Kolyma's Shadow: An Alternate Space Race

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

  1. RanulfC Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2014
    They are interesting but keep in mind they tended to gloss-over a lot as well :) Again I'll note the posted illustration which "looks" neat enough but you have to recall that specifically the carrier aircraft isn't flying straight and level but is being boosted by an SSME in the tail into a 70 degree "Gamma Maneuver" (as it's being called now, they never had a "name" for it at the time) before LV separation, at which point thrusters on both the LV and AC are firing madly to avoid any chance of re-contact. Needless to say there is a REASON the AF was not thrilled with the concepts given.

    Frankly the other cited DARPA/AF/NASA study pretty much is focused on LV's that can separate, lift themselves, (or at least greatly slow their drop rate) and perform their own powered Gamma Maneuver with top-carry the only "option" considered because of an assumption that no LV can be fitted under or in an existing AC without major modifications.

    In the end the assumption of payload-to-orbit "required" drives the rest of the assumptions and I'm of the mind that far to many of the initial assumptions are shaky at best.

    Your screen name there is the same as here, (which is how I recognized it) but ya, I haven't been back in a good long while myself as the factionalism was getting to me.

    Amazingly Air Launch and various ideas was one of the ones Jim tended to put a bit more effort into. Usually :) In the main if certain assumptions were allowed, (payload-to-orbit per flight traded for more frequent and possibly cheaper per flight costs, etc) Air Launch could be shown to work for what it was intended to do. It's when attempts were made to force it to various "real-world" constraints, (minimum EELV, or Shuttle payload-to-orbit, Falcon-9 or Atlas-V as an LV, etc) that things went south. Not that some of the "supporters" helped matters either as I recall stuff like daily flights from your local airport and launching over downtown New York, (because people would be SO excited by being able to watch each launch LIVE :) ) were serious suggestions as "obvious" consequences...

    Yes but Kelly was also aware that you can easily "fly" something into the ground even with "enough" thrust :)

    Part and parcel of the concept is some way to get the LV from horizontal to a more vertical orientation and HOW you do that with no real "lift" on the LV is a key question. (IIRC MAKS had to have the carrier AC go into a virtual stall to launch didn't it?)

    Hey there!:( You DO remember that Dynasoar ALSO required the pilot to at least PRETEND to be flying the booster as well? Those big fins on the Titan weren't JUST for show... (Mostly, but not 'just' :) )

    I'll point out the the USAF is no less susceptible to "logical" thinking that lacks logic than any other organization and specifically it wasn't until the mid-to-late 60s that the 'missilemen' became commanders enough to be taken seriously. A lot of both public and military thinking was dominated by the idea that "missiles" and "aircraft" were two separate systems that would "eventually" combine but were no where near that point yet. And yet there was an expectation that manned and unmanned rockets, (but mostly manned) would proceed like the previous aircraft development and race ahead to unexpected, (but obviously since we KNEW how aircraft technology went we could easily 'foresee" the developments THIS time) results in a few decades at most.

    Unfortunately that early outlook took some significant hits in the 1960s that didn't allow the smooth progression "everyone" expected and unlike aircraft, commercial space development was never the same "driver" as aviation.

    Being honest "reusability" was seen as an early requirement but circumstances, (lack of excess margin) and the need to get something operating quickly precluded a more logical step-by-step process. Couple that with the "within-a-decade" Moon landing goal and any thoughts of reusability went out the window. This tact may alter that somewhat, but the main idea of a "single" vehicle that can perform the whole flight fits right in with the idea that what you need for "efficient" operations is a space-going-airplane as it's the 'closest' example to hand.

    IMO part of the whole problem was/is "spacecraft-are-airplanes" and all the baggage that flows from that point :)

    Well, "technically"... (Can't find it at the moment but "Quicklaunch" was an LV concept for a fully "palletized" LV that would be dropped out the back of a C-5, orientated by parachutes and launched)

    Depends on the assumptions involved, (as noted above) and the willingness/need to require an 'off-the-shelf' aircraft mostly. "Dropping" has more, (as far as I can tell MUCH more) going for it in terms ease of aircraft operations but your need to put the LV into a climb as soon as possible either means you find a way to "orient" it quickly or put wings on it to allow it to make an aerodynamic pitch-up. But in any case I'm of the opinion that you need to look 'outside-the-box' with options such as wider rather than bigger around LV structure such as side AND nose mounted "drop-tanks" and all that implies.

    It will be interesting to see where this goes as it goes on :)

  2. RanulfC Well-Known Member

    Mar 11, 2014
    Bit of a space-fan fallacy here I'm afraid. Yes "we" decided to "go" but we did so in a way that ensured it was JUST a "big-project" with a set goal and NO FOLLOW ON. The other space-fallacy from that movie is the rhetorical question "What if Columbus had stopped going?" to which the answer is that the various American natives would have been probably much better off and while "America" as we know it wouldn't exits the truth is that it was LATER explorers who actually "made" going across the Atlantic pay and therefore Chris wasn't just a footnote in history.

    And it SHOULD be obvious by now that we actually can't 'choose' to go again or we would have. We've nothing near the incentive nor rationale and THAT is specifically the problem with the "way" we did it the first time.

    Our motivations are all wrong, mostly because we've been shown a certain way to do it and have come to the false and pretty much unsupported conclusion that it "must" be done this way. Sorry but history shows that is not and has not ever been the "way" it's happened on Earth and going into space is by nature a LOT harder and less cost effective than anything on Earth.

    By that same toke though we HAVE seen that it CAN be done and we can do it again IF we don't insist on repeating the past.

    Where to start? We 'have' some equipment that we have had to rebuild/re-build in order to move from Apollo to the Shuttle and now need to do the same thing over again for the "next" program and the problem is that costs almost as much as starting from scratch. Add on top that we actually have to re-build so much infrastructure that we might as well start from scratch and build what we actually NEED rather than re-build what we have. And say we DO decide to "redo" Apollo today, why would there be ANY rationale for it being more "sustainable" or "affordable" that it wasn't when it WAS the program of record?

    The folks who built NASA and Apollo from scratch did so under great stress, pressure and managed wonders beyond anything imagined when the goal was announced but the truth is no matter how fantastic that WAS it was "over" the day Apollo 11 splashed down in the Pacific ocean. Apollo was a "dead-program-walking" from that moment on.

    The only way it could be different is if there were some huge changes LONG before Apollo 11 and in most cases we wouldn't have gone on to see the same outcome as OTL. ETSW is a neat TL but it's running into the same questions and issues as it ends. Everything about NASA in the run up to Apollo was about making Apollo happen and that focus meant that there was nothing for afterwards and it left nothing when it went away except a lot of equipment and facilities that had to be "re-built" for the NEXT program, and which will have to be re-built for the NEXT program and so and so on...

