Author Topic: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades  (Read 7182 times)

Offline MATTBLAK

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Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« on: 02/07/2012 04:55 am »
I've had a really good search through the NSF past threads and not found this idea or question: Has anyone ever raised the concept of an Atlas V-Heavy version with Aerojet Solids added to either the core booster or the Atlas 'Strap-ons'?
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Offline Andrew_W

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #1 on: 02/07/2012 05:27 am »
Jafa, why? Is this to make a rocket with the lift of a Delta IV heavy but less elegant?
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #2 on: 02/07/2012 09:41 am »
Well, the 3-core Atlas V Heavy if it is ever built will be able to lift 29 tons to LEO, as-is (better than Delta IV-H). On the standard single-core Atlas V up to 5 Aerojet Solid boosters can be mounted on. Since on a 3-core Heavy only two 'strap-on' positions are used by the extra liquid boosters - I was wondering about using the other mounting points to put on up to a total of 4x Aerojet Solids, however that conceptual mounted configuration turns out. Combined with a Centaur Upper Stage powered by the Aerojet "Next Generation Engine" or the J-2X, I see little reason why this booster couldn't lift more than 40 metric tons to LEO.

Reason? Atlas V Phase-2 may never get funded, but maximizing the existing assets of a 'Phase 1' concept might allow a 'mixed-fleet' of Delta IV-H, Atlas V-H Enhanced and Falcon Heavy to launch from current KSC launchpads to assemble a NEA or Martian moon manned mission. If SLS gets canned by any coming White House occupants - sadly likely - there needs to be a synergy between Medium-Heavy launchers and Mission Architectures with enabling technologies such as Propellant Depots, Solar-Electric Propulsion and advanced Cryogenic Propulsion. If money cannot be spared for Heavy Lift, then planning needs to start right now to make future Exploration Mission Architectures as 'cancel-proof' or 'too smart to fail' as possible.

I'm researching for a magazine article that looks at Lunar missions that could be mounted with: 1x launch-of-each-booster = (3x) launch + LEO assembly = Lunar Landing. By using 2x launch of each booster? NEA mission. 3x launch of each booster? Manned Phobos/Deimos mission. 4x launch of each? Manned Mars Landing. Additional equipment? Launch uprated Ariane V from Kourou as well.

In the tradition of Mars Direct; 'leveraging' mission architectures through I.S.R.U. - leverage/ameliorate existing launchers to avoid criticism of "Pork-barrel, 'Senate Launch System'' B.S. etc, etc.

Since Atlas V is already well on the way to man-rating and seems to have a wide latitude for uprating within sensible budgets; I was merely curious what the more clever, better-connected and qualified around here thought of the idea? Atlas V-H with the upcoming, improved Aerojet Solids and N.G. Engine could gain quite a bit of the payload of Phase 2 with little (?) of it's cost.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2012 10:35 am by MATTBLAK »
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Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #3 on: 02/07/2012 10:03 am »
Jafa, why? Is this to make a rocket with the lift of a Delta IV heavy but less elegant?

Delta IV-H upgrade concepts often speak of mounting up to 6x GEM-60 solids on the launcher to give it significant improvements in payload. Using Aluminium/Lithium structures, propellant crossfeeding & densification and a stronger upper stage is supposed to get more than 50 tons to LEO; all with no significant launchpad changes.

Bolting onto Atlas V-H the far more powerful Aerojet Solids - especially since gruntier ones are also supposed to be coming - plus a stronger upper stage would give comparable or better improvements. Think of populating KSC's launchpads with all the necessary mission elements. Then, when the appropriate launch window(s) arrives, launch the hardware 'in salvoes' for LEO assembly.
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Offline deltaV

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #4 on: 02/07/2012 10:13 am »
ULA has proposing upgrading the Delta IV Heavy instead of the Atlas V heavy for their maxed out Phase 1 concept: http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/docs/publications/EELVPhase2_2010.pdf. As the owner of both vehicles they have a lot of expertise and no obvious conflict of interest, so I would trust their judgment on this.

Edit: MATT, is that ULA graphic showing both Delta and Atlas upgrade options newer or older than the 2010 EELV Phase 2 paper?
« Last Edit: 02/07/2012 10:18 am by deltaV »

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #5 on: 02/07/2012 10:33 am »
According to the properties "File Modified" I downloaded it from somewhere - not sure where - on July 2nd 2011. So it appears it may be newer, yes.

Delta IV-Heavy is my favored launcher to uprate: no 'pesky' Russian engines, RS-68A still has plenty of upgrade potential, it uses 5-meter diameter tooling over the Atlas's 3.8 meter (different propellant ratios & densities), and not to be underestimated public relations-wise: LOX/LH2 is 'green fuel'. LH2 may have some 'dirty' manufacturing attributes, but that's another story for another thread.
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #6 on: 02/07/2012 10:46 am »
The most obvious upgrades I can think of is to replace the RD-180 with a pair of AJ-26-500s and also a crew-rated upper stage engine (RL-10A-4-3?).

