Author Topic: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.  (Read 25161 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 »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #20 on: 02/06/2015 04:59 PM »

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.


Well, that's part of it.  The other part is the casings themselves.  I'm no expert, but from what I've learned recently about the shutdown of the facilities that made the Shuttle SRB sections was pretty specialized and had some exotic treatments they did to the them so that they could withstand more than one burn.  Of course, production is limited because once the segments are made, they are reused repeatedly so like the RS-25's, new unit production was low year to year. 
Although I suppose a single joint 25mt-ish LV being used by both USAF and NASA may have enough flight rate to keep an exotic casing production facility busy enough at making replacement casings to those damaged or just at the end of their service life.  Maybe.

Myself, I'd probably opt for ditching them completely and going complete liquid, and pursuing an engine ring that's jettisoned and recovered.  My Option #2 above.  If you are reusing the engine ring, theoretically you could still run into an RS-25 issue where the production line isn't getting enough work to make it economical...but given each LV would have probably 9 H-1's on the booster and another vacuum optimized one on the 2nd stage, and two of those 10 would be expended every launch, with others that are periodically damaged during recovery, I think the H-1 production line would keep busy enough with new units to make it economical.
Recovering the engine ring would be much easier than recovering two large SRB casings (even if they aren't as large as the Shuttle's).  A relatively small ship with a crane can just lift it onto the deck, and take it can go back to CCAFS (or VAFB), vs. having to drag them back like STS's boosters were or have a big barge to put them on or whatever.  And obviously dealing with a 6m wide ring of liquid engines which all come off, is easier than filling, stacking, unstacking, and refilling and restacking big segmented reusable solids. 

But USAF may have preferred to keep solids for more synergy with their Titan assemblies buildings.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #21 on: 02/06/2015 05:09 PM »
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 :)


Yea, I'm sure it -could- have been done if USAF and NASA both wanted it too, and perhaps there was strong leadership form the Whitehouse to facilitate it.  Perhaps a deligation from both NASA and USAF meets to discuss what they each want and see if there's a design that they'd both be satisfied with (maybe some 3rd party members to keep the economic side of it in mind...as that often seems easily forgotten in government...weird...).  Then they shop that design to the various aerospace contractors and get bids on building it.  I think that's how it was done back then, rather than contractors proposing their own designs to USAF or NASA?
Then a contractor is selected, and they build what they the joint commitee tells them to.  From that point on, it shouldn't be too difficult.  The contractor makes the hardware to fill the NASA or USAF orders that come in.  The joint committee could have some sort of oversight in case there's scheduling squabbles between the two, and decide if and when and how they want to upgrade the system.  The committee has both NASA and USAF personnel on it so it's not "NASA" or "USAF" per se. 

But, without the desire on both sides, or a very strong President to force the issue (like Reagan more or less did once STS was flying) then it wouldn't likely happen.
But intersting to think about what -might- have been.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #22 on: 02/06/2015 05:15 PM »

Yea, I'm sure it -could- have been done if USAF and NASA both wanted it too,

Not really.  They have differing requirements.  See NPOESS, TFX, and others.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #23 on: 02/06/2015 08:44 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.

I've been trying to educate as many people as possible on the work NASA actually did towards refurbishment and recovery even though they didn't actually pursue it. Glad you've seen the same :)

Engine pod(s) seems to have always been a runner-up concept. Is suspect the trades indicate it doesn't make THAT much of a difference between just recovering the engines and trying to get the whole stage back.

Evolution from expendable to reusable was toyed with several times in the past. Mostly though it was trying to turn an EVL into a full-up RLV instead of something more "evolutionary" such as SpaceX going from Falcon-9ELV to Falcon-9RLV. I can understand the reasoning even if I have a hard time following the logic which ignores the evolutionary approach. Full-up RLV normally means an inherent ability to bring the payload back under most abort scenerios. You don't have that capability with a partially or even a fully "reusable" evolved ELV/RLV due to the design limitations and capability short of having a highly capable "upper stage" on the evolved RLV. And that is going to cost you a lot in capability which you avoid if you go instead with a full-up RLV design.

Back on-topic :) Reusability in the case of a joint USAF/NASA LV would only have appeal to the USAF IF it had significant econmic benifits AND still was capable of meeting all their requirements. Which would be a tough sell given how much those requirements often differ from what NASA was envisioning.

NASA would never have considered the "evolutionary" RLV when they could build a "full-up" RLV from scratch. The USAF would probably have been more interested in the idea.

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 #24 on: 02/06/2015 08:55 PM »
Well, that's part of it.  The other part is the casings themselves.  I'm no expert, but from what I've learned recently about the shutdown of the facilities that made the Shuttle SRB sections was pretty specialized and had some exotic treatments they did to the them so that they could withstand more than one burn.  Of course, production is limited because once the segments are made, they are reused repeatedly so like the RS-25's, new unit production was low year to year. 
Although I suppose a single joint 25mt-ish LV being used by both USAF and NASA may have enough flight rate to keep an exotic casing production facility busy enough at making replacement casings to those damaged or just at the end of their service life.  Maybe.

Big yellow transportation containers lined up along the railroad track with a very promient label that states "NO HUMP!" Ya it was amusing but... :)
On site processing would have helped a lot I'm told, and building a "reusable" SRB around Titan sized was studied and while the casing was a pain it was also very dependent on how MANY reuses you built for. From what I've read you actually wanted about 10 flights before you "retired" one and that with on-site processing and check-out would have saved a lot. Not as much as "simple" LRBs but a lot compared to the RSRBs at any rate.

Quote
Myself, I'd probably opt for ditching them completely and going complete liquid, and pursuing an engine ring that's jettisoned and recovered.  My Option #2 above.  If you are reusing the engine ring, theoretically you could still run into an RS-25 issue where the production line isn't getting enough work to make it economical...but given each LV would have probably 9 H-1's on the booster and another vacuum optimized one on the 2nd stage, and two of those 10 would be expended every launch, with others that are periodically damaged during recovery, I think the H-1 production line would keep busy enough with new units to make it economical.
Recovering the engine ring would be much easier than recovering two large SRB casings (even if they aren't as large as the Shuttle's).  A relatively small ship with a crane can just lift it onto the deck, and take it can go back to CCAFS (or VAFB), vs. having to drag them back like STS's boosters were or have a big barge to put them on or whatever.  And obviously dealing with a 6m wide ring of liquid engines which all come off, is easier than filling, stacking, unstacking, and refilling and restacking big segmented reusable solids.

Again I'm not sure that recovering an "engine ring" versus recovery of the whole stage down-range would have been that much more "cost-effective" in the long run. And I don't see even the Air Force being able to convince NASA to go with a kerolox upper stage for much of any reason :)
As described I'd have to think that a "compromise" design would have a kerolox first and LH2 second stage with the "target" payload design being AF requirements for GTO/GEO and NASA manned and other missions secondary. Pretty much somehow coming up with an acceptable "Saturn-1B-ish" design the Air Force could buy into. 
Quote
But USAF may have preferred to keep solids for more synergy with their Titan assemblies buildings.

I suspect that's right actually even if the Air Force was forced to "give-up" the Titan in the trade-off.

Randy
« Last Edit: 02/06/2015 08:56 PM by RanulfC »
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 #25 on: 02/06/2015 09:26 PM »
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 :)


Yea, I'm sure it -could- have been done if USAF and NASA both wanted it too, and perhaps there was strong leadership form the Whitehouse to facilitate it.  Perhaps a deligation from both NASA and USAF meets to discuss what they each want and see if there's a design that they'd both be satisfied with (maybe some 3rd party members to keep the economic side of it in mind...as that often seems easily forgotten in government...weird...).  Then they shop that design to the various aerospace contractors and get bids on building it.  I think that's how it was done back then, rather than contractors proposing their own designs to USAF or NASA?
Then a contractor is selected, and they build what they the joint commitee tells them to.  From that point on, it shouldn't be too difficult.  The contractor makes the hardware to fill the NASA or USAF orders that come in.  The joint committee could have some sort of oversight in case there's scheduling squabbles between the two, and decide if and when and how they want to upgrade the system.  The committee has both NASA and USAF personnel on it so it's not "NASA" or "USAF" per se. 

But, without the desire on both sides, or a very strong President to force the issue (like Reagan more or less did once STS was flying) then it wouldn't likely happen.
But intersting to think about what -might- have been.

Yea, I'm sure it -could- have been done if USAF and NASA both wanted it too,

Not really.  They have differing requirements.  See NPOESS, TFX, and others.

Jim has a point we need to keep in mind; What WERE the payloads that the USAF "needed" and how did they compare to what NASA wanted. So far as I can see the USAF payloads rarely needed the kind of weight lifting that NASA did until the late 80s early 90s. Meanwhile NASA would be seriously impared with the "basic" Titan LVs up through the Titan-III. Titan II-LV was the last time the two had a common vehicle and it was nothing like the vehicle NASA 'really' needed for HSF. On the other hand the "workhorse" LV for NASA would have been something like the Delta-II LV while the similar workhorse for the AF didn't show up till the Titan-IIIC. And neither of them were MANNED vehicles. (And you've got those solids AND toxic propellants on the Titan where as the Delta has smaller {somewhat cheaper} solids and more benign propellants)

And don't forget operations in the mix. Titan was pretty streamlined by the time of Titan-IIIC and using something like the NASA Saturn-1B at Vandenburgh would have been difficult and costly to set up.

And reusability brings up a lot of issues as well. NASA wanted a "full-up" RLV where as the USAF didn't really need or want one unless it met certain very specific mission parameters which were not very compatable with NASA ones. If economics were designated as a driving factor from outside AND the LV was "reusable" enough to meet those factors the two could probably come to a compromise... Maybe :)

I could see a consensus coming about between the two for "something" like the EELV program with possible reusability envisioned at some future date but there still remains the original capability requirements.

So far I'm seeing:
1) 5,000lbs to 7,000lbs to GTO/GEO or beyond
2) Up to 30,000lbs to LEO
3) No "dedicated" solid rocket motors (Can use multiple "commercial" solids but doesn't require specially built ones)
4) Non-toxic propellant. (At least a lot less than the Titan with kerolox prefered but others possible)
5) "Easy" operations capability either at Vandenburgh or the Cape
6) Man-rated but a possible "non" rated version for Air Force use
7) Multiple upper stage options available
8) Recovery and/or reusabilty optional but can be expended if needed (And I think launches from Vandenburgh would require it for the most part)

Anything else?

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 #26 on: 02/06/2015 11:37 PM »

Jim has a point we need to keep in mind; What WERE the payloads that the USAF "needed" and how did they compare to what NASA wanted. So far as I can see the USAF payloads rarely needed the kind of weight lifting that NASA did until the late 80s early 90s. Meanwhile NASA would be seriously impared with the "basic" Titan LVs up through the Titan-III. Titan II-LV was the last time the two had a common vehicle and it was nothing like the vehicle NASA 'really' needed for HSF. On the other hand the "workhorse" LV for NASA would have been something like the Delta-II LV while the similar workhorse for the AF didn't show up till the Titan-IIIC. And neither of them were MANNED vehicles. (And you've got those solids AND toxic propellants on the Titan where as the Delta has smaller {somewhat cheaper} solids and more benign propellants)


Yea, Jim's always throwing cold water on my rampant speculation with his historical knowledge and facts...he's no fun.
;-)

(I jest, I always learn a ton from Jim).

As far as USAF needs.
Well, they had input on the Shuttle and I think wanted it to have a Titan sized PLB with more lift capacity than Titan IIIC had.  Titan IVA ended up with about the same capacity as a Titan IIIM would have had (as they both used the UA1207 boosters).  Other than their payloads that flew on the Shuttle before Challenger, that Titan III/Titan IVA capacity got them by until the later 90's when the Titan IVB started flying.  Not sure if they only wanted 17-18mt to LEO capacity from STS, and NASA wanted the 23mt, or if they both wanted the 23mt for "future growth".  But I was operating under the assumption that for a new next generation common LV, they'd want similar LEO performance to the Shuttle.  About 23mt or so.

It's one thing to milk your existing LV along by trying to trim mass off payloads to fit on it, or do some small upgrades to squeeze a little more out of it withouth needing an entirely new LV...and it's another to opt for an entirely new LV and then figure out how much -potential- capacity to build into it.  17mt to LEO was what USAF would have gotten form Titan IIIM and that would have likely done them for awhile....they didn't have a payload more than that until the first Titan IVB flew.   But if they made a decision to go with a whole new LV, then would they have wanted only a 17mt LV?  Or a 20 or 23 or 25mt LV, so that they wouldn't outgrow it for quite some time?
I'm guessing there was some of that, which went into STS's ulimate payloads capacity by both NASA and USAF.  (But that's just a guess, Jim will probably correct me on that.  :-)  )
So that's why I was shooting for around 23mt.


Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #27 on: 02/06/2015 11:42 PM »

Yea, I'm sure it -could- have been done if USAF and NASA both wanted it too,

Not really.  They have differing requirements.  See NPOESS, TFX, and others.

I'm not familiar with either of those terms.  NPOESS standard for "National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System".  I looked up the Wikipedia page for it but didn't see anything about special USAF requirements on it.  I can't find reference to TFX at all.
Could you elaborate on what you mean?
Ultimately, don't both NASA and USAF need a booster to get payloads to space?  Isn't that a joint requirement?  Beyond that there's differences, but could not they have come to a basic booster that was adequate for both?


Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #28 on: 02/07/2015 12:11 AM »
On site processing would have helped a lot I'm told, and building a "reusable" SRB around Titan sized was studied and while the casing was a pain it was also very dependent on how MANY reuses you built for. From what I've read you actually wanted about 10 flights before you "retired" one and that with on-site processing and check-out would have saved a lot. Not as much as "simple" LRBs but a lot compared to the RSRBs at any rate.


Oh, I have not doubt that it would.  I just mean that there's a difference between a plant punching out steel rings that only need to survive one ride up hill, and one that has to do a bunch of exotic metallurgy to produce rings that can be flown over and over without burning or breaking.  That coupled with the elaborate logistics of transportating them around to be refilled and refurbished made for that cost not being any cheaper than just expendable ones.


Again I'm not sure that recovering an "engine ring" versus recovery of the whole stage down-range would have been that much more "cost-effective" in the long run. And I don't see even the Air Force being able to convince NASA to go with a kerolox upper stage for much of any reason :)
As described I'd have to think that a "compromise" design would have a kerolox first and LH2 second stage with the "target" payload design being AF requirements for GTO/GEO and NASA manned and other missions secondary. Pretty much somehow coming up with an acceptable "Saturn-1B-ish" design the Air Force could buy into. 

As for the engine ring, I'm just saying that's something that could be explored.  It wouldn't be too hard.  Atlas had been jettisoning engines for a long time.  Boeing didn't think it'd be overly hard for S-1D.  The trick is having a float and parachute kit on it that would land is softly enough in the ocean that it didn't break up, and keep it afloat until it could be recovered. 
If it turns out to not be cost effective, here's the beauty of it.  You just take the recovery kits off of them.  Then it becomes a large Atlas and the engine rings aren't recovered.  The booster stays at a "1.5" stage booster like Atlas, and should have increased performance by kicking off that extra mass during it's burn. 
Once it became apparent that the reusable elements of STS weren't going to be cost effective, it was too late to do anything about it.

As far as the kerolox upper stage, it's hard to say.  I know they really liked their hydrolox.  But if you're just going to LEO, then hydrolox isn't the big advantage it is when you are going BLEO.  And your scales are different.   They didn't seem to mind using two hypergolic stages to get Gemini crews to LEO.  The Saturn 1 and 1B had a 2nd stage that was to be the upper in space station on a larger Saturn...hence why it's called the S-IV/S-IVB rather than the "S-II".  The Saturn 1 was essentially a kerolox booster topped with the 4th stage of a BFR which needed to be hydrolox as it would be used in space.
And when you are talking the scale of the N-1 or Saturn V, the efficiency deficit then becomes quite notable.  That N-1 would probably had to be half again as big as it was to match the Saturn V in performance and the N-1 and Saturn V themselves were pushing the limit of what size a rocket could be.
That's my understanding of it anyway.  Perhaps that's incorrect?  So for a new booster that was -only- going to LEO, maybe they would have went with something that was more like a cryogenic Titan II/III? 
STS was hydrolox, but that was essentially a HLV trying to get to LEO with just one augmented stage...so that was a big more "Unique" than a traditional TTSO LV where they can jettison most of their mass part way up where STS needs to haul that whole be tank all the way up.

But you could be right.


Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #29 on: 02/07/2015 11:53 AM »
AFAIK
TFX was nothing else than the F-111. Back in 1962 SecDef McNamara tried to turn it into a multirole fighter-bomber for both USN and Air Force.
The USN F-111B was a disaster of epic scale. The F-111A had a lot of teething issues that were solved on later models.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2015 11:54 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 Blackstar

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #30 on: 02/07/2015 04:53 PM »
AFAIK
TFX was nothing else than the F-111. Back in 1962 SecDef McNamara tried to turn it into a multirole fighter-bomber for both USN and Air Force.
The USN F-111B was a disaster of epic scale. The F-111A had a lot of teething issues that were solved on later models.


I'm not sure why Jim tossed TFX into the mix. But TFX was the "Tactical Fighter Experimental" program that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara initiated. McNamara thought that it was stupid that the services had separate fighter development programs and he wanted to force them to jointly develop a fighter/bomber. So TFX was a joint Air Force/Navy program. As you noted, the aircraft had a bunch of different problems.

Generally, TFX/F-111 gets used by people as an example of why it is a bad idea to force different services to jointly develop hardware. So, for instance, people claim that the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) is a mistake because it ignores the lesson of the TFX.

I actually don't buy the argument that TFX demonstrates that the Air Force and the Navy should never share an aircraft. I think that what TFX really proves is that if you do a bad job in development, you'll suffer the consequences. There are in fact many examples of Navy aircraft that proved quite successful in Air Force service: the F-4, A-7, A-4 (not the U.S. Air Force, but many others), the Skyraider and a whole bunch of helicopters. It generally doesn't work the other way around because Navy aircraft have to land on carriers, and that requires a much beefier airframe. But there's no inherent reason why the services cannot share aircraft. So I don't think the TFX lesson is the dangers of joint development, rather than the perils of bad development.

Finally, I'd note that it is important to differentiate between technical requirements and bureaucratic ones. As Jim noted earlier, a lot of the issues between NASA and the Air Force were more along the lines of bureaucratic differences like who ran the program. There were not big technical differences between many USAF and NASA payloads.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #31 on: 02/09/2015 04:13 PM »
AFAIK
TFX was nothing else than the F-111. Back in 1962 SecDef McNamara tried to turn it into a multirole fighter-bomber for both USN and Air Force.
The USN F-111B was a disaster of epic scale. The F-111A had a lot of teething issues that were solved on later models.


I'm not sure why Jim tossed TFX into the mix. But TFX was the "Tactical Fighter Experimental" program that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara initiated. McNamara thought that it was stupid that the services had separate fighter development programs and he wanted to force them to jointly develop a fighter/bomber. So TFX was a joint Air Force/Navy program. As you noted, the aircraft had a bunch of different problems.

Generally, TFX/F-111 gets used by people as an example of why it is a bad idea to force different services to jointly develop hardware. So, for instance, people claim that the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) is a mistake because it ignores the lesson of the TFX.

I actually don't buy the argument that TFX demonstrates that the Air Force and the Navy should never share an aircraft. I think that what TFX really proves is that if you do a bad job in development, you'll suffer the consequences. There are in fact many examples of Navy aircraft that proved quite successful in Air Force service: the F-4, A-7, A-4 (not the U.S. Air Force, but many others), the Skyraider and a whole bunch of helicopters. It generally doesn't work the other way around because Navy aircraft have to land on carriers, and that requires a much beefier airframe. But there's no inherent reason why the services cannot share aircraft. So I don't think the TFX lesson is the dangers of joint development, rather than the perils of bad development.

Finally, I'd note that it is important to differentiate between technical requirements and bureaucratic ones. As Jim noted earlier, a lot of the issues between NASA and the Air Force were more along the lines of bureaucratic differences like who ran the program. There were not big technical differences between many USAF and NASA payloads.


Ahhh...thanks Blackstar.  That clarifies Jim's reference some there.

But, I'd think the actual technical needs of NASA and USAF in an LV would be much more similar than USAF and USN's needs in an aircraft due primarily as you said to the USN's need to land on carriers.  That can change quite dramatically the design of an aircraft.

At the end of the day, USAF and NASA have the same basic requirements.  To get up to X mass to space. 
NASA needs man rating but I don't think that really changes the fundamental design of an engine or booster, more of an issue of sensors and such added to an engine and booster?  The engine and booster are fundamentally the same either way.

The degree of attempted reusability would probably be something that would lead to a fundamental technical difference.  But those are options which could be discussed and some sort of compromise made.  As to where an aircraft is either designed so it can land and take off from a carrier...or it can't.  There's really no compromise to be made there other than something like the F-35 where there's basically 2 or 3 different aircraft which share some common componts where applicable.  But all 3 versions will be quite different aircraft as I understand.