    How persuasive can you be to convince people to spend lots of money to send up a couple of people to pick up rocks and walk around on the Moon when "you" and everyone you know gets pretty much "nothing" back but some pretty pictures? How about sending a couple of more people to orbit the Earth (again) for a couple of weeks? Months? Years? Sure you get some little science back but no where near enough or with enough effect to have anything to do with you or anyone you know. Mars? Why indeed, we get better science from a robot and better pictures too.

    The "reason" is quite simple actually but arguing species long-term survival doesn't resonate with the average person let alone the people with the "money" who it just so happens are those self same people.
    Which means of course find a relevant "reason" that resonates with "Joe-Sixpack" (as we used to call him) and/or the guy on the street in Abudabi and you're golden.

    Simply "going" because it's there doesn't have that kind of resonance and never has. They may for a short term pay to have "someone" go, but it won't and can't last without that resonance.

    Yes but only in a limited sense and only until "someone" goes and then it's "been-done" and the pressure goes away. If we had no automation there would be pressure to send people but with...

    "Glacial slowness" isn't a bad thing as long as that "slowness" is used to build up an infrastructure and ability to involve more people and create more "buy-in" by more people. Apollo was about twenty years of frantic activity to get about a dozen people to the Moon and back...

    And that was it. AFTER that we tried to go back and take the long-slow route but by then people had moved on and what the progress that was made was hamstrung by a bloated bureaucracy and limited governmental goals and budgets. Too little far to late and now we're having to reinvent the wheel we should have learned to build 59 years ago it we hadn't gotten "ahead" of ourselves in the first place.

    Sure it seems that many times small and possibly interesting programs get cut because no one cares but "space" had a deep and abiding (polls show this clearly) interest and still does. The problem is that right along with that interest is the well known 'fact' that whatever happens in space will have little real impact (and barring a panic inducing world-ending event the pun is intended :) ) on the average person. "They" have little or no stake in the outcome, and therefore have little or no interest in making it a priority anytime soon. Change that and change the whole equation :)

    Well if we are honest then we must face that we actually have NO reason to "go" and never did. Getting into space is hard, dangerous, and expensive. Nothing "out-there" is worth going out there to get it let alone bringing it back. After 50 years and insignificant portion of the worlds population has gone out and been brought back with nothing to "show" for the money and lives spent. "Logically" we should face the fact that we don't have any reason to continue to even try. But we're not Vulcan's :)

    We could and should learn from the past and understand that while we have to "go" we need to do it RIGHT rather than crazy. Crazy worked for one glorious shining moment that we need to proudly remember but NOT seek to emulate as a standard practice. No panicked backed, government sponsored, mega-program ever opened and settled any new frontier on Earth. And while granting that Space is not Earth we should be aware of what did and did not work here as opening up Space is a LOT harder BECAUSE it's not Earth.

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  3. TaintedLion Prince of Reference Books.

    Oct 15, 2014
    Winchester, England
    Loved this week's chapter nixonshead, great work :) I may try and do some artwork for this.

    I have one question: Pathfinder-4 was an ion engine demonstration mission, but did it use caesium or mercury as its propellant, as the early ion engines IOTL did, or did it use the more modern xenon or argon instead?
  4. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

    Nov 27, 2008
    Halfway to Anywhere

  5. Threadmarks: Part IV Post#6: The Expendables

    nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    The clocks go back in Europe this weekend, so it seems a fitting time to turn back our own European clock and see what’s happening in...


    Part IV Post#6: The Expendables

    Following the European Space Launch Agency’s 1970 decision to abandon the troubled Europa rocket, development of the new Theseus launcher proceded relatively smoothly. Directed from ESLA’s central office in Antwerp, the various national subcontractors began working together far more smoothly than before. When technical problems did emerge, as was inevitable on such a complex project, they were attacked in a coordinated and systematic way that led to effective solutions. More difficult to manage were the political and funding problems of maintaining support from various national governments, several of which would change political colour during Theseus’ development. Here too though, the benefits of ESLA’s new structure, with annual allocations confirmed in line with an overall five-year budget plan, quickly became obvious compared to the unending horse-trading and manoeuvring that had been a feature of the Europa project.

    The first Theseus rocket was delivered to its launch site at Kourou, French Guiana, in mid-1975, less than a year later than the original schedule. The delay was largely down to complications in adapting Kourou’s facilities for Theseus, in particular the refrigeration and storage systems needed for the 3rd stage’s liquid hydrogen fuel. The jungle heat and humidity also posed challenges for the integration and test crews, who on several occasions found sensitive electrical equipment producing spurious results under decidedly non-European environmental conditions. Similar issues had been encountered with Europa, but Theseus’ greater sophistication multiplied the problems, and it was several months before ESLA declared the rocket ready for its first launch in September 1975.

    Unlike the case with Europa, the first launch of Theseus was planned as an all-up test of the complete stack, with no dummy stages. This added complexity to the flight preparations, but would make for a more representative test. The payload was a simple, 150kg engineering model from the University of Southampton, which had cost a total of £175 000 and was not expected to do much more than signal its post-launch health. In case of a failure, it was considered expendable.

    Unfortunately, expendable it would prove to be. Following a perfect lift-off and nominal burns on the first two stages, the third stage engine ignition failed. The third and fourth stages, together with the payload, were destroyed by ground command and rained down over the Atlantic Ocean. The subsequent investigation put the cause down to damage to a fuel pump following the repeated fueling-defueling cycles of the cryogenic 3rd stage that had occurred during launch prep.

    The failure caused some in the various European capitals to wobble in their support for ESLA, fearful that they were witnessing a repeat of the ELDO fiasco. ESLA’s Director General, Maurice Gouni, was able to reassure the politicians that this was just a minor glitch normal to a development programme and that the agency had things well in hand. Launch procedures were re-written and additional sensors and telemetry added to the rocket, and six months later, in March 1976, a second Theseus rocket stood ready for launch. This time all four stages performed flawlessly, inserting its test payload into the correct orbit with an impressive level of accuracy. A second test launch in August 1976 was also declared a success, and Theseus performed its first operational mission three months later, delivering a French military communications satellite to geostationary orbit.


    Europe’s Theseus rocket takes to the skies, March 1976.

    Theseus’ development would have repercussions beyond Europe. It’s foremost objective, to break Western European governments’ dependence on the US Air Force for their launch needs, was uncontroversial on both sides of the Atlantic. Although the additional funds from allied government launches were welcome, Minerva was already operating near capacity servicing its domestic national security and other US government customers like NESSA and NACAA. Added to this were a growing number of commercial satellite operators, who often had to wait several years for a launch slot to open up, leaving their satellites stranded in unproductive (and expensive) storage on the ground.

