Author Topic: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.  (Read 24055 times)

Offline Lobo

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Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« on: 02/04/2015 12:43 AM »
Rather than risk going too much off topic on this thread about safety issues with STS and what a perhaps safer concept could look like, I split off another thread.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=36446.100

I kept it separate from this thread I started awhile ago, because that basically assumes an STS of similar size and capability to the actual STS, but with a better eye on economics.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=28474.0

I'm curious about a true, pragmatic "Space Transportation System" to be happily used by both USAF and NASA (rather than the shotgun wedding of STS), using information know to people in the early 70's, but assuming enough foresight to have forseen some of the issues that would come of STS and to have turned a bit different direction.

So, what makes USAF happy, and NASA happy?
I'll start with some design points I think they had in mind for STS and also a Titan III successor.

1)  Approximately 23mt to LEO.
2)  Titan PLF size.
3)  At least to some degree reusable (as there was obviously a big push for reusability, but only partial reusability was ever designed into STS.  An ELV with a reusable orbiter on top is still a "partially" reusable system, technically).
4)  Not a "NASA" rocket.  Not a "USAF" rocket, but one that they both have easy access to without prohibitive politics from the other.
5)  Can launch from both KSC and the Titan pads at LC-40/41 and VAFB...with modifications.  On-pad payload changeout for USAF pads only, as not a NASA requirement.
6)  Economical either with various partial reusability or with simplicity and economics of scale.

Other criteria?

Saturn 1B was NASA's rocket, and Titan was USAF's rocket.  Both were looking for more capacity for the successors otherwise the shuttle would be about 15mt rather than 23mt.  Could there have been a different "STS" that they both would have been happy with?  Perhaps safer for NASA's crews and able to realize good economics?
« Last Edit: 02/04/2015 04:01 AM by Lobo »

Offline Proponent

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #1 on: 02/04/2015 10:44 AM »
I'm curious about a true, pragmatic "Space Transportation System" to be happily used by both USAF and NASA (rather than the shotgun wedding of STS), using information know to people in the early 70's, but assuming enough foresight to have forseen some of the issues that would come of STS and to have turned a bit different direction.

In that era, there were some studies of low-cost expendables in that era along the lines of Arthur Schnitt's minimum-cost designs.  See the second attachment to this post for TRW's proposal.  By the way, the first attachment to that post is a Bellcomm memo about a low-cost version of the S-IVB.  North American had a proposal similar to TRW's: you can buy it from Scott Lowther for just US$4.00.

I would guess neither of these rockets would have turned out to have been quite a s cheap as promised, but they would have entailed far less technology risk than did the Shuttle.

Offline J-V

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #2 on: 02/04/2015 11:03 AM »
How about S-ID as a lift vehicle for anything that needs a lift uphill. Capacity about right, only one stage and one kind of engine. Would need a new pad to west coast, though. And for crews a smaller orbiter that is light enough to get to LEO without external tank, maybe using J-2S with internal hydrolox tanks if extra capacity was needed.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #3 on: 02/04/2015 12:20 PM »
Still not workable.  The contractor would be pulled in two different directions.  ELV's can support multiple users now because they are contractor owned and operated. 

One of the biggest problems that the USAF had with the shuttle was that NASA managed it.  There is no way around this in the 70's.  One organization would be in charge and the other would be subservient to the other.  Thats how it worked on all the other launch vehicles of the 60's and 70's.  There wasn't much mixing.  NASA had SCOUT, Delta, and Centaur and the USAF had Titan, Agena, Atlas and Thor.  If one agency wanted to use the other's vehicle, they worked through the other agency.    There was little crossover, a mission here and there and the payload agency knew they had to work through the other and follow its processes.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #4 on: 02/04/2015 03:54 PM »
How about S-ID as a lift vehicle for anything that needs a lift uphill. Capacity about right, only one stage and one kind of engine. Would need a new pad to west coast, though. And for crews a smaller orbiter that is light enough to get to LEO without external tank, maybe using J-2S with internal hydrolox tanks if extra capacity was needed.

