bislaunchers.html
© Juhani Westman, 2003,2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2017.


The BIS Postwar Launch Vehicles

In the immediate postwar years the successful German rocket missile A4 (V2) became an inspiration for space enthusiasts in many countries. The Fellows and Members of the British Interplanetary Society were especially active, as their own country, then still a Great Power, in their opinion could and should begin to take an active part in developing the technology for Space Flight.

Written March 14, 2003, 2013, Last Update Dec 18, 2017

At the end of World War 2 Great Britain, alongside with its Allies, gained access to the technology of ballistic missiles developed in Germany during the war. It was strongly felt, that a Great Britain, that had created an Air Force capable of mounting thousand-bomber raids, along with producing fighter aircraft in their thousands, and had given the Western World radar, in-air-refuelling and the jet motor, should use this new technology and thus take on the burden of creating space launchers and manned craft, both technically and economically speaking. This sentiment, however, was not shared by the political leadership in the Postwar Britain, and has not been a strong feature of the political will in that country since.
Among those postwar prophets promoting development of Launch Vehicles, Space Stations and Moon flights were the pair R.A.Smith and H.E.Ross, and the trio K.W.Gatland, A.M.Kunesh and A.E.Dixon.

The Ross-Smith Launchers.
    In Europe Ralph A Smith was at the time ranked along with Chesley Bonestell as the Space Flight Artist, enjoying widespread publicity in in the 1940-ies. /1/

Moonlander cutaway, copyright: R.A. Smith, BIS
   The BIS Pre-War Moonlander, as sketched by R.A.Smith. Note the cells of solid propellant rockets for braking to land om the Moon, and re-ascent towards the Earth. A "carapace" over the cabin provides aerodynamic cover during the ascent from Earth, it is jettisoned as the craft leaves the atmosphere. © BIS 1939

Smith worked for a time as Leading Draughtsman at the Rocket Propulsion Establishment at Westcott, where the motors for a number of missiles, launch vehicles and manned rocket propulsed aircraft were developed. Smith and his partner since the BIS Lunar Spaceship calculation project before the War, Harry E Ross, now studied the possibility of manning an modified A-4, which they named Megaroc. A plan was even submitted to the Ministry of Supply.

Space Station, copyright: R.A. Smith, BIS
   The Space Station, as pictured by R.A.Smith. Note the Solar Concentrator for electrical power, with the Boiler Tubing Ring in the bottom, and the Coelostat in the middle of the Concentrator Assembly, enabling astronomical or Earth observations from the rotating station. Crew Compartments on the back of the Concentrator, the long Arm with Airlock for docking, and for Communication Antennas is de-spun. Also note the size of the Earth in the background, indicating that the Station orbits at Geosynchronous altitude 22 000 miles (36 000 kilometres) above the Equator. © BIS

   The duo also designed a Space Station formed as a disc superimposed by a large parabolic solar concentrator, an new Atomic Mooncraft with a cabin rather like the prewar version, for which the Megaroc cabin clearly is to be a prototype, and they designed more conventional launch vehicles for the Station project.

Manned Orbital Rocket, copyright: R.A. Smith,Bob Parkinson, BIS
   The BIS Post-War Manned Orbital Rocket, as sketched by R.A.Smith in 1951, copied by Bob Parkinson in 2006. The Rocket in the Parkinson sketch has four stages, with the Manned Glider constituting a Fifth Stage. The big steering vanes at the end of the nozzles are an A4(V2) heritage. Note the way the upper stages are inserted into the lower, also the burying of the motors into a central bay, which stretches along the whole rocket fuselage. While this construction may be advantageous in a load-carrying sense, it certainly makes the in-situ checkout and adjustments to the engines a difficult proposition. © Bob Parkinson, BIS 2006