    However, the US government’s initial welcoming of Theseus as a way of reducing the burden on Minerva soon turned to concern, as ESLA made it known that they would begin accepting commercial bookings for launches on Theseus from late 1977 onwards. Several American companies moved quickly to take advantage of this offer, leading to concern in the US that the nation was at risk of losing out to foreign competition, as was happening already in the automotive and electronics industries.

    Just as Theseus had provoked the concern, so it would indirectly help provide the solution. In the late 1960s, as ESLA was considering how best to move on from Europa, a young German engineer named Lutz Kayser had put forward a proposal for a launch vehicle based around clustering of a standardised, ultra-cheap rocket module he dubbed a “Common Rocket Propulsion Unit”. By keeping this basic unit as simple as possible, using pressure-fed, ablatively cooled hypergolic engines, it could be mass-produced in conventional factories, leading to massive economies of scale that could drive costs down to a tenth of that for a Minerva launch. The ability to cluster CRPUs would also give flexibility, allowing payloads of between 1-10 tonnes to be launched from a minimal ground infrastructure.

    The idea was received with interest by ESLA, but the need to utilise the industrial capabilities of all of its member states meant that the CRPU-based design lost out to Theseus. However, its inclusion in a 1971 conference in Vancouver brought it to the attention of fellow German Wernher von Braun, who was at that time still with the Defense Research Agency. Intrigued, von Braun met with Kayser in Washington and commissioned him to produce a more detailed study of the concept. Kayser agreed, establishing a DC-based consultancy business, Orbital Transport and Rockets (OTR), as an office to manage the contract. The 18-month study that OTR delivered in 1973 found no fundamental problems with the approach, although it did highlight that more work would be needed on guidance and control mechanisms for the large clusters of up to 48 CRPUs that would comprise a stage. The report also suggested that these problems could be eased by improving the performance of the individual CRPUs (which were underpowered and overweight by most rocketry standards), but this would need to be traded against increasing their complexity, and so cost and potential failure risk.

    By the time OTR delivered its report, von Braun was already on his way out of the DRA, and so Kayser lost his key ally in the American defence industry. However, the contacts he’d made during his time in Washington meant that OTR won new consultancy contracts which kept Kayser in the States. He was therefore in a prime position when the USAF in 1974 issued a call for proposals for a Phase-A study of a new launch vehicle to supplement Minerva. Following the conclusions of the Rhene Inquiry, the Air Force had become concerned about its over-reliance on Minerva. Rhene had grounded all Dynasoar missions for several years, and it was realised that a major failure of the Minerva core stage could cause even worse disruption for national security launches. The venerable Atlas could cover some smaller payloads, but it was showing its age, and with the Shuttlecraft studies trending against the “Space Truck” option, there was currently no alternative to Minerva on the horizon for large payloads.

    OTR was too small to consider bidding for the study directly, but it did find a role as part of Ford Aerospace’s team, which in early 1975 was selected as one of three teams to perform a Phase-A study for the Air Force’s “Future Expendable Launch Vehicle” concept. In many ways it was a dream partnership, as Ford’s mass production techniques and vertical integration in car production had been one of the inspirations behind the CRPU concept in the first place. For their part, Ford had their own interests in seeing a low-cost launch vehicle emerge, as following their acquisition of Philco in 1963, they had developed a major role in the manufacturer of communications satellites.

    Ford’s engineers embraced Kayser’s ideas of maximising commonality and promoting simplicity even at the cost of some performance, but they soon found themselves coming into conflict over just how much simplicity should be introduced. One of the first areas of contention was the decision to switch from OTR’s hypergolic propellants to kerosene and liquid oxygen. Kayser’s original CRPU-based design had been for payloads of just over one tonne (2 200 lbs) using a vehicle with 64 ganged CRPUs, but the Air Force requirement was for the delivery of at least 30 000 lbs to LEO. Ganging enough CRPUs to meet this need would be an engineering nightmare, and so Ford were forced to scale up the basic modules and switch to the higher performance kerolox propellant mix. As well as improving performance, this had the advantage of giving much better safety and ease of handling characteristics, as well as commonality with the legacy Minerva and Atlas fueling infrastructure, but at the cost of sacrificing the simplicity of Kayser’s original pressure-fed self-igniting engines. The size of the rocket modules was inflated to a diameter of nine feet (compared to just under a foot for the original CRPU), allowing the number of rocket modules to be drastically reduced. This flew in the face of Kayser’s concept of economies of scale through production in volume, driving up costs, but Ford’s analysis showed that in addition to the performance boost, the smaller number of cores would actually give a greater overall reliability, a key metric for the Air Force evaluators.

    Despite these considerable changes, much of the spirit of the CRPU was preserved. The basic launcher would have a first stage made up of one, three or five “Standard Propulsion Modules” of identical design, all sharing a common engine, an all-new design to be supplied by Aerojet. A shortened version of the SPM with a vacuum optimised engine, dubbed the SPM-u, would be used as an upper stage. The SPM-u kept the same diameter and tank bulkheads as the base SPM, and so could be manufactured using the same tooling. A small, off-the-shelf STAR-48 solid rocket booster could be used to further augment the basic stack, which by mixing and matching with different numbers of SRM and an SRM-u, meant that Ford’s “Modular Space Launcher” would be able to cater to LEO payloads of between 3.5 to 15.5 tonnes, or place up to 4.3 tonnes into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit. The use of the SPM meant that even the largest version of the rocket, with a 5-SPM 1st stage, SPM-u and STAR-48 would be using just two different liquid stage lengths (though both built with common tooling), one liquid engine design, plus the externally sourced solid booster. Ford projected that this would enable them to slash as much as 50% off the cost of a launch when compared with Minerva.

    The completed Phase-A report was sent to the Air Force in February 1976, along with competing proposals from Martin Marietta and Rockwell-Convair. The latter’s proposal was dubbed “Atlas-II”, but in reality shared a lot more heritage with Minerva than Atlas. Although technically sound, concerns were raised over allowing Minerva’s suppliers to extend their monopoly over the US launcher market. Although a common supply chain and shared infrastructure promised some savings, it also undermined the very reason for considering a new rocket in the first place.

    Martin Marietta’s solution was a modification of their Titan-II missile, called Titan-III, which they proposed to augment with two large solid rocket motors and an all-new upper stage. Experience with the Minuteman ICBM had demonstrated that large solid fuelled rockets could be safely and reliably manufactured (by Boeing, at least), and their inclusion would give a huge initial boost off the pad, where thrust was paramount. The performance metrics were all in line with Air Force needs, whilst the development and operational costs seemed reasonable, but the use of the same toxic propellants that had made the Titan-II ICBM unpopular to serve with gave several of the assessors pause for thought.

