* Forwarded from "SB-NASA_NEWS"
* Originally by Dan Dubrick
* Originally to All
* Originally dated 23 Sep 1993, 13:51
Part 1 of 2
Space Access Update #20 9/20/93
(Formerly "DC-X Update")
Copyright 1993 by Space Access Society.
Space Access Update is Space Access Society's semi-weekly publication.
Space Access Society's goal is to promote affordable access to space for
all, period. We believe in concentrating our limited resources at whatever
point looks like yielding maximum progress toward this goal.
For the moment, our main focus is on supporting BMDO's "SSRT" (Single Stage
Rocket Technology) program, DC-X and its planned-but-not-yet-funded
followon, SX-2. Space Access Update is thus for the moment largely about
the technology and politics of DC-X and SX-2.
We anticipate a change of focus in a couple of months, if all goes well.
Once SX-2 startup funding is (with your help!) assured, we plan to begin
working on establishment of a healthy second X-rocket development track at
NASA, and on getting development of suitable engines started for the fully
reusable orbital ships that should come after SX-2 and NASA's X-rocket.
With luck and hard work, we should see one or more fully reusable SSTO
testbeds flying to orbit toward the end of this decade, with production
prototypes entering test a couple of years after that. Join us and help us
make this happen.
Henry Vanderbilt, Editor, Space Access Update
(For more info on Space Access Society, write us at 4855 E Warner Rd
#24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044, or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
[Editors note -- For those of you seeing this for the first time who need a
bit more context, look for the subsequent post titled "DC-X Background".-HV]
DC-X Test Program Status
The long version of our trip report from the DC-X Invitational will have to
wait a bit longer; we're just finishing recovering from the King Kong Cold
we caught on the road, and we also had to burn some time last week
responding to skullduggery in the Senate cloakroom. SAS members, see your
private addendum; the rest of you will have to wait a bit for the inside
scoop. (Hey, we have to give the paying members some extra consideration,
Meanwhile, some odds and ends of fact we've gleaned:
- DC-X's sides (and now the nose) are coated with a heat-resistant paint
good to about 500 F. Maintenance between flights consists of scrubbing
off soot and scorch marks, according to one DC-X crew member with "Simple
Green" household cleanser! The lighter gray circles and bars visible on
one side of the rocket are where the US flag, "McDonnell-Douglas", BMDO
and SSRT decals were burnt off during static engine test firings this
- The launch stand and landing pad areas are not bare concrete after all.
They are coated with an ablative paint of some sort; this paint produces
the orange glow seen at takeoff and landing, as the rocket plumes boil it
off. (Thanks, Ken Jenks) That orange glow, by the way, is startlingly
vivid seen in person, not the washed out pale color seen on a video
monitor with the color intensity turned back a bit.
- DC-X's RCS (Reaction Control System) gaseous H2/O2 control jets have not
been fired in flight yet. They're used primarily for roll axis control
and haven't been needed in the short flights so far. The jets of vapor
seen from near the base of the vehicle in flight are vented cold gas.
- DC-X's RL-10-a5 engines have been fired on at least 13 occasions since
vehicle testing started this spring, with no overhaul. Inspections have
shown some signs of corrosion in the hot sections, but nothing that will
get in the way of continued flight testing.
- The DC-X flight test program is perilously short of money. They have to
pay for things ranging from commercial delivery of propellant cryogens
and pressurization/purge gases, to White Sands Missile Range support
services, and if the $4.88 million for FY'94 flight test continuation
doesn't come through, they could end up shutting down well before they're
done the planned tests.
- The next flight of DC-X is still tentatively set for the end of this
In other news, there is a behind-the-scenes debate brewing among SX-2
supporters as to how ambitious the program should be. All parties agree
that initially SX-2 should use the same RL-10-a5 engines as DC-X to avoid
delays and development risk. The less conservative faction (SAS included)
wants the SX-2 vehicle(s) designed with oversize tanks and structures so
that once more powerful engines are available, at least one SX-2 can be
upgraded to near-orbital capability. Possibly, fingers crossed, if
everything goes right, no payload, no promises, upgraded to the point where
it can actually make a minimal orbit and return in one piece.
