Look better !!!  Direct is ONLY a slightly RESIZED Ares-5 !!!
July 4, 2009

This article is nearly the same of my Suggestion #10 for the Human Space Flight Plans Committee, but, since it's a deep analysis about the controversial Direct concept, I've decided to publish it also as new article of my blog.

As clearly explained about one year ago in my ghostNASA articles (here and here) the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) "Direct" ISN'T a TRUE "rocket concept" but, mainly (or only) a LOBBY made by about 50 (95% still unknown) guys from inside NASA and from (unspecified) aerospace companies + some space hobbyists.

The only thing sure about the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct-LOBBY is that it has lots of money and "friends" everywhere on the web (and outside it) that STRONGLY SUPPORT this FAKE/WRONG "alternate" rocket's concept.

The Direct-LOBBY has a space-news site and forum (DIRECTSpaceflight.LOBBY) born in England in 2005 (when Mike Griffin was nominated as new NASA administrator...) that is nearly entirely devoted to promote and support the Direct's concept/lobby with dozens thread and many enthusiastic news about its "loved" rocket, but, thanks to its money, the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct concept and LOBBY seems have its "hands" in every place where is useful to be to promote its BAD rocket design and to denigrate ALL the people that try to propose something different from Direct or (simply) to write posts against those that talk/post critics about Direct.

If you post your own ideas, about rockets and spacecrafts (or even the smallest critics about Direct) on the space forums and blogs where the Direct lobby has a poor (or no) influence, you will receive a continuous flow of critics (from its "propaganda-crew") that "explains" you why your proposals are wrong, not viable, useless, too expensive, etc. (while, only the Direct concept, is "original", perfect, the best, etc.) and, if you insist in your claims, the critics quickly become insults and personal attacks against you, your experience, your ideas, etc. but, if you post on space forums and blogs, where, the Direct lobby, has a deep influence (or that are simply "servant" to it, hoping to have economical advantages...) many or all your thread and/or posts will be deleted or moved to "obscure" and sparsely visited sections of the forum, the moderators often warn you to don't post them again, while, other, simply delete your account to stop forever your disliked threads/posts/ideas/critics/opinions... :|

The Direct lobby seems have, also, a permanent army of moderators inside Wikipedia since despite this free encyclopedia DOES NOT ALLOW articles about non-existent and unofficial ideas and concepts (like the non-NASA, Word & Photoshop, Direct concept clearly IS...) the article about Direct is there from years and, so far, no one has deleted it, while, if you try to post critics or links to other concept and ideas in the Direct article on Wikipedia (also in the discussion section) your comment and/or link is DELETED within MINUTES, and, the same, always happens if you write comments, or post new ideas, or links to other concepts (also links to articles from sources, the Direct lobby doesn't like) in ALL Space/ESAS/Ares/Orion/VSE/NASA related Wikipedia articles! Very efficient crew!

Thanks to its money and influence, the Direct lobby has a worldwide press coverage on several scientific and non-scientific websites, forums, blogs, newspapers, including some famous and prestigious scientific magazines, but, INCREDIBLY, no one of them (not even the "scientific" magazines) have NEVER accomplished a truly INDEPENDENT evaluation of the Direct concept to VERIFY if it can REALLY WORK, then, they always say that Direct is a good "alternate" design for the Ares rockets although they did NOT know if, their claims, actually ARE true or not!!!

In fact, despite the giant flow of drawings, papers, data, calculations, powerpoint slides, animations, rocket spec sheets, etc. published on the Direct website (and anywhere on the web) the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct concept is SERIOUSLY FLAWED in several basic and advanced points, as explained below in detail.

RS-68 engines: since the Direct concept has born FOUR months LATER my FAST-SLV, when NASA has already decided to adopt the cheap and powerful RS-68 instead of the SSME for the Ares-5, also the Direct guys have based their entire alternate concept on the RS-68, but, while this engine can be used to carry a cargo to LEO, it CAN'T launch a manned capsule, because, it has never been "man-rated" for this purpose, so, every rocket based on the RS-68 needs to be man-rated before use it to launch the Orion, an operation, that, according to an independent study funded by NASA, should need 5.5 to SEVEN year of R&D time and many billion$ if made on an ALREADY EXISTING ROCKET like the Delta IV or the Atlas V.

Unfortunately, unlike the Delta IV and the Atlas V, the Direct rocket, simply... does NOT exist... so, assuming the Direct concept is adopted now, it must be developed and built to actually have "something" real, to test and man-rate... then, adding this time (at least 2-4 years) the total time to have a man-rated Direct launcher could be between a (minimum) of (2 + 5.5) 7.5 years to a (maximum) of (4 + 7) 11 years, with LITTLE or NO advantages, vs. the current Ares-1 development time (around 6-8 years) to fill the 5-8 years manned flights GAP (after the Shuttle retirement in 2010) that, means, the Direct lobby claims, of a "safer", "simpler", "sooner" rocket (vs. a "slower" Ares-1) are (simply) UNTRUE!!!

