Chemical Interorbital Shuttle


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29 September 2006
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I found this interesting image on

The site give this information about it:

In 1970, NASA initiated Phase A contracts to study alternate Space Shuttle designs in addition to the two-stage fully-reusable Space Shuttle system already under development. A number of alternate systems were developed to ensure the development of the optimum earth-to-orbit system, including the Stage-and-a-half Chemical Interorbital Shuttle, shown here. The concept would utilize a reusable manned spacecraft with an onboard propulsion system attached to an expendable fuel tank to provide supplementary propellants.

Has a lot of shuttle similarities about it. I'm assuming the empennage that is used to link the 1st stage to the external tank actually unfolds to provide aerobraking (actuators that could be used for this can be seen in the image). That would suggest orbital refuelling is a part of the study.

The pic also has an identifier starting MSFC-72-..... which would suggest it's from 1972. That would explain the design using components of the final shuttle design.



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here some info
"chemical alternative to nuclear shuttle"

A upgraded 22-foot-diameter Saturn V S-IVB third stage and
the drum-shaped 22-foot-diameter Space Tug/LM-B Propulsion Module (PM) -
could replace the Nuclear Shuttle for cislunar transport.

two-stage reusable chemical shuttle in which up to three S-IVBs would be clustered together
to form the first stage and up to three LM-B PMs would form the second stage.
Each S-IVB would include an upgraded, reusable J2-S engine or a new-design engine
...Sounds like a predecessor to Shuttle-C.
mmm, no, this would have been put in orbit and then used to transfer cargo from LEO to GEO or higher. The vehicle would have been refuelled via an orbital fuel storage. The predecessor of Shuttle-C was a different beast, studied in 1970-71 called Expendable Second Stage that would have use a modified S-2 stage on top of a reusable winged first stage (same used by then-projected Shuttles. There are a couple of reports on NTRS on this, I personally discovered six months ago. The studies was conducted in parallel to Shuttle Phase B studies. There is an illustration and a brief note on the ESS in third edition of Jenkins' magnus opus on Shuttle, but not sufficiently enphasized IMHO. It's slightly OT, but I post here an art of the ESS.


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starviking said:
The pic also has an identifier starting MSFC-72-..... which would suggest it's from 1972. That would explain the design using components of the final shuttle design.

I've seen the full contractor's report on this, although I don't have a copy. It's a North American proposal. They were clearly looking for other things to do with the hardware that they were building for the shuttle.
The ESS proposal is a Rockwell study too, though I know of at least another two studies in the same vein. Probably Rockwell followed up the ESS proposal with something else.
The name is also rather off-putting. They should have simply called it a "space tug." There were a lot of proposals for a space tug at the time to boost shuttle payloads to higher orbit. This appears to have been simply a much bigger version of the same basic concept.

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