The more conservative types are sensibly cautious about promising too much
on a limited budget, and have a very good point in that it would be far too
easy for the perception to arise that anything short of orbit is failure.
Such a perception was one of the factors that turned NASP into an endless
study program, after all.
Finally, SAS has a fair collection of DC-X related video and will be
offering compendium tapes for sale soon in VHS only. We already have tape
of the first flight and of an extended BMDO background piece on SSRT, and we
expect to have footage from the second flight plus video of DC-X talks given
recently at the Worldcon in the next day or two. Email email@example.com
or write us at SAS, 4855 E Warner Rd #24-150, Phoenix AZ 85044 for more
info. Prices will be nominal; SAS members will get a discount because
they're already paying for part of our overhead.
Politics: DC-X Followon ("SX-2") Funding Update - Midseason Review
Backgrounder: The Funding Process
The Congressional funding process has two phases, "Authorization", then
"Appropriation". Authorization is roughly equivalent to drawing up a
shopping list for the coming year, while Appropriation can be looked at as
going through the shopping list deciding how much of each item to actually
buy. Authorized budget items are often reduced or deleted in the
Appropriations process, but seldom increased, and new items are rarely
The Congress debates and passes "Authorizations" and "Appropriations" bills
for each major area of government, about a dozen pairs of bills in all. The
ones we're concerned with are the Defense Department (DOD) Authorizations
and Appropriations bills. DOD happened to be where the necessary money and
management style was when DC-X was getting started up.
Both the House of Representatives with 435 members elected in population
based districts, and the Senate with 100 members elected two per state, draw
up and pass their own versions of each "Authorizations" and "Appropriations"
Authorizations bills generally originate in the appropriate specialized
committees within the House and Senate, in this case the House and Senate
Armed Services Committees (HASC and SASC). Appropriations Bills generally
originate in specialized subcommittees of the powerful House and Senate
Appropriations Committees (HAC and SAC), in this case the HAC and SAC
Each bill will generally go from the subcommittee that drafts it, to the
full committee that "marks it up" (modifies it), then to the full House or
Senate that will amend it and approve it in "floor votes", votes of all
At this point, there will be two separate versions of the bill, House and
Senate. There are a number of ways to come up with a common version for
final passage into law, but the method that concerns us is the "Conference
Committee", a committee with members from both House and Senate whose job is
to negotiate a compromise version. The Conference version is then near-
automatically approved by both House and Senate, thus becoming law.
A Conference Committee is usually made up of selected members from the House
and Senate committees that wrote the bills in the first place. Generally the
committee and subcommittee heads plus their minority party counterparts (the
"Ranking Republican Members" or RRM's on each committee and subcommittee)
are automatically included. The House and Senate don't necessarily send
equal numbers, since Conference Committee approval requires a majority among
the House members plus a majority among the Senate members - an overall
majority of Conference Committee members is not enough.
* Forwarded from "SB-NASA_NEWS"
* Originally by Dan Dubrick
* Originally to All
* Originally dated 23 Sep 1993, 13:54
Part 1 of 2
Copyright 1993 by Henry Vanderbilt and Space Access Society.
This is a companion piece to our more-or-less weekly "Space Access Update".
We're splitting this off for the convenience of those who've already seen
the background material. The background material will occasionally be
updated; most recent change dates for both the Hardware and Politics
sections are included.
DC-X Hardware Background (last changed August 28th 1993)
DC-X is a low-speed flight regime testbed for a proposed reusable rocket-
powered Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) transport, McDonnell-Douglas
Aerospace's "Delta Clipper". DC-X is intended to prove out rocket-powered
vertical takeoff, nose-first lifting-body to tail-first flight transition,
and tail-first landing. It is also intended to prove out rapid turnaround
of a reusable rocket by a minimal ground support crew. DC-X is being tested
and flown by approximately thirty people.
DC-X has already pretty much proved out rapid low-cost development of an
advanced aerospace X-vehicle type engineering testbed by a small highly-
motivated engineering team on a tight budget. DC-X was built by less than
two hundred people, in less than two years, for about $60 million. Of
course, this sort of thing has been done before -- just not recently.
DC-X stands 40 feet tall, is 13 feet across the base, and is roughly cone-
shaped, with a circular cross-section forward blending into a square base.
