Draft

2013 Strategic Plan Summary

Space Transportation for the 21st Century

Developed by Concerned American Aerospace Engineers

Coordinated by Nelson Aerospace Consulting

 

 

Executive Summary

 

Sustainable and affordable space transportation for the 21st century must be based on commercially operated reusable launch and space based vehicles. These vehicles will be designed to support near earth requirements, provide the capability for deep space exploration, and support Earth’s need to obtain deep space resources. This requires a space transportation system that has the capability to return commercial quantities of near-earth and deep space resources to the Earth’s surface…a commercial space shuttle freighter. The Commercial Space Shuttle (CSS) freighter will reduce shuttle operational launch cost to $205 million and have the capability to deploy and return payloads of 10 metric tons. The shuttle will be autonomously operated and use the orbiter airframe, external tank, and SRM boosters. Passengers will be flown only on missions requiring their transfer to space based vehicles and they will be provided escape pods. Launch pad assembly of the shuttle will reduce operations cost and turnaround time. Rapid turn-around is a unique CSS feature which permits support of the USAF requirement and provide; the capability for timely intercepts of asteroids/comets that may impact earth.

China is believed to be developing a space shuttle.

 

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The following chart shows the launch cost breakdown of the NASA space shuttle and the expected cost reductions for the CSS.

 

The CSS will use existing technology to achieve the $205 million launch cost. Advanced design changes can reduce the launch cost to $160 million.

 

 

Flight Operations (Flight OPS)

Orbiter Configuration: The airframe will not be significantly altered. This is required to avoid the costs of certifying new aerodynamic characteristics.  The use of spoilers and canards may be advisable to reduce loads and increase stability.

Integrated Vehicle Control and Health Management System: Computer technology has advanced to the state that an onboard management computer system can verify the status and control all vehicle systems. Fiber optic and data buses will replace wiring. It has been proved to be extremely effective on modern aircraft and the ground and flight software developed for the X-33 could be a baseline for reducing the cost and development time.

On-Orbit Power: Nominal mission duration is limited to 7 days which allows the CSS on-orbit power supply to be provided by batteries and solar arrays. Hazardous hydraulic systems are replaced by electric actuators.

Orbiter Propulsion: All Hydrazine is removed from the orbiter. The attitude control propellant is replaced with a “green” propellant such as AF-M315E. The orbital maneuvering system for major altitude changes is a hybrid engine with liquid oxidizers and a solid fuel such as hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HPPB). These fuels decrease processing time and increase safety.

Modular Flight Subsystems: Subsystems must be a modular concept, designed for unconstrained replacement. The spare parts operation must be based on modular replacement of the subsystem. Modular replacement is required to reduce the time for replacing flight failed subsystems from days to hours. Modular replacement designs must consider launch pad and on-orbit replacement of failed equipment.

Thermal Protective System: The TPS is a critical path in the development of the CSS. The NASA space shuttle TPS is not acceptable. The CSS TPS must be able to withstand impacts and/or be repairable on-orbit. The vehicle health monitoring system will monitor the TPS for any breach. The system must be able to withstand any debris strikes from the ice on the external tank (see external tank). Use of metallic tile, mechanical fasteners, carrier panels, carbon-carbon, rigid ceramic and other current technology will be considered.

Pre-Mission Planning: Flight planning design computer programs have been developed that incorporate common databases, total vehicle environment modeling, and internal iteration processes. These flight design computer programs (incorporating sequential quadratic programming) have reduced the flight design from months to a few days and significantly reduced manpower requirements.

 

Launch Operations (OPS)

The CSS will consolidate ground and flight operations at the launch site. This is required to reduce the NASA "marching armies" of support personnel. The support personnel launch team members will be responsible for both preflight and flight operations.

Vehicle Health Management System: Incorporation of an integrated health management system would result in a momentous improvement in ground operations costs by significant reductions in ground equipment, personnel, and vehicle turn-around time. This is not new technology.

Launch Vehicle Assembly:  Launch pad assembly of the CSS will reduce operations cost and turnaround time. The assembly complex will be on rails and be moved away from the launch platform prior to launch. The orbiter will be prepared for launch in a hangar facility and towed to the launch site for assembly.

