Boldly Going: A History of an American Space Station

were real proposals for SRB-X and Atlas proposal using the NASA launch complex 39

Captura-de-pantalla-2016-06-07-a-las-23.29.49.png
Captura-de-pantalla-2016-06-07-a-las-23.27.24.png
Real KSP at work
Moar Boosters need moar Struts
 
The Atlas 3 looks like a beast! I love it!
Am I to assume that the Atlas uses the same trimotor group as the Shuttle C? Are those engines likewise in a triangle formation and not in-line?
It'd certainly mean you could arrange things closer together if you could have all the engine bells lined up in rows like the 'III' in the Atlas' own name instead of like so:🔺🔻🔺
 
The Atlas 3 looks like a beast! I love it!
Am I to assume that the Atlas uses the same trimotor group as the Shuttle C? Are those engines likewise in a triangle formation and not in-line?
It'd certainly mean you could arrange things closer together if you could have all the engine bells lined up in rows like the 'III' in the Atlas' own name instead of like so:🔺🔻🔺
There's five engines in an Atlas III or Shuttle LRB pod, arranged in a cruciform pattern like Saturn V, hence looking from the side you see three in a line.
 
Ok... I can now say I wasn't barking up a tree and wasn't crazy. In fact I wasn't crazy enough... because I was not gonna suggest clustering the damned things...

Also, yes, those rockets are cursed.

Wow... that is a very beefy rocket the Atlas IIIH-series. Fifteen of those modified SSMEs...
 
With all due respect, those are awesome illustrations, but whoever came up with the idea of attaching SRBs with those struts should be shot for crimes against humanity.
It’s so they can use the same MLP as the shuttle. The outrigger SRBs are in the same place as the shuttle stack’s.
 
It’s so they can use the same MLP as the shuttle. The outrigger SRBs are in the same place as the shuttle stack’s.
Considering the launch rate NASA already has going at LC-39 and SLC-6, why would anyone want to pack any more flights onto those pads? There are dozens of other LCs that could be rebuilt from Titan/Atlas/whatever to support these LVs, and they aren't going to be flying anything but EELVs (and maybe a few Deltas) after the missile-derived Titan and Atlas rockets are retired.
 
Considering the launch rate NASA already has going at LC-39 and SLC-6, why would anyone want to pack any more flights onto those pads?
Looking in Launch history of LC-39 most went from 39A with 128 launches, while 39B, with 54 is almost neglected

There are dozens of other LCs that could be rebuilt from Titan/Atlas/whatever to support these LVs
The USAF has allot of those on "CCAFS" (not part of NASA Kennedy Space Center)
mostly Atlas and Titan ICBM Launch pads and for Titan III Pads
OTL USAF demolish LC-41 and LC-37 for EELV, While LC-40 & LC-13 was rebuild in 2010 for a newcomer certain SpaceX...

ITTL USAF would demolish Launch complex for new EELV
but it will differently from OTL
While now Martin Marietta Atlas III will use the Launch complex north close to LC-39
for using that Lox Hydrogene infrastucture

ATK Solid will be far South of CCAFS, 10 miles (16 km)
near LC-46 (SLBM test site), also move the SRB installation from LC-39 to here
With large Separation between that and it's launch pad
in case of problem or another explosive happing the Atlas III complex is safe.
 
Looking in Launch history of LC-39 most went from 39A with 128 launches, while 39B, with 54 is almost neglected
VAB space is the bigger issue, unless you want to add on to the building or build more integration bays in a new building. Additionally, the added Shuttle-C flights for the moon missions will take up a lot of the slack in the overall flow for LC-39.

I still think that this kind of "Atlas III" using the boosters as a first-stage vehicle would be a bad idea because of the TWR management issues through the flight (giant spy satellites don't like going over 4 or 5 G).
ITTL USAF would demolish Launch complex for new EELV
but it will differently from OTL
While now Martin Marietta Atlas III will use the Launch complex north close to LC-39
for using that Lox Hydrogene infrastucture

ATK Solid will be far South of CCAFS, 10 miles (16 km)
near LC-46 (SLBM test site), also move the SRB installation from LC-39 to here
With large Separation between that and it's launch pad
in case of problem or another explosive happing the Atlas III complex is safe.
If the Air Force is dumping the Titan, its replacement will be at LC-40 and LC-41 in the north. The Titans used huge solid motors so there's little difference between handling those and handling the Thiokol motor segments. It would have nothing to do with LOX/LH2 infrastructure. They would need new ground tanks at any pad they those. When Boeing showed up with an all-LH2 launcher, they went to LC-37, which hadn't launched anything since a Saturn IB in 1968.
 
