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NASA Considers Apollo-Era F1 Engine For Space Launch System 197

Posted by Soulskill
from the what's-old-is-new dept.
MarkWhittington writes "A company named Dynetics, in partnership with Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, will perform a study contract for NASA to explore whether a modern version of the Saturn V F1 booster (PDF) could be used on the Space Launch System. These would be the basis for a liquid fueled rocket that would enhance the SLS to make it capable of launching 130 metric tons to low Earth orbit, thus making it capable of supporting deep space exploration missions in the 2020s."
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NASA Considers Apollo-Era F1 Engine For Space Launch System

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  • Oh man... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scutter (18425) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:11PM (#40804549) Journal

    I would LOVE to see the F1 back in action. Few things have inspired such awe in me as the launch of a Saturn V rocket and the five tremendous columns of fire atop which it strode.

    • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:52PM (#40804765)

      Same here. When I was a kid, my bet friend's dad was on the design team. He brought a rolled up, full size drawing of the Saturn V rocket (not just the booster) and laid it out on the athletic field at school. It is also the second loudest device ever created by man. The first being the hydrogen bomb!

      • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Genda (560240) <mariet@@@got...net> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:21PM (#40804857) Journal

        I grew up in the San Fernando Valley of "Valley Gurl" legend, but it was also the place the RocketDyne tested their engines. At the northwest end of the valley during the 60s, it would be a quiet summer day and them the silence would be split by a deafening roar coming from the Santa Susanna mountains. If we were up in the hills at one of the local parks, we might even catch a glimpse of a column of smoke. Pretty amazing times. Pretty awesome machine.

        • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Hans Lehmann (571625) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:23PM (#40805051)
          What's left of Rocketdyne still exists, and there's an actual F1 engine in front of their offices on Canoga Avenue, just north of Victory. https://maps.google.com/?ll=34.190997,-118.597948&spn=0.00041,0.000603&t=h&z=21 [google.com]
          • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Ellis D. Tripp (755736) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:08PM (#40805251) Homepage

            What's left of the test area is a toxic and radioactive waste site, as well...

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Susana_Field_Laboratory

          • by rworne (538610)

            That is it, I drive by this every day going to and from work in Warner Center to the south.

          • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

            by gishzida (591028) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .adizhsig.> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:23AM (#40806449) Journal

            I grew up in Canoga Park and West Hills.... I got to see the Santa Susanna mountains light up when they ran tests when I was a kid in the '60s... then I got lucky:

            I worked at Rocketdyne during the 80s... programming 3 and 4 axis Coordinate Measuring Machines, writing data evaluation and utility programs, and Inspection procedures in the "Precision Measuring Room" for the SSME QA organization... there were only about six of us that did that as the technical staff that over saw about 40 Machine Parts Inspectors [A 3 shift operation during the height of SSME]... We touched the hardware for everyone of the shuttle engines... As far as I was concerned workin' at "The Rocket Factory" was my ideal job...

            We had a mixed batch of stuff to work with: Zeiss CMMs [applications to drive the machine and write "measuring routines" was written in HPL on 9000 series "calculators"], an Italian CMM made by DEA with a DEC pdp-11 with 16k of 12 bit core [A C64 had more computing power]... [the measuring app was loaded via paper tape and output was either via DECWriter and/or punch tape]. I got to write an app to read data punch tapes on a Model 43 Teletype Paper tape reader and convert them to an ASCII txt file on a IBM-PC XT

            In the mid 80's they upgraded the DEA to use an HP computer that ran HP Rocky Mountain Basic... we did not have anything networked-- it was all sneaker net so I had to write an app for that HP to do a matrix coordinate rotation [from raw coordinate system to measured coordinate system] on the recorded measurements and then output them as a text file to a 5 1/4 inch floppy disk. The disk was walked over to the IBM PC-XT which then read the HP sector formatted disk using a commercial app and written to the IBM's "massive" 10 Mb disk. We then either plotted the data or wrote it to a floppy and delivered it to the Stress engineers... As I understand it that app lasted 9 years without a revision [long after I left]. I also wrote a plotter app that drove an 8 pen HP IEEE-488 Bus Plotter

            Languages? MS / IBM compiled basic, HPL, early on we had a time-share plotter app written for us in Fortran, Turbo Pascal [which is what I used to write most of the utility apps for PC because it was cheap and fast]. We also delved into HP calculator programs [HP11 and HP-67].

