Author Topic: French Hermes Spaceplane  (Read 20127 times)

Offline Blackstar

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French Hermes Spaceplane
« on: 04/11/2009 02:44 AM »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #1 on: 04/11/2009 02:45 AM »

Offline Fequalsma

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #2 on: 04/11/2009 12:41 PM »
Blackstar

Merci for posting these - tres bon!  Are you missing a cutaway of the aft half of the vehicle?  Also, if you tell me the order which they go in, I can assemble them into a single .pdf if you want me to.

F=ma

Edit - tres bon, not chic.  Merde...


« Last Edit: 04/11/2009 04:15 PM by Fequalsma »

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #3 on: 04/11/2009 01:47 PM »
Ah! Hermes - what could have been!

Imagine if ESA had gone ahead! The agency would have had full independent access to the ISS! Maybe NASA wouldn't have had to engage in this indecent rush to get Orion working now rather than after a proper development cycle in order to maintain their own crew access.

A lot could have been done with two-launch mission profiles (launching mission modules on a second Arianne-5).  I have a mental image of a Hermes riding on the front of an ATV-derived space lab (I believe that was one of the proposed mission profiles).  Or Hermes riding on a Vulcain-powered EDS for a lunar fly-by mission! Or maybe a full lunar landing profile with multiple Arianne-5 launches for the EDS and the lander!

Ah, Ben, Ben.  Recall Robert Graves's scorn for these "impossible contingencies".  Remember: If the wooden horse of Troy had sired foals, then horses today would cost a lot less to keep. :P

Budgets - the killers of dreams.
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #4 on: 04/11/2009 03:05 PM »
Blackstar

Merci for posting these - tres chic!  Are you missing a cutaway of the aft half of the vehicle?  Also, if you tell me the order which they go in, I can assemble them into a single .pdf if you want me to.

These were quick and dirty scans.  I didn't put much effort into them.  They actually come from a very nice brochure that I picked up in the early 1990s.  It is a four-page foldout cutaway of the vehicle and I only scanned two of the inside pages.  I don't have time to do proper scans of all of them.  Maybe later.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #5 on: 04/11/2009 03:07 PM »
Ah! Hermes - what could have been!

Imagine if ESA had gone ahead! The agency would have had full independent access to the ISS!

If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak.

What killed Hermes was not simply budgets.  The design never closed.  They could never come up with a design that could place any reasonable amount of payload in orbit.  It was too heavy. 

Small spaceplanes don't appear to make much sense.  The wings and heat shield apparently take up too much of the overall mass and so you cannot carry much payload.

Offline Fequalsma

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #6 on: 04/11/2009 03:09 PM »
Please, Sir - may I have some more?
Oliver Twist/F=ma


Blackstar

Merci for posting these - tres chic!  Are you missing a cutaway of the aft half of the vehicle?  Also, if you tell me the order which they go in, I can assemble them into a single .pdf if you want me to.

These were quick and dirty scans.  I didn't put much effort into them.  They actually come from a very nice brochure that I picked up in the early 1990s.  It is a four-page foldout cutaway of the vehicle and I only scanned two of the inside pages.  I don't have time to do proper scans of all of them.  Maybe later.

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #7 on: 04/11/2009 03:46 PM »
Ah! Hermes - what could have been!

Imagine if ESA had gone ahead! The agency would have had full independent access to the ISS!

If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak.

What killed Hermes was not simply budgets.  The design never closed.  They could never come up with a design that could place any reasonable amount of payload in orbit.  It was too heavy. 

Small spaceplanes don't appear to make much sense.  The wings and heat shield apparently take up too much of the overall mass and so you cannot carry much payload.

If only they had chosen an Apollo capsule design back in the early days (1975-1979)
http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1979/1979%20-%204484.html?search=manned%20spacecraft


... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Blackstar

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #8 on: 04/11/2009 11:16 PM »
Here's a site with a lot of Hermes illustrations.  Unfortunately, it is in a language that I nearly failed in high school way too many years ago:

http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/hermes/index.htm

(When is fast, accurate, automatic language translation software going to get here?)

Offline Patchouli

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #9 on: 04/12/2009 12:34 AM »
Too bad they never finished it and I bet they kick themselves for not getting the vehicle up and flying .
Hermes failing had little to do with it being a space plane it seems they just never set the design and feature creep got out of hand.
The later ATV project got delayed badly by the same shenanigans.
As for choosing an Apollo capsule that design has it's own deficiencies which doomed it back in the 70s.
It carried very little cargo and was not very versatile for France this would have been a logistical disaster.
Robotic resupply craft were still unproven until 1978 and only the Soviets were working on them.
 The team who worked on progress would not be allowed to share information until the fall of the Soviet Union.

