Kolyma's Shadow: An Alternate Space Race

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by nixonshead, May 11, 2014.

  1. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Thanks for the information, that lines up with what I’d heard. Regarding Jim Chamberlin, as you’ve deduced, he’ll not be joining the US space programme anytime soon ITTL as he has other fish to fry…

    Thank-you for the compliment! If you’ve not yet found this, I recommend a look through the list of Spaceflight Timelines on the Wiki, as there are some real gems in there.

    Most of my information on Kuznetsova came from Wiki and a Google-translated Russian-language web page, neither of which gave clear reasons for her OTL drop-out due to “some failures in the physically and emotionally tough preparation regime” (she later re-joined the space programme, only to have her flight cancelled, so she clearly had “the right stuff” in her). I’ve assumed that butterflies in both the regime and her own mental and physical preparations mean that ITTL she passes the hurdles on the first attempt and stays as first choice.

    Thanks again for all the background information you’ve posted on the selection of Tereshkova and her fellow candidates. One of the things I’m enjoying most about writing this TL is learning about the details of OTL in the process. Comments like yours are a big part of that.

    We’ll see ;)

    Whoops! Good catch. I mentioned the model of engine to add a sense of detail, but looks like I got it wrong here. I’ll update the post in the next week or so.

    Another good catch! This is in fact a hangover from an earlier draft where the suborbital Mercury flights were going to be on partially fuelled Atlas’, but e of pi pointed out that even partially fuelled Atlas is overpowered for this role, hence the switch back to Redstone. Looks like I updated the post, but forgot to update my background notes, which I then referenced when updating the Wiki and assigning mission numbers. Again, I’ll correct it.

    As you’ve deduced, Shevek23, part of my reasoning for using an ejection seat on Zarya/R-6 was 1) the ejection seat comes out at lower mass than an escape tower, at least for one pilot, and I was initially running pretty close to the mass limit for R-6, and 2) an ejection seat would be desirable in any case for the landing.

    As it turned out, once the R-6 and Zarya designs were finalised I had more margin than I’d expected, but I figured the reasoning process I’d gone through might well have been mirrored by TTL’s OKB-1 team, so kept the ejection seat. As for “a new, more capable rocket”, this is exactly what Mishin has in mind with his M-1.
  2. Threadmarks: Part II Post #3: Dynasoar Evolution

    nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013

    Part II Post #3: Dynasoar Evolution

    Even as manned Mercury flights were becoming routine, thoughts were already turning to what would follow. The shape of that future was on display on 12th August 1963 when the Dynasoar Atmospheric Test Vehicle “Diane” was carried aloft for the first time under the wing of a B-52C Stratofortress at White Sands, New Mexico. Following separation from the B-52 at an altitude of 11 000 metres and a speed of Mach 0.78, pilot Bill Dana successfully guided the ATV glider from the B-52 down to a landing on the dry lake bed, skidding to a halt after just seven minutes of free flight. Though the test objectives were modest, the pictures of the futuristic, dart-shaped spacecraft in flight inspired the public and gave a great publicity boost to the Dynasoar Program Office at Air Force Systems Command. This success was very welcome after several years in which the project had undergone a series of major changes.

    Bill Dana’s Dynasoar ATV “Diana” is carried to altitude by a modified B-52 bomber for its first drop test, August 1963.

    Ever since the project’s inception, the question of which launcher the spaceplane should use had been an open one. At the time of its 1960 System Review, the assumption had been that Dynasoar would boost to orbit on a modification of Martin’s Titan booster. Martin had been developing designs for an improved, hypergolic version of the Titan-I missile which could be augmented by large Solid Rocket Boosters to create a powerful launch vehicle capable of putting up to 13 000 kg into orbit. The Solid Rocket Boosters were an outgrowth of the Minuteman ICBM project, which aimed to field a force of advanced missiles capable of being stored in hardened bunkers for years at a time, fully fueled, then launched against the enemy at a moment’s notice. Such a weapon would be able to provide an instant response to any surprise Soviet attack, and the Nixon administration planned to deploy 200 of the missiles by 1964.

    Regarding Titan, there were those in the Air Force who were as worried about using toxic propellants as Mishin was in the Soviet Union. During development of the Titan II ICBM there had been several accidents with the Aerozine 50 and dinitrogen tetroxide propellants, leading to concern in the Air Force that the advantages of hypergolics were not matched by the risks, especially if it was intended to place a crew atop the missile.

