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An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".

Posted by: RGClark - Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:37 am
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An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended". 
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Space Walker
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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Fri Sep 07, 2012 11:35 pm
So how about an open source complete space launch system from manufacturing of rockets through launch facility and operations, to orbital operations.

All built on small sstos with the ability to launch 1 to 2 tons, ease of mass production, and recyclability in orbit into other products in an orbital factory.

The rockets are smaller to reduce the costs of infrastructure to manufacture store, transport, assemble and launch them, so agencies/organisations with less capital abailable could still have access to space.

Question: what would be the dimensions of an ssto rocket capable of launching 1, or 2 tons to leo?

The smaller the more feasible it is for a distributed network of small groups of people and small companies to clump together to run a space program. Also a lot of the manufacturing could be done by facilities that arent specialised in the space industry.

Is this a stupid approach for an open source space program? What issues or inefficiencies are there in this approach compared to large agencies capable of launching large rockets with massive cargos?

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:48 am
box wrote:
So how about an open source complete space launch system from manufacturing of rockets through launch facility and operations, to orbital operations.
All built on small sstos with the ability to launch 1 to 2 tons, ease of mass production, and recyclability in orbit into other products in an orbital factory.
The rockets are smaller to reduce the costs of infrastructure to manufacture store, transport, assemble and launch them, so agencies/organisations with less capital abailable could still have access to space.
Question: what would be the dimensions of an ssto rocket capable of launching 1, or 2 tons to leo?
The smaller the more feasible it is for a distributed network of small groups of people and small companies to clump together to run a space program. Also a lot of the manufacturing could be done by facilities that arent specialised in the space industry.
Is this a stupid approach for an open source space program? What issues or inefficiencies are there in this approach compared to large agencies capable of launching large rockets with massive cargos?


I've argued that SSTO's can be produced at a comparable size and cost of small business jets, a few tens of millions of dollars:

The Coming SSTO's.
http://exoscientist.blogspot.com/2012/0 ... sstos.html



Bob Clark

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Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Sat Sep 08, 2012 12:48 pm
I know the whole point of an ssto is to reuse the whole thing.

But I am wondering if it would be possible to make a "small dumb booster" kind of setup. Cheap, reliable, no re-entry and landing required. Just get the whole thing up there with the payload, then reuse all the material that isn't the payload but we already boosted to orbit.

Is it a silly concept?

I guess if you spend so much money to build an engine and all, it sounds stupid to take them apart.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:41 pm
Problem is that currently there is no utility for collecting bulk mass or components in orbit, and it's an extra cost/complication/liability. Carrying your second stage (or whathaveyou) all the way to orbit means you have to figure out a safe place to put it, which usually isn't the same place you want your payload. If you have a collection point for them, then your payload needs to expend its onboard DV getting to where ever it needs to be.

The ISS could probably be twice the size it is now if it kept all of the Soyuz and other things that have gone up to it, but then it would become an unwieldy monstrosity with a huge surface area and mass what would be a nightmare to maintain and keep in orbit. The costs associated with a structure in orbit probably aren't exponential or even the square of it's cubic volume and mass, but I bet they are close.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:58 pm
I think that what is going to happen is that Bigelow Aerospace is gonna get off the ground, and is going to be the start of a new space industry, and (relatively) cheap space stations. Here's hoping.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:46 pm
box wrote:
Question: what would be the dimensions of an ssto rocket capable of launching 1, or 2 tons to leo?

24.7m high, 1.68m diameter, 46760kg liftoff mass. It's not currently on the market though, due to limited demand...

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:57 am
Lourens wrote:
box wrote:
Question: what would be the dimensions of an ssto rocket capable of launching 1, or 2 tons to leo?

24.7m high, 1.68m diameter, 46760kg liftoff mass. It's not currently on the market though, due to limited demand...


Thanks for that.

Is there any place where I could look at detailed schematics of a rocket of this scale/complexity. I need to wrap my head around the intricacies of rocket engineering.

I am trying to find out things like how many parts, dimensions/complexity of various parts, what sort of materials and material working capability is required. How many man hours goes into building one of these etc...

I just want to have a much better idea of the complexities of rocketry. At the moment my "understanding" is extremely simplistic.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:52 pm
Sorry, Falcon 1e is not an SSTO, it's two stages. I missed that requirement. Vega and Taurus also loft 1-2 (metric) tonnes to LEO, but they use four stages to get there. That increases complexity due to the extra stage separations, but three of the four stages are solid rocket motors, so that makes it easier again than the two turbo pump liquid stages of F1e. You pretty much need a liquid rocket on the final stage to be able to precisely steer to the right orbit, and for a restart to circularise the orbit.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:05 pm
Another alternate way to get SSTO

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/09/25-kil ... ingle.html

IIRC Geoffrey A. Landis was involved with the Spirit and Opportunity missions so has good form on hardware that is up there.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:00 pm
What caught my eye was the 2% payload mass fraction they give for an H2/LOX-powered SSTO launched from ground level. That's pretty much the mass fraction for the Falcon 1e, except that the F1e uses relatively simple (and thus low-efficiency) engines and kerosene/LOX. So, at least in the 1 tonne payload range, in exchange for a stage separation event you get cheaper engines and a much easier to handle fuel. Of course, one of the F1 launches failed on the stage separation, but that was an unforeseen aerodynamics issue that was easily fixed by changing the separation sequence a bit.

Neither are re-usable for these numbers if I understand correctly. For a reusable SSTO, you'd need thermal protection and landing gear, and there could be some weight savings to having only one stage there. You'd need only one heat shield/parachutes/landing gear rather than two. On the other hand, the first stage doesn't reach orbital velocity, so its shield could be simpler, and the second stage has less mass than an SSTO, which also helps. Still, reusability could tilt the advantage back to an SSTO...

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:29 pm
SANEAlex wrote:


Not really SSTO as the tower contraption is essentially the first stage/ booster.

Read the comments down at the bottom for an interesting technical discussion of it's merits and shortcomings.


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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:17 pm
JamesG wrote:
SANEAlex wrote:


Not really SSTO as the tower contraption is essentially the first stage/ booster.

Read the comments down at the bottom for an interesting technical discussion of it's merits and shortcomings.


Unfortunately they outsource their comments section to something called disqus which even if i lower the javascript security on my pc temporary to include it still does not run i dislike lowering my security to allow 3rd party systems to run code but this one seems to need 4th party code running without disclosing to me the names of the sites it wants to run it on so i miss out on the discussions on this site.

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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Sun Sep 30, 2012 7:21 am
The new Falcon 9 v1.1 will have its engines arranged in an octagonal arrangement:

Untested Rocket Boosts SpaceX Revenue Nearly $1 Billion.
By Amy Svitak
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology
September 17, 2012
Quote:
...Another change, she says, involves the rocket's nine Merlin 1D engines, which will be positioned in an octagonal configuration, rather than the “tic-tac-toe” placement on the current Falcon 9.
“You actually want the engines around the perimeter at the tank, otherwise you are carrying that load from those engines that are not on the skin,” she says. “You've got to carry them out to the skin, because that is the primary load path for the launch vehicle."

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.asp ... 49.xml&p=2

See this thread on NasaSpaceflight for how this engine arrangement might look:

SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1.
http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index. ... #msg956757

This could have another advantage in that the octagonal arrangement of the engines makes possible the use of an aerospike in the center, if the center engine is removed.
This would give the first stage engines Merlin Vacuum type performance, raising the Isp from the ca. 311 s of the Merlin 1D to the ca. 340 s of the Merlin Vacuum.
This would result in a marked improvement in payload.


Bob Clark

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Single-stage-to-orbit was already shown possible 50 years ago with the Titan II first stage.
Contrary to popular belief, SSTO's in fact are actually easy. Just use the most efficient engines
and stages at the same time, and the result will automatically be SSTO.
Blog: http://exoscientist.blogspot.com


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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:43 am
Honestly if I had 30 million dallars I'd have a resuable rocket even if it meant living out of it.


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Post Re: An SSTO as "God and Robert Heinlein intended".   Posted on: Thu Oct 04, 2012 4:19 am
RGClark wrote:
This could have another advantage in that the octagonal arrangement of the engines makes possible the use of an aerospike in the center, if the center engine is removed.


I agree however, the catch is that you could use very little of the Merlin as we know it. You would have to rework the individual engines into the combustion chambers for the aerospike. Which means a complete re-development of not only the things that get hot and noisy, but also the entire aft end of the launch vehicle.

I think they are probably too far down the conventional development road to make that kind of change.


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