Thrust
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Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Tue May 17, 2011 11:50 pm

I had a question regarding why the Saturn V was never brought back to service. I understand that budget cuts resulted in its decommissioning, but the Saturn V in today's dollars cost less to launch individually than a shuttle launch individually ($1.1 billion in today's dollars versus $1.5 billion for the shuttle). While it didn't carry as many people up at once, its payload was much heavier and we have been without a heavy-lift booster since its retirement. I guess I wanted to know why they didn't redesign the command module again and again over the years, or build another heavy-lift booster to take its place. Also, would the Saturn V, aside from the fact that it has early 1970s technology, be an efficient rocket by today's standards? Thanks.
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Stitch
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 12:52 am

Since we are not sending payloads to the Moon, the Delta IV and (now retired) Titan IV have enough "oomph" to reach the necessary Earth orbits. There is also the Ariane 5 and the Russians are developing some new heavy lift launch systems (Angara). There is also the Atlas V HLV option if someone wants it.
 
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 1:38 am

I read recently in an article published in April about a vehicle called SpaceX which would be the biggest rocket to be launched since the Saturn V, capable of carrying both cargo and people. What is the likelihood of another program like the constellation being developed by NASA in the next ten years? I've heard NASA may be done with launching people and may be handing that job over to other companies.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 1:43 am

Also, I'd wonder why they're not using the Saturn V since the last Saturn V launch put skylab, an entire space station, into orbit with just one launch. That's equivalent to more than a couple of shuttle launches. I'm not sure if the Delta, Titan, or Atlases are capable of launching something the size of Skylab into orbit with one launch.
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zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 1:48 am

SpaceX is a company that is developing a launcher - Falcon 9 Heavy.

http://www.spacex.com/falcon_heavy.php

You may recall the recent flight of the Dragon spacecraft - first commercial spacecraft to reenter & land from orbit. This was also a SpaceX project.
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zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 1:52 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 3):
Also, I'd wonder why they're not using the Saturn V since the last Saturn V launch put skylab, an entire space station, into orbit with just one launch.

Primary problem with Saturn V was there were no payloads that required that much lift capability. Congress/NASA cut the funds for the payloads that would have used the Saturn V, which is why we now have Saturn Vs available to see in a museum...
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nomadd22
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 11:47 am

Even if you count the developement launches, you only had 13 S-Vs launch at $6.5 billion in 68 dollars, or $44 billion in todays dollars. That's about $3.3 billion a launch. And having to develop the hardware and systems to accomplish all the missions the shuttle handled would have driven the cost up further.
If you want to know why something happened you should start by not fudging numbers to support your premade conclusion.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 2:55 pm

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 6):
Even if you count the developement launches, you only had 13 S-Vs launch

Correct. But to put the mighty Saturn V into prospective, it never had a launch failure. Something no other rocket before or since can claim.

Quoting Thrust (Thread starter):
Also, would the Saturn V, aside from the fact that it has early 1970s technology, be an efficient rocket by today's standards?

The work on the design that became the S-V began in 1960 (as the Saturn I), but the Saturn V is a direct decendent of the German V-2 rocket of WWII.

The first stage of the S-V developed some 7,500,000 lbs of thrust, from 5 F-1 engines.
The second stage developed some 1,000,000 lbs of thrust from 5 J-1 engines.
The third stage developed some 200,000 lbs of thrust from 1 J-1 engine.

Saturn V numbers;

SA-500D and SA-500F were test and fit models, and never intended to fly.
SA-501 to SA-513 were all flight vehicles, with SA-501 and SA-502 unmanned (SA-502 came the closest to being called a launch failure as the 2nd and 3rd stages had some thrust problems. The 1st stage worked flawlessly). SA-514 and SA-515 are on display (with different 2nd or 3rd stages from SA-500D and SA-500F), so their 2 & # stages could be dispalyed at additional museums.

The Saturn V is still the HLV Champion, able to send up to 259,600 lbs (118,000 kg) into LEO. If the S-V program were to be revived today, it would be the most efficent vehicle, in terms of weight lifted, for any Mars Mission.
 
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 5:05 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
Correct. But to put the mighty Saturn V into prospective, it never had a launch failure. Something no other rocket before or since can claim.

I'm a huge admirer of the Saturn, it was amazing to see one on display at KSC museum.
However, while I agree that the Saturn was much safer than the Shuttle, it took the 25th flight of a STS to have a failure, Saturn V never got to that many launches and you have to wonder if it's record could have been sustained.

Still, I wish it had continued, including a improved Saturn I for Apollo to LEO.
 
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 5:29 pm

I have a question regarding the cost per seat on Soyuz launchers (with 3 astronauts per launchà vs. cost per seat on Space Shuttle flights taking from 4 up to 6 astronauts depending on missions taking into account the fact that the Soyuz will not take payload while the Shuttle can take payload up to the Station every time it goes up.

