Author Topic: What would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?  (Read 50389 times)

Offline gospacex

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3028
  • Liked: 540
  • Likes Given: 604
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #40 on: 02/06/2017 11:27 am »
Realistically, NASA being NASA, it would probably be more of an incremental upgrade of the existing Shuttle design. As it was, at least when they had a decent flightrate going to spread out fixed costs, it wasn't hugely more expensive than its competitors (within an order of magnitude anyway)

You have at interesting definition of "not hugely more expensive".

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7778
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1283
  • Likes Given: 8709
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #41 on: 02/06/2017 03:10 pm »
American Space Shuttles were designed as heavy duty transportation systems to Earth's orbit. As far as I understand they were supposed to:

* carry big loads
* carry large crew
* be able to bring down whatever they bring up
* be simple to maintain
* be cheap to fly
* fly very often

and they failed most of it. But with big failures comes big experience, and I guess that NASA would do many things differently if they designed shuttle again today. I wonder how would such a shuttle look like.

First thing that came to my mind is that big part of the maintenance was done on engines (right?). So it could actually be better to have cheap engines and either discard them after each flight or mount them to the ET (similar to Buran).

Please let's not discuss about if this would be reasonable (it would not, I know). Also please avoid (near) future technologies, as the Sabre engine or ITS.

Thank you
You missed out the goal of lowering the price per unit mass to orbit. But then so did NASA.
Fascinating talk. Thanks for sharing the video.
You're welcome.

Geographically dispersed organizations are not a good idea if you want to minimize costs and maximize communications, both of which have proved to be good things for spaceflight projects. Not impossible but harder to achieve and hard to maintain on multiple sites.

FWIW This is my (long) Shuttle 2.0 design post.

 quote author=john smith 19 link=topic=26576.msg799019#msg799019 date=1314361882

I've removed the leading [ and trailing ] so it won't be inserted but can be found. It also includes (some) of the various NASA reports that discuss the upgrades suggested.

1. carry big loads
2. carry large crew
3. be able to bring down whatever they bring up
4. be simple to maintain
5. be cheap to fly
6. fly very often

3. Proven not to be practical
Except for the 16 missions when Shuttle flew Spacelab modules up to 14515Kg or about 31 000 lb.
And of course 51-A, which launched and retrieved 2 different pairs of satellites

4. Don't know.
5. Don't know.
6. Still waiting.

At this point those last 3 points are aspirations. SX hasn't reflown a stage. We expect them to shortly. We
hope they will be cheap to fly and easy to maintain but until one does we won't know.

When they do it will also be a semi reusable launch vehicle like STS but with the highest performance, highest achieving speed part being thrown away.
Quote
So, I see no reason why ng 'space shuttle' couldn't look like simple slim cylinder instead of wings, lifting bodies and ETs.
If it meets the goals of the OP then there's no reason for it not to.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32545
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11333
  • Likes Given: 334
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #42 on: 02/06/2017 03:26 pm »
The Russians got it right with their Energia/Buran system. It could fly uncrewed to remotely controlled service or collect a satellite from orbit.

That was never proven
« Last Edit: 02/06/2017 03:27 pm by Jim »

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32545
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11333
  • Likes Given: 334
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #43 on: 02/06/2017 03:28 pm »
I think that was implemented as an afterthought when another seven astronauts were killed on a cargo mission where they were not needed,s. They even kept a second shuttle prepared for a rescue mission, as if killing two crews would be better than killing one.

Wrong again, it was a research mission that did require astronauts.

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 957
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #44 on: 02/06/2017 08:10 pm »
3. be able to bring down whatever they bring up
3. Proven not to be practical
Except for the 16 missions when Shuttle flew Spacelab modules up to 14515Kg or about 31 000 lb.
And of course 51-A, which launched and retrieved 2 different pairs of satellites

You don't need to shuttle a spacelab module up and down when you have a space station.