If the Air Force is dumping the Titan, its replacement will be at LC-40 and LC-41 in the north. The Titans used huge solid motors so there's little difference between handling those and handling the Thiokol motor segments
yes, but
The UA1205 are smaller as large SRB
and as USAF take them as EELV in TL This things happen:

Issue with SRB almost burn-through during Shuttle mission
lost of Two Titans do SRM burn-through in 1986 and 1993
Then was explosion of SRM Fuel production plant in Utah in 1988
A deadly accident in Edwards with UA1207 preparing for a test, in 1990.

There will be allot debate by public and politic in Florida and California about new SRB-X launcher by ATK
Special that in TL NASA exchange the SRB with LRB
That will have impact in Capitol Hill and Pentagon
 
TTL's Atlas III - I've never seen a multi-core launcher design with the boosters spaced that far from the central core.

I knew about SRB-X, it's just that Atlas III seems to be spaced even wider apart.

They are further apart. On Heimdall the center-to-center distance between the core and the outrigger boosters is about 1.7 times the diameter of the booster. On Altas III however it's 2.1 times the diameter of the booster. This is needed because of the size of the common P/A modules, which are 30 feet wide.

With all due respect, those are awesome illustrations, but whoever came up with the idea of attaching SRBs with those struts should be shot for crimes against humanity.

Blame 1980s NASA and the desire to launch SRB-X on the same pads as the shuttle.

Question: Why it is labeled ATK?
Because a working station and lunar program isn't going to slow down the 1990s defense industry mergers. OTL Alliant bought Thiokol in 2001, here it probably happens a bit earlier.

And because I used the 2000+ era labels. It's why the Atlas III is labeled "Lockheed Martin" and not "General Dynamics."

Considering the launch rate NASA already has going at LC-39 and SLC-6, why would anyone want to pack any more flights onto those pads? There are dozens of other LCs that could be rebuilt from Titan/Atlas/whatever to support these LVs, and they aren't going to be flying anything but EELVs (and maybe a few Deltas) after the missile-derived Titan and Atlas rockets are retired.

Post 1992/3 the SLC-6 Shuttle flight rate is zero (and there were only about three or four polar flights post RTF). NASA doesn't like the demands of a polar launch, and the manifest of payloads that would be expensive to convert is relatively short.

As Titan IV is flying (there is no Titan IVB program here, thus OTL Titan IVA is just Titan IV) out of the other Titan pads (SLC-4E/W) on the Western Test Range, Heimdall thus gets SLC-6 to itself, and as an act of expediency the rocket is designed to fit on the existing pad. While it can launch out of LC-39, east coast launches will result in a dedicated pad at SLC-41. There are existing rail lines that can link to that pad area, even if you have to build a siding around the Titan facilities that will service LC-40 as the Titans are flown out.

This configuration is yet another example of "Technical Debt" that this timeline accrues.

I still think that this kind of "Atlas III" using the boosters as a first-stage vehicle would be a bad idea because of the TWR management issues through the flight (giant spy satellites don't like going over 4 or 5 G).

Atlas III has five engines that can throttle down to 65% of thrust regularly. Beyond that it can turn engines off. Moreover, some of the SSME testing ran the engines at 40, 25, and 17% of rated thrust without damage to the engines. There will be room to keep the payloads from being over-thrusted. It is the danger of building a 'Medium' rocket out of the boosters for a heavy.
 
the Heimdall would simlear to northrop Omega rocket

Atlas III would simlear To Falcon 9/ Heavy rockets in Expendable mode
 
They are further apart. On Heimdall the center-to-center distance between the core and the outrigger boosters is about 1.7 times the diameter of the booster. On Altas III however it's 2.1 times the diameter of the booster. This is needed because of the size of the common P/A modules, which are 30 feet wide.



