Dec 082012

NASA rendering of the Space Launch System Block 2 concept.

 Posted by at 10:01 pm
  • se jones

    What I want to see is Dynetics / P&W go for ULA & SpaceX’s throat with this F1 booster proposal.
    The healthiest thing for this county would be for LV manufactures to engage in “The Sporty Game” the way it used to be in commercial air-frames.

    There’s trouble on the horizon with RD180s as Putin plays hardball with the cost and the Russian’s industrial base crumbles. The single stick Dynetics F1 booster at a competitive price against the ULA boosters & Falcon Heavy would be a joy to behold.

    The smartest thing NASA could do right now would be to skip the SRB boosted SLS altogether and go strait to the Dynetics F1 concept. The F1 booster kills two birds with one stone, gives you safer, better strap-ons for SLS AND gives the USA a domestically powered, reliable, robust EELV for DOD payloads and a healthy competitive alternative to Falcon H.

    Of course ATK would fight this tooth & nail. They know -we all know- that it’s fantasy to expect NASA to switch boosters on SLS after it flies. There’s no way in hell. If NASA did logical things like THAT, we’d have a Shuttle C flying today and wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    Naturally it’s problematical to shut out ATK and their political support, but that’s business. ATK has a talented workforce & supply chain, give them a piece of the pie – they can switch to building liquid booster air-frames. Really. It beats going out of the LV business altogether if SLS dies. What is needed, as always, is serious leadership, not another political lap dog. (with all due respect)

    I’m not one of those bitter guys who hates solids because of what happened in ’86, but I am afraid of having fully loaded SRBs inside our nation’s “cathedral” of spaceflight (VAB) for weeks or months on end. There’s a reason SRB segments are considered “live ordnance” by the railroads and restricted to certain routes.

  • Anonymous

    The SLS is a dead horse already. SpaceX has demonstrated they can deliver the goods far faster and cheaper than anyone else, and with their lead time they can have a Falcon 9 Heavy and Falcon-X in production long before the SLS is even projected to fly.

    The real spur for competition is SpaceX itself; do you really imagine that Boeing or Loc-Mart will sit quietly while SpaceX eats their lunch?

    • se jones

      Dynetics doesn’t build L/Vs, they’d naturally contract/team with a Boeing or Loc-Mart to build the F1 powered SLS booster/(Atlas VI- Ares II – Stick mark II: whatever you want to call it).

      SLS isn’t dead yet. I know cynicism is all in vogue now, but SLS doesn’t involve fundamental breakthroughs, it has infrastructure in place and a political constituency. We’ll see.

      SpaceX has a long road ahead to Falcon-X, there will be setbacks, but I have faith in them too.
      All I’m saying is a decision to go with the Dynetics booster NOW could lead to a healthy completion for a change.

    • publiusr

      Not so fast. Space X needs money for MCT, but Stern/ Golden Spike wanted money for existing launchers that can’t come close to Block II SLS. SLS is just the latest shuttle derived HLLV, and a lot of people have done work already. Before it was SLS it was Direct, CaLV/Longfellow, Magnum, ALS/NLS. Let’s let folks finish something for once.

      Let ATK be an advocate for now by not shutting them out. Then Dynetics will take over in time.

  • Anonymous

    Gentlemen, you’ve said it yourselves; the SLS is just a continuation of Shuttle “C” and Shuttle “Z”. If those ideas never got off the ground (or actually, never emerged from paper spaceships) during the decades the Shuttle program was actually up and running, then what makes you think that a retooled, warmed over version is a go now?

    Boeing and Loc-Mart can rake in millions doing “studies” and churning out PowerPoint presentations (some of which may end up on this site as illustrations), but there is no “destination” for a NASA HLV and no political will to bend metal. Frankly, once the United States drives over the Fiscal Cliff (and kicking the can a bit farther down the Obama Administration only makes the final crash that much more terrible; Social Security and Medicare are supposed to be running deficits as early as 2016…) not only political will will be gone, but so will the financial resources.

    Like I said earlier, if SpaceX or any other private contractor is going to seriously eat Boeing and Loc-Mart’s lunch, you can expect vigorous action ranging from crony capitalist tricks to real attempts to streamline and bring prices down on the part of the major aerospace contractors. That is what is going to drive innovation.

  • Robert Clark

    Good news to investigate bringing back the F-1 engine. What’s also interesting is such an engine used on a SLS-sized core could exceed the 70 mT payload of the SLS *without* side boosters IF the core stage was weight optimized by common bulkhead design and aluminum-lithium tanks:

    Bob Clark