            I once got to go up to the Hill for a static firing of a set of Atlas engines [three engine set] at 3/4 of a mile away the engines sonic waves prevented me from catching a breath while the engines were firing...an F-1 has about 10 mtimes the thrust as an Atlas Set.

            Oh the stories...The memories...

      • by ThePeices (635180) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:00PM (#40805219)

        It is also the second loudest device ever created by man. The first being the hydrogen bomb!

        hmm, this doesnt pass the smell test.

        methinks a standard multi-kiloton fission bomb would be louder than the Saturn V. Quieter than a thermonuclear bomb, but louder than the Saturn.

    • by hairyfeet (841228)

      Well I'd also argue why waste money when we already have something that works, and works well?

      The F1 was well built, its tested, its a sunk cost. Sure it'll cost money to put them back in production but I bet it'll be a hell of a lot less than all the work that goes into a brand new design and most importantly we KNOW it works.

      So personally I'm 100% for this as well. The F1 was a damned good design and if we can save costs and get our space program back on track with the F1 back on the pad I say lets do t

      • It would be done completely differently today. Different materials, machine tools, tradeoffs. This is why J-2X is taking so long despite supposedly being based on an old design. Not to mention that Rocketdyne actually had recent experience building LOX/LH2 engines while they have designed no working LOX/Kerosene engine in recent times.
    • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:34PM (#40805113) Homepage Journal

      I would LOVE to see the F1 back in action. Few things have inspired such awe in me as the launch of a Saturn V rocket and the five tremendous columns of fire atop which it strode.

      I've been saying for years that we should simply build an updated Saturn rocket. The primary argument that people threw at me on this was cost: that it would simply cost too much to replace the outdated components in the design. I said that was mush then, and I'll say it now. We (meaning modern countries) continually build updated versions of older designs all the time. It's not that big an obstacle, or that costly either. Not only do we continually update old hardware for current and future use... the B-52 will famously roll along in service for another 25 years, with Boeing sticking new electronics in it... the Russians went one better and simply put their old Tu-95 Bear bombers back into production in the 90's... an aircraft that first flew in 1953. Several Russian rockets are nothing but dressed up old designs, and they work fairly well.

      So don't throw the "too costly/too complex" argument at me. Would an updated Saturn would really cost more than the Ares rockets planned for the Constellation program? I really doubt that. We're way too prone to reinvent the wheel on things like these, with an erroneous belief that "new" always equals "better".

      • Re:Oh man... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TCPhotography (1245814) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:17PM (#40805293)

        Back in the early 90s there was a study done on the feasibility of returning the F-1 into production relative to developing a single use version of the SSME (Space shuttle main engine), and back then it would have been cheaper even after you include the start up costs to go with the F-1.

        The reason for this is that back when the F-1 was pulled from production a massive effort to secure the institutional knowledge of how to build the engines was undertaken. Thousands of hours of recorded conversions with everyone from the designers to the engineers to the guys on the shop floor on how the engines were built, what problems were encountered, and how the problems were solved.

        As a side note, the Soviets kept the Bear in production for most of the 60's, 70's and 80's which is why they were able to keep building them. The B-52 production stopped in the first half of the 60's, and because the forge that was used to make the single-piece main spar wasn't in use any more, it was scrapped.

        Now, you could redesign the wing to use a multiple piece main spar like modern airliners, but then you wouldn't have the B-52 any more, you'd have something else.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        Another one - DC3. A couple of those with skis fly down to Antarctica every year and they look a lot like the one out of the old movie "The Thing from Outer Space". They've had a portion chopped out and replaced from in front of the wing, making them a bit longer, and have turboprops, but that's about all the changes from the version with skis flying in the 1940s.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        So don't throw the "too costly/too complex" argument at me.

        I won't. You've abundantly demonstrated that you're clueless enough not to comprehend it.

