• Hi Guest! Forum rules have been updated. All users please read here.

The (cancelled) second production run of Saturn Vs

mz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
683
Reaction score
1
blackstar said:
mz said:
Apollo and Saturn were unsustainable. That was clear from the start.
Clear to whom?

I have not looked at this subject closely for a long time, but I've long had a suspicion that there was a stutter-jump in the policy discussion in the late 1960s and they jumped over some obvious things and went straight to the shuttle solution. I don't think anybody in 1967-1969 took a careful look at maintaining the Apollo infrastructure long term and reducing the overall cost. Instead, they looked at options such as Saturn V plus shuttle, and then shuttle-only. And I think that this was partly because NASA has an engineering bias. In other words, they wanted to build something new, not simply keep producing Saturns at a low-rate production.

I've seen various people claim that Apollo-Saturn was "too expensive to continue," but I've never seen this claim backed up by actual economic analysis. I think there was a gut decision that it was too expensive, followed by a "I know! Let's build something NEW that will be cheaper!"

I think that NASA then got into a path-dependent situation where they started down the path toward retiring Saturn and building Shuttle and never again questioned if it was a good idea.

Or... put it more succinctly, if NASA had not built the shuttle and instead decided to spend shuttle development costs on continuing Saturn-Apollo and upgrading it, could they have done it?

I don't have any data but let's break this down a little


1) Lunar flights with Saturn V, Apollo CSM and the Lunar Module - IMO unsustainable even once every few years.


2) Orbital flights with Saturn V, huge space stations and Apollo CSM - IMO unsustainable. Would you keep both Saturn I and V? How often would you launch the V? You'd have to keep the large infrastructure and personnel of the V around even if you launched it only once every 5 years, the problem with heavy lift rockets. How huge space stations do you want and where do you get the money to put the equipment into them and to keep them supplied? Maybe if you consolidated I and V hardware (Saturn I first stage redesign for new tanks and F-1) and interfaces for synergy advantages.


3) Orbital flights with some Saturn I variant and not fully fueled Apollo CSM, more customized to their purpose with time. IMO most likely possible. This is the Russian style that worked allright for their space stations. You could launch some station components with Titan as well like the Russians have used Proton to launch MIR and ISS components.




I don't think the Space Shuttle was a good decision either and it was only very barely sustainable either. It's unlikely that a low operational cost can be reached if you design a very large performance pushing system almost totally from scratch using large portions of new untested technology. (Huge segmented solids, winged re-entry with RCC and tiles, high pressure staged combustion hydrogen engines.) Some believed it would be cheap, but some knew what would happen beforehand.
 

sferrin

CLEARANCE: Above Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 3, 2011
Messages
12,347
Reaction score
435
mz said:
I don't think the Space Shuttle was a good decision either and it was only very barely sustainable either. It's unlikely that a low operational cost can be reached if you design a very large performance pushing system almost totally from scratch using large portions of new untested technology. (Huge segmented solids, winged re-entry with RCC and tiles, high pressure staged combustion hydrogen engines.) Some believed it would be cheap, but some knew what would happen beforehand.
What are your thoughts on Big Dumb Booster / Sea Dragon?
 

mz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
683
Reaction score
1
sferrin said:
mz said:
I don't think the Space Shuttle was a good decision either and it was only very barely sustainable either. It's unlikely that a low operational cost can be reached if you design a very large performance pushing system almost totally from scratch using large portions of new untested technology. (Huge segmented solids, winged re-entry with RCC and tiles, high pressure staged combustion hydrogen engines.) Some believed it would be cheap, but some knew what would happen beforehand.
What are your thoughts on Big Dumb Booster / Sea Dragon?

This can be moved to aerospace of speculation under the topic of flight rate, but I am skeptical of Sea Dragon too as the flight rate for huge rockets would be low. Also potentially lots of refurbishment needed between flights, untested technology anywhere near the scale proposed, potentially more complex technically and operationally than would be obvious on first look. Smaller Sea Dragons: perhaps, I forget their exact names? Pressure fed rockets can't grow very tall anyway as the base area needs to be large per mass because of the low thrust density. And short rockets mean more drag losses, though they might not be that significant.


For future space launch, I'm more of a refuel and go again school myself with lots of not very big launchers forming an ecosystem. High margins (meaning two stages), intact abort capability, fail operational, small scale rapid evolution with improvements etc etc... That's a long path, they can't be designed right now as we don't know which details work and which not - these details must be tried and unworkable practices abandoned. The mistakes must be done at a small scale thus so that each one doesn't result in thousands being laid off - which would make such decisions politically impossible. Certainly a very "not NASA" style of cathedral building.
In the mean time ISS can be supported by roughly 10 tonne class launchers (there are three in the US, two with some flight history) with conservative capsules that can be designed using well validated data.


