Index Home About Blog
From: Henry Spencer <>
Subject: Re: What Atmosphere in MIR??
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 1997 15:55:56 GMT

In article <>,
Greg d. Moore <> wrote:
>> The space station, last I heard, was taking this to the ridiculous extreme
>> by planning to run *exactly* sea-level air:  14.7psi, 78% nitrogen, 21%
>> oxygen... and 1% argon.  Yes, complete with a separate argon system to
>> control that 1%.
>	Given the expense of a separate system just for Argon, you may be
>right, that it is a rather silly expense.  But if they truly want
>comparitive studies perhaps that 1% is important enough to them to keep it.

So far as anyone knows, the argon is utterly inert, and simply adding an
extra percent of nitrogen instead ought to make no detectable difference.
Sure, there *could* be an obscure effect somewhere... but adding mass and
complexity to space hardware based on wild speculation seems excessive.

>	BTW, shouldn't a percentage of that be C02?

Only a very small one.  (And that too is an issue of debate.  Holding the
CO2 level down to what's normal on Earth's surface is quite difficult, so
the engineers want to know whether it's really necessary, given that there
are no obvious physiological effects at somewhat higher levels that are much
easier to maintain.  Last I heard, the engineers had won this one.  The argon
business is trivial compared to this; CO2 definitely is *not* inert.)
Committees do harm merely by existing.             |       Henry Spencer
                           -- Freeman Dyson        |

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Reasons for station (Was: Re: Why?)
Date: 28 Nov 1997 15:04:13 GMT

<<Blaha had many good points about the usefulness of
a space station which would be better served by a station
in a closer to equatorial orbit.>>

Blaha is a cool head who speaks sincerely -- always worth listening too. I'm
sorry that the space program has lost him, as it has lost every other astronaut
ever sent to Mir (assuming Lucid takes that job heading up the demise of
Marshall Space Center).

Re the orbit, this is an excellent point. 28 degrees or close makes so much
more sense than 50-52 degrees.

First, it costs three shuttle missions to carry the same weight to 52 degrees
that two can carry to 28 degrees. That's an additional $200-300 million 'high
inclination tax' on EVERY shuttle flight that will ever be made to ISS.

We went high, we're told again and again, to allow the Russians to participate,
and save us two billion dollars in assembly cost. And over the life of the
program, in operational costs, sixty or eighty or a hundred shuttle visits,
we'll pay thirty or forty or fifty billion dollars for this bargain.

"Earth observation" from the station is also unpersuasive since we have much
better observational resources in true polar orbits, and we can sortie into
high inclination several times a year on specialized shuttle missions, if
needed (NASA had promised eight high-inclination ATLAS missions for exactly
this purpose, and they only got around to flying three). You can tell this is
an excuse rather than a reason by seeing how much (or how little, really)  NASA
is really spending on Earth observation from ISS.

52 degrees is bad for the Russians, too. They wanted to go to 62-65 degrees for
"Mir-2" so they could launch support flights from Plesetsk. Now they are tied
to Baykonur forever, and the whole Kazakstan problem.

Typical diplomatic compromise! Bad for everybody in equal measure!  ;-)

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Original FGB Launch Date
Date: 2 Dec 1997 22:31:08 GMT


The FGB is indeed still no-fault-tolerant in some guidance hardware, but that
hardware has a long flight history that is encouraging. Unless the new
equipment is built a lot more poorly, that is not a problem I have near the top
of my list. But keeping the FGB/Node in orbit for a YEAR before hooking up the
next piece is going to push the propellant quantities, and it just exposes the
vehicle to a hostile environment while preventing any additional work that
having it on the ground would enable.

From: Henry Spencer <>
Subject: Re: stored air: weight? Volume?
Date: Wed, 18 Feb 1998 22:54:20 GMT

In article <6aqfm2$>,
Chris Roth <> wrote:
>When the International Space station is finally complete,
>how will the air supply be resupplied? Is this a matter of
>one substance (liquid oxygen) or two substances (liquid oxygen
>and some other chemical-in-a-bottle)?

