A Sound of Thunder: The Rise of the Soviet Superbooster

Granted, I'm not an expert on anything I say here, so take it with a grain of salt the size of the steppe, but NASA's complicated ideas were stemmed in trying to save costs, a product of complicated political meddling that comes inherently with being a governmental agency; it wasn't that these complex ideas failed, but because safety tests weren't done, corners were cut, people deciding "fuck it", and so on so forth. This is what led to pretty much every notable American space disaster. Apollo 1 had a faulty door that prevented the astronauts from escaping. Columbia had it's wing tiles wrecked, which wasn't considered to be a substantial issue. Challenger had it's o-ring screwed with by the weather and higher-ups ignored the warnings and gave the go-ahead.
Sorry this got long
Post Apollo the general attitude of the American people on space is "why spend the money", the Shuttle was NASA's way to keep a manned program, which in the early 70's wasn't expected to live long past Skylab. The issue was that Congress continued to nickel and dime everything due to the budget limitations of the 70s. To say Shuttle stuff wasn't tested is simply not accurate, every component was thoroughly tested and double-checked, on the refurbishment between flights anything that had an issue was replaced.
This is also why a station wasn't funded, it would cost extra and wasn't particularly wanted since Shuttle would launch all American payloads, so having station-dedicated flights would take flights out of payloads. NASA also had the issue of internal lobbying of ideas from the decentralized centers, thus instead of a focused station design like Soviet MIR, they had shit like refurbishing satellites and even building spaceships (this is why Freedom and ISS were said to be "the next STEP in the exploration of Mars").

The Soviets didn't have the issue of publicized funds, and actually had long-term plans and ideas, MIR was only made after an experience with smaller stations, while if NASA did the same they would be expected to keep their first station operational for at least 20 years
(As much as I love Eyes turned Skywards, replacing stations after 5-10 years will simply not happen with the US congress)

Challenger and Columbia are due to "Normalization of Deviance", basically NASA got used to O-Ring burn throughs and said it would be fine as "it HASEN'T failed before". Columbia was even worse as foam loss occurred on EVERY flight, and STS-1 was imaged with KH-11 satellites to make sure no tiles were damaged. The RCC tiles were thought to be hard enough to take the hit, but the testing data that the US military did when RCC was thought to be used for tank armor which found it brittle at high-speed impacts was never shared. NASA didn't have any simulation software for RCC tiles and didn't believe the RCC theory until they shot foam at one and it left a hole, which according to what NASA knew, was impossible
Challenger also needed to launch on Tuesday as the lessons were planned for flight day 4 (Friday), had challenger waited until the 28th the lessons would be broadcast to empty classrooms and kids wouldn't want to watch, so the flight would have to be delayed again to Friday or saturday later that week. It also would have a knock-on effect for later flights as Challenger was needed for the "death star" Centaur-G probe missions, and the later flight time would affect Challenger's next flight, not to mention the time in the Refurbishment bay which would be needed for the next shuttle.

Not to mention Pre Challenger crew safety was not a priority, launches were "shirt-sleeves" and only had helmets for oxygen, this is why Challenger's crew passed out post-explosion, Soyuz 14 only happened as the opening of a valve into space was thought to never happen and is basically a freak accident, they quickly adjusted their mission rules and flew two-man missions for a long time afterwards. NASA on the other hand is sluggish to react to anything, they knew this happened and still removed pressure suites. And crew bailouts from the shuttle were only survivable post Challenger as the astronauts would very likely hit the wing upon exit

Atlantis holds the record for the most damaged ship to reenter the atmosphere as 700 tiles were damaged and 1 missing, the crew knew it and NASA said it was fine (DOD mission so the footage was encrypted thus had absolute shit image quality), "Hoot" Gibson said that had he saw off-nominal trim or other stuff "off" he would tell NASA what he thought of their conclusions

Apollo-1 did not have a faulty door, it was designed that way due to concerns regarding the hatch exploding by itself like Grissoms Mercury mission had, if that happened the crew would be killed in space, or the capsule could sink with the data and moonrock before being recovered
It was a 3 door hatch, one for the abort tower and one outward opening door and one that opened inwards, it was designed that way. Apollo 1 also had too many velcro's placed throughout, which the crew installed. Apollo had issues, but NASA was also pushing hard on the contractors, which didn't help matters
Both North American and NASA share the blame for Apollo one
The door was later a two stage outward opening door with explosive bolts, the abort cover had a door and the capsule did too, in the case of an abort the hatch blew outwards

NASA had a history of high pressure super high PSI full oxygen testing, its amazing nobody got killed BEFORE APOLLO 1
Had Gemini aborted with its ejection seats, the astronauts would have burned to death due to the pure oxygen environment being ignited by the ejection rockets. This was only figured out after Gemini ended