Propellents flux: the Direct rockets should use (especially in the lunar version) three or four RS-68, but, the sum of the thrust (then, of the "propellents per second" flux) of three-four, much powerful, RS-68 engines ISN'T the same of three SSME of a Shuttle, so, the propellents flux between the ET and the RS-68 engines, should be over TWICE than a (standard) Shuttle ET, that needs to more than DOUBLE the flux of propellents of the ET pipes (but, is it possible? ...and safe?) or up to DOUBLE the ET pipes, then modify, re-certify, man-rate and test a new ET, that's NOT easy, fast, cheap to do.

Propellents burned: the Direct launcher uses three-four RS-68 that give up to TWICE the thrust of three SSME, but, to give that thrust, from lift-off to orbit, it needs, also, TWICE the propellents mass of a standard ET, because, without more propellents mass, the Direct engines just burn HALF the time of the Shuttle SSME, then, reach only HALF the altitude of a Shuttle with the same amount of propellents, so, only about HALF than enough for the orbital insertion.

To reach an high and stable orbit, a Direct rocket with three RS-68 needs at least 50% more propellents mass than a standard ET, but, to save R&D time & money, the Direct rockets use the SAME Shuttle's ET... so, where is the extra propellents to allow it to reach the orbit???

Only a Direct with two RS-68 should use the same amount of propellents of three SSME, but, due to an higher dry mass and a lower Isp of an RS-68 vs. an SSME, this kind of Direct should carry much less payload to LEO than my (SSME-based) FAST-SLV.

Too fragile ET: while writing the FAST-SLV article, I was not sure that, a standard ET, could be able to support, without being damaged, the weight and thrust of 3 SSME, that's why, in my article, I suggest to reinforce the ET, to avoid a structural failure.

IF a standard ET will support the weight and thrust of three SSME, it can support, also, the two RS-68 of an orbital Direct rocket, but, it's not sure, that, the same ET, could support (up to TWICE as much higher weight and thrust) three-four RS-68 of a lunar version of Direct without destroy in thousand pieces the fragile (or not strong enough to withstand MORE THAN TWICE THE FORCES for which it was designed) standard ET, without a very strong reinforcement of its structure (with a relevant increase of its dry mass and consequent remarkable reduction of its maximum payload to LEO) or (more likely) a TOTAL REDESIGN of the ET for the lunar Direct, that, of course, needs very much time and money!

Not a Shuttle ET: all drawings and animations of the Direct launcher clearly suggest, that, all Direct versions, should use only the standard ET (in order to save very much R&D time and money and rockets hardware costs) but, as explained in the three points above, no one of the Direct rockets can really use the ET, without DEEP CHANGES to the ET design, dimension, structure, weight, mass, propellents pipes, etc. (and very high R&D time and costs!) so, the claims of a "full Shuttle ET legacy" of the Direct launcher clearly IS completely UNTRUE!!!

Needs the J-2X: before the new 5-segments SRB (and the whole Ares-1) accumulated so many delays to be very difficult to launch a manned Orion before 2016-2018, the main cause of the very long development time of the Ares-1 (and, also, of the Ares-5) was (and still is) the J-2X engine for the Ares-1 second stage, which will born already man-rated, then, ready to use on rockets with astronauts, but "should" be available (subject to further delays) no earlier than 2014-2015.

Well, since the heavy and lunar Direct need a second stage and a man-rated engine for it (that should likely be the J-2X) the Direct rocket can't give any advantage (or not so much) vs. the Ares-1 and Ares-5, if the goal is to come back to the Moon sooner.

Too much dry mass: two RS-68 have about the same total thrust of three SSME, but their weight is 3700 kg. higher, also, they need a strong structure to join together the engines and the ET, the latter should be bigger than a Shuttle ET, to contain the extra propellents an RS-68 driven rocket needs, etc., with the result of a very much higher dry mass, compared with my FAST-SLV concept and pretty close to the Ares-5, so, a Direct rocket, will have nearly the same dry mass of an Ares-5, without actually have the same advantages and a comparable payload!

Clearly, a rocket that has MORE dry mass, than a true Shuttle-derived rocket, like IS my FAST-SLV concept, and pretty close to a bigger Ares-5, is MUCH LESS EFFICIENT of both, since, Direct has a much lower and unfavorable, dry mass vs. payload mass ratio, with the consequence of a much higher cost per ton of payloads carried to LEO.

Not Shuttle-derived: the key argument the Direct lobby often uses to "sell" its bad rockets to NASA, is that it "should cost less" since it's more "Shuttle derived" (than Ares-1 and Ares-5) but, if you see the drawings of the Direct (or just read this article...) you'll discover that, nearly everything (of all Direct versions) need or use a new and/or different hardware than a Space Shuttle!!!

Different engines (the RS-68) and a newly designed engines' basket, a new second stage with a new engine, a new fairing and (despite the Direct lobby drawings and animations) also a different ET, since (as explained above) the standard ET, can't match NONE of the Direct specs and design, while, the ONLY true "Shuttle derived" part of the Direct concept, is the small and cheap standard SRB motor... in other words, the Direct lobby is trying to "sell" to NASA a "Shuttle derived" rocket, that... hasn't nearly NOTHING of a Space Shuttle!!!

Not ONE rocket: the main goal of my true Shuttle-derived FAST-SLV (published over three years ago on my website and proposed, anywhere on the web, in the same days and in last years) was (and still is) to SAVE very much R&D time and money (and very much hardware) using the SAME Shuttle hardware (arranged in a different way) to build a SINGLE heavy lift rocket (instead of the two, different and very expensive Ares-1 and Ares-5) to accomplish many single-launch lunar missions, with 3 astronauts and resized Orion, Altair and EDS, or less (but very much richer) lunar missions, using two FAST-SLV and much bigger vehicles.

