Random Thought: ISS Module Delivery Without Shuttle

One of the reasons why I’ve started doing these “Random Thoughts” blog posts was in order to toss out some ideas that I just don’t have the time to research completely, yet still sound interesting. On some of my more detailed posts, I can often spend 4-6 hours writing, doing math, looking figures up, etc. Because of that hurdle I post less frequently, and unfortunately I was noticing that some interesting ideas were falling completely by the wayside. It’s generally considered bad to sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity, but I look at it more as it being better to let out an idea that is half-baked and get early feedback than to sit on it until I’ve forgotten about it.

So without further ado, my latest musing.

In case you haven’t noticed, I don’t like the Shuttle. I don’t like Shuttle Derived Boosters. I spent half my life in Northern Utah, but I really don’t like SRBs, and have never been that impressed with them. I’d really like to have a reason to retire the Shuttle sooner rather than later. I know it isn’t going to happen, but a guy can wish can’t he?

One of the key problems with retiring the Shuttle sooner (or even in 2010) is that there are many ISS modules and payloads that were designed specifically to be launched on the Shuttle, and can’t just be launched on a standard EELV. The argument has gone that if we don’t keep Shuttle flying, we can’t complete ISS, and without ISS there won’t be a market for COTS. Never mind the fact that NASA just undercut COTS by signing a contract with Russia for crew and cargo services out through, was it 2011?

So, for a long time I’ve been noodling alternatives to the Shuttle for launching such payloads.

So here’s the idea. Well, here’s some background first. CSI recently unveiled their LEOExpress idea for cargo delivery to space stations (ISS as well as Bigelow). The basic idea is you make a cargo canister that has a “Progress Nose” on both ends, and a cargo section in the middle. You launch this canister on any existing LV (Atlas, Delta, eventually Falcon or K-1 as well). The upper stage of the LV holds the canister in place until a Progress can undock from the space station, and rendezvous and dock with the canister. The LV upper stage then separates and deorbits, and the Progress hauls the cargo up to the station where the free-end of the cargo canister then docks into the Progress’s original docking port. After use the progress then disposes of the canister and itself. It’s a kind of cool idea that really doesn’t feature a lot of new technologies, while still opening up a bunch of new capabilities.

Currently the canisters envisioned all have the same OD as the existing progress module. But what if you expanded those canisters? Say to the same internal volume and shape as the Shuttle payload bay? Use composite structures to transmit the loads from the ISS modules into the canister in the exact same manner as on Shuttle. Provide all the services packaged in so none of the modules have to be redesigned. Sure it’s wasteful to toss away such a payload canister after each mission, but these are just stripped down payload bays with the minimum number of services for the job.

What most people don’t realize is that while the Shuttle can put almost 30 tons into a due-east, minimal Low Earth Orbit, it can only put about half of that (~32,600lb IIRC) all the way to the station. This is because Shuttle has a very low MR “upper stage” and is operating at the bad end of the Rocket Equation. Vehicles like Atlas V 552 and Delta IVH could likely launch more to ISS, even once you take the hit for the “shuttle bay canister”.

Anyhow, that’s the idea. I’ve run the numbers, and the payload is heavy enough compared to the Progress tank capacity that you would need to deliver the cargo to just outside of the ISS operating area, and just have the Progress supply the “last-mile” so to speak. And I don’t have specific numbers on how much Delta-IVH or Atlas V 551 or 552 can deliver to an ISS altitude and inclination, but at least from preliminary investigations such an idea could be doable. Since we’re going to retire the Shuttle soon anyway, reverse engineering one of their cargo bays to make such an expendable cargo-bay-canister might actually be a good idea. There are some modules that are never planning on flying as is, and this might provide them a second chance. Plus if it were done quick enough, you might be able to retire the orbiters a year sooner, and funnel some of that money into more productive purposes.

Just a thought.

The following two tabs change content below.
Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff

President/CEO at Altius Space Machines
Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
Jonathan Goff

About Jonathan Goff

Jonathan Goff is a space technologist, inventor, and serial space entrepreneur who created the Selenian Boondocks blog. Jon was a co-founder of Masten Space Systems, and is the founder and CEO of Altius Space Machines, a space robotics startup in Broomfield, CO. His family includes his wife, Tiffany, and five boys: Jarom (deceased), Jonathan, James, Peter, and Andrew. Jon has a BS in Manufacturing Engineering (1999) and an MS in Mechanical Engineering (2007) from Brigham Young University, and served an LDS proselytizing mission in Olongapo, Philippines from 2000-2002.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Random Thought: ISS Module Delivery Without Shuttle

  1. Josh says:

    Jon-

    It’s a great idea and one I’ve suggested many times before. It gets laughed at or roundly rejected by the Shuttle Forever crowd. The idea has more merit than they will give it. Your proposal is to turn the ISS modules into Parom-style canisters, it’s interesting. My suggestion previously had been to use the Delta/Atlas/Proton payload shroud into a clone of the STS’s physical bay, with a modified upper stage providing resources. Alternatively a “wrapper” to simulate the Shuttle’s longeron pins would work, as you suggest. I really like the idea of using Progress hatches, except that it would complicate some of the US module’s operation (minor nit).