Quote
When they do it will also be a semi reusable launch vehicle like STS but with the highest performance, highest achieving speed part being thrown away.

Only highest dv performance part is thrown away. Reusing 90% (or 96%) of the engines and most of tankage isn't bad. There's no technical reason preventing S2 reuse too but apparently it does not make economic sense in the current market.

But yeah, F9 (+ Dragon 2) reuse is still in infancy. Just saying if it works as advertised then there's your ng space shuttle without waiting for behemoth ITS. And without wings, flaps, rudders, ETS and runways.
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Jim

  • Night Gator
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32545
  • Cape Canaveral Spaceport
  • Liked: 11333
  • Likes Given: 334
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #45 on: 02/06/2017 08:11 pm »

You don't need to shuttle a spacelab module up and down when you have a space station.

What is Dragonlab?

Offline R7

  • Propulsophile
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2738
    • Don't worry.. we can still be fans of OSC and SNC
  • Liked: 957
  • Likes Given: 662
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #46 on: 02/06/2017 08:17 pm »
What is Dragonlab?
A Dragon spacecraft with experiments inside?

edit: It's also something which seems to be postponed ad infinitum. Two Dragonlab missions first appeared in launch manifest back in 2008 to be launched 2010/2011.

I guess the customer is in no hurry... if there's any.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2017 08:22 pm by R7 »
AD·ASTRA·ASTRORVM·GRATIA

Offline Arch Admiral

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 122
  • 14th Naval District
  • Liked: 84
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #47 on: 02/07/2017 04:28 am »
I see someone mentioned the "original" fully reusable Shuttle. At the same time this concept was being widely hyped in the media, the Phase B contractor studies were showing that the fly-back booster was impossible to build with existing technology. At the time, a skeptic derided it as "a C-5 with the flight profile of an X-15" but the reality was worse than that. The NASA review panel found that both final proposals included a subtle cheat: the propellant tank walls were included in the longitudinal strength calculations for the 4-5g pull up needed at the end of reentry. But the cold tanks could not actually be integral with the hot aeroshell due to relative expansion and contraction. The stage-separation and development cost issues were secondary problems -- or maybe smoke screens.

Even if the Phase B Shuttle had been built, it would have been too expensive to operate. Just look at the parts count: 15 SSMEs instead of 3, 5 times more tiles and RCC panels on the orbiter alone. The per mission cost would have been at least 5 times higher than the actual Shuttle and the flight rate at least 5 times less - maybe even as low as SLS!!!

The switch to ET and SRB didn't cripple the program, it saved it from cancellation. All these facts were uncovered by Dennis Jenkins years ago, but popular myths live forever.

Online high road

  • Full Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 813
  • Europe
  • Liked: 230
  • Likes Given: 57
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #48 on: 02/07/2017 09:50 am »
I see someone mentioned the "original" fully reusable Shuttle. At the same time this concept was being widely hyped in the media, the Phase B contractor studies were showing that the fly-back booster was impossible to build with existing technology. At the time, a skeptic derided it as "a C-5 with the flight profile of an X-15" but the reality was worse than that. The NASA review panel found that both final proposals included a subtle cheat: the propellant tank walls were included in the longitudinal strength calculations for the 4-5g pull up needed at the end of reentry. But the cold tanks could not actually be integral with the hot aeroshell due to relative expansion and contraction. The stage-separation and development cost issues were secondary problems -- or maybe smoke screens.

Even if the Phase B Shuttle had been built, it would have been too expensive to operate. Just look at the parts count: 15 SSMEs instead of 3, 5 times more tiles and RCC panels on the orbiter alone. The per mission cost would have been at least 5 times higher than the actual Shuttle and the flight rate at least 5 times less - maybe even as low as SLS!!!

The switch to ET and SRB didn't cripple the program, it saved it from cancellation. All these facts were uncovered by Dennis Jenkins years ago, but popular myths live forever.