Apparently also the goal of the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct launcher was to, develop, build and use, just ONE cheaper rocket (instead of two expensive Ares-1 and Ares-5) to accomplish all (and much more) lunar missions, but, if you see the Direct documents, you'll discover, that, Direct ISN'T a SINGLE (and cheap) rocket, but a very large "family" of rockets with two, three, four RS-68, with/without a second stage and several different configurations of the rocket for different payloads and missions!

In other words, Direct ISN'T just ONE rocket, but (they) "ARE" four, five, seven, ten or more (deeply or slightly different) rocket[S] so (unlike my FAST-SLV "rocket-kit") the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct launcher clearly MISSES and FAILS what should have been its main goal (and the true and unique reason of its existence!) that was: have a SINGLE (easier and cheaper!) rocket to replace the TWO (very complex and expensive!) Ares-1 and Ares-5!!!

Do you, Direct-guys, really believe that, add a 3rd or a 4th engine, add a 2nd stage, add a bigger ET, add more propellents, add a new configuration, change the flight profiles for each configuration, change the payloads, their mass, the fairings, etc... did NOT need to change, modify, certify, simulate, testing, etc. everything, again, again, again and again, for EVERY new version developed and used???

The long, complex and (Ares-5 level) very expensive job to develop, build and test all the version of this "Ares-5-light" called Direct, produce and store all the parts needed for the different configurations, hire (and keep always well trained) the (huge) personnel, that (very complex) architecture needs, the assembly and earth-based support of four, six, nine different rockets and mission and the (very high) annual fixed costs to keep a "family" of rockets, may boost the final "price" of the ESAS hardware up to TWICE as much the (already very expensive) Ares- 1 and Ares-5 duo, now, already predicted by NASA to cost over $35 billion, but, that could likely reach 40, 50, 60 billion$ or more!

Frankly, the Direct "alternative" looks very much like a plan "invented" to push NASA to spend MUCH MORE (than planned today) with the same timeline of the current ESAS plan (or longer) rather than a plan/concept that could really allow NASA to spend LESS money and to accomplish MORE missions and SOONER... :|

Less reliable: compared with the catastrophic Ares-1 (that can't fly) any other rocket would certainly be much more reliable... but, assuming NASA will solve (someday...) all the Ares-1 issues (in the current version, or, more likely, in a smaller and simpler Ares-1, with a standard 4-segments SRB as 1st stage) clearly (both) MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV and the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct could be less reliable than a simpler Ares-1, since, "less parts" (just one SRB and one J-2X the Ares-1 vs. two SRBs and two-three main engines MY Shuttle-derived FAST-SLV and the FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied Direct) always means "more reliability" and that is particularly important in all missions where the high reliability is a critical parameter, like, precisely, those with astronauts.

Of course (and again) MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV (clearly) IS ways better and more reliable than the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct, since, unlike the latter, MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV adopts, quite exactly, the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 249 times successful, standard SRB, the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 125 times successful, ET and the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 375 times successful, SSME of the Space Shuttle!!!

More risks: if a Shuttle was/is enough safe to carry astronauts, clearly, also MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV actually IS safe, at least, like a Shuttle or much more safe, since, unlike the latter, in my FAST-SLV the Orion crew cabin is atop the rocket (rather than side-mounted) and the FAST-SLV stack adopts a LAS, that should (hopefully) save the crew if something goes wrong.

Not sure the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct is so safe like MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV but, surely, a simpler (if working) Ares-1, could be much safer than, both, FAST-SLV and Direct, mainly thanks to the giant difference in the quantity of propellents at lift-off: 400 tons solid and 137 tons liquid the Ares-1 vs. over 1050 tons solid and 730 tons liquid (over five times the Ares-1) my FAST-SLV (exactly like a Space Shuttle) and (probably) also for the basic/smaller version of Direct.

Higher costs: one of the main advantages of MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV vs. both Ares-1/5 and Direct is that MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV adopts the SAME Shuttle hardware (only arranged in a different configuration) with slightly or no changes to allow the maximum possible saving of R&D time and money and hardware costs!

Unfortunately, we can't say the same for both Ares-1/5 and Direct, since they AREN'T (really) "Shuttle-derived", but use new engines, new motors, new tanks, etc. so, if the Ares rocket (developed by NASA with "NASA's costs") could reach over $35 billion in R&D costs, in next years, WHY did the (pretty similar) Direct (always developed by NASA with "NASA's costs") should cost LESS, as claimed by the Direct-guys???

After all, the ONLY Shuttle-derived device used in the Direct concept is the 4-segments SRB, but, unfortunately, NASA has already awarded and paid great part of the contracts to develop the 5-segments SRB and the J-2X, also, the difference between an Ares-5 and a mid-sized Direct is MINIMAL (two-three RS-68 engines less and a 30-50% smaller main tank) with a "lower price" (but, also, much lower performances) that will affect the final hardware "price" of Direct (the saving should be about $100 million per rocket) but NOT the R&D costs of Direct (at "NASA prices" of course).

