An objective system for how realistic / credible a spacecraft is…

I sometimes get into discussions about if a spacecraft design is realistic. These are frequently interesting, but it’s not straightforward. For example, there are serious designs from the early days of spaceflight which we now know could not work. Manned craft without heavy radiation shielding are a common example of this.

On the other hand, you have some fictional craft carefully designed to be as realistic as possible – the vehicles in “2001 a Space Odyssey” are a great example.

So how to handle it when some fictional craft are more credible than serious designs? here’s my attempt at a system, from the most realistic to the least. Comments and additions are very welcome.

1. Real space hardware that actually flew successfully.

Clearly you can’t get more realistic than this!

Example: Saturn V rocket

Saturn V rocket
Saturn V rocket., perspective free views. Render by Nick Stevens

Continue reading “An objective system for how realistic / credible a spacecraft is…”

The Frank Tinsley “Lunar Unicycle”

I recently came across the Frank Tinsley illustration of what he called a “Lunar Unicycle”, which might be better described as a monowheel.

Lunar Unicycle Illustration
Lunar Unicycle Illustration

Despite the lack of many illustrations, the design seems clear, and I decided to do a 3d version of it in Lightwave. Though I did later find a couple more pictures… Continue reading “The Frank Tinsley “Lunar Unicycle””

Into the unknown, at the London Barbican. A review.

Yesterday I visited “Into the Unknown“, a Science Fiction exhibition which is currently on at the Barbican, London, and will tour later apparently. This is my review of what I saw there.

The space within the centre they have chosen to use is a bit odd, to say the least. They call it “The Curve”, and it’s not really good for this kind of thing. It’s fairly narow and tall, and feels cramped. Many of the exhibits are a long way up, making it difficult to see them properly.

A dome habitat from "Silent Running"
A dome habitat from “Silent Running”

Continue reading “Into the unknown, at the London Barbican. A review.”

RN-2, the Nuclear R7, The Historical Reference Information

Here’s the historical information on the nuclear Soyuz variants I have been able to find. My Russian is not great, in some cases the translation is awkward or not completely clear. Nick

The draft design of the rockets started on the basis of the Decree of June 30, 1958. Two bureaus, OKB-456, and OKB-670 were involved. The design chosen was based on direct heating of the working fluid, and it’s ejection through the nozzle. An open core reactor, in other words.

OKB-456 is now known as NPO Energomash, and at the time was run by the brilliant but prickley rocket engine designer, V P Glushko. OKB-670 was run by M M Bondariuk. Bondariuk had been working on nuclear ammonia rockets since 1954. Continue reading “RN-2, the Nuclear R7, The Historical Reference Information”

HOPE VASIMR Guest renders and a short video

A couple of new items using the Human Outer planet Exploration vehicle, with VASIMR engines.

Graham Gazzard has done some wonderful renders of the mesh!

You can follow him on twitter here:

https://twitter.com/GrahamTG

HOPE-VASIMR render by Graham Gazzard
HOPE-VASIMR render by Graham Gazzard

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VASIMR – HOPE

I realised I have very little that covers more recent concepts to get man into deep space. And when I started digging, I found there were not that many out there to cover!

The main one is the various designs covered by HOPE. Human Outer Planet Exploration, which covers proposals for a manned mission to Callisto, the outermost major moon of Jupiter.

It uses VASIMR nuclear engines, which are under current development, so as far as feasibility goes, I’d say highly feasible apart from the cost aspect.

VASIMR stands for:

Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket

and it’s a highly promising propulsion system.

The huge vanes are the cooling system, very reminiscent of Ernst Stuhlingers designs of many years ago. They come to a point to stay behind the heavy radiation shields, either side of the reactors.

backdrop Continue reading “VASIMR – HOPE”

More work on the 1958 Lockheed shuttle design

I was struggling a bit with a colour scheme for the main rocket – how to do something period, that fits with the orange and black shuttle?

Here’s how it’s coming along.

hull-1 Continue reading “More work on the 1958 Lockheed shuttle design”