    One solution to the limited Progress’ delta-v is to simply use two of them. Launch the module and Progress #2 toward ISS, they dock and then meet Progress #1 coming from ISS. Three move toward ISS with #1 undocking and deorbitting partway through. #2 docks the module to station. Feasible?

    It’s Yuri’s Night! Providence Party Page: http://www.postcardstospace.com/yuri.html

    Josh

  2. Kelly Starks says:

    I think a big problem is you’re just thinking of the shuttle orbiter as a payload shroud. So for example you use the booster and shroud as one part of the shuttle, the progress tug as another part, and drop the personal transport and cargo support (power, manned cargo coddling, etc) functions of the orbiter. All to get rid of the Orbiter (which is about the only part of the STS stack with any real potential), and find a alternate way to finish the ISS (which has no use in its own right).

    That’s a lot of extra systems and system launches.

    Even if the idea had merit:

    – its to late to implement it give NASA couldn’t possibly get it through the political hoops before the 2010 end for the shuttle.

    – its unlikely to save any money since it would take NASA billions to field it, and since the already contracted for all the gear to fly out the shuttle program, at best you save a couple hundred million a flight compared to flying the shuttles. (Though you look stupid for wasting all that money on shuttle parts you bought and now can’t use.)

    – the new design has no long term use for NASA. (if they wanted a unmanned 20+ ton to LEO capacity, they’d by some EELV flights.)

    – NASA ends its manned space program earlier (when shuttle stops flying, NASA stops being more then another customer for seats on a Russian bird to the ISS).

    – NASA unemployies its armies of shuttle support staffs earlier. Hence loses its value to congress.

    All this to stop flying orbiters, I.E. US gov manned space, a bit earlier??

  3. Kelly Starks says:

    You said

    > It’s a kind of cool idea that really doesn’t
    >feature a lot of new technologies, while still
    >opening up a bunch of new capabilities.

    What capabilities?

    I should say just as a counterpoint, If I had any imput into a post shutle system, I’ld build a new shuttle system build around a biamese capable orbiter. Fully fly back, fix all the bugs with the orbiters to drop their maintence and other cost per flight by a order of magnitude or two, adn up the safty by a few orders of magnitude.

    For flights of cargo past the current orbiters delta-V limits, field a tanker orbiter. Launch it to refuel the cargo orbiter in its lower LEo orbit, so it can get to about any earth orbit (or Lunar probably) you want.

    All this tech was outlined in lots of proposals over the decades. Politically undoable since the improvements would unemploy armies of shuttle related folks. But if were talking wish lists here…

    The results systems capacities are much greater then anything else being proposed. Capable of servicing about any mission folks are thinking of. The higher potential flight rates lower costs pretty linearly.

    Just my what if idea.

  4. tankmodeler says:

    >>All to get rid of the Orbiter (which is about the only part of the STS stack with any real potential)

    I disagree with that statement. The concept of a reusable orbiter has potential. Lots in fact, but this particular incarnation of that concept is pretty fatally flawed right down to its bones.

    There are so many systems in the shuttle that have been optimised away from goals of low recurring cost and flight safety that I think the design is unsavable. You would need a team of airliner designers making a vehicle that incorporates low costs per seat/mile as a strict design requirement to see the benefit of a recoverable system. There would be major changes to the design that would preclude using almost anything in the current shuttle design.

  5. Kelly Starks says:

    Tankmodeler we’re pretty much in agreement. The orbiters as is, are a mess. The general configuration (cabin, bay, wings, etc) is very capable – hence the shuttles history of launching most of the cargo the US ever lifted, and 3/4th of the people it ever launched, and been a mobile base of operation for a lot of different missions and experiments.

    However other then the general hull form you pretty much need to start over. From the brittle tiled surface, aluminum structure, SSMEs, drop tank and OMS pods, and pretty much all of its ‘70’s or earlier systems – need to go. I’ld call it a frame up rebuild, but the frame needs to be replaced to.

    😉

    However, studies done for the DC-X program have shown that reconfiguring and streamlining internal systems, adding a few hatches and putting stuff near them, and replacing dated systems with currently on the shelf, can lower labor hours per flight by a jaw dropping factor of about a million!

    From talking to someone on the early shuttle program, they said their were so many out of left field demands, major design decisions made pretty much off the cuff, and general lack of time to consider operability – the results is embarrassingly sloppy. Also given the decades of proposals of simple fixes to make major improvements in operability ignored (Congress vetos labor saving proposals on programs they mainly value as jobs programs).

    However, that leaves a hell of a lot of good ideas patiently waiting on various dusty shelves. So a new orbiter might look pretty much like the current ones, but have no more in common under the surface then a F-18 super hornet has with the original models of decades earlier.

