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  Recovery and reuse of Saturn V's first stage

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Author Topic:   Recovery and reuse of Saturn V's first stage
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
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posted 01-28-2008 11:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Space Review: Monster chopper
Back in 1965 the company made a proposal so bold that it bordered on insane: a giant helicopter with a rotor diameter bigger than the length of a football field, capable not merely of transporting a Saturn 5 first stage, but of actually catching it in midair as it fell on a parachute.
There were other proposed means for the recovery of the SI-C including a winged flyback version and a parachute-assisted approach outlined in an 18-page booklet prepared by Boeing:

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-28-2008 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-28-2008 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-28-2008 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-28-2008 11:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
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posted 01-28-2008 11:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've seen mention of this before, as well as of recovering and reusing Saturn's other stages, in a book whose name escapes me (it also had info on the X-20, Lockheed StarClipper proposal, and McD-D's Project Deimos manned Mars mission proposal.)

As I understand it, the factors against such a proposal was not only the limited number of Saturn flights, but also the increased deadweight at having to carry recovery systems (although, admittedly, I don't recall how much weight a Saturn V can carry vs how much it actually carried for a lunar mission, and whether or not it could theoretically carry the recovery systems.)

Lou Chinal
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posted 01-28-2008 04:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Lou Chinal   Click Here to Email Lou Chinal     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think this is one of the things that sounds good, until you start thinking about the details. As I remember there was a similar plan for the Redstone. The studies said that a rate of decent of 40 feet per second was the maximum for the booster. I wonder if the guys who designed the SRB's ever read it? In the end I guess they figured it was too much trouble. The Navy had there hands full getting the capsule back.

micropooz
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posted 01-28-2008 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for micropooz   Click Here to Email micropooz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
...in a book whose name escapes me
The book of which you are thinking may be "Pocket Encyclopedia of Spaceflight in Color - Frontiers of Space" by Philip Bono and Kenneth Gatland, 1969, MacMillan Co. It has concepts for recovering the Saturn SIVB stage and the others you mention.

I remember seeing concepts for recovering the S1C stage elsewhere too. I can't find the book right now, but I believe it was a book by vonBraun with "Frontier" also in the title, circa about 1969. Maybe someone else can home in on this one?

art540
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posted 01-29-2008 08:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for art540   Click Here to Email art540     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I can imagine the disbelief for NAA after all the trouble to lighten the S-II they then had to contend with more weight on the S-1C (unless the F-1s were uprated).

kr4mula
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From: Cinci, OH
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posted 01-29-2008 11:59 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for kr4mula   Click Here to Email kr4mula     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I love it that in the brochure the chart depicts the number of flights out beyond 100! The same people who made that graph must've helped plan the early shuttle program when they were anticipating that many flights... per year!

E2M Lem Man
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From: Los Angeles CA. USA
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posted 01-29-2008 03:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for E2M Lem Man     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by art540:
I can imagine the disbelief for NAA after all the trouble to lighten the S-II...
I have found a lot of documents here about the reuse of Saturn S-II stages, different engine configurations and even it's use as a first stage!

All of the contractors wanted to reuse their products. See Godwin's new lunar reference book for those ideas!

CNewport
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From: Potomac, MD USA
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posted 01-29-2008 08:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for CNewport     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think their estimate of the labor and refurbishment needed to certify an S1-C booster for re-flight is in error. Once you get sea water into the circuits and structure, it takes considerable more labor than they realize to make anything ready for flight.

Paul78zephyr
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From: Hudson, MA
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posted 09-29-2011 11:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could the S-IC stage have been recovered intact (or partially intact) using some type of recovery devices like the shuttle solid rocket motors?

Editor's note: Threads merged.

On edit: Okay, thanks for that info.

Space Cadet Carl
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From: Lake Orion, Michigan
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 09-29-2011 12:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Space Cadet Carl   Click Here to Email Space Cadet Carl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
There were other proposed means for the recovery of the SI-C including a winged flyback version and a parachute-assisted approach outlined in an 18-page booklet prepared by Boeing.
Thank you for posting this amazing leaflet. It was published at a time when we thought we could do anything.

When physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson visited Bill Mahar's HBO show recently he said: "When America stopped going to the Moon... America stopped dreaming." I couldn't agree more.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
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posted 09-29-2011 02:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I believe the main reason why this idea was proposed wasn't necessarily for the lunar program, but rather Apollo Applications (AAP). 1965 was the year the first AAP office opened up and George Mueller had some grand plans for it as in that period from 1965 to 1968 when AAP got funded as its own program, there were some serious proposals for multiple space stations, lunar bases and other things and they would need multiple Saturn launches to fly. Marshall was also thinking along similar lines as well since once Apollo ended, von Braun would need to find another program for the Huntsville based NASA center to work on as Saturn was their baby and the Saturn production line would be the first element to shut down towards the end of the program.

Of course in those years, NASA was dreaming rather big. Could they have done this? Yes, possibly. But it would have been a very expensive prospect. All things considered though, do you think a proposal for recoverable SRBs in the shuttle program would have been made if somebody hadn't already proposed something similar for the S-1C? Sometimes I wonder.

minipci
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From: London, UK
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posted 09-29-2011 03:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for minipci     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by micropooz:
I believe it was a book by von Braun with "Frontier" also in the title, circa about 1969.
Von Braun wrote a book called "Space Frontier". Would that be it?

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
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posted 09-29-2011 03:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
All things considered though, do you think a proposal for recoverable SRBs in the shuttle program would have been made if somebody hadn't already proposed something similar for the S-1C? Sometimes I wonder.

Granted the S-1C recovery proposal was done in the mid '60s, but I would think that even without the proposal, something on the shuttle would have been made recoverable.

The environmental movement kicked in in the early '70s, when shuttle was being thought about and designed. That, and the energy crisis in 1973/74 made being "green" and reducing costs in some sort of way part of the national conscience.

moorouge
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posted 11-07-2011 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This cartoon from the 'Apollo Chronology' sums up an unknown artist's thoughts on the recovery of a Saturn V first stage.

Tony Guidry
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From: Lafayette, Louisiana, USA
Registered: Jun 2009

posted 02-16-2013 08:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tony Guidry   Click Here to Email Tony Guidry     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Recently, I was viewing the CBS News coverage of the Apollo 14 launch on YouTube. Shortly after separation of the S-IC first stage, at 5:02 into the video, Wally Schirra made a comment to Walter Cronkite, "This is the one we hope to fly back sometime in the future."

Did NASA ever have any plans or the capability of recovering the first stage of the Saturn V for re-use? I was not aware of any recovery system being included on the S-IC.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

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