The Ross-Smith Launch Vehicle of the late fourties was a traditional tandem 4-stage or 5-stage rocket, with parachute recovery of the 1:st and 2:nd stages.
   The by Parkinson quoted sketch above shows the four stages plus the Manned Glider, with a lift-off mass of over 2 300 metric tons. The mass of the Winged Orbital Glider was puny, dry with payload 3,7 t, with propellants 8,1 t. The reason for the large mass and the reason for going to 5 stages is according to Parkinson to be found in the rather low specific impulse, no more than 221 kps/kg, 2 160 Ns/kg in vacuo and the high construction factors, around 0,2 times propellants, for all four pure rocket stages. Both these factors should probably be seen as legacies from the V2 technology.
  I have long been struck with the incongruity between this sketch and other artworks of launchers by Smith, the fact that Earth is seen from 22 000 miles altitude on the Station picture and a mentioning in one of the Gatland books that the Smith Station, in fact, is a depiction of one of the Telecommunications Relay Stations propagated by A.C.Clarke.
Curiously enough, the capacity of the rocket approaches that of a Launch Vehicle for Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, if the Specific Impulse is raised to the same values propagated by W von Braun for his Orbital Launcher during these same years, othervise concurring with the Parkinson reconstruction. The von Braun values given in "The Mars Project" written in 1948..50 is 230 kps/kg, 2 250for the first stage, sea level, 285 kps/kg, 2 800 for all the upper stages in vacuo. von Braun advocated using fuming nitric acid as oxidator and hydrazine as fuel, using a combustion chamber pressure of 15 atmospheres.
The 5:th stage will then be seen to be able to circularize the orbit and with refill of it's tanks, being able to enter a return ellipse. The other sketches and artwork by Smith shows a smaller Three Stage rocket, launch mass around 700 tonnes, for ascent to Low Earth Orbit.
  Each stage had only one rocket engine, thus the size of the 1st stage engine, with a thrust of 46 MN vastly exceeded that of the later F-1 for Saturn-V, 6,9 MN. The enormous size followed from another of the V2 legacies, a liftoff acceleration of 2 g absolute, 1 g relative. The 5:th stages were either manned gliders, with propulsion for orbit injection and de-orbiting, or unmanned conical payload containers with propulsion for orbit injection only. Orbital altitude was usually given as 500 miles, i.e some 800 kilometers, over the equator.
   The Smith launcher was, according to Parkinson, probably projected in the late fourties, as witnessed by the low spacific impulse quoted by him. But assuming that the Five Stage Launcher vas aimed at Geosynchronous Orbit and using the then current values of Isp, the lowering of capacity to that of Low Earth Orbit, altitude 500 miles, i.e. 805 kilometres, synchronizes well with documented lowering of the size of the rocket and liftoff mass. The Three Stager would consist of stages Three Four and Five, with Stages 3 and Four configured with aerodynamic fins, and mold lines patterned after Stages One and Two in the sketch.    According to Kenneth Gatland / 2/ the launch mass for the Manned Orbital Rocket would be around 740 metric tons. The return stage would mass some 6 metric tons with a payload of 0,5 metric tons, i.e the 3-man crew with their space suits. The unmanned payload to orbit would be some 5 metric tons, plus container, guidance and propulsion.

R.A. Smith produced a series of artwork showing both the launch area, the ascent and staging of the rocket, the glider, the cargo containers parked in orbit, tanking of a manned craft from a cargo craft, the space suits and the Station. The design of the rockets owes a lot to A4(V2), for example the graphite steering vanes at the exit of the nozzles are quite prominent features, even around the giant first stage engine nozzle.
   It will be noted that much of the artwork by R.A.Smith has been used somewhat out of context, to illustrate ideas by other Authors, thus, there is not always an 1:1 correspondence between the Ross-Smith LV and LV or spacecraft proposals from the other BIS Authors.

Megaroc.
   In the JBIS May 1948 issue Ross and Smith presented their idea of adapting an A4(V2) for manned space flight. They had approached the Ministry of Supply with a proposal dated December 23, 1946, but the proposal was rejected. /3/.

Megaroc, copyright: R.A. Smith, BIS
   Megaroc, as sketched by R.A.Smith. © BIS

   By lenghtening the propellant tanks some, deleting the aerodynamic fins and substituting a one-man cabin beneath an aerodynamic "carapace" they proposed to launch a man to the altitude of a million feet, or 305 kilometres, during 228 seconds of free flight, to test the ability of humans to stand weightlessness. Hence the name of the proposal: Megaroc.
   The turbopump assembly of the motor was reoriented so that the momentum of the assembly would help to stabilize the ascent, and impart a roll during the last seconds of operation, so as to achieve a sort of centrifugal "artificial gravity". At the end of the propulsive phase, "All burnt", the cabin capsule would separate from the launcher. The capsule would be equipped with its own H2O2 ( in the UK called HTP) attitude thrusters for de-spinning
"with careful control of the conditioning of the passenger".

Megarocflight, copyright: R.A. Smith, BIS
    The Megaroc Flight Plan. Sketch by R.A.Smith. Copyright BIS

   The descent would be braked by a parachute. A "crumpling skirt" of the same design as the later Mercury capsule employed to soften the splashdown. The rocket would descend under its own parachute to be recovered and re-used.

The Gatland-Kunesh-Dixon Vehicles.
   The impact of the works by Ross and Smith was immediate, arousing the interest of the public in Europe years before the famous Collier's article series shook the US. Unfortunately the impact was not enough to arouse officialdom to action. Their colleagues in the BIS, the aero engineers Kenneth Gatland and Alan Dixon and the civil engineer Anthony Kunesch, displaying a solid technical background, produced a bizarre series of satellite launcher proposals, in the end, however, succeeding in stirring the interest that led to the actual development of the first US Satellite Launch Vehicles.

