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Commercial space and the use of Liquid propellant SLS CBC development seed money

March 25, 2017

Commercial space and the use of Liquid propellant SLS CBC development seed money

The folks at the center for strategic and international studies have put out a study on the industrial base and contracting strategies for a post RD-180 world.Mention is made of the synergies of mass production of the Blue Origins engines for use with the Vulcan and ULA launch vehicles.The report makes no mention of the SpaceX ITS and its engines despite the reports mention of the New Glenn vehicle.In the case of ITS you need a scaled down version to serve as a SLS CBC.

I believe there is a use for SLS development funding put to use to move up work on the proposed future SLS CBC competition.This funding now has been delegated to the SLS EUS stage instead. J.Goff Et al has proposed that this EUS could have been a very large ACES stage a sentiment I share.This is a lost opportunity I believe.

In the case of the SLS CBC, there would be synergies of scale in Vulcan or STS derived CBC’s that could not only capitalize “commercial space” but use that SLS capital to venture forth on private journeys to the inner solar system.I am fond of both STS and a Vulcan CBC does to the possibility of cross feeding LCH4 into the LH2 propellant tank in the core stage.However, a Falcon XX with its dense RP-1 could do the job better.This would increase the production of the engines to yet another contractor.

What I am about to propose would cost money and that would be to have a flyoff SLS CBC competition!  At least two contractors would fly their CBC on at least 1 flight of the SLS, The contract would specify that the government is looking to increase the industrial base of engines and vehicles with an EELV or commercial goal in mind and/or the engines or vehicles are meeting an exploration goal.This means reviving the F1 or proposing a one-off solution with a product that has no other use would score poorly.The Government, of course, means the DOD as well so the Air Force EELV contracting office should have a seat at the table

Funding for R & D could go like this; NASA 80% AF 5% contractor 15% in exchange for so many future orders

The Vulcan derived SLS CBC would be a larger launch vehicle so this could be a joint ULA/Blue venture.The SpaceX ITS already in the works could be the competitor.In this case, the competition could allow the reverse funding order

ULA/Blue 75%

SpaceX 75%

NASA 20% AF 5%

Two CBC contractors would fly for a decade or two with the SLS core stage

The social contract is SLS subsidizes the private journey to mars with the government’s vehicles.perhaps this should be called the RLS or Rappolee Lunch system 🙂 After all, I have done a much better job of handing out jobs to every congressional district out there and my thoughts are that using SpaceX engines and Blue Origin engines that are in use on their other vehicles stand the most chance of bringing those costs down.ULA has pie charts with engine costs as a percentage of the stage costs to manufacture.

I have blogged in the past about SSME/RS-25 as an EELV reusable engine but those folks are very stubborn when it comes to the very idea of Public/Private partnerships and I fear that it may not be possible to plan on anything from them except an RS-25E CBC, this, however, would be a suboptimum Delta IV on steroids at sea level.SLS needs LCH4 CBC’s.

“Beyond the RD-180.” n.d. Web. 25 Mar. 2017. <;

Post RD-180 study

Notes for a future blog entry, A Vulcan 56/ACES can loft more than a Delta IV first stage at 28 Mt that has been converted into a space station. According to space launch report, a Delta IV first stage at burn out is 27 Mt and the Vulcan 551 can loft 17.3 Mt to LEO.Why the entire first stage? the intertank area is more real estate for docking mechanisms and the structures around the tanks can serve as micrometeorite protection.Space launch report tells us the Delta IV LH2 tank is made of 5 segments so let’s say that’s 5.4 Mt per segment? Atlas V could loft a shorter Delta LH2 tank with fewer segments with an adapter.

Real estate is docking mechanisms, geometry, and volumes.I see a future propellant tank derived space stations with docking ports at the aft and forward ends and the intertank regions, we sell these to (Bigelow?) & the ISS.Geometry is the asset to sell of distance/length from ISS obstructions to follow on docking partners.The Delta IV first stage is 36.6 meters so this places intertank and aft docking ports some distance away from ISS solar arrays.LH2 propellant tanks have large volumes that would complement greatly the customers.

Kyle, Ed. “Delta IV Data Sheet.” 18 Mar. 2017. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.


Kyle, Ed. “Vulcan Data Sheet.” 15 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2017.


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