It's even a political reason - we don't want to create a monster that can't be killed. The projects should stay under some employee number threshold so that they can fail when they fail and not keep on living as zombies.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Well, the problem I see is that all we really have are peoples' opinions that the Apollo-Saturn architecture was unsustainable. But do we have any actual numbers to back that up?

It's worth noting that Nixon's transition team proposed essentially keeping Apollo-Saturn and reducing the flight rate a bit. They thought that it was a possible choice. But that got swept aside once Nixon got into office and Tom Paine took over as NASA administrator. Paine wanted everybody to "think big" and I think that the result was he scared a lot of Nixon's people, who wanted to spend less money on NASA, not more.
 

RLBH

CLEARANCE: Secret
Joined
May 5, 2007
Messages
219
Reaction score
23
blackstar said:
Well, the problem I see is that all we really have are peoples' opinions that the Apollo-Saturn architecture was unsustainable. But do we have any actual numbers to back that up?
My take on this is that we know the US could afford to launch 134 HLVs over the years 1980 to 2011. Because it did. That's a flight rate of about 4.5 HLVs a year. Whilst Saturn V throws more away than Shuttle, it also doesn't have a 75 ton spaceplane to design before you start and then maintain at vast cost. Added to that, continued Saturn production would have got off the steep part of the learning curve, so unit costs wouldn't have been quite so obscene.

It certainly isn't obvious that a continued Apollo/Saturn program was possible within Shuttle budgets, but in the absence of hard numbers I think there's a case that it could have been. I did some very crude calculations once that suggested it was possible, but there were so many simplifying assumptions that the conclusions were probably worthless.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,282
Reaction score
114
let face it
Apollo was a political program, to beat the Soviet in moon race
mission successful accomplished, Program death

IMHO had the Soviet reach the Moon with N1/L3, Nixon had no choice and push the Apollo program even further
like Apollo application program or Lunar Base
Wat had keep the production of Apollo hardware and Saturn V alive

but this pure Alternate History topic:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/board,42.0.html
 

JFC Fuller

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
Apr 22, 2012
Messages
3,220
Reaction score
100
Michel Van said:
let face it
Apollo was a political program, to beat the Soviet in moon race

Personally, I think that is the crux of the issue, Apollo gave the NASA manned space programme genuine purpose and direction, the problem came when the money ran out and that purpose was consequently removed. The space programme was seemingly left without a credible tangible goal and the end result was the mess that was the Shuttle that basically kept NASA playing around, very expensively, in low earth orbit for no particular reason.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Michel Van said:
let face it
Apollo was a political program, to beat the Soviet in moon race
mission successful accomplished, Program death
The first part of your statement is true. The second part is simplistic to the point of being nonsensical.

There are many many programs that get started to do one thing that last way beyond their accomplishment. For example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Helium_Reserve

So it's just not correct to say "Apollo ended because it won the Moon race." The hardware could have been kept for other things. But people made decisions to do things differently.
 

RyanCrierie

Crazy Researcher
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
835
Reaction score
22
Website
www.alternatewars.com
My own research found these tidbits:

Mission costs given in the Apollo 15 press kit were:

$185m for Saturn V ($966 million in 2010)
$65m for CSM ($350 million in 2010)
$50m for LEM ($269 million in 2010)
$105m for Operations ($565 million in 2010)
$40m for the Science payload. ($215 million in 2010)

Inflation adjustments based on 1971 dollar.

and in the

Nuclear Shuttle System Definition Study, Phase III Final Report
Volume I Executive Summary
By McDonnell Douglas Astronautics -- May 1971

Gives costs in GFY 1971 dollars as:

$5 million per launch operational costs ($26.92 million in 2010) for Space Shuttle.

Saturn V INT-21 (2 stage)

$95 million unit cost ($511.49 million in 2010)
$12 million launch cost ($64.61 million in 2010)
$107 million per launch cost ($576.10 million in 2010)

---------------

Downix on Nasaspaceflight.com regarding Saturn V cost reductions:

"But you cannot have an honest discussion of cost without weighing in the Saturn cost reduction programs, which did such things as reduce the cost of each J-2 engine from $4 mil to $1.6 mil per with the J-2S, or the F-1's $8 mil per to $3 mil per with the F-1A, or the S-IVB which had the most dramatic price drop from $42 mil to $11 mil per unit. (1971 dollars here)"
 

mz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
683
Reaction score
1
RLBH said:
blackstar said:
Well, the problem I see is that all we really have are peoples' opinions that the Apollo-Saturn architecture was unsustainable. But do we have any actual numbers to back that up?
My take on this is that we know the US could afford to launch 134 HLVs over the years 1980 to 2011. Because it did. That's a flight rate of about 4.5 HLVs a year. Whilst Saturn V throws more away than Shuttle, it also doesn't have a 75 ton spaceplane to design before you start and then maintain at vast cost. Added to that, continued Saturn production would have got off the steep part of the learning curve, so unit costs wouldn't have been quite so obscene.

