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The "3+3 engines" Super SLV
The original ESAS moon missions' plan was based on a 5.5 mt. CEV+SM launched with the CLV and the EDS+LSAM launched with the CaLV for a total payload weight of 148 mT but, now, with the final-CEV resized to 5 mt. and less TLI/LOI/TEI fuel/tank weight the total payload requirement for a full 4-astronauts' moon mission is around 140 mT.
To save many Years of time and many Billion$$$ of R&D and hardware, I've suggested to build the Single Launch Vehicle instead of two different rockets (in my article you can read the advantages of this solution and an evaluation of the time and money saved).
My suggestion was to use the (planned) 125 mT payload CaLV for a "resized" 3-astronauts moon mission with a resized CEV-light SM-light, EDS-light, LSAM-light, etc. to fit the max CaLV payload.
To save also the extra time and costs to develop and build the new 5-segments-SRB, I've suggested the FAST-SLV version built with the (ready available, cheap and already man-rated!) 4-segments SRB and SSME that was successful used in 110+ Shuttle launches with 700+ astronauts, that mean over 220 single 4-segments SRB and over 340 single SSME launched in last 25 years!
Since the FAST-SLV can lift about 110 mT only, the 3-astronauts moon mission must be further "resized" with the launch of all the lunar exploration & science hardware for 5+ moon missions (and 3 months of extra life support, to save the astronauts, if something goes wrong!) separately (with a cargo-LSAM) and less EDS, CEV and LSAM propellant, sufficient only for equatorial landing sites.
But the BEST version of SLV is the 3+3 engines Super SLV (the option "a" in my article about the SLV) built with three standard (ready available, cheap and already man-rated) 4-segments SRB and three (ready available, cheap and already man-rated) SSME.
The engines' thrust at sea level of the 4-segments SRB and SSME are 1,270,080 kgf and 181,440 kgf, then, if the early CaLV (with two 5-segments SRB and five SSME) was able to lift 125 mT, the new 3+3 engines Super SLV can lift (by comparison with the 125 mT CaLV 1st stage thrust) up to 135 mT payload to launch the FULL 4-astronauts moon mission with a SINGLE-ROCKET-SINGLE-LAUNCH architecture (only to equatorial landing sites and the exploration-hardware sent separately) without any vehicles/missions "resizing"!
The costs of the Super SLV 1st stage hardware for each launch is very low: $120 million for three (ready available, man-rated and 110+ times successful launched) "dumb" 4-segments standard-SRB + $120 million for three (ready available, man-rated and 110+ times successful launched) expendable SSME + $60 million for a new, redesigned, big tank and all the electronics and controls (that don't need to be enclosed in a "re-designed SRB", like with the CLV, but can be enclosed in the first or in the second stage of the Super SLV since it uses the same, low cost, "dumb" SRB of the Space Shuttle) for a total of ONLY (about) $300 million per launch with a GIANT saving of R&D time & money!!!
The (minimum!) saving of this (strategic!) choice will be... $5 Billion of R&D costs to build the CLV + $5 Billion of CLV-hardware for the first 20 orbital/lunar launches + $2 Billion of R&D extra-funds to build the new 5-segments "smart" SRB (for the CLV and CaLV) + $3 Billion of R&D saved to build a simpler CaLV/SuperSLV + $5 Billion of NASA standard budgets' costs saved (with 5+ years of less R&D time and work, less hardware to design, build and test, less assembly and support costs, etc.).
$20 Billion saved, that will be sufficient to build 50+ Super SLV!!!
With the same design, NASA can build also a Super SLV with three 4-segments standard "dumb" SRB and three RS-68 that can lift up to 145 mT of payload at a cost of less than $250 million of 1st stage hardware per launch, but, unfortunately, it can be used only for the cargo-CaLV since the RS-68 needs to be man-rated to be used in the Super SLV manned moon missions, and, since man-rate the RS-68 needs time and money, part of the advantages (and time/costs savings) of the SSME version will be lost, and the RS-68 version of the Super SLV will costs $250 million per launch + the extra costs!
But... why the 3+3 engines Super SLV will be so Simple to design and build, Cheap and Reliable?
Well... LOOK AT THE Super SLV IMAGE IN THIS PAGE! WHAT DO YOU SEE? IT'S EASY!
THE SPACE SHUTTLE!!! The Super SLV design is (EXACTLY!!!) like the Space Shuttle!!!
It has two 4-segments standard-SRBs and three standard-SSMEs (like the Space Shuttle) arranged with the same design of the Shuttle and with (only!) an "extra-SRB" on a side!!!
If the manned Space Shuttle have made 110+ successful and safe flights with this design, the Super SLV (with the same design) will be able to do 110+ successful moon missions!!!
May 21 - 2006
Copyright © 2006 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - The images used for the Super SLV drawing are © NASA