    In contrast, Ford’s vehicle (now named “Liberty” after the modular, low-cost Liberty Ship freighters of WWII) ticked all of the technical boxes and promised a huge cut in launch costs… if they could build it. Unlike the other two bidders, Ford Aerospace had never built any missile larger than the air-to-air Sidewinder. The inclusion in their team of Aerojet, who had previously designed the kerolox engines for the Titan-I, went some way to ease these concerns, but there remained influential voices questioning whether Ford had the experience needed for such an important vehicle.

    In the end, the promise of much lower prices trumped worries over Ford’s experience, and in September 1976, less than a month after Theseus’ second successful launch, the Air Force confirmed the selection of the Liberty for their Future Expendable Launcher. The first launch was targeted for early 1980, with the rocket being marketed for commercial missions within six months of its entry into service (subject to an Air Force veto). If Ford could deliver on its promises, and with Theseus ramping up its tempo, the eighties held the potential to become a golden age for commercial spaceflight.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  6. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    Eeeek, ORTAG all over the place...
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  7. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    But not really. What we have here seems much more like, well, Minerva. We take the difference between Minerva and Saturn and square it. Eliminate the hydrogen stage in favor of a small modification of the standard ker-lox ground stages; reduce the number of types of the latter from two to just one; replace a Centaur type upper stage with an off the shelf solid.

    All of these simplifications seem like so many steps backward compared to the more nuanced mixing and matching the Minerva system already offered and it is only possible to justify any of them by showing that the launchers that can be bolted together to put up a given payload (necessarily somewhat more massive than the right Minerva compound to achieve the same result) are indeed each significantly cheaper than the Minerva would be. The various farther steps ATL-OTR takes in that direction relative to Minerva should indeed cheapen it, and perhaps with Ford* looking over their shoulders, Aerojet will design the standard (well, two variation) engine to be significantly cheaper.

    But it won't be able to launch as much payload maximum as the top-line Minervas can--this is down to the latter using hydrogen fueled stages.

    One can imagine stretches of the OTR. If one can have a five-core ground stage, why not a seven-core? With such a cluster the second stage could be made longer rather than shorter than the standard first-stage unit length. Or one could, in attempting to match Minerva performance and drive the older system completely out of service, adopt a hydrogen upper stage eventually. Some of these suggestions obviously come back a bit from the mantra of make it simpler and cheaper, but if the system overall is competitively capable while also being cheaper than Minerva, it still wins.

    Driving Minerva out of service would of course undercut the logic of having two different systems on hand in case one is taken out of service.

    OTL OTRAG was going to go to much more drastic extremes in the direction of ultra-simplicity, ultra-cheapness, and ultra-modularity. The engines would be pressure-fed, indeed would be milled out of blocks of asphalt, ablatively cooled. The propellant would not in fact be properly hypergolic; it was to have used a storable acidic oxidant all right, but the fuel would be a cheap hydrocarbon--diesel fuel or minimally refined kerosene. The combination would burn with a low ISP, made lower still by the modest and falling chamber pressure--for the pressure feeding strategy was simply to pump the propellants into sealed tanks filled with nitrogen--the trapped gas would provide the pressure, but this would of course fall as the fluids were consumed and the gas volume rose. The units were to be composed of pipes of narrow diameters, so small that they could be lifted up and carried around by small gangs of workers, and would be ganged together by the dozens in order to achieve any decent payload at all.

    The propellant mix would not in fact be hypergolic in that the acid would not spontaneously combust with the fuel--it was planned to use a charge of an actually hypergolic complement to the oxidizer to start the fire in the chamber, only then feeding in the sustainable mix, which burns only because the chamber is already hot when it is injected.

    The low and falling ISP of the propellant mix encouraged me to think of alternatives for an ATL OTRAG-like approach; kerosene and high test hydrogen peroxide seem excellent, superior at any rate to Keyser's OTL choice. To sustain the pressure in a simple pressure-fed liquid rocket, I wonder if it could be practical to use a small tank of liquid hydrogen as a source of pressurant, to be vaporized by engine heat regeneratively removed and run through a heat exchanger, producing gaseous hydrogen at near standard temperatures and maintaining a suitable pressure. (It would be easy and safe enough to pressurize kerosene with hydrogen--it is pretty alarming to contemplate doing that with HTTP! But I imagine the two fluids being separated with a plastic membrane, basically either the gas volume or the liquid volume is enclosed in a plastic bag, so the flammable gas does not contact the oxidant).

    As none other than Michel Van himself has pointed out to me though, HTTP can also be used to run a relatively simple and reliable turbopump, eliminating the need for any pressure feeding at all.

    Presumably the engine Aerojet produces for Ford in the ATL is a turbopumped one of some kind or other; pressurizing LOX with a separate volume of any gas is not going to work since there are no materials that act like flexible plastic membranes at LOX temperatures; to pressurize it one needs to bubble the pressurizing gas into the liquid directly, and only a few substances are gases at those temperatures--I believe in fact, just hydrogen (a clear no-no!) and some or perhaps all the noble gases. Helium is what is used to maintain modest pressures to prevent pump cavitation and perhaps provide some structural strength; not only are other noble gases heavier, they are actually more expensive even than costly helium is.

    So presumably the Ford OTR system is pump fed, not pressure fed. We've already been told the basic cluster elements are orders of magnitude bigger than Keyser wanted to do OTL; they are grouped much like developed rocket systems of OTL and not in the Gothic wedding cake of hundreds of pipe-tanks that was the plan OTL.

    It really doesn't look a lot like OTRAG at all then.

    But could any working system really look like OTRAG anyway?:rolleyes:

    *Why Ford, by the way? ITTL as OTL von Braun, in his ABMA Army days, had formed a relationship with Chrysler, and here, being bypassed by the Air Force, actually then moved on to drawing a Chrysler paycheck as head of a presumably expanded rather than contracted Chrysler rocket division. I suppose as OTL the latter folded up eventually, but presumably von Braun's references would send Keyser to contacts in that company, not Ford.

    Unless of course there is some countervailing influence on Ford's board of directors, making them more eager to get into the space game than OTL--perhaps part of this is former Chrysler engineers cast adrift and finding work at Ford.

    Or--Kennedy did not win the 1960 election ITTL, meaning it was a Nixon appointee who became Secretary of Defense, helping to explain why Dynasoar was not cancelled but sustained. This leaves a certain "whiz kid" still at his former job, at Ford in fact.

    Those kinds of high-level executive positions don't tend to remain filled by the same shoes for decades in a row; once some hot-shot shoots up to the top at a remarkably young age, they tend to burn out, either getting shuffled out in corporate politics or getting bored and restless.

