Author Topic: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200  (Read 3486 times)

Offline CFE

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Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« on: 08/09/2007 05:50 AM »
One of my favorite alternative concepts during the shuttle design studies is the Lockheed Starclipper, which eventually evolved into the LS-200.  I have wondered about certain merits of this design, though.

Because Starclipper used two smaller ET's per launch instead of one, it would probably be cheaper to develop and build the Starclipper ET's.  Starclipper also would have avoided the costs of SRB development.  A final advantage over the eventual STS would have been a more benign heating profile on re-entry.

The design did have several disadvantages compared with the eventual STS.  The propellant feed system was complex, consisting of multiple internal and external tanks.  Cross range would have likely been worse than on STS.  And the eventual LS-200 design would have relied on eleven SSME's, leading to higher complexity and greater chance of failure.

In spite of the disadvantages, I often think that LS-200 would have been NASA's best choice for a shuttle design.  There weren't any exotic technologies or technical difficulties which would prevent LS-200 from being built.  With that being said, it makes me wonder why Max Hunter would eventually abandon "stage and a half" in favor of pie-in-the-sky ideas like SSTO.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

Offline vt_hokie

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RE: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #1 on: 08/09/2007 05:55 AM »
That external tank design was crazy, but it was an interesting concept for sure.  I'd love to see what we could come up with today if the support existed for a next gen RLV.

Offline Jim

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #2 on: 08/09/2007 11:33 AM »
Again, the orbiter would be below the tanks which shed ice and debris

Offline meiza

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #3 on: 08/09/2007 11:54 AM »
The tank jettison maneuver looks risky.

Online mike robel

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #4 on: 08/09/2007 10:19 PM »
Here is my model of the Starclipper...

Offline HarryM

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #5 on: 08/09/2007 10:37 PM »
Nice model!

I always thought the Martin-Marietta "Spacemaster" was a cool proposal.

http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/spaaster.htm

Offline hyper_snyper

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #6 on: 08/09/2007 11:28 PM »
What if you had an ET like the one that's in use today but it was positioned on the other side of the vehicle?  Like in that Starclipper model above.  Standard bullet ET on the near side, almost as if the Starclippers wings are hugging it..  Launch upside down, with the TPS facing up towards the sky and the ET hanging below.  Position it as far aft as possible.  Any shed debris will fall down and away.  The wing leading edges would still be at risk though....

Offline HarryM

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #7 on: 08/09/2007 11:42 PM »
In the current design the wings are located closer to the center of the whole stack, if you can imagine flipping the shuttle around the wings would be farther away from the center of thrust/pressure. The aerodynamic loads would be more severe I would guess. You would have to have a shoulder mounted wing with no central rudder but twin rudders on the wingtips. Don't know if that shape would be viable, you'd have the fuselage hanging down below the wings, reentry might be a problem for that. Also the tank mounting points and fuel/oxidizer lines might cause some loss of the cargo area. And if the wing were shoulder mount you could not have a main spar/spars going across the cargo bay, or it would have to be a twin bay. That's my commonsense "not an aerospace engineer"  evaluation.

Offline wannamoonbase

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #8 on: 08/10/2007 12:52 AM »
The one single issue that made the shuttle so big therefore expensive was the size of the cargo bay.  If it was 25 to 33% of the current shuttle cargo by the overall size and therefore cost of the vehicle would have been easier to develop with the limited 70's budgets.  

This would have allowed them to follow some of the more interesting ideas that had to be dropped for the less exciting, but admittedly much larger STS.
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Offline Namechange User

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #9 on: 08/10/2007 01:09 AM »
Size of the orbiter and cost have very little to do with one another.  Once certain decisions were made (non-reusable TSTO, side mounted orbiter, etc) the orbiter could be half the size it is and the ops cost would still be the same.  It's the level of complexity, that drives turn around requirements, which in turn ultimately drives cost.
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Offline CFE

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Re: Lockheed Starclipper & LS-200
« Reply #10 on: 08/10/2007 05:16 AM »
Quote
meiza - 9/8/2007  5:54 AM

The tank jettison maneuver looks risky.

If the port and starboard tanks were ejected to the sides like the eventual Shuttle SRB's, I think a lot of the risk could be mitigated.

Quote
Jim - 9/8/2007  5:33 AM

Again, the orbiter would be below the tanks which shed ice and debris

Jim's criticism is inescapable with the Starclipper, or virtually any orbiter + ET shuttle concept.  My only rebuttal is to say that Starclipper would be somewhat less vulnerable to a Columbia-style accident because the leading edges have a larger bend radius and have more structure underneath to stiffen them.  Still, it's little consolation when a piece of foam that's just big enough to damage the TPS comes flying off the tank and into your orbiter.

I'd like to see what happens if you adapted the basic Starclipper concept to LOX-Kerosene.  It eliminates the eleven SSME's needed to get it off the ground, in favor of a smaller number of high-thrust LOX-Kerosene engines.  It also eliminates a lot of the foam on the ET's.

One disadvantage of Starclipper-like designs is lugging the inert mass of all your engines to orbit.  Then again, not having to retrieve any engines after the staging event probably improves your turnaround times.
"Black Zones" never stopped NASA from flying the shuttle.

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