  6. ザイツェヴ says:

    Right away I can see a couple of technical problems (not going into Kelly’s territory).

    First, delivered modules end on the wrong end of the station, and it’s very likely that the station arm can’t reach them.

    Second, if the canister is big enough, it will obscure Kurs’ antennas on Progress.

  7. kert says:

    the only major problem with that idea that makes it completely unworkable, is that it does not include the letters ATK. that means with Mike Griffins NASA, this just does not fly.

    No matter how many canned ISS modules ( centrifuge, anyone ? ) you could save this way, no matter how much money, or no matter how much sooner you could start building the next incarnation of state-run space trucks.

  8. tankmodeler says:

    >>The general configuration (cabin, bay, wings, etc) is very capable.

    Yes, it’s capable, but far too much so, in fact. To sell the shuttle to the US Military (to get the launch rate up to the completely fictitious numbers they used to bamboozle Nixon and his congress) the designers were forced to accept a cross range requirement that changed the shuttle from something looking like Steve Austin’s crashed HL-10 to something with identifiable wings and a tail. To make that behemouth as durable as it needed to be to actually fly each shuttle 6-8 times a year for the promised spare change per flight (statements known to be false the minute they were uttered) pushed the weight so high that you’d need SRBs the size of a couple of Saturn Vs just to shift it off the pad.

    Take a look at the Dyna Soar. It’s no surprise that this little spaceplane (with never more than 1-2 days duration on orbit) had to be hoisted into orbit by the 2.5 million lb thrust Titan IIIC. It weighed a ton! Several, in fact. But, it was designed with a metallic skin that could take impacts, was bolted in place and could be repaired with known technologies. It was robust, mostly because the technology to make it as fragile as the shuttle didn’t exist in 1960, but that robustness would have permitted it to be turned around in very short order.

    Anything that is going to be reused cheaply to get back from orbit has to look a lot more like an HL-10 (or the Lockheed CEV proposal) and a lot less like the old 2001 Orion.

    If, on the other hand, you mean that a lifting body with just a cargo hold and crew cabin and a very limited cross range capability is a good concept, then I agree wholeheartedly. We need to design a reusable shuttle that moves people and small amounts of cargo quickly and reliably to and from orbit. The boosters will be proportionately bigger than we are used to for the payload and this will cause people to think they are not getting their money’s worth (or that the boosters are waaay too expensive for the payload orbited) but the payoff comes when you repack the chutes or clean the dust off the berylium shingles or just top up the fuel in the sub maximised engines and fly the bugger with no more trouble than that. It can be done, it just creates a spacecraft that’s proportionately a lot heavier than we’re used to.

    It’s the initial development cost that is proportionaltely higher for resuables and we just have NOT been able to get past that. No national space program (with the exception, it turns out, of Russia’s Soyuz) has generated the consistent sortie rate of one vehicle to justify the expense of a reusable system. The Shuttle _could_ have done it if they had been allowed to build for the mission they wanted and not to lug everyone’s everything wherever they wanted to send it.

    Take the SRBs as is, add a flyback or at least a recoverable main tank, reduce the shuttle’s size by at least 2/3 and the disposible payload to orbit by 75% and you probably have a system, based on the existing components, where you can put enough mass into the orbiter portion to make it built like a Mack truck. Cut back the engine performance to lower the ssytem strain and beef it up as well and you might get to the 100+ missions per orbiter that was promised so long ago. Put the margin back into everything such that, like every aircraft in commercial service, no single failure should cause a catastrophic failure of the entire ship.

    What would that look like, though? It would be a spacecraft probably not much bigger than an old Apollo CSM pair on top of the current shuttle stack. Politicians and the public would look at it and say, “Hey, I’m spending billions developing something this large to put something that small in orbit? No way.” They’d never get to the point of how inexpensive the thing would be to operate. And even if they did, the lack of jobs in their districts for turnaround would actually make things worse. They’d just never fund it in the first place.

    Business, on the other hand, seldome does things for only one or a limited number of times. If you could get 3 tons of disposable to orbit for the right price, you’d be able to generate the sortie rate that would pay off developing a large booster/small spacecraft combo. But it would be really expensive and the commercial market isn’t ready to trust pioneers who tout cheap access to orbit but needing a LOT of money to do so. So Mr. Musk and Jon and the all the other dreamers are left trying to improve Nasa’s methods incrementally because no-one is yet ready to fund the “next big step”. 🙂

    Jeez, that wasn’t a short diatribe was it?

  9. Kelly Starks says:

    Ok tankmodeler breath deep, relax – move away from the sharp objects…

    😉

    Rule one for the shuttle, and most all gove vehicle programs, is that it has to be able to do all you want – because your not going to get to do a second craft and split the assignments.

    Actualy the military had little interst in the 1000 mile cross range. They just added it and the kitchen sink, and expected to have to negotiate away some to keep others. NASA ran with all of them.

    But given the real bad blood between the AF and NASA, its not surprising they didn’t go out of their way to clear up the mistake.