  "Expendable Tank Construction."
   The trio started out with an idea of marrying the A4(V2) technology with an idea along the principles of drop tanks for the Spitfire fighter aircraft Gatland and Kunesch had been involved in at Supermarine during WW II. They called the principle Expendable Tank Construction, which according to Gatland in /2/
   "consists of jettisoning from the rocket, while under thrust, propellant tanks, formed as half-cylinders, which when bound together with explosive ties had acted as integral load-carrying structure and formed part of the hulls of the initial steps."

expendA4 0, copyright: Kenneth Gatland BIS
    The Expendable Construction Satellite Launcher with A4 Technology. © Ref /4/, p 80

   In those days rocket structure factors were high, in the A4 (V2) the total ratio of structure mass to propellant mass was a whopping 0,342. Considering tankage section only the structure mass still was around a tenth of the propellant mass. The answer seemed to consist in using an extraordinarely great number of stages. The German trio Rolf Engel, Uwe T Bödewaldt and Kurt Hanisch suggested a six-step manned launch vehicle to low Earth orbit, launch mass 220 tonnes, payload 3 tonnes.( See  Six steps to orbit.)
   K.Gatland cites a paper by the American scientists F.J.Malina and M. Summerfield, where they calculate the Gross Lift Off Weight needed to launch a 10 lbs = 4,5 kg payload away from Earth using different propellants. For example, nitric acid and aniline, Isp around 204 lbforce-sec/lbmass (2000 Ns/kg), using five stages - called "steps" in those days - with a structural factor =Mstruct/Mprop = 0,2 would result in a launch mass of 832 Klb = 373 metric tonnes. If the rocket would have 10 steps the GLOW would be 136 Klb= 61,7 metric tonnes./4/

Using Expendable Tank Construction Gatland, Kunesch and Dixon went one better. An A4 Technology Satellite Launcher design study dated 1949-50, shows a three stage vehicle with the A4 propellants, liquid oxygen/methyl alcohol. The study is admittedly aimed to show that:

    "If ever we are allowed officially to "think big" in terms of rockets in Britain, we could design orbital vehicles with a propulsion unit having no better performance than the existing A-4 motor". /5/

All the parameters for the motors, tankage, structure, specific impulses etc were copied from the A4. In order to keep the Gross LiftOff Weight within reasonable bounds a payload mass of 50 kilogrammes was specified, without any further discussion of what the payload would consist of. To aid in liftoff, as the Authors wished to keep the motor weights and the final accelerations of the stages down, two rings of solid propellant rockets were to assist with additional thrust during the launch, the way JATO rockets were used in those years to assist aircraft take-offs. Each rocket unit would develope 5 Klbforce thrust for 5 sec, the first bank would consist of 92 units, the second bank of 83 units. Their firing would be staggered over around 1,5 seconds for each bank, so that the last rockets in the second bank would burn out after 13 seconds from liftoff, when the rocket would travel at 140 m/s.

Step 1 would be propelled by 7 unmodified A4 thrust units, each with its own pumps and ancillaries. The tanks would be built up from 4 bays, the first bay being jettisoned after 50 seconds, the second bay would go at 82 seconds after launch, the third bay along with 3 propulsion units would be dropped at 102 seconds. At 125 seconds the remainder of the first step would be empty. The velocity at that moment would be 2 590 m/s and the altitude 99 kilometres.

The second step would have two tank bays. The expendable bay would empty and be dropped after attaining an altitude of 222 km and a velocity of3 810 m/s. 204 seconds after take-off the second stage would shut down, being 300 km above the Earth and moving with a velocity of 5 300 m/s. Horisontal distance from launch point would be 400 kilometres. The second step would then tilt the vehicle to a horisontal attitude, and, at 75 seconds before attaining peak altitude, some 1 000 kilometres, it would separate. The final one-bay stage would give the vehicle a velocity increment of 3 000 m/s and inject the payload into orbit.

Lowering final altitude from 1 000 km to around 800 km would enhance the payload capability from 50 to 65 kilogrammes.

All-up weight of the vehicle with 50 kilogrammes payload would be 161,55 metric tonnes, of which 24,55 would be solid propellant boosters, 127,2 tonnes 1st step, 9,8 tonnes 2nd step and 700 kilogrammes 3rd step.

K Gatland:"Development of the Guided Missile"

Iliffe&Sons Ltd London 1952, p 201 Table VI and text

Propellants: LOX/ALC75. Masses metric tonnes

180 Boost Rockets

1st Step

2nd Step

3rd Step

Gross weight

161,55

137

9,8

0,7

Weight of step

24,55

127,2

9,1

0,65

Structure wt.

14,30

22,29

1,93

0,138

Prop.wt.incl pump fuels

10,24

104,91

7,17

0,512

Payload

137

9,8

0,7

0,05

Thrust values,liftoff, kN

4193

1896

-

-

VacuumThrust, kN

-

2070

207,0

14,7

Exhaust flow,kg/s, I

2027

879

87,9

6,28

II

502,5

Total flow, kg/s I

2060

912

91,2

6,52

II

521

Length, m

18,0

9,35

5,75

Diameter, m

4,6

1,85

0,75

No of Exp. Bays

92+83

3

1

-

No of motors

92+83

3+4

1

1

Structure factor Mstr/Mprop

1,397

0,212

0,269

0,269

Mass ratio, actual

1,068

4,27

3,73

3,73

Mass ratio, effective

1,158

5,31

4,25

3,73

Isptot LO

1 901

1 933

-

-

Isp totvac

-

2 276

2 276

2 276

Firing Time, seconds

13

125

79

79

Vi

207

3800

3293

2996

ViTOT

207

3800

7093

10089

Booster rockets

Mtot

140,3

kg

Thrust

22,25

kN

Mstr

81,7

kg

Tb

5

seconds

Mprop

58,5

kg

Isp

1 901

Ns/kg

An A4 technology ordinary tandem 3-step rocket would have a gross liftoff mass of at least 250 metric tonnes to be able to place 50 kilogrammes into satellite orbit.

