MSFC engine

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Jim Kingdon

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Dec 14, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/14/95
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I write:

> RLV is pretty much on track, and fending off the many agendas being
> brought to bear on them. (A few examples are the giant sucking
> sound of the MSFC engine design faction . . .

and someone asks by email what this "MSFC engine" is.

The official answer can be found at
http://rlv.msfc.nasa.gov/RLV_HTMLs/RLVTech.html; the program goes by
the name of "Long Term High Payoff Main Propulsion System".

The background is that there are bunch of MSFC engine designers who
spent the 70s designing the SSME, who spent the 80s designing SSME
upgrades, and now that the talk is of cutting back on shuttle upgrades
they are thinking maybe RLV needs a new engine and they are the people
to design it. I believe it was Henry Vanderbilt and/or the Space
Access Society who said they wanted a billion dollars to develop an
(all-new?) engine (but I can't seem to find the reference).

The RLV program seems to have redirected this urge away from an
unproductive direction (a big huge lengthy program to develop "the"
engine for RLV, mostly on paper) into a more or less productive one (a
series of technology demonstrations which involve building and testing
hardware).

OK, that's the situation as I understand it. I'm sure people with a
different perspective will be glad to flame^H^H^H^H^Hoffer their
perspective.

Jim Kingdon

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Dec 17, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/17/95
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> Please explain what factors lead you to the conclusion that RLV is
> "on track". The X-33 program may be proceeding but that doen't
> equate to a downstream RLV program.

Ah, we have two serious differences in assumptions. One is that you
equate RLV with X-33. I don't--I think DC-XA, technology
demonstrations (TPS, etc.), etc., are at least as valuable as a X-33
flight vehicle. Two is that you are looking for "a downstream RLV
program". I am looking for "one or more downstream RLV programs".
Assuming there will be, or may very well be, several downstream
programs changes the focus--one demonstrates technologies that will be
useful (not just any old technologies, but including some
diversity--e.g. aerospikes *and* bell-nozzle engine work), and doesn't
worry quite so much about things like traceability to an operational
followon.

> And the consequence may well be that, in 1999, we wind up with no
> commercial financial support for a commercial RLV. We may just be proving
> technology for an improved multi-stage launch vehicle.

Nothing wrong with that. If the technology gets transferred to a
commercial launch vehicle, and it is an improvement, I would call the
program a resounding success.

Having potentially useful engines, not just designed (like an STME),
and not just built (like a J-2, F-1, etc.), but currently in
production, is *very* useful to any reusable launcher development.
The only reason DC-X was able to fly is that the RL-10 is used on
expendables. Likewise for all the X-33 proposals.

> If NASA just sits around until a program is needed. we wouldn't be
> ready to do anything when that happened. Just because we're thinking
> about such technology doesn't mean that we expect all such programs to
> be fully funded.

There are two problems with much of what NASA has done in the past.
One is that they focus on paper studies rather than building hardware.
Paper studies are fine for immature fields like interstellar travel,
but the time for paper studies in chemical rocket launchers is past.
Two is that all too much of NASA's study effort has been aimed at
specific unfunded programs. Instead one should develop technology
which could be used in more than one program (unfunded but plausible
is OK, commercial is another good choice). Does this mean design
compromises? Yes, often (although if the compromises are too great
one should look for a different set of potential applications). Does
it *greatly* increase the chance that such technologies will be useful
and not just collect dust? Yes.

Fortunately, NASA is changing for the better, on both counts
(technology demonstration instead of planning unfunded programs, and
building hardware rather than pushing paper).

Doug Hendrix

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Dec 17, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/17/95
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In article <m268fjs...@harvey.cyclic.com>,
kin...@harvey.cyclic.com (Jim Kingdon) wrote:

>> RLV is pretty much on track, and fending off the many agendas being
>> brought to bear on them. (A few examples are the giant sucking
>> sound of the MSFC engine design faction . . .
>

Please explain what factors lead you to the conclusion that RLV is "on track".

The X-33 program may be proceeding but that doen't equate to a downstream RLV

program. The RLV won't be proven "on track" until about 1999 when we see if
any investment bankers are interested in investing some billions of dollars.

>and someone asks by email what this "MSFC engine" is.
>
>The official answer can be found at
>http://rlv.msfc.nasa.gov/RLV_HTMLs/RLVTech.html; the program goes by
>the name of "Long Term High Payoff Main Propulsion System".
>

MSFC has lots of long term, high payoff programs in work. These are
basically technology programs with not much money. You shouldn't anticipate
that that all such programs will mature. Some of you folk are a bit paranoid
about
this it seems. If NASA just sits around until a program is needed. we

wouldn't be ready to do anything when that happened. Just because we're

thinking about such technology doesn't mean that we expect all such progrmas
to be fully funded. If they were all fully funded, NASA's budget would have to
be a LOT bigger.

>The background is that there are bunch of MSFC engine designers who
>spent the 70s designing the SSME, who spent the 80s designing SSME
>upgrades, and now that the talk is of cutting back on shuttle upgrades
>they are thinking maybe RLV needs a new engine and they are the people
>to design it. I believe it was Henry Vanderbilt and/or the Space
>Access Society who said they wanted a billion dollars to develop an
>(all-new?) engine (but I can't seem to find the reference).
>
>The RLV program seems to have redirected this urge away from an
>unproductive direction (a big huge lengthy program to develop "the"
>engine for RLV, mostly on paper) into a more or less productive one (a
>series of technology demonstrations which involve building and testing
>hardware).

And the consequence may well be that, in 1999, we wind up with no

commercial financial support for a commercial RLV. We may just be proving

technology for an improved multi-stage launch vehicle. That's what I basically
think will be the case with present prolusion capabilities. That's the

Cathy Mancus

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Dec 18, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/18/95
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In article <4avs0r$2...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:
> And the consequence may well be that, in 1999, we wind up with no
> commercial financial support for a commercial RLV. We may just be proving
> technology for an improved multi-stage launch vehicle.

Read my lips: RLV DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SSTO. Please stop confusing
two separate issues. There is a lot of room for cost reduction and
more routine operatoins even without SSTO.

I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
path to RLV and a fully commercial market.

/-------------------------------------------------------------------\
| Catherine Mancus <ca...@zorac.cary.nc.us> |
| PP-SEL, N5WVR "God is a sponge." |
\-------------------------------------------------------------------/

Cathy Mancus

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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In article <4b51v2$d...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:

>>In article <4avs0r$2...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:
>>> And the consequence may well be that, in 1999, we wind up with no
>>> commercial financial support for a commercial RLV. We may just be proving
>>> technology for an improved multi-stage launch vehicle.

> In article <4b40s1$m...@brtph500.bnr.ca>, man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:
>> Read my lips: RLV DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SSTO. Please stop confusing
>>two separate issues. There is a lot of room for cost reduction and

>>more routine operations even without SSTO.

> READ MY LIPS: I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about
> 1970-1971.

I think we have learned one or two things since 1971 (particularly in
materials science).

> If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA
> didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were
> considered. The problems were legion and guess what: WE HAVEN'T ADVANCED
> ENOUGH IN THE LAST 25 YEARS TO MAKE THOSE PROBLEMS MUCH EASIER.

For a vehicle of what size? Are you assuming hypersonic separation?
Have you considered vertical landing of the flyback booster? Are you
assuming optimal stage ratios? I think you have a particular view of what
your TSTO looks like, and are using it to block out alternatives.
You simply can't rule out all large-cost-reduction TSTO RLV's with a
sweep of your hand.

> Sure, you can put a liquid, hybrid. solid stage on a orbiter stage and make
> things easier but that won't be much help commercially.

No, as I've said before, I don't believe in manned solids, or solids
for any kind of routine launches (particularly of reusables).

> We're talking about BIG reductions in launch costs and, until you or someone
> else can show me a multi-stage vehicle that can deliver on that issue,
> you're just talking thru your hat.

I could just as easily ask you to show me a single stage vehicle that
delivers on that issue. There ARE NO cheap launchers, so in a sense
we are all talking through our hats. That doesn't mean we can't examine
potential cost reduction strategy and make reasonable guesses.



>> I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
>>path to RLV and a fully commercial market.

> Like I said, show me the alternative.

If you insist that I point to existing hardware, of course I can't.
Neither can you.

Doug Hendrix

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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In article <m2wx7ts...@harvey.cyclic.com>,
kin...@harvey.cyclic.com (Jim Kingdon) wrote:

>In-reply-to: nhen...@ren.com's message of 19 Dec 1995 00:45:21 GMT
>X-Newsreader: Gnus v5.0.12
>Status: N


>
>> I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about

>> 1970-1971. If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA

>> didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were
>> considered. The problems were legion
>

>Well, would you care to summarize a few of the problems? References
>to published sources would also be appreciated (particularly sources
>which I could order a copy of, find in a library, or (better yet) read
>on the web).
>
>If by "multi-stage" one includes options like a low-delta-V "zero"
>stage, two (or more) identical stages, aerial propellant transfer,
>etc., there are a lot of ideas that look plausible on paper but
>haven't been tried in hardware.
>

My newsreader ate my eloquent response so this one will be shorter, I'm on
furlough and have a lot of things to do today ('tis the season to be jolly,
you know). No, I don't have anything but yellowing drawings in my archives.
Nasa archives could be researched I suspose. But, the problems are what you'd
expect: Ops, Integration, Flt. Dynamics and Loads, etc. I don't know of any
RLV multistage concept that eliminates all of them. Sure, some ideas may look
good on paper but the closer inspections will show the problems. Besides, do
any of these concepts really have advantage over a well tuned expendable?
You've got to go pretty far to compete against some of the expendables.

Really, the policy question becomes, Is it better to flight demo technology
that probably won't yeild a SSTO RLV or is it better to ground test that
technology and use the money saved to go after the technolgy that yeilds a
SSTO RLV? After all, we've incorporated lots of technlogy into launch vehicles
without flight demo's.

Incidently, you ducked my question as to what makes you think RLV is pretty
much on track ( your words, original post)

>(to Doug Hendrix: I tried to respond to your email, but my message
>bounced).