    Oh, lifting bodies weren’t really considered. They flew like bricks, and the smaller lower surface area gets a lot hotter.

    Durability is a issue, but its not weight they needed, but better made parts. I mean if you getting avionics computers from trhe old stuff striped off B-52s – its time to go a bit more upmarket!

    😉

    And the craft was never designed for servicing, which is what really drove

    Dyna Soar was a great little ship. Built like a tank. Overkill perhaps, but still wish they had a chance to fly. Not as big a utility craft as shuttle, but still a great first cut vehicle. Great growth potential..

    When you think about it, the Dyna soar wasn’t that much heavier then Gemini and its SMs, and a lot more durable and cheaper to operate.

    Shuttles tiles were a stupid cost saving idea – that didn’t save cost, but did make it far harder to fly – and live through flying.

    Even then they had better skins that could have been used. Or, you could simply go with a lower wing loading and lower the reentry temps to something that more normal materials can take. A SR-&1 for example could pretty well take reentry temps with its current skin. (Though the leading edges would need a upgrade.)

    Wings are a big help in reusability and safety.

    Its also good IF YOU TEST THE CRAFT A LITTLE BEFORE YOU COUNT IT AS READY FOR NORMAL OPS!!!

    I mean you need a few hundred flights to certify a Cessna with new avionics. A shuttle got 3?

    > We need to design a reusable shuttle that moves people and
    > small amounts of cargo quickly and reliably to and from orbit.
    > The boosters will be proportionately bigger than we are used
    > to for the payload ..

    Just go biamese. ( I did a write up of it in some detail, if your curious email me. kellyst@aol.com) Twin orbiters saves a lot of R&D costs, and cuts your overhead compared to specialized separate stage designs. Use off the shelf gear, and materials and equip developed since the Regan (or Kennedy) admin. You could cut cost to orbit WAY down, and keep the same capacities.

    Agree with the quick little shuttle. Rebuild the orbiters for serviceability, you’ld likely be able to turn them around and restack them in a couple days. Quicker then that a SSTO, or TSTO (preferably HTHL and airport friemdly) would be the way to go. Both could get you away from major centers, so that’s a good idea.

    Though you really do need a shuttle sized craft for human exploration. Breaking the craft down to 5-10 ton segments is a serious cost/reliability problem. And I’m not sure tgheres enough little cargo to be worth focusing on it exclusively.

    > It’s the initial development cost that is proportionaltely higher for
    > resuables and we just have NOT been able to get past that.

    Oh its not that much more expensive! I mean EELV was a couple billion dollars, a replacement shuttle was bid at 10-15 for same era. That pays back pretty quickly.

    The big killer is we fly so seldom, nothing gets used enough to eat its overhead. World wide we launch a couple dozen times a year? Most launchers only launch less then 100 times in the fleet service life. Nothing can deliver reasonable costs with that.

    Oh, and Soyoz isn’t that great either. Given how long they have been flying them, inflation pretty much ate the overhead costs – though their per flight costs and safty overall isn’t great.

    > …The Shuttle _could_ have done it if they had been allowed
    > to build for the mission they wanted and not to lug everyone’s
    > everything wherever they wanted to send it…

    I don’t follow? Fewer flights, lower flight rates, ups the cost per flight?

    > …Cut back the engine performance to lower the ssytem strain and
    > beef it up as well and you might get to the 100+ missions per
    > orbiter that was promised so long ago…

    Hey the old RL-10 and J-2s could fly over a hundred flights. Its disgusting that the SSMEs were such lemons. Course there was a lot of controversy and raised eyebrows when Rocketdyne won that contract.

  10. David Stever says:

    Jon-
    For getting a ISS cargo to orbit, remember that there are a couple of outfits that have proposed to get a module close enough for the grapple fixture to pick it up and link it to a docking port. In what you propose, I wonder if we really need a Progress-style docking system; if we just fly it close enough for the Canajians to grab it and slam it home. That might save a few bucks as well. Maybe we can do that with a Bigelow bunkhouse module, a few years from now?

  11. tankmodeler says:

    Kelly,

    I’ll email you about the biamese paper, for sure.

    >>Though you really do need a shuttle sized craft for human exploration. Breaking the craft down to 5-10 ton segments is a serious cost/reliability problem. And I’m not sure theres enough little cargo to be worth focusing on it exclusively.

    See, this is where I think the small shuttle concept woul be a leader for future larger reusables. Something that is going to fly so infrequently as exploration missions that can’t be broken into 3 ton packages could use conventional launchers. If you have 3 tons to orbit for 1/20 of what we pay today, you will all of a sudden find commercial spacecraft designers spending a LOT of time and effort to force the new payloads into 3 ton chunks. It happens all the time now in industries that you seldom think are governed by such things. For example, if you take a look at the new German army self propelled gun, the PzH2000, its turret has a very odd shape. Until you see the European minimum standard tunnel template and realise they have rearranged the turret innards to fit within a 3″ offset of that template. In WW II, the US Army kept using Shermans even though they were not good enough to stand up to the German tanks specifically because the Sherman was a size that could be shipped in existing ships efficiently and pass over existing bridging equipment. The loss of life was acceptable because they just couldn’t get enough of anything bigger/better to the front to do the job. (Guess what my other hobby is, eh?)