The S-1D would work.  But the S-1C was a pretty expensive stage anyway as the F-1's were spendy.  And it's still "NASA's rocket" which as Jim has just posted on, and posted before, was undesirable for USAF.  Just as NASA using a "USAF rocket" wasn't preferred.

So I was more thinking about a new rocket that was neither "Saturn" or "Titan" per se, but something new for both...like STS actually was, but less ambitious than STS was.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #5 on: 02/04/2015 04:01 PM »

So I was more thinking about a new rocket that was neither "Saturn" or "Titan" per se, but something new for both


Joint management won't work.  See NPOESS
« Last Edit: 02/04/2015 04:02 PM by Jim »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #6 on: 02/04/2015 04:49 PM »
Still not workable.  The contractor would be pulled in two different directions.  ELV's can support multiple users now because they are contractor owned and operated. 

One of the biggest problems that the USAF had with the shuttle was that NASA managed it.  There is no way around this in the 70's.  One organization would be in charge and the other would be subservient to the other.  Thats how it worked on all the other launch vehicles of the 60's and 70's.  There wasn't much mixing.  NASA had SCOUT, Delta, and Centaur and the USAF had Titan, Agena, Atlas and Thor.  If one agency wanted to use the other's vehicle, they worked through the other agency.    There was little crossover, a mission here and there and the payload agency knew they had to work through the other and follow its processes.

Thanks for the info Jim.  Your insight in this area is appreciated as always.  :-)

Ok, I think we've established that bureaucratically this couldn't happened, unfortunately.

So, let's set that aspect aside, and think just technologically.  Had they somehow been able to have joint management that worked to the satisfaction of both USAF and NASA (A 3rd party entity like the contractor as is done now, but something that was an option back then), what might such an STS been like?

What would you like you have possibly seen Jim, instead of the STS that was?  Assuming for a moment that USAF wanted to get in on a joint Space Launch System that NASA would use too, rather than just keeping and upgrading Titan themselves?  (Which I assume would be your answer otherwise?)





Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #7 on: 02/04/2015 08:09 PM »
Ok, I think we've established that bureaucratically this couldn't happened, unfortunately.

And there's the main problem! See it should have come down to a simple turf-war... Really. Between the USAF and NASA they both had enough SCA members in the crowd... Pick a spot and duke it out (pun intended :) )...

Winner manages the STS program and looser... Gets Pittsburgh! Oh wait that's a different war all together...

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #8 on: 02/04/2015 11:29 PM »
Ok, I think we've established that bureaucratically this couldn't happened, unfortunately.

And there's the main problem! See it should have come down to a simple turf-war... Really. Between the USAF and NASA they both had enough SCA members in the crowd... Pick a spot and duke it out (pun intended :) )...

Winner manages the STS program and looser... Gets Pittsburgh! Oh wait that's a different war all together...

Randy

Heheh.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #9 on: 02/05/2015 12:41 AM »
Well, politics and beuacracy aside, just looking at technical aspects.

Two thoughts.

1)
A kerolox core using modified Titan SRB's that could be recovered and reused.  Core would be similar in size to Titan core so the whole boosters should be a relatively easy modification for the Titan pads.  Core powered by four H-1B's lit at lift off (rather than at SRB sep like Titan).  A 2nd stage would be used to get to LEO using a single vacuum optimized H-1.  Something akin to the RS-27A.  An optional Centaur stage could be put on top for BLEO payloads.  This would be partially reusable, and should have enough upgraded performance to get that 23mt to LEO. (Titan 4B/D4H/STS class).  Also, like Titan III, could launch without the SRB's for probably something more akin to Atlas 2/3 performance, or F9v1.0. (guestimate).  A useful size for USAF.

2)
Basically, an upscaled Falcon 9, with an S-1D like booster.  Nine H-1B's on an approximately 6m wide core, with a kerolox 2nd stage using a vacuum H-1B (again, something akin to an RS-27A).  Optional Centaur 3rd stage.  Booster has an engine arrangement like F9's, but the 8 engine ring jettisons after a short boost phase and the rest of the booster just using the central H-1B continues on until 2nd stage staging. 
Engine ring is then recovered and reused.  H-1's had shown the ability to take a dunk in the ocean pretty well.
Height should be such that it shouldn't be too hard to modify Titan facilities to accomodate it.
This also has partial reusability, but gets rid of Titan derived SRB's, which would probably not be any more economical than the Shuttle SRB's turned out to be if a reusable version of them were developed.  Atlas had jettisoned engines during ascent for a long time that shouldn't be an issue.  Making them recoverable would be a little more tricky, but not prohibitively so I wouldn't think.

