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Thread: Amazing what you can do when you take the wings off!

  1. #1
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    Amazing what you can do when you take the wings off!

    I was browsing http://www.astronautix.com/ and checking out their section on Apollo, and found some interesting things.

    No, this is not about the supposed "moon hoax", or debunking it. More of a comparison of Apollo and the Space Shuttle. Hence, I post it here, not under Lunar Hoaxes.

    OK, check out the Apollo CSM system. 30.3 metric tons, 11.03 meters long, maximum delta-v of 2,804 m/s, right? Also, it pushed the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), a 15-ton craft with its own max delta-v of 4700 m/s. Total system mass was 45 tons. Heck, the Apollo LM was so impressive, it nearly ended up as our first "space fighter"

    Now, compare that to our youngest shuttle, the Endeavour. Total payload of 25 tons, total vehicle mass of 104 tons, maximum delta-v of 700 m/s, much larger habitable volume (like, 5.5 times the volume), 7-person capacity instead of 3-person, etc.

    The Shuttle's enormous size didn't do a whole lot more for it, did it? They gained an additional 10 tons of cargo, and extended the crew out from 3 to 7, but they gave up a LOT of orbital maneuverability, maximum altitude, etc, to do it. Those wings are, of course, a large part of the problem, as is the volume of its cargo bay.

    BTW, another note on Apollo - the CSM could push, if necessary, Skylab, which was 76 tons. It'd take a while to push it any distance, but it had the delta-v and thrust to do so.

    My point to all this? Just to point out the incredible work the engineers did on Apollo, and to also illustrate the advantages of the capsule design for the "Orbital Space Plane", which is, in concept, simply an Apollo scaled up 30%. BTW, scaling up the Command Module by 30% would roughly double the internal volume, and if they can make more efficient use of mass (only half the Apollo CM's overall volume was habitable space), they could improve that even further.

    Almost makes putting wings on the OSP seem kinda silly, doesn't it? Now, I'm not saying dump the Shuttle all together - having that ability to return things in a protected cargo bay has proven handy at times. But, it does make one wonder, doesn't it?

  2. #2
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    The shuttle has big wings because the military insisted on a cross-range capability on the order of 2000 kilometers. (The military also determined the size of the cargo bay.) Of course, the military are now out of the picture with regard to shuttle missions, but the design heritage remains.
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    I just want to point out my opinion that the Orbital Space Plane HAS to have wings.

    Without wings it's no longer a plane and would be better named the Orbital Spacecraft

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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    The shuttle has big wings because the military insisted on a cross-range capability on the order of 2000 kilometers. (The military also determined the size of the cargo bay.) Of course, the military are now out of the picture with regard to shuttle missions, but the design heritage remains.
    Thank you ToSeek. Everyone is constantly ragging on NASA about the space shuttle and that point is almost always forgotten. As I remember, the original concepts for the shuttle were for a much smaller design. The only way that NASA could get Congress to approve the funding was to get the Pentagon to give their verbal support. They only did that once NASA had changed the design to meet the military requirements. But the military has given little to no financial support.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift
    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    The shuttle has big wings because the military insisted on a cross-range capability on the order of 2000 kilometers. (The military also determined the size of the cargo bay.) Of course, the military are now out of the picture with regard to shuttle missions, but the design heritage remains.
    Thank you ToSeek. Everyone is constantly ragging on NASA about the space shuttle and that point is almost always forgotten. As I remember, the original concepts for the shuttle were for a much smaller design. The only way that NASA could get Congress to approve the funding was to get the Pentagon to give their verbal support. They only did that once NASA had changed the design to meet the military requirements. But the military has given little to no financial support.
    Oh, I'm not dissing NASA. Fact is, the current STS Orbiter wasn't what they wanted. What they did want was a nice space station, something similar to the current Orbital Space Plane project to ferry people and supplies to and from that station, and then funds to begin planning and constructing their Mars mission.

    Unfortunately, Nixon decided he'd give them the Shuttle, but only after forcing them to combine what they needed it to do, with what the Air Force wanted. No space station meant the Shuttle had to be a research platform in addition to a transport. No USAF Manned Orbiting Laboratory meant we ended up with the KH-series spy satellites, and a space shuttle capable of lifting one into orbit, etc.

    All that capability, all that feature creep, ended up bloating out the resultant Shuttle design, and pushed the date back farther and farther. The net result was our current setup, a comprimise design that could do everything asked of it, and, as a result, was more expensive than individual specialized systems for the Air Force and NASA would have been.