Neither, actually.  Nitrogen will be resupplied as compressed gas (yes,
some nitrogen resupply is needed, due to leakage and airlock operations).
Oxygen will come from water electrolysis, as on Mir.  Any manned system
which doesn't recycle food will show a water excess, because a significant
fraction of the mass of food (even dehydrated food) ends up as water in
the end.  Carbon dioxide will be dumped overboard; there is interest in
using the hydrogen from electrolysis to recover the oxygen content of the
CO2 (as water), but that would be a later add-on -- it's not funded now.
Water will mostly be recycled, including much of the water content of

>Historically, what are the similarities and differences
>between various air schemes? In other words, what was
>different and similar about the air storage systems of
>Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and various Soviet craft?

The fundamental differences weren't huge.  The US craft all used stored
oxygen, plus expendable lithium-hydroxide canisters for CO2 removal.
(Skylab used reusable molecular sieves, which are also planned for the
station, instead of lithium hydroxide.)  I don't know much about the
Soviet equivalents; my impression is that they differed in detail but
not in overall scheme.

>Of course, the U.S. systems have been all-oxygen at a pressure
>lower than what we breathe here. The Soviet systems have
>traditionally been a "normal" pressure with a mixture of gasses.

While the old US systems were pure-oxygen, note that Skylab wasn't and
neither is the shuttle.  The shuttle, in particular, normally runs at
sea-level pressure with a sea-level mixture, just like the Soviet systems.

>How much does a one-day, one-person supply of oxygen weigh?

Roughly a kilogram.

>How many times has the MIR station had its stored air replenished?

As above, its oxygen supply comes from waste water rather than resupply.
I expect its nitrogen comes from storage -- there are alternatives, but
they're more complicated -- and I'm not sure whether it's been resupplied.

>It's been up there since 1996. How much weight and volume
>would be used if an 11-year supply were delivered all at once?

In systems like that of Mir and the station, you really don't have to
send up very large initial supplies.  In fact, the main initial supply
needed is a startup supply of water (which, for the station, will come
from the fuel-cell water of the shuttle construction flights).
Being the last man on the Moon                  |     Henry Spencer
is a very dubious honor. -- Gene Cernan         |

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Station: Fly or Flop?
Date: 23 Sep 1998 18:11:04 GMT

I've been changing my mind on this subject and losing any sympathy I once had
for the argument about this theme:

The keep-the-rocket-scientists-busy idea is baloney. Most of those Russians who
know how to build real rockets were in their ICBM factories and tens of
thousands were laid off YEARS ago -- they have no contracts related to ISS
anyway. The companies getting ISS related money have very few people actually
involved in building surface-to-surface missiles, or any relevant technologies
-- and besides, even those companies have laid off tens of thousands of

Since the market for "rocket scientists for hire" in the third world never
amounted to more than a few hundred jobs anyway, there's ALWAYS been more than
enough hungry candidates in Russia no matter HOW much money we've poured in

More than "baloney" -- the argument is a FRAUD. And I've concluded that people
who rely on that argument (like I used to be, sort of, at least sympathetic to
the concept) are would-be deluders who want the reast of the world to join them
in their fantasies.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Station: Fly or Flop?
Date: 24 Sep 1998 05:09:33 GMT

Pat asks an EXCELLENT question (and earns his keep for the week): <<what is
strange to me, is SM is the blocking factor, why are we paying for soyuz,
instead of paying for SM?>>

Because of the way the MOU and IGA (Intergovernment Agreements) are written.
Signed by all parties earlier this year, they parcel out ISS power, crew slots,
and utilization fractions, as well as crew command turns (two of the first four
ISS crews will have Russian commanders). ALSO, they specify whose domestic law
applies in which modules -- US law in FGB, Nodes, Lab, etc, Japanese law in

If the US pays for the SM, Russia forfeits all of these proportional rights.
However, the downstream Soyuz vehicles do NOT weigh in the allocation
computation, so when the US money is formally assigned to purchase them, Russia
still gets full credit for "paying for the SM" -- which everyone knows is a
fraud, but it satisfies the lawyers And allows NASA to avoid making Russia pay
the penalty for its reneging on its agreements.

Do we feel better knowing this, or is it time for (another) long shower to get
the slime off?