It certainly isn't obvious that a continued Apollo/Saturn program was possible within Shuttle budgets, but in the absence of hard numbers I think there's a case that it could have been. I did some very crude calculations once that suggested it was possible, but there were so many simplifying assumptions that the conclusions were probably worthless.

But this is again so vague! Apollo / Saturn V program launching what and where? Sand to orbit? Empty cylinders?
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
GeorgeA said:
The "unsustainable" projections were made in the late 1960s, when Saturn production had fallen to two vehicles a year. The economic minimum was six per year and the (very extensive) production infrastructure could support much more than that. One of the drivers of the MLV/INT and S-ID programs was to expand the mission set, thus boosting the production rate and reducing the cost per flight.
There were quite a few different proposals for alternative Saturns--using only the first stage, using only the second, etc. NASA could have shifted to those vehicles for some of their robotic payloads, shifting off of Titan and Atlas, for instance, thereby increasing the production rate for engines and other equipment, and reducing the overall cost of the Saturn program.

I am unaware of any integrated study like that being conducted at the time. I still think that they made a jump to shuttle and only then tried to make the economic case for shuttle. NASA was predisposed to wanting to BUILD something new, because that's where the fun it.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
mz said:
But this is again so vague! Apollo / Saturn V program launching what and where? Sand to orbit? Empty cylinders?
What was shuttle supposed to do?

It is not hard to come up with an overall set of activities for NASA to conduct in the post-Apollo era. The Nixon transition team proposed continuing lunar landings at a low rate. Other options included longer-duration low-Earth orbit missions. NASA did not necessarily need something as big as Skylab, but it's not hard to imagine launching Skylab B and then servicing it for several years.
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,659
Reaction score
243
In fact Paine was not that idiot - he knew that he was out of place in a nixon administration, and intented to resign ASAP.
Candidates for the job of NASA administrator included Simon Ramo (of TRW fame) and ICBM-man Genral Bernard Shriever. They declined the post, and Paine remained in place.
Shriever or Ramo at the head of NASA - what do you think about that ?
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
I have negative views of Paine. I think that the plans he drew up in summer 1969 were totally unrealistic. I think he should have read the politics better and tried to come up with a post-Apollo program that the administration would have supported. Instead, he seems to have not cared.

There is somebody writing a book about Paine right now. I hope it digs really deeply into this subject.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,282
Reaction score
114
for the reader who not understand

NASA administrator Thomas Paine was put in office by the democrat President Johnson in 1968,
but he had to face Republican President Nixon as boss

Paine prefer the Space Task Group Study: Integrated Manned Programme
this was gigantic program for next 30 years, it include.
Small Space shuttles (replace Saturn IB)
Reusable Nuclear Shuttles
Reusable Space Tugs
one Space Base with 100 Astronauts
several low orbit station
one synchronous Space Station with 24 Astronauts
one Lunar orbit station with 24 Astronauts
a Lunar base with 48 Astronauts
Mars Excursion Module
one Mars orbit station with 24 Astronauts
Mars Base with 48 Astronauts
(this had need more of 40 Saturn V and it heavy lift version)

this Proposal was present President Nixon in 1969
Robert Nixon need 4 years to take a decision, he chose one littlest part of the Integrated Manned Programme
the Space Shuttle in 1972 !
Thomas O. Paine resigned long before that on September 15, 1970 from NASA
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Actually, I think the "integrated study" that you refer to was input to the Space Task Group. The Space Task Group itself did not recommend all those things.

The STG report is here:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/taskgrp.html

But the STG report is a little obtuse. I found different aspects of what you referred to in there. But it is not presented clearly. I think they would have done a better job and been more effective if they had picked a couple of things and stated them clearly.
 

Graham1973

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
1,290
Reaction score
61

Attachments

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Graham1973 said:
A slowly expanding collection of links to online documentation on IMP hardware can be found here:

http://nassp.sourceforge.net/wiki/Integrated_Manned_Programme
That link is confusing. Where does the term "Integrated Manned Program" come from?

