NASA's Waterloo: A Realistic Mission to Mars Post Apollo

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by prolemasses, Sep 13, 2018.

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  1. BigVic Well-Known Member

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    Great timeline. AH space flight in the lead up to Apollo 11 50th anniversary next July
     
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  2. Threadmarks: Part III Chapter 7

    prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    This part is brought to you early by insomnia! Insomnia, for when your brain won't turn off.

    Part III Chapter 7:

    It's too bad, but the way American people are, now that they have all this capability, instead of taking advantage of it, they'll probably just piss it all away.”

    -Lyndon B. Johnson

    In 1977, as the Ares program began to perform the first actual tests of flight hardware, the project was about to lose it's most enthusiastic backer. Robert F Kennedy was approaching his term limit, and after the 1977, would be replaced, possibly by someone less friendly to space. In the 1976 presidential election, vice president Fred Harris managed to win the Democratic nomination, defeating challenges from Georgia governor Jimmy Carter, and Idaho Senator Frank Church. He selected California governor Jerry Brown as his running mate at the convention, and ran on a platform focused on continuing popular programs from Kennedy's administration. Harris would face in November however, a threatening opponent. After a contentious primary season, former California governor Ronald Reagan secured the nomination, selecting former speaker of the house, Congressman Gerald Ford as his running mate. Reagan was charming, charismatic, and folksy, with oratory skills to match both Kennedy's. He ran on a platform of smaller government, anti communism, and supply side economics. The general election was crazy, and after it all, Reagan emerged victorious. In his final days in office, president Kennedy worried that his legacy would be undone. After Reagan took office in January 1977, many at NASA feared what Reagan's election meant for their future. After all, Reagan ran on a platform of cutting government spending, and the Ares program had always been a juicy target for fiscal conservatives.


    However, Reagan's space policy was a bit more complex than many expected. Reagan did wish to cut spending, and one of the ways he did that was by cutting all funding for any follow up Mars landings. Project Ares was going to be a one time thing, a single shot to reach Mars. Reagan also capped Saturn VB production at 18 vehicles, 8 for the flights to Mars, and 10 for test flights and spares. However, Reagan appreciated the value of NASA as a way of projecting American greatness. He wanted to secure his own legacy, and so he ordered NASA to resume studies on a large space station to follow Starlab. The studied station, known simply as the “Permanent Orbital Outpost”, would be launched by a Saturn VA or B, and would compose a single large module, with a few laboratory modules launched later, to augment the station. Reagan authorised the new project, which he renamed Liberty, for a launch sometime in the mid 1980s, after Ares was wrapped up. Reagan did not cut the Ares program's budget any farther, but he made it clear that they would need to demonstrate success, soon, or they would face cuts.


    Part of Reagan's platform also involved increasing military spending, and that included military spending on space. The air force had been using the Titan IIIC to launch their large national security payloads, and after the satellites grew beyond the capability of the Titan, the Saturn II was used, launched from a new pad constructed at Vanderberg. But the Saturn II was an expensive, man rated launch vehicle, that was often overkill for national security needs. Many in the military still lamented the cancellation of the Space Shuttle program in 1970, and wished for a reusable launch vehicle for national security purposes. Reagan also funded programs to develop space based ICBM detection and interception systems, and to develop such a complicated “shield”, many launches would be needed. In addition, starting in the mid 1970s, the US military began launching satellites to build their Global Positioning System. This too required many launches, which came at a cost. So, in 1978, President Reagan approved funding for the Advanced Launch Vehicle Demonstrator program. ALVD would design and develop two vehicles to test technologies needed for a reusable launch system. The X-31 would demonstrate the feasibility of a two stage reusable system, with a winged booster, and a winged orbiter, essentially a scaled down version of the NASA space shuttle. The X-29 would test out the technologies needed for a vertical take off, vertical landing (VTVL) single stage to orbit vehicle. Both projects were planned to fly demonstrators by 1983, with a full reusable launch system based on one of the designs flying by 1988. The project was ambitious, but work quickly began, with a search for contractors beginning by 1979.


