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Ares-F : The French Ares-I
Everything goes fast in the space industry this century and many new players (China, India, Japan, lots of privates' startup, etc.) run together with the glorious NASA, ESA and Russia in the new space race, but, while (nearly) all new space countries and companies have rush to launch their vehicles, the NASA choice is the slowest possible needing 10+ years to launch the first (manned) Orion to LEO and 15+ years to land again on the moon, when/where (...maybe...) they could find a "lunar chinatown" or a Bigelow/Russia "moonhotel"... :)
As I've explained many times in my articles here (and in my threads/posts on space forums and blogs) the main cause of this long timeline (and of the giant R&D costs) is clearly due to the NASA choice to adopt two (now unexisting) devices for the Ares rockets: the 5-segments SRB solid motor and the J-2x engine.
In my articles here, I've already suggested many possible alternatives that use only ready available standard hardware and rockets (to save time and money) and now I add further new (and cheap) design suggestion for the Ares-I that use the Ariane5 hardware arranged in a diffent way to increase its max payload so it can match the current Orion GLOW.
My Ares-F is a sort of "french clone" of the Ares-I built with Ariane5 parts: a resized 1st stage with the Vulcain 2 engine and three EAP solid boosters.
The Ares-F specs are pretty close (or better than the current 5-segments-SRB and J-2x design since the Vulcain 2 has a 303,490 lbs. vacuum thrust (compared with the expected 295,000 lbs. thrust of the J-2x) while THREE Ariane5 EAP have the SAME burning time of the 5-segments SRB (130 sec. vs. 128 sec.) MORE (sea level) thrust (4,363,,530 vs. 3,467,300 lbs.) the SAME dry mass (252,600 vs. 235,000 lbs.) and a similar gross mass (1,840,830 vs. 1,659,000 lbs.).
Thanks to the ready available hardware used in my design, the Ares-F can be developed and tested in HALF the time of the current Ares-I design and each Ares-F may cost just a few millions more than a standard Ariane5 (maybe, in the range of $300M) a GIANT saving of billion$ that NASA can use for reserches, science and MORE manned and unmanned orbital/lunar missions and to launch the first manned Orion in 2012 (as planned in the early, non delayed, ESAS timeline) also, the Ares-F EAPs extra-thrust may allow NASA to launch a better Orion or, simply, its to-day's "overweighted" version.
Of course, the european hardware may have some "political problems" to be accepted, but this problem can be solved in two ways: a) build the Ares-F parts as part of an international (NASA/ESA/etc.) cooperation in the ESAS moon missions... and/or... b) manufacture the french hardware in USA under licence.
A faster, simpler and limited option to my Ares-F proposal is to adopt the Vulcain 2 engine for the current Ares-I 2nd stage (in place of the J-2x) saving several hundreds million$ and 4+ years of developing time.
April 12 - 2007
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Copyright © 2007 Gaetano Marano - All rights reserved - base images used for the drawings are © ESA and NASA