  • Total n00b here (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is there any reason we shouldn't recycle designs when it comes to rocket engines? Of course (maybe?) we could use modern tools to help improve efficiency but is there anything to gain by starting from scratch?

    I really wish I understood more about rocketry and satellites :/

    • Re:Total n00b here (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PPH (736903) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:33PM (#40804663)

      Who is hauling all of our astronauts back and forth to the ISS right now? How old is their design?

      There is a lot to be said for refining stable designs instead of starting over with a clean sheet of paper, back at the bottom of the learning curve.

      I really wish I understood more about rocketry and satellites :/

      This is true in many other fields as well. I really wish NASA understood more about rocketry and satellites.

      • I just realized the Intel microprocessor is almost as old as the F1 rocket engine.

        Not quite sure what to make of that realization.

        I did have my hands on a F1. If you want to see my photo, google "VolCo360". or click this link. http://www.volco360.com/2012/07/the-engine-that-could.html [volco360.com]

      • The fact that people have to ride into space on Russian (or Chinese) rockets is less about the technology than the ham fisted planning and management of American politicians, bureaucrats, and NASA administrators. Have you forgotten already that the first privately financed rocket company just had a capsule dock with the space station? A year or so and people will be riding on new rockets. And I doubt anyone started at the bottom of the learning curve. I wouldn't doubt that building a new motor from scratch
    • Re:Total n00b here (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Baloroth (2370816) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:49PM (#40804749)

      Is there any reason we shouldn't recycle designs when it comes to rocket engines? Of course (maybe?) we could use modern tools to help improve efficiency but is there anything to gain by starting from scratch?

      Unless you have some new form of rocket fuel or someone discovers a radical new design for an engine that improves efficiency, not really. Rockets are a pretty well established field: starting from scratch doesn't really happen. Not only would it add a ton of testing and design time (which costs quite a lot of money), but you aren't really even sure it would work any better. Rockets are, well, rockets. Ignite propellant, make sure it heads out the back. Thats a gross oversimplification, of course, but they aren't like jets that have a ton of thrust-creating parts you can redesign and recreate in different ways (turbojet, ramjet, scramjet, etc.)

      • Re:Total n00b here (Score:5, Informative)

        by nojayuk (567177) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:28PM (#40804875)
        The F-1 is actually quite crude by today's standards. It's not throttleable so the acceleration curve for a Saturn-V launch started off slow and picked up to about 4-Gs as the first stage's fuel ran out which beat up the crew somewhat. The Shuttle in comparison never exceeded 3-G. The F-1 has a low chamber pressure (70 bar) and reduced Isp (263 seconds) compared to modern LOX/RP-1 engines like the throttleable RD-180 (266 bar and 311 seconds) as used on the Atlas launcher.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EdgePenguin (2646733)
          Let me go further. The RD-180 is actually a 2 thrust chamber version of a 4 trust chamber engine, the RD-170. The newer version of the RD-170, the RD-171 - is currently in service as the first stage engine of the Zenit rocket and critically produces more thrust than an F-1 engine does.

          If NASA wants to break out the most powerful liquid fuel engines ever built, they need to go to Russia with their checkbooks again. At the end of the cold war, the Soviets ended up way ahead in liquid engine design - which c

    • Is there any reason we shouldn't recycle designs when it comes to rocket engines?

      Even considering going back to a 40+ year-old design is an admission of failure - pretty typical for government funded projects, when compared to the private sector. Compare that with all the innovation (admittedly, spurred on by an almost constant state of war) in the 'plane industry. 60 years stood between wooden biplanes and the Jumbo Jet and the US government is now saying that the best way to resurrect their space programme is to start making the rocketry equivalent of a DC-3, again.

      • Even considering going back to a 40+ year-old design is an admission of failure - pretty typical for government funded projects, when compared to the private sector.

        The 747 is still being made, 43 years after its first flight in 1969, the year of the first Moon rocket. The 737 is still being made, first flight, 1967. Sure, they're different now, but the fundamental design is still there. They're still competitive with much newer designs, otherwise they wouldn't be offered anymore.

