Author Topic: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.  (Read 25196 times)

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.

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