In an LV, you could have a reusable liquid engine ring, reusable liquid core, reusable solid strap on booster, reusable liquid strap on boosters, etc.  SO there's options as to the -level- of reusability to build into it...if any.  They could just go with fully expendable LV and NASA would have a reusable oribter for their crews and let the economics of scale provide the money savings.  USAF didn't have much use for reusability where NASA seemed to really desire it.  But USAF did get into bed with NASA on a partially reusable STS, so I don't know that it couldn't be done.  But that'd probably be the major bone of contention in a joint launch system.  This thead basically implies that they do come to some sort of compromise that both find "acceptable" if not perfect.  Where they both understand the benefits of standardization and economics of scale and commonality.  Otherwise...there's not much to discuss.  :-)

Unlike USN and USAF in an aircraft, the needs of USAF and NASA in a rocket are fundamentally pretty much the same.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #32 on: 02/09/2015 04:20 PM »

Unlike USN and USAF in an aircraft, the needs of USAF and NASA in a rocket are fundamentally pretty much the same.

No, the analogy between USN and USAF aircraft and NASA and DOD launch vehicles is perfect.

USN aircraft - carrier landing/ops and NASA LV - manrating.  Items that the USAF and DOD don't need for their systems.

Carrier landing is just more structure and more redundancy much like manrating a launch vehicle.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #33 on: 02/09/2015 04:22 PM »
In that same vein, that's why I like the booster engine ring that can be jettisoned and recovered.  USAF wouldn't even have to mess around with recovering it.  For them, it could perform like a larger version of Atlas.  A 1.5 stage booster.  NASA could have a recovery kit on it and they could choose to recover it.  Such an LV with the engine ring recovered would be akin to the actual STS in level of reusability, as 8 out of the 10 engines used would be recovered and reused, along with most of the booster MPS structure.  Trying to recover the whole booster becomes much more problematic even if you can splash it gently, as we've seen from SpaceX.  If it tips over, it can break up as it's much more fragile than the SRB's.   And really all you are recovering is essently most of the actual STS's ET.  (the rest being the upper stage tankage).  Which STS expended anyway.
So I think a recoverable engine ring is a nice bit of reusability that USAF would sign off on as it's not much different than the concept their Atlas used already, and they don't even need to recover the ring if they don't want.  Aside from that, it's just a big dumb 2.5 stage to orbit LV, not all that unlike Titan.  But with fewer parts.  Between that and their new reusable [smaller] shuttle orbiter, they get their partially reusable next-gen looking system, and USAF still gets their dumb HLV to replace Titan III instead of upgrading Titan III to Titan IV.


Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #34 on: 02/09/2015 05:56 PM »

Unlike USN and USAF in an aircraft, the needs of USAF and NASA in a rocket are fundamentally pretty much the same.

No, the analogy between USN and USAF aircraft and NASA and DOD launch vehicles is perfect.

USN aircraft - carrier landing/ops and NASA LV - manrating.  Items that the USAF and DOD don't need for their systems.

Carrier landing is just more structure and more redundancy much like manrating a launch vehicle.

Ok, so my analogy is much better than I thought.  :-)

But I'm not so sure.  Manrating an LV doesn't change it's performance and capabilities (as I understand).  It adds some cost to development and to production (although in theory, those would be more than cancelled by the higher production rate of a shared LV.  That is assumed for the purposes of this thread) 

With an aircraft designed to land on an aircraft carrier, it takes a very large performance hit.  Not unlike STS itself.  It was of a size and power to SAturn V, but only the performance a little better than SAturn 1B.  USAF has usually opted to not take that performance hit for the benefit of economics.
So it might be a little apples to oranges comparing things like carrier landing capability and VTOL capability in aircraft to a man rated vs. non man rated LV...once the intial development investment has been made.

But we've seen standardization in similar ways within the USAF and USN.  F/A-18 replaced the F-14 and A-6.  One standard fighter/bomber on a carrier rather than a dedicated fighter and dedicated bomber was deemed more desirable than two dedicated aircraft, although it's not necessarily better at either.
For USAF, there was the F-15E Stike Eagle, which replaced the F-111 for medium range bombing, instead of a new dedicated medium bomber which I'd imagine would be more capable than F-15E.  But they opted to use a standardized platform instead (for better economics I'm assuming).

With F-35 being an attempt to consolidate the two (three) serivces into one standard aircraft. 

So standarization is nothing new to the military branches, and I would think that could extend to LV's... -if- the costs benefit was there.

At the end of the day, the question is why attempt to standardize US government aircraft or US goverment LV's?  With US military, between the 3 branches that operate fixed wing aircraft, there's are dozens of squadrons and thousands of aircraft with several very specific roles.  Enough to support a few different airframes in parallel to get more optimal performance and still have some economics of scale.  Air superiority, interception, long range ground attack, medium range ground attack, short range ground attack, close ground support, refueling, electronics warefare, transportation, VTOL capabilities (light carrier capable), STOL capabilities (Heavy carrier capable) etc.  Too many to have a dedicated aircraft for each usually, but enough that a single airframe can't do it all. (And trying to stuff too many roles into a single airframe is causing issues, as we see with F-35)

With USAF and NASA back in the 70's, you have all together maybe a few dozen launches a year?, and essentially both need the same thing.  Payloads into space...from fixed launch pads...a few dozen times a year total.  So operating various separate launch systems that each get used just a handful of times a year to do essentially the same thing has always seemed a little unnecessarily redundant to me...by both USAF and NASA.  A single launch system really likely could do it all.

Just an observation.  As always, I could be wrong.  :-)
« Last Edit: 02/09/2015 06:32 PM by Lobo »

Offline truth is life

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #35 on: 02/09/2015 10:16 PM »
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.
I specifically mentioned procurement for a reason; it was meant to refer to precisely the issues you state. NASA and the Air Force would certainly have to talk to each other when deciding what rockets to build, but I don't see why they would need to have any further contact. To specifically solve this issue I would suggest a joint procurement committee that would be the ones "controlling" the design of the rocket (that is, issuing orders to the contractor(s)), made up half of Air Force and half NASA personnel. This way, both sides would have a say but neither side would be able to impose its desires on the other, hence requiring reasonable compromises between them.

In any case, all of this talk about "bureaucratic obstacles" seems to me to be code for "Marshall and Air Force were acting like spoiled brats who didn't want to deal with anyone else as an equal, ever," from how you (mostly) have described them, which does not particularly glorify their point of view. From a purely technical standpoint, a perfectly reasonable system that could have achieved all of the principle goals of both sides was surely achievable, given how much "their" launch vehicles at the time overlapped in capability, and such a vehicle could surely have been designed to have been more economical and safer than STS proved to be. Whether or not the people involved could get along is important in assessing how plausible such a system is, but not in how desirable or possible it would be.

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #36 on: 02/10/2015 03:41 PM »
No, the analogy between USN and USAF aircraft and NASA and DOD launch vehicles is perfect.

USN aircraft - carrier landing/ops and NASA LV - manrating.  Items that the USAF and DOD don't need for their systems.

Carrier landing is just more structure and more redundancy much like manrating a launch vehicle.

Quibbly-point though Jim was that AT THE TIME, the USAF was open to and in fact had suggested continuing to "man-rate" larger Titan LV's both for their own use AND as a "suggestion" for NASA needs. So the "difference" was not so clear cut as you suggest. The stated conflict WOULD get larger as time went on and USAF requirements diverged from those of NASA but OTHER than bureaucratic and some specific operations issues both organizations COULD have cooperated to specify the needs of a joint launch vehicle.

AF handles launches from the ETR/WTR and NASA handles launches from the Cape. The main question then becomes defining vehicle requirements and horse-trading between NASA and the USAF on same...

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 Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #37 on: 02/10/2015 03:45 PM »


AF handles launches from the ETR/WTR and NASA handles launches from the Cape. The main question then becomes defining vehicle requirements and horse-trading between NASA and the USAF on same...

Randy

Actually ETR and Cape are the same. NASA launches from KSC.

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #38 on: 02/10/2015 03:47 PM »

Quibbly-point though Jim was that AT THE TIME, the USAF was open to and in fact had suggested continuing to "man-rate" larger Titan LV's both for their own use AND as a "suggestion" for NASA needs. So the "difference" was not so clear cut as you suggest. The stated conflict WOULD get larger as time went on and USAF requirements diverged from those of NASA but OTHER than bureaucratic and some specific operations issues both organizations COULD have cooperated to specify the needs of a joint launch vehicle.

AF handles launches from the ETR/WTR and NASA handles launches from the Cape. The main question then becomes defining vehicle requirements and horse-trading between NASA and the USAF on same...


That wouldn't be "joint".  It would be the USAF running the show with the contracts and operations like it did for Viking and Voyager on Titan Centaur, just like NASA running the shuttle.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2015 06:36 PM by Jim »

Offline joema

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #39 on: 02/10/2015 04:59 PM »
....From a purely technical standpoint, a perfectly reasonable system that could have achieved all of the principle goals of both sides was surely achievable...and such a vehicle could surely have been designed to have been more economical and safer than STS proved to be...

In hindsight there is limited credible basis this was practically achievable. In fact the core problem was the pervasive assumption that "surely a reusable winged vehicle is the way forward". This mindset was deeply ingrained from the 1950s onward. Von Braun's associate Walter Dornberger may have coined the term space shuttle, and described it as "an economical space plane capable of putting a fresh egg, every morning, on the table of every crew member of a space station circling the globe".

When you combine this compelling, seemingly plausible vision with success of the X-15 and Dyna-Soar (even thought it never flew), it's understandable how this led to a superficial, optimistic viewpoint that a large winged LV can be made with airliner-like turnaround and operating costs.

In retrospect you can almost rekindle the reasoning: X-15 was turned around in two days, there were plans for orbital versions, shuttle will be like that only bigger. Obvious problems like TPS, engines and turnaround had facile solutions. TPS would use "new technology", the J-2 engine actually has a long lifetime, how hard could the SSME be?

George Mueller's solution for turnaround was "automated checkout", which he said would make it possible for a small ground crew to carry out the preflight checks, achieving true aircraft-like simplicity. In his vision each major system would have built-in health and trend monitoring as a fundamental core element. This would facilitate targeted servicing, especially attractive in an era of clipboards and visual inspection of gauges and pen plotters.

Unfortunately the devil is in the details. IF this was achievable (which is unclear), it would have required a dogged, persistent focus on how every design decision along the way affected serviceability and turnaround goals. From the smallest access panel, to cable routing, to subcomponent selection, to overall vehicle architecture.

In design reviews each decision was evaluated against performance and safety. But the ultimate objective was a reusable vehicle that met turnaround and serviceability goals, not just the performance goals. So serviceability implications of every minor decision at every design review should have been continuously scrutinized and prioritized at an equal ranking to performance and safety.  IOW a minor design proposal which incurred 1,000 man hours projected servicing time would have equal merit to one which cost 1,000 lbs payload. That did not happen.

Exactly how this goal slipped away during the design has not been well documented. I have an entire shelf of books on the shuttle, yet this aspect receives little attention. Attributing the shuttle's  problems to "design compromise" is an easy, child's-crayon-like simplification which detracts from a proper historical understanding of what happened. It implies there was a better alternate design available with the money, knowledge and technology in 1971 which would have achieved the goals. This is by no means clear.

Some of the problem causes are obvious. Conflicting with servicability was the viewpoint that NASA should push the forefront of technology. Also it's emotionally more exciting to design a F1 race car than a dump truck. However if your stated bottom line goal is designing a dump truck, that should receive ultimate priority. An organizational system which empowered engineers to raise serviciability issues with the same priority as performance and safety issues might have helped.

However this was not the mindset. Max Faget himself was dismayed at the high pressure, likely finicky SSME design, and fought hard (unsuccessfully) for a lower pressure more servicable solution. Multiply this by thousands of other minor and major decisions, and that comes closer to what went wrong than saying a few macro-level design elements were "compromised".

Unfortunately a meticulous, focused examination of this aspect of shuttle history not been undertaken to my knowledge. It is as true for historians as designers that "the devil is in the details". It's easier to follow popular wisdom but that does not always lead to engineering success or historical truth. The problem is those who don't know true history are bound to repeat it.

Offline the_other_Doug

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #40 on: 02/10/2015 06:04 PM »
I think this discussion of Air Force v NASA is well-illustrated by how the relationship started.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, CCAFS was (as the title suggests) a completely Air Force installation.  NASA was granted minor rights to integrate payloads, and somewhat greater rights to prepare and launch rockets, but all of the infrastructure was created, maintained and controlled by AF assets.  For example, when the first Mercury capsule to be launched was delivered to the Cape, the AF personnel gave NASA a corner of an existing hangar (no "white room" clean standards) to work on and prepare the capsule, because all NASA had was "a payload."  The engineers working on the capsule had to spray pure ammonia around their work area to try and kill the mosquitoes, which are a real problem at night in Florida, especially near the ocean.

By the time we get to Gemini planning, there was a huge issue with who was in control of the development of the Titan II booster for use as the Gemini launch vehicle.  The biggest issue was POGO -- the fore-and-aft movement of the rocket as it accelerated.  The Air Force had worked with the Martin company to reduce POGO to an acceptable level for their warheads, and had achieved what they felt was an acceptable level.  However, NASA determined that the acceptable level for a warhead was still far from acceptable for humans riding a Gemini capsule.

The Air Force decided that they would not spend a single dime more than they needed to to get the missile ready for deployment as an ICBM, and basically told NASA that if they didn't like the result, tough.  NASA (in the persons of Bob Gilruth and Jim Webb) appealed this all the way up to the Secretary of Defense, Bob McNamara, insisting that Gemini was critical to the lunar landing goal and that the Air Force was standing directly in the way of achieving that goal.

McNamara responded by trying to pull off a partial (in some minds, complete) Air Force takeover of the Gemini program, giving the Air Force control over not just the launch vehicle (with direction to continue development to man-rate the Titan) but also over Gemini flight operations.  Under his concept, more than half of the flights would be Gemini "blue" missions prosecuting goals of militarizing near-Earth space, and even the "civilian" Gemini flights would be controlled not by NASA but by AF flight controllers.

NASA pushed back, hard, but had a conundrum -- the extra funding from the Air Force budget could make the difference in man-rating the Titan, but they could not accept the takeover of the American manned space flight program by the Air Force and the DoD.  They tread a very fine line in convincing McNamara that the civilian space agency could not allow the AF to supplant them in their role of developing and running American manned spaceflight, but that the AF had to back off from their stance that "we only need to get this thing ready for ICBM deployment, after that NASA is on its own and is SOL if they don't like it."

This truly set the stage for the situation Jim describes, of programs being managed either entirely by the Air Force or entirely by NASA.  Neither group felt they could do their jobs if they had to cede any of the program decisions to the other, based on the various power-grabs that were attempted early on in the NASA-AF relationship.
-Doug  (With my shield, not yet upon it)

Offline Proponent

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #41 on: 02/10/2015 07:43 PM »
....From a purely technical standpoint, a perfectly reasonable system that could have achieved all of the principle goals of both sides was surely achievable...and such a vehicle could surely have been designed to have been more economical and safer than STS proved to be...

In hindsight there is limited credible basis this was practically achievable. In fact the core problem was the pervasive assumption that "surely a reusable winged vehicle is the way forward". This mindset was deeply ingrained from the 1950s onward. Von Braun's associate Walter Dornberger may have coined the term space shuttle, and described it as "an economical space plane capable of putting a fresh egg, every morning, on the table of every crew member of a space station circling the globe".

When you combine this compelling, seemingly plausible vision with success of the X-15 and Dyna-Soar (even thought it never flew), it's understandable how this led to a superficial, optimistic viewpoint that a large winged LV can be made with airliner-like turnaround and operating costs.

In retrospect you can almost rekindle the reasoning: X-15 was turned around in two days, there were plans for orbital versions, shuttle will be like that only bigger. Obvious problems like TPS, engines and turnaround had facile solutions. TPS would use "new technology", the J-2 engine actually has a long lifetime, how hard could the SSME be?

George Mueller's solution for turnaround was "automated checkout", which he said would make it possible for a small ground crew to carry out the preflight checks, achieving true aircraft-like simplicity. In his vision each major system would have built-in health and trend monitoring as a fundamental core element. This would facilitate targeted servicing, especially attractive in an era of clipboards and visual inspection of gauges and pen plotters.

Unfortunately the devil is in the details. IF this was achievable (which is unclear), it would have required a dogged, persistent focus on how every design decision along the way affected serviceability and turnaround goals. From the smallest access panel, to cable routing, to subcomponent selection, to overall vehicle architecture.

And, although it seems nobody was paying attention, one 1966 study of X-15 operations (attached) concluded that "the present estimates and extrapolations for future reusable boosters and orbital space vehicles appear to be overly optimistic in comparison to the actual X-15 experience, especially in the length of time required for turnaround."  Average turn-around times stubbornly remained 20-40 days through 1965 (the latest data in the study).  The paper also notes that turn-around costs were about 3% of the cost of a new vehicle.  Apply that to the fully-reusable Shuttle that was meant to cost $10 billion (1971 dollars) for a fleet of five, and NASA's projections of $6 million per flight look awfully optimistic.

More generally on the question of the Shuttle's economics, two RAND studies (one in 1966 and another, attached, in 1970) indicated that a shuttle did not make economic sense unless the space program were going to be ramped up quite a bit.

A different Shuttle might not have been as much an economic failure as the actual STS, but it seems unlikely that manned winged reusable vehicle built with 1970s technology would have been a successful all-purpose LEO space truck.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2015 07:47 PM by Proponent »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #42 on: 02/10/2015 11:03 PM »
Interesting.

Great info all the way around Joema, Doug, and Propent.
(It'll take some time for me to plow through the Rand study).

So, in summary, it sounds like:

1)  NASA and USAF -could- have worked together, but basically chose not to except where forced to.  Partially because of different criteria, but also because of politics and past history.
(For the purposes of this thread, we have to assume they would be able to set aside all that and work together.  Maybe if Reagan had been president in the early 70's he'd have made them like he did after STS started flying.  ;-)  )

2.  I think it's fairly clear that it was known that reusability wasn't going to return a whole lot of gain unless there was a serious ramp up in number of missions.  That knowledge was ignored by many in order to pursue reusability.  Maybe USAF understood this better than NASA as they never really wanted to pursue it apparently.  Or maybe they just had deeper pockets and didn't care.  And their launches weren't part of the public eye the way NASA launches were.

3.  That said, reusability could be used where there was a reasonable cost/benefit analysis.  The orbiter is a good candidate because for NASA, they must return their crew anyway.  (unlike the booster).  So making a reusable orbiter isn't a stretch there if you must bring that element back home safely.  So I think a reusable orbiter of some sort would have been pretty likely for NASA regardless of a joint launch system with USAF.  Just that the LV itself didn't necessarily have to have any reusability.  My recoverable engine ring concept is a possibility as it wouldn't be too expensive to develop or implement, unlike flyback boosters, soft splashdowns of whole booster stages, or propulsive landings (back then).   The Shuttle was basically an attempt to reuse the booster, the main engines, the payload fairing, and the crew spacecraft.  Quite ambitious and the result seemed to be inline with what the skeptics had expected.   Which is why I think shrinking the orbiter down to just a crew (and perhaps small cargo) reusable spaceplane could have made a much more simple, inexpensive, and safe reusable spacecraft.  (at the expense of the Shuttle's large downmass capability).

So, I think we've established there was little chance of there being a joint NASA/USAF launch system in the early 70's, but assuming the two -could- play nice, what might a joint LV have looked like?
Just seems to be that with the limited number of USAF payloads that required Titan, and the limited number of NASA launches, operating multiple separate launch systems for just a handful of launches a year seems..."inefficient".
Looking back at the list of Titan launches, looked like there was about 10/year average in the early 70's.  NASA launched the Shuttle 9 times in a year at most (1985)....and two of those were DoD payloads.  There were 2 Titan launches in 1985.
So if you assume 20 launches per year combined, seems like that's not really enough to justify multiple launchers.  But one common launcher getting some 20 launches per year...has reasonable economics of scale...and could possibly justify -some- reusable elements.



Offline Proponent

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #43 on: 02/10/2015 11:13 PM »
So, I think we've established there was little chance of there being a joint NASA/USAF launch system in the early 70's, but assuming the two -could- play nice, what might a joint LV have looked like?

It seems to me we're then looking at something like the low-cost expendables that I mentioned a few posts back.  I think we can be confident such a thing would have saved money, because, unlike the Shuttle, its development would not have entailed much technological risk.  Maybe NASA could have built a re-usable crew vehicle to ride on such a thing, as an X-vechicle for a reusable shuttle, if nothing else.
« Last Edit: 02/10/2015 11:18 PM by Proponent »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #44 on: 02/11/2015 04:55 PM »
So, I think we've established there was little chance of there being a joint NASA/USAF launch system in the early 70's, but assuming the two -could- play nice, what might a joint LV have looked like?

It seems to me we're then looking at something like the low-cost expendables that I mentioned a few posts back.  I think we can be confident such a thing would have saved money, because, unlike the Shuttle, its development would not have entailed much technological risk.  Maybe NASA could have built a re-usable crew vehicle to ride on such a thing, as an X-vechicle for a reusable shuttle, if nothing else.

