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Skylab vs the ISS

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#1 dickbill

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 03:41 PM

Isn't there any research, or actually ANYTHING, done on the ISS that could not have been done on the Skylab?
Perhaps even on a much cheaper Salyut station and Chinese derivatives?
Why justify then the exorbitant cost of the ISS?

Is there anything less rational than to say that the ISS was designed for the space shuttle, and the space shuttle was designed for the ISS?

#2 Rick Woods

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:41 PM

CAN OF WORMS ALERT!!!

#3 The Mighty Mo

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:44 PM

:gotpopcorn:

#4 Jay_Bird

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:17 PM

Learning to build in space vs. unfold Skylab. Skylab did offer some repair experience.

Flying crews of more than 3.

Having a purpose-designed station architecture?

Otherwise, maybe not so much difference, but an assemblage of Skylab modules, if Saturn technology had been used, starts to become more like the ISS and dilute the cost difference implied in the question.

The other part of you cost question is the STS shuttle. Maybe it ate up more money than ISS?

#5 llanitedave

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:53 PM

I can't be bothered to actually, you know, look things up, but my current impression is that ISS has more electric power available than Skylab. It certainly has more docking ports, and the robot arm and truss design gives it more flexibility, I believe. That said, keeping Saturn V around and launching multiple Skylab-style modules for a single giant space station would have thrilled me no end.

#6 herrointment

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 07:03 PM

Time marches on.

#7 dickbill

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 07:30 PM

Learning to build in space vs. unfold Skylab. Skylab did offer some repair experience.

Right, but 2 Skylabs could be joined together, and also there was an Apollo/Soyuz rendez-vous and joined mission that proved that it could have been possible to assemble the big Russian Salyut stations with a Skylab: good for Assemblage technology, good for international relations, and good for cultural diversity, which certainly everybody with an open mind supports.
http://en.wikipedia....uz_Test_Project
(as opposed to US tax-payer build ISS entirely served with Russian ships because the US is flat broke)
Oh and the cost? 1 (one!) billion dollar
Program cost?
Quote from wiki:"The United States spent $245 million on Apollo-Soyuz, or $1 billion in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars.[16]"
=Peanuts, when you recall that the US is now printing 85 billions every months.

Flying crews of more than 3.

yes but it's the complexity of the iss that requires that. Otherwise, a skylab crew of 3 is more than enough.

What are we doing there anyways? growing cristals in space, not new. Breeding drosophila or worms to see how well they adapt to zero gravity? not new. What else?

Having a purpose-designed station architecture?

In the 70's it was science in zero gravity, and medicine of long flight in low or zero gravity. Anything new?


The other part of you cost question is the STS shuttle. Maybe it ate up more money than ISS?

yep

#8 Starlon

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:39 AM

First thing - Skylab was a product of the 1960's. The 'finalized' sketch, lol,drawn in felt tip pen, was in August 1966. It is amazing, the length of time back - almost half a century! So, these images may surprise the younger people who weren't even born when this 100 ton, about 12,000 cu ft space station was launched - all in one shot: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Awe6vOXURpY

Shades of 2001, A Space Odyssey.. and the comments at the link - one says: "My God, look at the size of the free space inside the station. That is HUGE." Another says.."that's such a pity. This could have advanced everything so much further forward:-(" and another: "It amazes that Skylab sometimes gets lost amid the Apollo fuss... you mention it to teens or kids now, and they have never even heard of it. Such a shame, because we did some amazing science on that space station, and learned a lot about life in weightlessness..."

Yep, big enough to run around like the guys on 2001 inside their spacecraft. Also, it was big enough to fly inside, testing the maneuvering unit.

See: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=6fqDz1r_THo

Salyut = 3,500 cubic feet.

Isn't there any research, or actually ANYTHING, done on the ISS that could not have been done on the Skylab?


Sure - but we were cheated out of the future we nearly had, more like, a LOT more like, the future people dreamed of. For instance, did you ever see a gas-turbine car.. on the street? I did. They had a few loaned out to be driven by average people: http://www.google.co...440&bih=780&...,r:4,s:0,i:93&iact=rc&page=1&tbnh=178&tbnw=274&start=0&ndsp=22&tx=175&ty=104

But - that was 50+ years ago! And of course, it was quickly stopped. IF it had been in mass production, or planned for that, the car would have been greatly refined - years ago. But, all of the things we didn't get to see and have in our everyday lives have been shunted off into oblivion. And we are living under the thumb of a 'new urbanism' multinational corporate syndicate.

It is hard to imagine how far we would have come, the technology we could have. The diseases we could have cured. The type of houses we should have built. We know how to do so very much better!!! We have been cheated... I didn't mean to get into this. It is because of the prolonged research that I wound up doing a few years ago, I was soooo incensed at what has become of our country! And having the will and the wherewithal to do so - I did. And it is like.. finding out much more than I wanted to. But I couldn't stop!

