Everybody has a favourite launch vehicle or concept, personally I really like the concepts put forwards by Kistler Aerospace and SpaceX, the Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) approach.<br /><br />So what is your favourite launch vehicle and why?<br />
Well that would be telling wouldn't it <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />I was really referring to what would be the future of launch vehicles, what would be the best way for them to develop and why you think that route is the best.<br /><br />Perhaps I should explain a bit more, I favour developing a reusable TSTO system that doesn't have wings and is in the medium lift category, with a payload roughly equivalent to Soyuz. However I also like the Delta IV/Atlas V clustering idea for heavy lift. <br /><br />My personal ultimate launch vehicle would combine these ideas so that medium lift would be a 100% reusable TSTO but heavy lift would use multiple first stages (perhaps ones that had be already launched multiple times and needed an overhaul) in a non re-useable way.<br /><br />This way I feel you could get the most done with the smallest about of money.
I like your "systems level" approach.<br /><br />One thing I'm noticing, is that we seem to have learned a little caution, after a century of invention without really considering consequences. So people who are hoping for future tech, are putting effort into hte "what happens <i>after</i>" aspect.<br /><br />In other words, what would get the most done? And be the most sustainable? And create the most jobs? And enable the greatest return?<br /><br />TSTO is like that.<br /><br />Imagine if someone before the turn of the last century could forsee diesel electric trains and electric cars, and had the wherewithal to make those the primary transportation modes in America. We'd be less dependent on foreign energy, and if someone got smart and planted one third of Arizona with Jojoba trees and oil-nut Palms, we could run the engines on biofuel and be a completely zero-net carbon society.<br /><br />Mond boggling, eh? That we could have a high quality way of life that didn't destroy sovereign nations and the environment?<br /><br />So we're looking at these sorts of things in the launch industry, too. Even though it's really too early, we're just exploring what would be really ideal, be the most sustainable, and create the most abundance.<br /><br />I'd say orbital rotating tethers, whcih would be crewed with a small staff. These skyhooks would reach down and grab suborbital winged vehicles having a top speed of about Mach 10. Released at the top of the tether, they'd be travelling at Mach 35. The tether would have at least two "launch windows" each month to send a ship on a lunar trajectory.<br /><br />Released at the bottom, the winged craft has its Mach 10 speed still, but it's about 1/6 of the way around the earth (based on the system that I've seen, modified, and noodled with). So we're talking a 5,000 mile trip in under an hour. Stay with the tether for two rotations, and you'll cover about 9,000, and still in less than an hour.<br /><br />Proabbaly a Mach 10 winged vehicle can make a
I'd still like a Big Dumb Booster like Energia. <br /><br />For a nonexistent vehicle, I'd still like a real SSTOL, that can take off from a runway.<br /><br />I was always fond of the Delta Clipper, though I can understand why they scrapped it if there were reliability concerns (of course, how could they know its reliability if it wasn't adequately funded?).<br /><br />Aside from that, I think a (much bigger) vehicle like SS1, launched from a mother plane would be a good bet. Imagine a kind of "Super Pegasus."
Very simple following the KISS principle. Definitely nothing complicated and nothing reusable. Refined, dependable, proven. Built for that launch and definitely not a launch vehicle that's gone through the process before or expected to go through a launch again. Based on proven physics and the less components the better and not burdened with 'do-dads' that are subject to failure. <br /><br /> A 5-cent military can opener does a fine job opening a can. No moving parts, electronics, chips, plugs, motors, electricity, etc. The risk of a failure through more complicated launch vehicles outweighs the benefits (what benefits?). At least we've learned that re-usable doesn't necessarily mean more efficient or cheaper.
I am a big fan of the Aquaris launcher idea:<br /><br />http://www.astronautical.org/pubs/vol40i3Feat.htm<br /><br />It seems to have a lot of common sense behind it---launch the cheap stuff on a cheap rocket. I would love a heavy lift aquarius. <br /><br />That and I would love to see a Saturn V in a Delta-IV Heavy (3 common core boosters) configuration.