Blame 1980s NASA and the desire to launch SRB-X on the same pads as the shuttle.


Because a working station and lunar program isn't going to slow down the 1990s defense industry mergers. OTL Alliant bought Thiokol in 2001, here it probably happens a bit earlier.

And because I used the 2000+ era labels. It's why the Atlas III is labeled "Lockheed Martin" and not "General Dynamics."



Post 1992/3 the SLC-6 Shuttle flight rate is zero (and there were only about three or four polar flights post RTF). NASA doesn't like the demands of a polar launch, and the manifest of payloads that would be expensive to convert is relatively short.

As Titan IV is flying (there is no Titan IVB program here, thus OTL Titan IVA is just Titan IV) out of the other Titan pads (SLC-4E/W) on the Western Test Range, Heimdall thus gets SLC-6 to itself, and as an act of expediency the rocket is designed to fit on the existing pad. While it can launch out of LC-39, east coast launches will result in a dedicated pad at SLC-41. There are existing rail lines that can link to that pad area, even if you have to build a siding around the Titan facilities that will service LC-40 as the Titans are flown out.

This configuration is yet another example of "Technical Debt" that this timeline accrues.



Atlas III has five engines that can throttle down to 65% of thrust regularly. Beyond that it can turn engines off. Moreover, some of the SSME testing ran the engines at 40, 25, and 17% of rated thrust without damage to the engines. There will be room to keep the payloads from being over-thrusted. It is the danger of building a 'Medium' rocket out of the boosters for a heavy.

Would be interested to know more about the concept of ‘technical debt’ @TimothyC
 
Would be interested to know more about the concept of ‘technical debt’ @TimothyC
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_debt

Basically: we did things this way, that something (a law change, a new discovery) or someone (a better designer) later reveals is not so good, but we already spent time and resources on it, so we aren't willing to rework things, but the later we do it, the more costly rework will be... Applies to software and hardware, too.
 
Part 20: The first Shuttle-C and Minerva 1, Apollo 9 Redux. Habitank introduced.
Boldly Going Part 20

After all the delays, the date for the maiden launch of Shuttle-C finally arrived as OV-201 made its first trip to the pad in early 1998 for the debut of the new heavy lifter. Though officially the Shuttle-C mission numbering was subsumed within the broader “STS” mission list, a block around STS-100 had been carved out for the debut Minerva missions when their planning was frozen in 1997. Thus Minerva planning was enabled without reference to broader Space Shuttle and Space Station Enterprise operations. Shuttle-C’s debut would be designated STS-99-C. The Orbital Propulsion and Avionics Module (OPAM) “John Henry” and the rest of the STS-99-C stack left High Bay 2 on the crawlerway to LC-39B, following the path of its antecedents: the Saturn V, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise. The payload it would carry for the maiden launch of the Shuttle-C had been heavily debated. Attempting to square the circle of conflicting demands for pad and VAB access at Kennedy Space Center, it had been considered that the maiden Shuttle-C might follow even more directly in the footsteps of Enterprise and STS-37R by carrying several elements of Space Station Enterprise’s truss to orbit. However, the risk of the new vehicle’s debut carrying such difficult-to-replace payloads loomed large in the minds of those who only a few years ago had lived through the tension of STS-37R and STS-38R’s early days. Even worse, a new vehicle would have to be provided to circumvent the problems of getting the truss elements to rendezvous with the station. Another plan to attempt to sell space aboard the maiden launch to a risk-tolerant commercial customer fell through when none could be found who were willing to meet NASA’s requirements.