Sorry, I get Email all the time. Must have been a glitch.

Jim Kingdon

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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> If SSTO proves too difficult this may be the best way to go. A truely
> reusable launch veicle and disposable engines.

I know people have looked at the reverse--a disposable launch vehicle
which jetisons a recoverable engine pod.

Disposable engines on a reusable vehicle is an interesting
concept--you'd presumably use some really simple ablatively cooled
engine. Now interesting does not necessarily equal promising--I am
not inclined to think that reusing engines is all that hard (the
RL-10, for example, on test stands and to a lesser extent on DC-X, has
demonstrated it can be used many times with minimal maintenance), and
that if you are going to dispose of the engines you might as well save
yourself the hassles of recovering the vehicle (downrange recovery
site, thermal protection system, etc.)--but who knows?

Doug Hendrix

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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In article <4b40s1$m...@brtph500.bnr.ca>, man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:

>In article <4avs0r$2...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:
>> And the consequence may well be that, in 1999, we wind up with no
>> commercial financial support for a commercial RLV. We may just be proving
>> technology for an improved multi-stage launch vehicle.
>
> Read my lips: RLV DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SSTO. Please stop confusing
>two separate issues. There is a lot of room for cost reduction and

>more routine operatoins even without SSTO.
>

READ MY LIPS: I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about

1970-1971. If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA
didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were

considered. The problems were legion and guess what: WE HAVEN'T ADVANCED

ENOUGH IN THE LAST 25 YEARS TO MAKE THOSE PROBLEMS MUCH EASIER. Sure, you can

put a liquid, hybrid. solid stage on a orbiter stage and make things easier

but that won't be much help commercially. We're talking about BIG reductions

in launch costs and, until you or someone else can show me a multi-stage
vehicle that can deliver on that issue, you're just talking thru your hat.

> I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only

doyle@problem_with_inews_gateway_file

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
to

Has any body looked at the possibility of really cheap disposable
engines which are easy to install?

Jim Kingdon

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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> I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about
> 1970-1971. If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA
> didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were
> considered. The problems were legion

Well, would you care to summarize a few of the problems? References


to published sources would also be appreciated (particularly sources
which I could order a copy of, find in a library, or (better yet) read
on the web).

If by "multi-stage" one includes options like a low-delta-V "zero"
stage, two (or more) identical stages, aerial propellant transfer,
etc., there are a lot of ideas that look plausible on paper but
haven't been tried in hardware.

(to Doug Hendrix: I tried to respond to your email, but my message
bounced).

'Larry' L Gales

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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On 19 Dec 1995, Doug Hendrix wrote:

>
> READ MY LIPS: I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about

> 1970-1971. If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA
> didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were

> considered. The problems were legion and guess what: WE HAVEN'T ADVANCED
> ENOUGH IN THE LAST 25 YEARS TO MAKE THOSE PROBLEMS MUCH EASIER. Sure, you can
> put a liquid, hybrid. solid stage on a orbiter stage and make things easier
> but that won't be much help commercially. We're talking about BIG reductions
> in launch costs and, until you or someone else can show me a multi-stage
> vehicle that can deliver on that issue, you're just talking thru your hat.
>

[ man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:]


> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
> >
>
> Like I said, show me the alternative.

============================================================
Several months ago I posted a design for a fully reusable, 2-stage, VTVL,
base first re-entry vehicle using Russian NK-31 and Block D Kerosene/LOX
engines. The only "new" technology for this would be ajustable nozzle
skirts for altitude compensation. With a GLOW of about 350 tons
it could place 7-10 tons into LEO. This was a Kerosene/LOX version of
William Mook's LH2/LOX design.

(1) I don't think there is a rocket engineer in the world who would say
that we could not build such a vehicle today

(2) I don't think there is a rocket engineer who would disagree with the
statement that such a vehicle would be vastly simpler and less expensive
than the shuttle during all phases of its flight: stacking, fueling,
launch, flight profile, aerodynamics, staging, re-entry, landing, turn-around.

It features mission completion with one-engine out during all phases of the
flight, mission completion with multi-engine failure thru some phases of the
flight, and safe abort with multi-engine failure thru all flight phases.

As was mentioned in that post, the principle reason that stacking and staging
are currently expensive is because current vehicles (including most of the
stacking-staging elements of the shuttle) are *expendable* and so there is
no incentive to make those aspects cheaper -- stacking is simply that part
of building a vehicle that happens at the launch pad instead of at the
factory, but this should not be true for a reusable vehicle.

There are also other concepts, such as an NSSTO with a purely vertical
"zero-or-cheater" stage that are well within currently technology and could
bring about immense savings, as well as the "blackhorse" concept.

I fully agree with the statement made by Cathy Mancus above.

-- Larry Gales

Jim Kingdon

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Dec 19, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/19/95
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> the problems are what you'd expect: Ops, Integration

Clearly a big issue for multi-stage reusables. X-34 seems like a
plausible way to try to get some experience with these issues at an
affordable cost (reusable stage separation instead of pyros, etc.).

> Flt. Dynamics and Loads

As far as I know, this is primarily an issue for doing a return to
launch site maneuver. I am inclined to agree, but my conclusion is
just to go with downrange recovery.

> Besides, do any of these concepts really have advantage over a well
> tuned expendable?

OSC's willingness to put their own money into X-34 would tend to point
to "yes", but time will tell (provided X-34 really flies, of course).

> Really, the policy question becomes, Is it better to flight demo
> technology that probably won't yeild a SSTO RLV or is it better to
> ground test that technology and use the money saved to go after the

> technolgy that yeilds a SSTO RLV? . . .


> Incidently, you ducked my question as to what makes you think RLV is pretty
> much on track ( your words, original post)

It is on track (IMHO) because it is really demonstrating technology
(DC-XA, Russian engine firings, other engine tests, TPS tests,
etc.--see http://rlv.msfc.nasa.gov for details), not putting all its
eggs in the X-33 basket. If an X-33 flight vehicle (or any other
single item, like an all-new, very expensive, engine) seems to be in
danger of crowding out all the other stuff being done as part of the
program, I'd argue for canceling it, but I am not convinced this is
the case. And there does need to be some program component along the
lines of "just how light can we make a vehicle?" (aimed at
SSTO)--while there is a case (e.g. Big Dumb Boosters) for saving the
design and fabrication $$$ involved in trimming mass, I am more
sympathetic to the "trim mass whereever you can" school of
thought--and there needs to be a program exploring that.

RLV is a stronger program than *I* probably would have designed if I
had been in charge a year or so ago--I probably would have picked a
boring, straightforward "let's build DC-Y, and if we have trouble with
mass fraction or other issues, push harder" approach, which now
doesn't look as good to me as what they are actually doing.

Michael P. Walsh

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Dec 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/20/95
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>(1) I don't think there is a rocket engineer in the world who
>would say that we could not build such a vehicle today.

(Was a comment on a resusable LOX-RP1 booster)

I think this is true, but to date it has not been done. I
believe this has been one of the relatively unmentioned good
points of the X-34 program. If they can demonstrate a
reliable and reusable propulsion stage I believe it will be a
modest but important step toward economical launch vehicles.

I am less certain about the economic/capability match of a large
Lox-RP1 two stage recoverable booster.

Doug Hendrix

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Dec 20, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/20/95
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In article <4b6er8$d...@brtph500.bnr.ca>, man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:

> I think we have learned one or two things since 1971 (particularly in
>materials science).
>

Yes, but is it neccesary to flight demo those things? All I'm saying is if the
technolgy being flight demo'd really has a chance of leading to a breakthough
in launch costs and flight demo's really are neccesary to get investor
confidence to to point of making investments, then by all means, flight demo.
But, if the technology isn't good enough to make that breakthru, a flight demo
makes no sense. I contend that the present batch of technology available for
flight demo testing won't make the breakthrough. Come 2000, we'll still be out
of luck as far as cheap launchers are concerned. It's easy to locate the areas
that need new technolgy and propulsion is one of those areas.

<cut>

> I think you have a particular view of what
>your TSTO looks like, and are using it to block out alternatives.
>You simply can't rule out all large-cost-reduction TSTO RLV's with a
>sweep of your hand.
>

I haven't seen any alternatives that had enough meat on them to make them
believable. Take 'em to a preliminary design state and see if they still hang
together. Most concepts look good initially...mature them and then see if they
still look good.

>
> I could just as easily ask you to show me a single stage vehicle that
>delivers on that issue. There ARE NO cheap launchers, so in a sense
>we are all talking through our hats. That doesn't mean we can't examine
>potential cost reduction strategy and make reasonable guesses.
>

Absolutely correct! My point is, once again, does the current batch of
technolgy lead to a cheap launcher? If not, then why are we so hopped up to go
fight demo it? We need confidence that the technolgy being flight demo'd is
technolgy that leads to cheap launchers.

>>> I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
>>>path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
>
>> Like I said, show me the alternative.
>

> If you insist that I point to existing hardware, of course I can't.
>Neither can you.
>

I don't insist on hardware, just a concept that is matured to a preliminary
design state with some analysis behind the weight statement (weight from
weight estimating routines don't count, they aren't accurate enough) and cost
analysis that an investor would believe.

Jeff Greason

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Dec 21, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/21/95
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In article <4b51v2$d...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:

|> In article <4b40s1$m...@brtph500.bnr.ca>, man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:
|>
|> > Read my lips: RLV DOES NOT HAVE TO BE SSTO. Please stop confusing
|> >two separate issues. There is a lot of room for cost reduction and
|> >more routine operatoins even without SSTO.
|> >
|>

|> READ MY LIPS: I've been there and done that on multi-stage RLV's, in about
|> 1970-1971. If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars that NASA
|> didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback Orbiters that were
|> considered. The problems were legion and guess what: WE HAVEN'T ADVANCED
|> ENOUGH IN THE LAST 25 YEARS TO MAKE THOSE PROBLEMS MUCH EASIER. Sure,
|> you can
|> put a liquid, hybrid. solid stage on a orbiter stage and make things easier
|> but that won't be much help commercially. We're talking about BIG reductions
|> in launch costs and, until you or someone else can show me a multi-stage
|> vehicle that can deliver on that issue, you're just talking thru your hat.
|>

|> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
|> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
|> >
|>
|> Like I said, show me the alternative

Mass produced dumb boosters. Big Dumb Boosters. Aerial Reoxing (BlackHorse).
"Near-SSTO" with JATO assist. "Near-SSTO" with an exoatmospheric kick
stage.