The Soviets had these exact same issues. Nixonshead notes in multiple posts that the Soviets, OTL and ITTL, often skipped tests to just do it, which often resulted in failure. OTL's Soyuz 14 is the prime example of this, as were the numerous failures of the N1 and other rockets because they refused to ground-test the engines the way the US did.
It is not that they didn't want to test the N1 and its engines, they could not. They were lacking the facilities required and in the case of the engines, they were single use only. The ones they tested worked but the production ones they got had an occasional fault in there.
Nell is right, the details are that there were simply too many NK-33 Engines to test them all, and as for integrated testing, no test stand big enough for the first stage existed. And the Soviet government refused to fund the construction efforts as it would cost alot. As a result 1 in 6 engines were tested, each representing their batch, if one failed then the batch would be tested
If said 1 in 6 engines passed the whole batch would be certified for flight, and sometimes 1 of those 5 untested engines had issues
If NASA had the same budget as the Soviet program, the F-1 engines wouldn't exist as over 40 were blown up due to combustion instability, NASA had insane funding in the 60s and as a result NASA has huge fixed costs from spread out centers to this day
 
If NASA had the same budget as the Soviet program, the F-1 engines wouldn't exist as over 40 were blown up due to combustion instability, NASA had insane funding in the 60s and as a result NASA has huge fixed costs from spread out centers to this day
That might have been a more stable program than the OTL Apollo, with the Saturn V and F-1 being too specialized for their own good to serve anything except the moon missions. I wonder, if they did not have the funds to develop the F-1 after the initial failures, would they settle on the E-1 with lessons learned from the F-1? Or just continue with the H-1?
 
That might have been a more stable program than the OTL Apollo, with the Saturn V and F-1 being too specialized for their own good to serve anything except the moon missions. I wonder, if they did not have the funds to develop the F-1 after the initial failures, would they settle on the E-1 with lessons learned from the F-1? Or just continue with the H-1?
In such conditions we would see the development of the E-1 engine.
 
That might have been a more stable program than the OTL Apollo, with the Saturn V and F-1 being too specialized for their own good to serve anything except the moon missions. I wonder, if they did not have the funds to develop the F-1 after the initial failures, would they settle on the E-1 with lessons learned from the F-1? Or just continue with the H-1?
I still see people say that NASA should have kept Saturn V flying for routine missions "as it would cost the same as the shuttle per mission", which while technically right is fundamentally wrong. There is simply no need to slug 140 tons into orbit on a 2 billion per rocket rocket (modern money), and since Congress wouldn't dare approve more Lunar or even Mars missions without the Soviets doing the same. The result is monster Space Station modules, which due to the cost of flying Saturn V, it is likely that Saturn 1b would be retired to save money. Basically you have to place the people on top of the rocket, so now you have single-use Skylab missions being the name of the game

Apollo left NASA with huge fixed costs from spread out centers and infrastructure, not to mention this created the inter-center turf wars and politics that plague NASA, (this is why we have lunar gateway. The engine dilemma would result in the first stage alone being designed differently, it might result in a landing after 69 as if the F-1 program didn't have the stacks of cash to fix the issues, the S-1C might be modified into the S-1D with smaller E-1 engines and a bigger bottom section

The follow on Apollo Applications stuff had huge costs associated with them due to the overspecialization of everything, the only thing that didn't was wetlab and drylab stations like S-4b and S-II derived stuff. The lunar idea's required new hardware, as the LM was already maxed in terms of payload

The best Saturn V derivitive was the INT-18 design, which removed the S-II stage and reduced the F-1 engines, but it would still be expensive due to the costs with the stages alone
 
That might have been a more stable program than the OTL Apollo, with the Saturn V and F-1 being too specialized for their own good to serve anything except the moon missions. I wonder, if they did not have the funds to develop the F-1 after the initial failures, would they settle on the E-1 with lessons learned from the F-1? Or just continue with the H-1?
I'd disagree with that assessment re: F-1's utility beyond lunar missions. There was considerable interest from the USAF for its late-Fifties/early-Sixties paper rockets, ranging from Arcturus to some SLS iterations to the larger versions of Winged Atlas. (Of which only the biggest SLS configurations were lunar launchers.) Which isn't surprising, given it was that F-1 began its life with the USAF. It also isn't surprising that there was practical interest in it, as fewer but larger engines usually provide better thrust-to-weight ratios than more numerous but smaller engines.

Regarding the F-1's combustion instabilities, it depends upon what one thinks of Rocketdyne's ability to solve them without brute-forcing it by detonating engines until they got something that worked. I think it ultimately comes down to narrative preference, as one can make arguments for each side and create plausible scenarios for each. But if the F-1 was certified as flight-ready at the end of 1964 IOTL, with decreased priority and funding to the point they're solving combustion instability with math rather than engines on the test stand, you're looking more realistically at 1968-69 before it's available. So not before 1970 in an actual flying rocket in all likelihood.
 