    The only division of NASA that saw only cuts and no new spending was the unmanned division, especially the Earth sciences program. The poor, battered scientists, who had hoped a change in administration would lead to more of their projects being approved, instead faced the depressingly familiar cycle, of proposal after proposal being rejected. Only a few scientific probes slipped through the cracks. The low cost Tycho space probe, approved in 1974, launched on a Delta rocket in 1977 to investigate the strange gravity field of the Moon. In 1977, Aphrodite, the first American Venus probe since Mariner 5, in 1967 was approved, with a tentative launch date of 1981. Many small, low cost Explorer missions were launched into Low Earth Orbit, on Scout rockets. However, nothing big, no flagship missions, even had a chance to see the light of day. It seemed that if unmanned probes were to come back in a big way, they would have to wait until after Man had walked on Mars.
     
  3. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    Can the N1F insert a Salyut station and a storm shelter into Venus orbit or Lunar orbit? Because setting up long-term interplanetary space stations might be another way for the Soviets to wring out more prestige from their program without too much cost. Practically speaking, the only "new" item needed would be a storm shelter and perhaps some new probes (so that the station has something useful to do, controlling remote controlled vehicles on the moon or Venus).

    fasquardon
     
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  4. prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    Lunar orbit, maybe, if hydrogen powered upper stages were used. Venus orbit? Definitely not. The thing is, that the N1F Herakles is still seen, rightly so, by the Soviets as an unreliable rocket. It almost killed the crew of Rodina 5 after all. And the Herakles would be needed for every single crew that launched to a lunar station. The Soviets are trying to avoid risk, and that's why they'd be hesitant to put more people on Herakles rockets than necessary. This is one of the main reasons for the premature end to the Rodina program. Though honestly, this is more justification than explanation, as I hadn't even considered a Society lunar orbital station before this. It's an interesting idea, maybe one I'll explore more later on.
     
  5. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    Prolemasses wrote:
    Well he’s ahead of the game there at least, especially heading off the embarrassing but inevitable acronym that “Permanent Orbital Outpost Program” was going to end up with

    It is however going to be compared to (and somewhat justifiably I’d say) a “Sky/STARlab” on steroids since it is obviously NOT a “permanent” outpost without an affordable means of access. Which you then address of course…
    (BTW, "STAR" does stand for Space Technology And Research right? :) )

    X-29 equals the DC-X I take it? Dr. Pournelle you ride is here! Meanwhile the X-31 sounds interesting but considering the size and scope of the payloads these are supposed to be (one assumes) “sub-scale” testing I’d question the actual logic that gets them funded. NASA can’t really afford the diversion of funds to this will, (very much like OTL) be mostly DoD funded and being honest while Dr. Pournelle and company could talk up a good game for the DC the payload was never going to be anywhere near what the DoD needed. The correlating ‘downside’ of this is that due to the expense of doing ONE demonstrator the DoD OTL couldn’t afford to fund any others while the DC-X program was ongoing. Once they dumped DC-X/XA on NASA it freed up funds to pursue a reusable, flyback booster concept but that never got past scale modeling testing. (And torqued off Buzz Aldrin who came up with the actual concept first with “Starbooster” based on the Atlas III LVhttps://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/19990113117.pdf, and in fact got some students at UCL interested enough they built and flew the ‘scale’ test vehicle about 3-4 years earlier, and for vastly less, than the ‘official’ test vehicle LM built and flew)

    Now my main question is why a two-stage fully recoverable vehicle as a ‘base-line’ design? I mean sure that’s the end goal but realistically you aren’t going to launch replacement/new modules for “Liberty” or large military satellites IN an orbiter unless you make is prohibitively huge. (One of OTL Shuttle issues since the NASA requirement was all flights had to be manned to justify “manned” space flight and all payloads had to fit into the orbiter bay which was actually over-sized for most DoD missions initially, but was designed around “space station” modules as a payload) So wouldn’t it make more sense, (and I’m sure they military would suggest such to keep the payload size ‘flexible’) that the base-line would be a fully reusable BOOSTER stage and then either an expendable or reusable upper stage?

