Index Home About Blog
From: Dani Eder <>
Subject: Re: Saturn What-If
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998 18:32:50 GMT

Lurker wrote:

> I was wondering which political (economic, social, etc.)
> developments and alterations to history would be
> required for NASA to follow a big dumb booster approach
> to space travel rather than the space shuttle, to
> build and maintain a permanent space presence (starting
> with Skylab 2), and that the shuttle became no more
> than a lifting body crew transfer other
> words, Saturn stayed in production.

I used to work for the Boeing manager that had the responsibility
for selling more Saturn V's (Dan Gregory), so maybe I can attack
this question.  Probably the single change that would make the most
difference would be if Nixon had not become president.  One of the
reasons the Apollo progam was killed and the Shuttle program
started is that Apollo was closely linked to John F Kennedy, and if
you remember, Nixon lost to Kennedy in 1960.

Fairly detailed plans had been developed to evolve the Saturn S1-C
first stage to a winged, flyback booster.  Essentially the core remained
the same (engines and tanks), but with the addition of jet engines, wings,
and landing gear.  The engines would feed off the RP-1 fuel tank.  The
design document I saw was about 2 inches thick, and they had gone
so far as to assign a Boeing model number to it (I think it was in the
900 series, like the commerical airplanes are in the 700 series)

The upper stages would have stayed the same, more or less.  You would
have lost a little payload because of the weight of the first stage additions,
but, hey, you had 240,000 lbs to play with, and the F-1 engines had
originally been designed to upgrade to 1.8 million lbs of thrust (for
Apollo they were running at 1.5 million), so you could have made up the
payload that way.

Now, this is not exactly a 'dumb booster', but Boeing ought to have been
able to do the flyback booster withough major technical problems (like
the tiles and SSMEs were on the Shuttle)

Dani Eder

Index Home About Blog