The A4 technology was, however, dated by 1950, and Gatland later stated that the following calculations were done on a "more realistic basis", for instance planning the tank walls as load carrying pressure-stiffened structures. Expendable Construction, however, lived on.

Orbital Freighter Vehicles.
   Gatland, Kunesch and Dixon developed their concept for manned spaceflight with a concept for Interorbital Lunar Vehicles, to be built up by erecting structural frameworks, i.e. trusses, with a cabin in one end, and a motor assembly in the other, and adding pre-filled propellant tanks to the framework in large numbers. To launch the structure members and tanks, they sketched Unmanned Orbital Freighter Rockets, the second stages of which were built up using Expendable Tank Construction.

For manned flights the Authors adapted the Ross-Smith traditional re-usable tandem design, as they felt adapting Expendable Tank Construction to a winged vehicle would be difficult. Furthermore the few manned flights would benefit more from a simpler but safer vehicle.

Manned rocket ascending, copyright: R.A.Smith BIS, and Ref /3/
   Upper : Manned Rocket Launch.  Son-of-A4-technology: The large graphite vanes in the exhaust will guide the vehicle during powered ascent.
   Lower : Stage separation at 20 miles (32 km) altitude. Drogue parachutes will slow down the descent and assist in recovery of the step for re-use.
Paintings by R.A.Smith, BIS. From Ref /2/, facing p 133.

It was felt that the many unmanned freihts would benefit by economy from lesser launch weights. With equal payload the Unmanned Orbital Freighter Rocket would have around 200 metric tonnes less gross liftoff mass than the manned launcher. Of course, with 20-20 hindsight one may notice, that most of that gain would be in the mass of propellants, at the cost of a vastly more complicated design of the stage hardware.

expendable construction tanker, copyright: Signed J Wood, in Ref /2/
  The Ground-to-orbit Tanker Rocket. Payload 5 long tons (= 5,08 metric tons) to 500 mile (= 805 km)orbital altitude.
Steering vane technology has been superseeded: Note the gimballing of the steering motors.
©J Wood, Ref /2/, p 158

In the Unmanned Orbital Freighter Vehicle the mass ratio for the second stage, structurally 3,10 : 1, would rise to 3:41 : 1 effective, as three of the four tank bays were sloughed off during the burn of the stage.

expendble construction stage of tanker rocket, copyright: Signed J Wood, in Ref /2/
    Stage 2 and 3 of the Unmanned Tanker Rocket. ©J Wood, Ref /2/, p 158

Stage 3 would nest inside stage 2, and this assembly would ride on top of the conventional stage 1. Whereas the manned concentional vehicle would have a GLOW of some 740 metric tons, the unmanned launchers would mass only 511 metric tons at ignition.

Propellants for the 1st and 2nd stage would be LOX/Hydrazine. For the third stage, and also the spaceships to be tanked with the payload tanks, the storable RFNA/Hydrazine was specified.

Stage Motor: signed J Wood, in Ref /2/
    Third Stage Motor. The large steering vanes protruding into the exhaust have been exchanged for gimballing the entire motor assembly, as in the then modern sounding rocket Viking.
©J Wood, Ref /2/, p 159

A special feature of the Gatland-Kunesh-Dixon vehicles was the low acceleration and long burn time of the final stages, as they already were ascending by momentum towards the final orbit at 500 miles (800 km ) height. This gave savings on rocket motor weight.

Earth to Orbit Freighter Vehicle, Expendable Construction

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

74,6

12,1

5,20

ton

Stage structure

73,0

12,0

0,75

ton

Structure + payload

147,6

24,1

5,95

ton

Mass of expended tank bays

-

4,90

-

ton

Stage final weight

147,6

19,2

5,95

ton

H2O2 for pumps

21,4

3,0

0,25

ton

Propellants

342,0

47,5

5,90

ton

All-up weight

511,0

74,6

12,1

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,213

0,253

0,127

x Mpr

Propellant flow

2,884

0,433

0,017

ton/s

Thrust

8 688

1 300

48,07

kN

Burn time,given

126

117

358

seconds

Tb=Mpr/mq

126

117

358

seconds

Propellants

LOX/N2H4

LOX/N2H4

RFNA/N2H4

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

1,73

1,78

3,97

g

Max acceleration

6,00

6,90

0,80

g

Allup length

133,0

26,0

17,2

ft

Stage Length

107,0

26,0

17,2

ft

Stage diameter

21

8,2

3,94

ft

No of tank bays

1

4

1

No of motors

16+8

4

1

Effectual M0/M1

3,46

3,41

2,04

:1

Structual M0/M1

3,46

3,10

2,03

:1

Indicated Isp

3 001

3 001

2 796

Ns/kg

Actual Isp=F/mq

3 012

3 001

2 796

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 739

3 681

1 994

m/s

Cumulative Vi

3 739

7 420

9 414

m/s

Note: Earth rotation not included in Cumulative Vi.