    The point is, if the benefit is large enough, the cargo will, all of a sudden, start to fit the container. So far that has not been a driver because all ways to
    orbit cost about the same. Introduce an order of magnitude drop in cost, but with a significant payload configuration constraint and you will find that payloads will start to meet that constraint.

    Get a small shuttle and 3 disposable tons to orbit for 1/20 of the current cost per ton and you will find lots of applications for on-orbit assembly and fuel transfer. If you could launch a 6 ton sattelite with a 6 ton IUS equivalent for a total of, say 1/5 of a single launch carrying the whole shebang, there would be a market for that (I use 1/5 here instead of 1/20 to allow for the fact that the new satellite design might be more expensive and the support for 4 x 3ton launches may cost more than the 1/20 for just the one launch).

    >>The big killer is we fly so seldom, nothing gets used enough to eat its overhead. World wide we launch a couple dozen times a year? Most launchers only launch less then 100 times in the fleet service life. Nothing can deliver reasonable costs with that.

    I agree and that’s why I posit a much smaller orbiter. If we could get it down to 1/10 – 1/20 of the current costs per ton to orbit then flight frequency would increase because everyone would be finishing integration on orbit, not on the ground. A 30 ton payload may be 35 tons if built less efficiently for orbital assembly, but if that takes 13 launches to orbit at 1/20 the cost per ton, you’re still ahead by a lot of money. Really huge payloads that really, really need to go as one piece can still pay the full whack prices we do today. Costs will drive the rest to more modular construction for orbital integration.

    >>Its also good IF YOU TEST THE CRAFT A LITTLE BEFORE YOU COUNT IT AS READY FOR NORMAL OPS!!!

    Absolutely. Even better if the first flight of the bloody thing doesn’t have to be manned, eh? Given what I know of NASA safety people from today, I have no idea who thought this was an acceptable way to test the shuttle.

    >>> …The Shuttle _could_ have done it if they had been allowed
    > to build for the mission they wanted and not to lug everyone’s
    > everything wherever they wanted to send it…

    >>I don’t follow? Fewer flights, lower flight rates, ups the cost per flight?

    No, I meant build a smaller shuttle, smaller cargo and cross range capacity and fly more often for a lot less money per flight. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    Dave,

    >>if we just fly it close enough for the Canajians to grab it and slam it home.

    Speaking as one of those Canajians, that is exactly how the Japanese cargo modules and, I think the Space X COTS program are supposed to run.

  12. bill says:

    Just a few questions:

    1. In principle, it seems like a good idea, but I don’t do politics. Any change in the perceived direction of ‘progress’ would probably be soundly rejected by the parties of interest. Generally speaking in organizations..

    Change = Bad

    2. The other question is “Could the planned shuttle payloads survive the g-loads of the expendable launch vehicles?” I noticed that the Falcon 1 spec show’s a maximum 6g load at first stage cut-off, which is about twice as bad as the shuttle IIRC.

  13. Kelly Starks says:

    tankmodeler

    > I’ll email you about the biamese paper, for sure.
    Already in the mail in Word form.

    >>Though you really do need a shuttle sized craft for human
    >> exploration. Breaking the craft down to 5-10 ton segments
    >>is a serious cost/reliability problem. And I’m not sure
    >>theres enough little cargo to be worth focusing on it exclusively.

    > See, this is where I think the small shuttle concept would be
    > a leader for future larger reusables. Something that is going
    > to fly so infrequently as exploration missions that can’t be
    > broken into 3 ton packages could use conventional launchers.

    Actually, this would be a conventional launcher – though you might be able to cut cost to orbit down by a factor a 10-100. (You’ll notice my concept also has a strap on option that can lift over 100 tons.) The margin cost per flight could easily be droped by 3-4 orders of mag through redesign for serviceability – past that the bulk of launch costs with shuttle were overhead costs to sustain the bases and pay for the development. In a commercial operation that could largely be cut outt, but NASA politically can’t – though higher flight rates could cut that per flight even with the high “legacy” costs.

    > If you have 3 tons to orbit for 1/20 of what we pay today, you
    > will all of a sudden find commercial spacecraft designers
    > spending a LOT of time and effort to force the new payloads
    >into 3 ton chunks.—
    I have another concept for a more marketable dual use shuttle that given the markets I identified could cut cost to orbit by a factor of 1/1000.
    That one I’ve been told I should have you sign a non disclosure to see.

    😉

    It’s all in the flight rate.

    However, even with that, trying to lift big structures in biz jet sized chunks is really a waste. A craft like the biamese would be a good craft to have around to develop major industries, stations, exploration. With secoundary smaller craft like I just alluded to to shuttle up lots of flights of little stuff (food, fuel, concrete, whatever.) to work with the bulky items the big ship sometimes flys.

