Author Topic: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?  (Read 11278 times)

Offline Jim

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #20 on: 03/17/2013 11:24 AM »

I've often heard it said that the Shuttle and craft with payloads as large as it could lift aren't militarily useful. 

Unsubstantiated and totally wrong.  How come another launch system (Titan IV) was created with the same performance and cargo size capabilities?
« Last Edit: 03/17/2013 11:26 AM by Jim »

Offline Jim

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #21 on: 03/17/2013 11:33 AM »
1.  This would be a good question for Jim: "Why were the shuttles never retro-fitted with autopilots after the Challenger disaster?" If the Soviets could have one on their shuttles, why couldn't the US match that safety feature? 

2. Well as I recall we did use the Shuttle for at least a half dozen or more classified military payloads in the 1980s.  That had to spook the Soviets, given how much they distrusted us.  Heck, they thought we were about to do a nuclear surprise attack on them in 1983 during Operation Able Archer. 


1.  Because the retrofit with systems dealing with payload ops was too intensive.  Anyways, the shuttle was banned from launching anymore commercial payloads and DOD left after the backlog was launched, so all that was left were basically payloads that needed man tending like Spacelab and Spacehab and ISS.

2. Not really. 

Online Hyperion5

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #22 on: 03/18/2013 06:45 PM »

I've often heard it said that the Shuttle and craft with payloads as large as it could lift aren't militarily useful. 

Unsubstantiated and totally wrong.  How come another launch system (Titan IV) was created with the same performance and cargo size capabilities?

Actually Jim, can't the Shuttle actually out-lift the Titan IV to LEO by about 3 mt?  Getting away from the faults of my memory, isn't the very nature of the shuttle stack problematic for flinging substantial satellites up to geosynchronous orbit?  If I had wanted to launch a 5700 kg DoD satellite up to GSO, I could have done it in one launch with the Titan IV.  I'm not so sure that's the case with the shuttle, which besides its design causing problems, is also much higher cost than even the Titan IV.  At the very least the Soviets wouldn't have had aproblem with the layout.  If they had wanted to stick a 20 mt satellite into GSO, the Energia rocket could have done it rather than Buran.  So once again in terms of military utility, the Energia stack would by its very layout be much easier to use than STS. 

--

On another subject, I just was reading that Gorbachev expressly forbade the military from testing the Polyus in orbit.  It seems he feared the US would interpret it as the weaponizing of space.  I would have to agree with that assessment, as I imagine a few Polyus anti-SDI weapons platforms would begin to alter the balance of power in orbit.  Anyone know what kind of effective range a laser like the Polyus carried had? 
« Last Edit: 03/18/2013 06:46 PM by Hyperion5 »

Offline Jim

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #23 on: 03/18/2013 06:58 PM »

Actually Jim, can't the Shuttle actually out-lift the Titan IV to LEO by about 3 mt?  Getting away from the faults of my memory, isn't the very nature of the shuttle stack problematic for flinging substantial satellites up to geosynchronous orbit?  If I had wanted to launch a 5700 kg DoD satellite up to GSO, I could have done it in one launch with the Titan IV.  I'm not so sure that's the case with the shuttle, which besides its design causing problems, is also much higher cost than even the Titan IV.  At the very least the Soviets wouldn't have had aproblem with the layout.  If they had wanted to stick a 20 mt satellite into GSO, the Energia rocket could have done it rather than Buran.  So once again in terms of military utility, the Energia stack would by its very layout be much easier to use than STS. 


The shuttle LEO requirement was based on carrying an upperstage for higher energy orbits and the requirement was for the orbiter structural design.  There wasn't a payload that would remain in LEO at that weight.  The 32klb VAFB requirement actually was the performance driver.  That capability translated to KSC would be around 78klb to LEO.

As for the Soviets, they would have used Proton instead.
If NASA wanted to put 20 mt satellite into GSO, they could have used many of the SDV designs out there.

