SLS Booster Recovery in the Grand Cay District of Northern Abaco Bahamasby Tommy on 26/10/2012
Warning : Hair Brained Rant Alert
I don’t know if any of you noticed that a major hurricane just rammed straight through the central Bahamas from south to north – the Frankenstorm.
Some guys in Huntsville keep talking about bringing back the F-1 for SLS (Space Launch System) boosters. I find that amusing since we already have F-1s. They’re called F9s.
If we estimate sea level thrust levels for the Falcon 9 we get roughly 5.5 million lbf of thrust for four Falcon 9 boosters, with the addition of 1.6 million lbf from the SSMEs brings one very nearly into Saturn V capabilities for the SLS without the use of ATK SRBs. Now a methane hydrogen super SpaceX MCT with a structurally efficient core stage would be great for the transition to deep space, but it’s certainly not necessary for the dozen SSMEs we have, and adding the five RL-10s or the J2 for landing isn’t technologically prohibited – it’s just difficult and expensive.
So the real problem boils down to where can we land Falcon 9 boosters when launching from the cape, which will optimize ballistic flights for the Falcon 9 boosters and still allow recovery.
I posit the Grand Cay district in the northern far tip of Abaco Island in the Northern Bahamas more or less fits the bill, although the launch azimuth from KSC or Cape Canaveral is a little less than optimal for equatorial trajectories. This involves the now defunct Walker’s Cay resort (with harbor and airstrip), the sleepy resort and fishing village of Grand Cay (with their All Age School and Rosie’s Place), the private executive resort estate next to Grand Cay called Big Grand Cay, and another large private island called Stranger’s Cay and several smaller private cays that are for sale in the area, and if you can’t have village overflights, and large swath of land in the center of Great Sale Cay. Everything you need for your bustling Senate Launch System spaceport. Richard Nixon would approve I’m sure.
Of course, Mr. Musk is merely going to fly his boosters back to the launch site with the extra fuel he can carry onboard and still have all his boosters stage before any one of them exhausts their fuel, and then he can equip his SLS core stage with monster methane engines for deep space flight, but we at Acme Launch Services don’t have that luxury, and we’re kind of in a hurry before the gravy train comes to a screeching halt. But at least no cross feeding is required.
I’ve done this sort of thing before so let me explain how it is done in the Bahamas. First you negotiate a finder’s fee with the principles, which in this case is Elon Musk and the US congress. Then go down to Rosie’s and have a big free drinks on the house party to meet the workers in the village and get drunk along with everyone else. Roast a big pig and get a band.
Then the next day on Sunday you wake up with an extreme hangover in some preacher’s home and you get dressed and go to church and testify before the congregation. Whatever you do, don’t invite any guest preachers, that would ruin it, and make sure the sound man knows how to handle a sound board so there is no feedback and they don’t give you a bad case of tinnitus or even worse, a broken eardrum during the sermon. Do a Sunday with a local Christening too.
Then you have a nice sit down dinner for the rest of the village and you make your case, explaining to them the physical realities of a bustling modern spaceport in their backyard.
Use both science and religion if you have to. Invoke Jesus!
Then on Monday you make your case to the local government officials. Make sure you bring your lawyers and have a check ready for the investment board. That’s it.
Good luck! These guys need jobs, and the Walker’s cay deal isn’t working.
Isn’t this idea just grand?