I believe that SSTO can provide a significant cost reduction over
near-SSTO or dumb boosters. But it seems obvious that if X-33 were
to show we can make, say, 90% or orbital speed with a fully reusable
vehicle, turned around in days not months, with high operability, we'd
be *far* better off, and far closer to a low launch cost system.

You could take that and make a "Near-SSTO" right away. And you'd have
learned so much about operable engines and TPS that your next try at
SSTO might well suceed. Meantime, X-34 is trying to bring "staging"
out of the 1950's, and could be teaching us what we need to do 1.5STO
or 2STO "right".

And if none of these efforts suceed, studies from Truax on have shown
that expendables can be a *lot* cheaper than they are now -- so it's
silly to argue that it's SSTO or nothing.

The only "must have" about SSTO that I see is that X-33 "must" stay
focused on *trying* for SSTO -- otherwise we *will* wind up with
a ShuttleII + Flyback booster, and we won't learn a thing.

Disclaimer: While I am an Intel employee, all opinions expressed are my own,
and do not reflect the position of Intel, NETCOM, or Zippy the Pinhead.
============================================================================
Jeff Greason "We choose to go to the Moon in this decade,
<gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com> and do the other things, not because they
<gre...@ix.netcom.com> are easy, but because they are hard." -- JFK


Filip De Vos

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Dec 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/22/95
to
Jeff Greason (gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com) wrote:

: In article <4b51v2$d...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:

: And if none of these efforts suceed, studies from Truax on have shown


: that expendables can be a *lot* cheaper than they are now -- so it's
: silly to argue that it's SSTO or nothing.

What is in fact the status of (the ideas of) Bob Truax? My only source
is Ed Regis' Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition, and
of course the generic Big Dumb Booster idea turning up. I also recall
just after Challenger there was an article about an areospace-engineer
promoting the BDB idea in Newsweek.
And of course I'm awaiting col. Jack London's book!!


--
Filip De Vos I am just a simple home-boy, and take
no great interest in anything much
beyond the Magellanic Clouds.
FilipP...@rug.ac.be
fid...@eduserv.rug.ac.be Marshall T. Savage

Cathy Mancus

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Dec 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/22/95
to

In article <4bcjjp$g...@ptdcs5.al.intel.com>, gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com (Jeff Greason) writes:
> The only "must have" about SSTO that I see is that X-33 "must" stay
> focused on *trying* for SSTO -- otherwise we *will* wind up with
> a ShuttleII + Flyback booster, and we won't learn a thing.

Absolutely true, Jeff. Don't mistake my interest in RLV TSTO approaches
for lack of support for SSTO X-vehicle testing.

Jim Kingdon

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Dec 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/22/95
to
> What is in fact the status of (the ideas of) Bob Truax? My only source
> is Ed Regis' Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition, and
> of course the generic Big Dumb Booster idea turning up.

A few new boosters are getting low-level air force funding, and some
private funding too I think. See
<URL:http://www.earthlink.net/~microcosm/> and
<URL:http://www.isso.org/Industry/AeroAstro/AA-Projects.html#2.6>.
Both are in at least some ways "dumb" (although not "Big" in terms of
payload)--both are pressure-fed; PacAstro is only 2 stages to orbit
whereas microcosm uses a large number of identical stages.

Doug Hendrix

unread,
Dec 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/22/95
to
In article <4bejrs$g...@infoserv.rug.ac.be>,

fid...@eduserv.rug.ac.be (Filip De Vos) wrote:

>Jeff Greason (gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com) wrote:
>
>: In article <4b51v2$d...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix)
writes:
>

Be careful with your clips and snips. ole boy, I didn't write that which
follows. I catch enough flack for that which I do write.

>: And if none of these efforts suceed, studies from Truax on have shown
>: that expendables can be a *lot* cheaper than they are now -- so it's
>: silly to argue that it's SSTO or nothing.
>

>What is in fact the status of (the ideas of) Bob Truax? My only source
>is Ed Regis' Great Mambo Chicken and the Transhuman Condition, and

Doug Hendrix

unread,
Dec 22, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/22/95
to
In article <4bcjjp$g...@ptdcs5.al.intel.com>,
gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com (Jeff Greason) wrote:

>In article <4b51v2$d...@news.ro.com>, nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:

Clipped ---

>Sure, you can
>|> put a liquid, hybrid. solid stage on a orbiter stage and make things
easier
>|> but that won't be much help commercially. We're talking about BIG
reductions
>|> in launch costs and, until you or someone else can show me a multi-stage
>|> vehicle that can deliver on that issue, you're just talking thru your hat.
>|>

Cathy Wrote:

>|> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
>|> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
>|> >
>|>
>|> Like I said, show me the alternative
>
>Mass produced dumb boosters. Big Dumb Boosters. Aerial Reoxing
(BlackHorse).
>"Near-SSTO" with JATO assist. "Near-SSTO" with an exoatmospheric kick
>stage.
>

Doesn't answer the question. Dunb Boosters won't give the order of magnitude
reduction in costs we're after. I don't know much about reoxing but it sounds
preliminary and fraught with problems that'll drive costs sky high. Near SSTO
stuff will be light weight payload delivery. That's fine if all you want to do
is service Earthlings with neater mobile phones, I'd like to see Earthling go
into real space endevours.

Michael P. Walsh

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
>>If people gripe about the Shuttle, thank your stars
>>that NASA didn't build one of the Flyback boosters/Flyback
>>Orbiters that were considered. The problems were legion.

>Well, would you care to summarize a few of the problems?

>References to published sources would also be appreciated.

I did not originate and I don't have references but I did work on
a study of a 2 stage flyback booster at Lockheed in 1962-65.

The most serious problem was design of a fly-back orbital
upper-stage LO2-LH2 propellant tank integrated into a vehicle.
Then the state-of-the art heat shield was ablative coating. The
shuttle tiles were an advancement but the tank problem was
finessed with the throw-away tanks.

The main problem with the first stage was size and cost, as well
as sensitivity of the size of the first stage to any increases in
size and weight of the upper stage. This was resolved by the
switch to the SRB's. Staging of the nested vehicles was
condsidered a problem, but I did not hear anyone who thought it
could not be resolved.

I think recovery and reuse of full-scale propulsion systems which
include tanks is still a problem.

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to Doug Hendrix
Doug Hendrix wrote:
>
> In article <4b40s1$m...@brtph500.bnr.ca>, man...@bnr.ca (Cathy Mancus) wrote:
> >
> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
> >
>
> Like I said, show me the alternative.

Check out my GreenSpace(TM) TSTO-RLV concept at

http://s1.GANet.NET/~wm0/mtest0.htm

Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
four RL10s on the second stage. It executes a downrange recovery of
the first stage. Vertical landing of both stages is carried out
through a powered touchdown of the stages. It competes head to head
in throw weight with the Atlas vehicles. Its recurring costs are
about $9 million per launch but delivers launches worth $125 million.
Most of this $9 million figure goes for maintenance of the advanced
SSME built to meet the needs of this vehicle.

A fleet of three vehicles will deliver more launches than the entire
production history of the Atlas missile. It uses no really new or
advanced technology.

The profits earned by this vehicle will pay for research and development
of larger vehicles. Next generation vehicles will use the first stage
of the first generation vehicle as a second stage. The second generation
first stage will comprise five SSME and the resulting TSTO-RLV-G2 will
loft a total of 90,000 lb. to LEO. A three stage vehicle, consisting
of the the entire generation 1 vehicle along with a generation 2 first
stage will be capable of placing 9,500 lb on the lunar surface and
returning to Earth all vehicle components for reuse.

A third generation vehicle is possible building upon the strengths of
the two generations described. The third generation builds upon a
larger first stage. This larger first stage is propelled by 25 SSME
collected into an aerospike configuration. The second stage is the
second generation first stage propelled by five SSME. TSTO-RLV-G3 will
loft a total of 450,000 lb to LEO. A three stage vehicle, consisting of
the entire generation 2 vehicle along with a generation 3 first stage
will be capable of placing 47,500 lb on the lunar surface and returning
all vehicle components to Earth for reuse.

The last generation vehicle on our drawing boards consists of a fourth
generation first stage. This mammoth vehicle is propelled by 125 SSME
collected into two rings. 62 SSME on the inner ring, 63 SSME on the
outer ring. Forming a huge aerospike engine. The TSTO-RLV-G4 will
place 3 million lb to LEO and 250,000 lb on the lunar surface. It
will also project 50,000 lb. payloads to Mars.

What will the markets be for these vehicles?

G1 - 18,500 lb LEO - Commercial launch vehicle -
G2 - 90,000 lb LEO - Space station components - Return to Moon -
G3 - 450,000 lb LEO - Experimental Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Tourism -
G4 - 3,000,000 lb LEO - Commercial Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Development -
Mars Exploration, Asteroid Exploration

Beyond this development program I also propose the development of large
laser launchers. The profits from G2 will be sufficient to develop G3
as well as a small laser launcher. Laser launchers will permit large
numbers of small payloads to be orbited and sent to the moon in support
of operations at these places. Larger orbiting laser propulsion drivers
powered by the sun - based on orbiting solar power station technology,
will permit commercial travel throughout the solar system once sufficient
assets are in place.

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to Doug Hendrix

Jim Kingdon

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
> Next generation vehicles

> G1 - 18,500 lb LEO
> G2 - 90,000 lb LEO
> G3 - 450,000 lb LEO
> G4 - 3,000,000 lb LEO

There is a particularly insidious tendency to think of "next
generation" as "larger". Ariane 5 has the potential to take Europe
out of the commercial launch market. The fact that OSC developed
Pegasus XL instead of sticking with Pegasus has been a disastrous
decision, and may very well give LLV enough time to catch up with
them.

