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Favorite vehicle that should have been built but wasn't

Posted by: Cadet - Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:10 pm
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Favorite vehicle that should have been built but wasn't 
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Post Favorite vehicle that should have been built but wasn't   Posted on: Wed Aug 11, 2004 10:10 pm
What's your favorite lift vehicle that should have been built but never was?

Mine is the SeaDragon. 550 tons into LEO. Imagine what we could do with that lift capacity nowadays.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:34 am
Not exactly a lift vehicle but mine would be the Dynasoar. It was quite complete when it was cancelled and orbital drops was scheduled. Would have provided basic manned space access capability.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 12, 2004 3:56 am
That's a tough one, there's certainly been quite a large number of promising designs.

As far as chemically fueled rockets, for me it'd be a toss up between Gary Hudson's Phoenix or the SSX that Jerry Pournelle was pushing for. Although it could be argued that they were practically the same vehicle. The '50 launches a year' Space Shuttle would have been nice to see but that's a bit too much science fiction.

For nuclear powered rockets I'd love to see the gas core nuclear reactor powered liberty ship that www.nuclearspace.com wrote about fly. Somehow though I don't think it'd be anywhere near as easy to actually build than what their article implied. Although I think it's a lot closer to reality than that 50 flight shuttle.

For alternate propulsion my current favorite is the JP Aerospace 'Airship to Orbit' concept. Although the laser launch systems I've seen are really cool too, even if they're not much more than flying tops right now.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 12, 2004 4:42 pm
Venture Star dudes :P

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 13, 2004 10:12 am
Has to be the Soviet 50/50 spiral spaceplane. It just had a particular beauty about it that Russian engineers seem to achieve with all of their aerospace projects. Failing that, the Deathstar. It is uncanny to see a British manned project for the Empire bedevilled by cost over-runs and construction behind schedule!! :lol:

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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 14, 2004 8:44 pm
luke.r wrote:
...the Deathstar. It is uncanny to see a British manned project for the Empire bedevilled by cost over-runs and construction behind schedule!! :lol:


That reminds me.... How come all the baddest badguys (if not the Evil Overlord™ himself, then at least his Trusted Lieutenant) always have British accents (although goodguys can have 'em, too)? And at least one of the goodguys has a Texas drawl? And if they have a Cockney accent, they're not truly evil. If they're Aussies, they're goodguys.

And if it's a gorgeous woman with a British accent (they're never ugly), then run. Don't look back. Just run, 'cuz she's the meanest little witch that ever beat the Devil himself into submission.

....Back on subject, I'd have to say Bristol's Ascender. The rest of their scheme (Spacecab and Spacebus) I don't care for. But Ascender is just absolutely gorgeous. And it doesn't look like it's goin' anywhere...

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Post    Posted on: Sun Aug 15, 2004 9:45 pm
I have a list:
The Flyback F-1 Saturn V first stage
The stage-and-a-half Saturn V first stage
The Saturn Shuttle that put the external tank atop a recoverable Saturn V first stage
The Shuttle SERV because it might just have worked a little better than the shuttle.

Why? They were incremental upgrades to the existing architecture that probably would have done us better than trying to fit everything on the shuttle which, as we found out later, wouldn't work out.

I also wish that the X-33 would have flown at least a few times to certify some of the technologies they cooked up (metallic heat shields, linear aerospike, etc) even though there was no question that it would have been a dead-end. Same thing as the ion drives. We'd been running them for years and years on the ground from test stands. But not until after DS1 was launched and showed that it works in real life conditions did it become an option for propulsion for other projects.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Aug 19, 2004 9:46 pm
How about the Roton? The original one, with the "Rotary Rocketjet" engine, not the kludged conventional-engined later version. The engine had some very elegant theory behind it, and I would have really liked to see it work... Of course, there were plenty of engineering challenges too - which is why it didn't.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 7:16 am
Scaled Composites is reporting at its homepage that they were involved in Roton and that it flew successfully in 1999.

Was that the original one or the one you are critizising?



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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 4:14 pm
i'd have to say orion takes it for me. completely inelegant, extremely polluting, and the most powerful vehicle that was ever actually designed.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 6:28 pm
TerraMrs wrote:
i'd have to say orion takes it for me. completely inelegant, extremely polluting, and the most powerful vehicle that was ever actually designed.