Top either with a USAF unmanned payload, or a NASA HL-42 like reusable orbiter, and I think either would be a nice little systme that'd serve both needs quite well, in the big picture.  USAF Titan facilities would be modified to accomodate it, and KSC would chop down their Saturn ML towers.  Clean pads could be retained as no pad payload change out would be necessary as USAF payloads would fly form their pads not KSC.

Thoughts?

Offline truth is life

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #10 on: 02/05/2015 02:22 AM »
Still not workable.  The contractor would be pulled in two different directions.  ELV's can support multiple users now because they are contractor owned and operated. 

One of the biggest problems that the USAF had with the shuttle was that NASA managed it.  There is no way around this in the 70's.  One organization would be in charge and the other would be subservient to the other.  Thats how it worked on all the other launch vehicles of the 60's and 70's.  There wasn't much mixing.  NASA had SCOUT, Delta, and Centaur and the USAF had Titan, Agena, Atlas and Thor.  If one agency wanted to use the other's vehicle, they worked through the other agency.    There was little crossover, a mission here and there and the payload agency knew they had to work through the other and follow its processes.
Why is that? Couldn't the contractor simply build the rockets for one or the other customer, deliver it to them, and hand over control? Suppose that for some reason NASA adopts the Titan as its LV. Couldn't Martin continue to build Titans as normal for the Air Force, for delivery to VAFB/CCAFS and launch from their Titan pads, then build some more and deliver them to Kennedy for processing at the VAB and launch from LC-39 for NASA? Why would either organization have to talk to each other at all outside of where they would do so whether or not they happened to be launching the same vehicle, or when deciding on which vehicle to procure?

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #11 on: 02/05/2015 02:32 AM »
Who is going to control the design of the rocket?  What is going to be the basic rocket, will it be manrated or designed for performance?  Back in the 60's and 70's, the gov't ran the program office for the launch vehicles, there was no commercial launch services.  The company didn't control the configuration of the vehicle, the gov't did.

Offline joema

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #12 on: 02/05/2015 02:46 PM »
...The company didn't control the configuration of the vehicle, the gov't did.

To further illustrate, Von Braun's MSC team built and tested their own rockets -- separate from the contractor, who they considered merely the "production contractor" to mass produce the prototypes made by MSC. During deliberations with Chrysler who built the Redstone, Von Braun told them his team would build the full production run if the contractor didn't deliver on the needed price and schedule.

MSC had their own redundant, independent Saturn V S-IC test stand in Huntsville, separate from the one in Mississippi (see attached). In that era the booster contractor did only what they were told, and numerous MSC personnel were at each contractor location to ensure this happened.

Things are done differently today, but that's how it was back then.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #13 on: 02/05/2015 03:05 PM »

MSC had their own redundant, independent Saturn V S-IC test stand in Huntsville, separate from the one in Mississippi (see attached). In that era the booster contractor did only what they were told, and numerous MSC personnel were at each contractor location to ensure this happened.


Those test stands have nothing to do with the contractual issues discussed.

The  MSFC stand wasn't redundant or independent of the Mississippi stand.  The Mississippi stand replaced the MSFC due to noise issues.

Offline joema

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #14 on: 02/05/2015 06:11 PM »
...
The  MSFC stand wasn't redundant or independent of the Mississippi stand.  The Mississippi stand replaced the MSFC due to noise issues.

My point was both MFSC and MTF stands were planned during roughly the same period and provided redundant capability. I realize noise was later found a factor at MSFC but long before that, both facilities were planned for concurrent operation on Saturn V testing. The MSFC test stand was used for F1 testing through July 1968, which overlapped significantly with Saturn testing at the MTF test stand.