I still see people say that NASA should have kept Saturn V flying for routine missions "as it would cost the same as the shuttle per mission", which while technically right is fundamentally wrong. There is simply no need to slug 140 tons into orbit on a 2 billion per rocket rocket (modern money), and since Congress wouldn't dare approve more Lunar or even Mars missions without the Soviets doing the same. The result is monster Space Station modules, which due to the cost of flying Saturn V, it is likely that Saturn 1b would be retired to save money. Basically you have to place the people on top of the rocket, so now you have single-use Skylab missions being the name of the game

Apollo left NASA with huge fixed costs from spread out centers and infrastructure, not to mention this created the inter-center turf wars and politics that plague NASA, (this is why we have lunar gateway. The engine dilemma would result in the first stage alone being designed differently, it might result in a landing after 69 as if the F-1 program didn't have the stacks of cash to fix the issues, the S-1C might be modified into the S-1D with smaller E-1 engines and a bigger bottom section

The follow on Apollo Applications stuff had huge costs associated with them due to the overspecialization of everything, the only thing that didn't was wetlab and drylab stations like S-4b and S-II derived stuff. The lunar idea's required new hardware, as the LM was already maxed in terms of payload

The best Saturn V derivitive was the INT-18 design, which removed the S-II stage and reduced the F-1 engines, but it would still be expensive due to the costs with the stages alone
Indeed. Perhaps those problems would not have existed if they shared von Braun's reluctance for the hydrogen S-IV stage and went with a normal, kerolox one, this way, they would have had their own 'N11' and no need for the Saturn I after the Apollo program concluded.
I'd disagree with that assessment re: F-1's utility beyond lunar missions. There was considerable interest from the USAF for its late-Fifties/early-Sixties paper rockets, ranging from Arcturus to some SLS iterations to the larger versions of Winged Atlas. (Of which only the biggest SLS configurations were lunar launchers.) Which isn't surprising, given it was that F-1 began its life with the USAF. It also isn't surprising that there was practical interest in it, as fewer but larger engines usually provide better thrust-to-weight ratios than more numerous but smaller engines.

Regarding the F-1's combustion instabilities, it depends upon what one thinks of Rocketdyne's ability to solve them without brute-forcing it by detonating engines until they got something that worked. I think it ultimately comes down to narrative preference, as one can make arguments for each side and create plausible scenarios for each. But if the F-1 was certified as flight-ready at the end of 1964 IOTL, with decreased priority and funding to the point they're solving combustion instability with math rather than engines on the test stand, you're looking more realistically at 1968-69 before it's available. So not before 1970 in an actual flying rocket in all likelihood.
Fair. That was a bit hasty of me, as I am aware of post Saturn V F-1 utilization proposals, but I was under the impression that the F-1 was not as economically viable as the H-1 engine and RS-27 family and 10x more complex to build.
 
Fair. That was a bit hasty of me, as I am aware of post Saturn V F-1 utilization proposals, but I was under the impression that the F-1 was not as economically viable as the H-1 engine and RS-27 family and 10x more complex to build.
Those examples I cited were all intended to be pre-Saturn V proposals. Or at least Saturn C-5. Arcturus was a first-stage proposal from Martin using clustered Titan tanks and powered by a pair of F-1s. The 1961 SLS had, at one point or another, had F-1s considered for the booster stage's engines in lieu of the M-1 or many J-2s, though this would admittedly have been a rather different OG SLS than what is usually thought of when you mentions the OG SLS. While the 15'-diameter, F-1-using Winged Atlas was a recurring trope of Convair's in its attempts to get funding to bolt wings onto Atlas. The point having been that, given contemporaneous interest, there'd be some institutional backing for continuing with F-1 even if it ran into developmental headwinds and there was a lack of commitment to it from the political leadership to get them through them as they were gotten through OTL.

But you also raise an interesting second-order point: To what degree were the F-1's costs the result of its unique development? As it needed to, first and foremost, work. And the costs be damned, because the Russkies must be beaten to the Moon. In a more fiscally prudent and cost-conscious environment, could the F-1 be built in a cheaper manner and still function? I'd assume that there have to be some economies which could be had in its design, and -- if required to be -- they could be quite considerable. Whether that's enough to change the calculus on its long-term usability depends, I think, on how close Rocketdyne can get to living the meme that all of its engines just being Xeroxed and enlarged S-3Ds.
 
Those examples I cited were all intended to be pre-Saturn V proposals. Or at least Saturn C-5. Arcturus was a first-stage proposal from Martin using clustered Titan tanks and powered by a pair of F-1s. The 1961 SLS had, at one point or another, had F-1s considered for the booster stage's engines in lieu of the M-1 or many J-2s, though this would admittedly have been a rather different OG SLS than what is usually thought of when you mentions the OG SLS. While the 15'-diameter, F-1-using Winged Atlas was a recurring trope of Convair's in its attempts to get funding to bolt wings onto Atlas. The point having been that, given contemporaneous interest, there'd be some institutional backing for continuing with F-1 even if it ran into developmental headwinds and there was a lack of commitment to it from the political leadership to get them through them as they were gotten through OTL.
Honestly it is disappointing that the M-1 and J-2 went nowhere after Apollo, more in the case of the M-1 as research, time and money went into the project for years and saw not even a prototype flying. As for the J-2, a similar situation with the S and later X variants.