A successful launcher will probably inspire a variety of derivatives,
but they won't all be larger (e.g. Delta II spawned Delta III, but it
also spawned Delta Lite; Atlas II* spawned Atlas 2AR which is similar
in size, etc.).

Doug Hendrix

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
In article <30DBBD...@mail.GANet.NET>,

"William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:


>Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
>near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
>four RL10s on the second stage. It executes a downrange recovery of
>the first stage. Vertical landing of both stages is carried out
>through a powered touchdown of the stages. It competes head to head
>in throw weight with the Atlas vehicles. Its recurring costs are
>about $9 million per launch but delivers launches worth $125 million.
>Most of this $9 million figure goes for maintenance of the advanced
>SSME built to meet the needs of this vehicle.
>

I'm sorry but I don't see how any downrange recovery Vehicle can be operated
at $9M per launch. You're a brave soul to mention using SSME's around these
parts tho'. However, I will visit your page to read more.

Clipped ...

> G1 - 18,500 lb LEO - Commercial launch vehicle -
> G2 - 90,000 lb LEO - Space station components - Return to Moon -
> G3 - 450,000 lb LEO - Experimental Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Tourism -
> G4 - 3,000,000 lb LEO - Commercial Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Development
-

Your hearts in the right place. The heck with inward looking, let's go
somewhere off this world.

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
"William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
>
>Check out my GreenSpace(TM) TSTO-RLV concept ...
>
>Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
>near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
>four RL10s on the second stage .... Vertical landing of both stages is
carried out
>through a powered touchdown of the stages ... It uses no really new or
>advanced technology ...
>
The SSMEs aren't new, but I wouldn't call them "not advanced." At the
very least, they're a finiky peace of machinery, requiring a decent
amount of mainteneance and testing. If some of the ALS engines had gone
into productions, with fewer welds and lower maintenance requirements,
you'd have a chance. But I don't see how the SSMEs will reduce your
costs --- unless you fly them twice and scrap 'em.

And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
touched on by DC-X and NEVER used in any launch vehicle! Ok, I'll allow
Surveyor, Viking, and the Lunar Modules, but those are vehicles that
lnaded on OTHER PLANETS. Verticla landing has never been used to recover
launch vehicles. You're making your job easier by doing this in two
stages instead of one, but the fact remains both stages will have to
carry extra fuel for landing. Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the
shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)

Around the same paragraphs, you make the following claims:

> ... Its recurring costs are

>about $9 million per launch but delivers launches worth $125 million.
>Most of this $9 million figure goes for maintenance of the advanced
>SSME built to meet the needs of this vehicle.
>

Are you serious? Does anybody know what NASA spends on maintaning the
SSMEs? Because it may be that in reality, it could cost a bit more!

>A fleet of three vehicles will deliver more launches than the entire

>production history of the Atlas missile ...

The Atlas missile has been in production for 30-40 years, and used as a
launch vehicle since the early '60s. That's a LOT of launches. How long
would it take your green booster to catch up to it? If the anser is "one
year," your in the same club as the people who made extravegant claims on
the shuttle's performance. It's not that you don't have a good idea.
But when you get into the real world specifics of actually operating the
thing, you're going to find things a bit slower and more costly than you
hoped.


"It only takes ten seconds to describe it, and I'll do it for you in a
minute" -- David Gunson

Michael J. Gallagher aka mmf...@prodigy.com


Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
kin...@harvey.cyclic.com (Jim Kingdon) wrote:
>
>A few new boosters are getting low-level air force funding, and some
>private funding too I think. See
><URL:http://www.earthlink.net/~microcosm/> and
><URL:http://www.isso.org/Industry/AeroAstro/AA-Projects.html#2.6>.
>Both are in at least some ways "dumb" (although not "Big" in terms of
>payload)--both are pressure-fed; PacAstro is only 2 stages to orbit
>whereas microcosm uses a large number of identical stages.

I peaked at both web pages, and I couldn't help that both providers were
making claims about the costs and launch rates of their vehicles that
sound a lot like the claims made for the shuttle. And that makes me a
bit suspicious.

It could be that a common failing of launch vehicle designers --- and
I'll put the shuttle's designers in here --- is they neglect to look at
the real world reuirements of operating and maintaning the thing. And
that makes things a bit slower and more expensive than they thought. Ie,
if you just look at hom much new hardware is made for each shuttle flight
--- an ET and maybe an SRB --- it comes in on the cheap, in all
probability. But figure in the requirements of prerrping it for flight
and refurbishing it afterwards, and your savings go out the window.

Jim Kingdon

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
> I peaked at both web pages, and I couldn't help that both providers were
> making claims about the costs and launch rates of their vehicles that
> sound a lot like the claims made for the shuttle.

One claim that Microcosm makes which is very un-shuttle-like is that
their system would be cheap at low launch rates. No big traffic
models required (so they say anyway).

> It could be that a common failing of launch vehicle designers --- and
> I'll put the shuttle's designers in here --- is they neglect to look at
> the real world reuirements of operating and maintaning the thing.

Uh, Microcosm and PacAstro are both expendables. So refurbishing it
afterwards is not an issue.

Microcosm specifically mentions operability--they do not require a
launch tower (because their vehicle is wide and fat and has all its
umbilicals connected at the bottom).

Microcosm also has very specific, concrete goals about operations (how
many hours it takes to integrate a payload, only as much weather
delays as an airliner, etc.). There aren't enough details there to
say how much they have traced these requirements down to specific
design features, but they certainly *are* thinking about the issues.

George Herbert

unread,
Dec 23, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/23/95
to
In article <4bert4$e...@news.ro.com>, Doug Hendrix <nhen...@ren.com> wrote:

>Cathy Wrote:
>>|> Like I said, show me the alternative
>>Mass produced dumb boosters. Big Dumb Boosters. [...]

>
>Doesn't answer the question. Dunb Boosters won't give the order of magnitude
>reduction in costs we're after. [...]

Won't? Umm, since when is $250-600/lb not an order of magnitude reduction?
Everyone who's looked at the problem seriously thinks you can do somewhere
in that range with BDBs, the somewhere depending on assumptions on technology,
volume, and how smart your design is in optimizing for price not performance.

Go take a look at Microcosm's Scorpius launcher some time. They almost have
the right idea (I'm nitpicking... they basically are doing everything right,
though I would go for single large engines instead of clustering small ones
like they are... but that keeps their engine development costs low.
And they've already built prototype engines for under $10,000 each.)

BDB may be eclipsed by SSTO, but if SSTO is harder than we think or
if the government bails out on funding its development, BDB's will be
the path to open up large enough markets at low price, enabling the
purely commercial SSTO development to proceed. This is not speculation.
It *will* happen. There's too much money in it for someone not to
make a BDB work. Look for Microcosm to be there flying things in the
early years of the 21st century. I may get some of my stuff off my
design board and join them, if I lose enough sanity to start my own
company for real instead of occational consulting work ;-)

-george william herbert
Retro Aerospace
gher...@crl.com


George Herbert

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
In article <4bhhvj$h...@news.ro.com>, Doug Hendrix <nhen...@ren.com> wrote:
>[...]

>I'm sorry but I don't see how any downrange recovery Vehicle can be operated
>at $9M per launch. You're a brave soul to mention using SSME's around these
>parts tho'. However, I will visit your page to read more.

What? $9M/launch is way too high. You can buy a whole oil-platform
supply ship for $9m, and with about 10 crew (well, maybe 15) recover anything
from any ocean up to shuttle booster sized objects. 15 seamen is going to
be about $750,000 to $1m/year. Fuel oil is cheap, you can probably run
the thing for $100k/month for accumulated fuel, maintenance, and berth
fees etc.

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
kin...@harvey.cyclic.com (Jim Kingdon) wrote:
>
>> It could be that a common failing of launch vehicle designers --- and

>> I'll put the shuttle's designers in here --- is they neglect to look
at
>> the real world reuirements of operating and maintaning the thing.
>
>Uh, Microcosm and PacAstro are both expendables. So refurbishing it
>afterwards is not an issue.
>

But refurbishing is an issue on the shuttle, as well as for other schemes
involving resusable launchers, so that's why I stuck it in.

>Microcosm specifically mentions operability--they do not require a
>launch tower (because their vehicle is wide and fat and has all its
>umbilicals connected at the bottom).
>
>Microcosm also has very specific, concrete goals about operations (how
>many hours it takes to integrate a payload, only as much weather
>delays as an airliner, etc.). There aren't enough details there to
>say how much they have traced these requirements down to specific
>design features, but they certainly *are* thinking about the issues.

That's the thing --- if you just look at the design features, their goals
seem easy to reach. But when you look at what's actually involved in
building the hardware, prepping it and the payload for flight, their
goals may become a bit harder to reach than they think they are.

I'm definitely looking forward to the day when wwe do have "airline-like"
operations from Earth to LEO for both manned and unmanned vehicles. But
I am not sure we're going to get there in one fell swoop, no matter how
much one or two companies want to get there. It will require a lot of
different developments and the time to scale things up enough. That's
not going to happen overnight.

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to Jim Kingdon
Jim Kingdon wrote:
>
> > Next generation vehicles

> > G1 - 18,500 lb LEO
> > G2 - 90,000 lb LEO
> > G3 - 450,000 lb LEO
> > G4 - 3,000,000 lb LEO
>
> There is a particularly insidious tendency to think of "next
> generation" as "larger". Ariane 5 has the potential to take Europe
> out of the commercial launch market. The fact that OSC developed
> Pegasus XL instead of sticking with Pegasus has been a disastrous
> decision, and may very well give LLV enough time to catch up with
> them.
>
> A successful launcher will probably inspire a variety of derivatives,
> but they won't all be larger (e.g. Delta II spawned Delta III, but it
> also spawned Delta Lite; Atlas II* spawned Atlas 2AR which is similar
> in size, etc.).