The need at the time was a vehicle that could tend an LEO station and land on a standard runway so form followed function.
Though a TKS or big Gemini type vehicle also could have performed said function including landing on dry land and would have been an excellent choice.

BTW before anyone says something stupid about space walking to the station Big G did have a docking adapter it was on the back of the service module just like on TKS.

http://www.astronautix.com/craft/bigemini.htm
« Last Edit: 04/12/2009 12:44 AM by Patchouli »

Offline shuttlefan

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #10 on: 04/13/2009 01:20 PM »
Were there any actual full-size mockups of Hermes built and if so some pictures of it would be great to see!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #11 on: 04/13/2009 05:24 PM »

Offline spaceamillion

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #12 on: 04/13/2009 07:34 PM »
A Couple of pics from 1991 Paris Air Show Including a large mock-up.


Online butters

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #13 on: 04/13/2009 09:00 PM »
Where is the propellant storage?  Does it use external tankage?

I think one of the difficulties with the space plane concept is that the propellant tanks really want to be mounted inline with the engines, which really want to be mounted on the aft end of the stack. 

But then in order to retain the engines, the dry tanks would have to be jettisoned from the forward end of the stack, which seems awkward at best.

Obviously the piggy-back tank arrangement has caused problems for the Shuttle.  I wonder why it was mounted on the heat shield side of the wings and if it would have been better on the opposite side. 

I also wonder how plane-like the reentry vehicle must be to manage heat loads, decelerate reasonably, and land horizontally.  Could it just be a cylinder with a mostly flattened belly and control surfaces on the tail (i.e. a lifting body)?

It seems to me that if you can keep the vehicle as cylindrical as possible and stack the staged propellant tanks on top to be jettisoned from the front, then the reusable space plane idea makes more sense.

Offline yinzer

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #14 on: 04/13/2009 10:18 PM »
Here's a site with a lot of Hermes illustrations.  Unfortunately, it is in a language that I nearly failed in high school way too many years ago:

http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/hermes/index.htm

(When is fast, accurate, automatic language translation software going to get here?)

Today?

"Accurate" is a vague term, but the links above are certainly intelligible.  If you spend a bit of time reading machine-translated romance languages in a technical field that you're familiar with, it gets easier to identify turns of phrase that aren't being translated properly and to figure out what they actually mean.
California 2008 - taking rights from people and giving rights to chickens.

Offline bobthemonkey

Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #15 on: 04/13/2009 10:20 PM »
Where is the propellant storage?  Does it use external tankage?

I think one of the difficulties with the space plane concept is that the propellant tanks really want to be mounted inline with the engines, which really want to be mounted on the aft end of the stack. 

But then in order to retain the engines, the dry tanks would have to be jettisoned from the forward end of the stack, which seems awkward at best.

Obviously the piggy-back tank arrangement has caused problems for the Shuttle.  I wonder why it was mounted on the heat shield side of the wings and if it would have been better on the opposite side. 

I also wonder how plane-like the reentry vehicle must be to manage heat loads, decelerate reasonably, and land horizontally.  Could it just be a cylinder with a mostly flattened belly and control surfaces on the tail (i.e. a lifting body)?

It seems to me that if you can keep the vehicle as cylindrical as possible and stack the staged propellant tanks on top to be jettisoned from the front, then the reusable space plane idea makes more sense.

It was to be launched atop Ariane-V, in lieu of an encapsulated payload.

Offline nooneofconsequence

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #16 on: 04/13/2009 10:33 PM »
(When is fast, accurate, automatic language translation software going to get here?)
Never.  Too much depends on human subjective interpretation. Marketing materials in particular. Part of what makes us human.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something" - Plato

Offline nooneofconsequence

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #17 on: 04/13/2009 10:45 PM »
...
What killed Hermes was not simply budgets.  The design never closed.  They could never come up with a design that could place any reasonable amount of payload in orbit.  It was too heavy. 
Correct. And significant disagreement as to what the goals were to build it, which made it into a camel being designed by a committee, which also doesn't tend to improve mass ratios/schedule effectiveness.
Quote
Small spaceplanes don't appear to make much sense.  The wings and heat shield apparently take up too much of the overall mass and so you cannot carry much payload.
Not all would agree here. Many say that the chief curse of the Shuttle is too large a payload and too much cross range. Yet the payload and the cross range is consumed regularly.