Wasn't Ares, SLS or the Shuttle at some point considered for use of simplified F-1 engine boosters?
But you also raise an interesting second-order point: To what degree were the F-1's costs the result of its unique development? As it needed to, first and foremost, work. And the costs be damned, because the Russkies must be beaten to the Moon. In a more fiscally prudent and cost-conscious environment, could the F-1 be built in a cheaper manner and still function? I'd assume that there have to be some economies which could be had in its design, and -- if required to be -- they could be quite considerable. Whether that's enough to change the calculus on its long-term usability depends, I think, on how close Rocketdyne can get to living the meme that all of its engines just being Xeroxed and enlarged S-3Ds.
Are there any figures for the cost per engine, man hours to build, alloys list and number of parts? If we have a similar list with the H-1, S-3D, RS-27 etc. We could make some guesses.
 
I'd disagree with that assessment re: F-1's utility beyond lunar missions. There was considerable interest from the USAF for its late-Fifties/early-Sixties paper rockets, ranging from Arcturus to some SLS iterations to the larger versions of Winged Atlas. (Of which only the biggest SLS configurations were lunar launchers.) Which isn't surprising, given it was that F-1 began its life with the USAF. It also isn't surprising that there was practical interest in it, as fewer but larger engines usually provide better thrust-to-weight ratios than more numerous but smaller engines.

Regarding the F-1's combustion instabilities, it depends upon what one thinks of Rocketdyne's ability to solve them without brute-forcing it by detonating engines until they got something that worked. I think it ultimately comes down to narrative preference, as one can make arguments for each side and create plausible scenarios for each. But if the F-1 was certified as flight-ready at the end of 1964 IOTL, with decreased priority and funding to the point they're solving combustion instability with math rather than engines on the test stand, you're looking more realistically at 1968-69 before it's available. So not before 1970 in an actual flying rocket in all likelihood.
the F-1 combustion instability was not understood and to an extent still isn't, they didn't learn what caused it, just that one of the MANY fuel injector designs made it go away
Solving it with math is one thing, having it work is another

If Congress found out it would take beyond "the end of the decade" the program would be canceled. in 1969 NASA had 3 missions lined up to land before the end
If 11 failed 12 would fly in September, 13 would fly in November incase 12 failed
This prep is the only time in the history of the VAB where 3 high bay's were used at the same time (High Bay 4 has never been used)
Indeed. Perhaps those problems would not have existed if they shared von Braun's reluctance for the hydrogen S-IV stage and went with a normal, kerolox one, this way, they would have had their own 'N11' and no need for the Saturn I after the Apollo program concluded.
S-4 was expensive anyways, i was talking more of the S-1C, which due to german overengineering was more expensive, even if one used 3 on an INT-18 design rocket

The INT-18 design could have reduced costs by modifying the structure of the S-1C for 3 engines, its a better idea then the S-II with srb's idea

But all of this requires a NASA actually thinking about a realistic future post Apollo, not the "onto Mars" idea which it had
Fair. That was a bit hasty of me, as I am aware of post Saturn V F-1 utilization proposals, but I was under the impression that the F-1 was not as economically viable as the H-1 engine and RS-27 family and 10x more complex to build.
The engine would still be expensive, the main issue is production numbers, the more made per year would reduce costs, but less made means more per unit costs
Those examples I cited were all intended to be pre-Saturn V proposals. Or at least Saturn C-5. Arcturus was a first-stage proposal from Martin using clustered Titan tanks and powered by a pair of F-1s. The 1961 SLS had, at one point or another, had F-1s considered for the booster stage's engines in lieu of the M-1 or many J-2s, though this would admittedly have been a rather different OG SLS than what is usually thought of when you mentions the OG SLS. While the 15'-diameter, F-1-using Winged Atlas was a recurring trope of Convair's in its attempts to get funding to bolt wings onto Atlas. The point having been that, given contemporaneous interest, there'd be some institutional backing for continuing with F-1 even if it ran into developmental headwinds and there was a lack of commitment to it from the political leadership to get them through them as they were gotten through OTL.
A lot of companies oversold their rockets at this time, Delta was around for a long time due to the company saying "don't worry, Delta can fly it" when the weight of the payloads were bigger than the rocket could fly

Winged Atlas was just wrong, especially since it was a ballon tank (rigid under pressure). F-1 wouldn't have many buyers due to the launch market being dominated by smaller rockets. Bigger rockets is only a more recent thing due to heavier satellites than before, until the 2010s the majority of payloads were under 10 tons (at most) and newer technology allowed more efficient engines and fuels (methane)