Skylab was the last gasp we had. The engineers knew it. And von Braun knew it. But - we had great plans for - ah, at least 2 bases on the Moon. One on the far side for radio astronomy. And of course Mars manned missions. But - that was because men - people in NASA & many many more, had it in their blood!! Progress!! A word not in use these days.

#9 johnsshipp

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 01:46 AM

Just watched that video. Utterly amazed. I fall into the category of young people who don't know much about Skylab. I'd heard of it but I had no idea of the size. It makes me sad to see it all wasted. I don't see how anybody could argue that a station like that could ever be less effective than the ISS. Don't get me wrong, I like the ISS too but it looks like the tubes my hamster plays in compared to Skylab.

#10 Mister T

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 06:13 AM

considering skylab is now remnants scattered across the globe...

I'd say, pretty much everything!

#11 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 09:53 AM

Yes Skylab was big, I visited the replica in the Space & Air museum in Washington.
Old ? perhaps, but keep in mind that from an engineering point of view, an old concept can still prevail over a new one. Like a bike, invented in the 18th century and powered by human muscles, is still a superior concept than a bike powered by a nuclear reactor. What would justify the extra complexity and cost of a nuclear reactor on a bike, what would be the point?
Retrofitted with new materials and computers, perhaps with an inflatable attachable module, the 'Skylab' concept of a space station serviceable with 3 men at a reduced cost, is far superior in my opinion to the overly complex ISS.
That is, unless the research done requires something as big as the ISS, which is not the case.
In fact, the same kind of research done in the 70's (physic of material, crystallization of proteins, physiology in near-zero gravity or long duration) is still carried out now. The new Chinese Salyut-equivalent stations, which are even smaller than skylab, can do that, and probably will do it, for 50 million $ instead of 400 billion $, including 'amazing videos of orbital flight' to be posted on U-Tube, if that's the goal of a space station.
The ISS is not a launch platform, it doesn't have the structural strength to do interplanetary flight and can't be converted to a space ship, it was never used to test physiology at 0.33g with the installation of a centrifuge, it was not used to test space interferometry and the flight in formation of 'flying' mirrors, and it will fall back in the ocean soon or later, an maybe sooner than later.
Its only credit is to demonstrate the technology of assemblage of dozen of elements in orbit.

#12 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 10:00 AM

considering skylab is now remnants scattered across the globe...

I'd say, pretty much everything!


No, because the launch capacity of the US remained about the same with the shuttle system than with a saturnV: about 100 tons, i.e., one skylab equivalent, if you consider the orbiter's weight plus its load. So, a modernized skylab could have been launched, serviced with Atlas/ArianeV/Hermes class vehicles.

#13 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 10:52 AM

You can't consider the orbiter's weight plus it's load. You can only consider cargo capacity.

With the upcoming SLS, the U.S. will in about a decade have the capacity to launch payloads greater than the Saturn V could, by about 12 tons. The BlockII SLS should have about 130 ton capacity to Low Earth Orbit, whereas the Saturn V could launch 118 tons.

It could not only launch habitats bigger than Skylab, thanks to ISS we now have a better knowledge of how to assemble them and how to use cranes and robotics in space. We also have Bigelow Aerospace designing inflatable modules that could be used as large-volume addons to a solid base module.

I don't think we should really look at it as a Skylab vs ISS kind of thing. Both are transitional steps toward allowing us to do practical work in space. Neither should be the final word. If we can get various governments off their respective duffs, (and the citizens that are supposed to motivate and judge them), we can continue to make progress in that area, and end up doing something useful.

#14 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:24 AM

You can't consider the orbiter's weight plus it's load. You can only consider cargo capacity.

The modification was proposed to make the shuttle (plus cargo) as the entire payload.

With the upcoming SLS, the U.S. will in about a decade have the capacity to launch payloads greater than the Saturn V could...

yes, it Will.

It could not only launch habitats bigger than Skylab, thanks to ISS we now have a better knowledge of how to assemble them and how to use cranes and robotics in space.

I wasn't clear enough: we don't need such big stations because the science done in there is the same science that can be done in a much smaller and cheaper Salyut station, and cost is part of the engineering design.

We also have Bigelow Aerospace designing inflatable modules that could be used as large-volume addons to a solid base module.

Most likely for recreative space for billionaires. or Mars.

I don't think we should really look at it as a Skylab vs ISS kind of thing. Both are transitional steps toward allowing us to do practical work in space...

What 'practical work', specifically?

If we can get various governments off their respective duffs

unlikelly,

(and the citizens that are supposed to motivate and judge them)

unlikelly, 50 millions americans on food stamps and possibly more if we consider a major financial crisis is still very possible. .

we can continue to make progress in that area, and end up doing something useful.

