|Quoting DfwRevolution (Thread starter):|
1) Can we expect better launch reliability with the Ares I than the Shuttle, in terms of launch delays and faults? ECO sensors, problems with the SSME, and other Orbiter systems seemed to comprise most of the delays to the Shuttle program. Will an SRB-based vehicle change that?
I'm sure, when all is fully operational, it will be better than the shuttle. The things you mentioned can result in the truly painful and costly delays - those that can require a roleback to the VAB. But the shuttle(even before Columbia) is subject to far more weather restrictions than any other launch vehicle. You have to have good weather not only for launch but for an emergency landing, at Kennedy and several other sites around the world. The need to protect the wings, from what I understand, also makes it harder to find acceptable launch weather for the shuttle.
Far more than advertised. That's about the only thing that can be guaranteed. My guess is it would still be cheaper than the shuttle, by a pretty big margin. There is still a significant risk that it won't be built at all, and that US government sponsored manned spaceflight will end with the shuttle. Were it not for the Colombia, we would still be flying the shuttle indefinetly. Every previous attempt to replace it failed. I doubt NASA ever seriously intended the Venture Star, NASP, etc. to succeed. The CEV a better bet only because it is a lower technical risk, and the Colombia Accident Investigation Board called for the shuttle flights to end by 2010. And good riddance.
The shuttle is a white elephant, a disasterous money pit that has anchored us in low earth orbit for decades. It is a marvelous technical achievement, but then again, so was the Concorde. Niether had any use in the real world that came close to justifying their cost.
But I have no expertise in this area other than being a voracious reader, so I'd welcome knowledgeable correction. Sorry about the cynical tone, but the past history of NASA's long term plans for manned spaceflight calls for it. We space fans have been let down far to many times to keep worshiping at NASA's feet. For the money we spend, we need results or we need to spend our money elsewhere.