Well Jim, this all depends on your vision of the future. If you
believe the future of space travel merely entails continued support
for communications satellites then a strong argument can be made for
fewer and smaller launch vehicles in the future. If on the other
hand you believe the future of space travel entails an expanding
industrial capacity then you have a need for larger and more numerous
launch vehicles. In either case if you support one vision or the
other, you must be prepared to define the new markets involved.

I propose there is a "Mook Curve" similar to Moore's curve for
micro-electronics. As you build larger spacecraft the cost per
pound is reduced. The growth curve envisioned for the GreenSpace
program is set by the ratio of the first and second stages. We
end up with a vee star of about 4.9 km/sec per stage. This is
sufficient to orbit payloads with two stages, or send payloads
to the moon with three stages, all without loss of vehicle components.

We also hope to improve the longevity of each launch vehicle with
each succeeding generation. So we hope to benefit in several ways.

Veh. Direct Costs Payload to LEO Cost/lb.
------------------------------------------------------------
G1 $9 million per launch 18,500 lb/launch $486.48/lb
G2 $18 million per launch 90,000 lb/launch $200.00/lb
G3 $36 million per launch 450,000 lb/launch $80.00/lb
G4 $72 million per launch 3,000,000 lb/launch $24.00/lb
------------------------------------------------------------

Of course, we'll start with G1 at about $7,500/lb and drop about
a third with each generation. This will provide profits sufficient
to attract and expand the capital assets to sustain the development
of the markets outlined.

Veh. Selling price /lb. and /launch Total Capacity
-----------------------------------------------------------
G1 $7,500/lb. $138,750,000 per launch. 450 launches
G2 $2,500/lb. $225,000,000 per launch. 1,350 launches
G3 $833/lb. $375,000,000 per launch. 4,050 launches
G4 $277/lb. $833,000,000 per launch 12,150 launches
-----------------------------------------------------------

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to Doug Hendrix
Doug Hendrix wrote:
>
> In article <30DBBD...@mail.GANet.NET>,

> "William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
>
> >Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
> >near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
> >four RL10s on the second stage. It executes a downrange recovery of
> >the first stage. Vertical landing of both stages is carried out

> >through a powered touchdown of the stages. It competes head to head
> >in throw weight with the Atlas vehicles. Its recurring costs are

> >about $9 million per launch but delivers launches worth $125 million.
> >Most of this $9 million figure goes for maintenance of the advanced
> >SSME built to meet the needs of this vehicle.
> >
>
> I'm sorry but I don't see how any downrange recovery Vehicle can be operated
> at $9M per launch. You're a brave soul to mention using SSME's around these
> parts tho'. However, I will visit your page to read more.
>

Well Doug, some folks think that $9 million recurring costs for a reusable
vehicle is outlandishly high. But we've come from first principles and
looked at the cost of operating the Shuttle and other vehicles. This is
a price we know we can beat, depending upon the launch schedule.

According to recent communique's we've had with NASA HQ, NASA won't have
any SSME's available for this project. So, we'll be buying new. This has
the disadvantage of pushing back the project while production is put underway.
It has the advantage of freeing us from the legacies of the past. Our SSMEs
will have simple improvements made to them. Each succeeding generation of
engines (we're buying a lot you can see) will accumulate improvements while
the folks who build them have an opportunity to perfect their craft.

The insurance folks like the SSME because it has such a long and illustrious
track record. Despite over 200 firings of 5 minutes each no failures of SSME
has ever occurred. Our engines on G1 will fire about 2.7 minutes each. So,
over the course of the entire history of the entire fleet, our SSMEs will
accumulate only 40% of the experience of the Shuttle fleet to date.

Of course we'll push that waaay beyond the Shuttle when we build G2 and
beyond!

> Clipped ...
>
> > G1 - 18,500 lb LEO - Commercial launch vehicle -
> > G2 - 90,000 lb LEO - Space station components - Return to Moon -
> > G3 - 450,000 lb LEO - Experimental Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Tourism -
> > G4 - 3,000,000 lb LEO - Commercial Solar Power Satellites/Lunar Development
> -
>
> Your hearts in the right place. The heck with inward looking, let's go
> somewhere off this world.

Precisely. If you look at the future of telecom we'll have to lower prices
just to compete against optical fiber and technologies that compete with
satellite based assets. If we do nothing to develop new space based assets
which launch vehicles are needed to support, we may look back on THIS time
as the golden age of opportunity for space travel. I know it doesn't seem
like it, but back in 1965 it seemed like the golden age of manned spacetravel
was ahead of us. In 1975 it was behind us.

Any new business requires leadership.

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher wrote:
>
> "William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
> >
> >Check out my GreenSpace(TM) TSTO-RLV concept ...
> >
> >Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
> >near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
> >four RL10s on the second stage .... Vertical landing of both stages is
> carried out

> >through a powered touchdown of the stages ... It uses no really new or
> >advanced technology ...
> >
> The SSMEs aren't new, but I wouldn't call them "not advanced." At the
> very least, they're a finiky peace of machinery, requiring a decent
> amount of mainteneance and testing. If some of the ALS engines had gone
> into productions, with fewer welds and lower maintenance requirements,
> you'd have a chance. But I don't see how the SSMEs will reduce your
> costs --- unless you fly them twice and scrap 'em.

Well, we're buying brand new SSMEs. They're actually SSME derivative rockets
pulling from the STME concepts also developed by Rockwell. We will be flying
them 50 to 60 times per engine. So we'll need three engines per vehicle over
the lifespan of the first generation vehicle. This will be improved over time.

> And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
> touched on by DC-X and NEVER used in any launch vehicle! Ok, I'll allow
> Surveyor, Viking, and the Lunar Modules, but those are vehicles that
> lnaded on OTHER PLANETS.

Its harder to do something on other planets than on the Earth.

>Verticla landing has never been used to recover
> launch vehicles.

Russians use small solids to land capsules on Earth all the time.

> You're making your job easier by doing this in two
> stages instead of one, but the fact remains both stages will have to
> carry extra fuel for landing.

The areal loading of a empty launch vehicle is far less than the areal loading
of an empty space shuttle, even with all its wings. So, the terminal velocity
is a little below sound speed for both stages once they complete reentry.

> Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the
> shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
> feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)

Well, we looked at parachute recovery, winged recovery, and powered recovery.
For an empty launch vehicle powered recovery was superior for a variety of
reasons. Consider that the exhaust velocity of our recovery rockets on the
first stage is about 4,200 m/sec and the vehicle has to be brought through a
delta vee of 340 m/sec. So, the propellant needed is about 8.4% of the entire
weight of the EMPTY stage. This is far less than strapping on a pair of wings
to fly the thing home. The control algorithm for a ballistic closure to a
point is well worked out. In fact we can use existing guidance and control
hardware and software almost without changes. Except instead of blowing up
at your target, you fire your engines! :)

> Around the same paragraphs, you make the following claims:
>

> > ... Its recurring costs are


> >about $9 million per launch but delivers launches worth $125 million.
> >Most of this $9 million figure goes for maintenance of the advanced
> >SSME built to meet the needs of this vehicle.
> >

> Are you serious? Does anybody know what NASA spends on maintaning the
> SSMEs? Because it may be that in reality, it could cost a bit more!

Well, let's see, we're spending $85 million for each SSME we acquire (not
reflected in these costs) and with 60 flights per engine another $200 million
over the life of the engine. Some say that's too damn much. But that's what
it costs as far as we can tell.

> >A fleet of three vehicles will deliver more launches than the entire
> >production history of the Atlas missile ...
>
> The Atlas missile has been in production for 30-40 years, and used as a
> launch vehicle since the early '60s. That's a LOT of launches. How long
> would it take your green booster to catch up to it?

I believe the Atlas has sustained about 200 to 300 launches, I have the exact
number in our market analysis. Our fleet of three vehicles will sustain a total
of 300 to 450 launches. We plan to fly off this inventory at a rate of 15 to 30
flights per year. So, it might take 15 to 30 years to match the Atlas. But I
hope by that time G1 is viewed as we view B52 or B727 today. Of course what
actually happens depends on aggregate market demand. But even in the most
optimistic scenario (multiple constellations) it would be 6 years.

Henry Spencer

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
In article <4bhuda$1b...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>...[vertical landing] Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the
>shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
>feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)

The weight of fuel needed for vertical landing is less than the weight of
the wings, control surfaces, etc. needed for horizontal landing. Horizontal
landing is "nice" only because it is familiar; in many ways it's an inferior
method, historically necessary because aircraft engines were so feeble. The
thrust:weight ratio of rocket engines is high enough that the idea deserves
to be taken seriously.
--
Look, look, see Windows 95. Buy, lemmings, buy! | Henry Spencer
Pay no attention to that cliff ahead... | he...@zoo.toronto.edu

Henry Spencer

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
In article <4bhun1$18...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>I peaked at both web pages, and I couldn't help that both providers were
>making claims about the costs and launch rates of their vehicles that
>sound a lot like the claims made for the shuttle. And that makes me a
>bit suspicious.

Why? The reason why those claims look similar is simple: they are the
*right* *objectives*. A system which did *not* make such claims would
not be worth pursuing.

>It could be that a common failing of launch vehicle designers --- and
>I'll put the shuttle's designers in here --- is they neglect to look at

>the real world reuirements of operating and maintaning the thing. And

>that makes things a bit slower and more expensive than they thought...

Of course, there's real world and then there's NASA :-). Compare the
requirements of operating and maintaining the shuttle to those of
operating and maintaining DC-X. Sure, the shuttle is a bigger and
more complex vehicle which meets more demanding specs... but it's not
*a thousand times* bigger and more demanding, which is roughly the
ratio of the crew sizes. There's still something wrong there.

Henry Spencer

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
In article <4bert4$e...@news.ro.com> nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:
>>|> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
>>|> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
>>|> Like I said, show me the alternative
>>Mass produced dumb boosters. Big Dumb Boosters. Aerial Reoxing (BlackHorse).
>>"Near-SSTO" with JATO assist. "Near-SSTO" with an exoatmospheric kick stage.
>
>Doesn't answer the question. Dunb Boosters won't give the order of magnitude
>reduction in costs we're after...