Encapsulated Payloads: Payloads will be "encapsulated" cargo; that meets the power supply and storing configuration requirements. The CSS will not serve as an on-orbit payload service platform. The CSS is a "ship and shoot" and retrieval cargo operations. Nominal mission operation will not exceed 7 days.

 

Solid Rocket Motors (SRM)

Solid Rocket Motors: Past studies indicate that the thrust vectoring control system may not be required and that the SSME could provide attitude and roll control. Recovery of the SRM casing is not cost effective and will be discontinued. These two changes will significantly reduce the cost of the SRM. The four segment SRM will be sufficient for the initial CSS operations.

Expendable liquid rocket booster cannot be justified at this time because of the operational recovery costs. SRM could be made obsolete by hybrid booster technology. Hybrid boosters will enhance abort modes; have fewer critical failure modes, lessen environmental impact, and have 15% greater performance than solid motors.  Industry studies indicate recurring cost to be 40% less than the current solids.

 

NASA Civil Service

No NASA support will be required for the operations of the CSS or the operations of the following commercial space based vehicles. NASA’s role in space transportation will be to develop advanced concepts for the CSS and to develop and/or assist in developing space based vehicles. NASA will not at any time be an operator of the ST21 vehicles. NASA, however will/or can be in charge of space probes delivered by the ST21.

 

External Tank (EXT TK)

External Tank: The lightweight external tank will be reevaluated to explore ways to reduce the manufacturing costs. Manufacturing cost, not payload to orbit will be determining factor in the design of the CSS external tank. The orbiter thermal protective system must be resistant and/or on orbit repairable which permits the removal of the foam insulation. Reversing the hydrogen and oxygen tanks should be revisited.

It is possible that the CSS will demand higher flight rates, permitting more than one external tank manufacturing supplier. Availability of the external tank jigs is unknown, however other manufacturers will encourage competition and that has always been the best way to reduce cost. Tank manufacturing should be within trucking distance of the launch site. The external tank can also be a storage container for near earth and deep space requirements. The external tank costs could be reduced to less than $10 million per tank.

 

Government Furnished Equipment (GFE): No GFE is required except that required for range safety.

 

Logistics (LOG)

Logistics cost includes network, facilities overhead, and administration costs are averaged for 12 annual flights.

 

Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME)

The existing engine will be used for the initial CSS. For future use the engine could adopt extensive use of integrated health monitoring and single cast construction of large components. High pressure pumps could be incorporated that can be flown 50 times before overhaul. Rocketdyne has projected that an advanced engine can be turned around in 58 hours as compared to the current time of 160 hours.

 

Miscellaneous (MISC)

Miscellaneous includes the cost of propellants and vendor supplies.

 

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Supporting Information

 

 

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This NASA chart shows that flight rate is key to lowering launch cost. It also indicates that the NASA shuttle mission’s cost can be lower to $400 million for the NASA shuttle and to lower cost it is mandatory to recover the engines and avionics for expendable launchers.

 

Commercial Launch Market for CSS

The predicted average commercial medium to heavy launches for the next 10 years is 11 per year. The CSS has the potential to capture a majority of these launches by offering the unique capability of satellite on-orbit checkout before release and returning faulty satellites for repair. Once the space tug is operational satellites can be serviced on-orbit or retrieved. The CSS can offer tourist flights to reduce cost of cargo delivery. 

 

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It is recognized that economic conditions will dictate the launch market, however significantly lowering the launch cost will attract other unidentified users (see space based proof of concept vehicles below).

 

CSS Missions Outlines

 

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NASA Shuttle Privatization Report

In response to the 107th Congress’s request to investigate privatizing the space shuttle program (SSP), NASA issued the following:

“CONCEPT OF PRIVATIZATION OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE PROGRAM”

Ronald D. Dittemore September 28, 2001

Manager, Space Shuttle Program

Summary

It is believed that utilization of the Space Shuttle for human access to space will continue through at least 2015 and possibly beyond 2020. The longevity and operational aspects of this program demand a different approach to operational management for the future. A different management strategy needs to be employed.