    Yes it’s “Right Side Up” pretty much but it DOES make sense, especially once you get out of the “SSTO” mindset which is why it was/is pursued OTL as well. Boeing would be pitching a “winged” Saturn-II booster stage with a ‘side-mount’ Advanced S-IVB expendable or reusable vehicle based on that design. (It has to be at least a bit easier than the Flyback S-1C proposal, (http://space.nss.org/the-space-shuttle-decision-chapter-8/, https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=37052.msg1347384#msg1347384, can’t find the pic I wanted of an “S-IVB-like” upper stage launching from the ‘back’ of the flyback booster) The obviously “manned” reusable upper stage can come later I’d think rather than an immediate part of the test program.

    Randy
     
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  6. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    And of course the second I send the first one:
    https://www.alternatehistory.com/fo...portation-system.405832/page-11#post-14355308

    Oh and to illustrate the concepts being bandied around for a deep space military command post see this report, figure 5 which used a Space Shuttle cockpit section mated to a hyrdrolox powered lifting body vehicle which would use ‘harmonic’ Lunar orbits to move around the Cis-Lunar system during “alert” periods.
    https://www.aiaa.org/uploadedfiles/...uttle_launches/shuttlevariationsfinalaiaa.pdf

    And since we’re at it we can suggest some Venus Colonization ideas for the Soviets to go with the original idea:
    https://medium.com/@Jernfrost/why-colonize-venus-instead-of-mars-c490d14c0531
    https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20030022668.pdf
    https://www.quora.com/Why-are-we-th...aluminum-wire-bags-filled-with-breathable-air
    https://www.science20.com/robert_in...us_like_buckminster_fullers_cloud_nine-127573

    prolemasses wrote:
    OTL the N1 and Proton/UR500 went ahead at the same time is it available TTL? One admittedly ‘out-there’ idea is to launch a “Venus probe” using an NEP drive that goes into high-Venus orbit. Followed by the Interplanetary Salyut ‘aerobraking’ into Venus orbit where, when it’s ready, it maneuvers to rendezvous with the NEP stage which boosts it back towards Earth… Nahhhhh…

    Randy
     
  7. prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    Remember, "Proton" ITTL is the N11 (basically an N1 without the first stage). Venus colonization via floating airships always seems kind of pointless to me. At least with a Mars colony, you have, ya know, solid ground you can walk around on and build on. Mars also has water, and, if you can refine it, iron, as well as CO2 that you can process from the atmosphere.
     
  8. prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    The X-31 is just a technology demonstrator, so it will just be the flyback booster. The decision on whether to use a reusable or expendable upper stage in the final launch system will be delayed until the results of the tests can be analysed. And it is closer to the Atlas Flyback Booster in size, than a Saturn II.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018 at 8:41 PM
  9. Threadmarks: Part III Chapter 8

    prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    Part III Chapter 8:

    ...our building's shaking here. Our building's shaking! Oh it's terrific, the building's shaking! This big blast window is shaking! We're holding it with our hands! Look at that rocket go into the clouds at 3000 feet!...you can see it...you can see it...oh the roar is terrific!...

    -Walter Cronkite, reporting on Apollo 4, the first launch of the Saturn V


    In April of 1977, the first Saturn V in almost two years rolled out to the pad at Launch Complex 39A. This time however, the rocket was different. The stages had been stretched a little, and the engines improved, but to an average onlooker, these changes were not apparent. What was easily visible though, was the four massive boosters strapped onto the rocket, and the much taller payload. The UA-156 boosters attached to the side of the Saturn VB boosted its payload significantly. Due to the fact that the boosters were loaded with solid propellant before being shipped to the Cape, the crawlers that would carry the rocket to the pad had to be significantly upgraded. Each booster fully loaded massed more than an empty Saturn V. The upgrades to the crawler had been one of the major factors delaying this launch, but now everything was ready.


    NASA was promoting this flight as “Ares T-1” the first official flight of the Ares program, despite the fact that multiple test flights had flown before this in service of Ares. For the maiden flight of the new Saturn VB, NASA had asked hardware directors to come up with a payload that was “useful but expendable”, meaning something that would further Ares along, but nothing important enough that it couldn't risk being destroyed if things went awry. Because of this, Ares T-1 would carry a “semi-functional” boilerplate version of the PPM. The module would have the same mass and flight characteristics as a PPM, but without the nuclear engines that could cause some issues if the Saturn VB blew up. The boilerplate PPM would be outfitted with most of the cryogenic storage equipment that the final version would have, and would perform further tests on long duration storage of liquid hydrogen.