FWIW, I've always felt the logical Phase I configuration is a Delta-IV taken as far as possible as a cargo/propulsion stage launcher and keep Atlas-V/VH as a crew launcher.  A maxed out D-IVH would also probably be easier and cheaper than SLS for these repeatedly hinted-at but never specified >25t IMLEO DoD payloads.
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Offline Jim

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #7 on: 02/07/2012 10:52 am »
Well, the 3-core Atlas V Heavy if it is ever built will be able to lift 29 tons to LEO, as-is (better than Delta IV-H). On the standard single-core Atlas V up to 5 Aerojet Solid boosters can be mounted on. Since on a 3-core Heavy only two 'strap-on' positions are used by the extra liquid boosters - I was wondering about using the other mounting points to put on up to a total of 4x Aerojet Solids, however that conceptual mounted configuration turns out. Combined with a Centaur Upper Stage powered by the Aerojet "Next Generation Engine" or the J-2X, I see little reason why this booster couldn't lift more than 40 metric tons to LEO.


There is a post I made somewhere with a diagram of the MLP which will show that solids can't fit with a heavy

Offline Pedantic Twit

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #8 on: 02/07/2012 10:55 am »
There is a post I made somewhere with a diagram of the MLP which will show that solids can't fit with a heavy

Here.

Offline MATTBLAK

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #9 on: 02/07/2012 11:27 am »
Well, the 3-core Atlas V Heavy if it is ever built will be able to lift 29 tons to LEO, as-is (better than Delta IV-H). On the standard single-core Atlas V up to 5 Aerojet Solid boosters can be mounted on. Since on a 3-core Heavy only two 'strap-on' positions are used by the extra liquid boosters - I was wondering about using the other mounting points to put on up to a total of 4x Aerojet Solids, however that conceptual mounted configuration turns out. Combined with a Centaur Upper Stage powered by the Aerojet "Next Generation Engine" or the J-2X, I see little reason why this booster couldn't lift more than 40 metric tons to LEO.


There is a post I made somewhere with a diagram of the MLP which will show that solids can't fit with a heavy

Thanks Jim and Pedantic - that link to Jim's old post shows that it indeed wont work as-is: I can see that now. Also, the Aerojet solids are much bigger than the GEM-60s. Would some of them be a better fit? My question is merely to sort or rule-out which is logical or NOT logical 'bolt-on' improvements. The AJ-26-500s would indeed negate the 'Made in the USA' RD-180 derivative. I'd like to keep the thread (which may not actually go on that long) on Atlas V Phase 1. But if I may ask Jim or whomever else wants to answer: with 5 meter diameter Delta-derived stages, would 4x AJ-26-500 fit on a stage that size, or would only 3x?

It seems to me that this Phase 2-like configuration in a triple-barrel form, with added Aerojet solids (however many) and an Upper Stage with J-2X, NGE or a cluster of RL-10A4-3 engines would be a serious piece of launcher. But as someone once reminded us - I think it was Jim - rockets aren't Legos! ;)
« Last Edit: 02/07/2012 05:39 pm by MATTBLAK »
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Offline kevin-rf

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #10 on: 02/07/2012 12:28 pm »
Can I point something out, all Delta IV Heavy launches to LEO have been from Vandenberg.
The Atlas pad at Vandenberg was not built to support the Atlas Heavy. A new pad would be needed.

The only possible east coast LEO customer would be in supporting human space flight, and they have the Delta IV Heavy, soon Falcon Heavy, and SLS.

It is just hard to justify this upgrade.
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Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #11 on: 02/07/2012 02:02 pm »
Can I point something out,

(Snip)

It is just hard to justify this upgrade.

The Atlas-VH upgrade would probably only be used for HSF anyway - specifically as a launcher to LEO for MPCV in the event of SLS being delayed or cancelled.

As you point out, Delta-IVH is all the heavy launcher DoD needs at the moment.  However, if NASA were to become reliant on medium LVs, then I can see there being need for lots of EELV-H-class launches over a short period of time.  In that event, being able to launch three (or even four if LC-37A is complete) rather than two per ground cycle would be beneficial.
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Offline Robotbeat

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Re: Atlas V Heavy Upgrades
« Reply #12 on: 02/07/2012 02:12 pm »
Can I point something out, all Delta IV Heavy launches to LEO have been from Vandenberg.
The Atlas pad at Vandenberg was not built to support the Atlas Heavy. A new pad would be needed.
...
Not necessarily a new pad.
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