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Thread: Saturn 5 VS SLS

  1. #1 Saturn 5 VS SLS 
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    The Saturn V rocket, for example, launched an entire space station, Skylab, in one launch. The Saturn V could launch about 130 tons into Earth orbit. That's about as much weight as 10 school buses.


    Initially, the SLS rocket, which uses leftover space shuttle main engines and shuttle-derived solid rocket boosters, will be able to put about 77 tons (70 metric tons) into an orbit about 100 miles (160 km) above Earth. Later versions are expected to carry nearly twice that load.


    So these two heavy lift rockets are doing basically the same thing except the older Saturn 5 could lift twice as much as the newer SLS. The problem I have is why didn't they just use the Saturn 5 rocket and save BILLIONS of dollars?


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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    The problem I have is why didn't they just use the Saturn 5 rocket and save BILLIONS of dollars?
    Cost, mainly. Saturn 5 cost $50 billion to develop and cost $1.2 billion per launch (in 2012 dollars, just for the launcher.) And of course would need billions of dollars to return to flight status, since a great many components are no longer available. SLS will cost about $500 mil per launch and development costs will be about $18 billion, again just for the launcher.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    But the Saturn 5 was already a proven reliable heavy lift rocket. All they needed to do was dust off the blueprints and make a newer updated design which would have saved billions in new R&D and put in newer engines that would have cost less to make and use.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    But the Saturn 5 was already a proven reliable heavy lift rocket. All they needed to do was dust off the blueprints. . . . .
    They would need to do far more than "dust off the blueprints." 90% of the electronics are not available, period. (And would you really want core-memory-and-relay controllers anyway?) And the drawings and tooling for the engines would have to be recreated.

    It certainly wouldn't take $50 billion to redevelop, but it would take billions. So you have to decide - keep the S-V with all its legacy inefficiencies, making only the changes you have to to deal with obsolete components? Make moderate changes to improve efficiencies (lighter weight components, new engines) for additional cost? Or start with a blank sheet of paper? All three have benefits.

    put in newer engines
    Like what? The most efficient engine we have is the SSME, which generates about 1/4 of the thrust of the F-1. The most powerful modern engine we have is the RS-68 which generates about 1/2 the thrust. So both of those would require extensive changes to the lower structure of the first stage. If you wanted to keep the basic Saturn 5 structure you'd probably have to redevelop the F-1 and retool to produce it.

    Alternatively use five RS-68's and add strap-on boosters - but again that's a major redesign, and now you're approaching the SLS anyway.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    Understood, thanks.

    Where are the other countries to help build this platform as many countries have helped with the ISS?
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