    Still--are we seeing Robert Strange McNamara making his appearance on the aerospace scene at last, this time on the other side of the corporate/governmental divide and keen to make a one-size-fits-all economy launch system?:p
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  8. Bahamut-255 Space Lover

    Jul 28, 2010
    That Theseus LV looks remarkably similar to OTL's Ariane 1 with regards to the external appearance. Save for the 2nd stage appearing to be simply of differing length to the 1st stage, and the yellow exhaust which says LOX/Kerosene and not U75/N2O4. And three years earlier relative to OTL. Would that be the dual-case of the earlier start time, plus the UK still being in it thus Rolls-Royce engines?

    As for the 'Liberty' LV? I wonder what that looks like.
  9. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    I look forward to some classic nixonshead art, but I think we've been told well enough to imagine. Very simple, a bundle of up to 5 uniformly shaped cylinders with identical engines, topped by a somewhat shorter cylinder of the same diameter.

    The "ATL-OTRAG" theme might suggest some other baroque touches, such as ultra-simple 15 degree conic nozzles instead of elegant bell shapes, and perhaps the interstage connecting the upper stage to the central ground stage unit is a Soviet/Chinese style open grill work, to allow the second stage to be fired while the lower cluster is still burning, thus avoiding any need for any sort of ullage-settling strategy (or rather, the brute-force approach of using the lower stage thrust for that is the method).

    Another manner in which Ford's Liberty is quite unlike OTRAG is that OTL Keyser found no support in the USA nor did he obtain strong backing in Europe, so he went shopping for it in marginal Third World countries. If he had had better support in Europe but not the USA he'd still need to find a reasonably low-latitude launch site so he'd be dealing in the global South anyway, but with a higher level of financial and diplomatic backing from Europe he'd probably not wind up dealing with the likes of Libya's Ghaddafi or Zaire's Mobutu. Going there OTL led to a downward spiral whereby potential First World backers were further scared off and the USA and other leading governments increasingly frowning on the whole thing, it being seen as potentially a way for cut-rate dictatorships to get cut-rate missiles.

    I believe Keyser actually offered that service. And to be sure while the USA was largely consistently hostile to Ghaddafi, though I believe we did back his initial coup, Mobutu was in fact pretty much in the CIA's pocket, so the whole thing was painted in layers of sordid double-dealing; I suppose this kind of thing is what the private-enterprise-is-stifled-by-fat-bottomed-state-bureaucracies lobby is talking about. They'd have a better case if the OTRAG design had not been so marginal and dubious of course.

    Then again had it been more attractive technically it might have got the lacking support.

    Anyway here Liberty is a very respectable US operation, a venture of one of the largest and most respectable US corporations with the prospect of getting significant revenues from a very friendly USAF, and presumably will launch from established Air Force sites. Even if they get enough market share to justify building a new civil site (and the Air Force security or overcrowding issues offset the clear utility of raking a share of civilian revenues enough to cause them to look outside taxpayer-subsidized military sites) that site will probably be in the continental US--polar launches might justify a site in Alaska but this would probably be an Air Force base anyway since the military has a major share of all polar launches, but even geosynch targets can be reached well enough from mainland US sites. The virtues of lower latitude sites tend to be offset by the remoteness and low levels of infrastructure development of candidates that have clear down ranges.

    Hawaii is frequently considered and then rejected for the high cost of infrastructural support there. Puerto Rico for instance is not only remote from many aspects of support but has the Virgin Islands downrange--going to the easternmost British VI gets you a clear downrange, but on a very small and hardly developed island with no major port facilities. The same tends to hold for other first-glance-at-the-globe sites such as say Indonesia. Either a whole chain of small islands blocks the suitably sized sites to the east, or the region is pretty destitute of existing infrastructure, and often also as in the case of say Somalia is politically dubious as well. Such sites might seem well in hand one decade but then become a no-go zone the next.

    Had the author gone another way with Keyser and he were left outside the inner circle of the American MIC mafia, but garnered significant support from private investors and/or European governments, in addition to the possibility of Kourou possible site candidates include Australia and possibly New Zealand, Brazil and perhaps Argentina, and I've often wondered about the suitability of the Philippines, notably for geographic if not political and economic grounds Mindanao island specifically.

    Replicating his bargain-basement site choices of OTL seems a sure way to doom the enterprise as decisively as OTL. With land in the downrange, even Libya where that land is largely empty desert seems like a strange choice even if it were more Western-aligned politically. Zaire, where the downrange is trackless jungle, seems downright insane to me no matter how benign a regime it might have in some ATL.:rolleyes: Keyser of OTL would seem to have been driven quite mad in his quest; let's hope better circumstances help keep him from the brink here.
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  10. Usili Carry On Wayward Son

    Aug 9, 2012
    That would be kind of glorious to see...

    I sort of just can't wait to see Ford flying rockets though. Although isn't it two separate 'engines', since one is vacuum-optimized and the other is just a normal one? Or did I misinterpret that bit there from how it was stated?
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  11. su_liam Incompetent planetary engineer

    Feb 15, 2011
    Eugene, OR
    Possibly Ford bought Chrysler out.
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  12. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

    Aug 3, 2009
    Ford had an important aerospace presence IOTL, anyway. It built satellites, and it was one of the bidders for Hughes after the guy kicked the bucket...
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  13. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

    Aug 20, 2010
    Reno, Nevada USA
    nixonshead says:
    It is not openly stated. The same engine could reasonably be used with a nozzle lengthened and customized for better vacuum performance (one can't use that on the ground because ambient air pressure at sea level would cause the outer sheath of the flow to stagnate before reaching the actual rim; the boundary where it stops along the inner nozzle fluctuates, causing chaotic pressure fluctuations around the rim which can destroy the whole thing). If a vacuum optimized nozzle were the only difference, and that is quite possible, then I'd think of them as different versions or types of the same model, since the guts of the engine are otherwise the same.

    But then I considered that the thrust levels we'd want for the upper stage are probably not identical to those we need for launch. Generally speaking more thrust is better--up to a point. Up to a point, the higher the thrust the less time there is for gravity losses to assert themselves, and so those are reduced. However if the thrust is so high that as the mass of the upper stack is reduced by expending second stage propellent the G-load becomes excessive, then we have too much thrust. And if we would reach this point before the stage has done its job, we might also consider that a lower-thrust engine would surely be somewhat lighter too, so helping offset the gravity losses a longer burn would entail.

    Even if it follows a very similar design philosophy, a lower thrust upper stage engine would definitely be a different model; it would be surprising if a lot of common parts could be used in both types even though they come from the same design benches at the same time.

    So the devil is in that detail--how crushing a G-load would a typical Liberty second stage with payload be under? If it is too high, there must be a second engine design.

    The alternative would be to design the upper stage engine, refit a sea-level nozzle to it and going from the thrust one of those yields at sea level, figure how many you need to gang together to boost a standard lower stage off the ground.

    Note how Minerva kind of sort of does that, except that it is not allowing a single E engine to be used on the second stage, so the point of a fanatical focus on using up just one engine type only is not made there either.