One does generally assume things would not have turned out as spectacular as advertized. Good to see there are specifics.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7778
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1283
  • Likes Given: 8709
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #49 on: 02/07/2017 10:25 pm »
Only highest dv performance part is thrown away. Reusing 90% (or 96%) of the engines and most of tankage isn't bad.
It's a whole stage. IRL that means the flight cost can never fall below the replacement cost + whatever the refurb and refuel costs are. It will only go that low after a lot of reuses.
Quote
There's no technical reason preventing S2 reuse too but apparently it does not make economic sense in the current market.
Which actually is a technological reason preventing reuse.
Quote
But yeah, F9 (+ Dragon 2) reuse is still in infancy.
Technically it hasn't been born yet.  I'm looking forward to the first reflight.
Quote
Just saying if it works as advertised then there's your ng space shuttle without waiting for behemoth ITS. And without wings, flaps, rudders, ETS and runways.
Indeed it will be every bit as reusable as the original.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9215
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 3067
  • Likes Given: 8345
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #50 on: 02/07/2017 10:31 pm »
I agree.  People seem to be really attached to wings and wheels.
Yes and I always hope they remain attached when I'm flying, but that's just this pilot's opinion...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline Oli

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2265
  • Liked: 449
  • Likes Given: 58
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #51 on: 02/07/2017 10:45 pm »
At the same time this concept was being widely hyped in the media, the Phase B contractor studies were showing that the fly-back booster was impossible to build with existing technology.

There are countless flyback booster designs. I find it hard to believe they were impossible to do.

Even if the Phase B Shuttle had been built, it would have been too expensive to operate.

No doubt.

Offline Archibald

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2594
  • Liked: 477
  • Likes Given: 1096
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #52 on: 02/08/2017 04:02 pm »
Hey folks, got an idea. Wikipedia (eeerhm, ok) says 747-400 autoland system limits are as follow
Quote
for a Boeing 747-400 the limitations are a maximum headwind of 25 kts, a maximum tailwind of 10 kts, a maximum crosswind component of 25 kts, and a maximum crosswind with one engine inoperative of five knots. They may also include automatic braking to a full stop once the aircraft is on the ground, in conjunction with the autobrake system, and sometimes auto deployment of spoilers and thrust reversers.

My question is, since the original shuttle flyback booster was as big as a 747, could that aircraft autoland system be adapted to the flyback booster, eliminating the need for a heavy cockpit and crew ? Would an unmanned flyback booster have cut some costs ?

More generally
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoland
Could it be of any use to a flyback booster ?
...you have been found guilty by the elders of the forum of a (imaginary) vendetta against Saint Elon - BLAAASPHEMER !

Offline Rocket Science

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 9215
  • NASA Educator Astronaut Candidate Applicant 2002
  • Liked: 3067
  • Likes Given: 8345
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #53 on: 02/08/2017 04:14 pm »
Hey folks, got an idea. Wikipedia (eeerhm, ok) says 747-400 autoland system limits are as follow
Quote
for a Boeing 747-400 the limitations are a maximum headwind of 25 kts, a maximum tailwind of 10 kts, a maximum crosswind component of 25 kts, and a maximum crosswind with one engine inoperative of five knots. They may also include automatic braking to a full stop once the aircraft is on the ground, in conjunction with the autobrake system, and sometimes auto deployment of spoilers and thrust reversers.

My question is, since the original shuttle flyback booster was as big as a 747, could that aircraft autoland system be adapted to the flyback booster, eliminating the need for a heavy cockpit and crew ? Would an unmanned flyback booster have cut some costs ?

More generally
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoland
Could it be of any use to a flyback booster ?
I don't see any reason why not, both shuttle and a 747 were equipped...
"The laws of physics are unforgiving"
~Rob: Physics instructor, Aviator, Vintage auto racer

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7778
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1283
  • Likes Given: 8709
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #54 on: 02/08/2017 06:43 pm »
My question is, since the original shuttle flyback booster was as big as a 747, could that aircraft autoland system be adapted to the flyback booster, eliminating the need for a heavy cockpit and crew ? Would an unmanned flyback booster have cut some costs ?