F/motor: Fixed

434,4

kN

-"- , Pivoted

217,2

325,0

48,07

kN

Minimum Satellite Launchers.
    During the late fourties the BIS discussions centered on how to begin the conquest of space, i.e. how to bridge the size gap between the 13 tonne V2 and the multi-hundred tonnes of the rockets needed for Manned Space Flight. Small rocket launchers meant small payloads, but they could also serve in reconnoitering the environment of space flight. The establishment of an Unmanned Measurement Satellite - a form of Long Playing sounding rocket payload(!) was discussed./6/. It was seen that the creation of a launch vehicle for such a satellite would not be too huge a step in size or complexity from the then still current A4 state-of-the-art.

LP sounding rocket
    The "Long-Playing Sounding Rocket" in orbit around the Earth. Painting by R.A.Smith, BIS

Ralph Smith soon produced artwork showing a 3-stage launcher with the satellite on top - in size and form not much unlike the von Braun-Bonestell "Baby-Satellite" in the Collierīs Magazine some years later./ 7/

To bridge the gap between the contemporary A4 (V2)-sized rockets of gross liftoff mass around 13 metric tons, and the multi-hundred tonnes space launchers needed for manned flight, Gatland, Kunesh and Dixon conceived of launchers for unmanned satellites, as seen in ref /5/ and /6/.

Calculating from first principles four models were compared, outlining a four phase launcher development program. To enable comparisons to be made, all calculations started with the same target orbit of 500 miles i.e some 800 km height, inclination some 12 degrees, whick meant, that the launcher had to attain a theoretical end velocity, called Characteristic Velocity or Ideal Velocity, of around 10 000 metres/second. Incidentally, we here have the first mention of Launch Vehicles as a special category among rockets.
    The first model, Type A0, was an Absolute Minimum Vehicle , proving that a satellite launch would be possible. The second phase, Type A1, would consist in adding a minimum payload, a tissue balloon to aid in tracking the satellite and a little battery-powered radio beacon, total mass around 5 kilogrammes. Type B and Type C were Instrumented Satellite Vehicles, both with payload 100 kg, would follow. All these vehicles would be straight-forward 3-stage tandem designs and all vehicles would use the same propellants, giving the same mass ratio pro stage i.e 3,0 :1. The fourth, Type D would be a vehicle using Expendable Tank Construction to show the possible gain as lesser liftoff weight.
To attain orbital propulsive capability this meant Liquid Oxygen and Hydrazine as propellants. The Characteristic Velocity or Ideal Velocity Vi was, as already stated, given as some 10 000 m/s, with the given mass ratios translating into a Specific Impulse of some 3 050 Ns/kg or 310 lbforce-seconds/lbmass. At the time this was somewhat high but theoretically seen as possible.

Type A, Absolute Minimum Satellite Launch Vehicle, copyright: Ref /4/
    Type A: Absolute Minimum Satellite Launch Vehicle, Unguided Third Stage.
© Ref /4/, p 87

For the Absolute Minimum Launch Vehicles and the Type B Instrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle a very important principle was formulated: The guidance section for ascent trajectory control, estimated to mass at 100 kg, would be carried in the second stage. The 3rd stage would be un-guided, having only a simple 25 kg gyroscope apparatus for rectilinear flight control. Had the planners had recourse to the types of solid propellant rockets, that were emerging just a few years later, they could have dispensed with the guidance altogether and used spin stabilisation, as was done in actual practice. Anyway, even unspun, the empty mass of the 3rd stage could be kept at a minimum, for Type A1 calculated to a total of only 60 kg. The all-up liftoff weight of the launcher would be some 16,8 metric tons. Overall length would be some 16 metres and the 1st stage diameter 1,9 m, thus the Type A would not be very much larger than a A4 (V2).