I was speaking of the historic viewpoint of hands-on ownership and control by Von Braun's team and how this created a totally different situation back then for contractual issues. I think that was your point -- booster contractors back then were much less independent than today and MSFC exercised an extreme degree of oversight.

In Von Braun's own words he described his view of the MSFC vs MTF facilities in the early 1960s: "Studies indicate that as far as noise level is concerned, there will probably be no objection to firing up eight F-1 engines at MSFC...The Mississippi Test Facility is still a cow pasture...and cannot compete with any test stand availability dates in Huntsville....MTF should therefore be considered an acceptance firing and product improvement site for Michoud rather than a basic development site". (Werhner Von Braun: His Life and Work).

That same book described the the in-house capability at MSFC as "..much like a large aerospace company...they could design, test and build rockets or almost any other kind of aerospace hardware...with its capability to make prototypes and test components, the Structures and Mechanics lab in itself had capabilities comparable to a rocketry corporation...the Center was almost like a space agency in miniature."

With booster contractors on that tight a leash and overseen by people who could build their own rockets, they would not independently design and build their own LV for a speculative new customer -- the government was the customer.

Offline libs0n

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #15 on: 02/05/2015 11:39 PM »
My entry:

A high/mid/low common first stage engine rocket system.  It would use a new pint sized hydrocarbon engine, approx a quarter the size of an F1 engine.  I had in mind a pint sized F1 derivative, but I'm not over prescribing the solution field.

Rocket A: One pint sized engine, small diameter core, low cost upper stage(solid?)
Rocket B: Two pint sized engines, wider diameter core, centaur like upper stage
Rocket C: Four pint sized engines, same wider diameter core with stretched tanks, centaur like upper stage.

Rough performance goals guestimation: Rocket C - Titan 4 class, Rocket B - Titan 3 class, Rocket A - Delta 2/3 class?

The idea being that Rocket B and C are produced on the same line with a dual configuration option with a small booster option for smaller payloads.

Offline libs0n

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #16 on: 02/06/2015 12:37 AM »

Thread theme stuff:

-New LEO capsule, first for Titan 3 then later Rocket B launch when it becomes operational. 

During Shuttle decision, two key points win:  1. OMB push for NASA to base HSF efforts off of non NASA rocket.  2. Promise of positive new ELV economics to replace Titan with Next Gen rocket.


Reusability test projects for NASA in decades ahead while rocket line is running:

-An X plane type spaceplane with internal hydrolox second stage or non spaceplane second stage oriented recovery experiments.

-NASA experiment tries parachute and dunk recovery of first stage and fails.  Eventually NASA builds a test vehicle for first stage downrange or RTLS vertical landing based off a core modified with some landing rockets.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #17 on: 02/06/2015 12:21 PM »
Why is that? Couldn't the contractor simply build the rockets for one or the other customer, deliver it to them, and hand over control? Suppose that for some reason NASA adopts the Titan as its LV. Couldn't Martin continue to build Titans as normal for the Air Force, for delivery to VAFB/CCAFS and launch from their Titan pads, then build some more and deliver them to Kennedy for processing at the VAB and launch from LC-39 for NASA? Why would either organization have to talk to each other at all outside of where they would do so whether or not they happened to be launching the same vehicle, or when deciding on which vehicle to procure?

Well, point of fact as I understood it NASA had to let the USAF "handle" the majorit of Titan launch set-up and operations for Gemini (sans the stuff that applied directly too and handling of the Gemini and mission itself) because the USAF was in fact the only "qualifed" operator for the Titan. Martin (to continue the example) was less than happy to have to jump through the "additional" hoops required by NASA for manned space flight and getting caught between the AF and NASA.

Which in essence is what Lobo is asking about as a "common" LV between the two organizations. Titan was designed and built for/by the USAF and NASA designed the Saturns using Titan only as an "interim" vehicle to carry a similarly "interim" space vehicle into orbit. Despite "Blue Gemini" the USAF doesn't really have either the need or justification for dealing in manned space flight while at the same time it is NASA's "purpose" for all intents and purposes.

