September 11, 2006

Decision #006 - Use ONLY expendable SRBs

A few weeks ago, I've read on a space blog that, retrieve the burned SRB from ocean, costs a fixed $500M per year!!!

That's an HUGE amount of money due to the care the SRBs need to be reused safely on another manned launch after refurbishing.

But, if we add the shared "retrieving cost per year" to each SRB launched, the (REAL) unit price of an SRB grows to:

$40M x 2 + $500M = $580M / 2 = $290M per SRB with a single Shuttle launch per year!

$40M x 4 + $500M = $660M / 4 = $165M per SRB with two Shuttle launches per year!

$40M x 6 + $500M = $740M / 6 = $123M per SRB with three Shuttle launches per year!

The latter is also the "price per SRB" to recover the six 5-segments SRB of two moon missions per year (two Ares-I SRBs and four AresV SRBs).

Probably (but not sure) the cost of retrieve and refurbish the SRB was reasonable when 6+ Shuttles per year was launched (or, better, with 20+ Shuttles' flights per year as planned in the Shuttle design) but (surely!) that is not a good choice now (and in future) with only a few SRBs per year to retrieve!

Then, my decision is to shift as soon as possible from reusable to EXPENDABLE boosters to use for (both) the last Shuttles' flights and ALL future Ares rockets!

The first part of my decision is to still use the old ringed SRBs but without refurbish and reuse them to save the fixed $500M retrieving costs... that's is up to $10 billion SAVED in the next 20 years of Shuttle flights, Ares tests and Ares launches!!!

The second part of my decision is to build, test and use as soon as possible (from last Shuttles' flights) ONLY a new 4-segments SRB with the same specs of to-day's booster (dimensions, propellent grain and geometry, thrust, ecc.) but with a new, single piece, fully closed, SRB case, without segments and rings (but with parachutes to have a slow fall of the burned boosters).

SAVE up to $10 billion in the next 20 years is not the only advantages of the expendable (single piece case) 4-segments SRB since it has (minimum) three other GIANT advantages:

1. it's hundreds times safer than a ringed SRB since, thaks to the new case) it will NEVER leak (like in the Challenger accident) with a launch abort of the Aees-I or a main tank explosion of the AresV

2. it's simpler, then, LIGHTER than a segmented SRB, so. the saved weight can be used to increase the rocket's payload with some extra-tons

3. the simpler SRB will cost LESS to build (since it doesn't need any complex refurbishing and tests) so, it's price may fall from current its $40M per unit to a lower $20-30M each or less!!!