More generally
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoland
Could it be of any use to a flyback booster ?
Actually the Orbiter is about the size of a MD11. A much smaller aircraft.

But Shuttle had Autoland available. The pilots argument about ever using it was that if it ever failed it would take too long for them to get comfortable with how the system had been flying the Shuttle in order to take over.

I'll note that often those pilots had spent years practicing to fly a mission and were very unwilling to give up a shot at landing it (given the standard takeoff is fully automated). OTOH since the Shuttle was fly by wire it seemed very odd that  a systems failure would disable the Autoland functionality but leave the human controls operable. There is no physical backup in the Shuttle.

Marshall was keen to keep astronauts employed post Apollo, which is why it insisted that both stages  be crewed.

Autoland could not do the whole job as landing gear and parachute deployment still required a human crew. The emergency cable which could be installed allowed the GPC to do these tasks (and I think a few others) as well.

An interesting question is do you make a Shuttle "201"  Crew unneeded (IE all astronauts are passengers). Crew optional (capable of crewed operation) or Crew mandatory (Shuttle concept).

The X37b demonstrates a fully automated vehicle can be carried to space (Shuttle showed a fully automated takeoff already), long term on orbit operation and automated return to a small landing site (the runway).

A bigger vehicle would need bigger actuators but given Vega has EMA's for main stage TVC already it's hard to believe that's a show stopper (EMA's were under consideration in the the 80's for Shuttled to do SSME TVC and were used for OMS TVC).

A big differentiator between fully automated and crew optional or mandatory would be wheather they need windows to see out of. This makes a considerable difference to the aerodynamics. Without windows the Shuttle's nose radius could be much larger, lowering the temperature requirements for the nose cap. 

[EDIT A small data point. According to Jim Hydrazines are now about $150/lb. The Shuttle fluids fact sheet said a Shuttle held 10800lb of MMH and 1085lbs of Hydrazine (presumably UDMH), although some of that would have been for the SRB APU's. That makes roughly $1.72m to refuel just for circularizing orbit and deorbit burns.

In addition to being highly toxic and expensive to handle the NTO/Hydrazine combo also lowers the bars for other toxic fluids. The orbiter also carried R21 as a refrigerant. It's used nowhere else on the planet and it's exposure limit is matched only by Sulphur Dioxide, which UL list as a 5 minute hazard possibly leading to death. The orbiter also carried anhydrous Ammonia. Making and keeping Ammonia water free is very tough and quite expensive. During the Advanced Ground Cooling experiements most of the reason for carrying it were eliminated (the multiple ground HX's it needed to be connected to were highly maintenance prone). ]
« Last Edit: 02/10/2017 03:26 pm by john smith 19 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline envy887

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5175
  • Liked: 3067
  • Likes Given: 1547
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #55 on: 02/10/2017 08:29 pm »
My question is, since the original shuttle flyback booster was as big as a 747, could that aircraft autoland system be adapted to the flyback booster, eliminating the need for a heavy cockpit and crew ? Would an unmanned flyback booster have cut some costs ?

More generally
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoland
Could it be of any use to a flyback booster ?
Actually the Orbiter is about the size of a MD11. A much smaller aircraft.

But Shuttle had Autoland available...

The question was about a fly-back booster, which would have been several times bigger than the Shuttle orbiter. It probably still would have been able to flyback autonomously, using inertial navigation to get close and terminal beacons for landing.

Offline john smith 19

  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7778
  • Everyplaceelse
  • Liked: 1283
  • Likes Given: 8709
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #56 on: 02/10/2017 10:13 pm »
The question was about a fly-back booster, which would have been several times bigger than the Shuttle orbiter. It probably still would have been able to flyback autonomously, using inertial navigation to get close and terminal beacons for landing.
True. In fact the X10 project demonstrated autoland in the 1950's.  IIRC the reason the booster was crewed was because one of the centres (Marshall or Johnson?) insisted on it. 