    The more I think of it, the more likely it seems that the upper stage engine would have to be smaller than the ground launched one. This also allows the design some flexibility. Clearly a payload launched on a standard upper stage that was boosted by a single standard lower stage module must be a lot smaller than one launched on a cluster of five of those lower stages. The fixed amount of propellent in the standard upper stage means that with a bigger payload, the velocity change the second stage can achieve is necessarily reduced no matter what. But adding thrust will cut down the time in which gravity loss acts, which can offset some of that deficit. So--if the upper stage engine is a lot smaller than the ground stage engine, but attached to a standard upper stage the same diameter as the ground stages, presumably we can redesign different thrust structures to allow pairs of two, or clusters of three or four if we want. This compromises the interchangeability of the upper stages a bit to be sure, but since the basic stage design could take the full thrust of a cluster of five ground engines I suppose the redesign is minimal, a matter of alternate forms of the bottom of the upper stage.

    So as I see it, given the strong implication that single ground stage units each have one large engine on them and not clusters of small ones, yes, you must be right that the upper one is different, smaller as well as vacuum-optimized. Which might tempt the designers to go with varying other parameters as well such as chamber pressure and temperature, or even adopting a different pumping cycle, as the changed conditions shift the cost/benefit balances around, meaning we have two engines of remarkably different design

    I might be sad if that were the case. If it meant that the aerospace divisions of both were combined, that would be something though.

    Sure, I just thought it would be sad to have Chrysler put so much more into developing a space division, one under von Braun's influence and then personal direct guidance yet, and still have it all come to nothing, only to have some other car maker come from behind and leave them in the Earthly dust.

    Happens all the time of course.

    Hey, at least now I'm not mentally putting Mickey Mouse ears on the Chrysler pentagon-star logo!:p

    As I've implicitly threatened to suggest:

    That was back at the start of the thread of course, when both von Braun and Chrysler appeared to be pretty much out of the whole game after ABMA was shut down.
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  14. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Introducing a new rocket is usually a good way to provoke discussion - and this week we had two! However, I should first catch up with last week’s comments, so…

    Thanks for the extra background info! I must admit, I was far more attracted to the elegant solar sail when drafting that part, so the ion drive was slightly neglected in my background reading, so it’s good to have these sanity checks.

    I’m banking all these comments for later reference - there’s good stuff in here! But nothing for me to add for now :)

    Please, feel free. I look forward to seeing the results!

    It does seem to be popping up quite a bit recently, doesn’t it?! :)

    Indeed, Minerva will still be needed for the heaviest payloads, but the intention is that Liberty can take some of the strain off Minerva for more routine, mid-range payload missions, especially commercial launches, allowing Minerva to focus on its primary national security customers, as well as giving better (though not perfect) redundancy. Putting the requirement all the way up to the heaviest NRO needs would constrain the proposals based on a relatively small percentage of total Air Force launches, with virtually zero commercial market, so the top requirement has been relaxed.

    Just to clarify, Kayser and OTR are pushing a very similar concept to the OTL OTRAG, and this is what came out of their initial DRA-funded study. But for the Future Expendable Launcher contract, they are a small consultancy firm working for a bigger industrial partner (Ford). Most of the changes to get to Liberty originate with Ford, not OTR.

    Good question :D You’re right, Liberty is definitely not OTRAG. As the design process went on, the OTR credit has moved further from “based upon…” and more towards “inspired by…”. There is an OTL inspiration for the Liberty approach, but it isn’t OTRAG.

    And yes, Liberty’s engines are planned to be pump-fed, not pressure fed, though considerable effort will be put into making the pumps as simple as possible.

    A couple of reasons for this. Firstly, and primarily, there’s been an off-stage butterfly that saw Chrysler’s space division consolidated with NAA under Rockwell in the late 1960s, bringing the Minerva core and booster stages under one contractual roof. (Convair continue to produce the Centaur upper stage). This means that ex-Chrysler is part of the competing Atlas-II proposal, which ran into political problems as it would extend the current Minerva contractors’ monopoly rather than introduce greater diversity.

    Regarding von Braun’s relationship with Chrysler, this has very little impact on the Future Expendable Launcher programme, as he has already been pushed out of the DRA as the FEL call for proposals is being issued in 1974. His influence was already waning before that, too. His main contribution to the Liberty story is giving Lutz Kayser his first big break in the States with the initial OTR study contract in 1971. After this, Kayser was in a position to make his own contacts in the industry, not just rely on von Braun’s rolodex. As an outsider to large rocket construction, Ford Aerospace were most receptive to his ideas (although, as seen, they are by no means slavishly devoted to them), whereas ex-Chrysler were part of the established “Minerva Mafia”, with less inclination to listen to out-of-the-box thinking.

    As Workable Goblin noted, Ford had other space interests, and so had a vested interest in seeing the cost and availability of commercial launches improved .

    Heh! Nice idea, but no, that wasn’t my thinking. McNamara’s main influence on this TL has been as an absence, and it’s likely to stay that way.

    I used Ariane as a reference for a lot of the detailing and the style of the paint job, but the stages are sized differently, and as noted the rocket itself differs considerably (not least, as you noted, in the propellant mix).

    Theseus got an earlier start than Ariane (1970 vs. 1973), so the development time was comparable. This is partly due to a different British government in the late 1960s (Harold Wilson being the other end of McNamara’s 1960s Aerospace Axis of Evil :p) Yes, that does mean Margaret Thatcher is the Saviour of UK Rocketry ITTL :eek:.

    I’m sure I’ll get round to it ;) In the meantime, Shevek’s assumption is pretty much on the money.

    Indeed. IOTL, Kayser’s initial attempts to get interest from the German government were stymied by a combination of pressure to push for the pan-European Ariane, and to avoid Germany gaining a militarily worrisome ultra-cheap ballistic missile industry. The main interest he did get was, as Shevek noted, from slightly dubious Third World characters who were very interested in having a space programme and hadn’t even considered the military possibilities, no sir, not us… Needless to say, that didn’t do much for Kayser’s reputation with more respectable potential clients, and pretty much closed the door on his ideas in the Western World. Von Braun was a fan, but by this point the endorsement of the ex-SS creator of the V2 was not exactly something calculated to win over his critics.

    ITTL, with von Braun persuading Kayser to relocate to DC, different doors have been opened, and he is a lot more respectable. By 1975, OTR is a well established engineering consultancy firm, which has won several contracts with the DoD and other government agencies. This will have a significant impact on Kayser’s later career.

    The upper stage will use a vacuum-optimised version of the same basic engine - similar to this.

    Thanks for all the comments so far!
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  15. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    i alrady comment OTRAG in Eyes Turned Skywards

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2015
  16. Archibald space jockey ! Banned

    Jan 22, 2008
    Kayser and his wife...