George Mueller drafted an "Integrated Program" while at NASA. That was in 1968, I believe. It later served as input for the work of the Space Task Group. But I don't think that there was a formal "Integrated Manned Program" that came out of the Space Task Group.
 

mz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
683
Reaction score
1
blackstar said:
mz said:
But this is again so vague! Apollo / Saturn V program launching what and where? Sand to orbit? Empty cylinders?
What was shuttle supposed to do?

It is not hard to come up with an overall set of activities for NASA to conduct in the post-Apollo era. The Nixon transition team proposed continuing lunar landings at a low rate. Other options included longer-duration low-Earth orbit missions. NASA did not necessarily need something as big as Skylab, but it's not hard to imagine launching Skylab B and then servicing it for several years.
Just saying that the question was extremely vague and you can answer no or yes and still mean the same thing. Sure you can come up with scenarios where you can keep manufacturing Saturn V:s. The lowest cost path is to make fish breeding grounds without the pesky spaceflight part... ;)
We have to decide what we're talking about. If you say only manned flights to LEO, perhaps.


The Shuttle wasn't certainly sold thrutfully. IIRC there was quite obvious knowledge already beforehand from the Mathematica studies that it probably wouldn't reach the high flight rates.
The Saturn V evolution with winged stages etc seem totally contradictory to me too.
In the real world (which NASA and DoD space, hell any space agency apparently do not live in), concepts are always proofed at the simplest, fastest and cheapest possible level before moving on to the next stage.
I think it's clear why lab experiments are done with yeast, fruit flies and mice. They don't start off with elephants.


Interestingly, the space access cost wasn't seen to be that much cheaper with the shuttle, but since it could bring back satellites for refurbishment, refueling and relaunch, the cost of satellites would go down!
Source: Mathematica economic analysis of the space shuttle system (1973)
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19730005253_1973005253.pdf
 

Attachments

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,659
Reaction score
243
The more I look at it, the more I think that, quite simply, as of 1970 there was no good shuttle concept to be picked up by NASA. The technology was not mature enough to produce a viable RLV - one that could fly a lot AND be fully reusable. The tradeoffs - external tank Vs the difficulties of recovering the damn first stage - just doomed the thing.
Of course, hindsight always make an opinion right ;)
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
GeorgeA said:
blackstar said:
That link is confusing. Where does the term "Integrated Manned Program" come from?
Form the Boeing study "Integrated Manned Interplanetary Spacecraft Concept Definition", a rather well-argued proposal for implementing the Mars portion of what would become the STG proposal eighteen months later. Includes space station modules as interplanetary vehicle habitats, NERVA stages, and a variant of our friend the AMLLV. I believe there was a competing proposal by TRW in the same period.
Okay, then that means that "Integrated Manned Program" was not a NASA term, but something produced by a contractor.
 

RyanCrierie

Crazy Researcher
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
835
Reaction score
22
Website
www.alternatewars.com
Study of an Evolutionary Interim Earth Orbit Program (6 April 1971)
By NASA Advanced Concepts and Missions Division

Restarting Saturn IB Production: $70 million ($376.89 million in 2010 Dollars)
Restarting S-IVB Production: $30 million ($161.52 million in 2010 Dollars)
Restarting S-IC/S-II Production (for INT-21): $130 million ($699.93 million in 2010 Dollars)
Restarting Apollo CSM Production: $100 million ($538.41 million in 2010 Dollars

Saturn IB Costs: $50 million ($269.20 million in 2010 Dollars)
Saturn INT-21 Costs: $80 million ($430.73 million in 2010 Dollars)
Apollo CSM Costs: $45 million ($242.28 million in 2010 Dollars)
Manned Spaceflight Costs: $500-600~ million annually ($2.69 to $3.23 billion in 2010 Dollars) to run Houston, KSC and MSFN/DSN.

---------------------------------

“NASA Recommendations” (31 January 1977)
By Carter Mondale Transition Planning Group

Space Shuttle Cost Per Launch: $13 million in 1976 dollars ($49.82 million in 2010 Dollars). ::)

---------------------

Near Term Intermediate Launch Vehicle: Low Cost S-IVB Stages – Case 103-8 (18 March 1969)
By Bellcomm, Inc and C. Bendersky

Saturn IB Costs from 1965 based on an order of 30 vehicles at 6 per year. Final cost does not include transportation or launch costs.