    On April 28, 1977, Ares T-1 lifted off, blasting into the sky. Unlike Apollo missions, where the low thrust to weight ratio of the Saturn V meant that the rocket lumbered into the sky, the solid boosters of the Saturn VB got the rocket off the pad much quicker, surprising onlookers used to the slow motion launch of the older rocket. The Saturn VB rose on the power of it's boosters and F-1A engines. One hundred and fifty seven seconds after liftoff, the solid boosters burned out and were jettisoned. Less than a minute later, the S-1D stage burned out, and was jettisoned. The S-IIB upper stage ignited, it's 5 J-2S engines pushing the payload into orbit. After Ares T-1 reached a stable orbit, the prototype PPM deployed the radiator panels and solar panels that the real thing would use. The refrigeration systems came online, and the several months long cryogenic storage tests would begin.


    Like with Apollo, NASA had devised a list of mission types for the Ares program. A class missions would be tests of the Saturn VB, like Ares T-1. B class missions would be tests of the Apollo Command Module at Mars return speeds. C class missions would involve testing the PPM in a full up, interplanetary configuration. D class missions would be unmanned MEM tests, while E and F class missions would be manned MEM tests, with the F class flights reentering and landing on Earth. G Class missions would involve a crew performing a simulated Mars mission in a Mission Module in Earth Orbit. H Class missions would involve a full up test of the entire Mars stack, in a manned flight to the Moon, or high Earth orbit, I class missions would be the Mars Orbital flight, and J class missions would be the landings themselves.


    Like with Apollo, this mission schedule found itself heavily modified as the program went along. The first major change was the cancellation of the H class missions, as it was determined that the C class missions, and the I class Mars orbital flights would allow testing of PPM assembly on orbit. The F class MEM Earth landings were also cancelled, deemed too risky. The G class missions were also scrapped, in favor of performing simulated Mars missions aboard Starlab.


    In July of 1977, another important test occurred. However, this flight would not be given an Ares mission designation, simply being referred to as “TDF-4”. A Saturn II was rolled out to pad 37. It carried a Centaur upper stage, and atop that, the first prototype Block IV Command Module. It was not even mounted on a Service Module. This was to be the first “B Class” mission. The Saturn II lifted off, with the S-IVC upper stage placing the Centaur and CM into an elliptical orbit. After this, the Centaur fired, pushing the Apollo into an even more elliptical orbit. The CM separated, and coasted up to apoapsis. After reaching the top of its orbit, it began falling back towards the Earth, gaining velocity. On its way back down, the CM flew by the Moon, picking up even more speed. Finally, just before reaching Earth, solid rocket motors mounted under the CM fired. The CM struck the atmosphere at interplanetary trajectories. The heatshield had been beefed up for this, and it sure was necessary. Due to the way that reentry heating increased more than exponentially with a higher speed, the shock heating was brutal, much stronger than that experienced on Apollo. The same lifting reentry techniques were employed, along with the first ever American use of “skip reentry”. Finally, after several hellish minutes, the CM emerged, scarred and charred, but intact, descending under a canopy of parachutes. The TDF-4 capsule would be retrieved and and analysed further.


    In September 1977, the first Saturn VA was rolled to the pad for Ares T-2. Because it was missing the boosters that defined the VB, it resembled the Saturn V used for Apollo They payload this time was a boilerplate mock-up of the Mission Module and Apollo CSM, and the first prototype MEM. The second flight of the Saturn VB went off perfectly, launching Ares T-2 into a near-orbit on October 3. The mass simulator proved that the launch configuration was aerodynamically stable. The shroud surrounding MEM-3 (MEM-1 and MEM-2 being ground test articles) was jettisoned, and the prototype module oriented itself. While the boilerplate MM and CSM would disintegrate, MEM-3 would be proving the reentry technology needed for landing on Mars. MEM-3, like the TDF-4 capsule, reentered at high speed over the Pacific Ocean. The craft transmitted telemetry data the whole way down. As it descended, the atmosphere gradually slowed it. The Pathfinder missions had greatly informed this flight, and maneuvering techniques were incorporated. As heating died down, the craft initiated the second part of the test. A drogue chute deployed, and pulled out a massive Ballute. The Ballute was quickly inflated, and began providing drag, slowing MEM-3 further. Because the Terrestrial atmosphere was much thicker than the Martian one, the vehicle was slowed much more quickly, and was soon subsonic. After the vehicle became subsonic, the Ballute was jettisoned. A small capsule, the flight data recorder, was jettisoned from the MEM as well. It deployed a parachute for recovery, while MEM-3 continued falling, and destructively smashed into the Pacific.