The too big / too small isn't backed by any facts. Yes wings/TP cost, but then the vehicle turn around and reduction in recovery costs need to be factored in for apples to apples comparison.

I disagree with your charge against Hermes. Think it could have met useful payload on Ariane 5. They just couldn't agree on what "useful" was.
"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something" - Plato

Offline kkattula

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #18 on: 04/14/2009 04:13 AM »
Where is the propellant storage?  Does it use external tankage?

I think one of the difficulties with the space plane concept is that the propellant tanks really want to be mounted inline with the engines, which really want to be mounted on the aft end of the stack. 

But then in order to retain the engines, the dry tanks would have to be jettisoned from the forward end of the stack, which seems awkward at best.
...

A sensible space plane design separates the main propulsion of the Launch Vehicle from the Crew Vehicle.

Trying to return main engines, let alone main tanks, just increases the weight of wings, thermal protection, landing gear, etc at the cost of payload.

Imagine what Shuttle would have looked like if the SSME's were mounted on the bottom of the External Tank. It probably would have weighed half as much and taken one quarter of the time to process between flights.
With exactly the same on-orbit capabilities and probably more payload!

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #19 on: 04/14/2009 07:36 AM »
I'm currently translating the Hermes article from French to English.

I have dropped a mail to the webmaster (Didier Capdevilla) and he agreed. They may be an english translation of the article available soon.


Quote
Imagine what Shuttle would have looked like if the SSME's were mounted on the bottom of the External Tank. It probably would have weighed half as much and taken one quarter of the time to process between flights.
With exactly the same on-orbit capabilities and probably more payload!

Buran ?
« Last Edit: 04/14/2009 07:42 AM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline kch

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #20 on: 04/14/2009 08:27 AM »
Quote
Imagine what Shuttle would have looked like if the SSME's were mounted on the bottom of the External Tank. It probably would have weighed half as much and taken one quarter of the time to process between flights.
With exactly the same on-orbit capabilities and probably more payload!

Buran ?

Essentially -- "Buran with solid boosters".

Offline Spacenick

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #21 on: 04/14/2009 09:48 AM »
In my opinion a good space plane doesn't carry much of a payload at all unless it's something like Skylon it should be in the mass range of Apollo/Orion and carry only people to LEO.
It would be build with a lifting body design and be capable of lunar return, while it shouldn't have enough delta-v to do the burn itself. Instead it would utilise a tug for major orbital changes.
Much along the lines of klipper.
Why carry a plane up in space when what you want to carry is a station module. Just carry the station module and tug it where you need it.
Only use a space plane when the space plane itself is the payload. Much like a reusbale Soyuz it's only purpose is to take people through the atmosphere and make the heat shield reusbale.

Offline madscientist197

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #22 on: 04/14/2009 10:30 AM »
Buran ?

Essentially -- "Buran with solid boosters".

And we would only need an upper stage to go to the moon. Damn :(
« Last Edit: 04/14/2009 10:31 AM by madscientist197 »
John

Offline woods170

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #23 on: 04/14/2009 01:59 PM »
And a couple of nice artist impressions...

Offline kkattula

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #24 on: 04/15/2009 09:08 AM »
In my opinion a good space plane doesn't carry much of a payload at all unless it's something like Skylon it should be in the mass range of Apollo/Orion and carry only people to LEO.
It would be build with a lifting body design and be capable of lunar return, while it shouldn't have enough delta-v to do the burn itself. Instead it would utilise a tug for major orbital changes.
Much along the lines of klipper.
Why carry a plane up in space when what you want to carry is a station module. Just carry the station module and tug it where you need it.
Only use a space plane when the space plane itself is the payload. Much like a reusbale Soyuz it's only purpose is to take people through the atmosphere and make the heat shield reusbale.

I agree with this sentiment, although perhaps the space plane should only be for people transport to & from LEO. Going beyond LEO is a job for a dedicated space tug & transhab.

Any large payload should be separately launched or in a disposable mission module.

Offline kkattula

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #25 on: 04/15/2009 09:22 AM »
Quote
Imagine what Shuttle would have looked like if the SSME's were mounted on the bottom of the External Tank. It probably would have weighed half as much and taken one quarter of the time to process between flights.
With exactly the same on-orbit capabilities and probably more payload!

Buran ?

Essentially -- "Buran with solid boosters".

Interesting to note that Russian spacecraft generally have lower payload fractions than their US counterparts, due to higher structual margins, and less exotic materials.