Type A0. Absolute Minimum Satellite Launch Vehicle

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

2,920

0,210

-

ton

Control

-

0,100

0,025

ton

Stage structure

2,722

0,649

0,045

ton

Stage end weight

5,641

0,958

0,070

ton

Propellants

11,187

1,962

0,140

ton

All-up weight

16,828

2,920

0,210

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,243

0,331

0,321

x Mpr

Propellant flow,kg/s

108,181

18,597

0,680

kg/s

Thrust, kN

329,3

56,51

2,056

kN

Burn time,s

103

103

205

s

Actual Burn Time= Mpr/mq

103,4

105,5

205,3

s

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

1,99

1,97

1,00

g

Max acceleration,g

6,00

6,00

3,00

g

Allup length

15,545

8,291

3,048

m

Stage length,m

7,254

5,243

3,048

m

Stage diameter,m

1,905

1,049

0,500

m

No of motors

1

1

1

Given M0/M1

3,00

3,00

3,00

:1

Actual M0/M1

2,98

3,05

3,00

:1

Actual Isp

3 044

3 039

3 021

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 327

3 386

3 319

m7s

Cumulative Vi

3 327

6 713

10 033

m/s

The idea of a miniature satellite was something very new. Originally Gatland, Kunesch and Dixon proposed adding a paper tissue ballon to be inflated and aiding the optical tracking of the vehicle. It has to be remembered that the transistor was developed as recent as in 1948, and it was only just coming into use among sounding rocket scientists. The American scientists F.J.Malina and M. Summerfield had, in their escape rocket analyses cited in /4/, suggested adding an instrument for measuring cosmic ray intensity to the minimal radio tracking payload, with the data signal incorporated in the tracking signal, the whole device with batteries weighing some 10 lbs, 4,5 kilogrammes. Gatland, Kunesch and Dixon wrote, that such a payload seemed suitable for a first orbiting test satellite. Indeed, such tracking aid devices with data overlaid on the tracking signal constituted the basis of the instrumentation of both the first Soviet and US satellites ten years later.

Type A 1. Mini-payload Absolute Minimum Satellite Launch Vehicle

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

2,924

0,214

0,0045

ton

Control

-

0,100

0,025

ton

Stage structure

2,722

0,649

0,045

ton

Stage final weight

5,646

0,963

0,074

ton

Propellants

11,187

1,962

0,140

ton

All-up weight

16,833

2,924

0,214

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,243

0,331

0,321

x Mpr

Propellant flow,kg/s

108,181

18,597

0,680

kg/s

Thrust, kN

329,3

56,51

2,056

kN

Burn time,s

103

103

205

s

Actual Burn Time= Mpr/mq

103,4

105,5

205,3

s

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

1,99

1,97

0,98

g

Max acceleration,g

6,00

6,00

3,00

g

Allup length

15,545

8,291

3,048

m

Stage length,m

7,254

5,243

3,048

m

Stage diameter,m

1,905

1,049

0,500

m

No of motors

1

1

1

Given M0/M1

3,00

3,00

3,00

:1

Actual M0/M1

2,98

3,04

2,88

:1

Actual Isp

3 044

3 039

3 021

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 325

3 377

3 194

m7s

Cumulative Vi

3 325

6 702

9 896

m/s

The Type B Instrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle would still have the main guidance system in stage 2, and only the rectilinear guidance gyroscope package in stage 3. For a payload increase from 4,5 to 100 kilogrammes, the Gross Launch Weight would rise from less than 17 metric tonnes to 62,4 tonnes.

Type B

Instrumented Satellite Vehicle

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

10,700

1,050

0,100

ton

Control

-

0,100

0,025

ton

Stage structure

10,150

2,410

0,225

ton

Stage end weight

20,850

3,560

0,350

ton

Propellants

41,550

7,140

0,700

ton

All-up weight

62,400

10,700

1,050

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,244

0,338

0,321

x Mpr

Propellant flow,kg/s

403,0

69,3

3,40

kg/s

Thrust, kN

1 224

210

10,3

kN

Burn time,s

103

103

206

s

Actual Burn Time= Mpr/mq

103,1

103,0

205,9

s

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

2,00

2,00

1,00

g

Max acceleration,g

6,00

6,00

3,00

g

Allup length

20,500

12,000

5,250

m

Stage length,m

8,50

6,75

5,25

m

Stage diameter,m

3,00

1,70

0,90

m

No of motors

5

1

1

Given M0/M1

3,00

3,00

3,00

:1

Actual M0/M1

2,99

3,01

3,00

:1

Actual Isp

3 038

3 029

3 030

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 338

3 334

3 328

m7s

Cumulative Vi

3 338

6 671

10 000

m/s

The Type C Instrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle would carry the main 100 kilogramme guidance section into orbit along with the payload also massing 100 kg.

Type C, copyright: Ref /2/
    Type C, Istrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle, Conventional Construction.
© Ref /2/, p 152

It would be 24 metres in length, have a maximum hull diameter of 3,5 metres, and mass 91 tons at launch. In the eyes of scientists, a 100 kilogrammes satellite using transistor technology began to look interesting. .

Type C

Instrumented Satellite Vehicle

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

15,554

1,674

0,100

ton

Control

-

-

0,100

ton

Stage structure

14,742

3,515

0,358

ton

Stage end weight

30,295

5,189

0,558

ton

Propellants

60,423

10,365

1,116

ton

All-up weight

90,718

15,554

1,674

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,244

0,339

0,321

x Mpr

Propellant flow,kg/s

586,5

100,7

5,40

kg/s

Thrust, kN

1780

305

16

kN

Burn time,s

103

103

205

s

Actual Burn Time= Mpr/mq

103,0

102,9

206,7

s

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

2,00

2,00

1,00

g

Max acceleration,g

6,00

6,00

3,00

g

Allup length

24,079

13,259

6,005

m

Stage length,m

10,820

7,254

6,005

m

Stage diameter,m

3,505

1,905

1,006

m

No of motors

5

1

1

Given M0/M1

3,00

3,00

3,00

:1

Actual M0/M1

2,99

3,00

3,00

:1

Actual Isp

3 035

3 031

3 042

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 334

3 328

3 342

m7s

Cumulative Vi

3 334

6 662

10 004

m/s

The fourth development, Type D,would entail an Expendable Tank Construction Vehicle, as forerunners to the large freight-carrying launch vehicles.