Why not? Aerospace hardware costs are much more a function of parts count
than of size; making things big and simple and dumb *is* a promising idea.
Many of the people who have investigated the notion say that it does have
the potential for that order of magnitude. (Incidentally, some of us are
after multiple orders of magnitude, but that's another issue.)

>I don't know much about reoxing but it sounds
>preliminary and fraught with problems that'll drive costs sky high.

Why? The USAF does flight refuelling every day, quite routinely, at modest
cost. There's no great mystery to it; "this isn't rocket science" :-).

>Near SSTO stuff will be light weight payload delivery.

Why? The JATO-assist schemes take the full vehicle into orbit. The
kick-stage schemes don't, but there's no reason why the payload has
to be small. (American Airlines doesn't bring the whole aircraft to
the door of your destination either.)

RHA

unread,
Dec 24, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/24/95
to
In article <30DDC5...@mail.GANet.NET>,

The russians also have a proven technology for dropping fifty ton battle
tanks by parachute with braking rockets the last few feet.
--
rha

Greason

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
In <DK3oDv.HFF%spen...@zoo.toronto.edu> Henry Spencer

<he...@zoo.toronto.edu> writes:
>
>In article <4bhuda$1b...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com
(Michael Gallagher) writes:
>>...[vertical landing] Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the
>>shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
>>feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)
>
>The weight of fuel needed for vertical landing is less than the weight
>of the wings, control surfaces, etc. needed for horizontal landing.
>Horizontal landing is "nice" only because it is familiar; in many ways
>it's an inferior method, historically necessary because aircraft
>engines were so feeble. The thrust:weight ratio of rocket engines is
>high enough that the idea deserves to be taken seriously.

Henry, while I'm all in favor of developing vertical landing, I think
you're overstating the case here. Some fairly good numbers were posted
during the thread "The palpable superiority of horizontal landing",
that seemed to show pretty clearly that the weight penalty for an
*unpowered* horizontal landing was slightly less than that for a
*powered* vertical landing.

Certainly, vertical landing *is* "off the shelf" -- Harriers do it all
the time. It looks to me as if the vertical/horizontal landing choice
is close enough that it depends on what your vehicle has anyway. If
you already have wings (for air launch, or aerial reoxing), you should
land horizontally. If you already have enough rocket engine to support
vertical takeoff, you should land vertically. And if you want your
launch costs to be extremely high, you should do VTHL, and restrict
yourself to launching from the Cape :-).

--

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed are my own, and do not reflect

the position of Intel, NETCOM, or Zippy the Pinhead.
====================================================================

Jeffrey K. Greason "We choose to go to the moon ... and do
<gre...@ptdcs2.intel.com> the other things, not because they are
<gre...@ix.netcom.com> easy, but because they are hard" -- JFK


Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
"William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
>
>Michael Gallagher wrote:
>>
>> And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
>> touched on by DC-X and NEVER used in any launch vehicle! Ok, I'll
allow
>> Surveyor, Viking, and the Lunar Modules, but those are vehicles that
>> lnaded on OTHER PLANETS.
>
>Its harder to do something on other planets than on the Earth.
>
I brought it up because yes, vertical landing had been used before, but
in landing spacecraft on other planets BUT ....
>>Vertical landing has never been used to recover

>> launch vehicles.
>
>Russians use small solids to land capsules on Earth all the time.
>
Firing a solid booster to soften the landing of a capsule that had been
launched by an ELV and now descending on a parachute is not the same as
putting extra fuel on a booster and then having it land tail-first under
power from its own engines. As I said, vertical landing has yet to be
proven for recovering launch vehicle stages, and you have to test it and
prove it before you can use it. And that's going to take years and money.


> ... We plan to fly off this inventory at a rate of 15 to 30
>flights per year ...

Evenutally. But the early years will be involved with design and testing,
particularly wrt vertical landing.

> ... So, it might take 15 to 30 years to match the Atlas ...

Probably a little longer. I'm not AGAINST waht you want to do; I just
want to point out that it's easier said than done.

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
Henry Spencer <he...@zoo.toronto.edu> wrote:
>
>In article <4bhun1$18...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com
(Michael Gallagher) writes:
>>I peaked at both web pages, and I couldn't help that both providers
were
>>making claims about the costs and launch rates of their vehicles that
>>sound a lot like the claims made for the shuttle. And that makes me a

>>bit suspicious.
>
>Why? The reason why those claims look similar is simple: they are the
>*right* *objectives*. A system which did *not* make such claims would
>not be worth pursuing.
>

But can they live up to the claims when it comes time to buid and operate
the vehicles in question? THAT'S what I'm wondering about!

>Compare the
>requirements of operating and maintaining the shuttle to those of
>operating and maintaining DC-X. Sure, the shuttle is a bigger and
>more complex vehicle which meets more demanding specs... but it's not
>*a thousand times* bigger and more demanding, which is roughly the
>ratio of the crew sizes.

>--
But DC-X is not an operational launch vehicle that flies into orbit,
delivers payloads, and then comes back. A better comparison would be
between the shuttle and a man-rated variant of the X-33. And THEN you
see how "demanding" things are.

Henry Spencer

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Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
In article <m2n38jh...@harvey.cyclic.com> kin...@harvey.cyclic.com (Jim Kingdon) writes:
>Microcosm specifically mentions operability--they do not require a
>launch tower (because their vehicle is wide and fat and has all its
>umbilicals connected at the bottom).

Actually, Proton doesn't use a tower either. (Yes, it has plumbing up the
side of the lower stages for fuelling the upper stages.) The towers used
at launch (as opposed to some of the ones used for preparations) do not
contribute significant mechanical strength to existing vehicles; they're
there solely to hold electrical connections, plumbing, and swarms of guys
with clipboards.

Quite a few of the new launch outfits have noticed that towers are of very
limited utility, especially if you consider the guys with clipboards to
be liabilities rather than assets. Taurus doesn't use a tower, and I don't
think LLV does either.

Michael Gallagher

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Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
Henry Spencer <he...@zoo.toronto.edu> wrote:
>
>In article <m2n38jh...@harvey.cyclic.com> kin...@harvey.cyclic.com
(Jim Kingdon) writes:
>>Microcosm specifically mentions operability--they do not require a
>>launch tower (because their vehicle is wide and fat and has all its
>>umbilicals connected at the bottom).
>
> ... Quite a few of the new launch outfits have noticed that towers are
of very
>limited utility ... Taurus doesn't use a tower, and I don't

>think LLV does either.
>--
Bad examples: both Taurus and LLV are solid fueled rockets, so neither
REQUIRES towers for fueling. Furthermore, since Taurus is designed to be
launched from a site offering no more than a concrete slab, they errect a
temporary scaffolding as they assemble the rocket, and take it down
before launch. Adn even then, there's some srt of unblilcle thing
attached to the rocket that falls away at ignition, a la Redstone (I just
don't know what it's called). And the Redstones had a tower that they
rolled away before launch.

I see your point, but you're using bad examples.

Henry Spencer

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
In article <4blc82$f...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>>>...claims about the costs and launch rates of their vehicles that
>>>sound a lot like the claims made for the shuttle...

>>Why? The reason why those claims look similar is simple: they are the
>>*right* *objectives*...

>
>But can they live up to the claims when it comes time to buid and operate
>the vehicles in question? THAT'S what I'm wondering about!

That is indeed the question. But the fact that the shuttle made similar
claims, and then failed to live up to them, should not be considered an
indication that the new systems can't live up to them either. We have,
one hopes, learned something from the shuttle experience.

>>Compare the
>>requirements of operating and maintaining the shuttle to those of
>>operating and maintaining DC-X. Sure, the shuttle is a bigger and
>>more complex vehicle which meets more demanding specs... but it's not

>>*a thousand times* bigger and more demanding...
>
>But DC-X is not an operational launch vehicle...

Please read what I wrote! Of course it's not. I said that. The X-33
will need lighter structure and reusable thermal protection, and it will
be bigger, which will increase the maintenance load. The point is that
the disparity in ground crews seems much too large even so. A factor of
ten, okay. A factor of a hundred... well, maybe. But a factor of a
*thousand*? That's too much.

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher wrote:
>
> "William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
> >
> >Michael Gallagher wrote:
> >>
> >> And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
> >> touched on by DC-X and NEVER used in any launch vehicle! Ok, I'll
> allow
> >> Surveyor, Viking, and the Lunar Modules, but those are vehicles that
> >> lnaded on OTHER PLANETS.
> >
> >Its harder to do something on other planets than on the Earth.
> >
> I brought it up because yes, vertical landing had been used before, but
> in landing spacecraft on other planets BUT ....
> >>Vertical landing has never been used to recover
> >> launch vehicles.
> >
> >Russians use small solids to land capsules on Earth all the time.
> >
> Firing a solid booster to soften the landing of a capsule that had been
> launched by an ELV and now descending on a parachute is not the same as
> putting extra fuel on a booster and then having it land tail-first under
> power from its own engines. As I said, vertical landing has yet to be
> proven for recovering launch vehicle stages, and you have to test it and
> prove it before you can use it. And that's going to take years and money.
>

Well, I guess one can't argue with that, but how many years, how much money?

Here's how recovery will proceed.

(1) Get GPS and inerital guidance fix before re-entry. Ballistic
adjustments to Hohmann aerocapture maneuver through small
burns using ACS.

(2) Use strakes to fly at angle of attack, maintaining lift through
the upper atmosphere. Areal loading is light so we must
maintain altitude while losing kinetic energy. For the first
stage we end up 990 miles downrange at about 80,000 ft altitude
going straight down about Mach 0.7

(3) Use strakes to maneuver above the landing threshold. CL/CD=1.4
which fixes the size of the base of a cone whose apex is at
80,000 ft. We use LASER tracking terminal guidance to bring
the spacecraft to within a few inches of where its desired.

(4) Directly above the landing point, descending at about 0.7 Mach
the engines fire at about 6,600 ft altitude and decelerate
the vehicle to zero velocity at zero altitude within 20
seconds. As the velocity drops below the effective speed of
the aerodynamic controls the vehicle switches over automatically
to ACS assisted operation, thus postive control is maintained
throughout the burn.