    Of course, then Challenger happened, and the Air Force abandoned the Shuttle to NASA, putting them into a major bind.

    So, no, I don't blame NASA. I sympathize with them. I'm just glad they finally got some kind of long-term station in the ISS, and are finally getting the shuttle they wanted in the OSP. All I'm saying is that I think, in the short term, they're better off with the capsule-based system they seem to be leaning towards. Perhaps, for now, leaving the spaceplanes to the suborbital realm, where the X-15 did so well, and Spaceship One looks poised to head into, is best. 8-[

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    One of the things that was left out of this discussion (until now) is the cost per launch in today's dollars. An Apollo launch is about 60% of a Shuttle launch. It'd be cheaper to launch an Apollo stack (& its variations) than continuing to send up the shuttle.

    I'm guessing but I think the way to go would be to just replace the Apollo capsule with an OSP on the appropriate Apollo stack. Cheaper, faster, more lift capacity, more flexable stack.....etc.

    Arguments? Opinions?

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    Can't we hitch a ride on planet X when it flys past us?

    I do beleive that China will do a lot in terms of space exploration and could well be first to Mars because at the moment they are riding on the high of it being a new thing. A lot of the public in western states only seem to take notice when something bad happens.

    Also I think China is still at the early stage where they are prepared to take risks and if something went wrong they wouldn't ground the whole program for years but try harder next time. Space exploration as with any other type will always have a element of danger.

    I can also see a nice poetic symbolism to China being first to send someone to the red planet

    On a serious note I dont want to be a cheerleader for the chinese goverment, but I do support the chinese people.

    P.S any suggestions on the first words?
    I'll proberbly get flamed for this but i've always thought the whole "one small step for man....." was a bit too scripted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadeus
    P.S any suggestions on the first words?
    I'll proberbly get flamed for this but i've always thought the whole "one small step for man....." was a bit too scripted.
    Of course it was scripted, the whole thing was done on a soundset with actornauts.

    Whatever the Chinese say, we will only get a dodgy translation of it anyway.

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    I thought the point of the OSP was to reduce costs by having more reusable elements than even the shuttle launch. Wouldn't an Apollo-esque module just be more wasteful and expensive?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Betenoire
    I thought the point of the OSP was to reduce costs by having more reusable elements than even the shuttle launch. Wouldn't an Apollo-esque module just be more wasteful and expensive?
    The Space Shuttle is so complexed, and so damaged by its flight, that repairing it for the next flight is more expensive than building a new ballistic reentry capsule for each flight.

    Here's a question: If they built a larger fleet, would that mean they could launch more often. It would help to reduce costs because the fixed program costs would be spread out over more flights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Quote Originally Posted by Betenoire
    I thought the point of the OSP was to reduce costs by having more reusable elements than even the shuttle launch. Wouldn't an Apollo-esque module just be more wasteful and expensive?
    The Space Shuttle is so complexed, and so damaged by its flight, that repairing it for the next flight is more expensive than building a new ballistic reentry capsule for each flight.

    Here's a question: If they built a larger fleet, would that mean they could launch more often. It would help to reduce costs because the fixed program costs would be spread out over more flights.
    I'm not sure how many OSP are planned, nor am I sure how reusable they'll be.

    On the other hand, the entire point of the OSP is that it can be launched from an Delta IV or Atlas V disposable rocket, or on top of the French Arianne disposable booster. So, right off the bat, we're not talking about a 100% reusable system.

    Over at NASA's OSP News site, they have a few pics and even Quicktime movies of the various concepts, including the capsule. It looks like they have a disposable "service module", which will maneuver the capsule around in orbit, then get dumped before reentry. This kind of makes sense - if you want the ship to be able to go farther, like to the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point (where they've talked about putting a future station), it becomes easy enough to just put on a burlier service module.

    My guess is, with the exception of the heat shield, the capsule itself will be pretty reusable, with some refurbishment and replenishment all that's needed to make it fly again. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Here's a question: If they built a larger fleet, would that mean they could launch more often. It would help to reduce costs because the fixed program costs would be spread out over more flights.
    Shuttles don't launch that often not due to the fleet size but due to lack of demand. Even before the Columbia accident, there was talk of mothballing one of the shuttles because there wasn't a point in having all of them available.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ToSeek
    Quote Originally Posted by Glom
    Here's a question: If they built a larger fleet, would that mean they could launch more often. It would help to reduce costs because the fixed program costs would be spread out over more flights.
    Shuttles don't launch that often not due to the fleet size but due to lack of demand. Even before the Columbia accident, there was talk of mothballing one of the shuttles because there wasn't a point in having all of them available.
    Yeah, but the major reason for lack of demand was the major cost of each launch. Increasing the infrastructure will only go so far, when your bird costs a lot to fuel, a lot to refurbish after every launch, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Betenoire
    I thought the point of the OSP was to reduce costs by having more reusable elements than even the shuttle launch. Wouldn't an Apollo-esque module just be more wasteful and expensive?
    IIRC, the main reason the Apollo capsules couldn't be reused was the salt water landing. If a new version was designed to land on dry land like the Russians and the Chinese, it could possibly be refurbished and reused, although I'm still not sure how big the cost savings would be. Anyone know if the Russians reuse any parts of their capsules?