        I'm not sure where the DC-3 comparison comes in, is there a new regime of rocket engine that compares with going from rotary piston prop to jet engine? Even SpaceX's home-built Merlin engi

  • Rocket engines (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:19PM (#40804571)

    This is what I like about rocket engines. A rocket engine designed for a specific load in the 60s and today would have nearly the same design. A modernized F1 is entirely logical.

    And before people complain about rocket engines not advancing at the same rate as microprocessors, let me note that the cost of a rocket is primarily determined by its complexity, not the cost of fuel or the size of the engines. A simple rocket engine (like the F1) that burns kerosene and oxygen is often cheaper than super advanced rocket engines like those on the Space Shuttle.

    • Re:Rocket engines (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:51PM (#40804955) Journal

      This is what I like about rocket engines. A rocket engine designed for a specific load in the 60s and today would have nearly the same design. A modernized F1 is entirely logical.

      There have been plenty of advances since the 60s, especially in the materials sciences,
      it's just that no one but NASA would spend the money on R&D.

      Even the private space companies of today are building their engines using cast-offs from the NASA programs of old.
      They look for parts in a California junkyard called Norton Sales, where used NASA parts go to die.
      You're not going to find cheap rocket grade titanium turbopumps anywhere else in the world.

      Heck, even NASA has had to go scrounging through that junkyard,
      because they've destroyed the blueprints for so many old pieces of equipment,
      that the only way to rebuild them is to find an original and reverse engineer it.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        You are talking two different things here with this "junk yard" called Norton Sales.

        First, there are hobby rocket builders who scrounge through that junk yard for parts because they are building one-off specialized rockets on an extreme budget and are largely garage tinkerers anyway. I know guys who have done that for automobiles, tractors, and other kinds of equipment too for largely the same reason.

        As for NASA going through that place to dig up parts, they are either looking for engineering samples to ac

  • Minor nitpick. (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:23PM (#40804599) Homepage Journal

    The F-1 wasn't a booster, it was an engine. The booster stage using the F-1 was the S-1C.

  • by Hadlock (143607) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:26PM (#40804621) Homepage Journal

    The F1 was designed on blackboards and drafting tables. A "modern" F1 is only going to be similar in size - it'd have to be a clean sheet design, the facilities that built the F1 are long gone at this point. Why even study redesigning the F1? This seems like a tremendous waste. Of course it's going to be a clean sheet, computer drafted design.
     
    Money for a study on a stone age rocket design* seems like a federal handout, nothing more.
     
    *although the Saturn V's anti-oscillation system is pretty inspired... for it's time

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:39PM (#40804683)

      The F1 is a perfect example of a big dumb booster [wikipedia.org]. It is cheap, especially so if you mass produce it. The Space Shuttle Main Engines are examples of non-stone age rocket design that uses advanced materials and tries to be reusable. Guess which one is cheaper to operate?

      Here's a hint: the Russians like big dumb boosters for a reason.

    • by mjr167 (2477430) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:45PM (#40804713)
      Because it is good engineering practice to know what has been done before? We do not build things in a vacuum, but rather we build upon the successes and failures of others. By knowing what has failed in the past we can avoid those traps in the future and by knowing what has worked we can have a firm foundation upon which to improve.
      • by 0123456 (636235)

        By knowing what has failed in the past we can avoid those traps in the future and by knowing what has worked we can have a firm foundation upon which to improve.

        Except we know Saturn V failed as an economical method of launching things into space... yet NASA are building a modern version with the same problems (too big, not reusable, no customer other than NASA, too low a flight rate, etc, etc).

        • by Nimey (114278)

          Saturn V wasn't used to boost large payloads to LEO with the exception of Skylab. False comparison.

          One supposes that it might be economical if it's properly mass produced and not required to be man-rated.

          • Politics and NASA say hello. 'Economical' will not play a role in this project.

          • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:39PM (#40804903)

            Saturn V wasn't used to boost large payloads to LEO with the exception of Skylab. False comparison.

            Uh, what do you think an Apollo mission was?

            One supposes that it might be economical if it's properly mass produced and not required to be man-rated.

            Yes. Now perhaps you can explain where all these 150 ton payloads are that need a mass-produced heavy lifter that will, at least initially, cost billions of dollars per flight?

            Hint: they don't exist. There's no budgeted payload for this launcher.

            • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

              Saturn V wasn't used to boost large payloads to LEO with the exception of Skylab. False comparison.

              Uh, what do you think an Apollo mission was?

              To the Moon, Alice! to the Moon!

          • by khallow (566160)

            One supposes that it might be economical if it's properly mass produced and not required to be man-rated.

            It's safe to say that like all the other parts of the SLS, it will not be properly mass produced.

          • by sahonen (680948) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:38AM (#40806325) Homepage Journal
            Saturn V wasn't used to boost large payloads to LEO

            On a lunar mission, the Saturn V would put the Command and Service Module, the Lunar Module, and a booster with enough fuel to put them both on a lunar trajectory, into LEO. That's a pretty damn large payload, the largest payload to LEO of any single vehicle ever produced. The fact that the payload eventually boosted itself the rest of the way to the moon isn't relevant to the vehicle's ability to put mass into LEO.

            It is the nature of rocketry that any small mass in a high orbit will tend to get there by going through a period in which it is a large mass in a lower orbit. In a staged rocket, it is useful to think of each stage as its own vehicle, with all of the stages above it as its payload which it is capable of delivering to a certain point.
        • by sjames (1099)

          We do not know that. It was never tried.

        • by LWATCDR (28044) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:48PM (#40804935) Homepage Journal

          The Saturn V was the most cost efficient heavy lift launch vehicle to fly. The cost per lb to LEO is only $9,915 which is cheaper than the Atlas V or the Ariane V. The Falcon 9 does beat it but then you have the other metric.
          Saturn V 118,000 kg to LEO
          Falcon 9 10,450 kg to LEO
          Falcon Heavy 53,000 kg to LEO
          And that was with 1960s support systems. NASA was working on an improved Saturn 5 and tested F-1a engines that where ligher, had more thrust, and a higher specific impulse than the ones flown in the Saturn 5. Take the F-1a and add modern electronics for control and build the stage using modern methods and materials and you could drop the costs.
          What I fear is this is just a tactic to do nothing. If you keep studying the new launch system and changing it you will never have to build it. If you do not build it can never fail so you can never be blamed. As a politico it works well you can spend a ton of money doing studies to save money by finding a better way and when you have spent a lot you can kill the project because "they" have wasted all this money and have not built a thing.
           

          • by 0123456 (636235)

            The Saturn V was the most cost efficient heavy lift launch vehicle to fly.

            That's like saying the new Ferrari will be the most cost-efficient Ferrari ever built. It's still expensive.

            And, I suspect those numbers don't include the development cost, whereas SpaceX actually have to pay for developing their launcher as well as flying it. I did some quick sums based on numbers I found on the web including development costs and got a number closer to $20,000 a pound.

            • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

              The Saturn V was the most cost efficient heavy lift launch vehicle to fly.

              That's like saying the new Ferrari will be the most cost-efficient Ferrari ever built. It's still expensive.

              Think of it like a train. Locomotives are expensive, and they burn a lot of fuel. But they carry huge amounts of freight in those mile long trains. Each pound of freight is shipped incredibly cheaply.

            • by LWATCDR (28044)

              No it is like saying that X is the most cost-efficient semi-truck ever made and someone saying my Prius gets better mileage. That is all fine and good except that a Prius can not haul a 10,000 kg across country.
              The Falcon Heavy has not flown yet so it's dev costs are still unknown. It will probably be cheaper but it can not put 100,000kg in LEO.
              And yes modern design, testing, construction methods, and materials well means that a new F-1a should be better than even the F-1a that was tested in the late 60s. A

          • by tmosley (996283)
            I have to ask: did you adjust your figures for inflation?
          • by Teancum (67324)

            The Saturn V was originally designed to be used for a long, long time with production runs numbering in the hundreds if not thousands of copies. The test stand set up along with the part supplier chains were originally told that the Moon landings were only going to be the warm up to a much more aggressive manned spaceflight program. Unfortunately Congress choose not to go that route and instead cut the program altogether in favor of a design which came from another part of NASA. That is what gave us the

            • by Z00L00K (682162)

              And the space shuttle was designed to carry out military missions as well as civilian which is one reason why it was so large. Some missions could have been done with a smaller vessel and to a lower cost.