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Station: Fly or Flop?
Date: 24 Sep 1998 05:13:21 GMT

Joshua: <<Yeah, but the program costs more money every day that launch
is delayed.>>

Not exactly. It costs every day that productive work -- an operational US LAB
installed on orbit -- is delayed. Rushing into the FGB launch NOW just to get
something, ANYTHING, into orbit -- and almost certainly create more headaches
later, when for example we bitterly regret not doing an FGB-to-SM plugs-in
interface test -- strikes me as the height of folly.... but totally in keeping
with NASA's strategic plan over the past five years.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Station: Fly or Flop?
Date: 24 Sep 1998 05:15:09 GMT

Joshua: <<Ok, maybe it's not as bad as it seems, but recent developments were
predicted (on this very newsgroup) a year, even two, ago. >>

Thanks for the good memory. Also don't forget who it was who claimed that
everything was "back on track" and "looking up" a year or two ago, folks such
as Brinkley and Trafton and Goldin himself.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: FGB and STS-88 launch times
Date: 20 Oct 1998 12:08:02 GMT

<<Policy views aside ;-) could you elaborate on the differences in orbital
plane between ISS and MIR?  I'm sure some on this forum would be interested.>>

The Russian side insisted from the beginning that ISS (FGB) be placed into an
orbit where it would not interfere with Mir tracking for any single tracking
site. All of one day's Mir (or FGB) passes needed to be completed, followed by
about one hour of hardware reconfiguration time, before the day's FGB (or Mir)
passes began. This requires them to be at least 140 degrees apart in terms of
right ascension (longitude of ascending node). That gives a range of 140 to
about 220 (which is 140 apart from the other direction). The Russians also
preferred a four hour block of NO tracking on either vehicle in order to allow
station down time for regular maintenance, so that pushed the alignment to one
of the extrema. Since there was a small differential nodal regression due to
differences in the altitude profile (THAT took a lot to determine), over the
estimated six to twelve months of simo operation, there would be some shifting
in this delta right ascension, but we came to the conclusion it should be
disregarded. We also had our STS desirable mission features, with a sunlit
landing high on the list (sunlit launch was nice but not a requirement).

Scheduling the grapple activities was also a major challenge, since the crew
had to wake up earlier and earlier every day until Day 4 in order to begin the
sequence in time to complete it prior to the last Russian tracking pass of that
day (FGB uses only ground sites, not TDRSS-style relay). But in the end it
worked too.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Mir to be kept alive (for a while)
Date: 26 Apr 1999 20:57:50 GMT

Mike: << Still it's nice to the
SM being rolled out this morning! Now we're finally about to enter into
the home stretch.>>

Mike, it could well have been another Potemkin spacecraft for those who want to
keep being deceived. It was a stage-managed charade designed to allow NASA
management to keep hoping against hope that miracles will happen. The longer
the Russians can con NASA into not giving up hope, the longer the US money
(commercial as well as NASA) keeps flowing into the Russian space industry --
at a rate of nearly $100 million per month. With that much at stake, who really
expects honesty from them?

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Mir to be kept alive (for a while)
Date: 27 Apr 1999 20:09:39 GMT

STS-96 is a fully-loaded "outfitting flight", but two significant repairs have
been added: replacing the badly designed charge controllers on all six Zarya
batteries, and replacing the failed transceiver in the Unity "Early Comm"
system, which has died. Also, during EVA, a 'funny' antenna will be inspected.
For a complex spacecraft this failure rate is not surprising and not alarming.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Mir to be kept alive (for a while)
Date: 27 Apr 1999 20:11:27 GMT

<< Are you speculating perhaps
that the SM is nothing but a nearly empty empty pressure hull covered with
decrative thermal insulation blankets, and debris shields?>>

I exaggerate. The spacecraft is supposed to be complete. But many within and
without the program are anxious that its ground test process will be scaled
back so as not to "break" it by checking it out too vigorously.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Mir to be kept alive (for a while)
Date: 27 Apr 1999 20:12:35 GMT

<<Strange, I had heard a few weeks back that the Russians were actually
refusing money from the U.S. on the grounds that they had adequte funds
for a change from the Russian Federal government. Has this changed
since then?>>

Elaborate, please -- where was this report? Russians refuse NASA money. Man
bites dog!! Hydrant sprinkles dog. The world turned upside down!

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Dan Goldin: U.S. Should Learn From Russians
Date: 29 Apr 1999 12:52:40 GMT

<<Probably not for the same price.  Zarya cost only about $250 million.
Boeing or Mitsubishi might charge 2-4 times as much for similar

Back up a few steps and get the BIG picture. Zarya wasn't even needed except as
a gadget to allow a US module -- Unity -- to go up BEFORE a real Russian module
-- the SM. In a sensible (non-politicized) sequence, the SM would have gone up
FIRST, and Unity would have been attached, and there never WOULD have been an
FGB-Zarya. Cost: $0.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Russia & ISS
Date: 14 Jun 1999 12:36:18 GMT

Don't forget another critical Russian monopoly: control of FGB and SM. Only
their flight control center can do it. Yes, I know, we "own" the FGB, but would
you be surprised to learn that the Russians REFUSE to provide NASA with the
command codes specs, this making it impossible for NASA to build a replacement
control facility even if we wanted to? How's that for "ownership" in the space
cooperation era?

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Russia & ISS
Date: 14 Jun 1999 19:32:36 GMT

Eddie: <<So what? Do you think the US is going to share such information with
the Russians, or even with the Canadians, Japanese or Europeans?
Get real!>>

Were you paying attention? This is a spacecraft that the US paid for, and that
the US nominally "owns". Yes, to your question -- if any country pays a US
manufacturer to build and launch a spacecraft on its behalf, you bet your
bippie that the purchaser gets a full specification read-out of the vehiucle,
including its command codes. After all, they are the OWNERS.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: ABC News: Making a big deal about ISS near-miss?
Date: 19 Jun 1999 12:14:37 GMT

<<Look at MIR... does Russia track all the space debris as well as the US
do?  I bet they don't even care... they decide to play the odds and so
far they've won, but yeah, MIR has taken a lot of hits. >>

Mir and Salyut experience is misleading to many because for ISS:
1. It's higher, in a thicker debris environment
2. It's a lot bigger
3. It will fly a lot longer (hope hope).

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Saturn 5 What If?
Date: Tue, 20 Jul 1999 18:00:38 GMT

In article <>,
Michael J. Gallagher <> wrote:
>> ....  Lets assume
>>Saturn 5s were still being produced in the 70s and 80s instead of the
>>Shuttle ....
>Actually, I believe I once read plans that called for using the
>Shuttle AND Saturn Vs; both could have been in use.

Correct.  NASA's original notion for a space station was to launch it on a
Saturn V but resupply it with the shuttle.  It was a traumatic event for
the early station people when all hope of further Saturn V production was
abandoned, because the difference between a module diameter of 33ft and
one of 15ft is huge.
The good old days                   |  Henry Spencer
weren't.                            |      (aka

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: Could the shuttle be converted?
Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 21:25:27 GMT

In article <>,
Mattemerso <> wrote:
>...but it still seems so limited. I remember back when
>I was a kid that shuttle launchs were delayed ALL the time because the damned
>heat tiles wouldn't stay on! For all the money NASA pumped into this, you'd
>think they'd at least make a good adheisive for the tiles!

Remember that NASA was basically trying to do a $6G project on a $4G budget.
What they really should have done was to scale the system back to match the
funding, but by the time the extent of the problem became clear, the design
had so much inertia that they were reluctant to do that.

>>...losing one of them hurts.  There was nothing particularly
>>unique about Challenger, but in such a small fleet, every orbiter counts.
>Hmmmm... was Endevour in the planning stages already when Challenger exploded
>or was that built as a replacement?

Endeavour was built as a replacement, although it used some existing
components.  Plans to build a fifth orbiter had been cancelled, although
some major structural parts were being built as spares.

>And keep in mind two things: one, Columbia,
>which is still flying, is getting pretty old in terms of a spacecraft, and I
>can't picture it flying too much more. Two: at least on of the shuttle,
>Atlantis I think, was fitted with the Mir docking collar, which pretty much
>limited the shuttle to that task and that task alone.