Yup, good references there.  It would have required to go with "NASA's" rockets though, and basically give control to them which seems unlikely (but maybe not any more unlikely than assuming USAF and NASA would work together to begin with).

I was thinking more of a new system that both USAF and NASA would be in on from inception.  Kinda like STS was, although NASA had control over that.  But it was a new system that was neither Saturn nor Titan.  I'm just wondering if in a world where NASA and USAF -did- work together, a new system they were both in on from the beginning with equal joint (or 3rd party) control would probably be a requirement if there was any chance they'd work together.

 

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #45 on: 02/11/2015 05:25 PM »
Air Force did not need crew or to return cargo.

So what if they had a type of Shuttle Z.

Use J-2 ( designed for sea level ground start ) instead of the RS-25 on the Shuttle Z ( similar to the concept )?

Use Shuttle Z for all west coast launches ( no crew needed and low flight rate ).

Could the shuttle Z have used the same SBR's as the east coast launches did ( from what I've read the east coast shuttle launches were to use different solid boosters )? If so with a low flight rate use a used pair but don't recover them for possible cost saving with what was needed to recover the boosters?

East coast to add a third pad to LC-39 for Shuttle Z launches. This might have also given NASA at the time the option for heavier and or larger payloads for BLEO. Also for non crew launches. Flights for cargo might have been able to continued after the Challenger accident with Shuttle Z ( lack of crew for less risk , just payload ).

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #46 on: 02/11/2015 10:44 PM »
Shuttle Z, which was reincarnated in the side mounted SDHLV evaluated prior to SLS being selected, I don't think would be any sort of cost savings. 
Even with both NASA and USAF using it, I don't know that the SRB's would fly enough to make their reusability economical.  The modifications to SLC-6 at VAFB for STS would be pretty similar to what needed for Shuttle Z, which where fairly expensive.  And those SRB's would have to be towed back there and disassembled and sent back to Utah for refueling.  As you say, they could perhaps just be expended for VAFB launches, but they still were expensive either wa.
J2S could have been used and saved money from developing the RS-25.

And then there's the size mount MPS and paylaod carrier.  That assembly would basically be it's own separate LV in it's own right.  Jim made this point prior to inline SDHLV being selected for SLS when many thought a side mount would be cheaper.  That whole side mounted assembly is like it's own rocket, with it's tank side mounted to it. 

The idea of this joint concept would be to save money and standardize vs. STS and Titan IV. 

Without a big orbiter which carried the payload, a sidemounted configuration really had no necessity.  And if you -do- have that big orbiter that necessitated a sidemounted configuration, then Shuttle Z competes with STS for missions, which is why it and several other STS cousins like HL-20 and [origininal] inline SDHLV never got off the drawing board.

On a side note, it really would have been amazing to see how history would have unfolded if they'd scrubbed the Challenger launch that cold January morning to wait for warmer temps.  Had just that one simple decision been made, it wouldn't have had the O-ring problem and had a successful mission.  That summer Discovery would have had it's maiden launch from SCL-6 taking the first crew ever to a polor orbit.  That would have been something.  Without the Challenger accident, USAF would have continued to use STS and Titan IV would not have been developed (most likely).  The flight rate of STS never would have been near what they'd originally hoped, but with USAF/DoD using it regularly, it's flight rate would have been better.   Maybe up to 15 a year between all 3 pads?  Might USAF have started training their own astronauts to fly with NASA astroanuts if they'd had their "own" shuttle at VAFB, so to speak?

Interesting to wonder how all of that might have unfolded.

Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #47 on: 02/12/2015 03:29 AM »
OK then something both could use.

Atlas V like-

Core plus US able to lift ~30,000 lb to LEO. ( No SRB's for crew safety, add bells and whistles for crew launch )

US most likely Centaur V1 or V2.

New crew capsule. Three minimum seating or more if NASA wanted more crew within the mass limit of the two stage lifter.
( Land-landed reusable capsule )

Add Atlas V like SRB's for added lift. ( That would be 70's tech )

NASA has it's own launch pad and USAF has it's own pad.

Manufacture takes orders from both NASA and USAF.

Latter if greater payload mass was needed they could add in the tri-core option with cross feed.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #48 on: 02/12/2015 05:01 PM »
OK then something both could use.

Atlas V like-

Core plus US able to lift ~30,000 lb to LEO. ( No SRB's for crew safety, add bells and whistles for crew launch )

US most likely Centaur V1 or V2.

New crew capsule. Three minimum seating or more if NASA wanted more crew within the mass limit of the two stage lifter.
( Land-landed reusable capsule )

Add Atlas V like SRB's for added lift. ( That would be 70's tech )

NASA has it's own launch pad and USAF has it's own pad.

Manufacture takes orders from both NASA and USAF.

Latter if greater payload mass was needed they could add in the tri-core option with cross feed.

On the right track now.
In early 70's there were no Atlas like SRB's.  There were Titan III segmented SRB's, and Minuteman ICBM small monolithic SRB's.  (as I understand).
New motors could be made for a new launch system.  Basically an EELV 20 years early.  It'd be a new development but probably wouldn't have been overly expensive. 
What core and engines would you use.  would this be just two stage?  or multi stage?  GG kerolox engines and hypergolic engines with relatively low ISP typically had two stages to LEO.  Titan III was 2.5 stages to LEO.  Atlas and Atlas II used the MA-5 which dropped 2 of it's three nozzles partway up to help performance.  Saturn 1 and 1B were two stage to LEO LV's.  I believe Proton's first two stages are to get it to LEO.  And Saturn V/Skylab LV was basically a 2 stage to LEO LV.

Also, it'd have to have good performance to LEO specifically as that's what NASA's needs were.  As to where current EELV are more optimized for BLEO than LEO because that was USAF/DoD's primary need.    Falcon has better LEO performance compared to it's BLEO performance.  If Falcon had a hydrolox 3rd stage on it, it'd have fantastic BLEO performance.  Which is why I was thinking something like a large Falcon, with an optional Centaur-D 3rd stage (could be later upgraded to Centaur-T size) for those BLEO payloads for USAF.  It'd have great LEO performance for NASA and other LEO payloads.  And solids could be omitted entirely and the focus on economics of scale of the liquid engines, with the possibility to have a reusable engine ring.

An alternative would be to have a hydrolox core powered by J2S, with Titan III SRB's as sort of a 70's version of Ariane 5.  That would satisfy NASA's excitement over hydrolox as the miracle propellant and the core could possibly get all the way to disposal without the need for a whole 2nd stage.  But unmanned LEO paylaods would still need a kick stage as there's no big orbiter to do it.   But, I think that would be more expensive...and obviously hydrolox is temperamental.
If going that route, probably better to make the core kerolox with like 4 or 5 H-1's, and Titan III SRB's, and make it essentially a kerolox version Titan III.  Could launch with or without the boosters.  Without booster it'd cover the Titan II/III and Atlas-Centaur payloads with more capacity than those.  With Titan III SRB's it'd be Titan IV/STS performance.  The Titan IIIM UA1207 man rated SRB's would probably need to be developed for this configuration as NASA would need to launch with those SRB's for it's missions.  (Could be made reusable if desired).
But I still like that SRB-less “Large 1970’s Falcon 9” the best so far.  :-)







Offline RocketmanUS

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #49 on: 02/12/2015 06:04 PM »
OK then something both could use.

Atlas V like-

Core plus US able to lift ~30,000 lb to LEO. ( No SRB's for crew safety, add bells and whistles for crew launch )

US most likely Centaur V1 or V2.

New crew capsule. Three minimum seating or more if NASA wanted more crew within the mass limit of the two stage lifter.
( Land-landed reusable capsule )

Add Atlas V like SRB's for added lift. ( That would be 70's tech )

NASA has it's own launch pad and USAF has it's own pad.

Manufacture takes orders from both NASA and USAF.

Latter if greater payload mass was needed they could add in the tri-core option with cross feed.

On the right track now.
In early 70's there were no Atlas like SRB's.  There were Titan III segmented SRB's, and Minuteman ICBM small monolithic SRB's.  (as I understand).
New motors could be made for a new launch system.  Basically an EELV 20 years early.  It'd be a new development but probably wouldn't have been overly expensive. 
What core and engines would you use.  would this be just two stage?  or multi stage?  GG kerolox engines and hypergolic engines with relatively low ISP typically had two stages to LEO.  Titan III was 2.5 stages to LEO.  Atlas and Atlas II used the MA-5 which dropped 2 of it's three nozzles partway up to help performance.  Saturn 1 and 1B were two stage to LEO LV's.  I believe Proton's first two stages are to get it to LEO.  And Saturn V/Skylab LV was basically a 2 stage to LEO LV.

Also, it'd have to have good performance to LEO specifically as that's what NASA's needs were.  As to where current EELV are more optimized for BLEO than LEO because that was USAF/DoD's primary need.    Falcon has better LEO performance compared to it's BLEO performance.  If Falcon had a hydrolox 3rd stage on it, it'd have fantastic BLEO performance.  Which is why I was thinking something like a large Falcon, with an optional Centaur-D 3rd stage (could be later upgraded to Centaur-T size) for those BLEO payloads for USAF.  It'd have great LEO performance for NASA and other LEO payloads.  And solids could be omitted entirely and the focus on economics of scale of the liquid engines, with the possibility to have a reusable engine ring.

An alternative would be to have a hydrolox core powered by J2S, with Titan III SRB's as sort of a 70's version of Ariane 5.  That would satisfy NASA's excitement over hydrolox as the miracle propellant and the core could possibly get all the way to disposal without the need for a whole 2nd stage.  But unmanned LEO paylaods would still need a kick stage as there's no big orbiter to do it.   But, I think that would be more expensive...and obviously hydrolox is temperamental.
If going that route, probably better to make the core kerolox with like 4 or 5 H-1's, and Titan III SRB's, and make it essentially a kerolox version Titan III.  Could launch with or without the boosters.  Without booster it'd cover the Titan II/III and Atlas-Centaur payloads with more capacity than those.  With Titan III SRB's it'd be Titan IV/STS performance.  The Titan IIIM UA1207 man rated SRB's would probably need to be developed for this configuration as NASA would need to launch with those SRB's for it's missions.  (Could be made reusable if desired).
But I still like that SRB-less “Large 1970’s Falcon 9” the best so far.  :-)
1st stage RP-1 engine(s). What engines did we have back in 1969 to 1971 with sea level thrust 200,000 lb to 2 Mlb?

So 1st stage with sea level ISP back then would have some were around 1.4 to 2 Mlb thrust.
Stage would be wider than an Atlas V 1st stage do to the lower ISP of then engines of the time. So it would most likely need water transport to the launch site.

The 2nd stage could be a Centaur. V1 for GSO/escape missions and the V2 for crew or heavy LEO payloads. ( engines RL-10 , could upgrade them later if needed ).

Two stage with no SRB's would need close to 30,000 lb to LEO for crew missions ( reusable capsule with land-landing ).

For cargo only with greater mass payloads add in new SRB's ( Atlas V like ).
Even greater mass then use tri-core with cross feed.

Manufacture to take orders from NASA and USAF. I think only the crew version would be different ( bells and whistles ) but the cargo version should be the same.

J-2's were not needed unless they needed heavy lift like Saturn V.

If the 1st stage uses more than one engine then they could make a smaller 1st stage ( for less mass payloads, say under 10,000 lb ) with less engines with same us

Offline joema

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #50 on: 02/12/2015 11:34 PM »
Quote from: Proponent
...although it seems nobody was paying attention, one 1966 study of X-15 operations (attached) concluded that "the present estimates and extrapolations for future reusable boosters and orbital space vehicles appear to be overly optimistic in comparison to the actual X-15 experience, especially in the length of time required for turnaround."...The paper also notes that turn-around costs were about 3% of the cost of a new vehicle.  Apply that to the fully-reusable Shuttle that was meant to cost $10 billion (1971 dollars) for a fleet of five, and NASA's projections of $6 million per flight look awfully optimistic.

Thanks for those great links. As you stated the X-15 which allegedly bolstered support for a reusable LV in fact did the opposite. But the results were interpreted selectively.

Quote from: Proponent
...More generally on the question of the Shuttle's economics, two RAND studies...indicated that a shuttle did not make economic sense unless the space program were going to be ramped up quite a bit.
Yes, the RAND study was very clear about questionable shuttle economics. Incredibly, this was *despite* assuming a $10 billion fully-reusable two-stage design with a 10 (!!!) orbiter fleet, 100-flight lifetime, automated checkout, and was done before finalized shuttle design, hence did not incorporate adverse maintenance factors associated with the final design choices.

Even with all those optimistic assumptions it was known in 1970 timeframe the shuttle would be hard-pressed to cost justify, and would possibly not deliver on the "airliner-like" turnaround time and operational costs. This was further corroborated by the 1972 GAO report: http://archive.gao.gov/f0302/096542.pdf

What about a smaller shuttle? The RAND study said "While primary emphasis has been placed on a shuttle with a 50,000-lb payload capability, preliminary cost estimates indicate that there is little difference in total space transportation costs...for design payload weights as low as 25,000 lb". IOW making it half as big wouldn't have saved much.

What about the Mathematica study which spoke of 50 flights per year? That was a synthetic study to examine economics assuming that flight rate was possible. It did not promise or commit or evaluate whether that flight rate was achievable. It was just assumed. Of *course* the more often it flies the cheaper per flight. It doesn't take an expensive study to know that.

Even that simplistic Mathematica study showed shuttle would not break even on costs vs ELVs unless it flew > 30 times per year. It was essentially commissioned by NASA to support the shuttle, but if read carefully raised danger flags about operating costs. That is very different from the now-common view.

Once again this is an area space historians have mostly failed to pursue. This failure distorts an accurate historical assessment of what actually happened, hence risks poorly-informed future choices. In historical scholarship it's easier to portray the popular view than do the necessary research to obtain the true facts. E.g, Columbus was afraid of sailing off a flat earth, or the Egyptian pyramids were built by slave labor. The problem is it's not accurate.

A rare exception to the herd mentality pervading shuttle historians is a 1993 study reevaluating how the shuttle got approved given the above facts: "A Reappraisal of the Space Shuttle Program" by Roger Pielke. It explained that the RAND and GAO studies were widely known in the early 1970s and the shuttle's appoval can best be understood by political and institutional factors: http://tinyurl.com/pnq38v2

However even that study could not resist reiterating the same old lines blaming "compromised design choices" -- despite the very same study clearly stating: "There is little reason to believe that a more complicated, eg, fully reusable design would have performed better with respect to promises than the current one, and even less reason to believe that it would have been approved."

The Pielke study ultimately concluded: ...it seems unlikely that a manned winged reusable vehicle built with 1970s technology would have been a successful all-purpose LEO space truck. IOW the poor operating economics weren't due to a design compromise, whether intrinsically or between NASA and the USAF -- it just wasn't possible.

NASA and the shuttle contractors did a generally good technical job of designing the shuttle, given the existing constraints. Viewing it as a failure presupposes that overall program success was possible using the mission, money, and technology granted in 1970. A more informed historical view indicates otherwise.

Offline truth is life

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #51 on: 02/13/2015 04:34 PM »
In hindsight there is limited credible basis this was practically achievable. In fact the core problem was the pervasive assumption that "surely a reusable winged vehicle is the way forward". This mindset was deeply ingrained from the 1950s onward. Von Braun's associate Walter Dornberger may have coined the term space shuttle, and described it as "an economical space plane capable of putting a fresh egg, every morning, on the table of every crew member of a space station circling the globe".

I didn't mean that they would build a space shuttle, though, or even try for an RLV (though admittedly NASA was overly fixated on that at the time). What I meant by "principle goals" was achieving the actual missions they had and which Shuttle was assigned, such as "launch people into orbit," "launch space station modules," "launch space probes," "launch spy satellites," and so on and so forth, while being agnostic about how they achieved this. Thus, the "alternative system" could very well have been an expendable, and given that such a vehicle would probably have lower development costs than Shuttle and certainly could have had lower operational costs (given that many expendables during the 1980s and 1990s did have lower operational costs), then it seems reasonable to say that this hypothetical alternative program could have been more economical and safer than Shuttle proved to be.

What I had in mind, in fact, was a new-design expendable LV or adaptation of an existing LV like Saturn IB or Titan to achieve payload targets in the 10-20 metric ton (to LEO) range, similar to the range of payloads that Titan III/Titan IV or Shuttle could carry in reality, with an eye towards lower operational costs than existing LVs based on applying current experience and achieving economies of scale rather than a leap to a full-scale RLV. In other words, something like the vehicles Lobo has been describing in the thread. Perhaps the principal NASA payload would be a small glider orbiter similar to the HL-20/42 to replace Apollo and serve as a prototype for a larger future vehicle, while the Air Force payloads would presumably be similar to those launched in reality.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2015 04:38 PM by truth is life »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #52 on: 02/13/2015 07:07 PM »
Quote
It implies there was a better alternate design available with the money, knowledge and technology in 1971 which would have achieved the goals. This is by no means clear.

Spot on !
I read this website for the first time 12 years ago http://www.pmview.com/spaceodysseytwo/spacelvs/sld001.htm - scroll down to The Space Shuttle (1968-72)

Since then I'm very convinced that the true morale of the shuttle story is that, well, there was no good concept to be chosen. Only compromised designs.
There was more or less four majors eras in the shuttle pre-history (1968 - 72)
1968
Triamese, Starclipper
1969 - 70
Fully reusable winged TSTOs
1971, first half
Fully reusable booster, external fuel tank orbiter
1971, second half
Smaller booster (SRB or press-fed), SSME from lift-off, fat expendable tank
 
None of these period brings an "ideal" design...

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

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #53 on: 02/13/2015 07:13 PM »
Another strong possibility for a very cheap, "new" LV might have been a cluster of Titan SRMs topped with a J-2S S-IVB. I've found a Bellcomm memo that mention costs as low as $200 a pound to orbit. Somewhat ironically this is pretty close from NASA shuttle numbers.
As a bonus, the S-IVB can be orbited as a fuel depot; and once refuelled and fired again it returns to its original role of  Earth-Moon tug.
« Last Edit: 02/13/2015 07:14 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 Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #54 on: 02/19/2018 11:41 PM »
Dusting this off for fun.   :)

With a few more years of Falcon operations under way, I tend to still think a 1970's version of Falcon 9 is my favorite.

A new mono core booster, perhaps more skinny than S-1B...or perhaps not.  8 or 9 RS-27's (the evolved H-1) on it, that would continue to evolve.  The Vacuum version of it on a new 2nd stage of the same diameter.  That stack with an HL20/Dreamchaser or X-37B type small orbiter would be NASA's workhorse for building a space station and LEO operations that were NASA's new focus post Apollo.  So the supporters of a reusable space plane would have gotten it (just not a delivery truck the shuttle was), but it a more manageable and less "ambitious" size.  And mostly likely gotten a modular space station then too.  Something more like Mir than the ISS, but still.

For USAF, add an encapsulated Centaur to the top to make a 3-stage for the sats going BLEO.  That should be a pretty capable BLEO LV.   Should exceed the existing Titan IIIC and match or exceed the later Titan IV they'd come to want, I'd think.   Overpowered for some of their smaller Delta II/Atlas class payloads, but with the economics of scale it should still be more economical than operating several different LV's.  SpaceX seems to make it work, even if they weren't reusing anything.

Since there'd be no reusability other than NASA's small orbiter, just keeping it nice a simple with the kerolox GG type engines, etc.  And build a bunch of exactly the same thing.    I think SpaceX has been demonstrating the "KISS" method (aside from their reusability) and that it works.  The government would probably do it in the most complicated and expensive way possible, but I think we've seen that it'd be "possible" any way.

Problems/Issues with that?  Assuming USAF and NASA could have cooperated and collaborated effectively on some joint system?

« Last Edit: 02/19/2018 11:46 PM by Lobo »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #55 on: 02/21/2018 01:58 PM »
Abour first stage reuse: well, at least we can say with confidence "it works ! We can do it"  ;D  That's the reason why I started that other thread.

By contrast, we know that the second stage is, well, harder.

When you think about it, Elon Musk cheated with us fanboys !

I mean, in that infamous "Muse video" of 2011, the second stage WAS reused.

And then Elon skipped it, and said "oh well, reusing Falcon 9 second stage is too hard, but I don't care because this rocket is no longer SpaceX long term workhorse" and surely enough, he went with BFR /BFS / ITS.

And then the second stage got manned spacecraft and tanker and lunar lander and Mars lander piled on top of it.

Oh well...

In my thread I did not mentionned second stage reusability because, well, God... pardon, Saint Elon, did not achieved it with Falcon 9  ;D

By the way, it dawned on me like a bolt of thunder the other day. Watching the impeccable landings of these two boosters, I thought "THIS IS GENERAL DYNAMICS TRIAMESE COME TRUE"

I have a very nice Triamese pdf somewhere on my HD. I think a comparison with the Falcon 9 Heavy would be very interesting.

« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 03:58 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 Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #56 on: 02/21/2018 04:06 PM »
Archibald,

This is thread I was more assuming standard convention of the time, which wasn't any sort of propulsive reuse.  At least not right away.  USAF didn't seem to really care about it, reuse was more something NASA was thinking about.

A small HL20 or larger X37B type shuttle would accomplish a level of reusability for NASA, and be much more cost effective and practical at that time.  Eventually there might have been booster upgrades that would have allowed for reuse, but really with the economics of scale of a joint shared system between USAF and NASA, I don't think there'd have been much real economic incentive to do it.  Right now I like the idea of a Falcon 9 type booster, but with perhaps RS-27 engines, and no booster reuse.  Rely on the economics of scale instead to keep costs down.  And that's what I mean by saying now that we have some more years watching SpaceX and Falcon 9, we can see this.  Even taking reusability completely out of it, the F9 stack is a cost effective stack just with economics of scale and using propellants and engine types that are cheaper and easier, etc.

Such a system should have allowed enough NASA budget for them to do a Mir-like Space station in the late 70's/early 80's.   With the booster launching 20mt-ish modules that would then dock themselves in LEO, and/or used the HL20-type shuttle for additional maneuvering and space walk work as necessary.  the two 39A and B launchpads would have allowed for a module and a manned mission to launch together for such purposes.  That's also how the Russian section of the ISS started after all.  So it's a workable way to have gone.

NASA would have operated this joint LV out of Pads 39A and 39B for their missions, and the USAF would have operated it out of Pads 40 and 41 at the Cape, and SLC-3 or 4 at VAFB, for their payloads.  There wouldn't have really been need then to have manned missions out of VAFB like there was with the NASA/USAF forced consolidation on the Shuttle, as USAF could continue to launch it's polar missions unmanned on this joint LV.
So the two government agencies would have had their independence to operate their own missions on their own schedules from their own pads.  Just with a common LV.  I think that'd have been much preferred for both than when they tried to do it all on the Shuttle out of Pads 39A and B and had to build a new Shuttle launch facility out of SLC-6 at VAFB in the early 80's.  The very large expense of that 3rd shuttle pad could have been avoided all together.
Additionally, much of the cost of modifying pads 39A and B to handle The shuttle and it's on-pad payloads change outs could have been avoided.  Since there was no longer the big Saturn V to launch, they could have cut down the MLP's to accommodate the joint LV as the baseline, instead of needing the Saturn 1B milk stool.  And changed the platforms in the VAB as well.  But with no USAF/DoD payloads, pad payload integration and change out would be a requirement like it was for Shuttle.  So no RSS and no FSS.  The tower could stay on the MLP's and the pads remained clean pads, as Complex 39 was originally designed to do. 

Really, there'd have been an amazing amount of cost savings in all of that vs. what needed done for STS.  For Complex 39, it's like they spent a huge amount of money setting up this really clever launch complex with whole stacks rolling in and out, and where several MLP's could be being processed in the VAB at the same time with minimal actual required time on pad.  And then just after that had been in service for a few years, they tore it all up and rebuilt completely differently.  And then a few years later a tragedy with the Shuttle illustrated why USAF/DoD can't have their unmanned payload lift needs serviced by an LV which must be launched manned.  So then they had to invest a whole other huge amount of money into upgrading Titan IIIC for their growing capacity needs into Titan IV anyway. (Which as quite expensive as I understand, because while it was based on Titan IIIC, it used a new purpose-built core and new SRB's...if I recall correctly.  And maybe a new 2nd stage?)

So this really seems like it would have made both agencies happy, and served them both well and cost effectively in the 70's and 80's and perhaps beyond. 
« Last Edit: 02/21/2018 04:11 PM by Lobo »

Offline Arch Admiral

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #57 on: 02/21/2018 07:53 PM »
Most of the STS alternatives discussed in this thread have a fatal defect: they LOOK old-fashioned by the standards of the average person in 1969-71. We had all been conditioned by SF artists, Von Braun/Disney animations, and corporate PR departments to expect that ICBM technology would eventually be replaced by sleek winged spaceships. Anything that LOOKED conventional

-- couldn't have been sold as advanced technology

-- couldn't have been sold as more spectacular than anything the USSR might do

-- couldn't have been sold as cheaper than pressing on with Titans and/or Saturns.

This is why the program stuck with the "fully reusable" flyback booster until the Phase B sudies showed it to be unbuildable, and why people even today criticise the final STS design as "old-fashioned" or "inferior".

Most of these designs also ignore the real unstated goal of the program: preserving the Apollo industrial base during a period of strong anti-technology, anti-space public sentiment. That's why the program was originally intended to last a maximum of 10 years, by which time space would be back in public favor again and the Space Task Group program would finally be funded.








Offline Kansan52

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #58 on: 02/21/2018 08:13 PM »
I have only one data point, "After Apollo" by John Logsdon, but the take away was budget cuts that eliminated the Saturn V, NERVA, Mars, a Space Station and the rest left NASA with a 'shuttle' as the only project that could be funded. NASA wanted something that could loft space station modules sometime in the future. Technology and budget eliminated the fully reusable plane like booster with orbiter on top. Pressure was on for a smaller orbiter or no Manned Space Program at all. Politics couldn't accept no Manned Space and NASA wanted the large cargo bay. There was some in NASA that felt the length of the cargo bay was needed for spy satellites.

So, the result was the STS.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #59 on: 02/21/2018 11:29 PM »
Most of the STS alternatives discussed in this thread have a fatal defect: they LOOK old-fashioned by the standards of the average person in 1969-71. We had all been conditioned by SF artists, Von Braun/Disney animations, and corporate PR departments to expect that ICBM technology would eventually be replaced by sleek winged spaceships. Anything that LOOKED conventional

-- couldn't have been sold as advanced technology

-- couldn't have been sold as more spectacular than anything the USSR might do

-- couldn't have been sold as cheaper than pressing on with Titans and/or Saturns.

This is why the program stuck with the "fully reusable" flyback booster until the Phase B sudies showed it to be unbuildable, and why people even today criticise the final STS design as "old-fashioned" or "inferior".

Most of these designs also ignore the real unstated goal of the program: preserving the Apollo industrial base during a period of strong anti-technology, anti-space public sentiment. That's why the program was originally intended to last a maximum of 10 years, by which time space would be back in public favor again and the Space Task Group program would finally be funded.

I don't discount your points here.  But we have to assume for any "alternate history" thread that something somewhere along the line changed.  Otherwise history would always unfold exactly as it did, right?

However, some alternate concepts are more "Plausible" of a divergence from actual history than others.  They check more historical climate boxes, so to speak.  And that was the point of this thread, to explore options that might have had a chance to have been reality, with the smallest amount of tweaking of actual history.

You make good points here, But...

I think a small reusable HL-20 type space plane would have been seen as a) Advanced technology...much more advanced seeming than the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo expendable capsules, b)  More spectacular than what the Soviets were doing or likely to do in the near term....they were plodding along with Soyuz without any real successor in the 70's, advanced or not.
And the new joint booster would be a fully joint LV shared between NASA and USAF as a single common mass produced LV, could have been sold as cheaper than either the Titans or Saturns.   The Saturns were expensive as they shared nothing with anything else (except the tanks on the S-1B I suppose) and although Titan IIIC wasn't overly expensive, I don't think, as it shared a lot of parts and infrastructure with Titan ICBM's, but the USAF was looking for more capacity than it could do in the 70's.  That extra capacity was designed into STS, making it really big, with a lot of pad modifications for on-pad payload change out, etc.  After Challenger, USAF proceeded with a larger version of Titan IIIC, the Titan IV, which in post respects was a completely new purpose build LV, and shared little with the Titan II and III series of ICBM's and LV's.  So Titan IV became very expensive.

So this common LV would have Titan IV capability...or more, plus be adequate to put this smaller Shuttle into LEO, and launch Mir and ISS like space station modules.  They'd just do their own propulsion rather than be delivered by a big Space truck like the Shuttle.

As far as reusability, that could be a feature "to be added later".  Start with a Space plane that could be fully reused (and would have much more likely achieved the STS goals of a fast turn around), and then as the technology advanced later, a Falcon 9 style boost back and landing could have been played with.  Some cool art showing that down the road could have been presented.  Or perhaps the ballute style parachute water landing like Boeing proposed for the S-1D.  But get the LV operational first.  Likely, those never would have happened, but there'd just need to be enough concept art and "plausibility" to get it through the evaluation process.

I think USAF would have been much more on board with this than the Shuttle, as they could have retained their own launch facilities and operations, and it wouldn't be "NASA's rocket" like the Saturns.  Yet it would have given them that extra capability they wanted from STS and later Titan IV.  And it could have used existing (and fairly simple and inexpensive) engines in the H-1 and derivatives like the RS-27, along with kerolox propellants. (except for a hydrolox Centaur optional 3rd stage for USAF payloads)

So, to me anyway, this seems like it could perhaps have really been an alternate to STS, that would only have required a minimal amount of "history changes" to have come to be.
But perhaps there's better concepts others may have that would have required even fewer "changes" than this?







Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #60 on: 02/21/2018 11:48 PM »
I have only one data point, "After Apollo" by John Logsdon, but the take away was budget cuts that eliminated the Saturn V, NERVA, Mars, a Space Station and the rest left NASA with a 'shuttle' as the only project that could be funded. NASA wanted something that could loft space station modules sometime in the future. Technology and budget eliminated the fully reusable plane like booster with orbiter on top. Pressure was on for a smaller orbiter or no Manned Space Program at all. Politics couldn't accept no Manned Space and NASA wanted the large cargo bay. There was some in NASA that felt the length of the cargo bay was needed for spy satellites.

So, the result was the STS.

Kansan,
See my comments to Admiral.

Something like this could loft space station modules.  The Soviets showed that with Salyut and later Mir.  And then later for their original section of the ISS before the US could add any of their modules with the Shuttle.  And those were launched unmanned on Proton, which this would have similar performance points to.
It would have required some more pragmatic heads to say, "Yea, all of that is well and good, but this will accomplish those same goals for a fraction of the development budget, and a much smaller [shared] operational cost, and be ready in a faster time."  Like I said, one has to assume a few departures from actual history, or there can be no alternate history.  History would always unfold just as it did, if nothing was changed at all.

Now, as far as the size of the STS cargo bay.  It's my understanding that was also somewhat driven by USAF, who wanted a successor to Titan IIIC that could put a larger payload and propulsive stage into the payload bay.  Additionally, they required the ability to change payloads out at the pads vertically, hence the need for the RSS and the FSS to be added to the pad.  Otherwise, NASA could have just modified the Saturn MLP's a smaller amount, and pretty much kept using them in the way they were design, which was to carry the UT and be stacked in the VAB multiple LV's at a time, and the pads to be clean pads with a much smaller required on-pad time.  Just trim down the UT's to the new dimensions on the 3 existing Saturn MLP, and change the interface arm locations.  A much easier task than what was needed to do with STS.

With this system, USAF gets their successor to Titan IIIC, and can operate it out of their own pads at LC 40 and 41, as well as VAFB.  Instead of being married to NASA and KSC's two STS pads, not to mention the huge construction project that was the new Shuttle pad at SLC-6.  I can't see how USAF would -want- that a lot.  Unlike NASA, they didn't really care about the optics of a futuristic looking Buck Rogers System.  They were launching with Titan's and early Delta and Atlas LV's happily enough, and none of them were reusable or looked futuristic.  So I think the only real snag would be the optics of NASA's new LV.  And like I said before, we'd have to have someone much more pragmatic than there apparently was at the time to argue before Congress and the President that this was a worthy Apollo successor, and could accomplish the post-Apollo goals of a LEO space station and -some- degree of reusability, with the promise of additional future reusability.  Fund this, and we'll do some great things, but within the new budgets we have, etc. etc. 
And have some USAF generals there to support it for effect.





Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #61 on: 02/23/2018 10:54 AM »
Quote
Pressure was on for a smaller orbiter or no Manned Space Program at all. Politics couldn't accept no Manned Space and NASA wanted the large cargo bay. There was some in NASA that felt the length of the cargo bay was needed for spy satellites.

So, the result was the STS.

This pressure exactly come from two groups of Nixon advisors: the budget-cutters in the OMB and the science guys in the PSAC.
Except they didn't even agree between them !  In bold there was a third option that very nearly happened in the month of October 1971. It was Big Gemini.
To make a long story short
- early october the OMB become opposed to NASA "full size orbiter" 15X60 ft payload bay and pushed for a "fat DynaSoar" atop a Titan III-L
- PSAC answer: this is very bad, better to go with Big Gemini and stock Titan III to launch the spy sats.
- OMB not a bad idea after all

It very nearly blew into NASA face, and only a vigorous campaign by Klauss Heiss and Oskar Morgenstern turned the tide, and the familiar shuttle was born (it was created at Matematica Institute, Princeton).
« Last Edit: 02/23/2018 10:54 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 Hog

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #62 on: 03/08/2018 07:09 PM »
I just wanted to point out that the "absurdity" of filling SRB segments in Utah and then shipping them all the way across country to Florida, isn't so "absurd" as it may seem. 
We have to remember that way back in the early stages of planning, that STS was to be able to send 45,000-50,000 pounds into POLAR orbit. NASA/AirForce were moving forward with Polar launches from VAFB(SLC-6) in Cali.  Though the SRB cases were to be a Filament Wound Case(FWC) the segments would still be filled in Utah and railed to Vandenberg.  So the Utah facility was planned to be supplying SRM segments to both the East and West coast.  The events of Jan 28, 86 changed these plans, and was a paradigm shift for many aspects of NASA, the public's perception of spaceflight and for spaceflight in general.

SLC-6 was declared operational during acceptance ceremonies held on October 15, 1985, but there was a lot of work yet, to be completed, with some to be "re-completed".
In fact the first set of FWC SRBs were already stacked at SLC-6 awaiting the arrival of OV-103 Discovery for stacking of the Orbiter/ET and FWC SRBs for:
STS-62-A which was originally manifested for July 1, 1986 then moved to October 15, 1986. recon payload rumoured to be "Teal Ruby" was to be launched
STS-62-B was scheduled for September 29, 1986, only a single crewmember was scheduled for the 2nd DoD West Coast STS launch, Payload Specialist Katherine Eileen Sparks Roberts.

-STS-51-L breaks up during ascent on Jan 28, 1986
-July 31, 1986, Secretary of the Air Force Edward C. Aldridge, Jr., announced that Vandenberg's space shuttle program would be placed in "operational caretaker status"
-February 20, 1987 SLC-6 was placed in "minimum caretaker status".
-On September 20, 1989 SLC-6 was placed in mothball status
-July 6, 1990 Lockheed was awarded an AF contract to modify SLC-6 into a Titan IV/Centaur launch complex
-March 22, 1991, HQ USAF reversed itself by terminating the Titan IV/Centaur program at SLC-6.
-January 1993 Lockheed eventually approved the development of the Lockheed Launch Vehicle (LLV) program
1994- contract issued by Air Force for modification work began on the existing SLC-6 shuttle launch mount for a small "milkstool" platform
August 15, 1995-first operational launch from SLC-6, Lockheed-Martin Launch Vehicle I (LMLV-1) though the flight was terminated midflight following uncontrolled oscillations
 -August 22, 1997 Athena-1 launched NASA's Lewis satellite form SLC-6
-September 24, 1999 an Ikonos satellite operated by Space Imaging (later acquired by ORBIMAGE to form GeoEye) was successfully placed into a polar orbit using an Athena 2 booster
-September 1, 1999 to modify SLC-6 once again to launch Boeing's Delta IV.
-first of the Delta IV launch vehicles to fly from SLC-6 successfully lifted off on June 27, 2006 after sitting on the pad since late 2003
NASA made a $300,000,000 investment in the Utah facilities in the 1980's, an investment that even in 2018, NASA is very serious about protecting. So much so, that it leads me to believe that once the current stock of 4 and 5 segment SRB steel cases are used up, a similar solid propellant motor will be used for any SLS- Block-2 "Advanced Booster", but with some sort of non-steel case.

Pics
#1 Filament Wound Case SRM
#2 FWC
#3 Enterprise on the Launch Mount beside the Access Tower at SLC-6 in Feb 1985-look at her virgin RCC and the bright red paint of the Access Tower
#4 VAFB illustration of Shuttle operations
#5 SLC6 under construction in 1980
#6 A pair of FWC SRBs on the Pathfinder
#7 Crew portrait of the STS-62-A crew.  (front row, left to right) Guy S. Gardner, pilot; Richard M. Mullane, MS; Jerry L. Ross, MS; and Dale A Gardner, MS. In the back row (left to right) are astronauts Edward "Pete" C. Aldridge, Jr, DOD PS; Robert L. Crippen, commander; and Brett Watterson, DOD PS
Paul

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #63 on: 03/08/2018 11:04 PM »
- PSAC answer: this is very bad, better to go with Big Gemini and stock Titan III to launch the spy sats.

I'm not convinced that after 1969 Big Gemini was even a real program anymore. I think it was mostly kept around as an option to scare NASA into keeping the costs down. See my Big Gemini article on this.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #64 on: 03/09/2018 01:19 PM »
That's pretty right - Tom Heppenheimer "The space shuttle decision" (chapter eight ) clearly show how the OMB really tried to "scare NASA" as you say.

http://www.nss.org/resources/library/shuttledecision/chapter08.htm

There was also what I call "the fat DynaSoar" (lame pun assumed) wich was a 100 000 pound mini shuttle launched by a Titan III-L.
Just like Big Gemini, it was not a "true" program but mostly a paper project used to scare the hell out of NASA.

What always surprised me was how little support from the military did NASA got in this difficult time, late 1971. The military had imposed a large orbiter with a large bay, the PSAC and OMB criticized NASA shuttle for that (it is too big) , yet the military say nothing to help them.

OMB "NASA orbiter is really big, and expensive. Why so big ?"
PSAC "it's because of that big payload bay, 15X60 ft"
NASA "hey, the big payload bay is not my idea. It is the military that imposed it"
OMB "Oh yeah ? So why don't they defend the big payload bay by themselves ? Tell us, you don't get a lot of suport from the military ?
NASA (sigh....)
« Last Edit: 03/09/2018 01:20 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 Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #65 on: 03/09/2018 07:32 PM »
That's pretty right - Tom Heppenheimer "The space shuttle decision" (chapter eight ) clearly show how the OMB really tried to "scare NASA" as you say.

http://www.nss.org/resources/library/shuttledecision/chapter08.htm

There was also what I call "the fat DynaSoar" (lame pun assumed) wich was a 100 000 pound mini shuttle launched by a Titan III-L.
Just like Big Gemini, it was not a "true" program but mostly a paper project used to scare the hell out of NASA.

What always surprised me was how little support from the military did NASA got in this difficult time, late 1971. The military had imposed a large orbiter with a large bay, the PSAC and OMB criticized NASA shuttle for that (it is too big) , yet the military say nothing to help them.

OMB "NASA orbiter is really big, and expensive. Why so big ?"
PSAC "it's because of that big payload bay, 15X60 ft"
NASA "hey, the big payload bay is not my idea. It is the military that imposed it"
OMB "Oh yeah ? So why don't they defend the big payload bay by themselves ? Tell us, you don't get a lot of suport from the military ?
NASA (sigh....)


No, the big payload bay was just as much NASA's.  The 15"diameter was NASA's requirement.

Offline Proponent

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #66 on: 03/09/2018 07:36 PM »
By the way, has anyone ever come across any interim reports issued by the Flax Committee?  The Committee was debating Fat Dyna-Soar and other options.  It never produced its final report, but Logsdon refers to an interim report, which I'll bet makes interesting reading.
« Last Edit: 03/09/2018 07:39 PM by Proponent »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #67 on: 03/10/2018 06:01 AM »
I would paid whatever (reasonable) price to get that document, too.

Well, proponent, if there is a person on Earth who ever red that document, and knows where to track it down, it must be Mr. Logsdon himself, since he reference it in both Exploring the unknown and After Apollo.

So maybe we should ask Blackstar if he could get in touch with his distinguished colleague and ask him where that document can be found. Next step is to get access to the archive and ask if a copy can be obtained.

The main question is: it is a PSAC document from the Nixon era. Where do you find such things ? (don't blame me, I'm an archivist, too, but on the wrong side of the Atlantic)
« Last Edit: 03/10/2018 06:06 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 Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #68 on: 03/14/2018 11:06 PM »

No, the big payload bay was just as much NASA's.  The 15"diameter was NASA's requirement.

Understood. Thanks for the info Jim.   :)

I think the anticipated modules for Space Station Freedom would have needed that?  As well as USAF payloads of the Titan PLF size?

I don't think on-pad payload change out would have been required had the USAF not been joint partner in STS?, but the orbiter itself may have looked much like it did.  So pad modifications may have been somewhat cheaper without having to build the RSS's.