Online Hyperion5

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #24 on: 03/22/2013 03:51 PM »

I've often heard it said that the Shuttle and craft with payloads as large as it could lift aren't militarily useful. 

Unsubstantiated and totally wrong.  How come another launch system (Titan IV) was created with the same performance and cargo size capabilities?

Actually Jim, can't the Shuttle actually out-lift the Titan IV to LEO by about 3 mt?

The Titan IV could carry any DoD payload the shuttle could. That was pretty much the driving design requirement for it. Any difference in *gross* payload capacity was not relevant to DoD.

That reminds me, if we're comparing the military utility of the STS & Energia stacks, it seems like the Energia was far more militarily useful than STS.  I guess that would make sense, because if a STS cargo variant were built, the Energia stack would still be more capable.  I'm curious as to how hard it would be to convert the Energia to an inline configuration vs the STS being converted/STS hardware being used to build SLS.  Surely it would have been far easier to convert the Energia, no?  Given the rocket engines are already on the central core, surely modifying the core's tank wouldn't have been that hard? 

---

On to the subject of reusability.  The STS is obviously the best-known example of a partially reusable LV.  The Energia in the beginning was purely expendable, though its booster engines were built to be reused 10 times.  There was talk of later converting its Zenit boosters with parachutes and some sort of landing system into reusable boosters.  How exactly was that supposed to have worked?  Also, I've seen the plans for the Energia Uragan, which turned the core of the Energia into something resembling a rocket with a delta wing.  How practical was that design, and could it really have been reused just like the shuttles it would carry? 

Offline carmelo

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #25 on: 03/22/2013 04:28 PM »
Quote
But a US version of Energyia/Buran probably would have been cheaper

This?


Offline Archibald

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #26 on: 03/22/2013 05:39 PM »
Even closer from Energia: the MSC-042 shuttle. An orbiter without any engine, and a Titan III-L in the role of Energia.  :)
That logarithm in the rocket equation is rather annoying...

Offline fregate

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #27 on: 03/24/2013 07:07 AM »
Smithsonian Air & Space Museum has on display at least 20+ scales models of various STS design options. 
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Offline Archibald

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #28 on: 03/24/2013 09:00 AM »


(from the secret projects forum)

Picture of the MSC-042 shuttle. Unlike Energia the Titan III-L had no monolithic hydrogen core but two hypergolic stages. As such the orbiter had to go on top of stage 2. This thing would have had serious control issues...
That logarithm in the rocket equation is rather annoying...

Offline Lobo

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #29 on: 03/30/2013 04:26 AM »
If I had wanted to launch a 5700 kg DoD satellite up to GSO, I could have done it in one launch with the Titan IV.  I'm not so sure that's the case with the shuttle, which besides its design causing problems, is also much higher cost than even the Titan IV.  At the very least the Soviets wouldn't have had aproblem with the layout.  If they had wanted to stick a 20 mt satellite into GSO, the Energia rocket could have done it rather than Buran.  So once again in terms of military utility, the Energia stack would by its very layout be much easier to use than STS. 


I think the Titan Iv stack actually got up as expensive as STS, or close to it.  Which is why it was retired and replaced with the EELV program. 

This is Wikipedia, so for whatever it's worth, it said the Titan 401A that exploded in [1998] cost $1.4 billion.  I'm sure the flights after that must have cost similar.  That's right in the range of STS launches, if not more expensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_IV

And yea, especially with a hydrogen upper stage (did the Soviets even have hydrogen upper stages?  I think the RD-0120 on the core of Energia was their first hydrogen engine in production) Energia would have gotten a lot to GTO or escape.  With a kerolox upper stage it would have been less, but I'm still thinking it's have been pretty capable?