Discovery, Atlantis, and Endeavour are all now fitted with docking
equipment for the space station, which occupies part of the cargo bay and
largely limits them to station operations.  Columbia is the *only* orbiter
left with a clear cargo bay, mostly because it's somewhat overweight
compared to the later orbiters and hence can't lift a full load into the
station orbit.
The good old days                   |  Henry Spencer
weren't.                            |      (aka

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Possible Soyuz flight to Mir
Date: 06 Sep 1999 12:23:09 GMT

The Mir and ISS are so utterly out of plane, flying from one to the other is as
impossible as any space mission could be. The 'wedge angle' between the two
planes is about 90 degrees, and relative precession is so slow it would be 4
years at best, more or less, before they even MIGHT be coplanar.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Possible Soyuz flight to Mir
Date: 07 Sep 1999 03:50:53 GMT

<<I belive the Americans made sure that it would never happen..they didn't
want a soyuz to make a flight from MIR to ISS to make sure that the crew
didn't bring stuff to ISS the American's didn't want there....>>

I led the orbital design team that defined this planar relationship, and it was
mainly driven by the Russian requirement not to have comm passes of both
vehicles overlap in daily sequence at any site. All of one day's passes for one
station (ISS) are completed, then the ground site physically reconfigures its
comm systems, then the passes for the other station (Mir) begin.

True, the Russians changed their minds a few weeks before launch (as I
predicted they would try) and wanted to delay the FGB launch many hours,
allowing Earth to carry the launch site eastwards into the plane of Mir so some
modules and equipment might be transferred. But that was an unworkable plan
anyway, and to its credit, NASA squelched the idea and kept the plan that the
Russians had already agreed to.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Possible Soyuz flight to Mir
Date: 07 Sep 1999 03:52:48 GMT

jorge: <<Now - there WAS a Russian request to make the two stations coplanar,
just before the FGB was launched, but I believe this was a case of the
left hand not knowing what the right was doing - the Russians are still
in no way capable of supporting both stations if they were coplanar.>>

They tried to claim they could, by dedicating some stations to Mir and others
to ISS (the TsUP could handle simo data streams, the problem was at each
tracking site). But they simply didn't have enough tracking sites to give
adequate coverage and they came to realize it too.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Another attempt to save Mir?
Date: 26 Oct 1999 11:14:27 GMT

<<An interesting point is that one of Mir's seven modules, the Docking
Module, was launched from the United States.  Theoretically, the US
government could be held liable for 14% of the damage done by an
impacting Mir.  Does the concept of "joint and several liability" apply
to the OST?  If so, the US could wind up paying 100% of the damages due
to the Russian government's inability to pay.>>

I'm told there is no "fractional nationality" of space objects -- it's all or
nothing, and Mir (and its parts, both internal and externally appended) is ALL

The same problem comes up with ISS, it is an ALL AMERICAN FLAG vehicle, despite
who contibutes what (or, technically, who launched FIRST, which SHOULD make it
"all Russian"). The Russians announced they would continue using radio
frequencies which violated the ICU band allocations -- as they have for
decades, but either the USSR wasn't a signatory, or they were given
'grandfather' waivers. But if they violate the constraints for SM transmissions
on ISS, now get this, as I understand it, it is the United States which gets a
black mark in the ICU book of sins because the violation comes from a US-flag
space vehicle. This hurts for future applications for frequency allocations.

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: russia and the future of space projects
Date: Mon, 17 Apr 2000 04:11:25 GMT

In article <8dd7ca$k28$>,
 <> wrote:
>The point is, when you make agreements, you stick with them.
>Like Russia's never done THAT before when it didn't suit them.....

Exactly *one* of the space-station partners has kept all its promises,
never unilaterally cutting back or delaying its contribution.  One other
has also ended up delivering everything it promised, although there were
some doubts for a while, and some delays.  The US isn't either of them.

Indeed, when it comes to space cooperation in general, the US is
historically the least reliable of all the station partners, although
Russia is now challenging them for that title...
"Be careful not to step                 |  Henry Spencer
in the Microsoft."  -- John Denker      |      (aka

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: russia and the future of space projects
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2000 03:04:27 GMT

In article <8dg5a6$q62$>,
 <> wrote:
>> Exactly *one* of the space-station partners has kept all its promises,
>> never unilaterally cutting back or delaying its contribution.  One
>> other has also ended up delivering everything it promised, although there
>> were some doubts for a while, and some delays...
>The *one* is Canada, right?