They make a pretty good case for acceptable levels of fallout given a heavy steel carbon coated launch pad. Apparently, fallout comes from dirt getting irradiated after the crater is excavated. The Orion steel launchpad eliminated that source of fallout. There would still be atmospheric dust, but the fallout would be minimal compared to the 100+ open air tests of A-bombs in the 50's.<br /><br />The concept leaves one to ponder the enormous energies stored in TNT and other high-explosives. The Orion demo used TNT in place of the nukes to lift a small mass. It impressed Von Braun rather alot (so I have heard). What sort of practical launcher might be developed that could use TNT or other high explosives along the line of Orion?<br /><br />What about a pusher plate + large payload initially lofted by SRBs to a few hundred feet and with an initial forward momentum. A high speed rocket launcher on the ground could then fire off a continuous fuselade of laser guided missioles, each lofting a warhead of a few hundred kilos of high explosives. These would detonate a few meters below the pusher plate to provide thrust. <br /><br />We know how to make high speed rocket launchers and there could be redundant arrays of rocket launchers interleaved at less than maximum capacity to compensate for mechanical failures. The rest is all smart bombs and proximity fuses and high explosives.
I don't see Energia as a big dumb booster. A BIG booster, yes... but not dumb. Especially in it's later incarnations which had boosters that FLEW back for re-use. A cluster of SRBs strapped together would be a big dumb booster.
I thought they found that asphalt worked rather well. Either way, in today's world, even 'reduced' fallout would be unacceptable. Great concept once you are in orbit, though, provided you can get the dynamics of and engineering for the pusher plate worked out. Buliding one in orbit sure would be an endeavour... but maybe, just maybe, building one on the moon would make a lot more sense. Besides, with a smaller gravity well, you would have even more delta-v to work with for a given propellant load (aka bomb load).
Cool. I remember reading a National Geographic article about "Big Dumb Boosters" back in 74 or so. They spoke of a scaled up version of the LEM ascent stage that would be fabed in a ship yard. Guess this is what they were talking about, though I never had seen it.<br /><br />The thing I like about the scale is that the critical dimension components lend themselves well to explosive forming. A whole lot of components could be run-off with soft tooling at a low cost. I wonder if anyone has revisited this design in recent times?
How about two ETs, each with 2 SRBs bolted shuttle side together using a frame work. Underneath, attached to the frame would be dual SSME modules equipped with heat sheild sand parachutes. At the top would be a large circular hardpoint collar. A large girth 80 ton cargo could be placed under a fairing.
I dunno. A laptop with a GPS is a pretty awesome guidance device and doesn't weigh much. The non-gimbaled approach came into fruition with the N-1. The booster had a large number of engines in a concentric circle and a "computer" throttled the engines instead of moving the bell. Leaving the hydraulic actuators out of the equation would save a lot of weight. But sooo manyengine...
From my understanding of GPS (I could very well be wrong) the location information is only updated once per second, so I'm not sure its the best for a rocket. Esp just as it is lifting off. The N-1 Multi-engine approach is a neat one, but not the most practice, esp if your goal is to be cheap. I would go to pneumatics if the rocket is pressure fed to begin with I would seem to be the best option. Also smaller engines could be put severely off axis and vectored to control the rocket while the main engine remains fixed.
What you want is a stable of different launch vehicles and systems for different jobs, so that the cost to orbit becomes a function of the nature of the payload. This differentiation in value is necessary to the establishment of robust private enterprise in space.<br /><br />IOW, you want a water launcher, a food launcher, a cargo module launcher, a small equipment launcher, a large equipment launcher, and of course a people launcher. It should cost more to get fragile equipment up there than it does for water and oatmeal. <br /><br />You can't afford to build a separate launcher for each job, but you do need a line-up of vehicles/systems with overlapping capabilities. For food and water, the ride does not have to be smooth and easy. Equipment builders would live to have choices in the g-load and vibration environments. <br /><br />The key is being able to know what it is you're going to be launching, so you can build your vehicles around that. If there was assured demand for say, 100,000 tonne to LEO, and if that aggregate payload was specified, I dare say you would have your fleet of vehicles in short order.<br /><br />A poster here whom I respect a great deal has forcefully argued against a HLLV. The basis of the argument is that you cannot achieve CATS without high flight rate. I do not dispute that in the least. But if you're going to have a fleet of high flight rate vehicles providing supplies at the lowest cost to orbit, you need to have some activity to be supplying. So you need large facilities on orbit. That's where the low flight rate BDB comes in.<br /><br />Knowing upfront that it's a low flight rate vehicle lets you design in some cost savings by not having a huge standing army. Four times a year, a 120 tonne chunk of technology would get lofted into high LEO. That'd get this space age in gear.<br /><br />So to answer the topic question:<br />1. SpaceX and its future competitors can supply the smaller pieces of equipment and the supplies for the early years of deve <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>