Probably (but not sure) a single model of Direct could allow NASA to save (about) $10 billion (of the expected Ares rockets R&D costs) but, Direct ISN'T a SINGLE rocket, so, the R&D costs, of the entire "family" of Direct rockets (at "NASA prices") could result in an INCREASE (rather than saving) of 5, 10, 15 billion$ over the (already very high) R&D costs evaluated by NASA to develop the Ares rockets!!!

Orbital refuel: last year, one of the main points where NASA (in its study about Direct released in response to the Direct-lobby) was most critical of the Direct concept, was the needing an "orbital refuel" in some missions profiles based on Direct, but, as clearly explained in my suggestion #09 (absolutely avoid to adopt any kind of orbital refuel) an orbital refuel ISN'T as easy as refuel a car at a gas station, since, this (never tested) technology needs many years (or decades) and several billion$ of R&D costs to born and be ready and enough safe for manned missions!!!

Also the most optimistic evaluation of the time and costs to develop and test in Space an orbital-refuel technology, should be around 2-4 years more (starting from the day a Direct rocket will be ready to fly in Space, to accomplish the refuel's test-missions) and (at least) a couple of billion$ more of R&D costs and tests' hardware (vs. the R&D time and costs of an already fueled rocket) so, any kind of orbital-refuel needed in the Direct flight profiles, already is (by itself, also without any other problem, of those explained above) a GOOD reason to say that Direct is a SERIOUSLY FLAWED concept that should be (absolutely) NOT adopted to avoid a considerable increase of R&D time and costs!

It's an Ares-5: If you do compare, side by side, the Space Shuttle, the Direct concept and the 130 tons payload version of the Ares-5, you can discover that, except the two SRBs, Direct has nearly NOTHING in common with the Space Shuttle (so, it not so much a Shuttle-derived rocket) since it has no Orbiter, it has no SSME, it hasn't the Shuttle's attitude control system, it hasn't the same fueling system, while, Direct, needs several new non-Shuttle things, like 2-4 RS-68 (same engines of the Ares-5) an engines basket (like the Ares-5) a new attitude control system (like the Ares-5) a reinforced, redesigned and enlarged core-stage tank (like the Ares-5) its own avionics and instruments (like the Ares-5) a modified launch pad (like the Ares-5) the interstage (like the Ares-5) a second stage (like the Ares-5) the new J-2X engine for the second stage (like the Ares-5) many payload fairings (more than Ares-5) a different flight profile (pretty similar to an Ares-5) more propellants, for its two stages (like the Ares-5) and, in general, Direct looks much more like an Ares-5 (rather than a Shuttle) has a shape and a stack configuration similar to the Ares-5, it fly like an Ares-5, the stages separation is similar to those of the Ares-5 (rather than a Shuttle) will be assembled like an Ares-5, should have the same kind, time and R&D costs (around $20 billion) of the Ares-5, the Direct hardware should cost only a few million$ less the hardware of an Ares-5, it is even painted like an Ares-5, then...

Look better !!!  Direct is ONLY a slightly RESIZED Ares-5 !!!

In fact, to transform a mid-sized Direct to a "resized" Ares-5, you only need to add a couple of RS-68, two more SRB segments, few meters of extra-tanks and few tons of extra-propellents, to have, what clearly is a "resized", 110 tons payload Ares-5 "light"!

So, WHY should NASA "buy" or adopt/use the Direct concept, if it can have, the SAME rocket, just RESIZING a little ITS OWN, much better and much more efficient Ares-5???

If, someday, NASA absolutely wants a Direct launcher, it JUST needs to join two of ITS OWN standard SRB, a bunch of RS-68, ITS OWN J-2X engine, ITS OWN second stage, a slightly enlarged core-stage tank... and the NASA's OWN Direct is ready to fly!!! ... :)

The only difference between a mid-sized Direct launcher and a resized Ares-5, is that, a resized Ares-5 is MORE (dry mass vs. payload mass) EFFICIENT, so, it can launch a bigger payload, with LESS hardware costs... then, WHY should, NASA, lose its BETTER Ares-5 "light" design, to buy/adopt/use a MUCH WORSE version of the SAME rocket???

And, if, someday, NASA will need/want to launch a manned Orion with ITS OWN Direct (aka Ares-5) it just need to man-rate the Ares-5 standard or "light", to have the SAME (man-rated) rocket the Direct-LOBBY is trying to "sell" to NASA (from 2006) to carry the american astronauts in orbit and towards the Moon!!!

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In other words, from 2006, the Direct-LOBBY is trying to "sell" to NASA a rebranded but WORSE and LESS EFFICIENT version of the Ares-5, already designed by NASA and that it ALREADY OWNS from years... that's EXACTLY like try to "sell" a "rebranded" Statue of Liberty to New York City... or... try to "sell" a "rebranded" Eiffel Tower to France... or... try to "sell" a "rebranded" White House to the US President...!!! :)  

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Don't adopt the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct, since, it's only a bad and less efficient version of the Ares-5 so, it can't help to save time or money vs. the current Ares rockets, but could just add more problems to the program since it absolutely ISN'T a "Simpler", "Safer", "Sooner" (and not even "CHEAPER") design, unlike what the Direct-LOBBY often says, then, it, absolutely can't help NASA to save itself and the Constellation program!!!