But that's all with with the big shuttle joint LV concept.  A "Joint System LV" that would have been in that 20-25mt range to LEO.  Same as the shuttle, just a traditional expendable PLF, instead of a payload bay.
Then NASA could have funded a smaller HL-20/42 type shuttle for taking their crews to LEO, and launched their Space Station Freedom modules on the unmanned joint LV, similar to how the Russians did with Mir and their part of the ISS.  USAF would not need the shuttle, just the 2-stage joint LV, and they could have put Centaur on top when needed for GTO/GEO payloads.  And they could have operated it from their own launch pads, and not needed to depend on NASA's facilities as with Shuttle.
NASA gets some reusability and a "futuristic" looking spacecraft, USAF gets an upgrade to Titan IIIC for heavy lift future needs, and they didn't probably care too much about reusability.  And both get their own control authority for processing and launching of it at their own facilities.


Offline fasquardon

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #69 on: 03/14/2018 11:35 PM »
I'm not convinced that after 1969 Big Gemini was even a real program anymore. I think it was mostly kept around as an option to scare NASA into keeping the costs down. See my Big Gemini article on this.

Where can I find this article?

I just wanted to point out that the "absurdity" of filling SRB segments in Utah and then shipping them all the way across country to Florida, isn't so "absurd" as it may seem. 

Do you know if it's true that climate was also a factor?

I remember reading somewhere (I can't remember where, unfortunately) that the low humidity in Utah meant the solid propellant set with a finer grain size, meaning vibration during their burn wasn't so bad.  By contrast, filling solids in humid Florida apparently resulted in rockets that shook themselves apart (that, however, was with the much larger experimental solids Aerojet was making there).

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.

Based on the Bellcom and NASA papers I've read from the late 60s and early 70s as well as "The Space Shuttle Decision", the ideas that were kicking around were:

1) Titan III (would have required a fair amount of R&D money to make a version NASA could have used - Titan IIIM is the minimum here, but likely more would have been required - of course that's still cheaper than developing the shuttle, likely by an order of magnitude - this is also by far the most likely option since the Titan III production line was massively underutilized and the USAF would have been very happy to keep using their rocket to there are powerful political and cost-saving gains here).

2) The next idea that comes up alot is the SRM-SIVB (I've attached some interesting documents that discuss these rockets).  A cluster of Titan SRMs with a streamlined cheapened SIV as the second stage.  NASA seems to have been fairly keen on this idea, and it seemed to offer very economical launch costs at very low development cost.  I am somewhat doubtful that these would have been quite so wonderful as their boosters claimed.  Also, I have no idea if the SRM-SIVB was of any interest at all to the USAF, though according to the Bellcomm memo on near-term intermediate LVs, the USAF was apparently looking at a LH2/LOX upper stage for the Titan.

3) Dust off the Saturn IB and use that.  Obviously, not something that would be acceptable to the USAF without exotic tortures being applied.

Only (1) seems terribly plausible to me for a joint launch system.  I suspect that it would result in NASA and the USAF each having their own variants of the rocket, since each has their own specific missions and particular orbits they are interested in reaching.  So we might see a joint office (dominated by the USAF) that sets overall standards and each agency controlling their own "variant" more closely.  They wouldn't exactly be the same rocket, but they'd share alot of the same parts.

There's no doubt that building on the Titan foundation without stopping production and breaking up the engineering team to switch to the shuttle would have resulted in a much cheaper alt-Titan IV and in the 1988 "Launch Options for the Future" (attached to this post) the authors advertise the Titan hardware as being amenable to incremental upgrades up to almost 60 tonnes to LEO (130klbs) without too much trouble (could be hype from Martin Marietta, of course).

(2) could be very interesting, since it would allow NASA to keep the SIV production line (which would be a great boon when it comes to heavy missions BLEO) and the cheapness of solids seems to offer great economy.  It almost seems too good to be true though.

It's fun to think about completely new options.  For example, putting an uprated Saturn IVB (using the J2S engine) on a Titan first stage with UR1207 SRMs would result in a rocket able to launch 28 tonnes into LEO.  Or an entirely new LOX-kerosine rocket designed to have as much common hardware with the Delta and Atlas as possible - of course, the problem with these is that there's no real advantage to doing this when NASA can just start the Saturn IB production line again.

I'm pretty sure that anything based around the F1A engine would be a complete non-starter for even NASA.  Like most everyone here, I've done my share of making paper rockets based around the F1A and I've never come up with anything that could compete with the Titan III or the claims being made for the SRM-SIVB.  It's just too much engine for a useful sized rocket given what was politically sustainable for the USA.

fasquardon
« Last Edit: 03/14/2018 11:40 PM by fasquardon »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #70 on: 03/15/2018 06:32 AM »
Big Gemini
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2879/1

I thought there was some kind of limited debate between 12 ft wide and 15 ft early on, not sure if it was internal to NASA or if the military was already involved.
« Last Edit: 03/15/2018 06:35 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 Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #71 on: 03/15/2018 11:25 PM »

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.

Good input here fasquardon.

Based on the Bellcom and NASA papers I've read from the late 60s and early 70s as well as "The Space Shuttle Decision", the ideas that were kicking around were:

1) Titan III (would have required a fair amount of R&D money to make a version NASA could have used - Titan IIIM is the minimum here, but likely more would have been required - of course that's still cheaper than developing the shuttle, likely by an order of magnitude - this is also by far the most likely option since the Titan III production line was massively underutilized and the USAF would have been very happy to keep using their rocket to there are powerful political and cost-saving gains here).

This may have been the most politically viable, as NASA's basically having to accept the USAF LV mostly as-is, and hitching their wagon to that.  USAF would have been fine with it.

But, there's a few issues with it, which is why I went another directly with my joint LV concept.

1)  Use of hypergolics.  NASA did use them for Gemini as they had little choice.  Saturn 1B was developed at this time, so would NASA have gotten on board with this new variant, which had less capacity than Saturn 1B, that also went back to toxic propellants and SRB's?

2)  SRB's.  They obviously did go with them with STS, and Titan was developing a version that could be terminated in case of a manned launch failure.  But Titan IIIM would have used UA1207, which was a new upgrade that flew on Titan IVA before being replaced with even larger ones.  Which leads to...

3)  The Titan's going away as ICBM's.  A lot of why the Titan III's were relatively inexpensive was that USAF/DoD funded them out of Defense budgets for ICBM's.  But in the 70's, the Titan's were going away for more storable solid Minuteman ICBM's.  So USAF/NASA would have had to have supported the line themselves in the future, and so costs would have went up.  Likely still would have been a lot cheaper than STS, but the Titan IV's turned ended up being quite costly when they were put into service after Challenger.

4)  USAF's eventual needs were more than what Titan IIIM could do (17mt)  Titan IV was 22mt, and Shuttle was ~24mt.  So development of Titan IIIM would then needed additional development of Titan IV the next decade.  And again, costs really went up there for Titan IV in the 80's and 90's.  Not saying it wasn't feasible and had NASA and USAF been at it together, there likely would have been some various cost savings that could be applied to Titan as it evolved. But Titan IIIM Wouldn't have done it itself for every long, something like Titan IV would be needed in short order.

So...it's certainly very plausible that could have happened.  I tend to think had STS not happened, more likely NASA probably would have retained Saturn 1B for their program, and USAF would have continued with Titan.    I was hoping for a new joint LV that could be made to cover both needs, shared, and not have hypergolics and solds.

2) The next idea that comes up alot is the SRM-SIVB (I've attached some interesting documents that discuss these rockets).  A cluster of Titan SRMs with a streamlined cheapened SIV as the second stage.  NASA seems to have been fairly keen on this idea, and it seemed to offer very economical launch costs at very low development cost.  I am somewhat doubtful that these would have been quite so wonderful as their boosters claimed.  Also, I have no idea if the SRM-SIVB was of any interest at all to the USAF, though according to the Bellcomm memo on near-term intermediate LVs, the USAF was apparently looking at a LH2/LOX upper stage for the Titan.

Interesting but I think collaborating on Titan or retaining Saturn 1B would have been more likely.  While this would cost shared with USAF/DoD in the SRB's, it would have required a complete redesign of the S-IVB with a lot of new supports added to support all of that solid thrust.

3) Dust off the Saturn IB and use that.  Obviously, not something that would be acceptable to the USAF without exotic tortures being applied.

Probably the most likely of the 3, IMO.  Unless Congress forced something else.  At that time, KSC was all set up to handle the Saturn 1B.  They likely would have gotten rid of the milkstool and shortened the towers on the MLP's, but other than that.  Quite a few modifications were needed to process and handle the big Shuttle solids.  Handling big solids for Titans or a Solid augmented S-IVB would have required a lot of modification...as it did for the STS solids.

My alternate "STS" system was basically a 1970's version of Falcon 9.  using 9 RS-27 engines on the monocore booster, and one RS-27A on the upper stage.  USAF could use Centaur for a 3rd stage if needed, NASA could put a mini reusable shuttle on top of the 2nd stage for their LEO program, post-Apollo.

Minimal modifications for KSC (it's not much different than Saturn 1B) and unlike STS, USAF would launch it from their own pads.  The Titan pads would need some modifications, obviously.  But they can get rid of those big solids, and there'd be no impact as the Titan's were phased out in the 70's and 80's.  The S-IVB was a pretty spendy stage, so this would be more of a cheap FUS stage.  H-1/RS-27 engines were pretty inexpensive and simple as I understand.  And they would have cost shared with Delta II and Atlas II that used them (or variants) as well.

Something like this wasn't actually being looked at back then, but if it had been conceived and had a strong advocate, then it seems like it'd check a lot of political, economical, and technological boxes.  Looking back with a little 20/20 hindsight, for fun.






Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #72 on: 03/16/2018 12:08 AM »
no, NASA would not have kept the Saturn IB.  And it did go for Titan III. NASA paid for IIIE development vs using IB

Offline fasquardon

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #73 on: 03/16/2018 07:22 AM »
1)  Use of hypergolics.  NASA did use them for Gemini as they had little choice.  Saturn 1B was developed at this time, so would NASA have gotten on board with this new variant, which had less capacity than Saturn 1B, that also went back to toxic propellants and SRB's?

I've not seen any evidence that the Americans were worrying about hypergols before 80s (after the big Titan 34D failure in '85 or '86 poisoned the area around the launch pad for a few months), and even then, I've never seen anyone in any of the US space programs seriously worry about them.

2)  SRB's.  They obviously did go with them with STS, and Titan was developing a version that could be terminated in case of a manned launch failure.  But Titan IIIM would have used UA1207, which was a new upgrade that flew on Titan IVA before being replaced with even larger ones.  Which leads to...

Before 1986 when both a Titan and Challenger were lost due to problems with the solids, SRMs looked really good though.  They were cheap, simple and reliable.  Shutting them down once they were lit was a pain of course, but they looked extremely hard to beat for unmanned launches.

And in all fairness, the US has gotten good service from their solids.  Since solids tend to get more troublesome as they scale up (due to difficulty handling the heavy solids and due to the vibration issues which get worse the larger the solids go), I am personally rather dubious that Shuttle SRB-sized solids are a good investment.  However, UA1207-sized and smaller solids, as much as I find them inelegant, if I were designing a rocket I'd certainly consider them.

3)  The Titan's going away as ICBM's.  A lot of why the Titan III's were relatively inexpensive was that USAF/DoD funded them out of Defense budgets for ICBM's.  But in the 70's, the Titan's were going away for more storable solid Minuteman ICBM's.  So USAF/NASA would have had to have supported the line themselves in the future, and so costs would have went up.  Likely still would have been a lot cheaper than STS, but the Titan IV's turned ended up being quite costly when they were put into service after Challenger.

Honestly, this isn't a big issue.

The Titan ICBM's main contribution to the Titan LV was to "subsidize" the R&D to develop the LV in the first place.  Most of the Titan IV's cost inflation was due to the Titan III production line being shut down when the Shuttle came online, re-activated to produce a planned 10 Titan IVs, being scaled up to completely replace the Shuttle for USAF launches after Challenger, then being produced in insufficient numbers to amortize the R&D costs (especially the costly Hercules SRMs) and the production line costs.  Had the Titan III been organically developed into the Titan IIIM and further and the costs of the production line been shared with NASA (meaning a demand for maybe 12 rockets even on bad years and a demand for as many as 20-24 rockets on good years) costs/kg in orbit would have been far less.

4)  USAF's eventual needs were more than what Titan IIIM could do (17mt)  Titan IV was 22mt, and Shuttle was ~24mt.  So development of Titan IIIM would then needed additional development of Titan IV the next decade.  And again, costs really went up there for Titan IV in the 80's and 90's.  Not saying it wasn't feasible and had NASA and USAF been at it together, there likely would have been some various cost savings that could be applied to Titan as it evolved. But Titan IIIM Wouldn't have done it itself for every long, something like Titan IV would be needed in short order.

As I understand it, the Shuttle was a key factor pushing up the USAF's needs.  Since the USAF was pushed to use the Shuttle, they designed heavy birds to use the Shuttle's advertised payload capacity, it's possible that without the Shuttle, it would take longer for their birds to get as heavy.  In any case, remember that the Titan IV before 1997 could only loft 17.7 tonnes.  What pushed it up to the 22 tonnes to LEO you quote was those expensive Hercules SRMs.  So the USAF doesn't seem to have had a pressing need for Saturn IB class LVs.

NASA by contrast wanted at minimum to get economically-sized resupply missions and whole space station modules up to skylab type orbits of over 400km.  That is significantly more than Titan IIIM could have managed - Saturn IB is the minimum here.  Now, it's possible that NASA could have been ground down to accepting an ISS-type low-altitude space station, but they sure as shootin' would have fought that.

That's a big difference in what NASA and the USAF want in the 70s and 80s and why I think that even if NASA and the USAF "compromised" on both using the Titan III, what NASA would actually get is the joy of spending a bunch of money to develop something more suitable for their needs that happened to share a large number of components with the USAF launcher.

So...it's certainly very plausible that could have happened.  I tend to think had STS not happened, more likely NASA probably would have retained Saturn 1B for their program, and USAF would have continued with Titan.    I was hoping for a new joint LV that could be made to cover both needs, shared, and not have hypergolics and solds.

The Saturn IB could certainly have been refined over the 70s to something that could support NASA's space station ambitions.

If NERVA hadn't been cancelled, then a nuclear second stage on the Saturn IB could have produced a LV capable of Energia-level performance with 80-100 tonnes to LEO.

Alternatively, strapping some minuteman derived solids to the first stage could have gotten the Saturn IB up to the throw-levels required to economically support space station resupply to high orbits and strapping UA1205s or 1207s to a stretched Saturn IB would enable it to boost some fair sized space station modules to those same high orbits.

The Saturn IB would, however, require alot of development money to be spent before it could serve the USAF's needs (polar orbits and GSO), never mind the cost of re-tooling their facilities to support the rocket.  And even then, the Saturn IB is waaay too big for the USAF.  No way the Saturn would be accepted as a joint LV in the 70s or 80s and by the time the 90s came around, I expect people would be asking why the USAF and NASA couldn't pick a clean-sheet design if they were being forced to use a single LV between them.

Interesting but I think collaborating on Titan or retaining Saturn 1B would have been more likely.  While this would cost shared with USAF/DoD in the SRB's, it would have required a complete redesign of the S-IVB with a lot of new supports added to support all of that solid thrust.

I think the SRM-SIVB would be more acceptable to the USAF than Saturn was, but that may not say much.

And I think the various memos on these clustered solid first stages underestimate the development cost/difficulty as well.

My alternate "STS" system was basically a 1970's version of Falcon 9.  using 9 RS-27 engines on the monocore booster, and one RS-27A on the upper stage.  USAF could use Centaur for a 3rd stage if needed, NASA could put a mini reusable shuttle on top of the 2nd stage for their LEO program, post-Apollo.

The issue with making a ker-LOX LV close to the Saturn IB's performance in the early 70s is that the Saturn IB's production line seems to have been in storage up until some point in '71 or '72 and setting it up again would be far cheaper than developing a new rocket.

One idea that I find interesting (but I don't think it could realistically displace Titan for the USAF or the Saturn IB if NASA can restart the production line at a reasonable cost) is a first stage based on a cluster of 7 Thor tanks.  The Thor tanks were real marvels of aerospace engineering and even a cluster like this wouldn't be too heavy.  With 7 of the uprated 250k lbf H-1 engines that had been proposed, it would be very, very like the Saturn I first stage, but of course the components would share much of the tooling of the Delta first stage since both the tanks and the engines used would be the same.  If I remember rightly, the cluster of tanks would have an overall diameter of around 7.7 meters.  With a ker-LOX upper stage (perhaps something based on the Atlas first stage - say an Atlas tank with a quincunx of Atlas sustainer engines powering it), the payload should be in the ballpark of being practical for the military.

Sort of a kludged together American Zenit.

To get up to the sorts of payloads NASA wanted, they'd need a more powerful second stage, like NERVA or the SIVB.

(I came up with the idea for this rocket for an alternate history I'll probably never write, on account of it not being all that different from the real world - the idea was that with no shuttle and with NASA being forced to use the Titan in the 70s, this kludge rocket would be added to the stable in the mid-80s after the Titan suffered a series of failures much as it did in OTL - of course, the odds are that in such a situation, bolting together tanks like this wouldn't be very advantageous from a development perspective, so new tanks would probably be developed.)

fasquardon

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #74 on: 03/16/2018 07:33 AM »
no, NASA would not have kept the Saturn IB.  And it did go for Titan III. NASA paid for IIIE development vs using IB

by the way, when did NASA Titan IIIE procurement decision happened ? Mars Voyager was canned by Congress in 1967, Viking was born the year after as a kind of "Mariner offspring with a lander". 1968 ? 1969 ?
« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 07:36 AM by Archibald »
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Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #75 on: 03/16/2018 03:19 PM »
no, NASA would not have kept the Saturn IB.  And it did go for Titan III. NASA paid for IIIE development vs using IB

Thanks for the correction there Jim.

Ok, I stand corrected.  Option #1 up there then is probably the more likely than both retaining the Saturn 1B or the SRB augmented S-IVB.

Jim, can you explain a little as to why NASA was looking more into Titan than their own Saturn 1B, even funding the IIIE?  (I did not know they did that).  Purely a cost standpoint of sharing with USAF and DoD (ICBM budgets)?
It seems they wouldn't have been big fans of toxic hypergolics and big solids vs. an all kerolox LV that was already operational and KSC already set up to handle and process.

Gemini flew on hypergolic Titan and Shuttle had big SRB's so obviously they were completely adverse to them, but it was always my understanding those were both due more to not having much choice.  There wasn't a larger operational LV than Titan II for Gemini, and big liquid boosters couldn't have effectively been made reusable in the 1970's for STS the way the SRB's could.
But in the early 70's there, restarting Saturn 1B production vs. switching over to Titan would have been a viable option.  So that they were looking at going with Titan is a bit surprising to me.

EDIT:  Fasquardon seemed to address a couple of these.  I'm still interested in your input though.
« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 09:00 PM by Lobo »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #76 on: 03/16/2018 04:10 PM »
Fasquardon,

Good input here, thanks.  And a lot of good historical info that have learned me some new things.  Much like whenever we can coax Jim to share some of his really great historical knowledge.

I don't have much to add to most of it, just good stuff in general.  A couple of things.

I've not seen any evidence that the Americans were worrying about hypergols before 80s

Before 1986 when both a Titan and Challenger were lost due to problems with the solids, SRMs looked really good though. 

Yes, I may be looking at that with a little too much 20/20 hindsight.  Today the advantages for HSF of non toxic, all liquid seem fairly standard.  For my conceptual joint USAF/NASA "Space Transport System" I do use a little 20/20 hindsight, but with existing hardware and tech of the early 70's.


The Saturn IB would, however, require alot of development money to be spent before it could serve the USAF's needs (polar orbits and GSO), never mind the cost of re-tooling their facilities to support the rocket. 

Aside from that, Jim has mentioned in other historical threads that USAF had no interest in sharing Saturn 1B with NASA.  The Saturn's were all scene as "NASA's rockets" and MSFC had control over them.  Which is why I didn't propose it for this thread, but rather a "1970's F9".  Something that would new and they'd both have input into, just like STS.  Also something they'd both be pushed into using together, just like STS.  So it's "STS", but with something other than the big side mounted shuttle.  It's still a Space Transport System that they both would use.  But that NASA can operate their missions and launch from their facilities at KSC, and USAF can operate for their missions and operate from their facilities at LC-40/41 and VAFB.  The Titan facilities would need some modifications, as would KSC, but shouldn't have been too major.  Nothing like the modifications for Shuttle were.

One idea that I find interesting (but I don't think it could realistically displace Titan for the USAF or the Saturn IB if NASA can restart the production line at a reasonable cost) is a first stage based on a cluster of 7 Thor tanks.  The Thor tanks were real marvels of aerospace engineering and even a cluster like this wouldn't be too heavy.  With 7 of the uprated 250k lbf H-1 engines that had been proposed, it would be very, very like the Saturn I first stage, but of course the components would share much of the tooling of the Delta first stage since both the tanks and the engines used would be the same.  If I remember rightly, the cluster of tanks would have an overall diameter of around 7.7 meters.  With a ker-LOX upper stage (perhaps something based on the Atlas first stage - say an Atlas tank with a quincunx of Atlas sustainer engines powering it), the payload should be in the ballpark of being practical for the military.

Sort of a kludged together American Zenit.

