I should probably quit picking on the Falcons, but the possibilities are too much fun to leave alone. In January of 2008, Jon posted an article on Fleet Launched Orbital Craft, or FLOC. InÂ the article, it is suggested that many identical bimese craft launch simultaneously from one general area. As one of the bimese craft is drained, it is dropped leaving the other fueled twin to carry on. The fully fueled twin mates with one of the other launched craft and begins propellant crossfeed anew until it is empty. The empties drop off and the full twin keeps going in a series of dockings and propellant transfers followed by another staging. The article mentioned up to 32 units taking off with a series of up to five dockings/transfers/staging events, depending on how one counts. 32,16,8,4,2,1. payload potential was enourmous.
The FalconIX Heavy is projected to have a payload of 53 tons. The SLS is supposed to eventually launch 130 tons at a time. If the FIXH reaches its’ target performance, then someone will still be screaming that we desperately need a larger payload for exploration or something. With the FLOC concept, three FIXH could launch at once. When the outer two cores were dropped from each vehicle a couple of minutes into the flight, the two non-payload cores would maneuver to a docking with the payload core crating a new trimese vehicle similar to the ones that just staged. All the mating gear and cross feed plumbing is still in place from the original trimese launch and the cross feeding begins again.
It would seem that a payload of 159 tons should be possible with a simple tripling of the FIXH projected payload. If this could be done, then how would the SLS justify continued existence?