Titan SRM + S-IVB: a path not taken


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6 June 2006
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Bouncing off @Byeman "unmanned flyback booster" thread. That's a different kind of reusable booster.

I've long been fascinated with that one. It is packed full with so much ironies, it could use some as propellant...

So, here we go...

1-Titan booster + Saturn stage = SATAN

2-According to Bellcomm it would have cost $260 a pound to orbit: the exact Space Shuttle cost target (!!)
(S-IVB was paid by Apollo, Titan SRM is a steel tube filled with fertilizer)

3-It could use LC-40 & 41, and the nearby LC-34, 37A and 37B (Titan III I-T-L & Saturn IB pads are very close at CCAFS)

4-It could be fully reusable TSTO: Titan solid recovered Shuttle-style; S-IVB recovered Philip Bono style

5- Fully reusable TSTO was the Shuttle objective (!!!)

6-Two Titan boosters with a S-IVB on top could lift 29.5 mt to orbit... the Shuttle very payload (USAF - NRO - KH-9 to polar orbit)

7-It could finish and test flight the XLR-129, which is SSME ancestor

8-Except XLR-129 was air started, because ISINGLASS / RHEINBERRY were to be air-launched from a B-52 wing pylon

9-In turn, this solves the Ares 1 issues (!!!!)

10-Because, indeed, such launcher looks like Ares 1 (with smaller solid(s) and a XLR-129 right between J-2 and SSME, see point 8 )

11-Even more if you use it to launch a Block III Apollo (Hello Orion my old friend...)

12-Which bring us to this - http://spaceflighthistory.blogspot.com/2015/11/a-bridge-from-skylab-to-stationshuttle.html
(Larry Alton, strike 1)

13-And then there is THIS (Larry Alton, strike 2)

14- Which mean that NASA, by December 1971, considered all the above points and an INTERIM program to bridge the ASTP - Shuttle gap, 1975-1978... oops, 1981. For the record, Nixon officially started and funded the Shuttle on January 5, 1972.

Capture d'écran 2024-03-30 075406.png

So, in summary: an alternate, no-Shuttle space program were the crew vehicle is Titan-SRM + S-IVB + Block III Apollo. That was dirt cheap compared to the Shuttle: around $1.5 billion in development cost. Versus $2.5 billion for Big Gemini, $3.5 billion for a "fat Dynasoar" Shuttle glider and $5.15 billion allocated to OTL barebone full size (15*60 ft payload bay) Space Shuttle.
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from https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/threads/dark-moon-rising-archibald-space-tl.36857/post-587225

You need minimum FOUR UA1205 or UA1207 under S-IVB to get that payload in Low orbit (Apollo CSM)
although Two UA1207 with S-IVB and Centaur would give nice Ariane 5 analog for GEO Sat and Space probes.

My calculations for this Aries 1 version with Apollo CSM into low orbit

1x UA1207 = mass 319330 kg - Empty 51230 kg - ISP 272 sec
interstage 1500 kg (1% of mass above)
1x S-IVB = mass 118800 kg - Empty 12.900 kg - ISP 421
Adapter for payload =1700 kg
payload = 15.200 kg Apollo CSM
LES = 4000 kg

We get launch mass of 460530 kg vs thrust 1451496 kg, means its take off
after UA1207 operations V1= 2328,497 meter/s
jettison UA1207 & interstage and LES
after S-IVB operation V2= 6260,839 meter/s
Total deltaV (V1+V2) = 8589,33 meter/sec

But now too ugly part, aerodynamic (128 meter/s) and Gravity (1308 meter/s) Losses and needed Orbital speed.
into a 200 km orbit give 9277 meter/sec means it missing 687,67 meter/sec, what the payload has to correct it self.
You're right, the vehicle in the study I linked had three SRMs below the S-IVB. The XLR-129 for obvious reasons drastically improves performance. I think I made my calculations for 3*UA-120-7 plus one XLR-129.
And now, ripped off Google books: Philip Bono plan to recover a S-IVB from orbit.

"Philip Bono of Douglas has proposed a near-term technique for the land-recovery of an earth orbital stage; to be applied specifically to the S-IVB upper stage of the Saturn IB booster. After a launch from Cape Kennedy the stage could be brought back from the 150.mi. altitude apogee of its second revolution to a landing on the West Texas plains about 100 mi. from El Paso by means of a 7900 Ib. recovery kit. Even with this additional weight the Saturn IB would still be able to carry a useful payload of 27 000 lb. into a 100.mi. orbit.

The essential elements of this kit would consist of:

•four solid-propellant retrorockets

•Three 28-ft-dia. ballute of Rene 41 material impregnated with a high-temperature elastomer. These would be released around 350 000 ft; just before depletion of fuel in the attitude control system. They would decelerate and stabilize the stage.

•Three 124-ft-diameter ring-sail parachutes would be deployed at an altitude of 10 000 ft. and a descent rate of 225 fps. These reduce the descent rate early instantaneously to 52 feet per second; which becomes about 33 fps. at touchdown.

•Ablative reentry heat shield of 0.3.in. thick Armstrong Insulcork 2760 bonded to a 0 04-in. gauge aluminum sheet. Korotherm TC-320 sprayable ablatant would also he used. The deceleration resulting from the Ballutes means that a lesser thickness of heat shield is possible.