 

b/w

As clearly explained about one year ago in my ghostNASA articles (here and here) the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) "Direct" ISN'T a TRUE "rocket concept" but, mainly (or only) a LOBBY made by about 50 (95% still unknown) guys from inside NASA and from (unspecified) aerospace companies + some space hobbyists.

The only thing sure about the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct-LOBBY is that it has lots of money and "friends" everywhere on the web (and outside it) that STRONGLY SUPPORT this FAKE/WRONG "alternate" rocket's concept.

The Direct-LOBBY has a space-news site and forum (DIRECTSpaceflight.LOBBY) born in England in 2005 (when Mike Griffin was nominated as new NASA administrator...) that is nearly entirely devoted to promote and support the Direct's concept/lobby with dozens thread and many enthusiastic news about its "loved" rocket, but, thanks to its money, the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct concept and LOBBY seems have its "hands" in every place where is useful to be to promote its BAD rocket design and to denigrate ALL the people that try to propose something different from Direct or (simply) to write posts against those that talk/post critics about Direct.

If you post your own ideas, about rockets and spacecrafts (or even the smallest critics about Direct) on the space forums and blogs where the Direct lobby has a poor (or no) influence, you will receive a continuous flow of critics (from its "propaganda-crew") that "explains" you why your proposals are wrong, not viable, useless, too expensive, etc. (while, only the Direct concept, is "original", perfect, the best, etc.) and, if you insist in your claims, the critics quickly become insults and personal attacks against you, your experience, your ideas, etc. but, if you post on space forums and blogs, where, the Direct lobby, has a deep influence (or that are simply "servant" to it, hoping to have economical advantages...) many or all your thread and/or posts will be deleted or moved to "obscure" and sparsely visited sections of the forum, the moderators often warn you to don't post them again, while, other, simply delete your account to stop forever your disliked threads/posts/ideas/critics/opinions... :|

The Direct lobby seems have, also, a permanent army of moderators inside Wikipedia since despite this free encyclopedia DOES NOT ALLOW articles about non-existent and unofficial ideas and concepts (like the non-NASA, Word & Photoshop, Direct concept clearly IS...) the article about Direct is there from years and, so far, no one has deleted it, while, if you try to post critics or links to other concept and ideas in the Direct article on Wikipedia (also in the discussion section) your comment and/or link is DELETED within MINUTES, and, the same, always happens if you write comments, or post new ideas, or links to other concepts (also links to articles from sources, the Direct lobby doesn't like) in ALL Space/ESAS/Ares/Orion/VSE/NASA related Wikipedia articles! Very efficient crew!

Thanks to its money and influence, the Direct lobby has a worldwide press coverage on several scientific and non-scientific websites, forums, blogs, newspapers, including some famous and prestigious scientific magazines, but, INCREDIBLY, no one of them (not even the "scientific" magazines) have NEVER accomplished a truly INDEPENDENT evaluation of the Direct concept to VERIFY if it can REALLY WORK, then, they always say that Direct is a good "alternate" design for the Ares rockets although they did NOT know if, their claims, actually ARE true or not!!!

In fact, despite the giant flow of drawings, papers, data, calculations, powerpoint slides, animations, rocket spec sheets, etc. published on the Direct website (and anywhere on the web) the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct concept is SERIOUSLY FLAWED in several basic and advanced points, as explained below in detail.

RS-68 engines: since the Direct concept has born FOUR months LATER my FAST-SLV, when NASA has already decided to adopt the cheap and powerful RS-68 instead of the SSME for the Ares-5, also the Direct guys have based their entire alternate concept on the RS-68, but, while this engine can be used to carry a cargo to LEO, it CAN'T launch a manned capsule, because, it has never been "man-rated" for this purpose, so, every rocket based on the RS-68 needs to be man-rated before use it to launch the Orion, an operation, that, according to an independent study funded by NASA, should need 5.5 to SEVEN year of R&D time and many billion$ if made on an ALREADY EXISTING ROCKET like the Delta IV or the Atlas V.

Unfortunately, unlike the Delta IV and the Atlas V, the Direct rocket, simply... does NOT exist... so, assuming the Direct concept is adopted now, it must be developed and built to actually have "something" real, to test and man-rate... then, adding this time (at least 2-4 years) the total time to have a man-rated Direct launcher could be between a (minimum) of (2 + 5.5) 7.5 years to a (maximum) of (4 + 7) 11 years, with LITTLE or NO advantages, vs. the current Ares-1 development time (around 6-8 years) to fill the 5-8 years manned flights GAP (after the Shuttle retirement in 2010) that, means, the Direct lobby claims, of a "safer", "simpler", "sooner" rocket (vs. a "slower" Ares-1) are (simply) UNTRUE!!!

Propellents flux: the Direct rockets should use (especially in the lunar version) three or four RS-68, but, the sum of the thrust (then, of the "propellents per second" flux) of three-four, much powerful, RS-68 engines ISN'T the same of three SSME of a Shuttle, so, the propellents flux between the ET and the RS-68 engines, should be over TWICE than a (standard) Shuttle ET, that needs to more than DOUBLE the flux of propellents of the ET pipes (but, is it possible? ...and safe?) or up to DOUBLE the ET pipes, then modify, re-certify, man-rate and test a new ET, that's NOT easy, fast, cheap to do.

