How to minimize a number of Space Shuttles flights

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arezn99

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How to minimize a number of Space Shuttles flights to ISS<br /><br />It is a very simple idea.<br />A Space Shuttle with an ISS component starts and docks with ISS. The ISS component is added to ISS.<br />Atlas-5 (Delta-4, Ariane-5, Proton-M) with another ISS component starts and delivers this component as near to ISS as possible. The Space Shuttle undocks ISS, pick this ISS component up and again docks with ISS and so on. Second ISS component is added during one Space Shuttle flight.<br />Is such scenario possible? <br /><br />
 
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najab

Guest
><i>Is such scenario possible?</i><p>All things are possible - some are, however, not practical.<p>There are two major obstacles to the plan you've outlined: first, the US does not have an automated rendezvous system so the Delta/Atlas launched payload would have no way to get 'as close as possible'. <p>Secondly, the Shuttle-launched ISS payloads were designed specifically to be Shuttle launched. The Shuttle provides a very different launch environment than the EELVs do. Reconfiguring ISS modules to be launched on expendable boosters would cost almost as much and take almost as long as it did to build them in the first place.<p>A similar idea that has been booted around here for a while is to launch one Shuttle with crew and payload and then, while it is still docked, to launch another Shuttle un-crewed. The on-orbit crew would transfer to the approaching Shuttle, dock it to ISS, install the module and then let it return to the ground un-crewed. This doesn't reduce the number of Shuttle launches, but it does cut the number of <i>flights</i> in half. Unfortunately, the Shuttle isn't capable of automated rendezvous either.</p></p></p></p>
 
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teije

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Unfortunately, the Shuttle isn't capable of automated rendezvous either. <br /><br /><br />...or landing for that matter....<br />a bit of a waste of a very expensive orbiter.
 
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nacnud

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I think that only the switches to lower the landing gear and deploy the drag shute are not automated, or rather able to be controlled from the ground. Not too hard a fix <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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kmarinas86

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If we were to optimize a state-of-the-art space shuttle for 6-months research missions by docking shuttle to a solar platform and replacing the cargobay with a two-deck interior, how expensive would that be per flight assuming that the cost per pound launched is unchanged? $500 million, $700 million? What kind of problems would it cause when trying to access components at the floor of what used to be the cargo bay?<br /><br />I'm think that the next spacestation should be reusable in that it would be capable of 100 or more 6-month research missions. An RSS, or reusable spacestation, could be flown back to earth to be upgraded and cleaned out effectively. If soyuz could dock to the RSS itself, then we could talk about even more extended missions.<br /><br />Besides atmospheric drag, what keeps the shuttle from staying 6-months in orbit?
 
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rogers_buck

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The GAO is investigating the possibility of launching the non-US components via alternate expendible boosters. Apparently, it is felt that the total number of flights might be reduced to just 5 or so.
 
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najab

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Yup. That's about right. IIRC, shuttle_guy also said that the nosewheel steering isn't automated either but, again, that shouldn't be too hard to fix.
 
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rogers_buck

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The version I like is where the "extra" crew goes up in a Soyuz instead of a Shuttle. That way manned rating for the Shuttle could be removed and they could quit screwing around trying to fix it and just light the fuse.<br /><br />The Soyuz is capable of undocking from the ISS and docking with the Shuttle to ferry the crew. I don't know how many such micro flights a Soyuz could make before it ran out of gas... Of course there would be two of them...<br /><br />Shuttle_guy has indicated that the safest approach to land the shuttle was from the Gulf. But they would need to automate that gear-down button...<br />
 
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najab

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><i>Apparently, it is felt that the total number of flights might be reduced to just 5 or so.</i><p>This is what is known as 'wishful thinking' - probably the only module that could be switched to an expendable booster is the Russian Science Power Platform (SPP). The SPP (in it's original form) was going to be launched to Mir, so it would probably not be too hard to switch it to an EELV/Proton. Other than that, the costs involved with reconfiguration would be prohibitive - though these costs would be dropped onto the partners, rather than the US.</p>
 
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najab

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><i>Besides atmospheric drag, what keeps the shuttle from staying 6-months in orbit?</i><p>Consumables mainly. There's only so much cryogenics for the fuel cells - once their gone the Shuttle's systems all die. There's no procedure for on-orbit power up.</p>
 
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rogers_buck

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Its kind of a funny situation. They are trying to finish the thing so that 2 guys can have more space to store their garbage. The Soyuz won't be able to rescue any more than 2, so no big crews up there until the Europeans come up with their module are they invite the Chinese to join. <br /><br />Maybe the Reps that asked the GAO to investigate are pleased to see the cost treansfered back to the partners, perhaps with them withdrawing their modules. <br /><br />At any rate, the />$1B per shuttle mission (assuming 5) is pretty nasty. You ought to be able to fab up a lot of mods for that kind of dosh with a Proton as the replacement if the payloads will fit at all. Since the largest station module (Zarya) went up on a Proton it seems most should fit.
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>The Soyuz is capable of undocking from the ISS and docking with the Shuttle to ferry the crew. I don't know how many such micro flights a Soyuz could make before it ran out of gas... Of course there would be two of them... <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Actually, that's not quite true. I believe they would need to add an adapter onto the Orbiter Docking System in order to do that. But I could be mistaken; it certainly wouldn't be the first time. <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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najab

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IIRC the ODS is compatible with the Russian system - that's the point of the <strike>CBMs</strike> PMAs on the ISS.
 
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CalliArcale

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Yes, and in fact the ODS was built for Mir as part of that, though most of the ports were not capable of handling the kind of torque the Shuttle's enormous mass would apply, and so a new module (originally intended for Buran) was added.<br /><br />I believe the ports are universal, in that there isn't a male side and a female side, which would theoretically allow Soyuz to dock to ODS, but I'm not entirely sure if that's true. They may also need to add docking targets to one or the other to permit docking Soyuz to Shuttle. I just seem to recall some small thing that prevented Soyuz from actually docking to a PMA other than logistics/politics, maybe a power line or something. My SWAG is that it wouldn't be too difficult to adapt the existing systems to allow it, but I don't think they are ready to do it in their current state. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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backspace

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"At any rate, the >$1B per shuttle mission (assuming 5) is pretty nasty. "<br /><br />I think your cost figure there is a little inflated.
 
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najab

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><i>You ought to be able to fab up a lot of mods for that kind of dosh with a Proton as the replacement if the payloads will fit at all. Since the largest station module (Zarya) went up on a Proton it seems most should fit.</i><p>Size doesn't matter - it's what's done with it! Even Destiny wasn't too big/heavy to be launched on a Proton, but it would have arrived on orbit in pieces if you had tried it. The launch environment (acoustics, g-loads and vibration) is <b>very</b> different on top of a Proton (or other ELV) as compared to the Shuttle payload bay.<p>The more crucial difference (at the risk of sounding like a Sonic drive-in ad) is: Keel Pins, Shuttle's got them, other launchers don't. If you've followed the ISS assembly missions you would have heard them mentioning that the EVA astronauts "removed the keel pin" at the start of the EVAs. This seemingly innocuous piece of hardware is actually the reason that it would be hard (read impossibly expensive) to move ISS payloads to ELVs.<p>The keel pins attach the module to the Shuttle's structure, and in so doing transfer the launch loads into the Shuttle. Without the keel pins (as on an ELV launch), the loads would have to be transferred down to the base of the module. This would mean that the module would have to support a 'crushing' force of about 3 times it's weight - and none of the modules intended to be Shuttle-launched have the necessary internal structure to support those loads. Adding the necessary stiffness to the modules would almost certainly require substantial rebuilding and would add significant mass.</p></p></p>
 
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thecolonel

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<i>This is what is known as 'wishful thinking' - probably the only module that could be switched to an expendable booster is the Russian Science Power Platform (SPP)</i><br /><br />True... and the Russian Science Power Platform as well as Node 3 are currently long shots to even make the manifest.
 
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rogers_buck

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>> I think your cost figure there is a little inflated. <br /> <br />That's just the shuttle anual budget divided by 5 mission (~$5.6B/5). At issue here is getting the shuttle off the books ASAP to save the $5gigabucks. The easiest solution would be for the ISS crew to ditch the ISS and bail in the Soyuz. But my appeal to the crew went unanswered. (-;
 
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CalliArcale

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>The more crucial difference (at the risk of sounding like a Sonic drive-in ad) is: Keel Pins, Shuttle's got them, other launchers don't. If you've followed the ISS assembly missions you would have heard them mentioning that the EVA astronauts "removed the keel pin" at the start of the EVAs. This seemingly innocuous piece of hardware is actually the reason that it would be hard (read impossibly expensive) to move ISS payloads to ELVs.<br /><br />The keel pins attach the module to the Shuttle's structure, and in so doing transfer the launch loads into the Shuttle. Without the keel pins (as on an ELV launch), the loads would have to be transferred down to the base of the module. This would mean that the module would have to support a 'crushing' force of about 3 times it's weight - and none of the modules intended to be Shuttle-launched have the necessary internal structure to support those loads. Adding the necessary stiffness to the modules would almost certainly require substantial rebuilding and would add significant mass.<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Just thinking out loud here, but I wonder if there would be a way to build some sort of framework to which keel pins could be attached, and which could then transfer the loads more safely. Of course, there are still issues with the fact that not all ELVs have the same G forces as the Shuttle. (I think Proton accelerates faster, but that's totally a gut feeling that I haven't checked at all.) And this frame would have to be very strong (read: expensive) and might well exceed the interior dimensions of the ELV's payload fairing.<br /><br />Plus, there are two major elements available with Shuttle that an ELV simply doesn't provide. Propulsion and a rock-solid work platform. The minimum I think you'd need to get the payload to the ISS on an ELV, after you've somehow solved the load distribution problem, would be some kind of propulsion module to rendezvous with th <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#666699"><em>"People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint it's more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly . . . timey wimey . . . stuff."</em>  -- The Tenth Doctor, "Blink"</font></p> </div>
 
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the_ten

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<font color="yellow">"Do you think the ISS will ever earn its cost?"</font><br />------<br />NO!
 
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najab

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><i>Do you think the ISS will ever earn its cost?</i><p>The two problems with answering that question are that that the answer to that question depends on who you are asking, and how exactly do you put a value on the output of a pure research facility?<p>For example, has the Hubble Space Telescope earned it's value? Well that depends on who you ask - if you were to ask a marine biologist (let's assume that scientists have no interests outside their field of study) he would say that it has been nothing but a waste of money that could have been spent on a dozen deep sea submersibles. An astrophysicist, on the other hand, would say that it has repaid its cost a dozen times over. When it comes to assigning an objective value to HST's science results the question is: how do we do it? Number of papers/theses based on HST data? That could work, but suppose the data could have been obtained by other methods if HST wasn't there. Public perception? HST would win hands down there, but what about other telescopes that just don't have the name-recognition of HST: Compton GRO, Chandra, Spitzer, SOHO - aren't they producing useful results? The number of inventions/patents? Could work, but sometimes it can be years before a piece of pure research turns into a patent.<p>That's the problem when you try to objectively measure the value of science - it ain't that easy. Now, subjectively, do <i>I</i> think ISS will earn its keep - I'd have to cautiously say yes. If it is finished, I find it hard to believe that with so much research capability on orbit there won't be some groundbreaking discoveries made, I'd also like to think that ISS engineers were conservative with their calculations much like the Mir designers before them, and that the Station will exceed its design life by two or three times. 3 labs by 30 years is a lot of research time.</p></p></p>
 
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radarredux

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>> <i>Do you think the ISS will ever earn its cost?</i><br /><br /> /> <font color="yellow"><i>The two problems with answering that question are that that the answer to that question depends on who you are asking, and how exactly do you put a value on the output of a pure research facility?</i></font><br /><br />Another question to ask is whether there were, are, or will be alternative approaches that can achieve similar results for less money. For example, will a Bigelow supplied, man-tended orbital platform be able to achieve similar results at a much lower cost?
 
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najab

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That's an important question in its own right - "Could we have done this better?" - but it doesn't answer the initial question: "Was it worth it?"
 
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no_way

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Actually, reducing the shuttle flights to a minimum while the STS program itself is ongoing is the stupidest thing one could do.<br />Look at it this way: it costs 5 billion a year regardless of how many times it flies. Well, not exactly, but i believe the marginal cost of one added flight is somewhere around $100mil which is pocket change compared to the yearly figure. So as long as the STS program is ongoing, it would be wise to squeeze as much flights out of it as possible as often as possible and terminate the program ASAP.<br /><br />So, whip that last mile out of that tired horse if you must and then shoot it dead.
 
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