I suppose the ATV and Progress and the Japanese unmanned vehicle will be the ones used to take payload now that the Shuttles will be grounded after Atlantis last flight and the Soyuz will be used to take all the astronauts to the Station until the U.S. has a new human carrier to transport them.

Not sure when SpaceX will have their system ready and going for taking the astronauts to the ISS. I wonder if ESA would ever consider building their own astronaut transport vehicle they could send on a more powerful model of the Ariane 5 maybe an Ariane 6 or maybe a re-arranged ATV fit for astronaut transport?
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Launchers_Home/SEMN7A8N9JF_0.html
They certainly have got the technology if not the financial means.

[Edited 2011-05-18 10:42:57]
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connies4ever
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 5:32 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
SA-501 to SA-513 were all flight vehicles, with SA-501 and SA-502 unmanned (SA-502 came the closest to being called a launch failure as the 2nd and 3rd stages had some thrust problems. The 1st stage worked flawlessly).

While true on the face of it, SA-502 and SA-509 both experieneced severe POGO problems (oscillations along the long axis), to the point on SA-513 that the 2nd stage centre engine shutdown - displaying redundancy in design, for sure. But much more of the POGO effect *could* have resulted in loss of vehicle. Fortunately Apollo had an abort system, something the Shuttle does not.

Quoting GDB (Reply 8):
I'm a huge admirer of the Saturn, it was amazing to see one on display at KSC museum.
However, while I agree that the Saturn was much safer than the Shuttle, it took the 25th flight of a STS to have a failure, Saturn V never got to that many launches and you have to wonder if it's record could have been sustained.

Still, I wish it had continued, including a improved Saturn I for Apollo to LEO.

I can still really not fathom the decision not to fly the 2nd Skylab lab module (I guess as Skylab 5), as there were IIRC at least two more Saturn 1Bs and similar number of Apollo CSMs which could have been Skylabs 6 & 7. Possibly in the 1974/5 time period. Symbology aside, ASTP really didn't do much for space flight.

With a little teaking, Apollo might also have been made into a 4-person s/c, with a specialised couch underneat where th eusual crew sat. In fact for Skylab 3, when it looked like they might need rescuing, a plan was worked out to fly Skylab 4 up to the lab with a crew of 2, rescue the 3 there, and return with 5.
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nomadd22
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 7:09 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
Correct. But to put the mighty Saturn V into prospective, it never had a launch failure. Something no other rocket before or since can claim.

Falcon 9 can. Granted, it would be a pretty cheap claim with only 2 launches. And, isn't Atlas V perfect? Unless you meant manned launchers.

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 9):
I wonder if ESA would ever consider building their own astronaut transport vehicle they could send on a more powerful model of the Ariane 5 maybe an Ariane 6 or maybe a re-arranged ATV fit for astronaut transport?

ESA is considering a variation of the ATV. It can already dock and has the avionics but making it re-entry capable and adding an LAS would change it so much it would be pretty much an entirely new vehicle.
Ariane V was designed with the structural margin to be man rated.

[Edited 2011-05-18 13:04:41]
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 7:14 pm

Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 9):
I suppose the ATV and Progress and the Japanese unmanned vehicle will be the ones used to take payload now that the Shuttles will be grounded after Atlantis last flight and the Soyuz will be used to take all the astronauts to the Station until the U.S. has a new human carrier to transport them.

Don't forget the Dragon from SpaceX in the cargo world too. As of now, that's the only thing it has been selected to do. IIRC, there are 2 (perhaps 1, depending on how NASA feels) test flights remaining prior to active deliveries.

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zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 18, 2011 10:45 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
The second stage developed some 1,000,000 lbs of thrust from 5 J-1 engines.
The third stage developed some 200,000 lbs of thrust from 1 J-1 engine.

The S-II & S-IVB were powered by J-2s.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
Correct. But to put the mighty Saturn V into prospective, it never had a launch failure. Something no other rocket before or since can claim.

As much as I'm amazed by the Saturn V I must say that a launch failure was probably only a matter of time.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
SA-502 came the closest to being called a launch failure as the 2nd and 3rd stages had some thrust problems. The 1st stage worked flawlessly

Had it been manned Apollo 6 would have aborted. 2 engines out on the S-II and no relight on the S-IVB left it far short of the desired velocity. Not to mention the SLA panel blowing out.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 9:20 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 3):

Also, I'd wonder why they're not using the Saturn V since the last Saturn V launch put skylab, an entire space station, into orbit with just one launch. That's equivalent to more than a couple of shuttle launches.

Don't forget setting off seismographs... In Canada! That's got to be among the most powerful flying vehicles ever built...

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 7):
7,500,000 lbs of thrust, from 5 F-1 engines.

More power than 68 GE-90s!

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 13):

As much as I'm amazed by the Saturn V I must say that a launch failure was probably only a matter of time

Ok, but why? It seems they worked out most of the issues it had early on. By no means was it a very sophisticated rocket, I'm sure, but it seems like they came up with a pretty reliable vehicle there...
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 12:39 pm

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 14):
Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 13):

As much as I'm amazed by the Saturn V I must say that a launch failure was probably only a matter of time

Ok, but why? It seems they worked out most of the issues it had early on. By no means was it a very sophisticated rocket, I'm sure, but it seems like they came up with a pretty reliable vehicle there...

See my Reply 10 in that SA-509 (Apollo 13) had a major problem as well: centre-line engine cutout on the S-II stage. I believe the root cause was resonance between the engines and the structure - going back about 40 years here. ZANL188 is right I think in that a mjaor failure was only a matter of time.

Definitely not a sophisticated rocket, just brute force. Which, at the time,w as what was needed. The astros called it "The Beast" for a reason.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 5:54 pm

I have seen many questions posed as to why we do not simply bring back the Saturn vehicle. Simply put, we can't. The technical drawings and other documents are incomplete and missing, the tooling has been destroyed, and the infrastructure is gone. It is the same reason why we can't bring back the 707 or DC-8 efficiently.

Now, since we have vehicles still around, we could reverse-engineer them and build them from scratch. We would have to develop and install new infrastructure to support them, new tooling to build them, and develop procedures and processes to support them. That would cost far more than to develop and build an all-new vehicle.

I would love more than anything to see a Saturn V launch, but the only way that is happening is by watching documentaries.
 
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 6:14 pm

Quoting connies4ever (Reply 10):
Fortunately Apollo had an abort system, something the Shuttle does not.

Though several of the pilots had to remove their hands from the abort control as result of the awesome vibration of the first stage (they feared inadvertent abort if their hand remained on the control). If something had gone wrong with stage 1, the immense g in more or less any direction likely to result would make it pretty unlikely that someone could reach out and grab the abort control again with any rapidity.
 
zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 8:38 pm

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 14):
Ok, but why? It seems they worked out most of the issues it had early on. By no means was it a very sophisticated rocket, I'm sure, but it seems like they came up with a pretty reliable vehicle there...

On the contrary, at the time it was the most sophisticated aerospace vehicle around....

As to my prediction of an eventual launch failure:

- It only flew 13 times total... Which means that the total flight experience for the S-IC was on the order of only 30 minutes. None of those 13 S-ICs was ever inspected post flight - who knows what they might have found. Same goes for the S-II & S-IVB.
- Von Braun & MSFC loved to change things... no two Saturn Vs were a like...
- Countless new manufacturing processes & materials were developed for Saturn V
- F-1 combustion instability issues were never really resolved. They came up with a configuration that worked - but not an understanding of why it worked.

And I could go on... That Saturn V worked as well as it did for as long as it did was really a testament to the folks that designed, built, maintained, and flew the thing.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 9:32 pm

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 6):

I didn't fudge those numbers. I was speaking of the individual cost per launch on a Saturn V. Those launch prices are quoted a recent article by NASA. You can find the link to it on wikipedia..I realize you can manipulate what's written in a wikipedia article, but you can't manipulate what the sources it uses say. The cost per launch of each Saturn V vehicle in 1969 was $1.1 billion in today's dollars. Something else to keep in mind is that the Saturn V was originally designed to fly to the moon, far more costly than simply flying into space, which at the end of its career it launched into orbit once. That $6.5 billion also may have factored in research developments because the amount appropriated for it factors back into 1964, three years before the first Saturn V was launched. The Space Shuttle program since its beginning through early 2008 has cost approximately $170 billion, which worked out to an average cost of about $1.5 billion per shuttle launch. The source for that is here:

http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/ad...on_files/resource-2656-2008.18.pdf

[Edited 2011-05-20 15:01:41]
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 10:10 pm

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 18):

The Saturn V's safety could partially be attributed to the rocket, but also my opinion was that NASA was much more concerned about safety measures than for the shuttle, which IMO had they took greater measures they could have prevented both the Challenger and Columbia problems. even under the most demanding circumstances, it still managed to function properly enough either for the mission to be partially accomplished and always for all the crew to survive. The simple fact that the Saturn V survived being struck by lightning and the fact that it still managed to prove durable enough to return the Apollo 13 astronauts back from the brink of death despite being as crippled as it was shows to me that it was a much more durable vehicle than the Shuttle, which fell victim both to the weather and to a simple foam strike. Space travel is dangerous...there's no two ways about it. Even the most modern rockets have fallen victim to them. that said, you're correct in that we only did 13 launches of that compared to the shuttle. Even with the Apollo 6 incident, the Saturn V still safely reached orbit.

[Edited 2011-05-20 15:23:41]
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 10:20 pm

As far as a shuttle failure, the first near catastrophe occured in January 1985 when the same O-ring problem that would claim Challenger just one year later happened to Discovery. So really, to be honest, considering that nothing major happened until the 25th shuttle mission and that the Saturn V launched successfully 13 times, it's probably safe to say that the Saturn V at minimum at minimum had safety comparable to that of the shuttle. And as someone said earlier...the Apollo spacecraft was flexible in that the lunar module could act as a lifeboat, it had a launch escape system, so in reality just seemed more robust and redundant than the shuttle. The one danger I think it was vulnerable to was the fact that it could not glide to back earth and had to rely on parachutes. The Saturn V just seems to me to have so many redundancies and proved so robust and durable that I can't imagine a spacecraft that could have done any better of a job. Not to mention, we have never again developed a single-unit rocket capable of carrying both heavy cargo and people up to and beyond earth orbit.
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 10:26 pm

Quoting trigged (Reply 16):

The blueprints still exist on microfilm and are somewhere at one of NASA's locations...I want to say Huntsville, Alabama.
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 10:42 pm

All that said, what are the chances that NASA might end up eventually building up another Mars program? I was really looking forward to seeing the Ares V until Obama cut the funding. I am really hoping that we either bring back the Saturn V or build a vehicle that is at minimum as big and powerful.
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nomadd22
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 11:08 pm

Once again, you quote the price of the entire shuttle program, but only the amount spent on individual Saturn launches, ignoring everything else needed to support the program.
Pick one or the other. Other than mass to orbit the shuttle is far more capable than the Saturn. You can't just ignore Saturn program money not associated with specific launches and Skylab/Apollo costs. And the reason so many years had so few shuttle launches, thus driving the program cost through the roof were much more political than technical. The program costs during lean years didn't go down much. Any large scale program, STS, Apollo or EELV is going to cost a fortune per launch if you hardly ever use it.
The fact is, claiming that building an entire Saturn rocket would be cheaper than turning over a of shuttle just isn't realistic.

The factors that made Shuttle program cost divided by number of launches so ridiculous aren't going to magically disappear because you use Saturns instead. Just like the reality that jobs in districts being the driving factor behind congressional appropriations isn't going to change.
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zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Fri May 20, 2011 11:38 pm

Quoting Thrust (Reply 20):
The simple fact that the Saturn V survived being struck by lightning and the fact that it still managed to prove durable enough to return the Apollo 13 astronauts back from the brink of death despite being as crippled as it was shows to me that it was a much more durable vehicle than the Shuttle, which fell victim both to the weather and to a simple foam strike.

All the Saturn V components had been jettisoned long before the Apollo 13 spacecraft had its problem.

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 24):
Other than mass to orbit the shuttle is far more capable than the Saturn.

That would be true if you left out the Saturn Vs S-IVB, a high energy upper stage that could send 3 crewmen and two spacecraft to the moon - something the shuttle could never do.
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 12:00 am

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 25):

I was referring to both the spacecraft and the parts that had been jettisoned. Even when the Apollo 13 disaster happened, the Saturn V proved capable of withstanding even of the most dire circumstances.
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 12:12 am

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 24):

All I was simply doing was comparing the individual launch costs. You're right, maybe I didn't include everything else in the program. But regardless, I didn't intentionally omit those. The problem with comparing costs is the fact that the Saturn V was designed to go to the moon, while the shuttle was only designed to go into orbit. While you may indeed be right that other costs factored in, the Saturn V is more expensive than the shuttle, what makes up for that cost difference would be the fact that frequency and lower cost that gives the shuttle in an advantage is made up for the fact that an individual Saturn V mission can accomplish the equivalent of multiple shuttle launches. So ultimately, one could theorize a tradeoff. I guess my envisioning is a rocket carrying up something like a large satellite or a space station in place of where the lunar module would normally have been put, and then the astronauts docking with it....kind of like the Skylab missions except in one swoop. There are two undeniable advantages bringing the Saturn V back would do...it would enable us to venture out beyond earth orbit and also get into orbit. In fact, I was a little shocked why they didn't select the option of combining the Saturn V with the shuttle. If I remember correctly, many believed it would have been safer to do that and it could have potentially avoided the O-ring problem with the solid rocket boosters.
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 12:24 am

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 24):

Besides cost and frequency of launches, I'm not sure how the shuttle is more capable than the Saturn. Especially since the Saturn could launch much heavier cargo into space and accomplish in one mission what it would take multiple shuttle missions to do. Taking in your idea of $3.3 million per launch, the cost advantage the shuttle might have disappears when you factor in that it would take multiple to launches to deploy as much cargo as the Saturn V. The Saturn V could potentially deploy up to five times the weight of what the shuttle could carry in its cargo bay. This means multiple satellites at once. It all depends I guess on what NASA wants. If you want more frequent launches and don't have an interest in launching heavy masses or aren't in a rush to get a lot of small cargo deployed at once, the shuttle would probably be a better option. If you want it all done at once, the Saturn is the logical choice. If you want to send more people up at once, the shuttle is the better the choice. If you want people sent beyond earth orbit to explore other planets, the Saturn V is your best choice of the two. To be quite honest, I think it would have been nice if both could have been kept. The biggest insight I've gotten as to why the Saturn V was cut was that the need for super-heavy payload to be launched was discarded. Also probably was the fact that nobody was planning on venturing beyond Earth orbit anytime soon. If that had been the case, the shuttle might have been designed to either go beyond earth orbit or the Saturn would have been used in conjunction with it.
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zanl188
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 2:29 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 26):
Even when the Apollo 13 disaster happened, the Saturn V proved capable of withstanding even of the most dire circumstances.

You're ignoring the fact that the Saturn V was not present when the Apollo 13 problems occured.
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Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 4:13 am

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 29):

I guess I always considered the Apollo spacecraft to be a part of the Saturn V. But I guess if you discount the spacecraft, then the Saturn V has a nearly flawless performance record. In any case, the Apollo spacecraft has proven itself to be a more robust vehicle than the Space Shuttle orbiter.
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rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 10:27 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 27):
the Saturn V was designed to go to the moon

No, it really wasn't. It's a booster - a very big booster, but that's all. There's almost nothing in the S-V that specific to a moon mission. Perhaps the closest is the restartable S-IVB (with the attendant impact on the J-2), but even that would be darn handy in any non-LEO scenario (for example, you wouldn't need a separate transstage for a GEO launch).

Quoting Thrust (Reply 30):
But I guess if you discount the spacecraft, then the Saturn V has a nearly flawless performance record. In any case, the Apollo spacecraft has proven itself to be a more robust vehicle than the Space Shuttle orbiter.

No, neither the Saturn (in all three incarnations) nor the Apollo has demonstrated a superior safety record to the Shuttle. There simply isn't enough data (on the Saturn/Apollo side) to make that kind of statistical statement. It's a bit like Concorde's safety record. On July 24, 2000, you could find people asserting that it had the best safety record of any airliner. On the 26th, you could find people asserting it had the worst. Neither was correct, and for the same reason - there was not (and still isn't) enough data to narrow down the probability curve of the safety records. A back of the envelope shows the 50% confidence interval for the Saturn V to entirely contain the 95% confidence interval for the Shuttle - IOW there's no ranking of the two.

Quoting Thrust (Reply 28):
The biggest insight I've gotten as to why the Saturn V was cut was that the need for super-heavy payload to be launched was discarded. Also probably was the fact that nobody was planning on venturing beyond Earth orbit anytime soon. If that had been the case, the shuttle might have been designed to either go beyond earth orbit or the Saturn would have been used in conjunction with it.

Not really. The promise of the Shuttle was vastly lower cost to orbit. They were projecting costs on the order of $250/lb to LEO (1978 dollars, about $825 current). Of course it ended up being something on the order of 20 times that. So it would have been a huge improvement over smaller expendable launchers (and in fact the Shuttle was intended to be smaller, but once the DoD was required to use the Shuttle, their requirements significantly increased its size), and would have been sufficient for the vast majority of launches. And at the (projected) cost, doing several missions with in-space assembly would make perfect sense too for the occasional "big" project.

Quoting wn700driver (Reply 14):
Don't forget setting off seismographs... In Canada! That's got to be among the most powerful flying vehicles ever built...

Then I'm sure the Shuttle does too - its takeoff thrust is only about 7% less.
 
nomadd22
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 12:58 pm

Quoting Thrust (Reply 30):

I guess I always considered the Apollo spacecraft to be a part of the Saturn V. But I guess if you discount the spacecraft, then the Saturn V has a nearly flawless performance record. In any case, the Apollo spacecraft has proven itself to be a more robust vehicle than the Space Shuttle orbiter.



That's part of the problem with comparing the two I guess. When you talk about STS you're talking about the whole system, since you can't really separate launcher and it's primary payload, which is the shuttle itself.
But the Saturn could be for Apollo, Skylab or any of a hundred other payloads, so you can only consider the base launcher when you're compiling statistics. People, including me, often point out that it's not exactly accurate to say STS can only put 25 tons of payload into orbit. It's really putting more like 130 tons up, since the shuttle itself can be considered the primary payload. The main point being, that the shuttle can be replaced by a different payload, as in Shuttle-C or Jupiter or Ares V or whatever name the folks at nasaspaceflight have come up with today for their favorite shuttle derived system, just like Saturn could carry payloads as different as Apollo or Skylab.
That's also makes it hard t compare costs since you have to include orbiter processing in STS launch costs, and you don't have to include payload processing and development in Saturn figures

I don't see how you can claim the Apollo has proven itself more robust. I could say Falcon 9 is the greatest rocket in history, but it would be a pretty cheap claim with only 2 launches. If Apollo had flown 134 missions, it could make that claim.
Anon
 
Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 4:55 pm

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 32):

I guess I see your point. What makes me say it's robust is a gut reaction to how the Apollo spacecraft experienced such a catastrophe on Apollo 13, nothing NASA was even remotely prepared for, yet they were able to engineer a solution to the problem. You could also argue it's robustness being a function of NASA possibly having a better staff then, you could argue it to be many things. The oxygen tank that went faulty, however, was a preventable problem. I remember reading something like it was dropped and had no way of cooling itself, but instead of ordering a new one, because of concerns about delaying the mission, a compromise was made and a repair that ended up being insufficient was made. Jim Lovell even signed off on the procedure. Yet what I am saying is that NASA was concerned about mission delays with the shuttle as well and was aware of potential dangers concerning the O-rings and later foam strikes, and they too compromised by taking risks that ended up killing the astronauts. I guess when I say robust, I'm saying that the Saturn V and Apollo spacecraft, because of multiple stages, and the lunar module in addition to the command module, had a much better chance of surviving a catastrophe than the shuttle. Yet the limitation of that argument is again, the difference in design, etc. In some ways, you can compare the two, but in other ways, it's like apples and oranges. So I guess it being robust is more of my opinion than anything else, but I don't just go out and say the Saturn V and Apollo spacecraft is safer than shuttle without considering things I think are relevant. That said, I am by no means an expert...that's one of the reasons I even started this topic to begin with.
Fly one thing; Fly it well
 
Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 5:05 pm

Quoting rwessel (Reply 31):


IMO, the Saturn V's confidence interval was partly based on the fact that there was less confidence in safety because space was still only a 10 year old "fad". The shuttle's confidence interval I think came in part from the fact that we had proven to be successful in every launch with the Saturn V, and the fact that we landed on the moon six times, the only real failure in the Apollo program (discounting Apollo 1) was one which was overcome. The shuttle was not doing things nearly as complex...it was simply going into orbit, carrying much lighter cargo, and had more people operating it. I would probably think they thought the shuttle design to be safer than the Saturn V, but that is obviously debatable. You could say the shuttle missions weren't nearly as risky as the Apollo missions, but to compare the two is impossible since they were intended for much different purposes. So IMO, time was a contributor to the confidence interval, as well as proven success with other space missions. Since there were not enough Saturn Vs launched, this debate pretty much is without a black or white ending.
Fly one thing; Fly it well
 
Thrust
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 5:11 pm

One tradeoff I would say with the Saturn V booster with the shuttle's rocket boosters is that it could reach a speed MUCH higher than that of the solid rocket boosters up to its separation and the shuttle and could carry its payload to a slightly higher altitude...the downside of that is that it took about 30 seconds longer for it to achieve the same altitude as the shuttle reaches at solid rocket booster separation. I think at the period of the solid rocket boosters separating from the shuttle, the Saturn V and the shuttle were going about the same speed...roughly 3000 mph around the 2 minute mark, but the Saturn V was about 10 or so miles lower than the shuttle at that point. But again, I would be interested for more input on this since I am not 100% confident in my opinion here. I guess the other tradeoff is that the shuttle was able to reach an orbital velocity faster than the Saturn V, but the Saturn V seemed to achieve it a much higher altitude....I again would ask for thoughts on this...I'm not even sure if these could be called advantages.

[Edited 2011-05-21 10:15:04]
Fly one thing; Fly it well
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Sat May 21, 2011 8:14 pm

Quoting Thrust (Reply 34):
IMO, the Saturn V's confidence interval was partly based on the fact that there was less confidence in safety because space was still only a 10 year old "fad". The shuttle's confidence interval I think came in part from the fact that we had proven to be successful in every launch with the Saturn V,

Not sure what you mean. A confidence interval is a statistical term. IOW, I'm 50% confident (based on the very small data set) that the S-V's failure rate is between 1-in-3.8 and 1-in-280 launches, while I'm 95% sure that the shuttle's reliability is between 1-in-28 and 1-in-95, which is a *much* tighter bound (and wholly within the much looser S-V 50% CI). The Shuttles 50% interval is much narrower still. Again, I'm not saying one or the other is more reliable, I'm saying we don't have the data to make that assessment.

Quoting Thrust (Reply 35):
One tradeoff I would say with the Saturn V booster with the shuttle's rocket boosters is that it could reach a speed MUCH higher than that of the solid rocket boosters up to its separation and the shuttle and could carry its payload to a slightly higher altitude...the downside of that is that it took about 30 seconds longer for it to achieve the same altitude as the shuttle reaches at solid rocket booster separation. I think at the period of the solid rocket boosters separating from the shuttle, the Saturn V and the shuttle were going about the same speed...roughly 3000 mph around the 2 minute mark, but the Saturn V was about 10 or so miles lower than the shuttle at that point. But again, I would be interested for more input on this since I am not 100% confident in my opinion here. I guess the other tradeoff is that the shuttle was able to reach an orbital velocity faster than the Saturn V, but the Saturn V seemed to achieve it a much higher altitude....I again would ask for thoughts on this...I'm not even sure if these could be called advantages.

No, it's just a different characteristic of the two launch vehicles. Nor is maximum orbital height really a design characteristic. The more payload you put on any launcher, the lower its maximum achievable orbit is. The Shuttle suffers from being 87 tons of irreducible payload by itself. In some ways the shuttles lower maximum acceleration is an advantage, both structurally, and for the payload (less stress on both), and in fact was a design consideration.

That being said, the Shuttle never did meet its goals, and in hindsight, sticking with the expendable boosters would have been a better idea. Basically end up with the Atlas, Titan II/IIIB/IIIC, Saturn IB and Saturn V to cover all possible uses. And depending on your needs, four of those had man rated versions already, and the Titan IIIC had a planned man-rated version (for Dyna-soar). A somewhat tweaked Apollo SM+CM like design on the Saturn IB could well have been the manned launcher of choice for extended flights (for orbital missions you'd want to make a bigger CM and smaller SM, or more likely, go for something more like the Soyuz design with a separate on-orbit workshop module that's jettisoned before reentry). And an Apollo CM with a minimalist SM on a Titan IIIC would be a good vehicle for short flights (to/from a space station, for example).
 
Eagleboy
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 12:42 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 3):
Also, I'd wonder why they're not using the Saturn V since the last Saturn V launch put skylab, an entire space station, into orbit with just one launch.

But at the same time, comparing SkyLab to the ISS isn't really fair.
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 7:54 am

Quoting Eagleboy (Reply 37):
But at the same time, comparing SkyLab to the ISS isn't really fair.

True enough. After all, after some 45 assembly flights, ISS has almost three times the internal volume as Skylab, and a bit over five times its mass.   

edit:spelling

[Edited 2011-05-23 01:06:05]
 
nomadd22
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 11:31 am

Quoting rwessel (Reply 38):
Quoting Eagleboy (Reply 37):
But at the same time, comparing SkyLab to the ISS isn't really fair.

True enough. After all, after some 45 assembly flights, ISS has almost three times the internal volume as Skylab, and a bit over five times its mass.

Not to mention that ISS will have about 60 times (I'm guessing life till 2028) as many man hours in operation and 10 times the power of Skylab.
Skylab was an impressive as hell achievement, but a generation will grow up with ISS.

(Why does everybody always say 'not to mention' when they're about to mention something?)
Anon
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 5:52 pm

Quoting nomadd22 (Reply 39):
Not to mention that ISS will have about 60 times (I'm guessing life till 2028) as many man hours in operation and 10 times the power of Skylab.
Skylab was an impressive as hell achievement, but a generation will grow up with ISS.

I was being sarcastic. My point was, that after massive effort, ISS is not really all that much bigger than Skylab. After Skylab and Mir, it's hard to see what's so exciting about ISS. It's new and shiny, to be sure, but mostly in the same way a 2000 Honda is a better car than a 1974 Chevy. And Skylab's lack of occupancy is hardly Skylab's fault. We simply didn't bother sending anyone else there.

Five S-V launches could have built a station the size of ISS, for a far lower cost. Or launching Shuttle sized payloads on expendable launchers. Of course NASA would still not have clue as to what to do with it.
 
kalvado
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 6:13 pm

Quoting rwessel (Reply 40):

Five S-V launches could have built a station the size of ISS, for a far lower cost. Or launching Shuttle sized payloads on expendable launchers. Of course NASA would still not have clue as to what to do with it.

And full scale Saturn program would be still needed to keep S-5 manufacturing and launch chain running for just those five launches. It's always the same - you have fixed costs which do not go anywhere. And those would probably be comparable with Shuttle costs. And running both S-5 and shuttle (along with ISS) would probably be too pricy.

Oh, and probably assembly of light but bulky truss structure would still require a different approach.

I'm not saying that shuttle approach is the best possible solution - but given 1990's situation when Shuttle is available - it was probably wise to use it instead of restarting Saturn or waiting for Delta 4 heavy to fly
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Mon May 23, 2011 10:54 pm

Quoting kalvado (Reply 41):
And full scale Saturn program would be still needed to keep S-5 manufacturing and launch chain running for just those five launches. It's always the same - you have fixed costs which do not go anywhere. And those would probably be comparable with Shuttle costs. And running both S-5 and shuttle (along with ISS) would probably be too pricy.

Oh, and probably assembly of light but bulky truss structure would still require a different approach.

I'm not saying that shuttle approach is the best possible solution - but given 1990's situation when Shuttle is available - it was probably wise to use it instead of restarting Saturn or waiting for Delta 4 heavy to fly

To be sure. If you get to the mid-nineties and the only heavy launcher you have is the Shuttle, and want to build a space station, Shuttle compatible pieces make sense.

The Shuttle should have been abandoned long before that, when it became apparent that it was a dismal failure. Preferably long before it got to flight status. It was perfectly clear by the end of the seventies that the Shuttle was going to fail in its one and only mission, that of providing inexpensive and flexible access to LEO, and that the justifications for the Shuttle in the early/mid seventies were wildly optimistic. Of course it turned out to be even worse than that. And even if you came to the decision late, and you've got flight hardware, going ahead and using it briefly would have made some sense (at least run a test program and learn some stuff), but a quick reinvestment in a 20t expendable launcher (even a modest uprate of the Titan IIIC would have been usable to launch an Apollo CM with a reduced SM) and an Apollo referb would have been prudent (and fairly inexpensive). And that's the biggest disaster of the Shuttle program - it put the development of expendable boosters on the far back burner for the US.

Even the Soviets, after building and flying Buran, figured out that the Shuttle as done by
NASA was silly, and trying to match it wasn't worth the continuing cost.
 
trigged
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 1:08 am

Quoting Thrust (Reply 22):
The blueprints still exist on microfilm and are somewhere at one of NASA's locations...I want to say Huntsville, Alabama.

Some do, but not all. From what I have been told by several in Huntsville is that the drawings/blueprints/microfiche are not complete.

It would be much easier to design a "similar" Saturn V, say a Saturn V 2.0 where you have the same shape, thrust rating, etc. but have a new build design on the inside.
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 5:17 am

Quoting trigged (Reply 43):
Some do, but not all. From what I have been told by several in Huntsville is that the drawings/blueprints/microfiche are not complete.

NASA's official position is that they have them all (or close enough):

http://www.ksc.nasa.gov/facts/faq10.html

"WHAT HAPPENED TO THE SATURN V PLANS

Despite a widespread belief to the contrary, the Saturn V blueprints
have not been lost. They are kept at Marshall Space Flight Center on
microfilm. The Federal Archives in East Point, GA also has 2900 cubic
feet of Saturn documents. Rocketdyne has in its archives dozens of
volumes from its Knowledge Retention Program. This effort was initiated
in the late '60s to document every facet of F-1 and J-2 engine
production to assist in any future re-start."
 
GDB
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 5:41 pm

Maybe, (ain't hindsight great?) it would have been better to keep the Saturn V in (very low rate) production - or mothballed the production equipment - using them to launch, every few years or so, a Skylab style station of an evolving design.
Initially Saturn 1's loft Apollos to them, later maybe something like the proposed HL-20 atop a booster to take over the ferry to LEO role.

Or develop a concept such as the original Shuttle concepts of having the spacecraft release from a larger winged 'mother-ship' to attain orbit - but based on something like the HL-20, all done in a smaller and much more manageable concept than the early 70's STS ideas - if you are going for reusable go the whole way with it.

So you'd have a series of US 'Salyuts' through the 70's and 80's - though much larger.

Retaining Saturn V capability also allows for a new program beyond LEO and something like the Hubble could be lifted by a Saturn V too.
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 6:17 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 45):
something like the Hubble could be lifted by a Saturn V too.

Hubble could have been comfortably launched on a Titan IIIC. A Saturn IB would have been overkill. A Saturn V could have launched about seven Hubbles at once.
 
GDB
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 7:11 pm

Quoting rwessel (Reply 46):
Hubble could have been comfortably launched on a Titan IIIC. A Saturn IB would have been overkill. A Saturn V could have launched about seven Hubbles at once.

Yes, though our 'Saturn 1B/Titan IIC Hubble' would be different, for repair/servicing with no Shuttle (at best a much smaller personnel carrying optimised HL-20 style vehicle or evolved Apollo CSM), there'd be no grabbing it by a robot arm and mounting the EVA's from the spacious Shuttle as was built.
The facilities to do that would have to go up with the telescope.
 
kalvado
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 7:22 pm

Quoting GDB (Reply 47):

Yes, though our 'Saturn 1B/Titan IIC Hubble' would be different, for repair/servicing with no Shuttle (at best a much smaller personnel carrying optimised HL-20 style vehicle or evolved Apollo CSM), there'd be no grabbing it by a robot arm and mounting the EVA's from the spacious Shuttle as was built.
The facilities to do that would have to go up with the telescope.

Or one may argue that in-orbit service is too expensive, and constructing second and third sample of Hubble is cheaper than keeping service fleet just for that.
 
rwessel
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RE: Saturn V: Cheaper To Launch Than The Shuttle?

Wed May 25, 2011 8:05 pm

Quoting kalvado (Reply 48):
Or one may argue that in-orbit service is too expensive, and constructing second and third sample of Hubble is cheaper than keeping service fleet just for that.

Indeed. None of the other big telescopes are serviceable. Compton, Chandra, Webb, Swift, Kepler, and Spitzer to name some of the NASA birds. (Yes, not all of those are in Earth orbit, and Webb hasn't launched yet).

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