The vehicle has four maneuvering flaps, one set into each side near the
base, and sits on four landing legs. DC-X masses 22,300 lbs empty and
41,630 lbs fully fuelled, and is powered by four 13,500 lb thrust Pratt &
Whitney RL-10-A5 liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen rocket motors, each able to
gimbal +/- 8 degrees. The RL-10-A5 is a special version of the RL-10-A
designed for wide throttling range (30% to 100%) and sea-level operation.
The single DC-X vehicle was officially rolled out of its construction hangar
at MDA's Huntington Beach CA plant at the start of April, then trucked out
to White Sands, New Mexico for ground and then flight tests.
Between Thursday, May 20th and Thursday, June 17th, DC-X underwent a series
of nine engine firings/vehicle systems exercises, including two firings in
one day with complete defueling/vehicle servicing/refueling in between.
On Friday, June 18th, the DC-X crew began breaking down the ground support
equipment and moving it to the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) flight test
site, a distance of about fifty miles. Meanwhile DC-X was stored in a
On Friday, July 16th, the ground support equipment move was completed. DC-X
was taken out of storage, trucked out to the flight test site, and hoisted
upright onto its launch pad.
On Monday, July 19th, the DC-X crew began running a series of ground tests
to make sure everything had made it over intact and was hooked back together
On Wednesday, August 18th, at 4:43 pm MDT, DC-X made its first flight, a
"bunny hop" stability test that involved climbing 150 feet vertically,
hovering, translating slowly sideways 350 feet, then landing vertically. The
rocket was under precise control throughout, appearing to move almost as if
on rails, and landed within six inches of the target.
Contacting Your Congressman: Hints and Tips
We regularly ask you to phone, fax, or write Representatives A and B or
Senator C, and ask them to support X, Y, and Z. Here's some tips on how to
do so painlessly and effectively.
Keep phone calls brief, polite, and to the point - tell whoever answers
(very likely an underpaid, overworked staffer who's never heard of what
you're supporting) that you're calling to let them know you support $80
million in funding next year for BMDO's SSRT ("Single Stage Rocket
Technology") program, and if you feel like it, throw in your favorite reason
why this would be a good thing. If the person who answers wants to know
more, answer their questions as best you can, otherwise thank them and ring
Letters, whether via USPS or fax, should also be brief, polite, and to the
point, though you can go into a bit more detail as to why a DC-X followon is
the neatest thing since sliced bread and good for the country too. Keep it
under a page and state your basic point at the start, so if they're in a
hurry they can figure out what you're trying to tell them with a quick scan.
Don't overdo it, but in general try to know who you're contacting and
emphasize benefits likely to appeal to them, given their positions on the
political spectrum. Don't give them a laundry list; pick one or two reasons
to support SSRT and explain them succinctly in your own words.
Future US aerospace technological competitiveness plus stemming the ongoing
US loss of international space launch marketshare should appeal to just
about anyone. Reusable launchers in general promise an order-of-magnitude
or more reduction in launch costs, and SX-2 would demonstrate technologies
applicable to any reusable launcher, not just Delta Clipper.
Some benefits worth mentioning:
-defense conversion benefits due to the dual-use nature of SSTO technology.
(civilian space launch applications)
-economic benefits of improved US international aerospace competitiveness.
(We used to have 100% of the international launch market. That's dropped
to 40%, losing us billions each year. Cheaper launch will let us compete.)
-environmental benefits of reusable hydrogen-powered rockets. (no scrap
metal dumped downrange, nothing but water vapor for exhaust)
-the economic benefits to (Colorado, New Mexico, California, Florida,
Arizona, etc) of launch vehicles operable from or built in that state.
-if you're so inclined, the benefit of diverting DOD funds that might
otherwise go for weapons R&D.
-if you're so inclined, the security benefits of cheap rapid assured access
to space for monitoring of rapidly changing situations.
Part 2 of 2
Copyright 1993 by Henry Vanderbilt and Space Access Society.