So how do they come to a "joint" launch vehicle usable by both for their own specific missions?
Who is going to control the design of the rocket?  What is going to be the basic rocket, will it be manrated or designed for performance?  Back in the 60's and 70's, the gov't ran the program office for the launch vehicles, there was no commercial launch services.  The company didn't control the configuration of the vehicle, the gov't did.

To answer Jim's questions:
Both would have to have input and in the end joint control I'd think. The vehicle HAS to meet both specs.
The vehicle will be manrated to fullfill NASA requirements and either have or be capable of being upgraded to meet current and future USAF and NASA performance requirements.

So in the end "someone" is going to have to control and direct the specifics of the suggested vehicle to the "company or companies" the actually build it. The USAF is going to want design control as will MSFC so the stage is set for a pretty hefty dose of infighting and back-biting :)

Well, politics and beuacracy aside, ...

Unfortunatly I suspect that's not possible let alone likely :)

I was speaking of the historic viewpoint of hands-on ownership and control by Von Braun's team and how this created a totally different situation back then for contractual issues. I think that was your point -- booster contractors back then were much less independent than today and MSFC exercised an extreme degree of oversight.

In Von Braun's own words he described his view of the MSFC vs MTF facilities in the early 1960s: "Studies indicate that as far as noise level is concerned, there will probably be no objection to firing up eight F-1 engines at MSFC...The Mississippi Test Facility is still a cow pasture...and cannot compete with any test stand availability dates in Huntsville....MTF should therefore be considered an acceptance firing and product improvement site for Michoud rather than a basic development site". (Werhner Von Braun: His Life and Work).

That same book described the the in-house capability at MSFC as "..much like a large aerospace company...they could design, test and build rockets or almost any other kind of aerospace hardware...with its capability to make prototypes and test components, the Structures and Mechanics lab in itself had capabilities comparable to a rocketry corporation...the Center was almost like a space agency in miniature."

With booster contractors on that tight a leash and overseen by people who could build their own rockets, they would not independently design and build their own LV for a speculative new customer -- the government was the customer.

Now compare this with the way the Air Force did it where the majority of the work was done by the contractor not the "customer". (Who is still the government none the less)

Now also "assume" that MSFC is going to be "constrained" as any contractor to designing and building something that the Air Force wants over and above their needs? The "STS" has to fit both "customers" needs and MSFC has NO history of being able (or willing :) ) to be a "contractor" for the Air Force.

We're still in the same "boat" here, who's in "charge" and who defines the needs for the system under the assumption this is a "joint" project?

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #18 on: 02/06/2015 12:30 PM »
-NASA experiment tries parachute and dunk recovery of first stage and fails.  Eventually NASA builds a test vehicle for first stage downrange or RTLS vertical landing based off a core modified with some landing rockets.

SpaceX fanboy-ism aside, why would you make the assumption that this would in fact "fail" as NASA had a much deeper background and knowledge on how to MAKE this work than SpaceX did? The specifically worked on making the Saturn-C/1 stage at least "recoverable" to study if not actually make reusable.

Oh yes I forgot to address this one from Lobo:
On the economics of "reusable" Titan SRMs; If they could get refurbishment and re-filling done at the Cape (or Vandenburgh) instead of having to ship them all the way back to Utah every time it would probably be a lot more "economical" than the Shuttle SRBs. Given NASA is along for the ride there might be enough push to replace the solids with "simple-cheap" liquid boosters instead.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline libs0n

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #19 on: 02/06/2015 02:14 PM »

SpaceX fanboy-ism aside, why would you make the assumption that this would in fact "fail" as NASA had a much deeper background and knowledge on how to MAKE this work than SpaceX did? The specifically worked on making the Saturn-C/1 stage at least "recoverable" to study if not actually make reusable.


Good point.  Deceleration burn, parachute deploy, flotation devices, it checks out.  I always thought ocean recovery might be better if the vehicle and lets say engine development was designed with it in mind from the get go, although I too was intrigued by that photo of engine dunking tests NASA did in the 70s; in this case though I presume expendable oriented design.  Another idea I thought to mention was NASA trying something like engine pod recovery.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2015 02:30 PM by libs0n »

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