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[1.12.X] Bluedog Design Bureau - Stockalike Saturn, Apollo, and more! (v1.9.0 "пробе" 13/Dec/2021)


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6 hours ago, lemon cup said:

Very nice project you've got going here! After studying concepts like these, sometimes it seems like a real shame that stations of this size and scope just were not possible after fully committing to the Space Shuttle.

I checked out your album. Does your S-IV stage remain attached the ESA Lab all the way to rendezvous?

Thanks! And the concept this is based off of is fan-made I think. I don't think NASA ever intended or had plans for a station of this size and scope.

As for the S-IV, yes. I use the upper stage to rendezvous with the station. I've always used upper stages as service modules, both to save fuel and time. 

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24 minutes ago, GoldForest said:

Thanks! And the concept this is based off of is fan-made I think. I don't think NASA ever intended or had plans for a station of this size and scope.

There’s the 1975 50 man space base, having no relationship to your inspiration other than being a really big space station.



Edited by Jcking
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6 hours ago, lemon cup said:


Can't really put my finger on why, but the Titan III and IV always felt to me like the rocket equivalent of a homemade motorcycle that somebody put together in their garage. There's just this inelegant, brute-force aura to the whole family.

And that's why it's such a cool vehicle.

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4 hours ago, Jackmason said:

so i have had bdb for a long time now (love it) but just got RSS and RO does the Apollo parts support this and can take me to the real sized moon 

the apollo parts in the current release are supported I think but not the new in development stuff. Someone is working on them I think. Please note that we do not provide the support ourselves, the RO configs for BDB are in the RO repository.

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21 minutes ago, pTrevTrevs said:

Can't really put my finger on why, but the Titan III and IV always felt to me like the rocket equivalent of a homemade motorcycle that somebody put together in their garage. There's just this inelegant, brute-force aura to the whole family.

And that's why it's such a cool vehicle.

That's a very expensive homemade motorcycle, even for a rocket

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On 11/29/2021 at 5:54 AM, GoldForest said:




No story this time, just pictures of the modified station. The docking arms on the Starlab (S-II+S-IVB wetlab) were extended and moved towards the end. 

I've also forgot to mention that this station is based off and inspired by this image: 


Those "MOD S-IVb" look more like the S-IVC docking ports


16 hours ago, pTrevTrevs said:

Can't really put my finger on why, but the Titan III and IV always felt to me like the rocket equivalent of a homemade motorcycle that somebody put together in their garage. There's just this inelegant, brute-force aura to the whole family.

And that's why it's such a cool vehicle.

That was the intended as designed form factor.   Something the EXACT OPPOSITE of the svelt beauty of Atlas.

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23 hours ago, Jackmason said:

so i have had bdb for a long time now (love it) but just got RSS and RO does the Apollo parts support this and can take me to the real sized moon 

With RSS and RO, your best bet is the ROCapsules mod.  Everything is properly configured, and many of the capsule and service module parts are sourced (with permission) from BDB.

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February 23rd, 1982 - Tuesday saw the launch of the STSM with rendezvous and docking happening just after midnight. The rendezvous was delayed due to a programming error which sent the STSM's flight computer into safe mode after orbit had been achieved. A reupload and some testing of the corrected code saw the mission resumed. During docking the E-1 crew dawned their spacesuits and stashed away inside Apollo for safety reasons, of course. After docking was confirmed and the rcs was shut off, the crew left Apollo and went to the new module, checking the connections as well as offloading the cargo that came aboard with STSM. One crew member couldn't wait and fired up the Kerbin Observation Telescope, taking a few pictures of Kerbin below. 

The addition of solar panels aiming downwards also meant that power would be provided more frequently, if not at a slower rate. Starlab ISS, SISS, is constantly in a zenith orientation to Kerbin, which means the primary solar panels lose sunlight when the station goes perpendicular to the sun. The OSU is looking to add better solar panels, ones with tracking capability so that power is not an issue in the future. The addition of the Russian modules with their tracking solar panels will help, but OSU wants a bigger, better solution. The problem is, where to put them.