Interesting.  And back to the topic of this thread, of an alternate joint NASA/USAF "STS" system.   :)
I'm not familiar with the Thor tanks, so I can't really comment on that.
As for engine on it, the H-1 derived RS-27A would be a good option.  Or the other H-1 derivative the Atlas II  sustainer engines.  The nice thing about using this H-1 family of engines, is they were the right size, a cluster of them allow for engine out capability, and they were relatively simple and inexpensive.  And the H-1 held up pretty well in salt water tests, in case they wanted to experiment with parachute water landing reusability, as reusability was an important political topic of the day, and drove the Shuttle STS.
Actually a clustered tank design may have been more structural strong than a mono core for such a recovery method.
The upper stage tank though, would either have been a new 7.7m wide tank (seems pretty wide for an LV like this, especially being kerolox) or a single Thor tank. The Thor tank was 2.4m wide? (from Google), which would have probably been overly skinny for a 7.7m wide booster.  Or it would have had to have been made on a completely different line.
My 1970's F9 concept joint LV would have been more like 5-6m wide, with the upper stage being made the same diameter on the same line, like F9.  That may have ultimately been more streamline.
NASA and USAF figure out the spec's, and submit it to bid, and let the various aerospace contractors of the day compete for it.  Whoever wins would get both stages.  And either could add the Centaur 3rd stage for BLEO missions.

of course, the odds are that in such a situation, bolting together tanks like this wouldn't be very advantageous from a development perspective, so new tanks would probably be developed.)

Yea, probably.  Especially given the issue of the upper stage I mentioned above.

To get up to the sorts of payloads NASA wanted, they'd need a more powerful second stage, like NERVA or the SIVB.

What sort of payloads did NASA want?  Shuttle only had around 23mt.  In my concept or your Thor tank concept could do that with two kerolox stages, then why would they need a different upper stage?  An upper stage with an RS-27A vacuum engine was about 230,000lbs (vac) thrust I think.  That's quite a powerful upper stage. More than the FUS used on FH and F9.  Since as you said they were proposing an H-1 pushed up to 250,000lbs, upgrading much as the Merlin has been upgraded over time, then the vacuum version (RS-27A or whatever they wanted to call it) should have went up too.
NASA was only needing to loft Space Station Freedom/ISS sized modules up to LEO during this time period.  These should have done that just fine.

Again, great comments.  :)

« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 04:14 PM by Lobo »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #77 on: 03/17/2018 06:47 AM »
Quote
Jim, can you explain a little as to why NASA was looking more into Titan than their own Saturn 1B, even funding the IIIE?  (I did not know they did that).  Purely a cost standpoint of sharing with USAF and DoD (ICBM budgets)?
It seems they wouldn't have been big fans of toxic hypergolics and big solids vs. an all kerolox LV that was already operational and KSC already set up to handle and process.

There is a definite moment when Saturn IB lost to Titan III, but it is not related to manned spaceflight but to robotic exploration.

Before Viking was Mars-Voyager, a huge Mars orbiter and lander that started in 1960 and was slained by Congress in 1967 because of a major JSC blunder: they tied it to piloted Mars flybys using Apollo technology.

Congress then saw Voyager as a "foot in the door" for piloted Mars flybys of dubious value and very high costs, and in August 1967 screwed NASA budget and killed both. Voyager was dead, but a year later Viking was created out of its ashes.
Now back to Voyager. Before July 1965 and Mariner 4 startling revelation of very low Mars atmopsheric pressure (10 millibars) Voyager 1.0 was build for a thicker Mars atmosphere and was to be launched by a Saturn IB Centaur.
Unfortunately Mariner 4 results screwed Voyager 1.0 and the Saturn IB Centaur with it. Voyager 2.0 become much more massive, and the only launcher that could handle it, was Saturn V. Except it was far too powerful and expensive, and in the end this sunk the program even before 1967.

During Voyager 1.0 NASA considered Titan III for the first time, but back then they disliked military boosters because of bad experiences, notably with Atlas and Titan.
Voyager 1.0 massed 2700 kg, Saturn IB could do the job but not Titan III, which throwed 1800 kg at Mars. So Voyager 2.0 got a Saturn V, and Saturn IB Centaur was killed, and then Voyager 2.0 was shot down by Congress.
and then in 1968 Viking was born and Titan III quickly become its favorite launcher, first the IIIC and then the Centaur.

At the end of the day, in the war for Voyager and Viking Saturn IB lost a decisive battle, since NASA for the first time embraced the Titan III, a military booster with no Saturn or Apollo legacy whatsoever.

https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4212/contents.html

https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4212/ch4.html

https://history.nasa.gov/SP-4212/ch5.html

One can ask why didn't they brought back Saturn IB Centaur for Viking, the answer was that by 67-68 Saturn production had been frozen (not cancelled, just frozen) so they went for Titan III instead.
« Last Edit: 03/17/2018 07:01 AM by Archibald »
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Offline fasquardon

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #78 on: 03/17/2018 07:11 AM »
Good input here, thanks.  And a lot of good historical info that have learned me some new things.  Much like whenever we can coax Jim to share some of his really great historical knowledge.

When comparing me to Jim, just remember, I'm getting this stuff out of history books and by reading the publicly available documents that were written at the time.  Jim was actually there.

Yes, I may be looking at that with a little too much 20/20 hindsight.  Today the advantages for HSF of non toxic, all liquid seem fairly standard.  For my conceptual joint USAF/NASA "Space Transport System" I do use a little 20/20 hindsight, but with existing hardware and tech of the early 70's.

Unfortunately, the people designing this alternate system in the alternate 70s wouldn't have that hindsight.

I'm not familiar with the Thor tanks, so I can't really comment on that.

They're stronger than the Atlas tanks, pretty light thanks to the manufacturing techniques Douglas used when they designed them back in the 50s (the tanks were chemically etched with a waffle grid pattern), fairly cheap since they're just aluminium and the manufacturing process was well understood, not only being used for rocket tanks by McDonnell Douglas but also plane fuselages across the aircraft industry.  And of course, McDonnell Douglas could manufacture them in a variety of lengths - the Delta first stage got alot of stretches.

I like the idea of building a larger stage around a cluster of them in part because of the strength of a cluster of tubes and in part because producing more fairly standard parts like that will push down costs and push up reliability and the Delta was already the cheapest rocket in terms of cost/kg to orbit after the Saturn V.

As for engine on it, the H-1 derived RS-27A would be a good option.  Or the other H-1 derivative the Atlas II  sustainer engines.  The nice thing about using this H-1 family of engines, is they were the right size, a cluster of them allow for engine out capability, and they were relatively simple and inexpensive.  And the H-1 held up pretty well in salt water tests, in case they wanted to experiment with parachute water landing reusability, as reusability was an important political topic of the day, and drove the Shuttle STS.

I am a real fan of the H-1 family.  Of a size that it could be used for a broad range of LVs and an astoundingly low cost for its size.

Actually a clustered tank design may have been more structural strong than a mono core for such a recovery method.

Maybe.  I'm not sure exactly how strong it would need to be.  One advantage that a cluster of Thor tanks do definitely have over the Saturn 1 stage is that the fuel and oxidizer tanks didn't run the full length of the stage, meaning you could blow the dome off the top tanks (which I think was the kerosene tank), and keep the empty LOX tanks below them as a float, like the proposed stage recovery method for the Saturn 1C stage.  Of course, blowing the domes off a cluster like this I can see being appreciably more finicky than blowing the dome off a mono-tank design like the Saturn 1C.


My 1970's F9 concept joint LV would have been more like 5-6m wide, with the upper stage being made the same diameter on the same line, like F9.  That may have ultimately been more streamline.

Hm.  A cluster of 4 Thor tanks would fit inside a circle with a diameter of 5.88 meters.  That is a bit closer to what you're looking for.  (Though since a cluster of 4 is closer to a square it is maybe more useful to look at the length of one side of the square that would surround the tanks, which would be 4.88 meters.)

I'm curious - is there any advantage to having it under 6 meters in diameter?

What sort of payloads did NASA want?  Shuttle only had around 23mt.

One of the documents I attached in my first post to this thread (19730015118.pdf) goes into this in some detail.  It is important to realize that the Shuttle as it emerged was completely insufficient for even the interim space station program this document outlines, never mind the "permanent" space station it was supposed to support.  For one thing, the Shuttle's real payload capacity was closer to 18 tonnes to LEO and it didn't have the power to reach the high orbits and high inclinations that gave best "value for money" for space stations.

For the 450 km altitude being discussed in this report, the stock Saturn IB could loft almost 16 tonnes and the Titan IIIM could loft almost 12 tonnes.  Even the Saturn IB is a bit too weak to get a full Apollo CSM to these altitudes, though shortening the SM or implementing simple upgrades like giving the Saturn IVB stage the more powerful J2S engine could address that issue.  The Titan IIIM however would have been too weak to be of any use without either remaking it into a different and more powerful rocket or a major re-design of the package for getting crew and supplies up to the station (i.e. a new crew capsule).  By contrast, the SRM-SIVB was supposed to get almost 26 tonnes to the target orbit, meaning NASA would be able to (if I am remembering this right) halve the launches/year required to support their space station.

The SRM-SIVB was actually estimated a bit more powerful than required to comfortably support a station (which needed about 23 tonnes of payload to a 450km orbit) but 10% margin is about what you want when designing a new aircraft, so lets say that the crew/logistics LV needs to be able to manage 26 tonnes to a 450km orbit.

That's more than is needed for space probes and satellites, but more payload capacity for those isn't exactly a bad thing.

To launch space station modules, you want a LV with as much payload as possible, to take advantage of economies of scale.  For example, with the skylab-like stations proposed in the report, each station was supposed to be around 92 tonnes, with a pressurized volume of over 300 cubic meters.  By contrast, Mir, which was built out of modules sized for the limits of the Proton, had 350 cubic meters of pressurized volume and massed 130 tonnes.  A 302 cubic meter space station built like Mir would have weighed in at over 112 tonnes - much less mass-efficient.  To build a Mir-type space station with SRB-SIVB launches would take 5 launches, for which the cost of vehicle acquisition would total 200 million 1971 USD.  And that's assuming the SRB-SIVB is as cheap as was anticipated (which I doubt).  By contrast, the Saturn Int-21, whose costs were much better understood, would launch an equivalent station for a vehicle acquisition cost of 80 million 1971 USD.  And that's just the costs of buying the launch vehicle - not the full launch costs - which of course are higher if you have more launches.

So NASA can certainly make do with just the logistics vehicle to launch small space station modules but it is an expensive way to build a space station.

If the presidency and congress opt for a multi-space station program or a single-space station program with a very large space station (like the ISS and its 930 cubic meters of pressurized volume), a heavy lift vehicle would save a whole bunch of cash.  It's hard to see any administration approving such a vehicle though (even if that vehicle were new Saturn Int-21s).  So likely NASA would find themselves limited by their availability of Saturn Vs, meaning they'd get at most 2 stations of the size they wanted, rather than the 4 the interim program was aiming for (assuming they opt for the same number of moon landings as OTL).

So to sum up: NASA's payload desires are mainly driven by the space station program, which requires LVs that can heft 16 to 26 tonnes into a 450km 28 degree orbit for logistics and requires a LV that can launch 18 to as-high-as-possible tonnes for launching the actual space station modules.  However, the latter isn't as pressing a need since since they have the two Saturn Vs diverted from the moon program for Skylab.  Skylab B and maybe even Skylab A might be able to operate up until the mid-to-late 80s with luck and judicious upgrades.

About the best chance I can see for NASA to get a HLV is for the NERVA program to be allowed to bear fruit.

fasquardon
« Last Edit: 03/17/2018 07:19 AM by fasquardon »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #79 on: 03/19/2018 11:11 PM »
Good input here, thanks.  And a lot of good historical info that have learned me some new things.  Much like whenever we can coax Jim to share some of his really great historical knowledge.

When comparing me to Jim, just remember, I'm getting this stuff out of history books and by reading the publicly available documents that were written at the time.  Jim was actually there.


Roger that.

Unfortunately, the people designing this alternate system in the alternate 70s wouldn't have that hindsight.

Yes, but one needs to take some creative license if discussing "what might have been".  No, they didn't have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.  And perhaps I assume more than I should.  But, still, they had the pieces together right in front of them at that time, if they'd simply assembled them in a different way that they did.

You have to sort of assume, what if there was a strong voice at that time...in the USAF, in NASA, in Congress, or in the White House, that said strongly added some points and direction to the discussions of the day of what to do Post Apollo.  Like:

1) We already spend a huge amount of money on new technology and hardware and processing and launch facilities for the Apollo program, and there's several studies of what can be done with that (various Saturn INT variant and Apollo Applications Programs), I don't think it wise to scrap all of that complete and start over.  We should get some more return on investment into that massive investment.

2)  Given #1, what best should be retained to meet goals of cutting costs, manned, LEO access, assembling and operating a new space station, and adding in reusability if/where useful and practical and feasible.

3)  Rather than two separate LV's being operated by NASA, can there be one common "Space Transportation System" that can fulfill the needs of NASA, but also meet the needs/wants of the USAF for their heavy lift?  Given realistic anticipated flight rates, and the launch needs of both agencies, is there an LV that could fit that role?  And take advantages of existing hardware as well as the economics of scale?

I think in one way or the other, all of these things were being discussed.  They were known.  They just lacked the champion at the appropriate level to advocate for it instead of for what became STS.  They did get NASA and USAF together on the real STS.  What if they'd been able to do that, with a system that took advantage of some legacy to save a large amount of development costs, and would be safer and more "likable" by both Agencies. 
From what I understand of the history, USAF wasn't real keep on sharing a "NASA system" with NASA, as in the Saturns.  They wanted to keep their Titans and go that way.  And then there'd be no issues of dealing with NASA to procure Saturn hardware.  STS was a new system for both, but still it could only launch on NASA facilities, and could only launch manned, which from what I understand wasn't something USAF liked.  For reasons that Challenger demonstrated later.   
So logic would dictate that if "STS" was some alternate LV that could be launched unmanned, and launched from USAF's existing launch facilities (with some modifications), that they probably would have gotten on board with it.  It would have had more appeal than Shuttle, and they got on board with Shuttle.

Form NASA's standpoint, it would have been safer as the much smaller reusable capsule or mini-shuttle could have an LAS, and would be located up on top of the booster rather than beside it.   And the payload would have been decoupled from crew.  I know they didn't have 20/20 hindsight back then, but they did have a lot of very smart people.  Hard to imagine that there weren't some who had concerns with those things, but they were probably overruled by those pushing for a big shuttle.

So, lots of money to be saved.  Which then could have funded a lot of payloads, that didn't have funding because Shuttle was so expensive, and every time you launched a crew of 7 or a 20mt payload, you had to launch a 100mt Saturn V class LV.  And the economics of reusability didn't really come into play unless there was some very high flight rate that there was just no data would actually ever happen.
Pondering how history might have unfolded differently if that happened is what makes these theoretical threads interesting.
 ;)

I am a real fan of the H-1 family.  Of a size that it could be used for a broad range of LVs and an astoundingly low cost for its size.

Yea.  And obviously both NASA and USAF didn't have an issue with using them, as NASA used them on the Saturn 1B, and USAF used them on Delta II and Atlas II.
So seems like neither would have been adverse to using them on some sort of alternate "STS" joint launch system.

Maybe.  I'm not sure exactly how strong it would need to be.  One advantage that a cluster of Thor tanks do definitely have over the Saturn 1 stage is that the fuel and oxidizer tanks didn't run the full length of the stage, meaning you could blow the dome off the top tanks (which I think was the kerosene tank), and keep the empty LOX tanks below them as a float, like the proposed stage recovery method for the Saturn 1C stage.  Of course, blowing the domes off a cluster like this I can see being appreciably more finicky than blowing the dome off a mono-tank design like the Saturn 1C.

I'm familiar with that technique of blowing the tops of of the tanks.  However, I'd wonder if it'd be better to just try to splash the whole stage in tact (maybe with some air bags to help cushion more?) or to have an Atlas type engine ring that jettisoned and splashed and could be recovered.  As that's probably the most expensive bit, and should be able to be made fairly robust.  The Saturn 1D concept had an outer engine ring with four F-1's that did that, while the center engine took the stage and payload to LEO.  So that technology was pretty well understood, and actually was how Atlas worked already.
If trying to splash the whole stage, then some structural upgrades could be made to help it survive the impact.  I think a shorter, fatter, stage probably would be stronger at this than a long skinny stage like the F9 booster.

Hm.  A cluster of 4 Thor tanks would fit inside a circle with a diameter of 5.88 meters.  That is a bit closer to what you're looking for.  (Though since a cluster of 4 is closer to a square it is maybe more useful to look at the length of one side of the square that would surround the tanks, which would be 4.88 meters.)


I'm curious - is there any advantage to having it under 6 meters in diameter?

I'd think if some sort of booster water landing was to be attempted, the shorter, fatter booster would probably be stronger at surviving it than a long skinny one.  It could resist the compressive loads of landing end first (top end or bottom end)  better without buckling, and then could resist the bending loads of tipping over, impacting, and then bobbin sideways in the ocean. 
Although there's a trade of having a stack too short and fat is less aerodynamic and a little less stable in flight.  That's what I understand anyway, I'm no rocket engineer.  :)

The Titan IIIM however would have been too weak to be of any use without either remaking it into a different and more powerful rocket or a major re-design of the package for getting crew and supplies up to the station (i.e. a new crew capsule).  By contrast, the SRM-SIVB was supposed to get almost 26 tonnes to the target orbit, meaning NASA would be able to (if I am remembering this right) halve the launches/year required to support their space station.

I know this is a bit of 20/20 hindsight, but there had to be people back in the day skeptical of using solids for human space flight.  Since you can't shut them off.  I know even with Shuttle, there was a fear especially for STS-1 that if only one SRB lit on the pad, it'd result in complete loss of vehicle and crew.  Whereas liquid engines can be started, checked out for a few seconds, and shut down if there were any problems.  SRB's probably seemed pretty attractive for a lot of reasons, but they had a lot of drawbacks especially the big Shuttle sized ones.  The Titan's UA1205 or 1207 might have been easier to manage, but if you put a few of those around an S-IVB and one doesn't light, that's a big problem, especially if there's now LAS like the Shuttle. A mini-shuttle or reusable large capsule or something with an LAS, then that might have been a more mitigated risk if the LAS system could have gotten the crew away from a stack tipping suddenly sideways on the pad at lift off.

Seems like if you were going to go with SRB's, then an LAS would be a must.  But STS had both SRB's and lacked  an LAS system.   I think there was a certain amount of luck they never had an SRB misfire pad accident with it in 135 missions.

But, since USAF wasn't launching manned missions, that wouldn't have been an issue for them using them, and obviously it wasn't for Titan or Delta II.  They actually seemed to like them.  But would they have been adverse to going all liquid, single core for a new joint "STS" LV if NASA wanted to stay clear of them as one of their important criteria for a new joint LV?  Atlas didn't have SRB's.  If this new Joint LV were like a "Big" Atlas, but 2-stage rather than 1.5 stage, using engines from the same [H-1] family, would they have fought it and fought still for big solids?  Or perhaps even liked the idea the sharing with their smaller LV's of Atlas and Delta II?

To launch space station modules, you want a LV with as much payload as possible, to take advantage of economies of scale.  For example, with the skylab-like stations proposed in the report, each station was supposed to be around 92 tonnes, with a pressurized volume of over 300 cubic meters.  By contrast, Mir, which was built out of modules sized for the limits of the Proton, had 350 cubic meters of pressurized volume and massed 130 tonnes.  A 302 cubic meter space station built like Mir would have weighed in at over 112 tonnes - much less mass-efficient.  To build a Mir-type space station with SRB-SIVB launches would take 5 launches, for which the cost of vehicle acquisition would total 200 million 1971 USD.  And that's assuming the SRB-SIVB is as cheap as was anticipated (which I doubt).  By contrast, the Saturn Int-21, whose costs were much better understood, would launch an equivalent station for a vehicle acquisition cost of 80 million 1971 USD.  And that's just the costs of buying the launch vehicle - not the full launch costs - which of course are higher if you have more launches.


True, but you need to balance that with the additional costs of producing and operating a 2nd larger LV.  Like both Saturn 1B and Saturn V.   Trying to do an LV that can scale up feasibly is then the target that several systems have tried for.  A base LV, that then can more boosters or SRB's or whatever added so that you have a medium lift LV most of the time, and a cost effective heavy lifter on the occasions you want that.
But historically those really haven't worked out all that way.  Maybe SpaceX will make it work with FH, but they really seem to be pushing on through to the bigger BFR that will be fully reusable, and just have that one big LV that flies a lot (and is reusable) that will get prices down.

But I think SpaceX has also showed us that even when you take reusability out of the equation, you can still have a high performance, affordable LV that really has no options in F9.  Even if they'd never done reusability with the booster, they'd have an expendable LV at a price point that is lower than pretty much anything in that EELV class.  Had the EELV program of the 90's actually settled on just a single stick Atlas V, it'd probably have ended up being pretty cost effective.  But they had SRB options for it, and had to pay for Delta IV with it's SRB and heavy options, with duplicate launch facilities and production lines and engines, etc.  SpaceX showed the KISS method can work well, even if only expendable, and even if your LV is larger than you need for some payloads.