Don't forget that it violates at least two international treaties :D

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 6:44 pm
TerraMrs wrote:
i'd have to say orion takes it for me. completely inelegant, extremely polluting, and the most powerful vehicle that was ever actually designed.


Don't be too sure about the polluting part. Supposedly reasonably clean nukes could built and launching it over a graphite coated steel plate supposedly eliminates fallout. The treaties are nothing more than technicalities that can probably be worked around by some savy lawyers and lots of political work. Although the very mention of detonating 800-1000 nukes in the atmosphere just to get to orbit would probably drive the environmentalists absolutely bananas and nothing would happen even if the nukes were clean and there was zero fallout. It would take something along the lines of 'Footfall' to ever get one of those built and launched from the earths surface.

It is a really cool ship though. It'd be nice to build them on the moon, provided radioactive material could be found there.


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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:49 pm
Quote:
Don't be too sure about the polluting part. Supposedly reasonably clean nukes could built and launching it over a graphite coated steel plate supposedly eliminates fallout.


1. If reasonably clean nukes could have been built, they'd have been built for now. The cleaner the nuke, the happier the military is.
2. Maybe for the first one, but those that are detonated at altitude are going to have fallout.

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Post    Posted on: Fri Aug 20, 2004 11:18 pm
From what I know, which could be wrong, another word for a clean nuke is a neutron bomb. They're pretty restricted by treaty I believe, so you'd have to change a third or even more treaties to build and launch one of these.

I don't follow you about the fallout from multiple air bursts, since fallout is primarily the ash of the stuff from the ground. I guess that the launch platform would have to be built out in the south pacific and not have any actual ground nearby. Still 800 nukes going off is like 50%-60% more nukes than all the above ground tests done between the first in New Mexico and the '62 test ban treaty. Then again I guess the propellent shell on the nuke would become fallout unless that isn't needed in the atmosphere.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Aug 21, 2004 3:03 am
Uhhh....

Orion's not a good idea in the atmosphere. Unless, of course, you are trying to take on the Fithp. But that's another matter.

Yes, there are "reduced fallout" bombs. Neutron bombs are part of this category, but not all reduced fallout bombs are necessarily neutron bombs. In either case, there's a measurable decrease in fallout, but you still have some fallout.

The problem is, it's just not a good idea. Fallout isn't everything. You are putting out a lot of radiation out the back of your ship. Even nuclear ramjets, without any sort of explosion, is way too much for our planet. And when you put out loads of neutrons, you end up inducing radioactivity in whatever touches it. And "reduced fallout" means reduced fallout, not no fallout.

The big problem is that once you hit altitude, you are going to be spreading radioisotopes all over the place. And if you do it all of the time, it'll just be worse. Remember, we can handle some amount of radiation in the environment with no problems, but there's a decided limit.

Oh yeah, and you'll tend to create an electromagnetic pulse, which will do wonders for most non-military computers.

So, Orion in the atmosphere's not a good idea. Not now, not then, not ever.

On the other hand, Orion is actually not bad once you are in space. Space is already incredibly radioactive, so a little more fun isn't going to hurt anybody, as long as you do it outside of the Van Allen belts.

Now, as far as treaties go, there's a few.

First, the world is currently under a comprehensive test ban treaty. This means that you aren't allowed to set off *any* nuclear explosions. It's only really been signed because the US figures that they can simulate nuclear explosions well enough on the computer (and history has shown that once you've got the science and production down, it's awfully easy to make it all work. Remember, it was quite some time before the US actually was able to produce a dud). Even the predecessor treaty banned them.

Second, the Outer Space Treaty bans the mere storage of nuclear weapons in space.

Now, the thing is, at this point in history, it's reasonably likely that you could convince folks to amend the Outer Space Treaty. Hell, we're going to have to deal with that one of these days when it's the right time to let people stake claims on asteroids for mining.

Personally, I think we need to try screwing with VASMIR and the nuclear salt-water rocket. Neither of them have been tested so far, both of them have people exclaiming that they won't work, and both would be awfully handy if they did, in fact, work.


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