Using an F-1 on a Titan-sized rocket would use up far to much fuel to fast
But you also raise an interesting second-order point: To what degree were the F-1's costs the result of its unique development? As it needed to, first and foremost, work. And the costs be damned, because the Russkies must be beaten to the Moon. In a more fiscally prudent and cost-conscious environment, could the F-1 be built in a cheaper manner and still function? I'd assume that there have to be some economies which could be had in its design, and -- if required to be -- they could be quite considerable. Whether that's enough to change the calculus on its long-term usability depends, I think, on how close Rocketdyne can get to living the meme that all of its engines just being Xeroxed and enlarged S-3Ds.
The F-1 would be hard to economize for other rockets, the size itself would be inneficent for small rockets, i can't imagine it can be made smaller given the turbopump power and size, and per unit would be expensive regardless, even if you could make it with cheaper materials
Honestly it is disappointing that the M-1 and J-2 went nowhere after Apollo, more in the case of the M-1 as research, time and money went into the project for years and saw not even a prototype flying. As for the J-2, a similar situation with the S and later X variants.
M-1 was bigger than the F-1, and as epic as the engine design was, it was not needed, J-2 was ok for the time but was expensive compared to other upper-stage engines, the LM descent engine had a long life with the Delta stage due to its performance. Compare it to the RL-10 and other rockets and its overkill and over expensive
J-2S would only fly on a follow-up program of Saturn V vehicles that would be Uprated with F-1A's and streached S-1C and S-II stages. There was an idea to use these or the base J-2 on the Shuttle if the SSME's didn't work out
J-2X was a fool's errand, Ares was a deathtrap and the engine was only developed when NASA realized using SSME engines on every stage would be super expensive. As it only had two rockets to fly on it was expensive, and considering it hasn't been used outside testing speaks to the fact its not commercially viable

The LM decent stage engine was cheap, and a LOT of H-1 engines were made in the 60's, which is why they were used. They were also good engines for the rockets of the time
Wasn't Ares, SLS or the Shuttle at some point considered for use of simplified F-1 engine boosters?
SLS was considered to use modern F-1 engines for liquid boosters, the company swore up and down it would be cheap. i HIGHLY doubt that claim
It wouldn't be developed as the SRB mafia had more power, not to mention 5 segment Shuttle SRB's have existed since the early 2000's, so development would be cheap (it was planned to use them for shuttle missions until their retirement in 2020 or 2030 before Columbia)

Why the heck didn't NASA just make Shuttle-C instead of putting the payload on top, the side carry can have an abort tower, use the same launchpad and use less engines (3 instead of 4)
No wonder it costs 4 billion per launch
Are there any figures for the cost per engine, man hours to build, alloys list and number of parts? If we have a similar list with the H-1, S-3D, RS-27 etc. We could make some guesses.
Alot of this stuff is super regulated so costs and stuff are typically not known
We do know more info on stuff mostly operated by the government, but commercially it will vary, the H-1 was built in droves in the 60s, Delta used that stockpile into the 80s, the LM descent engine had high performance and was cheap due to its simple design
1 RS-25 engine costs more then a Falcon Heavy
 
Are there any figures for the cost per engine, man hours to build, alloys list and number of parts? If we have a similar list with the H-1, S-3D, RS-27 etc. We could make some guesses.
F-1 was a very simple engine in terms of cycle and construction for the era. The tube-wall chamber/nozzle would have been better as channel wall, but that wasn't really a thing in the US, and even so to build it at any kind of rate it could have been very cheap per ton of thrust. The cost issue with it is really more about using it on any smaller vehicle, you have low per-year build counts, not about number of man hours or anything.
 
1 RS-25 engine costs more then a Falcon Heavy
Which is also about build cost, in the 90s they were about $30-40m an engine. The high cost now (about 3x the cost per engine if you ignore the R&D vs production breakdown and just divide total contract by number produced) is about having to do restart and very low-rate production.
 
M-1 was bigger than the F-1, and as epic as the engine design was, it was not needed, J-2 was ok for the time but was expensive compared to other upper-stage engines, the LM descent engine had a long life with the Delta stage due to its performance. Compare it to the RL-10 and other rockets and its overkill and over expensive
J-2S would only fly on a follow-up program of Saturn V vehicles that would be Uprated with F-1A's and streached S-1C and S-II stages. There was an idea to use these or the base J-2 on the Shuttle if the SSME's didn't work out
J-2X was a fool's errand, Ares was a deathtrap and the engine was only developed when NASA realized using SSME engines on every stage would be super expensive. As it only had two rockets to fly on it was expensive, and considering it hasn't been used outside testing speaks to the fact its not commercially viable
Oh, obviously, but still, the point is that all that money went nowhere. I wonder if it would have been enough for the Shuttle to reach orbit (thrust) with a single engine in a configuration like on the Energia-Buran. Or SLS I guess... but I would assume its performance by that point would have been easily surpassed by newer engines with better performance at a fraction of the weight.

Was the J-2S really of no use post Apollo? (Before SSME) And what was the problem with the J-2X? (The Ares deathtrap is the Ares I right? The other II to V seems like normal designs)
Alot of this stuff is super regulated so costs and stuff are typically not known
We do know more info on stuff mostly operated by the government, but commercially it will vary, the H-1 was built in droves in the 60s, Delta used that stockpile into the 80s, the LM descent engine had high performance and was cheap due to its simple design
1 RS-25 engine costs more then a Falcon Heavy
I mean, most of these are long out of production, hell, some of the companies that were building them went bankrupt or merged. Shouldn't this information be of no use anymore?