S-IB Stage: $6.28 million ($43.47 million in 2010 Dollars)
S-IVB Stage: $5.98 million ($41.4 million in 2010 Dollars)
Instrument Unit: $3.49 million ($24.16 million in 2010 Dollars)
Government Supervision and GSE: $2.25 million ($15.58 million in 2010 Dollars)
Total Cost Per Saturn IB: $18 million ($124.6 million in 2010 Dollars)
$/lb to Orbit (42,000 lb payload): $429/lb ($2,969/lb in 2010 dollars)

Saturn Derivative Costs (Based on buys of two INTermediate vehicles each year alongside two Saturn V's).

Saturn IB with 120” Solids: $50 million recurring cost ($297 FY10) + $67 million non-recurring costs, 78 klb to 100 n.mi ($3,807/lb in FY10)
156” SRM + S-IVB: $46 million recurring cost ($273.31 FY10) + $162 million non-recurring costs, 108 klb to 100 n.mi ($2,530/lb in FY10)
260” SRM + S-IVB: $41 million recurring cost ($243.6 FY10) + $183 million non-recurring costs, 95 klb to 100 n.mi ($2,564/lb in FY10)
S-IC + S-IVB: $69 million recurring cost ($409.97 FY10) + $31 million non-recurring costs, 132 klb to 100 n.mi ($3,105/lb in FY10)

They were very confident of getting launch costs in the range of $200 to $260 per pound; which translates to about $1,253 to $1,629 per pound in 2010 dollars, if a low cost S-IVB were developed. In fact, there was a cost estimate by the Aerospace Corporation which estimated $260/lb to LEO on the basis of a 15-vehicle buy of the 260” SRM + S-IVB configuration, and a launch rate of five a year.

Changes for the low cost S-IVB would have likely been:

  • Low cost insulation, likely similar to the sprayed on external insulation used for the S-II; as the internal tank insulation was very expensive and time consuming to install.
  • Flat wire used for all wiring, reducing wiring cost to 16% of prior costs.
  • A machined interstage structure, instead of the skin/stringer construction which consumed thousands of rivets and cost more than the hydrogen tank.
  • Reducing documentation count from 97 to 44, and checking calibrations against spec, rather than individually calibrating and publishing each one.
  • Eliminating hot-firing at Stennis before each launch for unmanned missions.
  • Developing a simplified Instrument Unit that would cost only $1 million in 1968~ dollars.
 

starviking

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
955
Reaction score
22
Archibald said:
The more I look at it, the more I think that, quite simply, as of 1970 there was no good shuttle concept to be picked up by NASA. The technology was not mature enough to produce a viable RLV - one that could fly a lot AND be fully reusable. The tradeoffs - external tank Vs the difficulties of recovering the damn first stage - just doomed the thing.
Of course, hindsight always make an opinion right ;)
If you could live with disposable tanks the Lockheed Starclipper looks like it could have been a good shuttle - though perhaps not big enough for USAF requirements.
 

mz

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Joined
May 28, 2007
Messages
683
Reaction score
1
starviking said:
Archibald said:
The more I look at it, the more I think that, quite simply, as of 1970 there was no good shuttle concept to be picked up by NASA. The technology was not mature enough to produce a viable RLV - one that could fly a lot AND be fully reusable. The tradeoffs - external tank Vs the difficulties of recovering the damn first stage - just doomed the thing.
Of course, hindsight always make an opinion right ;)
If you could live with disposable tanks the Lockheed Starclipper looks like it could have been a good shuttle - though perhaps not big enough for USAF requirements.

I think Archibald is very likely correct. Low cost reusable rockets that must be quite different from anything before them don't just pop up from the design boards of aircraft and expendable rocket designers and work perfectly from the start for thirty years. The Star Clipper could have had lots of problems as well. For example high dry mass because all the engines were carried to orbit. (Hydrogen engines don't have good thrust to weight ratio.)
If you think about the Shuttle, they actually did extremely well on the design, manufacturing and operations if you look at rockets in general.
The fault of why we don't have cheaper space access lies at a higher, political and public expectations level.
NASA is in the cathedral building crash programs business, not in the better building techniques development business: in fact it might have negative impacts on that industry. The longer road is postponed for quick shortcuts. In the end the anxious never get anything.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Archibald said:
The more I look at it, the more I think that, quite simply, as of 1970 there was no good shuttle concept to be picked up by NASA. The technology was not mature enough to produce a viable RLV - one that could fly a lot AND be fully reusable. The tradeoffs - external tank Vs the difficulties of recovering the damn first stage - just doomed the thing.
I agree with this. Quite often I've seen shuttle explained as (paraphrasing) "a good idea undermined by budget cuts at the beginning." I think that most of the people making that claim are essentially arguing that the external tank and SRBs were the real mistake and that if only the Nixon administration had spent money on a fully reusable flyback booster, shuttle would have been a success.