    After the results of the test, the Ares T-3 mission was scheduled for February 1978. Ares T-3 would combine the final B class CSM test, with the first D Class MEM test. The first unmanned orbital test of the full-up MEM was a big deal. This was the Ares program's version of the Apollo 5 flight. North American had been preparing this test vehicle for several years. The design process for the MEM had been the source of many headaches at NASA and at North American. The MEM had to be one the most capable and reliable spacecraft ever built, and had to fit into a very specific mass budget. Originally, mission planners had counted on an MEM that would mass in at under 50 tons. By 1978, this had grown to over 65 tons. The mass growth of the MEM had cut into many different mass budgets, across the program. The MEM had to be incredible capable, and to squeeze more performance out of the vehicle, novel technologies would be needed. Initially it was planned for the MEM to use an already untried fuel combination of liquid oxygen and methane. But it soon became clear that even that wouldn't cut it. To get even more performance, it was decided to switch from using regular oxygen as the oxidiser, to using a mixture known as “FLOX-30” that was 70% oxygen, 30% fluorine. This was a very dangerous and toxic fuel combination, but it was deemed necessary. Engineers argued that it was not significantly more dangerous than the hypergolic fuels that had been used on many spacecraft, even manned ones, and besides, every Ares mission would involve nuclear propulsion, and that had been deemed an acceptable risk. Technicians that worked on the MEM on the ground had to wear hazmat suits, to protect themselves from the toxic fuel. Despite these hurdles, the MEM was ready by for Ares T-3.


    MEM-4 would be put through its paces on this flight. Ares T-3 lifted off on February 13, 1978, once again using a boosterless Saturn VA. The MEM and CSM were delivered to an elliptical orbit. The CSM separated and went off to do its thing like on TDF-4, but the MEM was activated for its own series of trials. The solid rocket retro package mounted underneath the heatshield of MEM-4 was fired, to lower its periapsis around Earth, grazing the atmosphere. As the lander descended into the upper atmosphere, it performed further tests of the descent guidance system, and heatshield. The atmospheric density at this height in the Earth's upper atmosphere, was roughly analogous to what was to be expected at Mars. The MEM used the atmosphere to slow itself, lowering its orbit. Finally, after emerging, the MEM used the onboard reaction control thrusters to raise the periapsis back out of the atmosphere, into a circular orbit. The heatshield and shroud were then ditched, and the descent engine was tested. This was the first ever firing of a Methane powered engine in space. The engine performed as expected, and then, ascent stage separated. The ascent stage was also ignited, and an ascent was simulated, even dropping the drop tanks as each was expended. An anomaly occurred when one drop tanks failed to separate. However, it was not a mission ending event, and with some corrective steering, the simulated ascent continued. After exhausting its propellant, the MEM was commanded to re-enter the the atmosphere, this time for a destructive reentry. Further tests were given the go ahead, with Ares T-4 planned for November.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018 at 9:23 AM
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  10. fasquardon Cosmonaut

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    Isn't FOOF pretty hard on tankage and plumbing as well?

    I'm not sure that it wouldn't make more sense for them to go with a nuclear powered lander if they're going for FOOF... I guess the weight of the shielding needed for that might be too high for the mass budget.

    fasquardon
     
  11. prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    Yes, FOOF is pretty nasty stuff, and working with it will be a major headache for the engineers and ground crew. Nuclear thermal engines have pretty shitty thrust to weight ratios, and generally don't perform well within atmospheres, so they wouldn't really make sense for a lander.
     