    As an alternative to a Titan-II launcher, the Air Force had also considered combining large SRBs with an advanced hydrogen-oxygen upper stage to create the “Space Launching System”. First studied as part of Project Lunex in the late 1950s, SLS would mix-and-match small and large hydrolox cores with a variable number of SRBs to give a range of capabilities from 9 tonnes all the way up to the 160 tonnes needed for Lunex’s direct-ascent Moon missions. The hydrogen-oxygen cores would make use of the J-2 engine, development of which had started, along with the smaller RL-10, back in the late 1950s. This family of launchers was expected to be flexible, responsive, and cost-effective, but its main competition would come not from within the Air Force, but from the father of modern rocketry himself.

    With its creation in 1961, the Defense Research Agency had been assigned responsibility for coordinating and rationalising the Armed Forces’ disparate launcher development programmes, and almost immediately von Braun’s Space Systems Office began pushing a new option. The design represented the culmination of the former ABMA team’s previous decade of studies, combined with work done for the Navy’s now-cancelled Triton launcher, plus the extensive design work von Braun had undertaken at Chrysler. The resulting launch vehicle (named “Minerva” for the third member of the Romans’ Capitoline Triad that also included Jupiter and Juno) would make use of a combination of kerosene-oxygen stages for liftoff, married to a selection of high-energy hydrolox upper stages. Powered by the E-1 engine that had been in development since 1957, the kerolox stages would consist of a large first stage core to which two or four smaller Liquid Rocket Boosters could be attached. These LRBs would build upon work von Braun had already started whilst at Chrysler as a potential successor for Atlas, greatly reducing the time that would be needed to deliver an operational vehicle. Both the Core and the LRBs would be powered by the E-1, meaning that early LRB launches would also provide valuable data back into the Core design effort. The hydrogen-oxygen second stage would make use of the J-2 engine which had also been planned for SLS, again taking advantage of existing development work. For high-energy geostationary or Earth escape missions, the RL-10 powered Centaur upper stage would be added. Combining the Centaur with a single LRB would create a launcher with around twice the payload capability of Atlas, whilst varying combinations of LRBs, 1st and 2nd stages would provide for a spectrum of payloads from ten tonnes up to to twenty-two tonnes.

    Von Braun, never one to underestimate the political side of building rockets, had learnt his lessons since his Army team had been sidelined by Eisenhower. Even before being appointed to the DRA, he and his team began lobbying in the White House and in Congress to promote the advantages of the Minerva design. By proposing to spread contracts between Convair (the upper stage and Centaur), North American (the core stage), Chrysler (the LRBs), Roketdyne (the E-1 and J-2 engines) and Pratt and Whitney (Centaur’s RL-10 engine), von Braun had allied himself with a powerful industrial team. By making the Minerva family flexible enough to cover almost the entire range of desired capabilities, he was guaranteeing these companies government orders for years, even decades to come. In return, the combined lobbying might of a significant portion of the “Military-Industrial complex” that Eisenhower been wary of was harnessed to von Braun’s ends. This helped to counter the powerful opposition of the proponents of Solid Rocket Motors within the Air Force, since under von Braun’s proposal the main contractor for the Minuteman missile, Boeing, would gain two rocket production lines instead of just one. When combined with von Braun’s technical arguments in favour of LRBs over SRBs (including lower development costs, ease of handling, and flexibility), the opposition collapsed. Minerva was confirmed as the launcher of choice in January 1963, with plans to upgrade Titan-II with SRBs also cancelled in favour of von Braun’s rocket just a few months later.

    Whilst the launcher debate was raging, a parallel discussion was ongoing regarding the role Dynasoar would perform. The spaceplane had originally been sold as a global-range bomber and high-speed, high-altitude reconnaissance platform, but with the emergence of reliable ICBMs, as well as the continuing supremacy of SAC’s gigantic bomber force, the global strike mission was no longer seen as vital. As for reconnaissance, since the shoot-down of John MacArthur’s U-2 in early 1960 the CIA had been placing more and more emphasis on gaining intelligence from spy satellites. Development of these satellites had been transferred from the Air Force to the new top-secret National Reconnaissance Office in April 1960, since which time a series of increasingly capable spysats had been developed under the Corona code-name. The Air Force felt that there was still a requirement for a manned reconnaissance plane (and in fact were secretly working on their A-12 Mach-3 jet for just this role), but as the satellites kept improving, the more traditional manned approach was becoming a harder sell on the Capitol.