MTBF on electronics was much shorter in the 1960s and 1970s than now so a certain amount of concern about wheather such a system would be safe could be reasonable. However an on board pilot only gives you a limited benefit as all the controls would likely have been fully powered and fly by wire. IOW if the computer fails you can't fly it anyway.  :(
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP stainless steel structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Arch Admiral

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 122
  • 14th Naval District
  • Liked: 84
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #57 on: 02/11/2017 01:05 am »
Another problem with the manned flyback booster was that there was no escape system for the booster pilots. Neither the contractor teams nor NASA could figure out any way to save them if the booster failed. The orbiter had a chance to separate and do an RTLS maneuver since it had its own fuel.

The flyback booster would have needed its own separate pilot-astronaut corps with its own fleet of Booster Training Aircraft (converted C-5s??). More black holes for money. Would the booster pilots eventually move up to Orbiter pilots and become "real" astronauts or remain a permanent sub-class?

This whole discussion just reinforces the point that Shuttle was designed to preserve funding for the existing Apollo system - same astronauts, same contractors, same NASA centers. Most of the "better Shuttles" people have proposed (both then and now) violate this basic program goal. Ditto for the proposed alternatives to Ares and SLS.

Offline edkyle99

  • Expert
  • Senior Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 13111
    • Space Launch Report
  • Liked: 4368
  • Likes Given: 796
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #58 on: 02/11/2017 03:04 am »
True. In fact the X10 project demonstrated autoland in the 1950's. 
Kind of, but it had a man in the loop.  X-10 used something called "automatic approach and landing".  It featured a "Hero Scope", which was a transit at the far end of the runway operated by a man who watched the pilotless aircraft hurtling toward him.  If the X-10 went off the center line of the runway, this "Hero Pilot" would turn the transit, keeping the vehicle in the center of the sight.  This would send a radio signal to the X-10, which would then steer to correct.

 - Ed Kyle

Offline CNYMike

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 318
  • Cortland, NY
  • Liked: 33
  • Likes Given: 5
Re: How would a second generation Space Shuttle look like?
« Reply #59 on: 02/11/2017 04:51 pm »
...if I had to visualize a 21st century shuttle (that's at least bigger than Dreamchaser and with STS-similar capability) I'd picture the following:

1) Slightly shorter
2) Launches atop a large rocket in a nosecone position
3) Smaller cargo bay but with robotic arms and room for working on satellites
4) Large cargo strictly for separate vehicle (some supplies still transportable with crew but no ISS module hauling)

Depends on how large is "large."  IIRC, the shuttle's payload capacity wasn't that much bigger than that of an Atlas V.  But to haul that much cargo to orbit and the mass of the orbiter itself required lifting power in the range of a Saturn V rocket.  Trying to recreate all of the shuttle's capabilities might be in that range.  There's also the issue of the heat shield being exposed during launch, so having the orbiter on the side of the booster might not be a good idea.

I suppose instead of parallel staging, like the shuttle, use series staging, so the orbiter would be the second stage of the vehicle with the fuel tanks internal.  And if the vehicle is designed around station service and resupply from the start, it might not need a mid deck for the crew.  Remember, the Shuttle was the way it was because they wanted something that could act like a space station when NASA didn't know when it would get another one, so you have the mid deck area the crew lives in. You could just get rid of it and the crew sleeps in their pilot's chairs.  And if you don't want to recover large satellites and bring them back, the payload bay could be smaller.  So you're right, it would be shorter.  But we're still looking at a hefty piece of machinery.  It's possible, but I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

It looks as if future stations and other space efforts will involve capsules and other payloads launched on traditional rockets; it may be  while before winged spacecraft come back, even if it is fun to think about.   
"I am not A big fat panda.  I am THE big fat panda." -- Po, KUNG FU PANDA

Michael Gallagher
Cortlnd, NY

Tags: