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New Shuttle, Let's dust off Venture Star!

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andrew_t1000

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The looming demise of the Shuttle fleet is a worry for those of us outside the USA.
Replacing it with one off launch vehicles seems like such a step backwards.
The whole Ares 1/V seems so damn lame!
What about revisiting Venture Star?
An aerospike engine, which uses a lot of the same components used in the Ares J2(?) engine, is a lot more efficient at all altitudes.
What we need is another reusable spacecraft, the private sector sure thinks so.
Now that NASA is being held accountable for the time, money and resources they have squandered, they are grasping at straws with Ares and Constellation.

With a reusable launch vehicle like Venture Star, we could build a long lived, manned planetary exploration vehicle.
We, the people of Earth need it!
With a decent sized, long haul capable ship, a moon base would be a snap, going to Mars and beyond not that difficult.
Surely with a cheap, reusable launch vehicle, a 2001-esque Discovery type ship would be more than feasible.
We should have built one already!
I know I keep saying this, but, I really hope we don't have to stop a "Deep Impact" from an asteroid or comet anytime in the next 100 years, especially if we keep dragging our damn feet the way we have been!
 
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mattblack

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No.

Single Stage to orbit is the 'fool's gold' of rocketry. It wouldn't work in 1996, it wont work now. Unless of course, the Venturestar was to use a pair of LOX/Kerosene strap-on boosters, the payload margins would always work slightly in the negative.

Quote: "Crew or cargo -- you couldn't do both." I hate to name-drop, but do you know who told me that?

John Young himself in May 1996.
 
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andrew_t1000

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I thought, having read about aerospike engines, that it was possible for the X33 and Venture Star to work.
Isn't the crew or cargo question only because conventional engines are not very efficient at all altitudes?
 
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EarthlingX

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That was my impression as well. I think they stopped financing development because of fuel tank problems which were solved since that time.
Maybe some private investor could do something with it, like Bigelow, who developed a solution which was not seen practical or workable by NASA.
As much as i know aerospike engine outperforms other engines through most of flight to LEO.
 
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neuvik

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The Venture Star was originally intended to be a unmanned vehicle. Thought I'd throw that out there.
 
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radarredux

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mattblack":22pqzgzu said:
Quote: "Crew or cargo -- you couldn't do both." I hate to name-drop, but do you know who told me that?
No problem. Today's systems are so automated you don't need both. You could have an automated cargo version and a crew version.

Seriously, I don't know what the economics of the Venture Star is. I've read that the cost of the "fuel" to send someone from America to Australia in a traditional jet is about the same as putting the same person into LEO, and that the reason getting to LEO is so expensive is that you throw so much away (or that refurbishment costs are so high). An analogy would be building a jet to fly passengers to Australia and then throwing away the jet when you got there. In such an economic model, flying to Australia would be very expensive too.

But as the Shuttle has shown, "reusable" doesn't necessarily translate into "inexpensive". :(
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
If i'm correct, most of the costs related to shuttle launch are costs of infrastructure and supporting operations, which means that actual launch costs fall down with more launches per year.
I guess that the costs directly related to shuttle launch should be around 600 M$, but since operational costs are closer to 3 G$, that's what you get at the end.
Those 600 M$ are for 25t of cargo and 6-7 people. I think that costs for 6 people to LEO are around 200 M$ with Soyuz, which leaves you 400 M$ for cargo or 16 k$/kg to LEO for cargo. This numbers are probably incorrect, but they illustrate my point, that shuttle is actually two spacecraft in one.
I think that the main reason is in NASA engineers being more artists than industry workers, which is fine, as long as you don't try making business.
As to the Venture star, i think that it was expected to have much less need for operational ground support than Shuttle has and not so much refurbishing needs if any, apart from similar air industry checkups.
 
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Booban

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When you put it like that it doesn't seem the shuttles are so expensive after all, as many regard keeping all that NASA expertise on the job as part of the NASA mission. Not trying to be sarcastic, but if that's part of the goal, its doing it fairly efficiently. For that price compared to the Soyuz and the capabilities of the shuttle and what we've done with it over the years, I think its a pretty good deal.
 