  12. Wolttaire Well-Known Member

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    So when will the final launch launch
     
  13. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    little Error "FOOF" is Dioxygen Difluoride
    70% oxygen, 30% fluorine is called FLOX-30 and "less" problematic as FOOF

    Yes and no
    Fluoride react with tank and plumbing forms a protective layer of metal surfaces,
    but is there some organic residues like finger prints it react violent
    If it also find material failure like seal in Tank, it will eat is way true material

    another issue is Apollo 13 type danger with FLOX-30 tank stirring fans...
    and you need them to prevent 70% oxygen, 30% fluorine to separate and settle
     
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  14. Rufus Shinra Statistical unlikeliness

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    FOOF? Can I move on the other side of the planet when this monstrosity is launched?
     
  15. prolemasses Space Jockey Fanboy

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    FLOX-30, that's what I was thinking of. Edited.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018 at 9:36 AM
  16. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    Be lucky they not went for propellant Chlorine pentafluoride, with mixture of 55% Monomethylhydrazine, 26% Hydrazine and 19% Hydrazinium Nitrate
    Or Glusko lovely mixture of Nitorgene tetoxide and Pentaborane for UR-900 just 4366 metric tons propellants

    i move to another planet if That Monster is launch, special if two upper stage are nuclear...

    By the Way
    Space Flight is Hard see problem with Soyuz-MS10
     
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  17. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    If they need higher performance on the MEM, why not have the descent stage use lh2/lox? They already have to keep hydrogen liquid to Mars orbit...
     
  18. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    one issue with powerful Hydro Lox is needed very big Volume for Tanks vs. the Limited Volume of MEM
    the 1969 MEM proposal use Hydro Lox used a complex system of 8 conical tanks with Lh2/LOX who were jettison one by one after Takeoff

    see illustration to understand the problem
    Liquid Methane and FLOX-30 reduce volume by half, but increase the mass of MEM.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  19. RanulfC Well-Known Member

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    Prolemasses wrote:
    Yes but the UR500 or what became Proton OTL was a military supported launcher with lower than N1 payload that specifically could be used as a “Super-ICBM” or heavy lift launch vehicle. It was not considered a competitor to the N1 (or N11) as it met certain military requirements and specifications which is why it was pursued in parallel to the N1. The Soviets actually designed but never built a silo for the Proton and had early plans to deploy then for a proposed “southern” attack vector, (which would avoid pretty much all the US missile detection systems) on the US using “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System”. The FOBS plan was dropped but the UR500 retained for military and some ‘regular’ space launch purposes.

    The military didn’t really like Korolev’s designs because they were neither simple nor quick to set up and launch. They accepted the R7 because it was the most advanced available at the time but they preferred a more ‘responsive’ launch vehicle if at all possible. Keep in mind the UR500 (OTL’s Proton) and Yangel’s R36 were primarily “super-heavy-ICBMs” whereas Korolev’s N11 was less operationally usable in an military sense which is why the UR500 and R36 were produced and the N11 was not even though the N1 was. Chelomei’s UR700 and Yangel’s R56 were the N1 competitors. While it might seem ‘logical’ that the N11 would be produced it simply didn’t fit the “super-ICBM” role that either of the others did so it makes sense even if Korolev IS given a “priority” and gets the N11 flying the military will still insist on both the UR500 and R36 for the launcher and ICBM roles. Krushchev got Korolev the N1, (and actually by extension the N11 but the primary goal OTL was the N1, here I assumed they worked on the upper stages first) by giving the military the UR500 and R36 which were the designs they supported. If he only give the go-ahead to the N1 and N11 the military will oppose it, strongly.

    ::::sigh::: I remain the lone voice in the wilderness dreaming of the promised land…

    Seriously it has several very salient points in its favor the as the attached articles mention. Secondly it will be the Soviet ‘default’ planet if they want it since they will arrive first. Like the US’s focus on Mars they can focus on Venus and remain ‘contenders’ with the rather explicit factor they can NOT “land” actually being helpful to them since they can propose all the ‘grandiose’ plans such as in the articles but don’t have to actually carry them out to be taken seriously.