The way forward...circularly.

#15 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:29 AM

Put that into your equation:

from Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia....istance_Program

In the 2012 fiscal year, $74.6 billion in food assistance was distributed.[4] As of September 2012, 47.7 million Americans were receiving on average $134.29 per month in food assistance.[4] More than 15% of the U.S. population receive food assistance



#16 Jay_Bird

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 12:28 PM

Well back in the Mercury-Gemini-Apollo “good old days” a LOT of things were different in terms of wages, middle class share of economy, and much bigger societal issues. There were a few wars in the mix too. There’s a LOT more that’s changed than food stamp statistic ‘talking points’.

The seldom-discussed economic background of Apollo was the dividend from the 1950’s that we spent in the 1960’s. “Ike” left “JFK” a nearly balanced budget (and tax rates 50% to 100% greater than present) and a top-secret surprise: there was no “bomber gap” or “missile gap” with the Soviets. We knew that thanks to Ike’s push to know what we were up against and the dedication of the Lockheed “skunk works” making the U-2 and pilots like Francis Gary Powers. The Red threat hyped in press political coverage was more of a “Potemkin Village” bluff, but we couldn’t say we knew that let alone how we knew that.

JFK also learned as President that we had rocket technology which had started slow during IGY, but was building speed with plans laid out conceptually through Saturn rockets to the Moon and Mars. Instead of spending billions on desparate defense catch-up as anticipated, we spent billions – when billions were bigger – back then at up to 4% of GDP for the race to the Moon. JFK deserves great credit for having the vision to use this technical and financial dividend for Apollo as an inspiring scientific and technological quest. He saw the potential in manned space flight for inspiration; while Ike supported the technology development and the first artificial satellites, he was skeptical that pushing harder with manned missions could become a series of 'stunts'.

For decades since Apollo, NASA was lucky to get 1% of GDP. I’d love to see a national STEM program that brought NASA back up to ½ of the Apollo era funding – making a “2% for space STEM” commitment – but that’s just adding another political digression to this thread.

I remember my chagrin at learning from my dad that the cool MOL "manned orbital laboratory" – one of the more memorable grade-school plastic model kits I purchased with chore money – had never been launched. MOL was a Gemini-Titan space station plan, much as Skylab was an Apollo-Saturn program. There were also ideas for unmanned or manned 'space tugs' in the Skylab and STS/ISS eras, maybe with MOL too, that were never built as orbital transfer vehicles.

Now I can at least take a little consolation that all technical development is never entirely wasted – it builds a knowledge foundation for future use, as we now see in ISS and plans for Falcon 9 Heavy, SLS Heavy Lift, Orion, Antares, even the private lifting body ISS supply and crew vehicle effort (dream chaser? – it’s about the same as NASA/USAF test vehicle at start of old 6 Million Dollar Man show, or an updated Dyna-Soar from MOL), etc. Astronaut Garriot wrote a book about his solar observations from Skylab –and I think what his crew learned about working in space, including going on “strike” against micro-management from the ground, applies every day to ISS. Now we also have a fleet of solar observatories in orbit that are beyond Skylab dreams.

#17 David Knisely

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 02:19 PM

considering skylab is now remnants scattered across the globe...

I'd say, pretty much everything!


No, because the launch capacity of the US remained about the same with the shuttle system than with a saturnV: about 100 tons, i.e., one skylab equivalent, if you consider the orbiter's weight plus its load. So, a modernized skylab could have been launched, serviced with Atlas/ArianeV/Hermes class vehicles.


No, it was not the same, because payload is what has to be considered here only. The Space Shuttle had a limited lifting capacity of about 25 metric tons to low-earth orbit. The volume of the payload bay was also limited to 18 meters long by 4.5 meters in width. The Saturn V could put up to 120 tons in low Earth orbit, with a much wider payload width (6.6 meters in the case of Skylab's main section). However, a lot of the volume of Skylab was basically wasted, as it was just empty space where the astronauts could just float around (Skylab was built from an unused 3rd stage of the original Saturn V (SIV-B)). Skylab weighed-in at around 77 metric tons, so it would be beyond the lifting capacity of the Atlas V (30 metric tons maximum) and the Ariane 5 (21 metric tons), or even the proposed Falcon Heavy (53 metric tons). In any case, if you want to do experiments in orbit for cheap, it would make more sense to just use SpaceX's "Dragonlab" rather than build an entire station just to let astronauts do the experiments (unless you still want to do some really long-duration medical experiments as a prelude to manned flights to Mars). So much of ISS is just political policy driven rather than science driven, although there is some useful science coming out of ISS. Clear skies to you.