    And lets face it. Theres a lot of stuff in the 10+ ton flight weight now.

    >==the PzH2000, its turret has a very odd shape. Until you
    > see the European minimum standard tunnel template and
    > realise they have rearranged the turret innards to fit within
    > a 3″ offset of that template. ==
    Yeah, I was on the Army Crusader program for a while and saw the same thing.

    >== (Guess what my other hobby is, eh?)
    Ahhh wait, its on the top of my post..

    😉

    > Introduce an order of magnitude drop in cost, but with
    > a significant payload configuration constraint and you
    >will find that payloads will start to meet that constraint.

    Hey you can do a order of magnitude cost cut with the existing sizes of you just change the civil service and political graft rules shuttle flies under. L/M and McDonnel doglas were willing to contracturally promis at least that cost reduction with their proposed shuttle replacement craft – assuming no increase ni NASA fight rates.

    ===
    >>Its also good IF YOU TEST THE CRAFT A LITTLE BEFORE YOU COUNT
    >> IT AS READY FOR NORMAL OPS!!!

    > Absolutely. Even better if the first flight of the bloody
    > thing doesn’t have to be manned, eh?

    Ever aircraft is maned in test flights. Course they are generally designed to be about 100,000 times safer! And they actually test subsystems before they integrate them and fly it full up!!!

    > Given what I know of NASA safety people from today, I have
    > no idea who thought this was an acceptable way to test the shuttle.

    Its NASA policy to “manage for success”. I.E. plan you testing and schedules for the assumption that everything works right the first time.

    No, I’m not kidding. I worked at NASA for 15 years.
    Yes its insane, and no professional aerospace firm would do that. They all have to get folks to do what NASA demands, not wharts right – if they want the contracts.

    >>> …The Shuttle _could_ have done it if they had been allowed
    >>> to build for the mission they wanted and not to lug everyone’s
    >>> everything wherever they wanted to send it…

    >>I don’t follow? Fewer flights, lower flight rates, ups the cost per flight?

    > No, I meant build a smaller shuttle, smaller cargo and
    > cross range capacity and fly more often for a lot less money
    > per flight. Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

    Oh. Well for NASA the flights would cost the same if they were flying a dyna soar or a shuttle. You’ll notice “Apollo on Steroids” comes out about the same price to.

    They had wanted to do a 10-15 ton capacity craft rather then 25-30, but the extra size wasn’t a big cost driver, and as long as your in for a penny in for a pound.

  14. dave w says:

    “Its NASA policy to “manage for
    success”. I.E. plan you testing
    and schedules for the assumption
    that everything works right the
    first time.

    No, I’m not kidding. I worked at
    NASA for 15 years. Yes its insane,
    and no professional aerospace firm
    would do that. They all have to
    get folks to do what NASA demands,
    not wharts right – if they want
    the contracts.”

    Unfortunately, the contractors are
    probably obligated (both legally
    and by internal policy) to
    “compete with each other” for
    the contracts NASA offers, which
    enables NASA to say “if you won’t
    do it OUR way, we’ll go give our
    money to someone who will”…
    if the contractors were in a position to present a united front,
    and all said “no, if we’re doing
    this at all we will do it with a
    proper test & development program”
    then NASA might be forced to learn
    a little sanity!

    -dw

  15. Anonymous says:

    It could not be done quickly enough to retire the orbiters sooner. You’d be lucky to field it by the end of 2010. Its only use would be to carry ISS payloads left behind when the shuttle retires, not carrying the ones still on the shuttle manifest.

    A strongback to transmit launch loads from the longeron trunnion pins is all fine and good, but shuttle ascent maxes out at 3 g and that’s all most shuttle payloads are rated for. Most ELVs have launch loads higher than that. A 1.4 factor of safety gets you up to 4.2 g but launching with zero margin is dumb.

    Attitude control is a necessity, not just to allow Progress docking but also for thermal control. Most ISS modules are intended to go straight from the shuttle payload bay to ISS and their thermal range is limited with that in mind.

    You don’t recall correctly on the shuttle’s payload capacity to ISS. Node 3 is over 38,800 lbm and most of the remaining ISS payload weights are over 34K. That is still within the payload range of the EELV-heavies but your cannister – including its attitude control and docking systems – is going to have to be *very* light. Converting the payload bay of a retired orbiter is not going to cut it.

  16. Jon Goff says:

    Anonymous,
    You and several others have made a couple of good points. I’m not sure what the maximum G-loading on the Atlas/Delta Heavies are, but they might be lower than on some of the other Atlas/Delta variants. The much bigger payload would make a noticeable difference in burnout mass compared to some of the smaller variants, but I’m not sure to be honest. That could be a showstopper.

    I’m not so worried about the attitude control bit, because if you were doing this CSI style, the thing would always have attitude control, either coming from the booster while the payload is still attached and waiting for Progress, or from Progress itself.