    For those interested in OTRAG - and Lutz Kayser fate - just read this.
    A bit sickening isn't it ? the Kaysers worked for Gadhaffi and aparently enjoyed the dictator company :eek: A charming man by all account - now excuse me, I have to vomit...
  17. Michel Van Well-Known Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Liege Belgium Europe
    in 2005 a german Spaceflight Historian had chance to talk with Lutz Kayser

    Kayser make Soviet General secretary Breschnew, german chancellor Schmidt and french president Giscard d'Estaing
    Personel responsible for bankrupt of his OTRAG company

    next to that he claimed the Missle Technology Control Regime had his work impossible in Libya
    fact is that in 1984 all work on OTRAG stop, while MTCR became law in 1987.
    He still try to sell his Idea to investors, despite his concept not work
    that proof by Analyst by Space flight expert like Harry O. Ruppe, even former OTRAG employees say that it not worked!
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  18. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    A monomaniacal rocket (or, occasionally, artillery) scientist who’ll work for any regime, moving between countries as necessary and with scant regard for the end use of his inventions, as long as he can pursue his dream of building rockets. Seems to be a regrettably recurring theme in the history of spaceflight...
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  19. Threadmarks: Part IV Post#7: Coming In from the Cold

    nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    It's Sunday, so it's time for...


    Part IV Post#7: Coming In from the Cold

    At the end of the 1970s it appeared that the long, bitter rivalry between East and West may be coming to a close. In the same way that the ascension of Shelepin was perceived to have triggered the end of the “Khruschev thaw”, so his replacement by the Kirilenko-Teplov partnership saw the start of a gradual but sustained relaxation in tensions between the superpowers. By the time of Rockefeller’s inauguration in early 1977, the Soviets had already begun expanding their trading links with Western Europe and North America, whilst simultaneously reigning in their defence spending, and were slowly beginning to see the benefits creep into the civilian economy. However, both the First Secretary and the Premier knew that in order to sustain this achievement they needed to make deep and permanent cuts to their military budgets. For that to happen, the Cold War had to end.

    Although the US remained wary, the Soviets found a receptive ear for their advances in Rockefeller’s Secretary of State, William Bundy. Following a number of backroom discussions, Bundy arranged for a summit meeting between Rockefeller and Kirilenko in Reykjavik in November 1977, where the two men discussed expanding economic contacts between the USA and USSR, calls to allow (restricted) multi-party elections in Poland, and the possibility of reaching an agreement on limiting their respective nuclear forces and drawing down the deployment of conventional forces along both sides of the Iron Curtain. The talks were generally reported to have been productive, with the two leaders developing a friendly working relationship, and additional talks were scheduled between their respective administrations in the following months. In time these would lead to the first Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty and the Protocol on Conventional Forces in Europe in 1979 and 1980 respectively, as well as an expansion in trade, including an initial agreement for Western investment (via a Berlin-based joint-stock company majority owned by Gosneft) in a new oil terminal at Supsa in the Georgian SSR. Scientific ties were also strengthened in the late 1970s, including in the area of space exploration.

    President Rockefeller returns to the US aboard Air Force One following his summit meeting in Reykjavik with Soviet First Secretary Andrei Kirilenko, November 1977.

    Even during the Shelepin era, the scientific results of the Soviet space programme had been published more or less openly. Representatives of the Soviet Academy of Sciences would attend scientific conferences around the world, and journals from countries both East and West carried articles on discoveries by Soviet space probes. This was especially true of Chelomei’s Mars missions, with the pictures from the 1974 landings of Mars-6 in Hellas Planetia and Mars-7 in Elysium being lapped up by the Western media. Though largely clones of 1969’s Mars-4 and 5 landers, the new probes for the first time carried colour cameras, revealing that the martian sky was not the deep blue-black expected, but rather an unearthly salmon pink. With these Soviet successes and no American lander in prospect for the medium-term, the Mars-6/7 images further reinforced the impression that Mars now truly was “the Red Planet”. Despite this tabloid rhetoric however, all of the results from the Soviet landers were made openly available, with several joint papers being co-authored by Soviet and American researchers based on the results, and more followed when America’s Mars Surveyor 2 orbiter arrived at the planet in 1976, breaking NESSA’s run of bad luck with Mars missions. Such collaboration remained difficult, largely relying on correspondence by post and telegram (or perhaps via fax, if the Soviet scientist in question was considered politically trustworthy enough to be given access to one of the rare, expensive machines), but it continued nevertheless even during the coldest days of the Cold War. The growing détente between the Superpowers in the late 1970s opened the door to not just an exchange of scientific data, but to genuine cooperation in space exploration.

    Following its establishment in 1978, Glavkosmos quickly became a useful focal point for negotiations between the Soviet space programme and international partners. In September of 1978, officials from Glavkosmos, NESSA and ESRO met for the first time in Washington DC to discuss opportunities for cooperation in space science, with the first priority being establishing a joint network of solar observatories. This was largely inspired by the eruption the previous July of a huge solar flare, rated X-15, which highlighted the need to better understand space weather in the light of the world’s increasing dependence upon space-based systems. The initial agreement was for each side, Soviet, American and European, to launch one observatory each into solar orbit over the next five years, with space reserved on each spacecraft for an instrument to be provided by the other nations. These probes would be relatively small (Pathfinder-class in NESSA-speak), but the hope was to follow these up with a more ambitious Joint Solar Polar Mission in the 1980s. This would see larger spacecraft from the US and USSR, each carrying ESRO instruments, sent into polar orbit about the sun, allowing simultaneous observations of both poles of our star.

    Planetary exploration was another hot topic at the 1978 conference, and Jupiter was the undisputed centre of attention, with no fewer than three NESSA spacecraft due to make fly-bys over a period of 13 months. The first encounter, in early 1978, had seen Mayflower-1 (following an uneventful passage through the asteroid belt) skim Jupiter’s cloud-tops at a minimum distance of just 5 000 km on 31st January. In addition to the wealth of data returned on the planet itself, Mayflower-1 also made close passes of the major Jovian moons Ganymede, Io and Europa, as well as closing to within 32 000 km of tiny Amalthea. The first results were staggering, instantly changing the Jupiter system from a cluster of bright spots in a telescope into a miniature solar system, with each new world having its own unique terrain and features. The photos of Io in particular captured the imagination, revealing a garish orange landscape pock-marked by sulphur volcanoes that spewed material clear into jovian orbit. The probe itself, despite suffering a major computer re-set during its passage through Jupiter’s radiation belts, had completed almost all of the observations planned for the encounter, and remained in good health as it sped onwards to its meeting with Saturn in two years’ time.


    Mayflower-1 makes the historic first fly-by of Jupiter, 31st January 1978.