The launch schedule: 
February 24th: Launch of E-2 aboard Apollo Blk V
February 25th: Launch of Cargo-1 (C-1) aboard Aardvark Block I
Between February 26th - 28th: Launch of Zarya + Docking Spacer Module
Between February 28th - March 2nd: Launch of E-3 aboard Soyuz (Launch dependent upon Zarya)
March 4th: Launch of Deep Space Observation Telescope (DSOT) module

Sometime in March: Launch of Node 1, aka Unity, aboard Space Shuttle Enterprise

Full Album: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

(And yes, I did just stick the camera inside the Apollo telescope and take a screenshot of Kerbin :P Zorg... Neptune Camera support when? lol)

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6 hours ago, GoldForest said:




Full Album: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

(And yes, I did just stick the camera inside the Apollo telescope and take a screenshot of Kerbin :P Zorg... Neptune Camera support when? lol)

Oh.. I forgot to put a cameraTransform on. Would someone mind putting it on a github issue? Im on my phone and dont have the login for that and might otherwise forget.

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On 12/2/2021 at 1:51 AM, GoldForest said:

S-IVC docking ports?

Yeah, the REAL S-IVC was an in-line docking version of the S-IVB with several changes from the S-IVB for the Douglas version of the Venus, Mars and Eros flyby.   I am currently working on an article for the S-IV family and their dev history.     I won't be covering ETS's S-IVC other than to mention it in the document.  

I am just starting the MLV section of the document.

Edited by Pappystein
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Douglas Saturn IV stage.   A quick and dirty design history, including significant variants.


Something that I have tried to make clear to my readers as I write these “vignettes” on Rocket design has not been well stated.  So I am taking the opportunity to start by talking about History and the most significant failing the average non-historian reader suffers.     Time dilation.    No, in the physical sense, we are not time-traveling here, nor are we approaching the speed of light, the two places where most of you probably think Time Dilation exists. Instead, by looking ‘so far back,’ what you see as a few events that are hard to make sense of has happened over days, months, and years.   A great example: The Titan Rocket.   Titan started in 1955, was first launched in 1959, and completed service in 2005.   The design and fabrication of the relatively simple Titan I took practically five years!    Much of what you, the reader, see on the Titan Rocket is summarized in these bullet points:

·         Build a robust alternative to Atlas

·         Upgrade said robust alternative to storable fuels

·         Upgrade said storable rocket for Gemini program

·         Upgrade said rocket again for space launch as the Titan IIIA

·         Realize we need MOAR thrust, so add SRMs to Titan IIIA

·         Stop, change directions with a different SRM

·         Build space station manned spy satellite launched from Titan III

·         Realize you need even bigger SRMs for MOL

·         Realize a bigger core would make MOL more viable

·         MOL Canceled

·         Build newer versions of Titan III for future space launch of bigger things

·         Completely redesign Titan III into Titan IV

·         Completely redesign SRMs (SRMU vs. UA120x)

·         Cancel because Toxic Storable fuels are too expensive to replace, and “new things” are coming (regardless that it was a new rocket in 1996)

When you look at those bullet points, you see a few decisions.  But each of those decisions resulted from thousands of other choices leading up to each of them.    So realize that what you are about to read is probably the most significant compression of time into a vignette I have yet done.   Also, recognize that much is missing from the NASA published history “Stages to Saturn” by Blisten because of fears of spreading technical knowledge to the enemies of the United States.


Juno V:   Cluster’s revenge?

It is essential to understand that Von Braun did not place much love on Bossart’s ideas about Balloon tanks, did not have a lot of funds, and was limited in what he could design and build by the US Army’s actual needs. The Atlas was testing and entering service.  There were a lot of failures.   Titan was also just about to enter testing, and its classical design was something Von Braun could appreciate.   No magic here, just straightforward structural evolution.  

At this juncture, we have the newly minted Defense Advanced Research Agency, abbreviated ARPA or DARPA depending on the year, who decided to look at the next generation of Space booster.   Part of the reason for DARPA’s formation was to create a centralized think tank AWAY from the much-feared and loathed “military-industrial complex.” An isolated place where new ideas could be thought up.   Sort of like a NACA for the Military.   DARPA’s purview was, however, not just limited to the military.   Thus, the organization's name has shed and added the word Defense repeatedly throughout its life.  