    In February 1963 a USAF-NACAA-DRA meeting was held in Washington DC to consider options for expanding Dynasoar’s mission capabilities. Since passing its first Design Review in June 1960, the glider aspect of the Dynasoar project had been proceeding reasonably smoothly, but it was quickly agreed that the initial one-man concept could not meet the crew size or duration needs desirable for the kind of experimental missions now being contemplated. To solve this problem it was proposed that two distinct variants of Dynasoar be created, each sharing a common glider airframe. The Mk-I variant would be a single-pilot craft including a small payload bay, which would verify the overall system performance, make short-duration reconnaissance flights, and test experimental Air Force technologies. The second version, the Mk-II, would replace the payload bay with 2-4 man passenger compartment, and be equipped for extended duration flights to investigate the feasibility of performing long-term military missions in space. This greater duration would be achieved through the use of a disposable “Mission Module”, which would house the main on-orbit propulsion, power and support systems and would be dumped before re-entry to keep heating loads on the glider within acceptable limits. Once this idea was accepted, it was quickly realised that a wide variety of systems not needed for re-entry or return to Earth could be moved to this Mission Module, giving considerable flexibility in the mission equipment that could be supported.

    Although Dynasoar, equipped with an appropriate Mission Module, would have an on-orbit endurance of several days, its cramped quarters and limited payload capability restricted the usefulness on longer missions. What was needed was a more spacious, heavier “Space Base” or “Space Laboratory”, that could support large experiments and long-term crews in comfort. Based on a number of studies dating back to the 1950s, the conference proposed a step-by-step development of a manned space platform capability.

    The starting point would be effectively an expansion of the planned Mission Module into a crewed space lab, with the first mission targeted for 1966. Weighing in at somewhere between 5 and 7 tonnes, this Dynasoar Experimental Laboratory (DEL) would be launched along with a manned Dynasoar atop a Minerva rocket, removing the need for complicated on-orbit rendezvous and docking capabilities. Once in space, the crew of the Dynasoar Could transfer to the DEL via an internal tunnel at the rear of the spaceplane. They would spend the next ten-to-twenty days living and working in the DEL, before returning to Dynasoar with the results of their experiments and using the DEL’s engines to put both the lab and the spaceplane into a re-entry trajectory. The Dynasoar would the separate for re-entry and land as normal, whilst the DEL would be destroyed in the atmosphere.

    Assuming the DEL confirmed that men could live in space for extended periods, it would be followed up by the Dynasoar Orbital Station (DOS). This would be a 20 tonne module, to be launched on its own Minerva rocket some time around 1968. Once in orbit, it would be able to support multiple month-long Dynasoar missions (assuming the problems of rendezvous and docking had been solved), carrying out a variety of life sciences and Earth observation experiments. If successful, DOS could be followed by other stations, perhaps using on-orbit assembly and replenishment to support missions of several months.

    Early concept drawing for the Dynasoar Mk-II with the Dynasoar Experimental Lab.
    (Based upon this image)

    One group still not happy with the direction of America’s manned space programme were the “Capsule Faction” of NACAA, led by Max Faget. Following the successful development of their Mercury design, they had assumed that the next logical step would be “Mercury Mk.II”, an expanded, 2-man capsule with on-orbit manoeuvring capability. On top of the many technical advantages they claimed for capsules over winged spacecraft, the development costs for this approach would be a fraction of what was needed for Dynasoar. It was, to them, the obvious choice.

    Although by now firmly committed to the Dynasoar, there were those in the Air Force who sympathised with the NACAA position. In particular, one area where Dynasoar came up short was for potential high orbit or deep space missions. Here Dynasoar was limited by the maximum heating, and therefore maximum re-entry speed, which could be supported by its radiatively cooled skin and thin, vulnerable wings. In contrast, a blunt capsule would be able to make use of an ablative heat shield similar to Mercury’s, allowing missions to extremely high orbits, or even circum-lunar flights.

    It was this possibility for future deep-space flights that led von Braun to throw his weight behind Faget and argue in favour of a detailed design study for a future space capsule. Despite resistance in the Pentagon and in Congress to the idea of funding two parallel manned spacecraft, in late 1963 the two wiley engineers succeeded in getting approval for a joint NACAA-DRA project to investigate designs for a 3-man space capsule for deep space missions. Although a far cry from the full vehicle development programme Faget craved, these studies kept the door open for future alternatives to Dynasoar, even as the spaceplane began taking its first flights.
    Dlg123 and pattontank12 like this.
  3. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Aug 3, 2009
    von Braun uses the "distribute the work" trick to kill Titan in its cradle and replace it with neo-Saturn...the irony is palpable...