Step #1 can be tested with suborbital entries of similar speed on test
rockets. Its basically a precision burn on a suborbital sounding
rocket. Step #2 is developed on CFD computing platforms, then put
through wind tunnel tests, then you fire shapes in sounding rockets.
Then you fire test articles to the speeds and altitudes needed. Step #3
is accomplished through the drop testing payloads from aircraft and
later firing these payloads on sounding rockets. Still later firing
a live rocket through the required path. Step #4 can be tested using
drop towers, drop tests from aircraft, drop tests from sounding rockets,
and finally tests using a completed rocket.

This whole program will cost less than $300 million and take less than
18 months according to our figures. Most of the work can be carried out
with models at White Sands NM and later with custom built test articles
again at White Sands. We'll also orbit each RLV and bring it back by
way of flight testing. The whole program should take about 48 months
and cost $1,400 million to complete. We'll end up with 3 TSTO-RLVs
each capable of sustaining 150 flights. This has a total market value
of $45 billion. Discounted for the 30 year time period it will take
to fly off this fleet, NPV at start of operations would be around $19
billion. That's about 91.9% ROI... even if it takes 30 years to fly
off the fleet's capacity.

Some other interesting points about RLVs: (1) They'll have test flown
prior to accepting their first paying customer. This means they're
reliable in ways not possible with ELV. (2) They're in inventory, so
there's a very short wait time between order and flight

> > ... We plan to fly off this inventory at a rate of 15 to 30
> >flights per year ...
>
> Evenutally. But the early years will be involved with design and testing,
> particularly wrt vertical landing.

Like I said, 18 months for that aspect of the design process. 48 months from
dropping the first dollar to the first paying flights. There will be 9 test
flights early on.

> > ... So, it might take 15 to 30 years to match the Atlas ...
>
> Probably a little longer. I'm not AGAINST waht you want to do; I just
> want to point out that it's easier said than done.

Maybe.

myc...@clark.net

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to
In article <4bne5l$g...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com>,
Michael Gallagher <MMF...@prodigy.com> wrote:
>The disparity owes itself in part to the fact that the shuttle's
>designers decided from the beginning to (re)use LC 39 for shuttle
>launches. If you will, they were thinking in terms of a Saturn V with
>wings. This kind of made sesne to justify the continued expense of
>maintaning LC 39. If they'd started from LC 34, things might have been
>different.
>
>And the question isn't the ground crew requirements of even the X-33 ---
>which hopefully will be smaller than the shuttle's --- but with the
>ground crew requirements of an operational (man-rated?) RLV that (a) is
>derived from X-33 and (b) succeeds the shuttle. That's the comaprison
>that, to my mind, is the most valid. Otherwise, you're comparing apples
>and oranges.

Don't be surprised if the actual use of a vertical launch/landing
SSTO by NASA involves landing it on pad 39A or B, bringing out the
crawler to return the launch/landing platform to the VAB for the
vehicle to be refurbished and then rolling it out again, after it has
been rebuilt. This would be done in the name of economy, since it
would prevent a new facility having to be built.

The disassembly, tolerance check on all components and reassembly
between each flight would be done in the name of flight safety.
--
Michael T. Bevan WA3NAK ; B.S. Phys. ; CFI CFII MEI (pick a set as relevant)
Primary addr: myc...@clark.net Others: 72245,1432 WA3...@W3ZH.MD.USA.NA

William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 25, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/25/95
to Michael Gallagher

burnside

unread,
Dec 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/26/95
to
Henry Spencer (he...@zoo.toronto.edu) wrote:
: In article <4bhuda$1b...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
: >...[vertical landing] Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the
: >shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
: >feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)

: The weight of fuel needed for vertical landing is less than the weight of
: the wings, control surfaces, etc. needed for horizontal landing. Horizontal
: landing is "nice" only because it is familiar; in many ways it's an inferior
: method, historically necessary because aircraft engines were so feeble. The
: thrust:weight ratio of rocket engines is high enough that the idea deserves
: to be taken seriously.

: --

: Look, look, see Windows 95. Buy, lemmings, buy! | Henry Spencer
: Pay no attention to that cliff ahead... | he...@zoo.toronto.edu

I dispute the assertion that the weight of the fuel needed for
vertical landing (assuming by 'fuel' you actually mean propellant)
is less than the horizontal landing hardware. Most studies that
examine horizontal landers wind up with 5-6% of the landed mass
allotted to HL-specific systems. I have never seen a vertical
lander with less than ten percent of its mass at landing set aside
for landing propellant. (Think of it as thirty seconds).

Mitchell Burnside Clapp

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/26/95
to
Henry Spencer <he...@zoo.toronto.edu> wrote:
>
>In article <4blc82$f...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com
(Michael Gallagher) writes:
>>>
>>>Compare the
>>>requirements of operating and maintaining the shuttle to those of
>>>operating and maintaining DC-X. Sure, the shuttle is a bigger and
>>>more complex vehicle which meets more demanding specs... but it's not
>>>*a thousand times* bigger and more demanding...
>>
>>But DC-X is not an operational launch vehicle...
>
>Please read what I wrote! ....

I did.

> ... Of course it's not ...

I know.

> ... I said that ...

You didn't. Nor did you mention the X-33 in your post. But anyway ...

> ... The point is that


>the disparity in ground crews seems much too large even so. A factor
of
>ten, okay. A factor of a hundred... well, maybe. But a factor of a
>*thousand*? That's too much.
>--

The disparity owes itself in part to the fact that the shuttle's
designers decided from the beginning to (re)use LC 39 for shuttle
launches. If you will, they were thinking in terms of a Saturn V with
wings. This kind of made sesne to justify the continued expense of
maintaning LC 39. If they'd started from LC 34, things might have been
different.

And the question isn't the ground crew requirements of even the X-33 ---
which hopefully will be smaller than the shuttle's --- but with the
ground crew requirements of an operational (man-rated?) RLV that (a) is
derived from X-33 and (b) succeeds the shuttle. That's the comaprison
that, to my mind, is the most valid. Otherwise, you're comparing apples
and oranges.

"It only takes ten seconds to describe it, and I'll do it for you in a

Doug Hendrix

unread,
Dec 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/26/95
to
In article <DK44qx.26v%spen...@zoo.toronto.edu>,
Henry Spencer <he...@zoo.toronto.edu> wrote:

>In article <4bert4$e...@news.ro.com> nhen...@ren.com (Doug Hendrix) writes:
>>>|> > I'm getting really tired of this assumption that SSTO is the only
>>>|> >path to RLV and a fully commercial market.
>>>|> Like I said, show me the alternative
>>>Mass produced dumb boosters. Big Dumb Boosters. Aerial Reoxing
(BlackHorse).
>>>"Near-SSTO" with JATO assist. "Near-SSTO" with an exoatmospheric kick
stage.
>>
>>Doesn't answer the question. Dunb Boosters won't give the order of magnitude
>>reduction in costs we're after...
>
>Why not? Aerospace hardware costs are much more a function of parts count
>than of size; making things big and simple and dumb *is* a promising idea.
>Many of the people who have investigated the notion say that it does have
>the potential for that order of magnitude. (Incidentally, some of us are
>after multiple orders of magnitude, but that's another issue.)
>

If we can PROVE an order of magnitude cost reduction right now, we'd be smart
to put SSTO on back burner and go do BDB. I don't think we can prove it.

>>I don't know much about reoxing but it sounds
>>preliminary and fraught with problems that'll drive costs sky high.
>
>Why? The USAF does flight refuelling every day, quite routinely, at modest
>cost. There's no great mystery to it; "this isn't rocket science" :-).

I read about a jillion articles on this a couple of months ago and don't wish
to reopen the subject.

>
>>Near SSTO stuff will be light weight payload delivery.
>
>Why? The JATO-assist schemes take the full vehicle into orbit. The
>kick-stage schemes don't, but there's no reason why the payload has
>to be small. (American Airlines doesn't bring the whole aircraft to
>the door of your destination either.)

I assumed near SSTO is a weight limited vehicle (or else you'd go on to
orbit).

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 26, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/26/95
to
"William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
>
>Michael Gallagher wrote:
>>
>> ... vertical landing has yet to be

>> proven for recovering launch vehicle stages, and you have to test it
and
>> prove it before you can use it. And that's going to take years and
money.
>>

[Description of R&D program, then:]

> The whole program should take about 48 months

>and cost $1,400 million to complete ...

The only launcher that I know of that was developed that quickly was
OSC/Hercules' Pegasus --- and they got away with moving so fast because
it's a solid-fueled ELV. Even with your launcher using "off the shelf"
engines, I think you'll be very lucky if you're even half-way finished
after four years. Every test will require a lengthy evaluation process,
whether it succeeds or fails.

If VTVL RLVs already existed, you would have it easy by building a new
model. But you've got to do a lot of basic R&D, which might take longer
than you think. So I stand by my original assertion:

>> I'm not AGAINST waht you want to do; I just
>> want to point out that it's easier said than done.
>
>Maybe.

Try "probably."

Henry Spencer

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
In article <4bmjrg$v...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>> ... Quite a few of the new launch outfits have noticed that towers are
>>of very limited utility ... Taurus doesn't use a tower, and I don't
>>think LLV does either.
>
>Bad examples: both Taurus and LLV are solid fueled rockets, so neither
>REQUIRES towers for fueling.

Uh, so? Are you under the impression that towers are required for fueling
of liquid-fuel rockets? Not so, not even if the rocket is multi-stage.
See my original posting.

>Furthermore, since Taurus is designed to be
>launched from a site offering no more than a concrete slab, they errect a
>temporary scaffolding as they assemble the rocket, and take it down

>before launch...

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. I make a distinction --
which was mentioned in my original posting -- between fixtures used for
assembly and erection, and the classical umbilical tower which remains
in place until launch.

