safer, smarter, cheaper, simpler, lighter, shorter Ares-1
NASA is the most important and prestigious space agency of the world and, also, the only that has enough experience (thanks to space programs like Apollo, ISS and Shuttle) and enough funds to accomplish big and complex missions ("for the entire mankind") like the return on the moon ...and can only be happy of that... but NASA is made of men and often man do mistakes, like those hidden in the ESAS plan and hardware, some of which (now) fixed, other still existing (and that may remain unchanged in the next 20+ years).
One of these "mistakes" (probably the biggest) is the Ares-1 choice (that comes from a wrong lunar missions architecture, too similar to Apollo, poor and too risky) especially in its current (5-segments SRB and J-2X) design, as explained several times in my articles (here and in my personal website) about the 5-segments SRB, the Ares-1, its 2nd stage, the NONSENSE of the 5-segments SRB and the Ares-1 as "dead-weight launcher".
Everything in the ESAS plan and in its "Shuttle (and Apollo) derived" hardware (especially the Ares-1 a.k.a. "stick" or "asparagus") looks like "The Flight of the Phoenix" movie (and its 2004 remake) where the survivors of a plane crash in the desert (that a desert storm has blown far off, away from where searchers would look for them) decide to build a new aircraft from the wreckage of the old airplane (Space Shuttle and Apollo...?) using the only working engine (SRB...?) to take off and rescue theirself (NASA...?) from death... at the end of the movie the new airplane has really flown, but for a few dozens miles and just once... (Ares 1-X...?).
That's why (in my website and in my blog) I suggested some possible alternatives to the current designed vehicles, rockets and mission architecture, like a Single Launch Vehicle, a bigger Ares-5, a Multiple Launches Architecture, a COTS + ESAS + AresX architecture, a new Ares-1 without the J-2X or made with Ariane5 parts but also the full scrap of the Ares-1 (to launch the Orion with the Ariane5 or a Delta/Atlas rockets) and the (possible) use of the Space Shuttle in the ESAS plan.
However, the best idea (suggested 22 months ago in May 12, 2006) is my "FAST-SLV" that was/is not the "nth" shuttle-derived rocket, but the first "rocket kit", built with the SAME (ready available, cheap, man-rated and 120+ times tested) TRUE shuttle-derived parts (two 4-segments SRBs, one ET and three SSMEs) just rearranged with a different configuration to develop one ESAS rocket saving a GIANT AMOUNT of TIME and MONEY vs. the current Ares-1 + Ares-5 and accomplish MANY 3-astronauts moon missions (with a single rocket) OR several "hardware richer" missions using two FAST-SLV per mission.
MY idea of FAST-SLV (the first, true shuttle-derived, "rocket kit") "seems" has inspired two (similar, but not so good) rockets concepts: the (FAST-SLV-like but THREE months LATER) NASA (?) "Stumpy" and the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER) "Direct" all them (now) "dead-end concepts" since NASA has already made its definitive choice, so, in my Ares-1 can't fly article (and here) I only suggest some (possible) ways to make the Ares-1 to fly (assuming it can...).
In my opinion, the worst choice has been the NASA decision to end the production and use of the SSME to start the development of the SaturnV-derived J-2X (that needs over EIGHT years, delaying the entire ESAS plan that might see the first manned Orion launch only in 2016 and the first, new, moon mission in 2020 or later!) that will have R&D costs of over $1.2 billion (so, including the shared R&D costs, each J-2X built in the next 20+ years will have the SAME unit price of an SSME...!) then, in my Ares-1 can't fly article, I suggest to go back to the early CLV design, using the standard 4-segments SRB and an SSME-class superengine (called "J-2Y") to add thrust to the (underpowered) Ares-1 and Ares-5 or (at least) add four fins to the Ares-1 current design to solve its vibrations and stability problems.
Unfortunately, NASA seems determined to develop only the low power J-2X and use the (very expensive) 5-segments SRB for (both) the Ares-1 (a) and the Ares-5, so, the only way to go back to the early CLV design (with the standard SRB) is to use two J-2X for the 2nd stage, that's not a bad idea (nor a new idea, since several experts have already suggested it) but needs a larger 2nd stage and a bigger, larger and heavier interstage.
So, I've designed a (better, safer, smarter, cheaper, simpler, lighter, shorter) Ares-1 (b) that uses two J-2X side-mounted on a larger (but shorter) 2nd stage, a standard SRB (to go back to the early CLV design) and a smaller (or no) interstage (to save mass) + two small fins on the 2nd stage (c) to add stability (if necessary) to the Ares-1 flight.
MY version of "two J-2X" Ares-1 is ways better than (simply) add a second J-2X to the current designed Ares-1 since my idea has MANY technical and economical advantages!
First of all, "my" Ares-1 uses the ready available, simple, 240+ times tested, man-rated, cheap and TRUE shuttle-derived standard 4-segments SRB (that had just ONE failure in 27+ years of manned launches!) to SAVE over THREE years and $3 billion now needed to (only) develop the 5-segments SRB then use that money to (simply) BUY many SRBs (as explained in this ghostNASA article) and (quickly) solve all the Ares-1 "stability" and "vibrations" problems (unknown or minimal in the Shuttles' standard SRBs).
Further advantages may come from using only expendable SRB that (also thanks to the lack of an heavy intestage in my side-mounted J-2X 2nd stage design) allows to save up to 15 mT of mass increasing the Ares-1 (more useful) payload by (at least) 2 mT !
The second J-2X will add enough power to lift, also, an overweighted Orion (where the 2 mT of useful extra-payload will go) and the shorter height of this Ares-1 doesn't need any big changes to the Shuttles launch pad but just a different tower-to-capsule bridge or (best) a second "bridge" (placed in the opposite side of today's crew boarding bridge) so, the same launch pad remains fully operative for (both) Orion and Shuttles launch!
Please note that, in my version of Ares-1, the Orion adopts my "underside-LAS" (a safer and better LAS that now NASA claims be "its own" idea and calls "MLAS"...) and a (safer) joined TPS that may allow to save a total of over 5 mT of mass increasing very much the Ares-1 max payload mass.
This simpler and lighter Ares-1 might be able to launch (also) a small Space Shuttle (d) that can be developed and built using the time and money saved with this Ares-1 design since I think that a safer, simpler, smaller and 1000+ times reusable new (crew and/or small-cargo) Shuttle is absolutely necessary for a, really efficient, large, cheap and easy access to space as explained in my "VISUAL Shuttle to Capsule comparison" article.
Thanks to the mass saving of this Ares-1 design and the use of expendable SRB, the "new Shuttle" mass could be over 200 mT in total (including the propellents) enough to design a very good vehicle that can be developed and/or built by NASA and/or by (one or more) COTS and/or other (american and/or non-american) private Space companies and/or Space agencies that will just "rent" and use the KSC launch pad and services.
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