    Now, as for the question of Dyna-Soar versus Apollo, while Dyna-Soar might not be able to undertake circumlunar or deep-space missions by itself, it could function just fine as a logistics craft supporting an in-space infrastructure doing that, which would probably be more economical on a mission-by-mission basis than launching them from Earth. In any case, I suspect circumlunar or other BEO missions won't be taking place until the 1970s; it's certainly too late to land on the Moon by '69 at this point, at least.
  4. Bahamut-255 Space Lover

    Jul 28, 2010
    I agree with Goblin, the ability to land a Man on the Moon and return him safely to the Earth by 31/12/1969 (31/12/1970 is the actual end date for that decade) is impossible at this stage, but IMHO, this might turn out to be a blessing in the long run. It seems to me that the race to reach the Moon in the first place is the primary reason that NASA had a torrid 70's, given that they not only had nothing to properly follow it ready, but the immense cost of the fast-tracked programme saw interest fade even before the Goal was attained.

    Here, the Spaceplane concept reaching a critical maturity point now is a major issue for the Capsule, with its advantages now only apparent to the public with regards to HEO and BEO Missions where the Winged Design suffers from its design constraints.
  5. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

    Feb 2, 2013
    ..not that you want to hang around in clouds of Hydrazine and RFNA that haven't mixed
  6. Brainbin Kingpin of the Cultural Cartel

    Jul 26, 2009
    The British Empire
    Decades aren't like centuries. The reason centuries end on the '00 year instead of the '99 year is because they're reckoned ordinally: the first century was January 1st, AD 1 to December 31st, AD 100 (there being no year zero) - so every century thereafter (including the twentieth) adheres to that pattern. (Same with millennia: the first millennium was January 1st, AD 1 to December 31st, 1000, and therefore the "new" - or third - millennium technically began on January 1, 2001, not that anybody cared.) The 1900s, by contrast, ran from January 1st, 1900 to December 31, 1999, because they're not ordinal but instead encompass all years beginning with 19--. (Of course there's ambiguity as to whether "1900s" refers to a decade or to a whole century, probably one of the reasons why centuries are usually reckoned ordinally.) Decades are reckoned in the same fashion - the 1960s lasted from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1969. The decade that ended on December 31, 1970 (and, accordingly, began on January 1st, 1961) is properly the 197th decade, but nobody reckons decades that way. Point being, when Kennedy IOTL said "before the end of the decade", he meant the 1960s, and not the 197th decade. Therefore, the deadline he had in mind was December 31st, 1969. Although 2000 was part of the 20th century, 1970 was not part of the 1960s.

    Sorry to derail this thread with my hair-splitting, I just felt the sudden and irresistible urge to nip this one in the bud. Great work and captivating images as always, nixonshead!
  7. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    Ja, i'm back and thiz time i made zure i ztay in ze Game…

    Typical Wernher von Braun, He manage always to get at top and stay.
    on “Minerva” it's using Cluster last stand on Juno/redstone tanks or more traditional tanks ?

    so interesting a 3 man deep space capsule is.
    Boeing has just to stretch the Dyna Soar about 50 % and can fly lunar mission and return to Earth save

    Lunar Dynar soar
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2014
  8. Tonyq Well-Known Member

    Mar 1, 2008
    Thanks. I'm glad you've found my ramblings of interest. Looking forward to further developments, and as others have said, please don't leave the Zarya era girls grounded, as happened in OTL.

    Mean time, I'm attaching an image of Kuznetsova which I'm sure you won't have seen before. It is the only one I have ever seen of her wearing the SK-2 pressure suit. It was taken during sea landing survival training which she completed with VT in the early summer of 1962. It is a real mystery exactly why she left the process in September 1962, only to be readmitted in 1965. Whatever the reason, it was clearly something that she overcame.

    Last edited: Aug 25, 2014
  9. NathanKell Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2009
    Shevek23: in other words, hypergols burn rather than explode: the ejection just has to get you clear of the fire, not the fireball.

    nixonshead: "We'll see" indeed. :D
    (What do you think re: Gs, by the way?)