Type D, copyright: Ref /2/
    The Type D Istrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle, Expendable Construction. The A4 (V2) sketched alongside gives the size of the vehicle.© Ref /2/, p 156

This vehicle would carry some 160 kg to 220 kg payload to an 500-mile orbit for an all-up launch mass of 91 metric tons.

Type D. Instrumented Satellite Launch Vehicle, Expendable Construction

First step

Second Step

Third Step

Payload

18,246

2,665

0,220

ton

Control

-

-

0,100

ton

Stage structure

13,562

4,241

0,568

ton

Structure + payload

31,808

6,906

0,888

ton

Mass of expended tank bays

4,318

1,873

0,000

ton

Stage final weight

27,490

5,033

0,888

ton

Propellants

58,896

11,340

1,777

ton

All-up weight

90,704

18,246

2,665

ton

Structure factor fS=Ms/Mpr

0,230

0,374

0,320

x Mpr

Propellant flow,kg/s

586,5

117,9

8,62

kg/s

Thrust, kN

1 780

358

26

kN

Burn time,s

100

96

206

s

Actual Burn Time= Mpr/mq

100,4

96,2

206,2

s

Initial acceleration Fvac/M0

2,00

2,00

1,00

g

Max acceleration,g

6,60

7,25

3,00

g

Allup length

24,079

7,925

5,243

m

Stage length,m

16,154

2,682

5,243

m

Stage diameter,m

3,505

2,499

1,201

m

No of tank bays

4

2

1

No of motors

6

1

1

Effextive M0/M1

3,00

3,00

3,00

:1

Structual M0/M1

2,85

2,64

3,00

:1

Actual Isp

3 035

3 035

3 033

Ns/kg

Actual Vi

3 334

3 335

3 335

m7s

Cumulative Vi

3 334

6 669

10 003

m/s

The Sequel: From Absolute Minimum Launch Vehicle to Vanguard and Explorer.
   The calculations were published in 1950 and 1951 /6/ and /8/, and gained further publicity during the Second Astronautical Congress, held in London in September 1951, which by the convening Society, BIS, was aimed at furthering international thoughts on the then new concept of unmanned satellites. In those days these Conferences were enormously important, everybody who was somebody in space activities or long-range missiles engineering attended or saw to it that he was represented and presented with the proceedings, the pre-prints of the papers given.

The emphasis on Expendable Tank Construction went largely unheeded. In contrast, however, the idea of a Minimum Satellite Launcher got a lot of attention. Up to this point the minimum unmanned satellites and their launchers, if contemplated at all, were seen as but forerunners for the coming manned space stations and the freighter launchers for them. It may well be said, that the concept of unmanned satellites, as scientific spacecraft in their own right, gained recognizance during the London Conference.

Minimum Satellite Launcher, copyright: R.A. Smith, BIS
   The Minimum Satellite Launcher ascending to orbit and shedding the shroud, as pictured by R.A.Smith. The Third Stage is marked "MOUSE" after the proposal by S.F.Singer, actually the payload is the Minimum Instrumentation Load of 10 lbs, and the Inflatable Paper Ballon, as envisioned in the "Type A1" of Gatland-Kunesch-Dixon.© BIS

The first fully equipped satellite proposal, conceived by S.Fred Singer, and named by him, A.V.Cleaver and Arthur C.Clarke, the then famous "MOUSE" (Minimum Orbiting Unmanned Satellite of Earth), was published two years later during the 4th IAF Congress in Zürich 1953. MOUSE would in Singer's words "constitute a real LP sounding rocket payload", but it would mass 50 kilogrammes, and so would not strictly speaken classify as an Absolute Minimum Satellite. Nevertheless, this brainchild of Singer's was instrumental in pointing the way.

Around this time the concept of unmanned intelligence-gathering satellites, as alternatives to uncontrollable balloons and risky manned camera-carrying aeroplanes, also were emerging in those silent realms of thought, where international espionage was planned. Various other uses, among them meteorological research, photo-mapping, aid to navigation and electronic traffic relaying, begun to be discussed in the open literature. The mass of these satellites would range from some tens to some hundreds of kilogrammes. Even the exploration of the Moon and the planets, while actually seen as firmly being the domain of, and the reason for Manned Space Flight, might begin with small unmanned precursor probes. To launch these satellites and probes, however, launchers described then as "medium-sized", and based on either Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles or Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, would be needed. Manned space flight, even in a most primitive form, would use the largest existing launchers, but only as a stopgap, until the dedicated launch vehicles would be developed.