Ultimately, the primary goal selected for STS-99-C was a test of the Kepler-L’s revised heat shield, executed by using the first flight version of the new Earth Departure Stage to send a boilerplate Kepler capsule (with the newly designed launch escape system for aerodynamic fidelity during ascent) into an elliptical orbit simulating the velocity of Earth return. The recovery of the two booster engine pods by the recovery flotilla and the return of the “John Henry'' under parachute to White Sands Space Harbor two days later proved that the Shuttle-C was as capable as its STS-37R predecessor--and far more repeatable. By the time OV-201 returned to the ground, the Earth Departure Stage had demonstrated its own potential, firing after a four-orbit coast to propel the Kepler-L boilerplate and over ten metric tons of water ballast into a high energy orbit, demonstrating the stage’s ability to propel payloads into cislunar space. The boilerplate, for its part, demonstrated the required ability of Kepler-L’s upgraded heat shield to handle returning to Earth from the higher energies of a cis-lunar trajectory. In the history of NASA’s heavy lift program, STS-99-C would compete with STS-37R for the title of the maiden flight of Shuttle-C.



The success of the maiden Shuttle-C launch paved the way for the Minerva program’s second planned demonstration mission and the first Minerva crew to fly in space. The Minerva program’s complex mission profiles resulted in a variety of mission numbers assigned to any given flight, and Minerva 1 was no exception. The launch support tasks were often referred to within KSC by the launch’s mission number, STS-100-C, while ESA’s Kepler support led to the capsule most commonly being tracked as the “Kepler-L1” mission. Managing three names for the same mission was just one preview of the complexity awaiting the Minerva 1 crew after their launch in September of 1998, which marked the first time a crew would fly aboard the Space Transportation System with no Shuttle. For the STS-100-C launch, four astronauts including ESA pilot Thomas Reiter flew in the upgraded lunar-capable Kepler capsule Jules Verne for Kepler-L1 atop the second launch of the John Henry, along with the first of the program’s Conestoga lunar modules. Though both the Kepler capsule’s new lunar-equipped Service Module and the new Conestoga LSAM had been extensively tested on the ground prior to acceptance, this launch was the first test of each vehicle in space. It would be a marathon workout for both. For safety, the initial launch brought the vehicles into an orbit coplanar with Space Station Enterprise, helping to ensure the station was constantly available as a safe haven should issues aboard the untested vehicles require response beyond that which NASA could provide from the ground.

Once in orbit, the crew of STS-100-C aboard the Jules Verne flipped their spacecraft over, and extracted the LSAM from the payload shroud which had protected it on ascent. With the LSAM extracted, the engine module was no longer needed, and the OPAM John Henry was commanded to detach and go about the process of returning to Earth. The Verne’s crew then boarded the habitat module and activated its systems. Over subsequent days, the crew conducted orbital adjustments to test both the enhanced Trans-Earth Injection capability of the Verne’s Orbital Maneuvering System and the main engines of the descent stage of the LSAM. When both systems proved functional, Verne’s crew settled in to test one another major capability of the lander: its equipment for use on extended lunar missions, yet another contribution of Space Station Enterprise to the lunar project. The launch of STS-37R and the dramatic demonstration of the capability of the Space Transportation System when its Orbiter could be defined as payload capability and not ballast was a key factor in the selection of the middle-of-the-road side-mounted Shuttle-C instead of a larger and more expensive in-line modification of the Stack for launching lunar payloads. The European Kepler crew vehicle drew directly on work done for Space Station Enterprise’s lifeboat requirements. The LSAM drew on yet another of the things Enterprise had demonstrated: the tremendous value in reusing propellant tank volume as functional living space on extended duration missions.

Using a concept dubbed “Habitank,” the Conestoga LSAM mounted the hydrogen tanks for its descent stage as two massive, nearly-rectangular volumes, one on each side of the vehicle with each then subdivided internally by slosh baffles. For the initial demonstration landings, designated “Class-A” missions but often referred to simply as “sortie flights,” the LSAM would rely on a central two-level habitat/airlock module to support a crew for a few days on the surface. For longer duration outpost missions, the two hydrogen tanks could be accessed using permanent passageways and the volume inside the tanks vented, filled with breathable air, and outfitted. A second set of ports on the end of each tank would allow deployable corridors to connect the Habitanks of each crew and cargo lander to node modules carried as the main payload of cargo landers, meaning even a crew rotation landing would contribute nearly 50 cubic meters of new volume to a base. A single crew lander and cargo lander would constitute a “Class-B” outpost mission, capable of supporting a full crew of four for more than a month. Adding two more landers would turn a Class-B outpost into a Class-C lunar base, capable of supporting a permanent crew of four with sufficient rotations and resupply. The use of the Habitanks to grow capabilities smoothly from sortie to settlement helped inspire the selection of the LSAM’s program name, Conestoga. Like the old Conestoga wagons which had helped settle the American west, the new Habitank LSAM would see the crew space expand as their supplies contracted and they forged forward across inhospitable terrain.