    Regarding II.3: Interesting to see DynaSoar make it this far! I half-expected it would still be canceled, although it may yet serve the one actually productive goal it could have OTL: killing STS dead. ;)
    What is the plan for the propulsion of DynaSoar? In the edited pic you show a modified Transtage (looks like it retains the Delta-derived engines but the tanktage is quite different). Would that even exist, though? Would the hydrolox mafia in the Air Force push for an RL-10 based service module? I always took Transtage as being something Martin designed for Titan III in its DynaSoar (and SLV-4) role...

    Minerva sounds like a truly excellent setup, actually; E-1 is a great midrange engine and probably better, long-term, than H-1 since a single one will give you boosted-Delta performance and you can cram a lot more onto a core+boosters and get SHLLV performance, while conversely it's not like F-1 where even a single one means automatic HLLV (and therefore too expensive for most tasks).

    On the subject of kerolox engines, what I'm very interested in seeing is if the US continues down the OTL path of "ooh shiny hydrolox, and besides staged kerolox is impossible" or if the US does actually attempt staged kerolox.

    I mentioned Delta above. What's going on in terms of smaller launchers? It sounds like we have Atlas-Agena and Atlas-Centaur for midrange...does Faget get the go-ahead for Scout? Does no Thor-Agena (and perhaps no Thor-Able) remove Thor-Delta (and, indeed, with less frenzy, the "emergency interim requirement" itself might be removed...)?

    I admit to a small tear of regret at SLS not flying; I (continue to) find that system very interesting; SRM-S-IVB a decade early, more or less, and expandable too. That said, the infrastructure to support getting heavy SRMs to the pad (for AB and BC) would itself be quite the expense, so assuming they can actually get E-1s mass produced the LRB option may prove not that much more expensive.

    Speaking of: what's Von Braun et al doing in terms of reusability? That was a consistent feature of his work, and was planned from the start for Saturn I (although removed for time/money constraints). Here, with time at least much less of a constraint, is he pushing to at least recover the LRBs?
  10. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Apr 13, 2007
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Hunh! I hadn't realized the E-1 was a real engine.
  11. NathanKell Well-Known Member

    Jul 22, 2009
    Yup, totally real. Was quite well-progressed too when it was cancelled in favor of double the number of H-1s, I believe.

    nixonshead: Also, forgot to mention in my above post...DOS? Really? Well, I guess there will be such a station even if Mishin and Chelomei fail to orbit it. :p
  12. BigRIJoe Active Member

    Feb 20, 2008
  13. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
  14. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Politics: the most effective anti-missile system ever developed :p

    Well, at the moment no politician is seriously talking about funding a Moon landing, let alone by the end of the decade (however it’s measured ;)). Despite some internal studies, the Air Force leadership doesn’t foresee a military mission requiring a Moon base, and their contractors are being kept busy with Dynasoar and Minerva, so there’s not a big push from that direction. It’s just not on the agenda for most people, which is why the best Faget and von Braun can get for capsule work is some basic aerodynamic research and feasibility studies.

    NASA certainly got a massive hangover from Apollo IOTL which the Air Force and NACAA will be spared ITTL. But of course neither will have access to the torrents of money that Apollo unleashed either, so to stretch the metaphor further, they are spared the hangover by simply not having the party. Federal budgets will be healthier as a result of that (and the lower spending Nixon puts into social programmes compared to OTL’s Johnson), but the economy won’t get the trickle-down benefits of all those subcontractor paychecks, nor the boost to STEM students.

    Quite, it’s nasty stuff :(

    It’s that kind of attention to detail that helps make That Wacky Redhead such a superb timeline!

    Heh, reminds me of von Braun’s alleged opening remarks to a conference in New York:

    The Minerva family of rockets were designed by e of pi based on a set of requirements I laid out to meet the needs of timeline. Minerva uses traditional monolithic tanks, with the LRBs sized to match the diameter of the Jupiter rocket (2.67m) to allow re-use of the tooling. The 1st and 2nd stages are larger, 4.27m in diameter.

    Thanks for the links! They remind me of the Project Lunex designs.

    Thanks for the image, it’s a great one. I’ve added it to the Wiki. Here’s another image I managed to unearth:


    The diagram in the post is an early concept drawing only, not necessarily the final configuration, but the propulsion is almost certainly not hydrolox. DEL will have missions lasting a couple of weeks, so there’d be considerable boil-off. My current plan is for the Dynasoar Mission Module to use storable propellant, probably the NTO/MMH used on Gemini IOTL, so I’d expect that to be scaled up for DEL/DOS. There are also solid rockets in the Mission Module for emergency escape.