That argument misses a couple of major issues. The first is that orbiter processing was always a major issue in making shuttle expensive and difficult to maintain. The ET and SRBs created their own issues, and probably were a major impediment to reducing costs, but even if they didn't exist, each orbiter still required a lot of work once it got back on the ground (SSMEs, tiles, etc.).

The second major issue is that this argument somehow assumes that a large flyback booster would have worked well and would have not created major problems of its own. It almost certainly would have. Furthermore, with the reusable flyback booster you face the same risk of loss as the orbiter--if you lose a booster due to accident, you have to build a whole new one, whereas the shuttle always had a new supply of tanks (and some new SRB segments).

It's hard not to conclude that even with the limited shuttle NASA was pushing things too far. Then they got locked in to a big, expensive system with high operating costs, and no ability to do new development.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
RyanCrierie said:
Study of an Evolutionary Interim Earth Orbit Program (6 April 1971)
By NASA Advanced Concepts and Missions Division
Many thanks for this. It is interesting stuff. I need to look at the source document to think about it some more. Is it on NTRS?
 

Graham1973

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
1,290
Reaction score
61

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Thanks. I need to look that over.

I just got the Springer-Praxis book on the F-1 engine. There is a short chapter at the end about the F-1A engine. Does anybody know if any other F-1 upgrades were ever considered? Or did the F-1A max out its performance?

(Of course, I have not read the chapter yet, so I should probably go do that.)
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,282
Reaction score
114
blackstar said:
Thanks. I need to look that over.

I just got the Springer-Praxis book on the F-1 engine. There is a short chapter at the end about the F-1A engine. Does anybody know if any other F-1 upgrades were ever considered? Or did the F-1A max out its performance?

(Of course, I have not read the chapter yet, so I should probably go do that.)

I found a PDF at NTRS about F-1A
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19740077747_1974077747.pdf


there something about variable thrust valve, but i have no time to read the PDF complete
about the Use of F-1A i got vague indication by Boeing in J-2S PDF and in Saturn S-ID PDF
that they wanna use F-1A so soon as possible (from SA-518 on ?)
 

RyanCrierie

Crazy Researcher
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
835
Reaction score
22
Website
www.alternatewars.com
"Eliminating hot-firing at Stennis before each launch for unmanned missions."

In STAGES TO SATURN, they mention that this Hot Firing cost about $3.2 million per S-IVB. But it also let them find all sorts of problems with each stage early on. If you eliminated hot-firing or couldn't do it for any reason (cough Shuttle SSMEs in launch configuration), then the first time you'd know there would be problems with leaky valves or vents would be when you loaded the stage up with cryogenics for the first time on the pad.

At that point, it would be very expensive to fix the problem; you'd have to unload the cryogenics and wheel it back into the VAB and unstack the stages...

Edited to specify which stage...
 

RyanCrierie

Crazy Researcher
Joined
Dec 19, 2006
Messages
835
Reaction score
22
Website
www.alternatewars.com
Final Report – Studies of Improved Saturn V Vehicles and Intermediate Payload Vehicles (P-115) Summary (7 October 1966)
By Boeing Company, Space Division

S-IC / S-IVB (INT-20) and S-IC / S-II (INT-21) Families

Notes: INT-20/21 costs were based on six launches a year for five years, next to six Saturn V launches a year during that period. Also, there is a single cost of DDT&E to implement all eight engine configurations possible across the INT-20/21 family.

Facility changes at KSC alone would have been an additional mobile launcher, mobile service structure, and firing room upgrades to maintain the 6 x INT + 6 x SAT-V launch rate a year.

DDT&E: $164~ million ($1.1 billion in 2010)
R&D Flight Tests: $60.8 million (one test for INT-20 under MSFC ground rules regarding man-rating) ($409.19m in 2010)
INT-20 Unit Cost: $60.5 million ($407m in 2010)
INT-21 Unit Cost: $74.6 million ($502m in 2010)
First Delivery: If Authority to Proceed was given in January 1968, the first vehicle would be AS-516 in February 1970; 25 months later.)
Total Program Cost: $2 to $2.4 billion (depending on what mixture of INT-20/21 are procured over the 30-vehicle run) ($13-16.15 Billion in 2010)

SAT-V-3B

Notes: SAT-V-3B costs are based on six launches a year, next to six launches a year of a Saturn IB using the new MS-IVB-3B stage developed for this vehicle. All three stages are lengthened (MS-IC-3B by 20 feet; MS-II-3B by 15.5 feet, and MS-IVB-3B by 16.5 feet); and use advanced engines (5 x F-1A, 7 x 400 klbf toroidal aerospike and 1 x 400 klbf toroidal aerospike).