I suppose the question though, was there any or many payloads that big  that needed to get to GTO or escape?  Did they have anything they couldn't just have done with Proton?
Even if it was cheaper than STS (and I don't know that it was), it would have been a very expensive system for launching non Buran payloads.  Four Zenit boosters, a big core with four RD-0120's, and external payload carrier, and an upper stage.  It'd have been a pretty spendy stack compared to Proton...and it would have been in addition to maintianing Proton unless they were going to retire Proton and just have Energia, Zenit and Soyuz?

Although, in reality, they probably could have retired Proton, and used Zenit instead.  It didn't have the performance, but...but two or three of them together, and you have Proton and more.  And Zenit was supposed to replace Soyuz, but that went away with the fall of the soviet Union.

But, if Energia/Zenit had been kept, and Soyuz and Proton had been retired, and if the Soviet Union hadn't fallen apart just then, then Energia/Zenit/Buran could have possible lived as the main system for the Soviets to cover their launching requirements.
Would have been interesting if that'd happened.  Might have been good for them to develop two versions of the Energia core, a side mount one for Buran (once Buran was designed to launch side mount, I don't think it could have been modified to launch axially) and an in-line version for cargo launching.  Of course, NASA toyed with doing that for a long time and never did...so who knows if the Ruskies would have had the money to do it, even if they were -only- maintaining a Buran orbiter or two, the Energia core, and the Zenit boosters (and appropriate upper stages). 
Still, Energia as it was would have been a lot like side-mount SDHLV, and a pretty capable HLV in it's own right...just more limited than an in-line version.  So it would have been probably capable enough they might have not have needed an inline version. 


Offline savuporo

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #30 on: 03/30/2013 04:41 AM »
Looking at the bottom line, counting dead bodies and billions wasted, its pretty obvious which system was "superior"
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Offline Lobo

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #31 on: 03/30/2013 04:49 AM »


(from the secret projects forum)

Picture of the MSC-042 shuttle. Unlike Energia the Titan III-L had no monolithic hydrogen core but two hypergolic stages. As such the orbiter had to go on top of stage 2. This thing would have had serious control issues...

Yea, that was an interesting concept by Martin Marietta, but by stretching the core and modifying it to mount four SRB's, I think it might have been defeating the purpose of cost sharing with the Titan III program.  Unless the Titan III-L would be used by the USAF as a heavier version of the Titan III that would have existed instead of the eventual Titan IV. 

Dunno if it would have had stability issues or not, but the cost sharing was in the right direction, rather tahn all brand new hardware like STS ended up using.

But, there's lots of better ways to go than STS did, with some foresight/hindsight.

Offline Lars_J

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #32 on: 03/30/2013 05:19 AM »


(from the secret projects forum)

Picture of the MSC-042 shuttle. Unlike Energia the Titan III-L had no monolithic hydrogen core but two hypergolic stages. As such the orbiter had to go on top of stage 2. This thing would have had serious control issues...

That link is not working... Or do you have to be logged on to their server to see it?

For this reason it would be better if you attach the image to a post directly. Link usually go bad after a while.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #33 on: 03/30/2013 05:35 AM »


(from the secret projects forum)

Picture of the MSC-042 shuttle. Unlike Energia the Titan III-L had no monolithic hydrogen core but two hypergolic stages. As such the orbiter had to go on top of stage 2. This thing would have had serious control issues...

That link is not working... Or do you have to be logged on to their server to see it?

For this reason it would be better if you attach the image to a post directly. Link usually go bad after a while.

This link should work.

http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld036.htm


Online Hyperion5

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #34 on: 03/30/2013 06:14 AM »
Looking at the bottom line, counting dead bodies and billions wasted, its pretty obvious which system was "superior"

I assume you mean that the STS was the greater waste and thus the curtailed Energia program was "superior" in that it didn't waste any cosmonaut lives or nearly as much money?  I'm willing to bet the Energia design would have been less costly to fly than the STS stack had the US been given the choice of flying either option. 