Privatization of the SSP has the potential to provide significant benefits to the Government. However, timing is critical. The continuing erosion of NASA skills and experience threatens the safety of the program. It is critical to take advantage of the existing NASA SSP expertise before further erosion affects the ability to plan and safely implement privatization. Today, the skill and knowledge legacy still remain to formulate the appropriate merger of the NASA SSP and private industry.

 

NASA REJECTED THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS AND SENT OUR FUTURE IN SPACE TO MUSEUMS!

 

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The Space Transportation Plan for the 21st Century

Commercial Space Shuttle and Space Based Fleet
“To get somewhere... we have to know where we’re going!”

The UNITED STATES MUST HAVE A FEASIBLE AND REALISTIC LONG RANGE SPACE TRANSPORTATION PLAN. WITHOUT “THIS” PLAN THE NATION’S SPACE PROGRAMS WILL CONTINUE TO STAGNATE!

·         REDUCE THE COST OF LAUNCH OPERATIONS BY DEVELOPING A COMMERCIAL SPACE SHUTTLE FLEET (See: Commercial Space Shuttle Revival and Privatization).

·         REDUCE COST OF NEAR EARTH/DEEP SPACE TRANSPORTATION BY DEVELOPING A SPACE BASED TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM(S) DESIGNED TO SUPPORT ROBOTIC, HUMAN, MILITARY, AND COMMERCIAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS AND TO BE OPERATED BY THE PRIVATE SECTOR (See: Space Based Transportation Plan).

·         RESTRUCTURE NASA AS AN AGENCY FOR TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT AND SCIENCE EXPORATION.

It is mandatory that this nation’s 21st century space transportation system reduce launch operations costs. The two keys factors for reducing launch cost operations are the removal of NASA (government operations) from the control of space flight operations and introducing reusable vehicles for launch, near earth, and deep space transportation. This space transportation plan is an evolutionary process for establishing reusable launch and space based vehicles. In the near term existing expendable space transportation vehicles would supplement space transportation requirements. This is the only viable concept that can provide a feasible and realistic launch system in the foreseeable future. Its development is a mandatory requirement to provide a safe human transportation system. Key to this plan is the long range roadmap that provides direction to the Air Force, NASA, and the aerospace community. The development schedule will accelerate or decrease as the needs for exploration requirements dictate. The CSS provides a stair step approach outlining the strategic plan for four decades. The funding available may cause the schedule to vary, but the direction is clear.

 

Commercial Space Shuttle Passenger Escape Pod

The CSS will transport passengers to and from space in pods. The passengers have no duties on the CSS. Escape pod weigh is 700 pounds per pod. The pods provide protection for all phases of flight. At launch pad abort and lower altitudes escapes, a ballute deploys to slow the pod for parachute deploy. The pod’s life support system provides on-orbit safe haven in the event the cabin pressure is breached. Target lifetime for life support is 20 days to allow for on-orbit rescue. Pods are located behind the nose cone heat shield wake to reduce excessive thermal loads in the event of a Columbia type entry failure. The pod is also equipped with a heat shield system. The pod must be a “smart pod” ... it must have knowledge of the environment.

 

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Space Based  Space Tug to Space Cruiser

The first step to a “Star Trek Enterprise” space cruiser is the unmanned space based tug. NASA’s future is in the development of these space based vehicles to be operated by the commercial sector…not in obsolete heavy lift launch vehicles.

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The space transportation system for the 21st century must be developed as an evolutionary process using "space based" vehicles. The initial space based vehicles would be small unmanned vehicles supporting robotic missions. The development schedule for large crewed spaced based vehicles will accelerate or decrease as the funding and needs for space exploration requirements dictate.

Space tugs must be a top priority for the space transportation system. They are a key factor for reducing mission cost and increasing mission success. Tugs can be supplied by the shuttle and expendable launch vehicles. Tugs can support near earth, lunar, and deep space missions.

Russian Space Based Tug

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This proposed Russian vehicle called the Parom is a space based inter-orbit “tug”. The Parom will rendezvous with the launch vehicle, capture the new payload and/or transfer the old payload. Then transfer the new payload to the next phase of its mission.       Future space based tugs can conduct the following missions at significantly reduce operation cost and reduced chance of mission failure.