    Von Braun is very keen selling the benefits of high-energy hydrolox upper-stages, using the existing E1 1st stage engine, so there’s no serious development of new kerolox engines in the US at this point. DRA probably has some R&D projects looking into staged combustion, but isn’t yet putting serious money into it. In the USSR, Mishin is developing new engines for his M-1 (Glushko still being anti-cryogenic), but probably not staged combustion at this point.

    Scout was developed ITTL in the late ‘50s, but the Delta family was nixed when the Air Force went straight for Atlas-Agena rather than developing Thor-Agena. Minerva-1 will have a payload to LEO of around 3.5t, with Atlas-Agena covering 1t.

    I very nearly plumped for SLS in Kolyma’s Shadow, before being persuaded to go for an all-new E1-powered rocket by my esteemed Rocket Scientist collaborator, e of pi. The difficulty in handling those heavy SRB segments was indeed one of the arguments he made in favour of LRBs. As for costs, I’ve not yet gone into it in detail, but my gut feeling is a Dynasoar-spec Minerva will cost somewhere between an OTL Titan and a Saturn-1 - probably edging towards the higher end of that spectrum.

    Right now he’s focussing on just getting his launcher to the pad. He’ll probably have a few ideas, but nothing beyond the concept stage at this point.

    I think Michel Van is right, that looks like the F-1 to me. Here’s the E-1’s Encyclopedia Astronautica entry, with a couple of pictures. As mentioned above, the use of the E1 engine was suggested by Minerva’s Chief Designer, e of pi. Incidentally, if anyone has some hard numbers on the size of the E1, please share, as I’m currently sizing them on dead-eye reckoning for the Blender models.

    I wondered if anyone would spot that ;) Well, the USAF certainly haven’t heard of that acronym being used by anyone else at this point, and linking the name of the station to the (existing and funded) Dynasoar project might help grease the wheels of appropriations…

    As for Soviet plans, that’s a tale for next week...

    BTW, I've tried to edit the old posts with the corrections NathanKell pointed out, but it seems they're too old to edit. I'll do a bit of chasing and see if I can get them unlocked, but in any case I'll note the corrections for the eventual Finished Timelines update.
  15. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    Art Day

    about Zarya-3 dissater
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  16. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Nice! (Well, nasty scene, but nice rendering!) I think I'll have to add a dedicated Gallery section to the Wiki :)
  17. Clorox23 Well-Known Member

    Jun 21, 2011
    Oh dear... No one should have to go through that. :(
  18. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    If I could explain the week I've been having it would be clearer why I have said so little lately. I still can't tonight; I'd better say now before more days go by:

    The Minerva "universal rocket system" (to steal a phrase Russians liked to use) seems pretty brilliant to me. Naturally those who know my tastes know I'm thrilled to dispense with both hypergolic propellants and solid rockets. The modular approach which includes the rockets conceived as mere boosters also doubling as primary and sole first stage for the smallest item in the set of possible orbital rockets is pretty clever. (And neatly covers the Delta-sized hole in TTL's range of American launch vehicles).

    It seems like just the thing to base a manned program such as I hoped for--where a standard manned craft can either be stacked on a big rocket with a varied set of orbital modules (to be left in orbit or discarded by reentering them and burning them up) or launched separately to rendezvous with structures of such modules already launched unmanned. The more they do the latter, the more standard and hence studied/practiced, hence hopefully more and more reliable, that launcher set of stages will be.
  19. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    I completely agree. Unfortuantely a lot of people did, especially at the height of Stalin’s paranoia in the late ‘30s.

    No explanations necessary, I appreciate your input whenever it comes!

    Like you, I’m very pleased with the way Minerva came out, and again can’t thank e of pi enough for his work in coming up with the design, as well as the concept for using the LRBs as stand-alone small boosters. In-universe, the use of Minerva combined with the Dynasoar’s use of Mission Modules, gives the Air Force a lot of flexibility in terms of the types of missions they can perform.

    BTW, I’ve overhauled the Wiki to add a new Images and Resources section. This is where I’ll put all of the images used in the Timeline, including things like maps, infoboxes and fan art. This also helps to keep the Key Dates section less cluttered.
  20. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    A small bump to get the next Post top-page billing...