ares-I (changing its design or the full rocket) but ONLY cutting the Orion's mass in different ways (like those I suggest in this article).

Some readers of my articles and opinions (the few that LIKE my ideas and proposals and the other that "dislike" them...) could be curious to know if I will (still) publish new ideas of rockets, vehicles, etc. on my website after the NASA "tombstone"... well, my answer is "YES" (of course) since my articles are (mainly) an "intellectual game" (that I like to "play") so, I will publish new articles (also about new Ares-I designs despite I know they will never born) and I will post my opinions (about spaceships and spaceflights) here and on other forums and blogs.

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