At the very least the Soviets' shuttle did not have to fly manned until their system had proven itself.  I'm still astounded to this day that the first Shuttle flight was manned.  Had the Soviets suffered a disaster like Challenger, I'm very confident their ability to fly unmanned would have been immensely beneficial. 

If I had wanted to launch a 5700 kg DoD satellite up to GSO, I could have done it in one launch with the Titan IV.  I'm not so sure that's the case with the shuttle, which besides its design causing problems, is also much higher cost than even the Titan IV.  At the very least the Soviets wouldn't have had aproblem with the layout.  If they had wanted to stick a 20 mt satellite into GSO, the Energia rocket could have done it rather than Buran.  So once again in terms of military utility, the Energia stack would by its very layout be much easier to use than STS. 

I think the Titan Iv stack actually got up as expensive as STS, or close to it.  Which is why it was retired and replaced with the EELV program. 

This is Wikipedia, so for whatever it's worth, it said the Titan 401A that exploded in [1998] cost $1.4 billion.  I'm sure the flights after that must have cost similar.  That's right in the range of STS launches, if not more expensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_IV

Actually, if that was 1.4 billion dollars in 1998, it would have for sure been more expensive than STS.  I remember reading that if you added all costs into a shuttle launch, it averaged to 1.5 billion in 2011 dollars.  That is definitely less money, inflation-adjusted, than 1.4 billion in 1998. 


And yea, especially with a hydrogen upper stage (did the Soviets even have hydrogen upper stages?  I think the RD-0120 on the core of Energia was their first hydrogen engine in production) Energia would have gotten a lot to GTO or escape.  With a kerolox upper stage it would have been less, but I'm still thinking it's have been pretty capable?

No, they didn't have hydrolox upper stage engines by the late 1980s, but they did apparently have them on order to be designed. They might have used kerolox engines on any Vulkan upper stage at first, but the Soviets were already ordering the development of a 10 tf hydrolox upper stage engine back in 1988 (http://www.russianspaceweb.com/rd0146.html).  Had they gotten a Vulkan into the air, the superb RD-0146 family would have been the top choice for its upper stage.  Thus the Vulkan family would have been roughly their equivalent of the SLS Bloc II.   

As for hydrolox engines in general, the RD-0120 was the first sizable hydrolox engine the Soviets did, and apparently its development went very smoothly in contrast to the RD-170 engine's.  Looking at their design, I think you could make an interesting case that on a cost-adjusted performance basis, the RD-0120 might just be better than an SSME.  It also was more versatile, since it can throttle down to 45% rather than only 65%.  http://www.astronautix.com/engines/rd0120.htm


A quick comparison:

AKA: RS-24; RS-25.
Status: In production.
Unfuelled mass: 3,177 kg (7,004 lb).
Height: 4.24 m (13.92 ft).
Diameter: 1.63 m (5.36 ft).
Thrust: 2,278.00 kN (512,114 lbf).
Specific impulse: 453 s.
Specific impulse sea level: 363 s.
Burn time: 480 s.
Number: 351 .

AKA: RO-200; RD-0120; 11D122.
Status: Design 1987.
Unfuelled mass: 3,450 kg (7,600 lb) (+273 kg)
Height: 4.55 m (14.92 ft). (+.31 m)
Diameter: 2.42 m (7.93 ft). (+.79 m)
Thrust: 1,961.00 kN (440,850 lbf). (-317 kN)
Specific impulse: 455 s. (+2 s)
Specific impulse sea level: 359 s. (-4 s)
Burn time: 600 s. (+120 s)
Number: 10 . (-341)

Judging by the stats, the RD-0120 was an expendable engine that was longer, wider, weighed more, produced less thrust, had near-identical Isp (and chamber pressure), a much superior max burn time, and despite the SSME being "reusable", we ended up building 351 of them to support 135 shuttle flights.  That's 2.6 SSMEs produced per STS flight.  Looking at that number I think it's fair to say that Glushko's judgment on using expendable engines might have paid off in the long run. 


