New Design -- HLV with Apollo 2010 Capsule
In my fantasy universe, NASA shows a bit of creative common sense instead of perpetual brain farts. What "my NASA" decides to do, in the wake of budget cuts and the cancellation of Constellation, is to blow the dust off an old idea -- the Apollo capsule and service module, combined with an updated launcher loosely based on the Sat1B.
Understand, this is not your daddy's Apollo. Switching from the original all-aluminum structure to a newer aluminum-lithium alloy structure allows the basic airframe to be built considerably lighter. Stripping out the SM fuel cells and using solar cells eliminates the need for consumables in the form of cryo-hydrogen and cryo-oxygen, and their associated storage tanks, reducing the weight yet more. The new SM uses shuttle-derived OMS engines instead of the original single chamber engine with the very large vacuum bell. These eliminations should allow for a considerable volume of usable storage space in the SM just behind the heat shield, which could be fitted with a slide-out pallet similar to what the JAXA HTV has. Inside the CM, the avionics is drastically updated and the instrument panel is virtually eliminated. The crew compartment can be fitted out in three versions -- a two-man 'transfer van' for simple crew exchanges, a three-man 'repair van' for missions requiring additional support, and a five-man 'emergency van' for urgent needs to evacuate the station. The two- and three- seat versions would use simple manual docking controls, while the five-seat version would be equipped with auto-docking avionics. This version would be launched empty, and would allow for five station crew members to get away, instead of just four if one astronaut had to launch with it. Additionally, a no-crew cargo version with an enlarged storage capacity could be developed from the two components by eliminating the heat shield and its bulkhead, allowing for a large pressure vessel to be fitted inside. Obviously this is a disposable ship, but then again, so are all of the cargo modules currently flying.
Presented here is my "proof of concept" model, simply called the HLV (Heavy Lift Vehicle) with an Apollo 2010 spacecraft. It is 1/70th scale, and uses a few of the same components found in the old Sat1B kit. I'm using the Apogee capsule kit for simplicity, but there are some changes which require a bit of modification. The model uses an Orion-derived LES, which appears to be superior to the older truss-supported version. The model's fins are large enough to make it stable with the G76 engine, but there is an additional 1/2 oz of ballast in the tip of the capsule to improve the margin. They are made of 3/32" clear polycarbonate, and are TTW to the engine tube.
A launch tower of 6' or taller is highly suggested to keep from including launch lugs on the outside. An internal launch lug could be mounted to simplify the launch requirements, however. I did not show anything in this design.
See the attached images for a list of the engines and their expected performance.
Diameter: 3.98" (BT-101 with wraps)
Fin Span: 9.79"
Weight: 14.29 oz