Slide 51 of 125
In early 1985, the Langley Research Center was asked by NASA Headquarters to initiate
preliminary conceptual studies of a next-generation launch system called "Shuttle II" for
AD 2005 and beyond. Unlike the original one-size-fits-all Space Shuttle or the 1981-84
NASA/Langley Future Space Transportation System, the new system probably would consist of
different vehicles -- manned and unmanned, large and small, expendable and reusable. One
such subcomponent was the "Shuttle II" which was envisioned as a fully reusable low-cost
piloted vehicle capable of transporting 9,072kg to Space Station Freedom in a 4.5 x 9m payload
bay or 4,553kg to a 277km sunsynchronous orbit. NASA also wanted a more robust system capable
of safely flying quick-sortie missions (<3 days duration) every two weeks with a minimum of
maintenance and checkout between flights. The important missions were personnel transport,
in-orbit servicing & repair, and return of high-valued commercial products from orbiting space
platforms. In other words, missions where a "low dollars per flight" approach was regarded as
more important than "low dollars per kilogram"; the latter requirement (low cost transportation
of unmanned military & civilian heavy-lift payloads) was to be served by the Advanced Launch
Advanced Launch Vehicle (Rockwell International concept). NASA hoped that ALS and Shuttle II
could share common launch sites, facilities, manpower and common elements such as reusable
flyback boosters used in conjunction either with the "Shuttle II" orbiter or an unmanned ALS
heavy-lift stage. This would lower the overall life-cycle cost of both systems.
Different "Shuttle II" concepts were investigated but the initially most promising concept
appeared to be a VTHL TSTO with parallel staging at Mach 3. This was a very similar concept as
the 1981-84 FSTS baseline vehicle, albeit much smaller. CH4, LOX & LH2 propellants would have
been used. VTHL SSTO also appeared feasible with modest advances in performance technologies.
The Shuttle II's operational life would be 15 years, or 400 flights per vehicle and the Langley
Research Center made a conscious effort to avoid the Space Shuttle's problems when designing
the new system. For example, no toxic hypergolic propellants would be used to reduce the
maintenance cost, and the rocket engines and thermal protection system would be more durable than
the original Shuttle's.
For SSTOs, a "bimese" twin configuration was proposed for heavy-lift missions, while relatively
small solid or liquid augmentation boosters would greatly increase the SSTO payload capability,
e.g. to polar orbit. Tripropellant VTHL TSTO with Mach 3 staging was regarded as more low-risk,
but SSTO would clearly be more attractive if advanced NASP-level technologies could reduce its
dry mass by 60%. It would then have superior inclination, altitude & operational performance to
that of the TSTO.
Thrust: 13,350kN(s). Total Mass: 923,514kg. Total Length: 42.5m.
Payload capability: 9,072kg to a 28.5 degree 400km orbit;5,443kg to a 277km sunsynchronous orbit.
Payload bay: 9m x 4.5m diameter.
Stage 1 : 6 x Space Transportation Main Engine. Liftoff thrust: 6,675 KN. Isp: . Gross Mass: 395,532kg. Empty Mass: 38,555kg. Length: 32.3m. Width: . Propellants: LOX/methane.
Stage 2 : 5 x modified SSME. Liftoff thrust: 6,675 KN. Isp: . Gross Mass: 527,981kg. Empty Mass: 82,100kg. Length: 42.5m. Span:33.5m. Propellants: LOX/LH2.
”Advanced Manned Earth-to-Orbit Vehicle” -- Eldred, AAS 1986/vol.64/p.917
”Shuttle II: A Look Ahead” -- Talay, AAS Science & Technology 1987/vol.69/p.185
”Shuttle II Progress Report” -- Talay, Space Congress Proc. (24th) 1987/7-1
"Orbital Express" -- Reichhardt, Space World 1987/June/p.27