That's why I was trying to go with a single LV that could get ~25mt to LEO.  No SRB's, no outboard boosters, no multiple upper stage options, etc.  Just an option for perhaps encapsulating Centaur in it's payload fairing for those high energy missions that the base configuration won't do.  Although the all-gas-generator kerolox Falcon 9 can loft 23mt to LEO, and 8.3mt to GTO (expendable) without a high energy hydrolox 3rd stage.  A 1970's joint version would probably need more thrust to get that performance as it wouldn't have the mass efficiency of the Falcon stages, or the additional efficiency of the Merlin engines which are probably about as good as you can get from a kerolox GG engine.  So our joint LV uses RS-27's or derivatives, and sized to get maybe 25mt to LEO (a little better than F9...just getting to LEO on sheer thrust), and around 8mt to GTO (a little worse than F9, due to mass and isp inefficiencies of 70's tech, where those start to impact more). 
USAF may not have needed Centaur much.  That should have beaten Titan III.  I think Titan IVB with Centaur could get like 9mt to GTO?  (not quite sure on those high energy Titan IVB numbers, as there were different stage configurations available.
So maybe a Centaur option wouldn't even really be needed until the 1990's?

It'd be a little big for many of those bigger class payloads of the 70's and 80's, but you make just one thing, and you make lots and lots of them, and you can get your costs down. 
As Henry Ford said, "You can buy the Model T in any color you want...as long as it's black".
heh.

« Last Edit: 03/20/2018 03:49 PM by Lobo »

Online speedevil

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #80 on: 03/20/2018 01:47 AM »
If NERVA hadn't been cancelled, then a nuclear second stage on the Saturn IB could have produced a LV capable of Energia-level performance with 80-100 tonnes to LEO.

On this topic - https://beyondnerva.wordpress.com/2017/12/15/leu-ntp-nasas-new-nuclear-rocket-part-1-where-weve-been-before/ goes over NERVA history and possible upgrades with todays tech.
Officially cancelled in 77.

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #81 on: 03/23/2018 10:25 PM »

There is a definite moment when Saturn IB lost to Titan III, but it is not related to manned spaceflight but to robotic exploration.

*snip*

One can ask why didn't they brought back Saturn IB Centaur for Viking, the answer was that by 67-68 Saturn production had been frozen (not cancelled, just frozen) so they went for Titan III instead.

Interesting stuff.  Thanks for sharing and summarizing (I haven't had a chance to mull through those links yet though)

Yea, since Saturn 1B was no longer in production, and would require new development to adapt a 3rd stage to it, while Titan already had a 3rd stage variant, made a good case for using Titan. 
And I'm not sure of all the timelines, but by the early 70's when Viking and Voyager were in the works, a reusable Space Plane concept for the Post Apollo Program of Record was pretty well decided upon.  With any chance of going back and using Saturn 1B, and restarting production not really in the cards any more.



« Last Edit: 03/23/2018 10:36 PM by Lobo »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #82 on: 03/24/2018 06:13 AM »
The official start of the space shuttle program was between december 1967 and july 1968, Voyager had already been cancelled (July 1967) and Viking was on very early planning stages. 

What is sure is that there was a large number of Saturn IB left by Apollo (SA-209 to SA-216, minus ASTP, AS-210 in the end that's SEVEN rockets, not all them complete). But as you said, they crucially lacked the Centaur stage.

Bringing back the Saturn-Centaur in 1968 would have duplicated Titan IIID-Centaur (that was the name back them, it become III-E later) but also probably the future Space Shuttle, as you noted.

 Surely, during its funding quest for the shuttle, NASA had very hard times proving OMB and Congress the Shuttle would bring any cost improvement compared to the Titan, so imagine if the Saturn IB was there, too.

More generally, by 1968 Saturn IB was already a relic of the past, at least in NASA eyes.
« Last Edit: 03/24/2018 10:02 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 Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #83 on: 03/26/2018 02:31 PM »

During Voyager 1.0 NASA considered Titan III for the first time, but back then they disliked military boosters because of bad experiences, notably with Atlas and Titan.


Not true.  NASA managed its own Atlases.

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #84 on: 03/26/2018 06:30 PM »
The official start of the space shuttle program was between december 1967 and july 1968, Voyager had already been cancelled (July 1967) and Viking was on very early planning stages. 

So that's when NASA had pretty much decided they'd pivot away from Saturn/Apollo after they'd flown their funded missions out, rather than continue with any of them.  But when did USAF get on board with it then?  When did they start having input into the Shuttle requirements and designs?
It's really at that point in our alternate history where some sort of alternate "STS" Joint launch system would need to be inserted.  At that point, USAF must have decided they'd go with the joint system with NASA to replace Titan for their heavier lift needs.  So that's when [theoretically] they'd have been open to some other alternate joint system instead of Shuttle.  The extra carrot with something like a 1970's version of Falcon 9 using all H-1 family engines is that USAF would have had a joint system that 1)  Wouldn't need a human crew to launch, and 2) They could have launched from their own Titan pads (with modifications), instead of depending on NASA facilities) , and 3)  It could probably (possibly?) be set up that USAF and control over their boosters, and didn't have to work through NASA as they did with Shuttle. (Jim talked about this on the 1st page of this thread).  Once a collaborative design had been finalized, then USAF would purchase what they needed for their needs, and take delivery, process, and launch them from their own facilities.  Really completely independent from NASA.
I can only imagine those things would have been even more attractive to USAF than Shuttle was. 

I think NASA would have been the easier of the two to get on board with something like that.  USAF had their own LV's and didn't really need to switch, but NASA needed something post-Apollo.  USAF could have just kept upgrading Titan to Titan IIIM and then some sort of Titan IV after.  Plus I don't think their budgets were in the balance as much because they were tied to Defense budgets, rather than the separate NASA budgets.  So getting them on board would probably be the harder thing.  For NASA, really a reusable Space Plane shuttle of some sort would probably be "futuristic" and reusable" enough, even with an expendable booster.  Especially if the booster could later be upgraded with perhaps an SRB like parachute water landing for at least Shuttle level booster reusability.  USAF probably wouldn't have really cared about that, but NASA may have have.


What is sure is that there was a large number of Saturn IB left by Apollo (SA-209 to SA-216, minus ASTP, AS-210 in the end that's SEVEN rockets, not all them complete). But as you said, they crucially lacked the Centaur stage.

Bringing back the Saturn-Centaur in 1968 would have duplicated Titan IIID-Centaur (that was the name back them, it become III-E later) but also probably the future Space Shuttle, as you noted.

 Surely, during its funding quest for the shuttle, NASA had very hard times proving OMB and Congress the Shuttle would bring any cost improvement compared to the Titan, so imagine if the Saturn IB was there, too.

More generally, by 1968 Saturn IB was already a relic of the past, at least in NASA eyes.

Good points.  And yea, I think that's probably how it played out.  (From my limited understanding of the politics and history of the era).

On paper it seems like such an easy thing to just say, "Why didn't both NASA and USAF just use Saturn 1B?  It was already developed, and pretty much had a performance range they were looking for...or could be relatively easily upgraded to.  Why didn't they just do that?"

But the details of the era, such a thing was anything but simple.  For those reasons you and Jim and others have noted.
Which is why I was thinking had there been maybe a little more pragmatism at the time, maybe a more modest system than STS could have been implemented that would have achieved many of the goals of STS, but for just a fraction of the development and operating costs, as well as NASA/USAF cost sharing.  And Maybe more interesting things could have been done sooner than worked out with Shuttle in real history.  And been safer for humans to fly on as well.

I like my "1970's Falcon 9" concept.  A joint LV that was a Titan derivative would probably have been more likely in real history, but I like the Titans less for the NASA human Space flight side, for a few reasons than the 1970's Falcon 9 concept.
« Last Edit: 03/26/2018 06:45 PM by Lobo »

Offline Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #85 on: 03/26/2018 09:31 PM »
Archibald,

Since the Title of the thread is alternate joint "STS" System, and realistically in history, aside from Shuttle, a joint expendable LV for both would have most likely been a Titan derivative, what might a joint Titan Based "STS" system have looked like?  Something that'd have filled the needs for both?

There was something like the Titan IIIL concept, which had a wider core and I think larger 7-seg boosters, compared to the U1207 boosters on Titan IIIM and Titan IVA.  (They look bigger in the link below anyway, although they both say 7-segment boosters.)

http://www.aerospaceprojectsreview.com/blog/?p=66

But then there's less commonality, as USAF probably wasn't interested in a wider core Titan.  (or were they?)

Is there a Titan variant that both would have been theoretically likely to adopt in an alternate joint "STS" system?

Some interesting potential candidates over here on this thread:

https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40012.0


« Last Edit: 03/26/2018 09:41 PM by Lobo »

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #86 on: 03/27/2018 11:38 AM »
Hard to guess.

Titan III-M maybe, if MOL survived (see Blackstar extensive writtings on the subjet. In spring 1969 the KH-10 MOL nearly survived and the KH-9 was nearly killed instead. Nixon took that decision in April but reversed it two months later, and the MOL died in june).

I would say first scrap the shuttle and get Big Gemini as NASA space station logistic vehicle.

The funny thing, Big Gemini is superficially similar to the MOL, maybe NASA and the Air Force could get a kind of hybrid of the two spacecrafts, launched by a Titan III-M.

This done,

Improve the Titan by cutting the gap between Titan II and Titan III.

There is two ways to achieve that.

Solution A) Cut the SRMs.
Titan III-C had 5-seg SRMs, Titan III-M had 7-seg solids. But a while back I found a paper discussing intermediate Titans with 2-seg and 3-seg SRMs. I'll try to find this paper on my HD.

Solution B) Enlarge the core -  to 4 LR-87 and 4.87 m diameter (standard Titan was 3.05 m diameter)
then add to the larger core, not the huge SRMs but Delta 7000 nine small solids GEM-40.

I was never really convinced by the Shuttle - Titan hybrids, notably 4X 7-seg solids = 24 O-rings, thus many more possible STS-51L or Titan 34D-9. Bad.

A Big Gemini / MOL hybrid launched by a Titan III-M could be an interesting joint NASA - military manned spacecraft.

It would be pretty easy for Martin Marietta to tweak a Titan II to replace both Atlas and Delta. The end result ? having slained the shuttle, Saturn IB, Atlas and Delta  the Titan family would achieve total domination of U.S launch systems, something the Space Shuttle tried to achieve but failed.  ;D

Then the Titan could try to pull a Falcon 9 - mass production to drop cost, followed by (partial) reusability to drop cost further.

I would say - start from the enlarged core, four engine Titan III-L without SRMs but scrap the storable propellants and return to the Titan I kerolox LR-87. Four kerolox LR-87 topped by one kerolox LR-91, and then goes full Falcon 9, if that's ever doable in the 80's. By the way, Big Gemini makes an honest-to-god Dragon 2...
« Last Edit: 03/27/2018 11:56 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 Lobo

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #87 on: 03/27/2018 11:12 PM »

I would say first scrap the shuttle and get Big Gemini as NASA space station logistic vehicle.

The funny thing, Big Gemini is superficially similar to the MOL, maybe NASA and the Air Force could get a kind of hybrid of the two spacecrafts, launched by a Titan III-M.

Would Big Gemini have had any chance of winning out over some sort of reusable space plane during this era?  I'm no expert on it, but wasn't it still basically an expendable capsule?  I know there was a pretty palpable push for reusability and going "futuristic" at the time.  That's why I mention an HL-20/42 style mini shuttle at the time.  Or something like a larger Dyna-Soar perhaps.


It would be pretty easy for Martin Marietta to tweak a Titan II to replace both Atlas and Delta. The end result ? having slained the shuttle, Saturn IB, Atlas and Delta  the Titan family would achieve total domination of U.S launch systems, something the Space Shuttle tried to achieve but failed.  ;D

Then the Titan could try to pull a Falcon 9 - mass production to drop cost, followed by (partial) reusability to drop cost further.

I would say - start from the enlarged core, four engine Titan III-L without SRMs but scrap the storable propellants and return to the Titan I kerolox LR-87. Four kerolox LR-87 topped by one kerolox LR-91, and then goes full Falcon 9, if that's ever doable in the 80's. By the way, Big Gemini makes an honest-to-god Dragon 2...

I'm definitely a fan of pivoting away from the toxic and corrosive hypergolics to kerolox, especially for NASA.   And it's interesting those LR engines could be built to run on either.  I wasn't aware of that until recently. 
So the question then would be, would there be enough "Titan" left in such a variant, that it would still be a "Titan"?  It'd share little with the Titan ICBM fleet of parts, which was an advantage of the Titan LV's as I understand.
And could existing Titan II/III LR's be converted to kerolox?  Or would they need to be built differently?  If different, then again they wouldn't have commonality with the Titan ICBM fleet.

Seems like this would be pretty similar to my "1970's Falcon 9" concept using the H-1 family of engines.  It'd just use the LR family.  The LR's are about the same as the H-1's, per nozzle, but they are dual nozzle engines, correct?  So as you said, 4 of them (8 nozzles) with then options for small SRB augmentation?  Like what the EELV's turned out to be? 

Regardless of who made the a larger core, MM, or another contractor, really the engines would be about the only difference, otherwise we're thinking roughly the same thing.  Would the LR's be more advantageous than the H's?

I like the idea, just wondering once we're there, have we lost the advantages of staying with the Titan?  (Although those advantages were going away anyway as the Titan ICBM's were being replaced by the solid Minuteman's in the late 70's and 80's.  So that was really only a short term advantage in Titan based LV).

Offline Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #88 on: 03/28/2018 01:46 AM »

I would say first scrap the shuttle and get Big Gemini as NASA space station logistic vehicle.
 

Never was a viable vehicle nor a realistic project

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #89 on: 03/28/2018 07:41 AM »
 ::)

Quote
Would Big Gemini have had any chance of winning out over some sort of reusable space plane during this era?  I'm no expert on it, but wasn't it still basically an expendable capsule?  I know there was a pretty palpable push for reusability and going "futuristic" at the time.  That's why I mention an HL-20/42 style mini shuttle at the time.  Or something like a larger Dyna-Soar perhaps.

One of the three options pushed hard by OMB to scare NASA in cutting the shuttle cost (october 1971) was a 100 000 pound "Fat Dynasoar".
The other two were Big Gemini and Apollo. The OMB ruthless strategy got shuttle development costs dropping from $11 billion for the fully reusable shuttle to a mere $5.15 billion for the final, familiar shuttle (from the Mathematica Institute, Klaus Heiss and Oskar Morgenstern). We all know how that ended.  ::)

 (note: Big Gemini was a serious project, up to a full-size mockup, but only between 1967 and 1969, after what it was only OMB prefered option to scare the hell out of NASA into cutting Shuttle development costs)

Big Gemini crew module was to land on an airstrip, using X-15 -like skids and a parafoil or parasail. On paper it could be refurbished and reused, but that's very, very uncertain and probably not worth it. Maybe just scavenging the spent modules for cheap spares, as NAR planned to do for future Apollo CMs.

In the case that the OMB and PSAC managed to kill the shuttle late 1971, maybe there would have been a "crew vehicle bidding war" that is MDD Big Gemini, NAR Apollo, probably the Corona capsule (that was General Electric) and of course the lifting bodies - Martin X-24 and Northrop that had two of them, the M2F-2 and the HL-10. Maybe others with winged shapes - Boeing with a big DynaSoar and Grumman or Lockheed or others with some kind of X-37 look alike - a subscale shuttle orbiter shape.
All of them probably launched by a Titan III-M. Whoever win is anybody guess of course. 
« Last Edit: 03/28/2018 10:57 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 Jim

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #90 on: 03/28/2018 01:27 PM »

1.   (note: Big Gemini was a serious project, up to a full-size mockup, but only between 1967 and 1969, after what it was only OMB prefered option to scare the hell out of NASA into cutting Shuttle development costs)

2.  Big Gemini crew module was to land on an airstrip, using X-15 -like skids and a parafoil or parasail. On paper it could be refurbished and reused, but that's very, very uncertain and probably not worth it. Maybe just scavenging the spent modules for cheap spares, as NAR planned to do for future Apollo CMs.


1.  That was a PR stunt by McDonnell.  Not NASA funded.

2.  Do you see any way for the passengers to get out?  Also, the design makes no sense.  There is no need to have two man cockpit such as that. 


 Big Gemini was more of a marketing ploy by McDonnell than anything else.

Offline Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #91 on: 03/28/2018 02:40 PM »
Could have worked if enough money threw at it. Nothing unworkable in the design. I mean it is no freakkin' Chrysler SERV SSTO.
« Last Edit: 03/28/2018 02:47 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 Archibald

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #92 on: 04/13/2018 07:02 PM »
Thank you very much (both) for the document. I saw mention of Rensselaer P.I - so it come from the George Low archives there ?
« Last Edit: 04/13/2018 07:03 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 Proponent

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #93 on: 04/13/2018 07:59 PM »
Anyway, the attached is courtesy of Dr. Logsdon.

Wow, what a casual delivery!  Thank you very much, and thanks to Dr. Logsdon too!
« Last Edit: 04/13/2018 07:59 PM by Proponent »

Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #94 on: 04/18/2018 12:37 AM »
Lobo asked for an "Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" system and I totally forgot about the 'fact' they actually DID have one... But timing is everything after all :)

USAF "SLS" (Space Launching System) of 1960:
http://www.astronautix.com/s/sls.html

NASA "Almost-SLS" of 1966/68-ish:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_II

If only the 'kids' could play nice with each other :)

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 #95 on: 04/26/2018 06:10 PM »
Lobo asked for an "Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" system and I totally forgot about the 'fact' they actually DID have one... But timing is everything after all :)

USAF "SLS" (Space Launching System) of 1960:
http://www.astronautix.com/s/sls.html

Interesting.  I love this site, I always learn something new.

Obviously this was the USAF preferred concept with a whole bunch of big solid boosters. Heh.

In the 50's, solids looked pretty good as big liquid engines were in their early stages.  And later it was figured out that when those solids got really big, they weren't all that cheap and easy.

NASA "Almost-SLS" of 1966/68-ish:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_II

If only the 'kids' could play nice with each other :)

Randy

Yea, I was aware of Saturn II.  An interesting design.  I never quite liked that it needed Solids to get off the ground with the existing J2 engines (although it could with sea level variants or the HG-3).  Also, hydrolox is difficult and just not a good booster propellant.  There's a case to be made for it in STS (Or Ariane 5) where it's basically a ground lit 2nd stage/sustainer stage all the way to orbit.  But Saturn II would have the hydrolox S-IVB as the 2nd stage anyway.  The S-II is itself a 2nd stage rather than a sustainer stage.  It probably could have been modified into a sustainer stage with the help of a lot of solid booster assistance, then it'd basically have been a smaller, fatter 1970's SLS.  heh.   

With 20/20 hindsight, I still think having a kerolox booster that could get the stack off the ground efficiently would have been preferable.  With maybe small Minuteman solids (shared with other LV, small, easy to handle) that can augment it for heavier payloads.  But I think SpaceX has shown, just simple kerolox, of a size to cover your whole payload range without solids is a good concept and perfectly economical (even without any reusability).    Don't over think it, keep it simple and reliable, which gas generator kerolox was in the 60's and 70's.  That's why I kind of like the "1970's Falcon 9" concept, with H-1C engines on a mono core booster, with then a single vacuum H-1 for a kerolox 2nd stage.  Add the Centaur 3rd stage for BLEO payloads, and it'd have been a perfectly fine shared launcher for USAF as well, with engine family shared with Delta and Atlas for smaller payload needs.
NASA would mostly only need the basic 2-stage version for launching astronauts up to LEO to build and maintain a modular space station that STS was originally envisioned to construct.


Offline RanulfC

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Re: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.
« Reply #96 on: 04/28/2018 09:00 PM »
Lobo wrote:
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Interesting. I love this site, I always learn something new.

Ain't it the truth :)

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Obviously this was the USAF preferred concept with a whole bunch of big solid boosters. Heh.

Well there was that "Titan-variant" called Arcturus back around 1959 (https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40012.msg1548837#msg1548837) which was TOTALLY nothing like that obviously flawed and overly complex "clustered" Jupiter and Redstone tankage "Saturn" monstrosity of the Army! Why look we only have TWO honking big engines, (that we actually haven't tested at this point but are SURE will be 'easy' and 'cheap' to get operational) instead of 8 wimpy ones!

Er, hmmm.. Sorry I'm working up notes on a AH-fiction timeline where the Air Force gets the Lunar go-ahead and winds up using a variation of "Project Pilgrim" as an actual plan and the amount of 'over-hype' and 'over-blown-promise' that tends to get thrown around when the Air Force 'wins' tends to be difficult to shake off at times :)
(And if your curious no, they still don't get Arcturus but end up using SLS with the "A" and "B" models. "C" ends up being a step to far on short notice)

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In the 50's, solids looked pretty good as big liquid engines were in their early stages. And later it was figured out that when those solids got really big, they weren't all that cheap and easy.