              The beauty of the shuttle was that it could land as an ordinary aircraft and it therefore allowed for some alternative options while when you have a capsule you will just be a passenger and no control over if you drop down on a cow or a dolphin when you come down.

        • Except we know Saturn V failed as an economical method of launching things into space...

          ...except it failed less than anything else ever tried. So, uh, ok.
          Now if you mean it failed economically, as in Congress had other plans with our tax dollars, then maybe.
          Reusable? You learned little from Apollo and learned nothing from the Shuttle. If you have discovered a cheaper way to burn kerosine in rockets that deliver maximum payload, you are going to be rich. (they would have built a bigger Saturn V if they

    • by bmo (77928) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @08:46PM (#40804719)

      >Why even study redesigning the F1?

      Because it's the largest liquid fueled engine in existence, and it works. Nobody has anything comparable to it, not even the Russians. There's a reason why the Russians use so many smaller engines.

      Why design from scratch when you have known working prototypes? Only fools reinvent the wheel. Indeed, going back and redesigning the "shower head" fuel injection plate would be just nuts as it works fabulously.

      A lighter, more efficient F-1A would be really, really sweet.

      --
      BMO

      • by savuporo (658486) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:10PM (#40805017)
        Because it's the largest liquid fueled engine in existence, and it works. Nobody has anything comparable to it, not even the Russians.

        Why let facts get in the way of perfectly good chest thumping, huh ? RD-170, the engine that lifted Polyus and Buran with Energia rocket, and its derivative is powering Zenit rockets today, has higher thrust than F-1 had ( past tense )
        • by bmo (77928) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:38PM (#40805139)

          You're forgetting the F-1A.

          The F1 was designed in 1959. The F1A is an improved version, which is what we're really talking about.

          And the F1A has these stats:

          Rocketdyne Lox/Kerosene rocket engine. 9189.6 kN. Study 1968. Designed for booster applications. Gas generator, pump-fed. Isp=310s.

          Thrust (sl): 8,003.800 kN (1,799,326 lbf). Thrust (sl): 816,178 kgf. Engine: 8,098 kg (17,853 lb). Chamber Pressure: 70.00 bar. Area Ratio: 16. Propellant Formulation: Lox/RP-1. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 115.71.

          Status: Study 1968.
          Unfuelled mass: 8,098 kg (17,853 lb).
          Height: 5.48 m (17.97 ft).
          Diameter: 3.61 m (11.84 ft).
          Thrust: 9,189.60 kN (2,065,904 lbf).
          Specific impulse: 310 s.
          Specific impulse sea level: 270 s.
          Burn time: 158 s.
          First Launch: 1967.

          Source: http://www.astronautix.com/engines/f1a.htm [astronautix.com]

          The RD-170 has these stats:

          Chambers: 4. Thrust (sl): 7,550.000 kN (1,697,300 lbf). Thrust (sl): 769,876 kgf. Engine: 9,750 kg (21,490 lb). Chamber Pressure: 245.00 bar. Area Ratio: 36.87. Thrust to Weight Ratio: 82.66. Oxidizer to Fuel Ratio: 2.6.

          AKA: 11D520.
          Status: Development ended 1976.
          Unfuelled mass: 9,750 kg (21,490 lb).
          Height: 3.78 m (12.40 ft).
          Diameter: 4.02 m (13.17 ft).
          Thrust: 7,903.00 kN (1,776,665 lbf).
          Specific impulse: 337 s.
          Specific impulse sea level: 309 s.
          Burn time: 150 s.
          First Launch: 1981-93.
          Number: 12 .

          Source: http://www.astronautix.com/engines/rd170.htm [astronautix.com]

          Chest thumping? I think not.

          --
          BMO

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by savuporo (658486)
            BS, it was a study, a never built paper engine. Doesn't jive with "Because it's the largest liquid fueled engine in existence, and it works." It never existed. RD-171 is in active service right now.
            • by bmo (77928)

              >BS, it was a study, a never built paper engine.

              >first launch: 1967

              Yup. Never built.

              Even if all it did was sit in the test stand and get tested, it's a real engine.