Nope, Japan.  The "one other" is Canada.  (While the station arm stayed
pretty much on track, the "hand" was more or less cancelled for a while,
although it was eventually reinstated.)

>> Indeed, when it comes to space cooperation in general, the US is
>> historically the least reliable of all the station partners, although
>> Russia is now challenging them for that title...
>No, the US Congress is the least reliable. NASA itself is not that bad.

It would be nice if that were so, but it's not.  NASA has aggravated
Congress-caused problems by (particularly in pre-Goldin days) consistently
being optimistic to the point of lunacy about future budgets, so that when
reality intruded, projects that were already underway had to be cancelled.
NASA has also been, shall we say, less than diplomatic about the way some
things have been handled; when Congress cut the budget, and NASA (not
Congress) decided that this meant canceling the NASA half of ISPM, ESA
found out about it by reading Aviation Week!

>Remember, before the late 80s, there were no "partners". Freedom was

Uh, no, completely wrong.  Freedom was conceived pretty much from the
beginning as an international venture, on the theory (probably correct)
that this made it harder to kill.  When work on what eventually became
Freedom began seriously, in about 1984, one of the first things on the
agenda was signing up international partners.  Preliminary agreements with
ESA, Japan, and Canada were signed in 1985, and formal negotiations for
full-scale long-term commitments started the next year.

NASA had a long history of US-only space-station *proposals*, but the
original partners were on board pretty much from the start when things
really got rolling.  If (dim) memory serves, international involvement was
part of Reagan's original marching orders to NASA for it.

>Then DuhAl Gore and co. made it an international venture.

Don't let your blind hatred for the current administration lead you into
rewriting history just to vilify them.  These events happened under
Republican administrations.
"Be careful not to step                 |  Henry Spencer
in the Microsoft."  -- John Denker      |      (aka

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Computer hacker never endangered Shuttle astronauts
Date: 04 Jul 2000 12:38:49 GMT

>Could a group of hackers de-orbit the ISS?

That's a laugh, because even NASA -- nominally the owner of the FGB -- can't
deorbit it if it wanted to. The Russians run all serious commanding, won't tell
NASA the command codes, and NASA never pressed the issue or developed
independent command capability of a piece of hardware it claims WE own. At
least, that's the way I've heard it from them's what knows.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Congress' Budget Wrangling: ISS Refund?
Date: 06 Jul 2000 12:25:41 GMT

The "hidden truth" about money and the Russian space industry is that they are
awash in "excess profits" from their $800 million in annual income from Western
sales, to the point they are literally tripping over boxes of cash, and the
Russian government knows that participation in ISS is the 'admission fee' to
being allowed to keep making these profits, so they will keep promising
anything it takes, but do as little as possible, to avoid being expelled from
the ISS program -- but they expect the space officials who are stashing this
cash to kick some of it back and pay for the ISS-related activities themselves,
in order to keep the cash flowing. What's so complicated about this?

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Congress' Budget Wrangling: ISS Refund?
Date: 07 Jul 2000 13:23:43 GMT

<<I do not get it. Do you mean that participating in ISS is a requirement
to be allowed to launch US satellites or you are talking about some
other money?>>

Koptev has made it quite explicit last year when he lectured his Russian
colleagues about their reluctance to fulfill ISS agreements -- failure to do so
would likely result in US gummint interference in the profitable commercial
launch contracts.

From: (JamesOberg)
Subject: Re: Why Progress and not STS 106?
Date: 07 Aug 2000 13:05:01 GMT

<an additional now successfully launched Progress mission ?>

This Progress is optimized to carry propellant for the SM propulsion system --
STS can only transfer hard cargo within pressurized volume. Besides, Progress
carries 2500 kg of cargo of all sorts, at cost of $40 million, compared to STS
carrying 3000 kg of hard cargo, at cost of $500 million. The STS crew will have
to unload its own cargo AND the hard cargo from Progress, so the ship can
undock clearing the way for the Soyuz launch with the crew. But even before IT
goes, ANOTHER Progress -- to dock at the FGB side port -- and another STS -- to
emplace external equipment -- must also be launched.