Propellents burned: the Direct launcher uses three-four RS-68 that give up to TWICE the thrust of three SSME, but, to give that thrust, from lift-off to orbit, it needs, also, TWICE the propellents mass of a standard ET, because, without more propellents mass, the Direct engines just burn HALF the time of the Shuttle SSME, then, reach only HALF the altitude of a Shuttle with the same amount of propellents, so, only about HALF than enough for the orbital insertion.

To reach an high and stable orbit, a Direct rocket with three RS-68 needs at least 50% more propellents mass than a standard ET, but, to save R&D time & money, the Direct rockets use the SAME Shuttle's ET... so, where is the extra propellents to allow it to reach the orbit???

Only a Direct with two RS-68 should use the same amount of propellents of three SSME, but, due to an higher dry mass and a lower Isp of an RS-68 vs. an SSME, this kind of Direct should carry much less payload to LEO than my (SSME-based) FAST-SLV.

Too fragile ET: while writing the FAST-SLV article, I was not sure that, a standard ET, could be able to support, without being damaged, the weight and thrust of 3 SSME, that's why, in my article, I suggest to reinforce the ET, to avoid a structural failure.

IF a standard ET will support the weight and thrust of three SSME, it can support, also, the two RS-68 of an orbital Direct rocket, but, it's not sure, that, the same ET, could support (up to TWICE as much higher weight and thrust) three-four RS-68 of a lunar version of Direct without destroy in thousand pieces the fragile (or not strong enough to withstand MORE THAN TWICE THE FORCES for which it was designed) standard ET, without a very strong reinforcement of its structure (with a relevant increase of its dry mass and consequent remarkable reduction of its maximum payload to LEO) or (more likely) a TOTAL REDESIGN of the ET for the lunar Direct, that, of course, needs very much time and money!

Not a Shuttle ET: all drawings and animations of the Direct launcher clearly suggest, that, all Direct versions, should use only the standard ET (in order to save very much R&D time and money and rockets hardware costs) but, as explained in the three points above, no one of the Direct rockets can really use the ET, without DEEP CHANGES to the ET design, dimension, structure, weight, mass, propellents pipes, etc. (and very high R&D time and costs!) so, the claims of a "full Shuttle ET legacy" of the Direct launcher clearly IS completely UNTRUE!!!

Needs the J-2X: before the new 5-segments SRB (and the whole Ares-1) accumulated so many delays to be very difficult to launch a manned Orion before 2016-2018, the main cause of the very long development time of the Ares-1 (and, also, of the Ares-5) was (and still is) the J-2X engine for the Ares-1 second stage, which will born already man-rated, then, ready to use on rockets with astronauts, but "should" be available (subject to further delays) no earlier than 2014-2015.

Well, since the heavy and lunar Direct need a second stage and a man-rated engine for it (that should likely be the J-2X) the Direct rocket can't give any advantage (or not so much) vs. the Ares-1 and Ares-5, if the goal is to come back to the Moon sooner.

Too much dry mass: two RS-68 have about the same total thrust of three SSME, but their weight is 3700 kg. higher, also, they need a strong structure to join together the engines and the ET, the latter should be bigger than a Shuttle ET, to contain the extra propellents an RS-68 driven rocket needs, etc., with the result of a very much higher dry mass, compared with my FAST-SLV concept and pretty close to the Ares-5, so, a Direct rocket, will have nearly the same dry mass of an Ares-5, without actually have the same advantages and a comparable payload!

Clearly, a rocket that has MORE dry mass, than a true Shuttle-derived rocket, like IS my FAST-SLV concept, and pretty close to a bigger Ares-5, is MUCH LESS EFFICIENT of both, since, Direct has a much lower and unfavorable, dry mass vs. payload mass ratio, with the consequence of a much higher cost per ton of payloads carried to LEO.

Not Shuttle-derived: the key argument the Direct lobby often uses to "sell" its bad rockets to NASA, is that it "should cost less" since it's more "Shuttle derived" (than Ares-1 and Ares-5) but, if you see the drawings of the Direct (or just read this article...) you'll discover that, nearly everything (of all Direct versions) need or use a new and/or different hardware than a Space Shuttle!!!

Different engines (the RS-68) and a newly designed engines' basket, a new second stage with a new engine, a new fairing and (despite the Direct lobby drawings and animations) also a different ET, since (as explained above) the standard ET, can't match NONE of the Direct specs and design, while, the ONLY true "Shuttle derived" part of the Direct concept, is the small and cheap standard SRB motor... in other words, the Direct lobby is trying to "sell" to NASA a "Shuttle derived" rocket, that... hasn't nearly NOTHING of a Space Shuttle!!!

Not ONE rocket: the main goal of my true Shuttle-derived FAST-SLV (published over three years ago on my website and proposed, anywhere on the web, in the same days and in last years) was (and still is) to SAVE very much R&D time and money (and very much hardware) using the SAME Shuttle hardware (arranged in a different way) to build a SINGLE heavy lift rocket (instead of the two, different and very expensive Ares-1 and Ares-5) to accomplish many single-launch lunar missions, with 3 astronauts and resized Orion, Altair and EDS, or less (but very much richer) lunar missions, using two FAST-SLV and much bigger vehicles.