    Heck by 1965 there was a proposal for a mobile ICBM that under the circumstance might get a closer look as a sample return vehicle for Venus. The Gnom, (http://www.astronautix.com/g/gnom.html) was an air-augmented, three stage missile with a side-line possible payload of between 500lbs to 700lbs to low orbit. A test vehicle the PR90 (http://www.astronautix.com/p/pr-90.html) was tested and suggested to be deployed as a tactical missile as an equivalent of the US Lance or French Pluton missiles but at over half the deployed mass. The US had successfully experimented with such air-augmentation systems in the the 60s and found they worked but none were deployed even though they showed an average 56% vehicle launch mass decrease for the same payload to orbit for a launch vehicle using the system. (And you can use CO2 for an 'oxidizer' just like you can O2 with the right propellant)

    Ground isn’t as serious as you might think either for building or ‘walking around’ on. Not to deflect the thread but let me make the arguments/comparisons that tend to get glossed over OTL between the two.

    First of all to ‘walk-around’ on Mars you have to have a full pressure space suit. There’s no getting around that and on average unless you’re using a pure O2 or lower pressure O2He mix it takes anywhere from a half hour to two hours to ‘prep’ to go outside anytime you need to. (And yes the main assumption is you’ll have ‘normal’ Earth atmosphere at normal Earth pressure which has a lot of knock-ons itself due to the hull strength you need to build into a structure or vehicle)

    “On” Venus at 50-55km altitude you put on a air rig and a light weight acid resistant coverall and head outside. If it takes over 5 minutes you aren’t trying. Get really fancy and you can use a Haz-Mat suit but that’s another couple of minutes at most.

    Building: You can’t pour concrete or dig a hole on Venus but while you can do that on Mars it will likely have to be done with robots since ‘surface’ time is time exposed to radiation levels not much different than that of the Moon and vacuum hazards all of which will limit outside human activity. The holes that will be dug will have pre-made (and probably shipped in) modular habitats placed in them and that’s where you’ll live. Note the idea of ‘windows’ looking outside and/or big transparent greenhouses is mostly fantasy. You CAN do it but as the Geth say; “Windows are a structural weakness” and they also let in radiation so unless you use mirrors, (http://www.subsurfacebuildings.com/buildingundergroundwithalighttouch.html, http://www.asi.org/adb/04/02/03/periscope-anecdote.html) your ‘view’ is going to be of the inside of the Hab 99% of the time. (It’s called the “Great Indoors” situation and is mostly ignored by both Moon and Mars colonization advocates)
    Zubrin makes light of this by saying you could build underground “Malls” to live in while ignoring the major work this would take to accomplish and that his daughter would “love” to live in a Mall. No she wouldn’t because it’s NOT a “Mall” it is, (at best) and inside out house or apartment block with a huge interior “open-space” that if it’s dressed up just right you won’t go TOO stir crazy, but is a pain to maintain.

    Building on Venus is going to use pre-fabricated, delivered modules for a long time as well. But they don’t have to be as strong or heavy as those on Mars because the atmospheric pressure is within a few bars of Earth normal. It’s CO2 certainly with some sulfuric acid mist in it but a simple Teflon coating, (the plastic is called Tefzil and it's available off the shelf in the mid-70s) blocks it all out. I’ll also point out that on Venus regular Earth “air” is in fact a lifting gas capable of about half the lifting power of hydrogen at the desired altitude. What’s this mean? It means about 90% of you ‘building’ is going to be inflating a large plastic (Tefzil) coated bubble to which you attach supplemental lift balloons as you build up the mass inside the wide open space. (And beings the outside air is CO2 using hydrogen for lift makes vastly more sense since it can’t ignite) So in effect a one (1) kilometer sphere of “air” has a lift capacity of around 700,000 tons.

    And unlike on Mars or the Moon you CAN have most of it made of clear plastic as the surrounding atmosphere reduces the radiation to almost nil even during a heavy solar storm. So yes you can have half of the huge plastic bubble filled with open spaces and plants, (renew that atmosphere don’t you know) with tensegrity floors and walls and you’ve got about twice if not more ‘space’ per pound than anywhere else but Earth. And again if you really feel the need to go ‘out’ just mind the drop and keep inside the safety rail on the platform.