#18 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 04:31 PM

[quote name="dickbill"][quote]You can't consider the orbiter's weight plus it's load. You can only consider cargo capacity.[/quote]
The modification was proposed to make the shuttle (plus cargo) as the entire payload.
[/quote]
Which would have required the development of a completely new spacecraft. The shuttle was not designed to be a space station, although it could conduct a few of the same functions using carry-on modules. But to build a craft for long-term space residency and work, you'd need a dedicated facility, which the Space Shuttle was not. So your development costs would still be very high -- I'm not sure what the claimed advantages were.

[quote]
[quote]It could not only launch habitats bigger than Skylab, thanks to ISS we now have a better knowledge of how to assemble them and how to use cranes and robotics in space.[/quote]
I wasn't clear enough: we don't need such big stations because the science done in there is the same science that can be done in a much smaller and cheaper Salyut station, and cost is part of the engineering design.
[/quote]
If that's true, why were the Russians willing to sacrifice Salyut for the ISS? More capability is going to require a larger facility, it's as simple as that. The Keck telescope can't use a backyard shed.

[quote]
[quote]We also have Bigelow Aerospace designing inflatable modules that could be used as large-volume addons to a solid base module.[/quote]
Most likely for recreative space for billionaires. or Mars. [/quote]
Among other things. The point is that it can be used by many, for many different purposes. Combined with an economical launch system, it might become practical for research institutions or universities to conduct experiments there.

[quote]
[quote]I don't think we should really look at it as a Skylab vs ISS kind of thing. Both are transitional steps toward allowing us to do practical work in space...[/quote]
What 'practical work', specifically?
[/quote]

Two things that come to mind without much thinking are manufacturing and as a refueling stop for reusable vehicles. A space station could be part of a tank farm that holds extras such as RP-1, methane, hydrogen, and LOX. Maybe even spare nitrogen and helium to re-pressurize depleted propellant tanks. For manufacturing you could fit a decent-sized furnace that might allow forays into material science that hasn't been done yet. You could combine a centrifuge that provides high G forces with a microgravity station to do types of processing that have never been done.

And there's the classic "way station" model that supports vehicles travelling to the Moon, Mars, or the asteroids. Passengers and supplies can launch to the space station, a craft from one of the remote destinations can rendevouz (using aerobraking in the upper atmosphere for the primary deceleration), and then restock and head out again. This way you can develop true space ships that spend their entire careers off-planet.

None of these are new ideas, and none of these have been tried and proven impractical. We just haven't attempted them. Now, the ability to do so is getting closer.

[quote]
[quote]If we can get various governments off their respective duffs[/quote]unlikelly, [quote](and the citizens that are supposed to motivate and judge them)[/quote]unlikelly, 50 millions americans on food stamps and possibly more if we consider a major financial crisis is still very possible. .
[/quote]
Unfortunately, you're probably right that it's unlikely. But to use poverty as a reason for a lack of social and governmental will is completely wrong-headed. The lack of will itself is wrong-headed. Space exploration has never been a drain on society or the economy, it's been a benefit. General cuts in space presence have never resulted in greater prosperity or less poverty.

That's true for scientific research across the board. Cutting off your hands never allows you to reach for better things, and it doesn't reduce your calorie consumption very much either.

#19 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 05:38 PM

Refueling spaceships, maybe. But the Reference design missions to Mars don't make any use of the ISS.
You have a good point about an interplanetary 'shuttle' though.

#20 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 07:38 PM

I'm not really impressed with the "reference design missions" to Mars. Those aren't much more than flag and footprints missions, a glorified Apollo.

And you're right, the ISS is not the proper staging point for any deep space mission. It would have to be a space station designed with that function in mind, in the proper orbit for it. The ISS orbit is too high an inclination, a concession to Russian participation.

The ISS is a learning tool. If we get a station with better capabilities, at that point I wouldn't mind seeing the ISS retired.

#21 dickbill

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 08:15 PM

The ISS orbit is too high an inclination, a concession to Russian participation.

why, because their tracking stations on the ground can't follow equatorial orbit?

#22 llanitedave

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Posted 09 December 2013 - 11:39 PM

The ISS orbit is too high an inclination, a concession to Russian participation.

why, because their tracking stations on the ground can't follow equatorial orbit?


No, so their Soyuz vehicles can launch to it from Baikonur at a latitude of about 46 degrees N.

#23 dickbill

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 09:36 AM

OK.
Why is it bad to be in a high inclination?

#24 llanitedave

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 01:03 PM

OK.
Why is it bad to be in a high inclination?



If you're observing Earth, it's fine. If you're hosting craft going out and returning from other solar system bodies, it's a bit of a problem because you're off the plane of the ecliptic. Your energy gain and geometry are less than optimal.

#25 buddyjesus

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Posted 17 December 2013 - 12:23 AM

smaller has been done. they will experiment with bigger. I would love to see a space elevator in my lifetime too. *fingers crossed*






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