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EarthlingX

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Yes sir. Now imagine they would let engineers do their job, change thermal protection, SRBs, redesign SSME and man, it could rock !
I m not going to speculate as to reasons, just check history around STS a bit and while you are at it check dates of cancellation of various advanced programs and it will be another piece of the puzzle.
Oh, and i m not calling Constellation an advanced program, it s just a 'bigger is better' thing, a blind vision. I m trying real hard to hold back fire and sulfur about that .... :evil:
 
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andrew_t1000

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I thought the Russian's kept costs down by building their launch vehicles on a production line.
I know we in the west like to joke about Russian aerospace technology all looks like it was built in the Glorious Red Tractor Factory, but it works!
It might look over engineered and a little agricultural, but I think the record speaks for itself!
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
Life would be just too simple, if engineers would do engineering and politicians politics. Russian tech definitely has it's bright spots (NK-33, Soyuz,...) but i would still prefer comfy American approach to human travel (Mercury excluded ;). Why not all, let the best solution win !
Being second, third best can still give your solution time to grow up and maybe someday challenge the champion.
Russians, as i understand it, make redundancy in margins not in gear and i think that is better approach. Check T-34 tank for better picture.
 
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steve82

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As neuvik pointed out, Venturestar was a payload carrier, not a manned vehicle. There were options to carry humans up as payload not as crew. The payload module on that ship was nestled down between the lobes of the propellant tanks, probably the most unsafe conceivable configuration for Human Space Flight. No Pad abort capability, very few options for rescue. In light of the post-Columbia safety recommendations, I very much doubt that Venture Star could have met many of the requirements for a crewed vehicle.
 
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MeteorWayne

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This thread is not really related to a Mission of a Launch so will be moved to Space Business and Technology.

Wayne

I'll leave a link here in M&L for a day or two.
 
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EarthlingX

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Yes steve82, it is not the best possible design for HSF and it would have safety problems.

Check this story:
X-33/VentureStar – What really happened :
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2006/01/ ... -happened/

At least some parts of the program survived, like aerospike engine. I heard a rumor that Bigelow has some plans with it but have not found anything about it. I know that a lot of that tech was used in J2-X engine and i think shuttle has something to do with aluminium tank they developed as an alternative.
I think it also used some better thermal protection than shuttle, some sort of metal alloy.
 
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EarthlingX

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steve82":ivajouvb said:
As neuvik pointed out, Venturestar was a payload carrier, not a manned vehicle. There were options to carry humans up as payload not as crew. The payload module on that ship was nestled down between the lobes of the propellant tanks, probably the most unsafe conceivable configuration for Human Space Flight. No Pad abort capability, very few options for rescue. In light of the post-Columbia safety recommendations, I very much doubt that Venture Star could have met many of the requirements for a crewed vehicle.
Beside that, aerospike engines have a bad performance in speeds under 2-3 mach, which translates to problems (lower cargo mass) at lift-off.
That is design related because there is not enough air pressure to form a bell.
With 20t to LEO it compares to many other ELVs and i think it should be cheaper to refuel than to build a new ELV.
Well, if nothing else, it was inspiring design :)
I wonder how it would work with LOX/Kerosine mix and staged combustion cycle ? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staged_com ... 8rocket%29
Wouldn't LOX/Kerosine allow single axle turbopump ?
Much less trouble than with LH2 storage, but how about thrust ?
Any ideas ?
 
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neutrino78x

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EarthlingX":1nigefl4 said:
Here's an idea, how to solve problem with the low speed performance :
Maglev launch system:
http://www.cyrus-space-system.com/

I agree, maglev launch is a good idea. It seems you could use maglev to accelerate an SSTO launcher to that minimum speed it needs to be efficient! :)

It is not the most elegant solution in my view, because the SSTO vehicle would require the maglev system to launch, and I would prefer an SSTO solution can take off from any runway...but any solution that achieves SSTO is a good one, in my opinion!!! :)
 