    (“Hurricane” winds you say? Your HabiStat, {Habitat/Aerostat} is whipping along at around the same speed as the prevailing winds so the only ‘wind’ you feel is the differential speeds, if any, and up/down-drafts. The latter may be an issue but we need long-term in-atmosphere probes to determine this which the Soviets can provide TTL. OTL the Vega balloons seemed to have no issues with them)

    So does Venus. Maybe even more than we thought but sulfuric acid can be harvested for volatiles and the fact we can find heavy mists or even ‘rain’ means harvesting will be easier. And energy we can get quite easily. Fun fact, a double sided solar panel gets nearly as much power from solar reflection off the clouds as direct exposure.

    So does Venus, probably more and more concentrated due to the presence of Tholeiitic basalts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tholeiitic_magma_series) and mining, extracting and such will have to be done robotically as on Mars. That’s not actually has tough as it might sound either since getting the robots to and from the surface since you can use “phase-change” balloons to lower and lift them from the surface. Such robots could mine silicon, aluminum, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium as well just to name a few. Unlike Mars atmospheric nitrogen is available and the CO2 can be processed for oxygen without pumping and storage being required.

    As noted in the cited papers the only ‘real’ issue is one of “surface-itis” or “ground-ism” which seems to demand that ONLY a planetary surface is the place to put a colony and all other possibilities are rejected for that reason and that reason alone. Which considering a large majority of the “space colonization” advocates tend to cite the arguments for colonizing “space” (normally their one particular planetary body though) that Gerard O’Neil presented that in fact a planetary surface may NOT be the best choice for colonies is rather hypocritical to say the least.

    In the end Venus has some engineering challenges and needs more study and close work but frankly the assumption that it is ‘harder’ than Mars is unsupportable as it’s actually in many ways easier both in terms of getting to and colonizing. I don’t think the Soviets could or would resist using this as a club against the Americans should they get the slightest chance TTL. (And how are they going to resist the obvious one? America is focused on and going all out to get to the Planet of War while the peaceful and benign Soviet Union is visiting the Planet of Love… Which is the better "political/social" system then? :)

    Randy
     
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  20. RanulfC Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2014
    Prolemassess wrote:
    You’d confused me with this statement:
    Which seemed to indicate BOTH were already planned to be developed together as the originally planned NASA space shuttle

    Ya Atlas Flyback is one of my favorite “what-ifs” as well

    But I’d suspect that Boeing-et-al are going to base both the X vehicle, (if they get the contract) and actual proposal on using as much Saturn-II “legacy” as they can… How much they actually use is of course dependent on what they can get away with as usual

    Fasquadron wrote:
    (As noted he meant FLOX not FOOF but...) Yep and on people and most everything else it might come into contact with. It’s pretty much “hypergolic” with everything else in existence but they had some success with testing in the 50s and 60s which was arguably because they gave the project to the one man in NACA who was so particular about safety and procedure he was the ONE person who was pretty much guaranteed not to have an accident or incident. Even so I seem to recall that injuries and exposures as well as equipment issues is what finally moved them away from fluorine as a propellant. However in the MEM case they really, really needed the performance and the fact the engine would ‘light’ no matter what.

    Unfortunately yes the mass budget of the mission would be totally blown with a NTR. Take a look at Zubrin’s “Nuclear Thermal Rocket using Indigenous Martian Fuel” (NIMF as it’s called) vehicle and it’s mass budget compared to the MEM. The other fact is your living with your nuclear reactor RIGHT THERE in the vehicle since it will take a while to ‘cool’ enough to be safe to move around outside the shadow-shield. (Like ‘never’ for our purposes)

    On the other hand you also had a T/W issue for the NERVA type NTRs. Having said that it only took till the 90s OTL to come up with a way to boost that because the research on NTR pretty much shut down in the 70s whereas here it didn't so LANTR (http://www.astronautix.com/l/lantrmoonbase.html) is probably likely though of sooner. On that note they might have gotten to Bi-Modal (https://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20140017461.pdf) and Tri-Modal (https://alternatewars.com/BBOW/Space_Engines/AIAA-2004-3863_TRITON.pdf) NTR in TTL.

    Pretty much they tried just about everything to find a way to NOT use FLOX but couldn't so just penciled it in and hoped for the best OTL. TTL they probably don't come up with better either despite really, really trying.

    Now speaking of NIMF btw...

    Randy
     
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