              Get stuffed.

              --
              BMO

              • by savuporo (658486)
                It never launched on anything, i'm not sure what you are on about. Couple of crates of parts at PWR don't constitute a "largest liquid fueled engine in existence".
                For things that never left the test stand, there were RD-270 and all sorts of other ludicrous attempts.

                Again, RD-171 is flying, today, and it is more powerful than anything else ever flown.
            • by bmo (77928)

              >never built

              http://www.flickr.com/photos/timserge/3352770806/ [flickr.com]

              Seeya.

              --
              BMO

    • Actually, the original building at Cape Canaveral in which the Saturn V was built was repurposed for the space shuttle (which took up a fraction of the space.) It can easily be repurposed again.
      • by Digicrat (973598)

        Actually, the original building at Cape Canaveral in which the Saturn V was assembled was repurposed for the space shuttle (which took up a fraction of the space.) It can easily be repurposed again.

        FTFY. Each stage of the Saturn V was built and tested elsewhere before being shipped to Kennedy for final assembly.

      • by Teancum (67324)

        The original building at Cape Canaveral (the Vehicle Assembly Building) was designed to house the successor to the Saturn V, which was going to be an even larger rocket. Once the Saturn V was basically proving itself along with things like the original F1 engine being able to produce the desired thrust, plans for that follow up rocket were dropped.

        There are a total of four bays in the Vehicle Assembly Building, two of which are currently being refit for the SLS program including the mobile launcher pad tha

    • by Macrat (638047)

      Money for a study on a stone age rocket design* seems like a federal handout, nothing more.

      Exactly. NASA's future is paying companies like SpaceX to handle payloads.

      This is nothing more than gov't pork expenses.

      • Not entirely. My guess is that NASA is handing out money for studies to keep this going before getting to the real money. If they can prolong this, when SpaceX comes out with a successful FH, then NASA heads can make the argument that SLS is a waste of money and kill it. I would not be surprised to see SpaceX announce right after the FH success about the Merlin-2 that they are developing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Sir Holo (531007)
      Rocket design is stone-aged.

      The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an odd number! Why was that gauge used? Well, because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the US railroads. The first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used. The people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that
      • by petsounds (593538) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @10:19PM (#40805037)

        What's up, snopes [snopes.com]. Nice tall tale, though.

        • by fnj (64210)

          Snopes has gradually but comprehensively turned into a horse's ass. They will deny ANY story you give them. In the stupid article you link to, they as much as say, yes, the story is essentially true, we can't verify every excruciating detail 100% so we're going to say something with is essentially an excellent exposition is "FALSE", just because we make it our business to claim EVERYTHING is false.

          • by dbIII (701233)
            There's even bullshit on there like the "motorbikes pollute more than SUVs" rubbish. Even if such a monster bike existed and you were trying to sell it new then the emissions regulations (much tighter for bikes than SUVs) wouldn't let you sell it.
            Snopes is pretty well abandoned, misleading and pointless.
          • So will fox, Pravda, National Enquiror, and Xinhua. And they do it all without facts.

            Personally, I will trust snopes long before trusting some of the BS around the world.
      • We all know that's nothing but an urban legend.

      • Wrong - By thousands of years. Rome was a late iron age culture, dating back to about 500BC. The iron age itself began about 1300 BC. It was preceded by the Bronze age, which began about 3000 BC. The stone age was before that. So Roman chariot design is closer in years to modern technology than it is to stone age tech.
      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass. And you thought being a horse's ass wasn't important? Ancient horse's asses control almost everything...

        Cymbal crash!

        I do like the joke and story for sure. I see the connections as a very cool thing, both a connection and a interesting engineering problem. Similar to the way the 200 inch Hale telescope. Before they settled on the size, they had to measure the available height of every bridge it would have to go under on the way from New York to California. Add that to the railroad car it was mounted on and the casing, and there was the maximum mirror size they could practically make without sending it by oc

  • by Scootin159 (557129) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:38PM (#40804897) Homepage
    Am I the only one who was wondering what NASA was going to be doing with a Cosworth DFV?
    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      No, I thought the same :) but I doubt that the largely US audience here would get the joke.
    • by rossdee (243626)

      The best F1 engines these days are euuopean - Renault, Mercedes and Ferrari

      and Formula 1 has a bigger budget than NASA.