John Childers

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
In article 1b...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com, MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>"William H. Mook, Jr." <w...@mail.GANet.NET> wrote:
>>
>>Check out my GreenSpace(TM) TSTO-RLV concept ...
>>
>>Its and unpiloted vehicle that separates outside the atmosphere with
>>near optimal stage fractions. It uses an SSME on the first stage and
>>four RL10s on the second stage .... Vertical landing of both stages is
>carried out
>>through a powered touchdown of the stages ... It uses no really new or
>>advanced technology ...
>>
>The SSMEs aren't new, but I wouldn't call them "not advanced." At the
>very least, they're a finiky peace of machinery, requiring a decent

Advanced does not have to mean expencive or complex. It should mean
the oppisite! :-) Would you call a 1975 Ford advanced today?


>
>And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
>touched on by DC-X and NEVER used in any launch vehicle! Ok, I'll allow
>Surveyor, Viking, and the Lunar Modules, but those are vehicles that

>lnaded on OTHER PLANETS. Verticla landing has never been used to recover
>launch vehicles. You're making your job easier by doing this in two

Who many horizontal landing launch vehicles have there been? There's the
Shuttle and there's the ummm ... Shuttle. It's never been done does not
mean it's a bad idea, especially when it has only been done once by any
means!

>stages instead of one, but the fact remains both stages will have to

>carry extra fuel for landing. Tha'ts not even remortely an "off the

>shelf" technique. (And also why horixontal landings are nicer --- no
>feule required beyond the needs of your retros.)

But you do have to pay for and carry around wings, areo controls, extra
hydrolics, extra control systems, and extra structure. It's a trade off.
Since you have to have the vertical systems for launch any way, make the
rockets throttlable and add some cheep fuel.

---
John Childers | ===+========:+:
UNC Charlotte | _/ \_ |
Internet? Try | |\ /| -);
jech...@uncc.edu | | X |
--------------------------| __________|/_\|___ .^.
Disclaimer? Does anyone | |Caution Spacecraft| /|=|\
on the net ever officially| |Under Construction| |_____|
speak for their computer? | |/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\| / ^ ^ \
--------------------------------------------------------------


'Larry' L Gales

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
> >
> >>Near SSTO stuff will be light weight payload delivery.
> >
> >Why? The JATO-assist schemes take the full vehicle into orbit. The
> >kick-stage schemes don't, but there's no reason why the payload has
> >to be small. (American Airlines doesn't bring the whole aircraft to
> >the door of your destination either.)
>
> I assumed near SSTO is a weight limited vehicle (or else you'd go on to
> orbit).
=============================================
By that reasoning the Saturn V is for light weight payloads because
the 1st stage doesn't go all the way to orbit either. An NSSTO (Nearly SSTO)
can deliver as large a payload as you wish, if fact it delivers a
payload 2-4 times as large as does an SSTO for a given vehicle size
and weight (the NSSTO part, that is, not counting the zero- or cheater-
stage).

-- Larry Gales

Michael Gallagher

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
jo...@uncc.edu (John Childers) wrote:
>
>In article 1b...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com, MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael
Gallagher) writes:
>>
>>And then there's the vertical landing concept, which has barely been
>>touched on by DC-X and NEVER ... been used to recover
>>launch vehicles. You're making your job easier by doing this in two
> (stages)
>
>(How) many horizontal landing launch vehicles have there been? There's
the
>Shuttle and there's the ummm ... Shuttle. It's never been done does not

>mean it's a bad idea, especially when it has only been done once by any

>means!
>
True, the shuttle is the first launch vehicle to use a horizontal dead-
stick landing ... but the technique had been tested and evaluated before
the shuttle was ever built, using the X-15 and various and sundry lifting
bodies. It wasn't like they were trying it for the VERY first time. In
contrast, powered vertical landings have never been used for recovering
spacecraft, and are only now being tested in the DC-X. Anyone trying to
privately develop any kind of VTVL landing vehicle --- SSTO or TSTO ---
will either have to wait on the DC-X trials or try to convinve investors
to poor money into the private R&D for the technique. And that adds to
the cost of development, as well as stretching the program (especially if
something goes wrong). I'm not saying it SHOULDN'T be done; I'm saying
you shouldn't fool yourself at how big this job might be.

Charles Buckley

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
In article <4bsign$1c...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com>,

Is the Russian recovery capsules completely unpowered? I was
under the impression that they used rocket assisted landings.

That is about as close a bearing as the X-15 horizontal landings to
the shuttle landing.

Charles Buckley

Edgar Zapata

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
Henry Spencer <he...@zoo.toronto.edu> wrote:
>In article <4bmjrg$v...@usenetw1.news.prodigy.com> MMF...@prodigy.com (Michael Gallagher) writes:
>>> ... Quite a few of the new launch outfits have noticed that towers are
>>>of very limited utility ... Taurus doesn't use a tower, and I don't
>>>think LLV does either.
>>
>>Bad examples: both Taurus and LLV are solid fueled rockets, so neither
>>REQUIRES towers for fueling.
>
>Uh, so? Are you under the impression that towers are required for fueling of liquid-fuel rockets?

For a cryo fueled rocketsuch as Shuttle it should be noted that the
towers as needs could be classified as "access" (due to poor
supportability), "hazards" (no free hydrogen venting) and "lack of
robustness / more hazards" (no ice allowed; the tile is not robust enough
for ice debris, such as from a GOX vent at the top of a tank.)

To remedy this, free venting would have to be demonstrated safe in a
rigorous test process with more than worst case conditions so as to leave
margin in less exact operations. Also, the vehicle skin would have to be
able to take blows. An aircraft like structure would likely do - of
course for the spacecraft, it would also have to be zero maintenance and
take the reentry heat. The zero maintenance would address a fraction of
the access requirement but this would really be a reliability and
supportability issue (for other parts).

As for the other needs for towers, such as purges and electrical
connectors, this is a matter of rerouting to ground (partly a weight
issue).

--
Edgar Zapata, NASA Kennedy Space Center
Shuttle LOX and External Tank Systems Engineer
For Next Generation:
RLV: http://calvin.ksc.nasa.gov:1080/nexgen/rlvhp.htm

George Herbert

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to
In article <4bpjcv$m...@news.ro.com>, Doug Hendrix <nhen...@ren.com> wrote:

>Henry writes:
>>Why not? Aerospace hardware costs are much more a function of parts count
>>than of size; making things big and simple and dumb *is* a promising idea.
>>Many of the people who have investigated the notion say that it does have
>>the potential for that order of magnitude. (Incidentally, some of us are
>>after multiple orders of magnitude, but that's another issue.)
>
>If we can PROVE an order of magnitude cost reduction right now, we'd be smart
>to put SSTO on back burner and go do BDB. I don't think we can prove it.

You can't "PROVE" anything, about SSTO or BDB or any other new technology,
at this stage in the game. Faith in certainty about the future is not some
quality you find in good engineers and technologists... if we *knew*, we
wouldn't be sitting here talking about it.

That having been said, let's look at the well-researched credible range
of costs... for BDB, anyone with half a brain can build a BDB under $1k/lb,
based on the studies. There are a number in the $250-$500/lb range.
There's your order of magnitude.

SSTO can, if the flight volume is good enough, come in under $100/lb.
Assuming the operations costs come down enough, the limiting factor is
paying off the initial investment in R&D and building the vehicles,
which could be $2 to 10 billion or more.

Obviously, for a thousand flights a year, SSTO has advantages. But the
known market today isn't that large. If someone can afford to sink the
development costs (either long-term commercial investment, or getting
the government to pay for it) then SSTO will work nearterm, probably.
If not, we should keep doing R&D on SSTO vehicles and work on BDB to
bring costs down nearterm and build up the flight rates. BDB are not
the long term answer, but under this scenario they'd firm up the market
to support SSTO as the long term answer.

-george william herbert
Retro Aerospace
gher...@crl.com


William H. Mook, Jr.

unread,
Dec 27, 1995, 3:00:00 AM12/27/95
to Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher wrote:

>
> buc...@refuge.Colorado.EDU (Charles Buckley) wrote:
> >
> >Is the Russian recovery capsules completely unpowered? I was
> >under the impression that they used rocket assisted landings.
> >
> Russians capsules descend by parachute and fire a small solid-fueled
> engine just before touch-down to soften the landing. VTVL proposes
> designing a launch vehicle stage with the capacity to make a verticla
> landing SOLELY UNDER POWER FROM ITS OWN ENGINES after separation/reentry.
> The two are not the same thing.

Well Mike, a couple of things come to mind after reading your thread:

(1) The areal loading of an empty booster is pretty darn close to
the areal loading of a partly deployed parachute. That is,
terminal velocity is pretty darn low. Also, attitude control,
etc., during descent will be largely aerodynamic, lifting body
style. Our form factor won't have a very large L/D ratio, that's
all. So, in many ways recovering a big thin walled tank following
reentry *is* like the Russian practice of using rockets to cushion
a parachute crash. In fact the stage shapes come from some early
studies done prior to Mercury going up. We think we can recover
tanks with something like 2.5% booster empty weight dedicated to
excess propellant. With 12% structural fraction we're talking
about 0.3% total vehicle weight. Even so we've done our early
analysis assuming Mach 1.0 terminal velocity. This ups our
propellant fraction to 8.4% bew increasing total recovery propellant
to 1% - which will be reduced as we gain experience.

(2) We've studied this problem extensively. We've determined the
approach we've selected as being the lowest risk, least cost
way of dealing with a lightweight reusable tank & engines. We've
come to the conclusion that a "son of Shuttle" or "son of Nasp"
wouldn't cut it for what we were doing. We thought about para-
chutes, but putting parachutes on an empty liquid hydrogen tank
was just about useless. We've estimated this to cost about $300
million and take 18 months. If you think this figure is optimistic
then I'd like to know (a) Why? (b) What figure would be realistic
in your estimation? (c) Why is your figure superior to our analysis?
(d) How does this impact our project's overall profitability?

As a final note please recall that the LEM training vehicle was a VTVL
spacecraft used to train Apollo Lunar astronauts. It took a few tens of
millions and a few months to develop. Its total delta vee and control
regime was far superior to our little recovery system. It was also a
piloted vehicle which made it even more expensive than anything we're
planning