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    Quote Originally Posted by waynek
    Quote Originally Posted by Betenoire
    I thought the point of the OSP was to reduce costs by having more reusable elements than even the shuttle launch. Wouldn't an Apollo-esque module just be more wasteful and expensive?
    IIRC, the main reason the Apollo capsules couldn't be reused was the salt water landing. If a new version was designed to land on dry land like the Russians and the Chinese, it could possibly be refurbished and reused, although I'm still not sure how big the cost savings would be. Anyone know if the Russians reuse any parts of their capsules?
    I think you might be right, though, from what I've read, you could reuse an Apollo Cmmand Module up to 10 times.

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    Are you sure about that? They look awful burnt up after they come back...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirThoreth
    Now, compare that to our youngest shuttle, the Endeavour. Total payload of 25 tons,

    [ ... ]

    The Shuttle's enormous size didn't do a whole lot more for it, did it? They gained an additional 10 tons of cargo,
    Are you sure the cargo capacity of the Apollo CSM was 15 tons? I wouldn't exactly count the LM as the CSM's "cargo" since it had to be carried into space inside the 3rd stage of the Saturn V.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Madcat
    Are you sure about that? They look awful burnt up after they come back...
    It's not exactly a verified figure. I found mention of it, IIRC, on astronautix.com, and on another site documenting the history of the Space Shuttle, and the procurement process for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by SirThoreth
    Now, compare that to our youngest shuttle, the Endeavour. Total payload of 25 tons,

    [ ... ]

    The Shuttle's enormous size didn't do a whole lot more for it, did it? They gained an additional 10 tons of cargo,
    Are you sure the cargo capacity of the Apollo CSM was 15 tons? I wouldn't exactly count the LM as the CSM's "cargo" since it had to be carried into space inside the 3rd stage of the Saturn V.
    Perhaps, but that's more a comparison of lift capacity from the surface. Once in orbit, the Shuttle carries 25 tons in a nice, internal bay, whereas the much smaller Apollo CSM combo pushed around 15 tons. That was where I was making my comparison.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SirThoreth
    Quote Originally Posted by tracer
    Quote Originally Posted by SirThoreth
    Now, compare that to our youngest shuttle, the Endeavour. Total payload of 25 tons,

    [ ... ]

    The Shuttle's enormous size didn't do a whole lot more for it, did it? They gained an additional 10 tons of cargo,
    Are you sure the cargo capacity of the Apollo CSM was 15 tons? I wouldn't exactly count the LM as the CSM's "cargo" since it had to be carried into space inside the 3rd stage of the Saturn V.
    Perhaps, but that's more a comparison of lift capacity from the surface. Once in orbit, the Shuttle carries 25 tons in a nice, internal bay, whereas the much smaller Apollo CSM combo pushed around 15 tons. That was where I was making my comparison.
    The Saturn V could put about 100 tons into orbit (more or less). The Apollo Command Module was about 5 tons, leaving 95 tons or so to shuffle between the SM and payload. Admittedly, the shuttle has a lot nicer work environment, but it wouldn't take too much of those 95 tons to make up for that.

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    Darn, I was going to suggest getting the Soviet shuttles out of mothballs to fill out the fleet, but just Googled and found out they don't exist. But I could have sworn I saw the Buran prepped for launch multiple times on TV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Betenoire
    Darn, I was going to suggest getting the Soviet shuttles out of mothballs to fill out the fleet, but just Googled and found out they don't exist. But I could have sworn I saw the Buran prepped for launch multiple times on TV.
    The Soviet shuttle only flew once in space, then the program was cancelled. There were i think three shuttles under construction, only the first was completed. I heard the factory that made the shuttles is now making diapers.

    The Soviet Shuttle may have superficially resembled the US shuttle, but it was quite different (and in many ways superior, but i won't go into that). There's no way that we could fly them without restarting Energia booster production.

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