<< Back to Articles' Directory
Single Launch Vehicle NOW! And "On The Moon" in 2012 !
The choice to use the "shuttle-derived" technology for the next generation of orbital and moon launch vehicles is a good idea but it's advantage is ZERO if the time and money to build the new vehicles is the same than design completely new and different vehicles!
Also, the recent news say us that NASA will not use the Shuttles' Main Engines (SSME) but the RS-68 for the CaLV and the J-2X for the CLV, while, the 5-segments SRB of both rockets will be completely different than the SRB used in te Shuttle and will need extra R&D time and money, then, the only "Shuttle-derived" hardware in the new vehicles will be (but we are not sure...) the Shuttle's EXTERNAL TANK!!!
To save GIANT quantities of time and money, I've suggested to build a Single Launch Vehicle (instead of two rockets) that may give many advantages and can accelerate the entire VSE program with the first (new) moon landing in 2015 (instead of planned 2018-2020).
My new suggestion is: "why re-design the Shuttles' hardware to build the SLV if we can build it NOW with the SAME hardware used in to-day's Shuttles?"
The three SSMEs and two 4-segments SRBs of to-day's Shuttles are able to lift their own weight (the SRB, the External Tank, etc.) and 125 tons of payload (the Space Shuttle and its own payload in the cargo-bay) in LEO.
Then, with some changes, the SAME hardware can lift up to 110-tons in LEO for ISS and LUNAR missions!
125+ tons-payload models can be easy made adding one or two SSME in the basket of the main engines.
110-tons payload are sufficient for a moon missions with 3 astronauts (with "resized" CEV, LSAM, etc.) and for some "bundled" ISS' missions with a CEV/SM + the ISS' re-supply + some new ISS' modules and new hardware.
The time saved will be incredible since ALL parts for the new rocket are ALREADY AVAILABLE.
The MONEY saved can be sufficient to make TWICE the orbital/lunar missions with the SAME funds!
Compared with the "standard" VSE plan and vehicles, with my idea of a "FAST-SLV" the first orbital mission may happen in 201o and the first lunar mission in 2012 (only HALF the VSE time planned!)
The costs of the hardware of each launch of this (simplified) version of the Single Launch Vehicle will be around $350 million: two ($40M each) SRBs, three ($60M each) expendable SSME, one $40M External Tank, fuel, the SSME's basket and the structure to join together the engines, tank, fairing, etc.
VERY IMPORTANT The image published in this page is made ONLY to explain a "CONCEPT" because the External Tank of the Shuttle can't sustain the weight of the payload. A real rocket made with this layout must have a more resistant structure between the engines, tank and payload, etc.
May 12 - 2006
Copyright © 2006 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - The images used for the SLV drawing are © NASA