F-1 was a very simple engine in terms of cycle and construction for the era. The tube-wall chamber/nozzle would have been better as channel wall, but that wasn't really a thing in the US, and even so to build it at any kind of rate it could have been very cheap per ton of thrust. The cost issue with it is really more about using it on any smaller vehicle, you have low per-year build counts, not about number of man hours or anything.
I guess the Saturn I is the closest worthwhile rocket that could use the F-1? Also, would it be cheaper if the engines were built at a slower pace with fewer people working on them? Basically dragging the built time for weeks or months to keep a tempo going for a few years?
 
I guess the Saturn I is the closest worthwhile rocket that could use the F-1? Also, would it be cheaper if the engines were built at a slower pace with fewer people working on them? Basically dragging the built time for weeks or months to keep a tempo going for a few years?
No. In fact, slower rate production of fewer units is the precise recipe for high costs. Really, if you wanted 100 F-1s for 100 Saturn I/IB-class vehicles for the cheapest price, the best way to do it would be to put out the contracts to build them all over, like, 2-3 years, one or two a month at the peak rate, and then at the end fire everyone, put all the documentation in a safety deposit box, and build a different rocket when you use those 100 engines up in 15-20 years. But then you have fired everyone who knows how to build engines and in 20 years they're all retired or dead, so you can't do that, so instead you drag it out slow at low rates, with lots of engineering overhead per engine per year and such.
 
F-1 was a very simple engine in terms of cycle and construction for the era. The tube-wall chamber/nozzle would have been better as channel wall, but that wasn't really a thing in the US, and even so to build it at any kind of rate it could have been very cheap per ton of thrust. The cost issue with it is really more about using it on any smaller vehicle, you have low per-year build counts, not about number of man hours or anything.
Ya, using it on anything smaller than a S-1b first stage is not worth it as the fuel usage alone would lead to lower altitude shutoff, i cannot think of any rocket at that time that would be better off using it
Which is also about build cost, in the 90s they were about $30-40m an engine. The high cost now (about 3x the cost per engine if you ignore the R&D vs production breakdown and just divide total contract by number produced) is about having to do restart and very low-rate production.
Did not know that, i remember that Shuttle-C wasn't economical due to the usage of SSME's without reuse

Post Shuttle NASA has that issue alot, i am pretty sure the next SLS launching is still being built, how Artemis 3 is slated for 2027 with 2 in 2026 is unrealistic
Oh, obviously, but still, the point is that all that money went nowhere. I wonder if it would have been enough for the Shuttle to reach orbit (thrust) with a single engine in a configuration like on the Energia-Buran. Or SLS I guess... but I would assume its performance by that point would have been easily surpassed by newer engines with better performance at a fraction of the weight.
NASA did do a study on that, its called unpowered orbiter and the back looked like the tailcone used during 747 transfers, the only issue is that this specific design removes the bodyflap, which would affect the flight performance
A single M-1 (if thats what you are referring to) would not be reusable, the size alone would lead to worse instability than the F-1, so your looking at an expensive program, and worse the per unit cost would be high. it would be an admission that the shuttle is not reusable as it was sold on the fact that the engines and guidance software and most of the hardware was reused each flight.
The Energia layout would lead to weird abort modes, it would likely be more unsafe then the irl RTLS aborts, in this case a duo F-1 config might work, or just one, an M-1 would be an overkill engine. two engines are better as you have a backup incase of failure
Congress was already getting a bit iffy on the program before STS-1, not reusing engines might result in the program being canceled

It was considered to use three J-2's or 3 J-2S's if the SSME was impractical, judging as NASA likely game-planned F-1 and other engines, the per unit cost for J-2s would be lower, especially since it was more used, with 6 flying every Saturn V and one every Saturn 1b
Was the J-2S really of no use post Apollo? (Before SSME) And what was the problem with the J-2X? (The Ares deathtrap is the Ares I right? The other II to V seems like normal designs)
Kinda, judging by nobody picking it up for use on other rockets says this, J-2 is designed for heavier rockets, nearly all the rockets back then are now "small" in terms of payload today. Nowadays with the bigger rockets there is a more suitable market.
the J-2X was expensive given the limited flights, Ares 1 was supposed to be the crew launcher to LEO (ISS rotations), as a result, had a 2-3 flight per year plan, and Ares V likely once every 1 to 3 years (for lunar missions)
Your looking at an extended slow production run, or a fast one with 100 engines that might not be fully used, likely Congress would mandate the jobs be sustained, so it is the first option
Ares 1 is the deathtrap, 2-4 wern't followed but Ares 5 also had the same issue SLS had with the RS-25's, it was thought to use the RS-68's from the Delta 4 series but the SRB's heat would lead to uneven ablating of material, likely causing lower performance if not outright engine damage
I mean, most of these are long out of production, hell, some of the companies that were building them went bankrupt or merged. Shouldn't this information be of no use anymore?
Ya, but still the information is proprietary so information would have to be dug up, older engines will sometimes have more info but as a whole most companies give the basic info due to US Government concerns of other countries stealing stuff
I guess the Saturn I is the closest worthwhile rocket that could use the F-1? Also, would it be cheaper if the engines were built at a slower pace with fewer people working on them? Basically dragging the built time for weeks or months to keep a tempo going for a few years?
I agree with e of pi
No. In fact, slower rate production of fewer units is the precise recipe for high costs. Really, if you wanted 100 F-1s for 100 Saturn I/IB-class vehicles for the cheapest price, the best way to do it would be to put out the contracts to build them all over, like, 2-3 years, one or two a month at the peak rate, and then at the end fire everyone, put all the documentation in a safety deposit box, and build a different rocket when you use those 100 engines up in 15-20 years. But then you have fired everyone who knows how to build engines and in 20 years they're all retired or dead, so you can't do that, so instead you drag it out slow at low rates, with lots of engineering overhead per engine per year and such.
Ya, more you make cheaper it is, less you make the more expensive it is
The big thing is also the loss of practical experience after a while
The Zumwalt destroyers cannons shell cost 800k per shot due to the destroyers going from 32 to 3 and the price went from 10k to 800k, this is why the cannons do not have shells to fire
 