Apparently also the goal of the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct launcher was to, develop, build and use, just ONE cheaper rocket (instead of two expensive Ares-1 and Ares-5) to accomplish all (and much more) lunar missions, but, if you see the Direct documents, you'll discover, that, Direct ISN'T a SINGLE (and cheap) rocket, but a very large "family" of rockets with two, three, four RS-68, with/without a second stage and several different configurations of the rocket for different payloads and missions!

In other words, Direct ISN'T just ONE rocket, but (they) "ARE" four, five, seven, ten or more (deeply or slightly different) rocket[S] so (unlike my FAST-SLV "rocket-kit") the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct launcher clearly MISSES and FAILS what should have been its main goal (and the true and unique reason of its existence!) that was: have a SINGLE (easier and cheaper!) rocket to replace the TWO (very complex and expensive!) Ares-1 and Ares-5!!!

Do you, Direct-guys, really believe that, add a 3rd or a 4th engine, add a 2nd stage, add a bigger ET, add more propellents, add a new configuration, change the flight profiles for each configuration, change the payloads, their mass, the fairings, etc... did NOT need to change, modify, certify, simulate, testing, etc. everything, again, again, again and again, for EVERY new version developed and used???

The long, complex and (Ares-5 level) very expensive job to develop, build and test all the version of this "Ares-5-light" called Direct, produce and store all the parts needed for the different configurations, hire (and keep always well trained) the (huge) personnel, that (very complex) architecture needs, the assembly and earth-based support of four, six, nine different rockets and mission and the (very high) annual fixed costs to keep a "family" of rockets, may boost the final "price" of the ESAS hardware up to TWICE as much the (already very expensive) Ares- 1 and Ares-5 duo, now, already predicted by NASA to cost over $35 billion, but, that could likely reach 40, 50, 60 billion$ or more!

Frankly, the Direct "alternative" looks very much like a plan "invented" to push NASA to spend MUCH MORE (than planned today) with the same timeline of the current ESAS plan (or longer) rather than a plan/concept that could really allow NASA to spend LESS money and to accomplish MORE missions and SOONER... :|

Less reliable: compared with the catastrophic Ares-1 (that can't fly) any other rocket would certainly be much more reliable... but, assuming NASA will solve (someday...) all the Ares-1 issues (in the current version, or, more likely, in a smaller and simpler Ares-1, with a standard 4-segments SRB as 1st stage) clearly (both) MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV and the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct could be less reliable than a simpler Ares-1, since, "less parts" (just one SRB and one J-2X the Ares-1 vs. two SRBs and two-three main engines MY Shuttle-derived FAST-SLV and the FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied Direct) always means "more reliability" and that is particularly important in all missions where the high reliability is a critical parameter, like, precisely, those with astronauts.

Of course (and again) MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV (clearly) IS ways better and more reliable than the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct, since, unlike the latter, MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV adopts, quite exactly, the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 249 times successful, standard SRB, the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 125 times successful, ET and the SAME reliable, safe, man-rated and 375 times successful, SSME of the Space Shuttle!!!

More risks: if a Shuttle was/is enough safe to carry astronauts, clearly, also MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV actually IS safe, at least, like a Shuttle or much more safe, since, unlike the latter, in my FAST-SLV the Orion crew cabin is atop the rocket (rather than side-mounted) and the FAST-SLV stack adopts a LAS, that should (hopefully) save the crew if something goes wrong.

Not sure the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct is so safe like MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV but, surely, a simpler (if working) Ares-1, could be much safer than, both, FAST-SLV and Direct, mainly thanks to the giant difference in the quantity of propellents at lift-off: 400 tons solid and 137 tons liquid the Ares-1 vs. over 1050 tons solid and 730 tons liquid (over five times the Ares-1) my FAST-SLV (exactly like a Space Shuttle) and (probably) also for the basic/smaller version of Direct.

Higher costs: one of the main advantages of MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV vs. both Ares-1/5 and Direct is that MY (true Shuttle-derived) FAST-SLV adopts the SAME Shuttle hardware (only arranged in a different configuration) with slightly or no changes to allow the maximum possible saving of R&D time and money and hardware costs!

Unfortunately, we can't say the same for both Ares-1/5 and Direct, since they AREN'T (really) "Shuttle-derived", but use new engines, new motors, new tanks, etc. so, if the Ares rocket (developed by NASA with "NASA's costs") could reach over $35 billion in R&D costs, in next years, WHY did the (pretty similar) Direct (always developed by NASA with "NASA's costs") should cost LESS, as claimed by the Direct-guys???

After all, the ONLY Shuttle-derived device used in the Direct concept is the 4-segments SRB, but, unfortunately, NASA has already awarded and paid great part of the contracts to develop the 5-segments SRB and the J-2X, also, the difference between an Ares-5 and a mid-sized Direct is MINIMAL (two-three RS-68 engines less and a 30-50% smaller main tank) with a "lower price" (but, also, much lower performances) that will affect the final hardware "price" of Direct (the saving should be about $100 million per rocket) but NOT the R&D costs of Direct (at "NASA prices" of course).