Space Based Transportation Plan

1.) Must be capable of carrying a payload to a geosynchronous transfer orbit or of placing a payload directly into geosynchronous orbit. It would place and retrieve payloads in geosynchronous orbits, transfer materials to and from space station and space platforms, retrieve reusable space hardware, and deorbit expended space debris.
2.) Have the capability to store propellants on-orbit for a duration that provides adequate mission performance margins. This duration will be defined by the launch frequency capability of the CSS or supporting expendable launch vehicles.                                            3.) Be designed for on-orbit payload transfers, consumables replenishment, and maintenance.
4.) Be designed with the goal of being a baseline configuration for a space based lunar transfer vehicle.
5.) Serve as an orbiting test bed facility for next generation deep space propulsion systems.

Justifications:
1.) Space based vehicles are the logical and mandatory requirement in the establishment of a baseline concept for a cost efficient advanced space transportation systems. A space based vehicle concept would initiate the ground work for a permanent deep space transportation system. Lifetime of these vehicles would be expected to be 10 to 20 years and therefore would significantly reduce the cost of deep space transportation.
2.) Development of space based vehicles provides an exciting and meaningful endeavor for NASA and its contractors.
3.) Space based vehicles will reduce the orbital debris problem.
4.) The inert weight of the expendable upper stage would not have to be orbited.
5.) Provides a test platform for testing and recovering hazardous advance concept space engines (nuclear, toxic, etc.).
6.) Of particular interest is the capability to provide affordable access to unmanned space commercial laboratories and space manufacturing facilities.

Comments:
1.) It is not realistic to believe that the space based upper stage program can be developed without government support. However, the government (NASA and the DOD) must not be the operator of the flight system for commercial applications.
2.) The Defense Advanced Research Projects agency (DARPA) is already considering a space based autonomous space transporter and robotics orbiter (ASTRO) to transfer propellant from orbiting fuel dumps to spy satellites
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China’s Space Shuttle

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) can be expected to introduce a reusable space shuttle transportation system by 2020. The program is designed Project 921-3 and is convincing evidence that CNSA understands that at 21st century space program must be based on reusable space vehicles with capability to launch and return passengers (crew) and cargo from spaced based facilities. With a space shuttle and spaced based infrastructure China will become the dominate space faring nation.

 

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In October 2006 the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) revealed that China is developing a winged space shuttle for use in the 2020 time frame.[9] Concept images indicate the planned space plane may be about 2/3 the size of the U.S. and Russian space shuttles. But instead of a using a large fuel tank that powered launch engines in the space plane, it uses a separate three-part liquid fuel booster.

Four Are Charged In Espionage Cases Tied to China (By Evan Perez)

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department unveiled charges against a U.S. military analyst and a former Boeing Co. engineer in separate cases that officials said underscore intense economic and military espionage efforts by China in the U.S.

The unrelated cases, filed in Los Angeles and Alexandria, Va., center on allegations that sensitive information about the Space Shuttle and Delta IV rocket programs, as well as U.S. military sales to Taiwan, were exposed to Chinese spies.

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle

USAF X-37B

The third mission of the X-37B is schedule for October 2012. The success of this “automated” space vehicle will force the Chinese to develop an automated space shuttle.

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Coordinator’s Biography

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Don A. Nelson is an aerospace consultant and writer. Mr. Nelson has consulted with congressional and government offices on NASA issues since his retirement from NASA in January 1999 after 36 years with the agency. He has made numerous media appearances on national and foreign television. He participated in the Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle Projects as a mission planner and operations technologist. Mr. Nelson was a supporting team member for the first rendezvous in space, first manned mission to the moon, first manned lunar landing, and the first flight of the Space Shuttle. During his last 11 years at NASA, he served as a mission operations evaluator for proposed advanced space transportation projects. He was a member of the design team for the space shuttle. His NASA experiences give him a unique knowledge of NASA’s problems and for seeking feasible and realistic solutions. Mr. Nelson is a graduate of Southern Methodist School of Engineering. He is a certified private pilot and holds a Phase VI Pilot Proficiency Wings award from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Mr. Nelson is the author of:
NASA New Millennium Problems and Solutions

 

Contact at:  caae@wt.net

 

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