Kind of depends on what assumptions you're using since Aerojet could actually 'show' the math working for a big solid built IN Florida, (rather than say Utah or Colorado :) ) at least cost-wise. Operationally however...

The 'big' SRBs for "B" and "C" weren't really that much bigger than the Shuttle SRBs, (Astronautix is a bit off since they show the same dimensions for both the "B" and "C" SRBs) at 167ft long by 15ft in diameter for the "B" and "C" (despite the rather obvious 'shorter' stage length for the "B" which should be around 85ft long) compared to the Shuttle SRBs at 150ft long and 12ft in diameter. It of course wouldn't be 'inexpensive' by any stretch but that wasn't as clear at the time given the regular 'issues' with big liquid boosters. People laughed and scoffed at the Saturn-1 but it really did 'prove' big liquid boosters were not only possible but practical.

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Yea, I was aware of Saturn II. An interesting design.

I knew that YOU knew, that "I" knew, that you knew, but then again what's new? ;)

Seriously, it was and it showed that NASA was willing to consider, (not for long but...) using such components. The main thing was the "Saturn-II" obviously being based on existing Saturn hardware whereas SLS...

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I never quite liked that it needed Solids to get off the ground with the existing J2 engines (although it could with sea level variants or the HG-3). Also, hydrolox is difficult and just not a good booster propellant.

True but being the 'uber-propellant' (in theory) kept in in the running on math alone :) Nobody 'liked' the need for solids or dense liquid boosters because they always brought the overall performance numbers down, but, (as we've seen with the Delta-IV) anything else is a bit wasteful. Despite being flaky as heck over design, propulsion, performance, and mission the one thing the AF got right from the start was hydrolox was best for anything OTHER than boosters.

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There's a case to be made for it in STS (Or Ariane 5) where it's basically a ground lit 2nd stage/sustainer stage all the way to orbit. But Saturn II would have the hydrolox S-IVB as the 2nd stage anyway. The S-II is itself a 2nd stage rather than a sustainer stage.

Eh, check that. The SLS air-light the J2s once the SRBs burned out. Oddly enough it seems to be where Martin got the idea for the Titan-III and later because running the numbers showed much better performance, (with less vehicle stressing) by air-starting the liquid stages after the SRBs lifted the vehicle to altitude. There was by design no 'sustainer' stage.

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It probably could have been modified into a sustainer stage with the help of a lot of solid booster assistance, then it'd basically have been a smaller, fatter 1970's SLS. heh.

You mean "SLS" not "SLS" right? :)

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With 20/20 hindsight, I still think having a kerolox booster that could get the stack off the ground efficiently would have been preferable.

Again the answer you get depends on what answer you were looking for in the first place :) In the Air Force mind of the time the segmented solids had a pretty sweet draw in that by varying the number of segments AND boosters you could launch a wide variety of payloads on the same 'upper' stages. Especially if you varied the propellant load as well.

As per 'standard' planning of the time they were looking at several launches a month up to a couple a week in some cases of various mission payloads. Quite obviously everyone noted you ran into problems with 'big' boosters in that they required very specialized, and extensive, (not to mention expensive) infrastructure. As the flight rate went up some infrastructure would end up pretty much the same, (propellant production, handling and storage come to mind) for small/medium and big boosters but you didn't have to have It all right away. Having said that another 'obvious' conclusion was you eventually wanted to go with reusable, (the AF had "Astrorocket" studies going on around the same time-frame I think) but at the same time you had significantly different payload missions that were often not as 'suited' to a single launch system or design.

A lesson we learned again from the Shuttle. Monlithic systems tend to lead to fixed designs which don't scale well or at all whereas 'modular' can be scaled in any direction at an economic cost. There's no question a dense propellant liquid booster would have been more efficient but balanced against that was the choice in moving all production and assembly of the SRBs 'on-site' to reduce costs. It was looked at for the Shuttle and found to be vastly cheaper, (and actually made 'reuse' practical for the SRBs) but politics not operations dictated it not happen.

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With maybe small Minuteman solids (shared with other LV, small, easy to handle) that can augment it for heavier payloads. But I think SpaceX has shown, just simple kerolox, of a size to cover your whole payload range without solids is a good concept and perfectly economical (even without any reusability).

Actually SpaceX has 'shown' you can do pretty good with a marginal LV if you get production costs down in the bargain. And actually I have to point out that SpaceX didn't in fact 'prove' this at all since the good-old R7 was doing it long before Elon Musk got the space bug. :)
The problem is a full kerolox LV is NOT efficient and the only way it stays relevant is if you can make it vastly cheaper. Which arguably SpaceX does but, in truth anyone with a more efficient upper stage and similar costs would eat their lunch. There's a reason they are moving to methalox after all :)

In the case of 1960s-SLS and Saturn-II they simply worked in reverse by starting with an efficient upper stage and how to get it off the ground and into the air. They in fact DID study liquid boosters and while they found efficiency and economic gains in the long run it was the 'short run' that mattered more since they were aiming at as early operational date as possible.

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Don't over think it, keep it simple and reliable, which gas generator kerolox was in the 60's and 70's.

Not quite though. The Air Force was the main developer of both the F1 and the J2 for a reason and they did have an 'advantage' over NASA at the time having actually run a powerful LH2 engine extensively and found no major issues to the deployment of the same. (LR-87) So to them it WAS fairly simple and rather straight forward the only question being who and how does the airframe. (My bet is on Martin with some type of modified Titan airframe) They would use kerolox if they had to, (Arcturus after all) but somewhere around there you wanted to move to LH2 for the upper stages anyway so why not from the start? (And that's where Centaur development came in but took vastly longer than anyone planned) And there was arguably nothing simpler than solid propellant rockets which were becoming quite reasonable. (Since no one had done significant work on large segmented solids yet it was a reasonable assumption)


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That's why I kind of like the "1970's Falcon 9" concept, with H-1C engines on a mono core booster, with then a single vacuum H-1 for a kerolox 2nd stage. Add the Centaur 3rd stage for BLEO payloads, and it'd have been a perfectly fine shared launcher for USAF as well, with engine family shared with Delta and Atlas for smaller payload needs.

You're mixing your metaphors there buster :) The only reason the US had 'any' decent LVs at the time, (talking early 60s) was because they invested in LH2 upper stages and engines. Using a kerolox 'upper stage' would be a huge step backwards no matter how 'cheap' it was. (And in fact it is today because ANYTHING other than kerolox in the Falcon-9 second stage would vastly improve its performance. It would increase the cost of course but really SpaceX has room to spare, they just don't have the will and frankly are not interested. The changes needed for using cryo-propane for example would be minimal but the performance boost would be well worth it. But that's money they won't spend)

And I have to point out Centaur wasn't designed or built to ever be 'cheap' on purpose. And a launcher that big, like the current Falcon-9 is not going to be able to service the vast amount of different payloads developed and designed between the 60s and the 80s. It will be vastly too large for some, (most actually early on) and need additional upper stages or boost assists for others. And then there's the difference between what NASA and the Air Force 'wanted' at any one time. If the USAF doesn't have a 'manned' mission to support they won't want anything over about the Titan, (10 to say 12 feet) whereas NASA who are running a manned mission

NASA would mostly only need the basic 2-stage version for launching astronauts up to LEO to build and maintain a modular space station that STS was originally envisioned to construct.

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 #97 on: 05/05/2018 12:06 AM »
Hello Randy,
Interesting and informative comments as always.

Well there was that "Titan-variant" called Arcturus back around 1959

Another new LV I wasn't aware of before.  Again, I learn something new every time here.  :-)

Kind of depends on what assumptions you're using since Aerojet could actually 'show' the math working for a big solid built IN Florida, (rather than say Utah or Colorado :) ) at least cost-wise. Operationally however...

I'm sure that would have helped, but the Hercules solids for Titan IV ended up being pretty  expensive too.  I'm not sure where they were fueled.  Utah as well?  Or closer to the pads?  Just seemed once you got passed the Titan IIIC sized solids, they seemed to go the other way with their cost and simplicity.   As well as being really big and heavy and more difficult to move around.  Whereas liquid boosters can remain empty until you you have the stack assembled and on the pad ready for launch.  It was also a concern to have them in the VAB because they were fully fueled while handling.  A liquid booster can't accidentally go "boom" in processing.  A liquid booster can also be shut down on the pad if there's a problem.  Not so for a multi solid booster stage if one booster fails to light at ignition.  But OrbATK and ArianeSpace is going with them for NGL and Ariane 6, so dunno.
So cost is one aspect, but there's other concerns.
On the other hand, for ICBM's, solids have big benefits vs. liquid, especially cryo liquid like the Titan I ICBM.  It's funny when you watch an old movie about the Cold War where the US is on the brink of WW3 with the Soviet Union, and some General give the order to "Fuel up the missiles" for DEFCON 1 or whatever.  I didn't understand it back when I was a kid, but now I get what they meant.  You don't need standby crews 24/7 to fuel up solid ICBM's in case of the breakout of war.  And solids allow for Ballistic Missile Subs, etc. 
But for an LV, especially one to carry people, there's no need to have it on the standby ready.  Rather, it's more ideal if you -can- wait until the very last to fuel it up.  And you'll have a whole ground crew to do it regardless of fuel type for LV's.   

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Yea, I was aware of Saturn II. An interesting design.

I knew that YOU knew, that "I" knew, that you knew, but then again what's new? ;)

Oh there's plenty I don't know.  Arcturus for example.  And the 1950's SLS.  You just picked one I did know there with Saturn II.  ;)

Seriously, it was and it showed that NASA was willing to consider, (not for long but...) using such components. The main thing was the "Saturn-II" obviously being based on existing Saturn hardware whereas SLS...

Do you mean "STS" here?

Yea, that's why I think these hypothetical discussions are very interesting.  Obviously there were those considering using legacy derivatives of Saturn, rather than burning all of that money and engineering to the ground to start over with STS.  So it's plausible that if just a few key people had been a little more pragmatic, that history could have taken a different, and likely more fruitful course.

True but being the 'uber-propellant' (in theory) kept it in the running on math alone :) Nobody 'liked' the need for solids or dense liquid boosters because they always brought the overall performance numbers down, but, (as we've seen with the Delta-IV) anything else is a bit wasteful. Despite being flaky as heck over design, propulsion, performance, and mission the one thing the AF got right from the start was hydrolox was best for anything OTHER than boosters.

Good point.
NASA did too...early on.  With Saturn 1/1B and Saturn V.   (Although, I suppose Saturn 1 started out as AF) Then fell in love with hydrolox as the "uber-propellant" as you said. 

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There's a case to be made for it in STS (Or Ariane 5) where it's basically a ground lit 2nd stage/sustainer stage all the way to orbit. But Saturn II would have the hydrolox S-IVB as the 2nd stage anyway. The S-II is itself a 2nd stage rather than a sustainer stage.

Eh, check that. The SLS air-light the J2s once the SRBs burned out. Oddly enough it seems to be where Martin got the idea for the Titan-III and later because running the numbers showed much better performance, (with less vehicle stressing) by air-starting the liquid stages after the SRBs lifted the vehicle to altitude. There was by design no 'sustainer' stage.

Agreed, but that's not what I meant.  I meant if using hydrolox from the pad and then the same core all the way to orbit, then there's a reasonable argument to do that as an augmented sustainer stage off the pad.  As Ariane V does, and STS did.  Versus using it specifically as a booster propellant, as in Delta IV, and other hydrolox concepts NASA considered post-Apollo.
Aside from use as a sustainer with side boosters of some sort, it's best to use it only for upper stages (as USAF's old SLS would have, as you pointed out.)

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It probably could have been modified into a sustainer stage with the help of a lot of solid booster assistance, then it'd basically have been a smaller, fatter 1970's SLS. heh.

You mean "SLS" not "SLS" right? :)

?
I meant current SLS.  Putting a couple of big solids on an S-II modified into a sustainer stage...(all the way to orbit)...would have basically made it a smaller, fatter 1970's version of our current SLS.
Otherwise Saturn II uses a hydrolox stage as the booster....augmented with SRB's, with another hydrolox upper stage on it.  More like a big fat Delta IV.  ;)
And I think we both agree, that's less than optimal.

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With 20/20 hindsight, I still think having a kerolox booster that could get the stack off the ground efficiently would have been preferable.

Again the answer you get depends on what answer you were looking for in the first place :) In the Air Force mind of the time the segmented solids had a pretty sweet draw in that by varying the number of segments AND boosters you could launch a wide variety of payloads on the same 'upper' stages. Especially if you varied the propellant load as well.

Note:  "With 20/20 hindsight".  :)

Obviously at that time they were thinking other things.   But to your points about segmented solid boosters, as I understood, if you change the number of segments in a segmented booster, you have to change the whole pour too.  You can't just stack up more segments for more boost like modules.  So a 2-segment solid will really be a different pour and manufacture than a 3-segment solid or a 4-segment solid, even if they use the same casings. So it's really a different booster.  So I don't know if they are very modular that way?  Like they are by adding more small SRB's to the base of an LV, like Atlas V or Delta IV.  (That's how I understand segmented solids anyway)

As per 'standard' planning of the time they were looking at several launches a month up to a couple a week in some cases of various mission payloads. Quite obviously everyone noted you ran into problems with 'big' boosters in that they required very specialized, and extensive, (not to mention expensive) infrastructure. As the flight rate went up some infrastructure would end up pretty much the same, (propellant production, handling and storage come to mind) for small/medium and big boosters but you didn't have to have It all right away. Having said that another 'obvious' conclusion was you eventually wanted to go with reusable, (the AF had "Astrorocket" studies going on around the same time-frame I think) but at the same time you had significantly different payload missions that were often not as 'suited' to a single launch system or design.

Perhaps.  Really we're talking a common LV of roughly the size of the Saturn 1, or Titan III/IV, or current Falcon 9.   So it's not a really huge booster.  Probably wider than Falcon 9, but not as wide as Saturn 1/1B.  Maybe around 5m wide.  A short Delta IV, for visualization.  With kerolox in both the booster and 2nd stage, at 5m wide, it wouldn't be real tall.  Taller with a hydrolox 3rd stage, but that could be encapsulated into the PLF as Centaur was for Titan and Atlas V-5xx.  I don't think handling and processing that would be an issue.  NASA would have converted it's MLP's for it, and changed the VAB platforms accordingly.  And handled them like the Saturns.  USAF would have modified their Titan IIIC pads and facilities for them.  A 5m-ish 2-stage kerolox probably wouldn't have been much different dimensionally than the Titan IV stack, which the Titan III pads were modified to handle.  The LV could even be wider than 5m to make it shorter if USAF had wanted it that.  Height would have made little different to NASA launching it from KSC, so whatever height USAF preferred I'm sure would have been fine with them.

And a launcher that big, like the current Falcon-9 is not going to be able to service the vast amount of different payloads developed and designed between the 60s and the 80s. It will be vastly too large for some, (most actually early on) and need additional upper stages or boost assists for others. And then there's the difference between what NASA and the Air Force 'wanted' at any one time. If the USAF doesn't have a 'manned' mission to support they won't want anything over about the Titan, (10 to say 12 feet) whereas NASA who are running a manned mission

Hmmm...I think a 1970's version of current Falcon 9...with an option for an encapsulated Centaur 3rd stage, should have been able to handle any payload between the 60's and 80's.  Without Centaur, current Falcon 9 can put more in LEO than Titan IV, and Titan IV could handle anything until DSP-23 in 2007 launched by Delta IV Heavy.  Put a Centaur on top of that, and we're really going places.  :)
And the optional Centaur would have been used for those payloads as you say need additional upper stages.  The base 2-stage version would basically have been your basic Titan stack less Centaur.  And then put the Centaur on top when needed.  NASA wouldn't need that very often as they'd be mainly going to LEO and this would do that pretty effectively.

(A 1970's version of current Falcon 9 would probably have been a little bigger and more powerful because it'd be a little less efficient in engines and mass fraction back then, to get to a similar performance point)

Now...it would have been over sized for for smaller payloads, yes.  Just as Titan IIIC and Titan IV and STS were.  That's what Atlas II and Delta II were used for.  This joint 1970's version of Falcon 9 wouldn't have been used for every payload ever, but for NASA's HSF needs, and USAF's larger payload needs.   Just as STS was envisioned to do.  Again, to go back to the title of this thread, and "Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System". 
A "Space Transport System". 

A lesson we learned again from the Shuttle. Monlithic systems tend to lead to fixed designs which don't scale well or at all whereas 'modular' can be scaled in any direction at an economic cost.

Well, I guess I look at EELV and Falcon 9 and take away a different lesson.  The two EELV's are both scalable as you mention.  Yet they were never very affordable.  There's lots of reasons for that, and the optional solids probably little to do with it.  But, Falcon 9 without any scalability, but just going with the economics commonality and production scale, show that that could yield and affordable LV.  And actually it keeps things more simple (setting aside reusability), because as Jim likes to say, "rockets aren't Legos".   If you take away reusability and FH, then Falcon 9 is very simple.  Two versions of just 1 engine, two cores made on the same production line at the same plant, all common propellants, everything the same.  Just punching out the same widgets over and over again.
Atlas V I think did a lot better with their scalability, but I know from what I've ready of what Jim has said over the years, Delta IV suffered from a lot of issues with it.  Delta 4 had two upper stages.  The 4m was lighter and better optimized for a single core, no SRB launch.  The 5m was heavier and actually had lower performance if not using SRB's.  And they made it into a heavy version.  So Jim said there were 5 different cores, and 2 upper stages! 
A light as possible slick core for launching with 4m upper stage and no SRB's. 
Another core that was heavier with bracing belt around it for attaching SRB's too, that would launch with the 5m upper stage. 
And then a heavy left, right, and center core. 
Each being different.  From what Jim said that wouldn't have been the case if there was an Atlas heavy because the hydrolox cores needed to have venting or something all on one side, so the two outbord boosters needed to be mirrors of each other.  (something like that).  Atlas had a more true common core booster, and if there'd been an Atlas heavy, they would have need only 2 cores (like Falcon).  The lighter Centaur booster could be launched alone on the SRB-less version, or encapsulated for heavier configurations.
So, looks like scalability may have worked better for Atlas, if it had been the only EELV selected and really allowed to compete fully commercially by USAF.  Scalability didn't work really well for Delta IV...of course, that's the one they used to make the EELV-Heavy out of.  heheh
But even if Atlas had been the only EELV, I think Falcon would have still competed very well with it, at it's expendable price points.  As you said, Centaur wasn't meant to be a cheap upper stage, and especially if Atlas had needed to use a more expensive domestic engine instead of the cheap Russian ones.  So I take away the lesson of mass production and commonality, vs. various different components for different configurations, to realize the cost savings.  :)

And actually I have to point out that SpaceX didn't in fact 'prove' this at all since the good-old R7 was doing it long before Elon Musk got the space bug. :)

All the more evidence.  :)

The problem is a full kerolox LV is NOT efficient and the only way it stays relevant is if you can make it vastly cheaper. Which arguably SpaceX does but, in truth anyone with a more efficient upper stage and similar costs would eat their lunch.

But that has been one of the main problems with NASA (and government as a whole in many areas), to squeeze that little more "efficiency" or "capability" out, they will throw a huge amount more money at it, and create various 1-off bleeding edge components, and drive the costs up through the roof and end up with something they can't afford.  That could be said of Saturn/Apollo (although they made it a national priority to fund it anyway), STS, CxP, SLS, etc.  The Zumwalt class Destroyer is another example, and why the USN then stepped away and went with more of the less expensive Burke class that the Zumwalt was going to replace.  At what price does that last Nth degree of efficiency come at?

There's a reason they are moving to methalox after all :)

For easier reusability of the engines?  ;)


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That's why I kind of like the "1970's Falcon 9" concept, with H-1C engines on a mono core booster, with then a single vacuum H-1 for a kerolox 2nd stage. Add the Centaur 3rd stage for BLEO payloads, and it'd have been a perfectly fine shared launcher for USAF as well, with engine family shared with Delta and Atlas for smaller payload needs.

You're mixing your metaphors there buster :) The only reason the US had 'any' decent LVs at the time, (talking early 60s) was because they invested in LH2 upper stages and engines.

Buster?  Heheheh

Yes, but that's mainly for BLEO trajectories.  Once you have to go out of LEO, then kerolox starts to really hinder you, true.  Hence why the Saturn V so out performed the N-1 to the Moon, although it had 3-4Mlbs of thrust less on lift off. 
But just to LEO, kerolox isn't a big detriment (not as efficient as hydrolox 2nd stage, but still not bad).
The Atlas (1) and Titans were not hydrolox to LEO.  And I think most would consider the Titans "decent" and "cost effective", at least through the Titan IIIC's. 

Again, when I say a "1970's Falcon 9".  I mean a 2-stage kerolox to LEO, with an option Centaur 3rd stage if going beyond that.  The 2nd stage could do BLEO mission for smaller payloads that still fit within it's reduced capacity for that, just as Falcon 9 does today.  But primarily it'd be a 2-stage LEO launch, just as Titan was without the optional Centaur 3rd stage.

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