Anyway, the US Army had just lost its long-range “Ballistic missile Artillery” as part of a Department of defense re-organization.   The Jupiter IRBM moved from the US Army to the USAF, where they already had their preferred Thor that utilized essentially the same engine but had a better performance reserve than the Jupiter.   In this “rapid” change of fortune, the Army Ballistic Missile Agency (or ABMA) and Von Braun had no prospective work, were losing engineers to other jobs, and were still a point of pride for the US Army.   DARPA, looking to the future of space boosters, needed actual rocket scientists.  ABMA had rocket scientists and was a governmental organization.   This looks like a ready match made in heaven with one glaring exception.    The exception?  The almighty dollar $$$.   DARPA did not have the funding to pay for the design and testing of an all-new rocket stage, but they knew they would need such a thing.   Von Braun did some sketching and figured that it would be cheaper to build a stage of the prospective performance with existing tooling already at ABMA.   The only new items would be the engines for said stage and the end webs.   You see, Von Braun figured that if he re-used the tooling to make Jupiter Tanks and Redstone tanks, he could make a new set of tanks in those diameters and combine them to get an appropriate level of fuel to match DARPA’s needs.     

Note these new tank structures are NOT Redstone and Jupiter tanks glued together. Instead, they are all new tank designs that use the same fabrication tooling.   IF you made an actual stage out of Redstone rockets and a Jupiter rocket, it would mass significantly more and have substantially less fuel than the Juno V.   Something a few of you have figured out in KSP already.

Saturn S-IV stage:

For the point of this paper, we will leave Juno V here long before it becomes the Saturn C-1 and C-2 booster.   We now jump ahead to Von Braun, DARPA, and company looking for upper stages to meet performance requirements set out by them.    Having won the contest for the S-IV stage, Douglas Aircraft, at this point meant to be the Orbit insertion stage for the Saturn C-1 and C-2, was intended to have a core diameter of 220” and be powered by 4 of the oncoming LR-119 engines.   The LR-119 would never complete development; even though many sources credit the RL10-A-3 as the LR-119, it is not.   Because of the LR-119 failure looming quickly ahead.  The decision was taken first to upgrade the S-IV stage to accept 6x LR-115 engines, aka the RL10-A-3, and to increase the diameter from 220 inches to 240 inches to accommodate the extra fuel needed for 6 engine operations.      So the specifications as we understand them:

S-IV (as designed and mocked up)

Mainline diameter= 220”

Tapered diameter= 156”

Engine qty: 4

Engine LR119 (a never completed RL10 development)


S-IV (as-built)

Mainline Diameter=240”

Tapered Diameter = 156”

Engine Qty: 6

Engine: RL10-A-3S (this is NOT an LR119!)


The overall height/length of the two S-IV stages as laid out above are about the same, differing only by a few inches.   The main external changes to the Saturn C-1 and C-2 rockets were a completely new “slab side” interstage for the S-IV rather than a conic one as initially planned.   The change in interstage likely resulted in an increase in drag in the transonic regions of flight.  

While it is not the reason, it is stated that the change from 4 to 6 engines pushed the need to cut mass from the S-I stage.  This resulted in the re-engineering program that led to the S-IB stage.   The optimized engineering of the S-I stage was not invested in initially as there was no budget for it.   Thus, before selecting the Saturn Rocket as the launch vehicle to the Moon, there was a fiscal need not to optimize S-I.  After choosing the Saturn program to go to the Moon, it became more and more imperative to make the structure more efficient.

The S-IV stage would not fly for long on Saturn rockets because of the rapid change from a satellite launcher to a mid-earth orbit to an orbital test of the Apollo program. 

We will cover more on the S-IVB latter, but suffice to say, and the S-IV stage was impressive on its own.   The use of a “perfect balsa” insulation…. Being the best insulator for liquid hydrogen then available, Balsa wood gave the S-IV stage the best on-orbit storage of any Liquid Hydrogen tank.    Boiloff still sucked but much less than any then existent alternatives.   Even modern SOFI insulated tanks have a higher boiloff rate than the S-IV’s “Perfect Balsa” insulation!   Of course, the Perfect Balsa was not natural balsa wood but an artificial equivalent that was then hand-fitted to the tank and structures.   The Saturn program would have made extinct the world supply of ACTUAL balsa had it used the real wood.   The man-hours involved in installing the insulation made manufacturing the S-IV and the latter the S-IVB stages very expensive.   The insulation cost will be addressed again in the MLV section below.