•Crushable aluminum honeycomb structure behind the heat shield for attenuating the shock of touchdown.

•Four leg landing gear deployed just before landing to stabilize the stage in a nearly vertical attitude after touch-down. The uncrushed honeycomb extends about 4 ft beyond the plane de-scribed the gear feet so very little load would be taken by the gear . Guide rails for the legs would be attached to the forward skirt of the S-IVB.

After passivation of certain components in order to avoid hazard to ground personnel and the removal of others, the stage would be transported by truck to the nearest airfield; and from there, to Cape Canaveral in a Pregnant Guppy S-IV-B transport aircraft. "
And that's one of the most remarquable things about that SRM-S-IVB launch vehicle. If the above "kit" is combined with recovery of the Titan SRM(s) at sea - as done by the Shuttle and tried by Ariane 5 - the end result is a fully reusable TSTO: the simplest way, if not a little brute force.
In your face, Space Shuttle !
Next, put a manned lifting body on top of the S-IVB aaaaand, there you are: a makeshift space shuttle, still fully reusable.


Just like @Byeman system, the winged/ piloted vehicle can be removed and replaced by a) upper stages and b) satellites. In fact that vehicle is an almost perfect replacement for Titan III, Saturn IB... and Shuttle. It has the best of the three, without their flaws. Also Ares 1, in passing. And much like the EELVs, it can "recycle" the upper stages like Centaur, and the old Atlas / Titan industrial base.

So many ironies, I told you.
Similar solid augmentation on a full Saturn IB also looked at for probes and such?
More like Fully Refurbisheable, reusing SRM is hardly economical, especially if they have to brought back segment by segment back to UTC’s facilities in California, like the Shuttle SRB were to Utah.

It’s probably a good concept, especially if the S-IVB can be produced at higher rate and made cheaper, but I think that looking at it first as a reusable vehicle before an expendable one is a mistake. It’s not going to be cheaply adapted into a cheap RLV.
SRM+S-IB+S-IVB is overkill (100 000 pounds payload) plus the S-IB is expensive and unuseful. Better to eliminate it.

Now, if you wanted a full and entire family of SRM / S-IVB vehicles...

UA-120-5 + S-IVB (single or multiple boosters: 1,2, 3 solids)
UA-120-7 + S-IVB (single or multiple boosters: 1, 2, 3 solids )
156-inch SRM + S-IVB (Lockheed, Thiokol, UTC all tested 156-inch SRMs even before the Shuttle needed it)
260-inch, half-length, + S-IVB (Aerojet monster)
260-inch, full-length, + S-IVB (probably overkill: S-IVB too light for the beast !)

End result: three "1205 combinations", three "1207 combinations" plus one 156-inch and the half-length 260-inch, total: eight launch vehicles.

And then many more combinations can be done using Agena and Centaur and kick stages.

Also Titan 40 tons second stage: the one with the LR91. Lower cost, smaller alternative to the S-IVB on top of the Titan's solid.

Imagine a 1205-LR91-Agena vehicle: could replace the Thor-Delta. Or a 1207-LR91-Centaur combination.

Both could be considered offsprings of the Titan III family (think Titan IIIB or Titan IIIE), except they would eliminate the LR87 first stage: swapping it for 120-inch solids: no longer "stage 0" but "stage 1".
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All in the family

3*1205+S-IVB+Centaur----(could be upgraded with XLR-129 and reusability)
3*1207+S-IVB+Centaur----(could be upgraded with XLR-129 and reusability)
1*156-inch+S-IVB ---------(could be upgraded with XLR-129 and reusability)
1*half-a-260-inch+S-IVB--(could be upgraded with XLR-129 and reusability)
Sigh…and people wonder just why I have this idea the USAF killed the ABMA on the sly… ;)
Sigh…and people wonder just why I have this idea the USAF killed the ABMA on the sly… ;)
Because you don't understand history and refuse to research it. ABMA was never killed. Ike took away the Operations Division (WVB's group) and gave it to NASA. NASA even wanted years earlier. ABMA continued to exist after that and worked on Pershing. The USAF had nothing to do with it. ABMA had no reason to keep WVB's group. Space was not the Army's domain.

NASA idn't like working with Marshall because they did nothing more than add costs. there are NASA programs that feel the same way.
That’s not how Medaris told it…
He is not a relevant source. Too close to the problem and was part of it. He was against the formation of NASA. Also Ike do not like military space proposals that did not contribute to national security (i.e. Project Horizon). Medaris was a little full of himself and thought ABMA could do something like Discoverer/CORONA better in November 1957 (the first Discoverer launch was only 14 months later). when ABMA had no more spacecraft experience than anybody else.

It was never the Army's job to do (anything space or long range missile related). There was no need by the Army for WVB's group after November 1956. The Army only needed a group for Pershing and other battlefield missiles.

In the 50's, there was ABMA with Chrysler in its pocket just doing Redstone, Jupiter and S-I. there was there was so much more out there. There was Douglas with Thor, Martin with Titan and Vanguard, Convair with Atlas, Lockheed with Agena and Polaris, NAA with Navaho and X-15, McDonnell with Mercury, Boeing with Dynasoar and Minuteman, STL doing satellites, Aerojet and Able stages, And Medaris thought ABMA could do better? After all, CSM, LM and LES had no Marshall involvement and S-II and S-IVB were complete industry designs.
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