    The next spacecraft to visit the King of the Planets was not primarily designed as a Jupiter probe at all. Launched in August 1977, the the solar-electric Halley Pilgrim had been driving towards the gas giant under the constant thrust of its ion engine for almost a year, until on 29th September 1978 the small craft swung to within half a million kilometers of Jupiter for a gravity-assist manoeuvre. The energy boost received from the planet’s enormous gravitational pull enabled the probe to bootleg into a retrograde solar orbit which would see it coast towards a rendezvous with the famous comet in December 1985, fifty days before perihelion. Based on the results of Mayflower-1’s own encounter, Mission Control in Houston elected to put Halley Pilgrim into a protective safe mode for the period of closest approach, when the radiation environment was at its most severe. Despite this, the probe still managed to provide a wealth of new data on Jupiter and its environment. Of particular value were measurements of Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field, which was blown outwards from the planet by the solar wind. This magnetotail was sampled by Halley Pilgrim as it receded from the planet, providing measurements that could be cross-referenced with readings from the more distant Mayflower-1 to give an unprecedented view of how the magnetic forces evolved over both time and space.

    Finally, March 1979 would see the arrival of Mayflower-2 in the Jovian system. Unfortunately, the diktats of a trajectory that would speed the craft on to Saturn and Pluto meant that, despite spending just over two days within the orbit of Callisto, the outermost Galilean moon, Mayflower-2 didn’t make any close approaches to Jupiter’s major satellites. It did gain valuable additional data on the Jovian electromagnetic and radiation environment, as well as the most detailed images yet of the famous Red Spot (the planet-sized hurricane having been on the far side during Mayflower-1’s closest approach), as well as confirming the presence of the “Io Torus”, a donut-shaped ring of charged sulphur along the volcanic moon’s orbit. However, more detailed images of Io itself, as well as its siblings Europa and Ganymede, would have to wait for the arrival of Mayflower-3 and 4 in 1981.

    The Soviet scientists at the 1978 Washington meeting were impressed with the achievements of the Mayflower probes, and were eager to get their hands on the results of the March encounter at the earliest opportunity. For Kramarov and the other Soviet delegates, discussions on the outer planet missions were bitter-sweet, as although they would be able to share in the scientific harvest gathered by the American probes, they would not be able to fully contribute to it themselves. Despite a number of studies by both Chelomei’s OKB-1 and the Zarya Design Bureau in the mid-1970s, neither organisation had felt confident enough in the reliability of their spacecraft systems to be able to assemble a probe that would survive the decade or more needed for a full Grand Tour mission - at least, not without considerably more resources. The last opportunity for such a mission was the October/November 1979 window that Mayflower-3 and 4 were making use of, and Kramarov and Chelomei had both quickly concluded that they could never be ready for that deadline.

    However, although the limitations of technology and celestial mechanics ruled out a Soviet Grand Tour, the launch window for Jupiter opened once per year. A fly-by mission of just Jupiter could be accomplished with a journey time of under three years, within the reach of Soviet technology. Whilst it was true that such a limited follow-up of Mayflower wouldn’t have the same impact as that first fly-by, nor be followed by encounters with the other outer planets, it would be able to take advantage of the data from the American missions to target its trajectory for the greatest scientific return. This return could be further increased if agreement could be reached to make use of NESSA’s global Deep Space Network of ground stations to supplement the Soviet network, allowing uninterrupted 24/7 contact with the mission. The mission would break new ground too, by carrying small atmospheric penetrators to gather the first direct measurements of the jovian atmosphere. Finally, the mission would act as a test of the systems needed to support future deep space probes, such as the Soviets’ own proposed fly-by of Halley’s Comet in the 1980s.

    This was the concept that Kramarov presented to Judge. The twin Yupiter probes, currently under construction by Chelomei, would be ready for launch at the end of 1980, with encounters coming in August 1983. Although it was too late to add an American instrument to the probes, the Soviets would be willing to barter space on another mission - perhaps the heavy Mars lander currently in conceptual development - in exchange for access use of the DSN. All scientific results would of course be shared freely. The NESSA Administrator was unable to confirm at that first meeting, but an agreement in principal was made, with a commitment for both sides to continue negotiating.

    In the spirit of their new cooperation on planetary exploration, Judge invited Dimitri Kramarov and his team to Houston to observe first-hand Halley Pilgrim’s fly-by of Jupiter at the end of September. Kramarov however was forced to decline, as he had to return to Moscow a week earlier to oversee a different international cooperative mission: the launch of East German Klaus Hartmann as Chasovoy-3’s first guest cosmonaut.

    Hartmann’s launch on 28th October made him the first space traveller who was not a citizen of either the United States or the Soviet Union, and opened up new possibilities for Soviet diplomacy. His six day stay on the station was followed closely by the press in both the Eastern Block and in the West, with Hartmann making a number of television broadcasts from orbit. Upon his return, he was given a parade through the streets of East Berlin, after which he gave a speech extolling the virtues of cooperation within the fraternity of Socialist nations. In a controversial move, he also expressed a wish to extend such friendship and cooperation to “our brothers and sisters across our continent and the wider world”, in what must have been a Party-approved reaching out to the nations of the West, and especially the government in Bonn. Although trading ties across the Iron Curtain had been gradually strengthening for some years, this was a clear indication from East Berlin of an openness to even wider diplomatic and political contacts. This olive branch was tentatively accepted in November, when Chancellor Egon Franke invited Hartmann to visit the West as “the first German space traveller” - deliberately using politically neutral term “Raumfahrer” rather than “Astronaut” or “Kosmonaut”.

    The Soviet leadership was immensely pleased with this foreign policy success, and were quick to approve a follow-on mission for 1979 involving a Czechoslovak cosmonaut. Over the next few years, feelers were sent out even further afield, to France and even China about possible guest slots on Soviet stations. This in turn strengthened Kramarov’s hand when seeking approval for a larger, modular follow-up to Chasovoy, which Kramarov named “Yedinstvo” (“Unity”). Unlike the man-tended Chasovoy, Yedinstvo would be permanently crewed and much more spacious, allowing for long term research projects as well as plentiful opportunities to host guest cosmonauts.

    As the new decade of the 1980s beckoned, it seemed that the old rivalries between East and West were beginning to fade. Cooperation on the unmanned exploration of space was starting to become the norm, whilst Glavkosmos’ Guest Cosmonaut programme was building diplomatic bridges across borders. However, the most high profile cooperative venture was still to come, as President Rockefeller and Chairman Kirilenko, following the signing of the Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaty in November 1979, agreed to begin talks on the first joint manned space mission between the USA and USSR.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2017
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  20. nixonshead Well-Known Member

    Apr 1, 2013
    Bonus image this week, a comparison of most of the launchers from Kolyma's Shadow (I'm still missing M-1 and the early US rockets, including Atlas).

    I've also updated the Wiki to include Europa and Theseus.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2017
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