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Aerospace Fundemental disadvantages of traditional rockets

  1. Apr 24, 2010 #1
    What are the fundemental disadvantages to traditional rocket designs, such as the Ares (1 and 5), Saturn 5, Delta series, etc?

    So far I've come up with incompatibilities with existing airport infrastructure and a partial or total lack of reusibility (what parts are reusable need to be fished out of the ocean).

    Especially in comparison to something like the skylon or some other advanced spaceplane, can anyone think of other disadvantages, or just disadvantages in general? I'm not very knowledgable in this subject. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2010 #2
    Rockets require a tremendous amount of fuel.
  4. Apr 24, 2010 #3
    Rockets like to explode. Exploding very expensive payload is bad.
  5. Apr 25, 2010 #4
    So they are fundementally unsafe?
  6. Apr 25, 2010 #5
    I wouldn't say that. Is anything 'safe'? A car isn't. It's a matter of reliability, i.e., how does it's statistics of successful to unsuccessful launches compare (I think it's pretty low).
  7. Apr 26, 2010 #6


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    Staff: Mentor

    Disadvantages compared to what and for what purpose? Why is incompatibility with airports relevant? Rockets aren't airplanes.
    Well spaceplanes in the traditional sense don't exist, so I'm not sure that is a reasonable basis for comparison either.
  8. Apr 27, 2010 #7
    True, but for space travel to become more common, having launch systems that are mostly compatible with existing infrastructure would be very helpful.

    With the current development of the SABRE engine that might finally change in the next 10 years. Right now it's more of a thought experiment (yet another one of my infamous thought experiments :P).
  9. Apr 27, 2010 #8
    Why should space travel be more common, where do you plan on going?
  10. Apr 27, 2010 #9

    Any number of reasons. One immediate thing I can think of is the ability to go into orbit to drasticly cut travel times on long distance flights. Unless you're ok with 14+ hour flights across the Pacific. And really, who is to say there aren't plenty of opportunities for economic expansion? Why can't we use the natural vacuum of space (or the moon for that matter) to fabricate materials that would be so easily done on Earth? What about R&D? Somehow, sometime, somewhere, an entrepreneur will see an opportunity and make a fortune out of it. It's happened in other endevours and it will happen again in space.
  11. Apr 27, 2010 #10
    Eventually. But I agree.
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