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: ISS on Saturn V (was Re: Follow Up program to Apollo)
Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2000 14:47:35 GMT

In article <>,
Brian Thorn  <> wrote:
>Russia's experience seems to be
>that about 25% of the payload per Mir-class module launch is devoted
>to propulsion and guidance systems.

Careful here.  Guidance, communications, and general electronics do *not*
scale with the size of the payload, and Western versions are lighter than
the Russian ones too.

Besides, Saturn V has almost all of that stuff already, necessarily --
there has to be an IU somewhere to fly the Saturn, and you can probably
use it for post-launch guidance, with minor modifications.  The only thing
you really need to add is propulsion (an Apollo SM?).

>Saturn V could probably lob about
>150,000 lbs. into the ISS orbit (51.6 x 200) which would give you
>about 115,000 lbs. of useful payload.

Skylab was 200,000 into a rather higher orbit at a similar inclination
using an inefficient direct-ascent trajectory.  Try 250,000 with a useful
payload of maybe 220,000 or so.  Still more if you use a Hohmann ascent,
although that's more demanding on the module propulsion system.

Remember also that there is potential for saving quite a bit of weight
when you get to launch things in bigger pieces.  In particular, you can
use full Saturn-diameter station modules rather than the dinky little
things the shuttle can carry.  (The shuttle cargo bay is 60ft long; the
Saturn V was 33ft in *diameter*.)

>The Western contribution to ISS
>is something like 800,000 lbs., I think.  So seven launches should
>handle it.

NASA's original station plans envisioned something like *two* Saturn V
launches to build the complete (long-term, permanently-manned) station.
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

From: (Henry Spencer)
Subject: Re: ISS on Saturn V (was Re: Follow Up program to Apollo)
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2000 06:07:46 GMT

In article <>,
David Sander  <> wrote:
>> NASA's original station plans envisioned something like *two* Saturn V
>> launches to build the complete (long-term, permanently-manned) station.
>I know they've been mothballed, but IIRC, the Energia with 8 strap-ons was more
>powerful than a Saturn V, and had a greater diameter.

More powerful, yes -- close to double the payload in theory, although the
actual performance of the 4-strapon version did fall somewhat short of its
theoretical specs.

Greater diameter, no.  The 8-strapon version would have had a fairing the
same diameter as the core, which was 8m compared to the Saturn V's 10m.

Also, do note that the 8-strapon version was not a trivial modification,
calling for significant changes to both launcher and pad, and it hasn't
just been mothballed -- it never existed in any meaningful sense.

For that matter, even the flown 4-strapon version has basically been
abandoned, not mothballed.

>...would there have been any value in suggesting an
>Energia-boosted large diameter station structure (given the last Saturn V was
>built far too long ago to be even vaguely associated with ISS)?

The idea got raised a few times, on both sides of the world.  Mir 2 was
originally proposed to use Energia-launched modules, although that plan
shrank with the country.  And there was some interest in Energia in the
US... although mostly unofficial, given that it would be extremely
difficult to convince the US government to (a) entrust their station to a
foreign launcher and (b) pay real money for the launches.
Microsoft shouldn't be broken up.       |  Henry Spencer
It should be shut down.  -- Phil Agre   |      (aka

From: (George William Herbert)
Subject: Re: X-38 channels Tex Johnston
Date: 4 Nov 2000 09:36:13 -0800

Steve VanSickle <> wrote:
>Geoffrey A. Landis <>:
>> Actually, *avoiding* EVA is a design criteria for ISS.  Turns out that
>> EVA is extremely expensive, and immense amounts of design time used to
>> minimize the requirements for EVA.
>Then why did they put the utility connections on the outside of the

There is actually one type of connection which you want routed outside;
if you're transferring caustic or toxic propellants, having them
entirely external is preferable so that if you have a leak you
don't contaminate the porch area or inside the modules.

However, for power and data and air and water and such, a porch
type interconnect is the best approach.  Why was it not used on ISS?
Possibly design inertia.  The first time I saw the concept was after
the Freedom modules had been designed, and while a lot of redesign
work has happened since then, the underlying technology base for
the module systems and configurations has not changed much.

-george william herbert

Index Home About Blog