With the main engine of the descent stage tested, the crew of the Verne vented the LSAM’s tanks and spent four days verifying the procedures to safing the tanks, pressurizing the same with a breathable atmosphere, and opening them for outfitting. The conversion of ET-007’s LOX tank into the Enterprise Habitat Module was not only valuable inspiration, but also served as an opportunity to learn best practices for what to do (and not do) in converting a tank into a habitat. While the procedures had been extensively tested on the ground in mockups and even in flight-fidelity hardware inside Glenn Research Center’s cavernous Plum Brook vacuum chamber, testing the Habitank conversion process in space was a key goal of the debut mission of the Jules Verne. The benefits of recent experience were readily apparent. Even with the handicap of the absence of gravity, whether that of Earth as experienced in the mockups or the lower lunar gravity which would be experienced on nominal missions, the outfitting by Verne’s crew (including a few Enterprise assembly veterans) went smoothly.

Over the course of four days, the crew went through the elaborate process of testing the conversion of the LSAM’s port hydrogen tank. First, the tank was vented to space and allowed to thermally condition for 13 hours, to ensure any residual hydrogen had a chance to escape. Next, the crew connected the tank to the vehicle’s nitrogen supply, and flooded it with the main portions of a breathable atmosphere. Another few hours allowed the tank to reach thermal equilibrium again, and then oxygen was added to bring the breathing gas mixture inside the tank to sea level equivalent composition. When the tank reached habitable conditions, the STS-100-C crew opened the tank access vestibule, removed insulation panels, and then accessed the tank itself--all told, consuming almost a day from the first venting of the tank. From there, the crew disassembled the internal slosh baffle walls and outfitted the volume with some of the rough equipment of a basic module, using materials which had been temporarily stowed in the vehicle’s sortie habitat and airlock. The tank habitat’s major wiring and ventilation runs were installed, along with a few of the required lighting modules, internal insulation and other equipment. The resulting module was as skeletal as a 1996 photograph of Space Station Enterprise’s habitat, but a full outfitting wasn’t required to prove the point.



With the rough outfitting complete, the conversion had progressed far enough to show the process was indeed viable in space in the new tank layouts, and that the time required was in line with the expectations from the ground testing and Enterprise experience. As expected, the labor required was too much to be of use on the two-person sorties possible from a single lander, but well within the operational window of the multi-launch medium-duration outpost flights where the additional volume available “for free” would be invaluable. With the critical tasks complete, the new habitat was immediately abandoned, as the descent stage was jettisoned to allow the crew to test the LSAM’s ascent stage. Though its time in use was short, the early flight of Habitank in orbit had demonstrated critical applications of Space Station Enterprise experience to the expansion of future lunar outposts. However, for there to be a lunar outpost to be expanded, the lunar program would have to first succeed in returning humans to the moon and bringing them safely back to Earth. STS-100-C completed the demonstration of this by jettisoning the LSAM’s lower descent stage and testing the engines of the ascent stage, completing trials of all three new spacecraft propulsion units debuting on the mission. The crew returned safely to Earth after a week in space, completing the second Minerva demonstration mission. Whether considered by the standards of STS-100-C, Kepler-L1, or Minerva 1, the mission could only be called a complete success. The stage was set for the return of humans to the moon.




[1] For more reading on the (real!) Habitank concept, you can check out either the project report here or its section in the fantastic After LM: NASA Lunar Lander Concepts Beyond Apollo by John F. Connolly. You can also see some images of the real mockups made to evaluate the concept IOTL here.

Thanks in general go out to the entire art team for this post: @nixonshead (AEB Digtial on Twitter), @norangepeel (Cass Gibson on Twitter), and DylanSemrau
 
Last edited:
Top