Yet Buran had higher payload than Shuttle originially did, at less gross mass. Plus better, less toxic OMS. 

I bet it cost a lot less too. How much was 20 billion roubles in US$ in the 80's?  $1 billion?

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #26 on: 04/15/2009 06:59 PM »
A currency convertor http://www.xe.com/ucc/

Inflation calculator http://www.westegg.com/inflation/

Article translated and send to the webmaster. Wait and see...
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Online vt_hokie

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #27 on: 04/15/2009 07:12 PM »
Always thought this was an interesting approach, if somewhat disconcerting with those tanks there!

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

Offline Jorge

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #28 on: 04/15/2009 07:15 PM »

I bet it cost a lot less too. How much was 20 billion roubles in US$ in the 80's?  $1 billion?

Nope, back in the Soviet era the ruble was artificially maintained at greater than $1 per ruble.
JRF

Offline Patchouli

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #29 on: 04/15/2009 07:35 PM »
In my opinion a good space plane doesn't carry much of a payload at all unless it's something like Skylon it should be in the mass range of Apollo/Orion and carry only people to LEO.
It would be build with a lifting body design and be capable of lunar return, while it shouldn't have enough delta-v to do the burn itself. Instead it would utilise a tug for major orbital changes.
Much along the lines of klipper.
Why carry a plane up in space when what you want to carry is a station module. Just carry the station module and tug it where you need it.
Only use a space plane when the space plane itself is the payload. Much like a reusbale Soyuz it's only purpose is to take people through the atmosphere and make the heat shield reusbale.

Yah a station module can just have a basic attitude control system on it and then have something like Cygnus or the SS/L 1300 series tug grab it and take it where you want it.
The original ESAS CEV also probably could have perform this task if needed.

BTW Kliper was just that a reusable super Soyuz.
RSC felt that gliding back would make recovery easier and the low g reentry would allow them to fly tourists they had to turn away on Soyuz.
Plus they wanted to be able to return cargo items up to 500kg.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2009 07:36 PM by Patchouli »

Online Herb Schaltegger

Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #30 on: 04/15/2009 07:40 PM »
Yah a station module can just have a basic attitude control system on it and then have something like Cygnus or the SS/L 1300 series tug grab it and take it where you want it.

Too bad neither a "basic attitude control system" exists to just bolt onto things.  Of course, neither a "Cygnus" nor any kind of tug exists either.

You are one starry-eyed dreamer, aren't you?
Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline Patchouli

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #31 on: 04/15/2009 07:47 PM »
Yah a station module can just have a basic attitude control system on it and then have something like Cygnus or the SS/L 1300 series tug grab it and take it where you want it.

Too bad neither a "basic attitude control system" exists to just bolt onto things.  Of course, neither a "Cygnus" nor any kind of tug exists either.

You are one starry-eyed dreamer, aren't you?

The Cygnus is under development right now and the SS/L 1300 series tug is nothing more then a modified 1300 series satellite bus.

Both can be available very quickly if needed and the basic concept could have even been done back in the 70s such as the Progress and TKS spacecraft.

As for designing a basic attitude control system this is not too difficult Bigelow had no trouble doing this.

A basic attitude control system can be mono prop or even cold gas it doesn't need much delta V.
Plus it should be light and compact so your station module doesn't suffer from the issues Russian modules have.
It probably can even be lifted from an existing satellite bus if needed.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2009 07:52 PM by Patchouli »

Online Herb Schaltegger

Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #32 on: 04/15/2009 09:05 PM »
You DO realize none of those have actually been demonstrated to do anything, right?  And that your generalities really belie any claim to understanding the issues, right?
Ad astra per aspirin ...

Offline Spacenick

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #33 on: 04/15/2009 09:54 PM »
Well there are in fact tugs. when a Progress or an ATV docked to the ISS alters it's orbit it's exactly that, a tug. Then there was the progress service module transporting Pirs to the ISS, which was definitely a tugging operation though it didn't have the docking portion but that has been demostrated on many Progress flights.
There is also the TKS spacecraft raising a Salyut orbit.
And finally to name an American tug that did both do orbital maneuvers beyond the capability of the spacecraft being tugged and do docking as well.
The agena target vehicle can be sondiered a tug.