    As for the payload numbers, thank! I was having some problems finding the specifics, if I was off by a bit that does make the number a lot tighter, but still possibly doable.

    The single biggest potential showstopper is that I had misremembered what sort of docking adapter the Shuttle used. I thought it was the one used for Shuttle/Mir, and thus I figured that the payload canister could dock to it. However someone was saying in comments that this isn’t the case, and that all the ports it could dock to are beyond the reach of the station arm. Does anyone know if that’s the case? That would seem to be the biggest potential showstopper.

    All in all, I’m glad I got some feedback. If the showstoppers turn out to have reasonable workarounds that would be interesting. As for actually being able to implement this…I doubt it would happen. It might be nice, allowing you to retire the Shuttle Orbiter earlier and fly some of the payloads that would’ve flown on that on this instead. But its a political nonstarter for anything other than the payloads like the Centrifuge that would never have flown otherwise.

    The main point of the exercise was trying to point out that just because we’re retiring the shuttle doesn’t mean that we’re losing the ability to launch Shuttle class payloads. Only the largest payloads to due-east trajectories.

    ~Jon

  17. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know about the Atlas, but according to the Delta IV Payload Planner’s Guide, the maximum load for a 30-40 klb payload on the Delta IV-H is around 4.5 g (Figure 4-17).

    The shuttle docking ports on ISS are not equipped with the Kurs-P system used for Progress automated dockings. Only the Russian docking ports are equipped with that.

  18. Jon Goff says:

    Anonymous,
    That makes sense that only the Russian ports would have the Kurs equipment. Am I correct in assuming that the robotic arm on the station can’t reach things docked to those Russian ports? If the arm can’t reach the Russian ports, then that would make the deal a whole lot less interesting, as you would have to use some other form of rendezvous and docking/berthing (which gives up many of the benefits of the CSI approach).

    As for the G-loading, I know that the RS-58 can throttle fairly far (something like 60%). It may very well be possible for LEO missions to shape the trajectory such to limit the G’s at a lower level. I’m not sure, and I’m also not sure if by so doing you’d cut into performance enough to make it a non-starter. Lastly, it would be interesting to know what G-loads those payloads really were designed for. While the shuttle has pretty darned low peak-G’s compared to most boosters, if the payload was designed so that it could land safely in case of an emergency landing or somesuch they might have spec’d the max G-loads higher. But that’s total speculation unless someone can say one way or another.

    Thanks for the feedback. I’m not wedded to the idea, but I did want to see if people like yourself could bring additional information to the table, because the concept at least sounded intriguing.

    ~Jon

  19. Anonymous says:

    One of the Russian docking ports, on Zarya nadir, is SSRMS accessible. However, that may not be the case once Node 3 and the DCM are installed.

    Peak load on a shuttle emergency landing is 2.5 g in the “normal” (Nz or pointing through the payload bay floor) direction.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The current issue of Ad Astra discusses Russia’s proposed ‘Parom’ ferry to do exactly this mission.

    Jim O

    http://www.jamesoberg.com

  21. Kellyst says:

    > if the contractors were in a position to present a united front,
    > and all said “no, if we’re doing this at all we will do it with a
    > proper test & development program” then NASA might be
    > forced to learn a little sanity!
    >
    > -dw

    There are a lot of laws against refusing to do what a federal agency demands, and many of NASA insane demands are driven by Congressional edits – and congress don’t take no for and answer either.

  22. tankmodeler says:

    > if the contractors were in a position to present a united front,
    > and all said “no, if we’re doing this at all we will do it with a
    > proper test & development program” then NASA might be
    > forced to learn a little sanity!
    >
    > -dw

    Working for one of these contractors I can say that this isn’t going to happen, and not just for the reason that Kelly mentions. When your customer asks for something stupid, you tell hims as many times as you can that it’s stupid. But at some point they just tell you to shut up and do the job. So, you shut up and do it the way they wanted. You then proceed to build into the pricing, staffing and schedule all the safeguards you can to make sure you aren’t bitten in the ass if things go south. It still isn’t enough, generally, but you’ve also built a lot of risk money into the contract and as “success oriented” items fail to come to pass, you dip into that and pass on the pain to the customer.

    There are occasionally some things you just can’t build into the schedule, but you do your absolute damnedest to cover both your own ass and the customers if at all possible.

    Rather like the ST:TNG episode where they find Scotty in the transporter buffer. After Geordie tells Picard a true estimate of how long it will take him to do a tough job, Scotty says to him:

    Scotty: Oh. You didn’t tell him how long it would REALLY take, did you?
    Lieutenant: Of course I did.
    Scotty: Oh, laddie. You’ve got a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker.

    Some customers require more of that than others….

    Paul

  23. dave w says:

    kellyst: “many of NASA insane
    demands are driven by
    Congressional edits – and congress
    don’t take no for and answer either. “

    Hmmm… is the policy of “manage
    for success – assume there will be
    no debugging needed” driven by any
    specific Congressional requirement?

