Feb 172013

A paragraph or so from Czysz/Bruno’s “Future Spacecraft Propulsion Systems,” where they discuss a little problem in aerospace: over the last generation or two, as our ability to collect and analyze data has increased, out actual physical progress has stalled or even slipped backwards.


I’ve been involved with the whole spectrum of aerospace… from two guys testing rocket components out of the back of a truck in a mostly-empty parking lot, to major aerospace contractors working on NASA manned vehicles. And I gotta tell ya… there was much more progress – certainly much more forward momentum – at the small end. Why? Because we *didn’t* have all the analysis hardware and software. If we wanted to know how hot something would get, we had to actually put it in the fire. In doing so, you often learned things that you would *never* learn by simulation.

At the end of a simulation run, all you’ve done is shift some electrons around, perhaps consumed a whole lot of processed tree slices, and increased the entropy of the universe. At the end of a test run, you’ve actually *built* something. If it works, you are *far* ahead of the simulator. If it didn’t… you are very likely *still* far ahead of the simulator, if you have the wit and grit to understand what went wrong and to correct it and try again.

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
  • publiusr

    Well it helps if what you are working on is rather simple. An HLLV, for example, really isn’t that different than a water tower.

    Now Venture Star, NASP or other air-breathing systems, these can eat up funds fast.

    • They can but the same principals apply! I have had the pleasure of spending time with Prof. Czysz on several occasions. The man is Brilliant and has worked on projects so black you cannot even find their names in the history books. You talk to him for an hour and it feels like you have just spent a week in the classroom. It makes your brain hurt from information overload. I love the guy!

  • Anonymous

    The late and much lamented Ladislao “Paz” Pazmany made very similar comments decades ago, long before the trend had reached its current state point of “simulation sclerosis.” It’s bad enough that the public are now convinced that electrons chasing each other inside a Cray are more real than the reality that they can see and feel (as proven by widespread belief in man-made global warming, which is entirely a figment of simulations and completely without factual corroboration), ENGINEERS and SCIENTISTS are increasingly demonstrating the same catastrophically naive belief.

  • Anyone ever heard of Space Operations, Inc. ? http://www.spaceoperationsinc.com