Another hint at the feasability of the tug concept is the fact that RKK Energia (with over 40 years of manned spacecraft development to be considered a serious space company) proposed Parom as a Progress replacement and didn't see any particular difficulties.
Concerning the non existance of a basic attitude control system to be bolted on, who said it would be bolted on instead of simply build into the module while being of very simple design?
What are the technical challenges of it? Is a Salyut/TKS based module that much more complicated then Kibo/Columbus or one of the American ISS modules with live support built in. Especially when condiering that one would reduce the delta-v of the resulting module to the minimum needed to represent a docking target.
It might not even need any atittude control system, instead it could also be roll stabilised and one would use a docking mechanism (of course one without a tunnel) that is roll agnostic. This docking mechanism would only provide power and a data connection to the module and the tug would carry it near the station where it is grapled by a robotic arm.
This would still present the need for a base module with a robotic arm and it's own propulsion system, but I can't see the difficulty in putting a robotic arm on an FGB.

In my humble opinion the biggest difficulty in designing docking mechanisms is that one has to incooperate a transfer tunnel, if that tunnel is scrapped designing docking mechanisms becomes much much easier.
It might consist of nothing more then to electric magnets and some radio for data. And a laser range meter then all you need is some controlling software to make it dock as soft as you want without any moving parts or even fine attitude thrusters.

It would be realy interesting to hear what issues you see that haven't been solved before in for the orbital tug idea or what you think the obstacles are.
« Last Edit: 04/15/2009 10:06 PM by Spacenick »

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #34 on: 04/16/2009 08:03 AM »
Quote
The agena target vehicle can be sondiered a tug.

In my own little alt-history, where the shuttle is canned by Weinberger in October 1971, the Agena become NASA  FGB  :)

... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline William Barton

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #35 on: 04/16/2009 11:12 AM »
Quote
The agena target vehicle can be sondiered a tug.

In my own little alt-history, where the shuttle is canned by Weinberger in October 1971, the Agena become NASA  FGB  :)



Back in the day, I wanted the Titan Transstage made into a tug.

Offline William Barton

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #36 on: 04/16/2009 11:14 AM »
In today's context, is there some reason why ATV isn't an ideal starting point for a tug?

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #37 on: 04/16/2009 01:23 PM »
Quote
In today's context, is there some reason why ATV isn't an ideal starting point for a tug?

Can't see any reason. ULA Payload Bay Fairing is to be send at the edge of the ISS non-fly-zone, then  "picked up" and docked by an ATV.
http://selenianboondocks.com/2008/11/interesting-paper-on-shuttle-alternatives/

http://www.unitedlaunchalliance.com/docs/publications/ULA/AIAA%20Space%202008%20Paper_MarkAFoster_pdf.pdf

Quote
Back in the day, I wanted the Titan Transstage made into a tug.

I preferred the Agena because it flew more - 360 times - and was lighter (7 tons instead of 15 tons, most of which propellant for GEO, unuseful when carrying station modules to LEO)
« Last Edit: 04/16/2009 01:25 PM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline Aragatz

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #38 on: 04/16/2009 03:40 PM »
Jean-Loup Chrétien and Patrick Baudry, french first and second in space, should have the drive, he was approached to that at the time

Offline spaceamillion

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #39 on: 04/16/2009 07:12 PM »
Jean-Loup Chrétien and Patrick Baudry, french first and second in space, should have the drive, he was approached to that at the time

I took this picture at the Paris Air Show in 1991 with Hermes in the background
« Last Edit: 04/16/2009 07:12 PM by spaceamillion »

Offline Archibald

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #40 on: 04/17/2009 08:59 AM »
My humble understanding of thing was that Baudry was more implicated in Hermes development,while Chretien took more flight opportunities (either on Shuttle or Soyuz).
In the end Chretien flew more, while Baudry ended with a single flight and some "bitterness" (to me Baudry's book le reve spatial inachevé looked  more like a lampoon (squib?) than a factual account of how things happened)
« Last Edit: 04/17/2009 09:01 AM by Archibald »
... that ackward moment when you realize that Jeff Bezos personal fortune is far above NASA annual budget... 115 billion to 18 billion...

Offline clongton

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Re: French Hermes Spaceplane
« Reply #41 on: 04/17/2009 03:28 PM »
Here's a site with a lot of Hermes illustrations.  Unfortunately, it is in a language that I nearly failed in high school way too many years ago:

http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/hermes/index.htm

(When is fast, accurate, automatic language translation software going to get here?)

http://www.translate.google.com

copy/paste the url (http://www.capcomespace.net/dossiers/espace_europeen/hermes/index.htm) into the box and select French to English from the drop-downs. Very nice. It even takes you from page to page as one page links to the next. The translation goes with it.
Chuck - DIRECT co-founder
I started my career on the Saturn-V F-1A engine

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