    -dw

  24. tankmodeler says:

    >>Hmmm… is the policy of “manage
    for success – assume there will be
    no debugging needed” driven by any
    specific Congressional requirement?

    Generally, it’s a combination of a Congress that says thou shalt do such and such combined with NASA’s really expensive way of doing anything and a budget that won’t cover what Congress wants with NASA’s way of doing things.

    Paul

  25. Kellyst says:

    >>kellyst: “many of NASA insane
    demands are
    >>driven by Congressional edits – and congress
    >> don’t take no for and answer either. “

    > Hmmm… is the policy of “manage
    for success – assume
    > there will be no debugging needed” driven by
    >any specific Congressional requirement?
    >
    >-dw

    The requirement that you generate no bad PR. Headdlines of any program dificulties now a days get programs canceled from public pressure no nto waste funds on troubled programs (unless they are in my district).

  26. Kellyst says:

    >Generally, it’s a combination of a Congress that
    >says thou shalt do such and such combined with
    >NASA’s really expensive way of doing anything and
    >a budget that won’t cover what Congress wants with
    >NASA’s way of doing things.
    >
    >Paul

    To be fair, NASA (and the DODs) expensive ways of doing things were also congressionally mandated. Like the $100 dollar hammers that were $1.25 in hammer and $99 of paperwork to assure their was no waste or misuse of funds.

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

  27. Kellyst says:

    > Hmmm… is the policy of “manage
    for success – assume
    >there will be no debugging needed” driven by
    >any specific Congressional requirement?
    >
    > -dw

    Oh, a personal no debugging needed story. I was in the space station freedom program in a support contract in Reston Virginia (the AIAA is now in my old office). The NASA head of the subcontract studied TQMS management. Missed asll the stuff about quality process development, feeding back lessons learned in tests etc. He read it to mean that if you assure the paperwork (SCRS and software design change descriptions) are correct, no testing is necessary. So he implemented that and dismantled all testing facilities. First drafts of new software went production.

    Why yes, it was a disaster.

  28. dave w says:

    DW:
    “is the policy of “manage for
    success – assume there will be no
    debugging needed” driven by any
    specific Congressional requirement?

    KS:
    The requirement that you generate
    no bad PR. Headdlines of any
    program dificulties now a days get
    programs canceled from public
    pressure no nto waste funds on
    troubled programs (unless they are
    in my district).

    Weird “alice in wonderland” world
    where normal design & development
    activities would be seen as a risk
    of “bad PR” by appearing to indicate
    “program difficulties”!

    If that is indeed the perceptual
    tropism of the current political
    climate, it goes a long way to
    explain why we’ve been so lame
    about seeing any genuine X-project
    vehicles through their development
    process lately: by that definition,
    such a program would be inherently
    “troubled”!

  29. Kellyst says:

    Bingo Dave!

    It also explains insanity like rescheduling the Challenger to a bad weather day from a good weather day – because on the GOOD weather day VP Bush could come by to watch, which raised a unacceptable risk of heightened publicity of a launch problem.

    The bad weather day just risked the loss of ship and crew.

  30. Anonymous says:

    It also explains insanity like rescheduling the Challenger to a bad weather day from a good weather day – because on the GOOD weather day VP Bush could come by to watch, which raised a unacceptable risk of heightened publicity of a launch problem.

    The bad weather day just risked the loss of ship and crew.

    I hope you’re kidding… this is a load of bull.

  31. Kellyst says:

    Sorry, no I’m not kidding.

    I beleave the insident was documented in the book “Challenger a major malfunction.” (though its been 20 years since I read it), but in general NASA avoids political or image risks – but is surprizingly tolerant of safty risks.

  32. David Stever says:

    Kellyst said…
    Sorry, no I’m not kidding.
    I believe the incident was documented in the book “Challenger a major malfunction.” (though its been 20 years since I read it), but in general NASA avoids political or image risks – but is surprisingly tolerant of safety risks.

    …At the time, I thought the Challenger launch was scheduled for that day because Reagan’s State of the Union Speech was that night, and he wanted to allude to that morning’s launch in the speech, so NASA Signed off on it, scheduling it for a day with temps below freezing (which I think they had never done before).

  33. Kellyst says:

    Thats not the why that I heard.

    The reason they don’t schedule flights for days with freezing weather – is the orbiters not rated for temps that cold on the ground, adn their are safty issues with ice on the pad.

    “… in a emergence, run across the use covered catwalk hundreds of feet in the air to the elevator – that hopefully will work..”

    And of course the odds of chucks of ice falling on the orbiters goes way up.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Has anybody looked at the concept for low cost space access described at http://www.skyramp.org ?
    They seem to have a workable idea, but I never see anyone talk about it.
    NASA is supposed to be working on something like this using Maglev, for future use.

  35. Anonymous says:

    Or wait a few years for someone to restart a new serise of shuttles.
    but my view is expenabile rockets, and future shuttles will be needed for future space stations,and veliclues that that are sciene fiction.

    christopher coulter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *