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One Last Saturn V Question  
User currently offlineThrust From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 2688 posts, RR: 10
Posted (2 years 8 months 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 5213 times:

I've been trying to figure this out for some time...I'm wondering how much payload the Saturn V theoretically could have lifted into orbit...the reason I ask this was because not only could it get 300,000 pounds into orbit (demonstrated by Apollo 15), but it was capable of boosting its speed an additional 7000 mph to escape earth's orbit. This leads me to wonder how much dry weight the Saturn V could potentially have gotten into orbit if it required the S-IVB to exhaust its entire supply of fuel, of which it could burn six minutes beyond reaching earth orbit. Using just two stages, the Saturn was able to lift 170,000 pounds of dry weight into orbit. It makes me wonder how much larger of a space station it could have launched into earth orbit using all three of its stages.


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5 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinezanl188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3516 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 5188 times:
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A space station launched into earth orbit using a 3 stage Saturn V would be smaller, in terms of mass, than Skylab, unless you're referring to the wet workshop concept. This is why a 2 stage Saturn V was used.


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User currently onlineprebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6420 posts, RR: 54
Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 20 hours ago) and read 5073 times:

Things are made to fit for purpose. You cannot just take a three stage vehicle made for escape velocity and load it down with payload to use all three stages for orbit velocity. It would make the take-off weight heavier than what the S-1C stage was designed to handle.

The Saturn V three stage complex would have to be modified to fit as an optimal launcher only to orbit.

It was made to launch into orbit:
- the command module
- the service module
- the moon lander
- the S-IVB stage
- including fuel needed for acceleration to escape velocity.

For the moon landings the S-IVB stage used part of its fuel to reach orbit, then was re-ignited and spent the rest on reaching escape velocity.

So basically the fuel for acceleration to escape velocity could be converted into payload without modifications to the two first stages. For an optimized vehicle that would at least call for an extensively modified S-IVB stage - maybe half size fuel tanks?

I don't have any exact figures, but assuming it correct that Apollo 15 demonstrated 300,000 lbs into orbit, and that was the capability of the Saturn V, then with a modified S-IVB stage it would handle a payload into orbit = 300,000 minus the empty weight of the modified S-IVB stage - we may call that roughly 275,000 lbs.

Maybe there is a more efficient way to convert the Saturn 5 into a heavy weight orbit launcher? It could be a slight reduction of fuel tanks in the S-1C stage and let the S-IVB stage remain unchanged. Same take-off mass but with heavier payload. We need the designers to make any proposals on such modifications.

[Edited 2011-12-24 20:00:24]


Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineredflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4316 posts, RR: 28
Reply 3, posted (2 years 7 months 2 weeks ago) and read 4280 times:

Quoting Thrust (Thread starter):
I'm wondering how much payload the Saturn V theoretically could have lifted into orbit...the reason I ask this was because not only could it get 300,000 pounds into orbit (demonstrated by Apollo 15), but it was capable of boosting its speed an additional 7000 mph to escape earth's orbit.

I'm not a technical sort, but from my layman's perspective it would appear to me that if the Saturn V could put 300k lbs into LEO, then that was how much it could put into LEO. The fact that the 3rd stage carried fuel to push the CSM/LM to escape velocity is moot. It put 300k lbs into LEO, period. Replace the fuel in the 3rd stage with dry material and you still get 300k into LEO.

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 2):
So basically the fuel for acceleration to escape velocity could be converted into payload without modifications to the two first stages.

And I think that is pretty much what you also stated (if I'm reading what you wrote correctly).



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User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 89 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 4242 times:

Quoting redflyer (Reply 3):
it would appear to me that if the Saturn V could put 300k lbs into LEO, then that was how much it could put into LEO. The fact that the 3rd stage carried fuel to push the CSM/LM to escape velocity is moot. It put 300k lbs into LEO, period. Replace the fuel in the 3rd stage with dry material and you still get 300k into LEO.

I believe this to be the correct answer.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12134 posts, RR: 51
Reply 5, posted (2 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 3944 times:

Yes, the Saturn-V rocket could lift 300,000 lbs into LEO, and the rocket didn't care if that weight was fuel, or widgets.

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