The Saturn S-IVB,  200 and 500 versions:


The S-IVB development comes from the need to escape the orbit of Earth with a significant payload.   Contracts for the S-IVB were granted to alter the existing S-IV contracts after selecting LOR for the Moon landing in mid-1961.   Two structurally similar stages would be developed under the contract.   The major changes between the two were to support the various RCS, Ullage, and restart capabilities and all of those features were concentrated at the bottom of the stage in the engine mount area.   The S-IVB used the same tanks in both subvariants.   The S-IVB was designed to utilize the same “Perfect Balsa” insulation as its predecessor.  Still, the larger diameter, 260” up from the 220/240” of the S-IV, and the cylindrical shape of the S-IVB would make it slightly more efficient to build than the smaller but more complicated S-IV.   The % of fuel by mass vs. the overall mass was also better.   The S-IVB was a much more efficient S-IV.    While the switch to a Single J-2 lowered the ISP of the stage by a bit, it did so with a significant mass vs thrust reduction, essentially canceling out the gain from the higher ISP RL10 engines.   However, we are adding mass to the already in-efficient S-I rocket stage at launch, making payload only marginally different from the smaller S-IV stage.)  

The S-IVB, the most well-known variant of the S-IV family, does not need more accolades or history space here.  Suffice to say, it was a well-engineered stage and became the building block that all future S-IV variants would evolve from.


S-IVC   To Eros, Mars, and Venus or Bust!:


Do not confuse what I am talking about with the Alt History S-IVC from Eyes Turned Skyward.  The ETS team seems to have missed this stage in their research.   And given the NASA NTRS servers were heavily redacted a few years ago it is not surprising that this stage was missed by the ETS team.   Simply put I have found references to this stage in 2 documents and a single 3rd document that talks about it in detail!  

Early in the concepts of what to do after the Moon for the Apollo program, or for NASA AFTER Apollo, was a flyby visit to Venus. The largest then discovered close proximity to Earth asteroid named Eros.   The earliest proposals come from 1965 and 66.   The NASA-approved concept than on the table was essentially a standard Saturn V rocket, with only modifications being to engine variants, subbing the F-1A for the F-1 and the J-2S for the J-2 engines.   The S-IVB would be converted into a wet lab.  Utilizing the information available at the time, it was believed that having a large “play area” would give the astronauts enough “elbow room” to survive the almost two-year-long flight to Venus and back.   This is how we build the Venus flyby in Bluedog_DB in Kerbal Space Program.   However, at Douglas and elsewhere, it was quickly realized that this would not be enough.   For one, the effects of cosmic radiation were not well known at this juncture.   Secondly, the wet lab concept had issues with the storage of consumables for such an extended mission.  Douglas Aircraft Company would sketch a Drylab version of the S-IVB that would later become important in the development of Skylab.   Skylab can thank the Venus/Eros flyby missions for its development.     It was quickly determined that the Astronauts would need some radiation shelter, the extended and extensive stowage of supplies and consumables.   Douglas came up with the Dry lab + multiple inline S-IVBs as their “Safe return” concept.   IE, this design has the highest chance of astronaut’s safe return from such a mission.   The Dry lab would have an aft docking collar where the engine mount would typically be on the S-IVB rocket stage.   This collar, a short, wide diameter conic truss, would fit inside the Instrument unit on another S-IVB derived stage.   Inside the IU would be a docking ring with forks like was proposed on the MOL-derived space stations.   There would be no crew transfer points between the docking ring and the port on the preceding stage.   The only connections would be electrical via the forks.   The Boost stage IU would be upgraded with a docking guidance computer using what we would now call TERCOM (Terrain comparison.)   The docked S-IVB with it’s upgraded IU, and NASA would designate the J-2S engine as the S-IVC.   There were four planned versions of the S-IVC, each only differing in the propellant load for the RCS system.   

Speaking of the RCS system, the S-IVC’s RCS system was a significant departure from the S-IVB.   The S-IVB-200’s APS/RCS system would be installed just aft of the IU on the NOSE of the new S-IVC.   The APS/RCS system would be installed in 4x symmetry and terminate with the points at the top of the APS/RCS array just below the break line for the nose cone.   The Aft APS/RCS would be a new 5 way model in a larger pod and would be installed in a four-way symmetry inline with the nose APS pods.  The forward pods would control pitch/yaw/roll and translate pitch and yaw axes.  The Aft pods would also work for fore and aft translation.  

At the AFT end of the S-IVC was the same truncated cone docking port surrounding and extending beyond the engine bell as on the Drylab itself.   This allows multiple S-IVCs to be used in series to boost the spacecraft out of the Earth’s SOI.

The new S-IVC booster stage would be launched into orbit by another Saturn-derived rocket with no details that I could find.  It can be assumed that the S-IVC would be mounted on a Saturn C-2 or C-3 equivalent rocket.  The post-1962 versions of each did away with the Clustered first stage.

