The following scenario is from Ross Tierney of the Direct Team. Costs and timetable have been confirmed by the Aerospace Corp under contract with the Augustine Commission to make independent assessments of all proposals:
Assuming we started fairly soon (Green Light by December 2009), we can get three Jupiter test flights off the ground before the first attempt at a Crewed launch. Two would be Jupiter-130 CLV configuration, the third would be a Jupiter-246 configuration flying with a dummy Upper Stage, simply to test the 4-engine Core.
- Shuttle Retires in September 2012
DIRECT assumes that we stretch the current 6-flight Shuttle manifest out by an extra 18-24 months in order to help close the gap from that direction. We don’t want additional flights because of the increased risks, and we believe it is a waste of money to extend the program all the way to 2015 when the Jupiter-130 makes that unnecessary. But a “stretch” of 2 years, instead of the currently expected 1 year stretch, has a number of merits.
- Jupiter-130-X — December 2012
36 months from Green Light.
That vehicle would consist of a regular pair of Shuttle SRB’s, 3 used SSME’s (17 of which will be available at the end of the Shuttle Program), a Core Stage made from the currently existing parts of External Tank #139/140/141 modified for the purpose, along with new parts built for this flight.
Considering that the SRB’s and SSME’s are “known quantities”, the real test here is the Avionics, modified Tanking and the Integration effort. By using reliable and fully-proven Main Propulsion Systems throughout the vehicle this should help to make this flight much lower risk than otherwise.
Depending upon the maturity of the PLF development effort it would either have a dummy PLF or the first attempt at a fully-functional unit (which would enable some rather interesting, if high-risk, secondary payload options as described below). The vehicle would have an avionics package which we suggest is based on either a modified Atlas pack, somewhat similar to that being used for the Ares-I-X flight or alternatively a set derived from Shuttle avionics — whichever can be implemented the quickest. And this vehicle would fly from Shuttle MLP-3, modified for the purpose. LC-39B’s FSS & RSS would remain in place and a new Crew Access Arm would be needed.
If the PLF is operational in time, we suggest a useful payload is flown on this test flight. The current leading suggestion within our team is to fly a Delta-IV Upper Stage inside the PLF, along with an Orion Crew Module. Gathering flight data for the launcher is the primary objective for the missions, but assuming the launcher works successfully, the secondary objective for this mission would be to send the Orion’s CM around the moon (a milestone in and of itself) and return it at Lunar re-entry speeds to provide real-world test data about the Orion avionics and heat shield as early as possible.
- Jupiter-130-Y — September 2013
45 months from Green Light.
Again, using a standard set of Shuttle SRB’s (the same set as -X?), 3 more existing SSME’s, a much more refined version of the Core Stage (though deliberately overbuilt for additional margins) and a fully operational PLF. The first fully-qualified avionics set would be intended to fly on this vehicle and so too would the first fully-qualified Orion CM and SM.
This flight would be intended to be as close as possible to a 100% “dress rehearsal” for the IOC Crewed flight approximately 9 months later.
Again, a secondary payload option would be to fly another Delta-IV Upper Stage, intended once again to perform a TLI for the Orion, though this time as a precursor mission to the “Apollo 8” crewed mission which we hope to fly early in the program.
- Jupiter-246-X — March 2014
51 months from Green Light.
This test flight is intended to demonstrate the 4-engine Core vehicle configuration and the staging system for the Upper Stage and gather early data for the upgrade program. The Upper Stage itself would be a dummy and there would be no payload. The flight would ultimately be sub-orbital and would end-up in the drink somewhere mid-Atlantic.
- Jupiter-130-1/Orion-1 IOC — June 2014
54 months from Green Light.
Initial Operational Capability. 2 Test Flight Crew to Orbit. Test launch, plus basic capabilities of the Orion in terms of Rendezvous and Docking to ISS. Secondary Payload TBD — considered “high risk”.
- Jupiter-130-2/Orion-2 — December 2014
IOC Validation flight. Repeat of the previous flight to ensure everything works, or to fix any problems encountered on prior mission. Secondary payload TBD, although testing of SSPDM and any ISS resupply hardware is a logical option for this flight.
- Jupiter-130-3/Orion-3 — June 2015
Full Operational Capability. Crew Rotation and Supply mission to ISS, delivering any urgently required equipment to station which was considered too important to “risk” on either previous flight.
Three more launches are planned in 2015 including the “Apollo 8” flyby and the second Jupiter-246-Y test flight, which would include an active Upper Stage.
Jupiter-246-1 IOC would occur in December 2017, with FOC following a year later.
For a complete discussion of this timeline, follow the link back to NasaSpaceFlight Forum.
Prior NSSPhoenix entry on Direct 3.1.