I suppose the question though, was there any or many payloads that big  that needed to get to GTO or escape?  Did they have anything they couldn't just have done with Proton?

Oh don't worry, they had something they couldn't just have done with Proton.  Let's not forget the first payload on the Energia was a carbon dioxide-powered laser weapons platform massing 80 mt and designed to blow up US SDI satellites out of orbit!  Supposedly the full-bore operational version of the Polyus platform would have massed 100 mt, which would exceed the lifting capacity of the Energia carrier rocket (though not the Vulkan).  I don't know if the Soviets intended on lifting 20-30 mt weapons platforms into GEO space, but if they hadn't collapsed and the US had gone forward with SDI, all bets would have been off.   As it was they were already attempting to surreptitously weaponize space, which caused Gorbachev to forbid the Polyus from being tested.  You can imagine how the US would have reacted to learning an 80 mt Sovet anti-satellite battle station was in LEO.   :-[ >:(



Even if it was cheaper than STS (and I don't know that it was), it would have been a very expensive system for launching non Buran payloads.  Four Zenit boosters, a big core with four RD-0120's, and external payload carrier, and an upper stage.  It'd have been a pretty spendy stack compared to Proton...and it would have been in addition to maintianing Proton unless they were going to retire Proton and just have Energia, Zenit and Soyuz?

Although, in reality, they probably could have retired Proton, and used Zenit instead.  It didn't have the performance, but...but two or three of them together, and you have Proton and more.  And Zenit was supposed to replace Soyuz, but that went away with the fall of the soviet Union.

Energia M
LEO Payload: 34,000 kg (74,000 lb) to a 200 km orbit. Flyaway Unit Cost $: 80.000 million in 1985 dollars.

The Soviets had the Energia-M stack as a cheaper alternative.  It had the Energia's 7.7 m hydrolox core powered by a single RD-0120M and two Zenit boosters, an inline PLF, and was still capable of lifting 34 mt into LEO.  I'm not sure how spendy that would have been, but it could have replaced the Proton if you'd added an upper stage to it.  Thus you could have the Zenit replace the Soyuz, the Energia M replace the Proton, and the Energia & Vulkan with varying booster numbers be the pride of the Soviet space program.  That'd get you down to just two core sizes and three engines for everything between 13 mt to 200 mt to LEO.  Elon might even approve of this efficiency of production. 




But, if Energia/Zenit had been kept, and Soyuz and Proton had been retired, and if the Soviet Union hadn't fallen apart just then, then Energia/Zenit/Buran could have possible lived as the main system for the Soviets to cover their launching requirements.
Would have been interesting if that'd happened.  Might have been good for them to develop two versions of the Energia core, a side mount one for Buran (once Buran was designed to launch side mount, I don't think it could have been modified to launch axially) and an in-line version for cargo launching.  Of course, NASA toyed with doing that for a long time and never did...so who knows if the Ruskies would have had the money to do it, even if they were -only- maintaining a Buran orbiter or two, the Energia core, and the Zenit boosters (and appropriate upper stages). 

Still, Energia as it was would have been a lot like side-mount SDHLV, and a pretty capable HLV in it's own right...just more limited than an in-line version.  So it would have been probably capable enough they might have not have needed an inline version. 

If the Soviets were genuinely devoted to wiping out any prospective SDI constellation, I would think they'd want the lifting capacity of the Vulkan.  The Energia's launch setup limited it to just 88 mt to LEO, which wouldn't have been enough to launch the battle stations the Soviets were planning.  At least if you compare on the conversion to an inline format, there is no doubt which is the more flexible design between the STS & Energia stacks.  The inline PLF of the Energia M is testament to the core's adaptability. 
« Last Edit: 03/30/2013 06:16 AM by Hyperion5 »

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #35 on: 03/30/2013 06:50 AM »
Speaking about the Zenit, here is a proposal in the 1980s for a tri-core heavy Zenit, the 11K37 (performance is reportingly to be about 40 tonnes LEO): http://novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/forum/forum9/topic10895/

There is also an article about it in the November 2010 issue of Novosti Kosmonavtiki - any Russian members here can check out what it is about?  :)
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Offline Archibald

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #36 on: 03/30/2013 07:52 AM »
Quote
That link is not working... Or do you have to be logged on to their server to see it?