Thus minimal-sized launchers came to be seen as intermediaries from sounding rockets to medium sized satellite launchers, as well as leading up towards the coming massive manned launchers for "actual", i.e. "manned", space flight.

All this, however, still lay on the knees of the gods, when Gatland, Kunesch and Dixon during the London Conference presented their collected calculations considering the sizes of Absolute Minimum and Minimum satellite launchers. / 9/
    They must have hit a nerve, though. In no time at all everybody having to do with rockets, started doing numbers looking for suitable combinations of existing rockets and missiles to do the job. And among "most people", everybody were talking about it with everybody else. A spate of suggestions emerged. Some people were ready to act on some of the suggestions.
   One of the attendees in London was Alexander Satin, then chief engineer of the Air Branch of the Office of Naval Research, US Navy. Satin analyzed the proposals, brought them to the attention of a meeting on June 25, 1954 at the ONR, with amongst others S. Fred Singer and Wernher von Braun from the Army Arsenal at Redstone, attending. It was immediately obvious to all present, that Minimum Satellite Launchers could, and should, be based on existing and/or neartime military ballistic missiles. Thus there was no need to wait for neither the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles nor Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, then still in a very preliminary stage of development./10/

The upshot of that meeting was the multi-service Project Orbiter, which then indirectly spurred the Eisenhower administration into officially adopt the Naval Research Laboratory-proposed Vanguard as the official US satellite and launcher project during the International Geophysical Year. The head of the Vanguard Project, Milton V Rosen, was former head of the development of the sounding rocket Viking, and an attendee of both the London Conference and the Orbiter meeting in Washington. One may note, that the Vanguard Launch Vehicle was laid out on the principles of the AMLV: the guidance section was placed on the second stage, the third stage was spin-stabilized.

Vanguard-start, copyright: NRL
    Vanguard launching trajectory.
© Project Vanguard, NRL

More immediately, the Orbiter meeting led to the test missile Jupiter-C , work on which was began before the Eisenhower administration put a stop to Project Orbiter in favor of the "civilian", actually Naval Research Laboratory Vanguard. As is known, all three upper stages of the Jupiter C were spin-stabilized.

Jupiter-C, copyright: IAA 89-740, M R Sharpe, B B Buchhalter and NASA
    Four-Stage Satellite Launch Vehicle Jupiter-C/Juno I. © NASA

    It is now known that the Eisenhower administration chose Vanguard because there was no connection between that launcher and any military missile project. In the background there also was the concern that the Soviet Union might declare illegal any unauthorized overflights by satellite. Vanguard was thus planned with an inclination that kept it off overflights. Any and all other projects were strictly out-of-bounds. The Soviets, of course, were not able to launch into any such orbit that would exclude overflights over the territory of the United States, and thus the matter of free overflights would be settled. That is, of course, exactly what happened, only the order of the proceedings went somewhat awry, as the publicity around Vanguard goaded the Soviet rocket developers into action, and Sputnik came along out of turn. Anyway, almost immediately the US Spy Satellites got the go-ahead.

Orbiter itself matured into the form of the small Army Ballistic Missile Agency Jupiter-C satellite launcher, later called Juno-I, culminating in the launching of the first succesful US satellite Explorer , carrying Malina-Summerfeld-principle instrumentation developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Vanguard!, on Januari 31, 1958. The Instrument Package still weighed 10 lbs, but advances in technology meant four instruments and two transmitters in the place of only one each.


   References and Bibliography:

1. Bob Parkinson: "High Road to the Moon, the Collected Pictures of R.A.Smith " The British Interplanetary Society, London 1979, and "Evolution of Winged Space Vehicle ..."Space Chronicle, JBIS Vol 59, Suppl.2, 2006, pp 71...78, especially Fig.3. Also personal communication.

2. Kenneth Gatland, Anthony Kunesh:"Space Travel", Allan Wingate Ltd, London 1953.

3. Parkinson, 1979, pp 20-21.

4. K. Gatland: ""Development of the Guided Missile" Iliffe&Sons Ltd London 1952, p 198.

5. K. Gatland 1952, pp. 200-205.

6. K.W.Gatland, A.Dixon: "Initital Objectives in Astronautics" JBIS Vol 9, pp155-178, July 1950.

7. W von Braun, C Ryan: "Baby Space Station", Collierīs, June 27, 1953, pp 33 - 36.

8. A.M.Dixon: "Conception of an Instrument-Carrying Orbital Rocket", JBIS Vol 10, pp 97-123, May 1951.

9. K.W.Gatland, A. Kunesch, A.M. Dixon:"Minimum Satellite Vehicles", 2nd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, in London , September 1951.

10. Kenneth Gatland: "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Space Technology, 2nd Edition" Salamander Books, London (1981) 1989, pp24. Gatland cites a letter by Alexander Satin crediting the 1951 paper as seminal to the thinking on minimum satellites.

 


Read more of the prehistory of Space Flight in
Six Stages to Orbit
Global Bounce
   and    Was there a Nazi Space Program?

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