Performance is 367,400 lbf to 100 n.mi. for two stage, and 160,000 lb to TLI for three stage.

Facility Changes would have been:
  • Modified transporters for longer stages, specifically a new ocean transport for the MS-IVB-3B since it's length now precludes SUPER GUPPY transportation
  • Relocation/Modification of VAB high/low bay access platforms.
  • Construction of a brand-new mobile service structure that is taller, since there's no time to rework an existing MSS to be taller due to flight rates of existing Saturn Vs.
SAT-V-3B scheduling and timing is based around the assumption that almost four years will be required for the 400 klbf toroidal aerospike LH2 engine to be successfully developed.

DDT&E: $1,097.6 million ($7.3 billion in 2010)
R&D Flight Tests:
$325.6 million (two launches) ($2.19 billion in 2010)
Unit Cost: $116.7 million (2-stage) ($785.4m in 2010) $139 million (3-Stage) ($935.49m in 2010)
First Delivery: If Authority to Proceed was given in January 1968, the first vehicle would be AS-537 in September 1973; 69 months later.)
Total Program Cost: $5.26 Billion based on a 30-vehicle run. ($35.4 billion in 2010)

SAT-V-23(L)

Notes: The first and third stages are lengthened (MS-IC-24(L) by 20 feet and MS-IVB-24(L) by 16.5 feet); and four 260” diameter liquid rocket boosters (LRBs) are attached to the core, each booster having two F-1 engines. Engines are standard F-1 and J-2. There was an alternate study, the SAT-V-24(L) which used F-1As, but it couldn't fit within the VAB's height limit.

Performance is 579,300 lbf to 100 n.mi. for two stage, and 220,200 lb to TLI for three stage.

Facility Changes would have been:
  • Modified transporters for longer stages, specifically a new ocean transport for the MS-IVB-24(L) since it's length now precludes SUPER GUPPY transportation.
  • A new dynamic test stand, due to launch weight exceeding Saturn V stand foundation capability by 30%.
  • A 2 million square foot manufacturing facility to produce 24 LRBs a year.
  • A new test stand at Stennis for LRB acceptance firing.
  • Relocation/Modification of VAB high/low bay access platforms.
  • LC-39 pad and flame trench modifications to support the V-23(L) configuration.
  • Replacement of crawler transporters due to heavier weights.
  • Construction of a brand-new mobile service structure that is taller, since there's no time to rework an existing MSS to be taller due to flight rates of existing Saturn Vs.
SAT-V-23(L) scheduling and timing is based around the LRB facilities and testing.

DDT&E: $944.9 million ($6.36b in 2010)
R&D Flight Test Vehicles:
$413.6 million (two launches) ($2.78b in 2010)
Unit Cost: $142.5 million (2-stage) ($959m in 2010) ($163.8 million (3-Stage) ($1.1b in 2010)
First Delivery: If Authority to Proceed was given in January 1968, the first vehicle would be AS-535 in May 1973; 64.9 months later.)
Total Program Cost: $5.86 Billion based on a 30-vehicle run. ($39.43b in 2010)
 

Archibald

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
2,659
Reaction score
243
blackstar said:
Archibald said:
The more I look at it, the more I think that, quite simply, as of 1970 there was no good shuttle concept to be picked up by NASA. The technology was not mature enough to produce a viable RLV - one that could fly a lot AND be fully reusable. The tradeoffs - external tank Vs the difficulties of recovering the damn first stage - just doomed the thing.
I agree with this. Quite often I've seen shuttle explained as (paraphrasing) "a good idea undermined by budget cuts at the beginning." I think that most of the people making that claim are essentially arguing that the external tank and SRBs were the real mistake and that if only the Nixon administration had spent money on a fully reusable flyback booster, shuttle would have been a success.

That argument misses a couple of major issues. The first is that orbiter processing was always a major issue in making shuttle expensive and difficult to maintain. The ET and SRBs created their own issues, and probably were a major impediment to reducing costs, but even if they didn't exist, each orbiter still required a lot of work once it got back on the ground (SSMEs, tiles, etc.).

The second major issue is that this argument somehow assumes that a large flyback booster would have worked well and would have not created major problems of its own. It almost certainly would have. Furthermore, with the reusable flyback booster you face the same risk of loss as the orbiter--if you lose a booster due to accident, you have to build a whole new one, whereas the shuttle always had a new supply of tanks (and some new SRB segments).

