Author Topic: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion  (Read 1126 times)

Offline Anu

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When I was a child, I remember the conceptual artwork and schematics of Rhombus/ Hyperion (I think it might have been spelt Rombus in the original Phil,Bono proposal - Hyperion was the later evolution launching off a sled)  - the proposed SSTO (well, not quite orbit) which could transfer 170-ish passengers globally at a time blah blah. Was reminded of this when seeing Elon Musk's proposals for Earth-passenger use of BFR. Any reflections/comments from fellow posters?

Thoughts:

Stratospheric contamination  - I remember seeing some studies concerned about stratospheric pollutant/particulate injection rates of contaminants for rocket systems that could be used in this way. From what I recall, I think there was a suggested limit of around 500 flights per year before the annual level of stratospheric contamination could have significant environmental effects. Any comments/perspectives?

Risk - is the business model behind this aspect of BFR use really worked up re. resilience against loss of crew probabilities?

Market size - how many passengers would pay how much and with what risk acceptable to be commercially viable?

Grateful for perspectives please......
« Last Edit: 09/29/2017 11:13 AM by Anu »

Online launchwatcher

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #1 on: 09/30/2017 04:01 AM »
Stratospheric contamination  - I remember seeing some studies concerned about stratospheric pollutant/particulate injection rates of contaminants for rocket systems that could be used in this way. From what I recall, I think there was a suggested limit of around 500 flights per year before the annual level of stratospheric contamination could have significant environmental effects. Any comments/perspectives?
I'd think that methane wouldn't produce much in the way of particulates.. but I recall some concerns of that nature around solid fueled boosters.   

A quick search found this article from 1991:  http://www.nytimes.com/1991/10/18/us/study-calls-for-effort-to-limit-rockets-pollution.html?mcubz=3

Offline spacenut

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #2 on: 09/30/2017 09:18 AM »
Yes, I remember Rombus also growing up.  I have a book written in the late 1960's/early 1970's about the Rombus vehicle.  Could be refueled in orbit, fly to Mars, land on Mars, and return to earth.  Hop passengers anywhere in the world in 45 minutes, go to the moon, etc.  It was larger than BFR/ITSy.  Same principles, except Rombus was SSTO using hydrogen and oxygen and a plug nozzle engine on bottom that doubled as heat shield. 

Looks like it takes a billionaire with a vision to get it done, since NASA has lost its vision years ago.  No goals and a drive to get there like the moon. 

Offline Proponent

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #3 on: 09/30/2017 10:38 AM »
NASA has lost its vision years ago.  No goals and a drive to get there like the moon.

NASA is just doing what Congress tells it to.  I don't think it's NASA that has lost its vision.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 03:32 PM by Proponent »

Offline tdperk

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #4 on: 09/30/2017 12:33 PM »
NASA has lost its vision years ago.  No goals and a drive to get there like the moon.

NASA is just doing what Congress tells it too.  I don't think it's NASA that has lost its vision.

"NASA" quit being honest about what it could do with what quite a long time ago.

Offline Lar

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #5 on: 09/30/2017 01:22 PM »
(mod) Let's not let this thread become a NASA bashing one. Focus on the topic... how is Rombus different? How is it similar?  What can we learn from it? What new tech makes the idea more possible?... stuff like that. Thank you.
« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 01:22 PM by Lar »
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline Archibald

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #6 on: 09/30/2017 03:13 PM »
Last year I bought Frontiers of space and enjoyed it. Kenneth Gatland and Philip Bono wrote that book in 1969.

I'm quite sure Musk heard of that book and of Bono experience. Perhaps through our forum member HMXHMX (G. C. H. who is Philip Bono true heir)

Main differences ?

Bono vehicles used LH2 and plug nozzle aerospikes as heatshields. Some were SSTOs, but Bono acknowledged the mass fraction issue and ROMBUS had drop tanks (not very practical).

Musk approach is more conservative. Musk sounds to have a distate for LH2 and he has good reasons for that. The superior specific impulse is negated by the low density. Plus very low temperatures (- 270C) hampers reusability.

Instead of drop tanks Musk went for the TSTO approach.

ROMBUS had internal LOX tankage but LH2 drop tanks. Instead of on-orbit refueling, ROMBUS was to swap empty tanks for filled ones.

Otherwise the two proposals are incredibly similar: suborbital passenger transportation, Moon, and Mars through a brute force approach - an enormous vehicle.  Bono had all three of them, too.

Read Frontiers of space. That books sounds like some kind of blueprint for Musk 2016 and 2017 IAC masterplans.


« Last Edit: 09/30/2017 03:14 PM by Archibald »

Offline spacenut

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #7 on: 09/30/2017 03:24 PM »
Yes, that is the book, I found it.  Haven't pulled it out in a long time.  Similar ideas, like you said, except for the drop hydrogen tanks.  Wonder why he designed it to drop the hydrogen instead of oxygen tanks?  I do like the concept of having the tanks stay on and push out during re-entry to act like a shuttle cock when coming back to land.  This allowed it to slow down and have some control as to where it lands, like grid fins. 

I've wondered why NASA didn't go this route, even if it was smaller, instead of the shuttle.  They had tested a plug nozzle engine from a modified J-2.  They could have made something like a Saturn V second stage with a plug nozzle made from five or six J-2's in a single ring.  Surely this would have gotten 20 tons of cargo to LEO like the shuttle.  I think it would have been cheaper to operate in the long run. 

Offline Proponent

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #8 on: 09/30/2017 03:31 PM »
Wonder why he designed it to drop the hydrogen instead of oxygen tanks?

The hydrogen tanks would much bigger and heavier than the oxygen tanks.

Offline Archibald

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #9 on: 09/30/2017 03:36 PM »
NASA was obsessed with wings. Bono was marginal, even at McDonnell Douglas.

Offline Patchouli

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #10 on: 10/01/2017 12:16 AM »
There are some parallels but BFR/BFS V 2 is closer in capability to one of Philip Bono's later designs to Pegasus.

http://www.astronautix.com/p/pegasusvtovl.html

Online wholmeswa

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Re: SpaceX BFR and McDonnell Douglas Rhombus/ Hyperion
« Reply #11 on: 10/01/2017 05:25 AM »
Last year I bought Frontiers of space and enjoyed it. Kenneth Gatland and Philip Bono wrote that book in 1969.

Thanks for mentioning that book. I remember copying some of the designs and adding my own embellishments.

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