DC-X Followon: Political Background (last changed August 28th 1993)
The current DC-X program is funded through flight test and data analysis
this fall, and ends after that. There is an ongoing effort to get the US
Congress to fund a three-year followon program, currently called SX-2 (Space
Experimental 2). This tentatively looks like being a reusable suborbital
vehicle powered by 8 RL-10-A5 engines, capable of reaching Mach 6 (about 1/4
orbital velocity) and 100 miles altitude, built with orbital-weight tanks
and structure, and able to test orbital grade heat-shielding.
The SX-2 program goal will be to demonstrate all remaining technology needed
to build a reusable single-stage-to-orbit vehicle. Once SX-2 has been
tested, all that should be necessary to produce a functioning reusable SSTO
is to scale up the SX-2 structures and install more powerful rocket engines.
[Developing such engines in parallel to SX-2 is likely to be SAS's next big
push. Existing engines could work for an orbital proof-of-concept vehicle,
but new engines optimized for SSTO operations would be preferable -HV]
Proposed FY '94 funding for SX-2 startup is $75 million. Total SX-2 program
cost over the next three years would be very much dependent on the
contractor chosen and the details of the design, but would be on the order
of several hundred million. This is the same order of magnitude as typical
recent X-aircraft programs such as the X-29 and X-31.
The $75 million SX-2 startup money now looks like being added to the
Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) budget, with at least some of the
funding in following years to come from other interested arms of the
government. SX-2 would still be run by the current BMDO (formerly SDIO)
DC-X management team, even though funded via ARPA, at least under the
current House version of the FY '94 Defense Authorization Bill.
The House of Representatives now seems favorably disposed toward SX-2. The
biggest hurdle ahead this year will probably be convincing the Senate to go
along when the House-Senate conference committee meets to work out the
differences between the two versions of next year's Defense budget.
** This is the section of the House Defense Authorization Bill approved at
** the start of August that covers DC-X (SSRT) Followon.
Section 217, Single Stage Rocket Technology
(a) Program Funding -- the Secretary of Defense shall establish a Single
Stage Rocket Technology program and shall provide funds for that program
within funds available for the Advanced Research Projects Agency. That
program shall be managed within the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense
(b) Funding -- Of the amount appropriated pursuant to section 201 for
Defense-wide activities, $79,880,000 shall be available for, and may be
obligated only for, Single Stage Rocket Technology.
** This is the section of the report accompanying the House Defense
** Authorization Bill that covers DC-X Followon. The report language is
** intended to clarify the intent of the bill.
From The House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services
Report on the FY '94 Defense Department Authorization Bill, H.R. 2401
H. Rpt. 103-200, 103rd Congress, 3rd Session; July 30th, 1993, pp. 172-173
Single Stage Rocket Technology
The budget request included $4.88 million for single stage rocket technology
(SSRT), also known as single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO), within the Ballistic
Missile Defense Office (BMDO) follow-on technologies program to complete the
final testing in phase one of the program.
The United States spends over $30 billion each year on space programs. Yet,
unlike many other commercial activities that have benefitted and achieved
greater efficiencies from military research and development, U.S. commercial
launch costs are at least twice -- and in some instances as much as ten
times -- the costs of foreign competitors. Similarly, it takes the United
States at least four times as long to provide launch services to any given
The Congress must remain skeptical and avoid fully embracing the sometimes
overly optimistic claims regarding SSRT/SSTO technology. Yet, if the United
States is to regain its international competitiveness in this critically
important military and economic area, it must pursue promising enabling
space launch technologies that have the potential of dramatic reductions in
Accordingly, the committee recommends the following:
(1) Transitioning SSRT/SSTO from BMDO to a "Space Launch Technology" program
element within the Advanced Research Projects Agency.
(2) Continuing with the current management team.
(3) Adding an additional $75 million to begin phase two of the program.
(4) Conducting an open competition among aerospace companies for phase two
of the program.
(5) Examining options for DOD, other government agencies/departments, and
industry cost sharing opportunities.
None of the additional funds recommended to be authorized may be obligated
until the congressional defense committees have been provided with a phase
two program plan outlining objectives and technical milestones and
certifying that funding support has been established for fiscal years 1995
** End of report excerpt
Henry Vanderbilt "Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere
Executive Director, in the Solar System."
Space Access Society - Robert A. Heinlein
firstname.lastname@example.org "You can't get there from here."
602 431-9283 voice/fax - Anonymous
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