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neutrino78x

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SpaceXFanMobius57":qtq84ix7 said:
I like the skylon from reaction engines.
Yeah, the Brits need to get on with that! Britain is one of the world's most powerful nations, yet Her Majesty does not have her own space program! At least, not one comparable to that of the USA. I would rather buy LEO services from a British company, or the Queen of Britain, instead of Russia. At least the UK is a free country!!!! I'm a proud, patriotic American who served in the USN, but since the UK is part of The Free West, I say "God Save the Queen", so she can bring us another option for LEO services!! :)
 
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neutrino78x

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Hey guys, aren't the SpaceX rockets reusable? :?: I saw something on the SpaceX web site about how Musk is disappointed that most people see his rocket as an expendable one, when he intends for it to be reusable. :)
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
How about using Merlin in a variation of a circular airspike ? They are not that huge ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merlin_%28rocket_engine%29
Or linear, 5 Merlins on each side ? There would be need to rewire cooling a bit, recalculate combustion, but i think it could work.
What would that do to Isp ? I guess it would average on better through atmosphere, but what happens above ?
Put such a beastie on a Skylon-like carrier instead of Maglev for smaller payloads (under 100t) and off you go :)
 
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vulture4

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Venturestar was never fully developed as a design, since the X-33, which was intended to demonstrate relevant technologies, was canceled. Whether the optimal approach is SSTO or TSTO, a fully reusable launch vehicle is certainly possible. Whether the best technological approach would utilize a lifing body (X-33), air launch (X-34, SpaceShip 1), vertical landing (DC-X) or a flyback booster stage (original Shuttle concept, possibly future Falcon) or some other technological approach could really only be established with a program of flyable prototypes, unmanned but reusable, which could establish actual data (as opposed to the usually inaccurate analytical projections) for reliability, performance, and operating cost. A good starting point would be the technology demonstrator programs that were canceled by Sean O'Keefe.
 
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EarthlingX

Guest
vulture4":3firb3sk said:
Venturestar was never fully developed as a design, since the X-33, which was intended to demonstrate relevant technologies, was canceled. Whether the optimal approach is SSTO or TSTO, a fully reusable launch vehicle is certainly possible. Whether the best technological approach would utilize a lifing body (X-33), air launch (X-34, SpaceShip 1), vertical landing (DC-X) or a flyback booster stage (original Shuttle concept, possibly future Falcon) or some other technological approach could really only be established with a program of flyable prototypes, unmanned but reusable, which could establish actual data (as opposed to the usually inaccurate analytical projections) for reliability, performance, and operating cost. A good starting point would be the technology demonstrator programs that were canceled by Sean O'Keefe.
I agree, but would anyway like to add a couple of 'analytical like' points, for the sake of 'philosofysing'.

1. Engine/fuel combo, used for airspike should have Isp at least above 400s to allow 10/1 or better fuel/structure ratio;
(http://www.tsinghua.edu.cn/docsn/lxx/ma ... age586.htm)
2. There are fuels, which could achieve H2 efficiency, due to complications with hydrogen storage:
(http://www.dunnspace.com/alternate_ssto_propellants.htm)

Here is 'A Comparison of Propulsion Concepts for SSTO Reusable Launchers' :
http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/downlo ... 08-117.pdf

I don't think SSTO or TSTO is a 'fools gold of rocketry', but just another, every year smaller, technological hurdle.
 
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Gravity_Ray

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Can somebody explain the business model behind a "reusable" space vehicle? Reusability denotes a destination and right now there is no destination in space (The ISS is only going to be around for about 10 years). If you're talking about point to point from NY to Tokyo that's one thing but if you are going into deep space you need to deal with orbital speeds to re-enter Earth and for that you can't beat the design of a capsule. Wings in space makes as much sense as a one armed man clapping.
 
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neutrino78x

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Gravity_Ray":1rj7ovcn said:
Can somebody explain the business model behind a "reusable" space vehicle?
Well, my dad is the one with the MBA, I don't have a college degree at all, but, my understanding is that, it should, in theory, be better to have a rocketplane which needs no other maintenance between flights other than refueling, instead of an expendable rocket, in which case you have to build a whole other rocket to make another flight.

I think SpaceX's products are supposed to be at least partially reusable; after a flight, they parachute back to earth, and you just have to clean it out and refuel it before you launch it again.
 
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