Honestly it is disappointing that the M-1 and J-2 went nowhere after Apollo, more in the case of the M-1 as research, time and money went into the project for years and saw not even a prototype flying. As for the J-2, a similar situation with the S and later X variants.
While immensely awesome, the M-1 was a technology demonstrator that just happened to be the biggest American engine that ever had real component and only made sense if the Nexus rockets were going to be built. And you couldn't even try to actually fly the thing -- outside of building an entirely new hydrolox first-stage for it -- as the only practical use-case for it in the Sixties was for the S-II, but by the time the M-1 had been initiated the S-II's design was finalized and even then Apollo was not going to hang its progress upon M-1 working as intended for the marginal performance gains to be had from it over the S-II's clustered J-2s.
Wasn't Ares, SLS or the Shuttle at some point considered for use of simplified F-1 engine boosters?
As far as the Shuttle goes, the F-1A turns up fairly frequently in the context of the flyback S-IC proposals as well as somewhat more opaquely in Boeing's various pump-driven ballistic splashdown boosters.
Winged Atlas was just wrong, especially since it was a ballon tank (rigid under pressure). F-1 wouldn't have many buyers due to the launch market being dominated by smaller rockets. Bigger rockets is only a more recent thing due to heavier satellites than before, until the 2010s the majority of payloads were under 10 tons (at most) and newer technology allowed more efficient engines and fuels (methane)
Whether or not Winged Atlas would've been as easy as Convair seemed to think with its SLV-4 tender or was a good idea, I don't think it can be called wrong. Convair was, at the time of the SLV-4 tender in the early-Sixties, still probably the foremost industry expert on balloon tanks and still had Karel Bossart on the payroll. If they thought it was doable, there's no reason to doubt them. Just whether it could be done at cost and for the anticipated performance hit.

But that's why Winged Atlas is such a slippery creature, as it encompasses everything from the SLV-4 proposal -- which was basically taking a stock Atlas LV and bolting on a Gemini cockpit, wings, landing gear, and enough structural reinforcement to deal with all of the new stresses -- through the much bigger 15'- or 20'-diameter one powered by a pair of F-1s intended as a launcher for vague future payloads in the same vein as various Large Diameter Core Titan proposals that also never saw metal being cut.

Using an F-1 on a Titan-sized rocket would use up far to much fuel to fast
Clustered Titan tanks: There were seven of them, with a total diameter of 30'. Arcturus was in the vicinity of the Saturn C-3 in terms of size and capabilities.
 
While immensely awesome, the M-1 was a technology demonstrator that just happened to be the biggest American engine that ever had real component and only made sense if the Nexus rockets were going to be built. And you couldn't even try to actually fly the thing -- outside of building an entirely new hydrolox first-stage for it -- as the only practical use-case for it in the Sixties was for the S-II, but by the time the M-1 had been initiated the S-II's design was finalized and even then Apollo was not going to hang its progress upon M-1 working as intended for the marginal performance gains to be had from it over the S-II's clustered J-2s.
IIRC the J-2 had a aerospike variant

The S-II got better performance with 5 engines than one, besides having more than one means a backup and more options, Apollo 13 had an engine shutdown and Apollo 6 had a couple as well

Plus the issues of combustion instability would mean an F-1 scale testing regime, NASA isn't silly enough to fund that with no practical uses besides bragging rights for the biggest engine
Whether or not Winged Atlas would've been as easy as Convair seemed to think with its SLV-4 tender or was a good idea, I don't think it can be called wrong. Convair was, at the time of the SLV-4 tender in the early-Sixties, still probably the foremost industry expert on balloon tanks and still had Karel Bossart on the payroll. If they thought it was doable, there's no reason to doubt them. Just whether it could be done at cost and for the anticipated performance hit.