 During launch, the S-IVC booster would have a protective nosecone that would be jettisoned upon reaching space during the coast to apogee.   The jettisoning mechanism is mentioned as a rocket motor.  

Once in orbit, the S-IVC would utilize its own J-2S engine to transfer to the Drylab in orbit and autonomously dock with the aft port on the Drylab.    The next S-IVC would then be launched.    The Douglas proposal had 4 S-IVC launches to orbit over two days to build the escape vehicle.   In the end, there would be the Drylab and 4 S-IVCs in orbit built as a single ship when the Venus/Eros flyby capsule of whatever design was launched and docked with the Drylab.      Obviously, this is a pretty ambitious process, and it has some problems that were not well understood at the time.   Mostly boiloff… or did it.

Remember, the best insulation that had been developed at this juncture and was used on the S-IV, as well as the S-IVB was the “perfect Balsa.”   Making it thicker than it did not significantly improve boiloff, you added more mass, and the loss of hydrogen to gas saved was not enough to justify the increased insulation.   IE the performance was negatively affected by the extra insulation mass.

Douglas had stumbled on some rocket fuel papers about this time that had a work-around, of sorts, that did not involve more caustic fuels.   SLUSH Hydrogen.    Today we know this as “densified fuel,” but the idea was the super chill the hydrogen so that it starts to solidify.   In tests, the boiloff rate for a full tank was cut almost in half.   There were a few drawbacks.

·         More expensive to make on Earth

·         Results in Extra “fuel” but no extra Oxidizer

·         Creates a higher-pressure level in the tanks and can result in structural issues unforeseen

·         Can embrittle more materials

However, the gains, mainly in the much longer on-orbit storage time, seem to offset these negatives.

In the end, the decision to do a manned flyby of either Eros or Venus in the 1970s was shelved… because of the fears of cosmic radiation and the budget crunch caused by the Vietnam war, amongst other things.

Modular Launch Vehicle (MLV) MS-IVB:


When Douglas was working on the Slush fueled S-IVC, NASA decided to look beyond Apollo Saturn Applications.  IE what could NASA do with the existing hardware with a minimum of modifications.  Well, as it turns out, there were many things that could be looked at.    Newer engines were available to enter production in the forms of the F-1A, the J-2S and both Rocketdyne and Pratt and Whitney had programs. Further follow-ons to the J-2S in performance if not form on the books as well.   The ADPAE, or J-2T-250K toroidal Aerospike on one contract.   And the LTBE, or J-2L-250k Linear Aerospike, on a different contract for development.  Both would be tested within a few years with great success.  The only result of all this effort was the XRS-2200, a testbed engine.   This was covered a few months back with my articles on the J-2 engine family.   Pratt and Whitney had the RL20 and XLR-129 under development for various reasons at this time as well.    These engines could work with a minor rework to the S-IVB stage.   These engines (including the growth J-2T-400K) could utilize a stretched fuel supply in the S-IVB to increase efficiency.   At the same time, some structural issues that had come to light in the later Apollo missions could be rectified better than the in-field expedients used to improve the payload capabilities of the S-IVB.   Thus resulting in the MS-IVB family.    Things all the MS-IVB have in common a switch from the S-IVB’s “perfect Balsa” insulation to a hybrid “Perfect Balas” and SOFI (spray-on Foam insulation.)   Improvements to the structural design.   Reduction of the number of changes needed to mount different engines.   IE, the engine choice was more modular, and the choice was not tied to a specific stage.  

While not a complete list, here are the MS-IVBs as I have them (grouped by length)

Basic S-IVB length:  The MS-IVB-1, MS-IVB-4(S)B the last being 11.8% due to extra structural strengthening to use with the AJ-260 SRBs.

16.5ft Stretch S-IVB: The MS-IVB-1A, and MS-IVB-3B, and co-incidentally the Douglas S-IVC

17.7ft Stretch S-IVB:  MS-IVB-2

It should be remembered that the Saturn MLV program was a “what can we do with minimal change to what we got” study.    It was not a straight building block to an extensive and varied portfolio of rockets….   Although with limited additional investment and design choices, it COULD HAVE BEEN.

Oh and here is a picture of the S-IVC docking:


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1 hour ago, Pappystein said:


I really want to try this mission now.  Docking a dry Skylab with 4 S-IVBs chained together to go to Eve and back (2.5x scale via JNSQ).  Is there a docking ring in BDB or other mod that could enable this?

Edited by braxfortex
Capitalization and clarification
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