You have to be logged, and I recommend you to join  ;) that very high quality forum.
That logarithm in the rocket equation is rather annoying...

Offline Jim

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #37 on: 03/30/2013 11:25 AM »

This is Wikipedia, so for whatever it's worth, it said the Titan 401A that exploded in [1998] cost $1.4 billion.  I'm sure the flights after that must have cost similar.  That's right in the range of STS launches, if not more expensive.

That included the payload

Offline Jim

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #38 on: 03/30/2013 11:27 AM »

1.  Oh don't worry, they had something they couldn't just have done with Proton.  Let's not forget the first payload on the Energia was a carbon dioxide-powered laser weapons platform massing 80 mt and designed to blow up US SDI satellites out of orbit! 

2.    The inline PLF of the Energia M is testament to the core's adaptability. 

1.  it was a mockup, they had no working laser

2.  Energia M was a kludge

Online Hyperion5

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Re: Energia/Buran--superior design to STS/Shuttle?
« Reply #39 on: 03/30/2013 08:37 PM »

1.  Oh don't worry, they had something they couldn't just have done with Proton.  Let's not forget the first payload on the Energia was a carbon dioxide-powered laser weapons platform massing 80 mt and designed to blow up US SDI satellites out of orbit! 

2.    The inline PLF of the Energia M is testament to the core's adaptability. 

1.  it was a mockup, they had no working laser

Well thank goodness for that, though I'd caution that had the US seen that prototype satellite in orbit, it surely would've caused consternation just by its appearance.  Is there any way the US could have figured out whether the laser was working or not just from observations? 

--

Does anyone know when the Soviets could have had a real working version of that carbon-dioxide laser loaded into a production model Polyus weapons platform?  I always got the impression the Soviets were not that far away from sending up the real deal had the US gone ahead with SDI. 


2.  Energia M was a kludge

I had to look this up because I've never heard someone use this term:

A kludge (or kluge) is a workaround, a quick-and-dirty solution, a clumsy, inelegant, difficult to extend, hard to maintain yet effective and quick solution to a problem, and a rough synonym to the terms "jury rig", "Jugaad" or "jerry rig".

--
The Energia M may be a clumsy solution, but I really doubt the US could've created a down-sized version of the STS stack like the Soviets could with the Energia stack.  More design flexibility certainly would be a point in the Energia's favor over STS.  Obviously we never created a full-on LV from the shuttle's SRBs like the Soviets did with the Energia's boosters, though we did get close before spiraling costs and delays axed the project.  Though the Zenit is not exactly a world-beater in reliability, it still bests a non-existent LV for derived utility. 

Just curious, but if the Energia M is a clumsy solution, what would a better solution be for using Energia-derived parts on smaller rockets?  A Zenit Heavy?  Trimming back the Energia to 2 boosters and launching that? 

There is one Energia-inspired solution I think might work well.  Let's say the Soviets are looking to either upgrade the Proton or replace it in the late 1980s.  They make the decision to upgrade it to what we know today as the Proton M (more thrust, less dry mass, more payload, etc).  I'd have the first stage upgraded in both thrust and propellant load, its dry mass % trimmed, and then scrap the 2nd and 3rd stages.  I'd replace them both with a single hydrolox stage powered by an RD-0120.  That should up both payload and reliability considerably and get better economies of scale.  If need be you'd add on a 4th stage for deep space missions or GEO comsats.  That should be a better solution than the Energia M, no?   

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