      • And yet, I will trust NASA to get me to the highest speeds, furthest distance, and least amount of maintenance or least bugs, LONG before I trust Renault, Mercedes or Ferrari.
  • Costs (Score:4, Informative)

    by Altanar (56809) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @09:43PM (#40804917)
    Wouldn't it be more cost effective for NASA to just use the upcoming SpaceX Merlin 2 engine? The design documents state that the Merlin 2 should provide 890 kN more thrust than the old F1 engine and should be much more efficient. Plus, the Merlin 2 has the benefit of being already in active development: SpaceX expects they'll have it ready for certification within 3 years.
    • It would be worth watching the progress on Merlin 2, but as far as I can tell, SpaceX isn't publicly releasing their progress on the engine. That's absolutely fine, but it probably don't make sense to design a new rocket around the engine until it either exists, or the company commits to producing it. There have been lots of aerospace ventures that have been canceled for technical or economic reasons after the program started.

      • Actually, there was one interesting statement that was made prior to C2-C3 launch. Basically, they said that they have temporarily set aside other work to focus on that launch, and that included their hydrogen engine AND Merlin 2. So, there is some work continuing on these, but to what degree is unknown. It could be 1-4 ppl total working on both engines. It could be more.

        But seeing how Musk operates, he used to talk openly (basically selling them) about everything, but then changed to only talking about
  • Obligatory XKCD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:08PM (#40805247)
  • "A new airplane doesn't make a new engine possible, a new engine makes a new airplane possible".

    While this may be the right thing to do, admit your mistake (cough "shuttle" cough), and use a simple cheap design for a big dumb booster, I'm a little sad for possibilities lost.

    Too bad the linear aerospike engines never panned out (X-37?) or the hypersonic scramjet hasn't been fully developed. While the F-1 may reduce launch costs by a factor of 10, it'll take some revolutionary new technology to bring it down

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Saturday July 28, 2012 @11:40PM (#40805417) Journal
    Right now, this is nothing more than a GD neo-con job's bill that will waste another 10-20 billion, 10 years to get a rocket that will launch 70 tonnes to LEO at $1-3 Billion per launch.

    Instead, a far better solution is to create a COTS-SHLV for 2 Super heavy launch vehicles that are in the range of 150 +- 20 tonnes to LEO. Two American companies would get 5 billion each over 5 years total to design, build and test the rockets which have to have no less than 85% American construction/parts. Upon the successful completion of these, another contest would be held for 2 companies to win a contract of 2 launches a year for 4 years. In addition, who ever is the cheapest would then get a 3rd launch, at the same price as the other 2. The max can only be .5B/launch.

    With this approach, we could have multiple launch systems that can then be used to back each other up, but also can be used to launch private industry as well as military. And once there are 2 launch systems with cheap prices, and can do 150 tonnes to LEO, you can bet on it that we will see a major build-up of private space.

    OTOH, the SLS is PROHIBITED by law from doing private launches. It can only by used by NASA and the DOD. And from the DOD's POV, they would rather have much cheaper prices then 1-3 billion/launch. However, if private space can do a .5B and under launcher, then we will no doubt see many many launches, space stations and most importantly, stations on the moon and mars.
  • by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @12:54AM (#40805779)
    Well there was another engine bigger than the F-1, that is the Airjet M-1. There is a piece of one at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. http://www.evergreenmuseum.org/the-museum/aircraft-exhibits/space-flight/ [evergreenmuseum.org] Very big, very impressive. It was design for 1 1/2 million lb of thrust in the base configuration. It would make a interesting starting point for a updated engine.
  • We get too fixated on the latest and greatest, The point is the physics don't change so the technology needs updating not a from scratch approach. Look at trains. The biggest change from the 1800s is the shift to diesel from coal. Otherwise the technology is largely unchanged only the safety equipment gets upgraded regularly. Funny how we are still trying to get back to where we were in the late 60s with rocket engines. The SR-71 is another good example. They were used into the late 90s and it was 50s techn

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