Author Topic: Alternate Joint NASA/USAF "STS" System.  (Read 23988 times)

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

Online 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 »

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