But that's why Winged Atlas is such a slippery creature, as it encompasses everything from the SLV-4 proposal -- which was basically taking a stock Atlas LV and bolting on a Gemini cockpit, wings, landing gear, and enough structural reinforcement to deal with all of the new stresses -- through the much bigger 15'- or 20'-diameter one powered by a pair of F-1s intended as a launcher for vague future payloads in the same vein as various Large Diameter Core Titan proposals that also never saw metal being cut.
For me its one of those 60s ideas that comes from a lack of knowledge and severe underestimation of costs, that Gemini capsule (if manned) will need to have an abort tower and likely a unique atmospheric configuration, as Gemini ejections likely would have burned the crew alive due to the pure oxygen air igniting, plus the suits being soaked with pure oxygen. This came out in the early 70s from a study
A winged Atlas sounds like it is a complete build from scratch design, even though it is larger than the base, the reinforcement and addition of weight means the balloon tanks need more rigidity. It would be expensive, we are talking 60s technology here, it would be a good reusable rocket, just the work to get there would be expensive
Better off with a flyback S-1C lifter

Titan was a very weird rocket in terms of its ideas of modifications, its hypergolic so cryogenic or even kerolox would need modifications, i know that the Titan II engines were rated for cryogenic fuels with modifications but the actual engineering changes required would be hard, especially with larger diameter core designs. Delta got it right by stretching the tanks and upgrading engines.

I look at it this way, hindsight is clear to us but NOT to the people back in the day, what may seem like a good idea now was likely too expensive back then. The political reality is that nobody in the US cared for space, the moon missions were boring and considered a waste of money by most (Nixon thought of canceling 16 and 17). Skylab was pretty much flown due to NASA lobbying and forward-thinking in 1969. Keeping any Saturn series rocket flying would be a political gamble, Saturn 1b was expensive and would require a new first stage and require a station program for manned missions.
After a while of studying space of the time you realize that the Shuttle was one of the only ways for NASA to have a stable long term program for 40 years (72 to 2011) and flights for 30
Shuttle also created alot of jobs, which was its primary goal, same with SLS, the fact you get space missions from it is just a side effect

My favorite trope of space TL's is nearly all besides a few have a lunar return (Eyes turned skyward, Boldly Going, Right side up to name three), unless the soviets were actively pursuing missions its unlikely that the US would have any willingness for lunar missions. If for example, NASA flew Apollo tech like in ETS, most likely NASA would have decades of LEO experience, but no lunar missions as funds would not exist, and likely be flying the same station since the 80s, just with added modules.
That being said i still enjoy the TL's, this one (Sound of Thunder) is the most realistic as the Soviets actually landing would have a huge follow-up effect on the US
Clustered Titan tanks: There were seven of them, with a total diameter of 30'. Arcturus was in the vicinity of the Saturn C-3 in terms of size and capabilities.
Clustered expanded Titan tanks with F-1s would be expensive as heck
 
Been looking at those 60's designs like the winged atlas, Titan also had a proposed winged variant, same with Saturn V
The main issue with the designs is that they were just concept ideas didn't go further than concept art as the cost analysis was found to be unprofitable or too expensive to develop as initial development costs are always lowballed to make them look better

The space economy of the time was very small and basic, American companies got most funding for government payloads, and commerical satellites were still being developed and flight hardware was still small. it wasn't until the 2000s and 2010s where larger payloads were required, resulting in Delta-II being retired and Atlas V, and Delta-IV being retired due not being competitive with other launchers

And with the Space Shuttle program starting in 72 it is likely that NASA would try to bury any other developed "reusable" rocket to keep Shuttle funded, as if Winged Atlas was flying and reusing the full tank, Congress would likely make NASA use that over their new design. NASA buried lunar Gemini flights due to the reduced costs compared to Apollo, and stuff like the Gemini rescue lander was axed when people realized that it could also be used to land people on the moon

A reusable first stage in the 60s and 70's would likely be more expensive than the cheaper expendable launchers, and the weight limitations from the reuse would negate payload-to-orbit capability to an extent. As the concept was "winged" they would have to carry the wings, landing gear and all the stuff required in addition to the payload and upper-stage
Falcon 9 is successful because its growth over time allowed the payload margins to grow big enough to be similar to the initial estimate for Falcon heavy (20 tons instead of 45), this added margin allowed for flybacks to be performed without severely hampering performance
 
Hi eveyone. Sorry I went silent for a while there. I was planning to add in a few more renders and reply to some comments, but work and family life went a bit crazy. I see I have quite a backlog to read!
But the main thing to say is, thank-you to everyone who has nominated and/or voted for A Sound of Thunder in this year's Turtledoves! I'm glad the story is being enjoyed, and I look forward to continuing it into the next decade (of the timeline... although at the speed I write...).
If you've not yet voted and would like to, here are the links:

Best Spaceflight and Technology Timeline

Best Graphic
 
Voting! This is already one of my favorite space TLs of all time, it definitely deserves the win.

On another note, since the design and development of Hermes has already been changed, without Freedom around to dictate design changes and bring the craft's usefulness into question, and with Challenger not very publicly blowing up on ascent, and thus making a heavy abort system a necessity, I wonder how different Hermes will look here. Which of the many different iterations it will be based on if it does indeed fly? I think with a smaller docking system for Columbus, no LES, and the Japanese cargo ship making cargo upmass a bit less critical, we might see one of the more Shuttlesque designs fly, with no service/resource module.
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