Friday, June 26, 2009

NASA's Grand Plan B

NASA's future manned spaceflight programs are under review by the Catherine Commision.  There are development issues with the current Ares1/Ares5 systems.  Perhaps, the most important of which is the large time gap between retirement of the shuttle and scheduled
1st flight of the Ares 1 to the space station.  Of course this time gap could easily grow larger.

So NOW NASA unveils a stopgap measure based on shuttle hardware.  It looks a lot like the Shuttle-C which gets mentioned.  I consider the timing just a bit creepy, since I've heard nothing of Shuttle-C in the last 10 years, except my own post, a week before this hit the news.

I'm not going to go over the whole system, since this article link is fresh.  Just a few interesting points. Unlike Shuttle-C, NASA is proposing this as a manned system as well, with the new Orion capsule riding inside the fairing, which consequently would look a
bit different from the picture above.  The comment about cost savings from reusable main motors being a myth is quite interesting.  I'll need to digest that one further before emitting a response.  Of course, this system fits my vision of modularity that I expounded
upon in my previous post.  Finally, as I said then, this sort of thing could've been flying years ago, saving the orbiters for the missions that really needed them.  I don't mean to sound bitchy, I like it better than the Ares 1 system.

6/28/09--Update;  After a lot of googling, I found multiple references to Shuttle-C and Plan B, mostly dating from around 2005.  That's still damn recent in shuttle years, but near the infancy of the Constellation program.

BTW; Dog years are 7:1, Shuttle years are about 5:1, therefore the shuttles are not dogs.

1 comment:

  1. I have a lot to say on this subject, but composed the post online between 1am & 3am last night. Shuttle Kvetch was a product of months.

    As the article mentions, there is still growth potential for this system, such as the performance gain with the 5 segment SRB that's currently giving ARES program fits.
    OTOH; NASA should've developed the 5 segment SRB years ago for the standard STS.
    Of course the bigger SRB's would support the takeoff weight of an optional longer fuel tank for some real serious reach.