Probably (but not sure) a single model of Direct could allow NASA to save (about) $10 billion (of the expected Ares rockets R&D costs) but, Direct ISN'T a SINGLE rocket, so, the R&D costs, of the entire "family" of Direct rockets (at "NASA prices") could result in an INCREASE (rather than saving) of 5, 10, 15 billion$ over the (already very high) R&D costs evaluated by NASA to develop the Ares rockets!!!

Orbital refuel: last year, one of the main points where NASA (in its study about Direct released in response to the Direct-lobby) was most critical of the Direct concept, was the needing an "orbital refuel" in some missions profiles based on Direct, but, as clearly explained in my suggestion #09 (absolutely avoid to adopt any kind of orbital refuel) an orbital refuel ISN'T as easy as refuel a car at a gas station, since, this (never tested) technology needs many years (or decades) and several billion$ of R&D costs to born and be ready and enough safe for manned missions!!!

Also the most optimistic evaluation of the time and costs to develop and test in Space an orbital-refuel technology, should be around 2-4 years more (starting from the day a Direct rocket will be ready to fly in Space, to accomplish the refuel's test-missions) and (at least) a couple of billion$ more of R&D costs and tests' hardware (vs. the R&D time and costs of an already fueled rocket) so, any kind of orbital-refuel needed in the Direct flight profiles, already is (by itself, also without any other problem, of those explained above) a GOOD reason to say that Direct is a SERIOUSLY FLAWED concept that should be (absolutely) NOT adopted to avoid a considerable increase of R&D time and costs!

It's an Ares-5: If you do compare, side by side, the Space Shuttle, the Direct concept and the 130 tons payload version of the Ares-5, you can discover that, except the two SRBs, Direct has nearly NOTHING in common with the Space Shuttle (so, it not so much a Shuttle-derived rocket) since it has no Orbiter, it has no SSME, it hasn't the Shuttle's attitude control system, it hasn't the same fueling system, while, Direct, needs several new non-Shuttle things, like 2-4 RS-68 (same engines of the Ares-5) an engines basket (like the Ares-5) a new attitude control system (like the Ares-5) a reinforced, redesigned and enlarged core-stage tank (like the Ares-5) its own avionics and instruments (like the Ares-5) a modified launch pad (like the Ares-5) the interstage (like the Ares-5) a second stage (like the Ares-5) the new J-2X engine for the second stage (like the Ares-5) many payload fairings (more than Ares-5) a different flight profile (pretty similar to an Ares-5) more propellants, for its two stages (like the Ares-5) and, in general, Direct looks much more like an Ares-5 (rather than a Shuttle) has a shape and a stack configuration similar to the Ares-5, it fly like an Ares-5, the stages separation is similar to those of the Ares-5 (rather than a Shuttle) will be assembled like an Ares-5, should have the same kind, time and R&D costs (around $20 billion) of the Ares-5, the Direct hardware should cost only a few million$ less the hardware of an Ares-5, it is even painted like an Ares-5, then...

Look better !!!  Direct is ONLY a slightly RESIZED Ares-5 !!!

In fact, to transform a mid-sized Direct to a "resized" Ares-5, you only need to add a couple of RS-68, two more SRB segments, few meters of extra-tanks and few tons of extra-propellents, to have, what clearly is a "resized", 110 tons payload Ares-5 "light"!

So, WHY should NASA "buy" or adopt/use the Direct concept, if it can have, the SAME rocket, just RESIZING a little ITS OWN, much better and much more efficient Ares-5???

If, someday, NASA absolutely wants a Direct launcher, it JUST needs to join two of ITS OWN standard SRB, a bunch of RS-68, ITS OWN J-2X engine, ITS OWN second stage, a slightly enlarged core-stage tank... and the NASA's OWN Direct is ready to fly!!! ... :)

The only difference between a mid-sized Direct launcher and a resized Ares-5, is that, a resized Ares-5 is MORE (dry mass vs. payload mass) EFFICIENT, so, it can launch a bigger payload, with LESS hardware costs... then, WHY should, NASA, lose its BETTER Ares-5 "light" design, to buy/adopt/use a MUCH WORSE version of the SAME rocket???

And, if, someday, NASA will need/want to launch a manned Orion with ITS OWN Direct (aka Ares-5) it just need to man-rate the Ares-5 standard or "light", to have the SAME (man-rated) rocket the Direct-LOBBY is trying to "sell" to NASA (from 2006) to carry the american astronauts in orbit and towards the Moon!!!

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In other words, from 2006, the Direct-LOBBY is trying to "sell" to NASA a rebranded but WORSE and LESS EFFICIENT version of the Ares-5, already designed by NASA and that it ALREADY OWNS from years... that's EXACTLY like try to "sell" a "rebranded" Statue of Liberty to New York City... or... try to "sell" a "rebranded" Eiffel Tower to France... or... try to "sell" a "rebranded" White House to the US President...!!! :)  

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Don't adopt the (FAST-SLV-like but FOUR months LATER and BAD copied) Direct, since, it's only a bad and less efficient version of the Ares-5 so, it can't help to save time or money vs. the current Ares rockets, but could just add more problems to the program since it absolutely ISN'T a "Simpler", "Safer", "Sooner" (and not even "CHEAPER") design, unlike what the Direct-LOBBY often says, then, it, absolutely can't help NASA to save itself and the Constellation program!!!

 


                                     


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