It's hard not to conclude that even with the limited shuttle NASA was pushing things too far. Then they got locked in to a big, expensive system with high operating costs, and no ability to do new development.
I'm really tempted to write an article on this for the Space Review...
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
RyanCrierie said:
"Eliminating hot-firing at Stennis before each launch for unmanned missions."

In STAGES TO SATURN, they mention that this Hot Firing cost about $3.2 million per stage. But it also let them find all sorts of problems with each stage early on. If you eliminated hot-firing or couldn't do it for any reason (cough Shuttle SSMEs in launch configuration), then the first time you'd know there would be problems with leaky valves or vents would be when you loaded the stage up with cryogenics for the first time on the pad.
But did that problem go away over time? In other words, did they have the same problem with leaks on the last vehicle that they did on the first vehicle?

Maybe they had this problem with the early Saturns, but once they learned how to make the vehicles on a regular basis it was no longer a problem and they felt that they could eliminate it.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Michel Van said:
About the Use of F-1A i got vague indication by Boeing in J-2S PDF and in Saturn S-ID PDF
that they wanna use F-1A so soon as possible (from SA-518 on ?)
I'll look at the F-1 book and see what they say, but I think that is essentially correct. The engine was already proven in ground tests and I imagine that they would have liked the extra performance. It would have given them extra payload, but also extra margin in how they flew the vehicle.

Regarding my earlier question about anything beyond an F-1A, it was probably the case that they might have had vague ideas but nothing beyond that for the simple reason that the better place to improve performance was with the upper stages. You can get more oompf out of an uprated J-2 than you can from an uprated F-1. So I can imagine that they might have looked at this in phases--uprate the F-1 to the F-1A standard to lift more stuff off the ground, and then improve the J-2 where you'll get more benefits.

But I should stop speculating and just look at the material.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Just read the F-1 book's chapter on the F-1A. It was underwhelming. Mentioned that two F-1As were produced for testing, but doesn't state the dates that they were tested. It was rather obtuse. Then jumps to the proposal to revive it for the Space Exploration Initiative in the early 1990s.

It does mention that a flourine-oxygen oxidizer was proposed. I don't take those ideas seriously because flourine is such an incredibly nasty chemical. Nobody would have used it.
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
RyanCrierie said:
blackstar said:
Then jumps to the proposal to revive it for the Space Exploration Initiative in the early 1990s.
Does this meet with your approval my good sir?
Thanks. I think I have that, but forgot about it.

One interesting aspect of the F-1 is that when NASA ended Saturn production, they made a special effort to preserve engine information, even going so far as to pay Rocketdyne to preserve the records. Of course, it was in the company's interest to do so as well. There are examples of rocket engines being put back into production decades later.

Anyway, Rocketdyne had proven the F-1 and then proven an upgrade and then had to shut down production. But there were a number of people who thought that it might eventually be needed again and they wanted to make sure that the company could re-start production. That really contradicts the myth of NASA deliberately destroying Saturn V blueprints--if they could have gotten the Saturn V back, they would have done it. (Or something similar.) They did not want to burn their ships.
 

Michel Van

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Aug 13, 2007
Messages
4,282
Reaction score
114
blackstar said:
Just read the F-1 book's chapter on the F-1A. It was underwhelming. Mentioned that two F-1As were produced for testing, but doesn't state the dates that they were tested. It was rather obtuse. Then jumps to the proposal to revive it for the Space Exploration Initiative in the early 1990s.

It does mention that a flourine-oxygen oxidizer was proposed. I don't take those ideas seriously because flourine is such an incredibly nasty chemical. Nobody would have used it.

this to put it mildly,
negative site: after each launch the Pad have to undergo expensive detoxification and long term heavy corrorsion on Mobile Launcher Platform...
 

blackstar

CLEARANCE: Top Secret
Senior Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2008
Messages
1,687
Reaction score
15
Michel Van said:
this to put it mildly,
negative site: after each launch the Pad have to undergo expensive detoxification and long term heavy corrorsion on Mobile Launcher Platform...
Yeah, I doubt that they would have needed to go to that solution, although I can expect that there were some engineers who would have loved the challenge.

With the Saturn overall they had plenty of options--increase the power of the F-1s (they were already there at the end of the program), then increase the power of the J-2s. After that, they could have increased the length of the stages. The first two steps would have been relatively easier, whereas increasing the length of the stages (i.e. the tanks) would have forced changes on the tower, assembly, etc.
 
Top