Re: SPACE: Launch vehicles

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Sun Apr 16 2000 - 21:29:44 MDT

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> In going through the current documented launch capacities
> and costs (URLs provided by Carol Tilley), I am struck
> by the following...
> According to the quoted prices, using Energia rockets you
> could dump 7 out of 8 launches into the ocean and still get
> more material actually "in orbit" for the same cost.
> While they may be unreliable, they aren't *that* unreliable.
> Part of this seems to be due to the lower launch weight.
> Energia: .68 Mlbs, Proton: 1.55 Mlbs, Titan IV: 1.9 Mlbs.
> LEO Payloads:
> Energia: 88 Kkg, Proton M: 22 Kkg, Titan IV SRM/US: 23 Kkg.
> Now *why* do the Russian rockets weigh so much less than
> the U.S. rockets and yet have payload capacities of so
> much more?!? Or are the numbers quoted actually wrong?

I think the Energia puts only 8.8 kkg up to LEO.

> Its interesting to note that Intl. Launch Svs. (
> documents that Atlas V rockets will be flying on Russian RD-180
> engines.
> A sad testimony to the state of engine design in the U.S.

Its more a matter of manufacturing economics. Granted the RD-180 engines
are a bit more robust than our equivalents, but they also have fewer
parts AND are made with a labor force paid less than 1/4 that of US
aerospace workers.... Can't beat that with a stick. I'm surprised nobody
bought a license to manufacture them here back when Russia was going
through a nationwide fire sale back in 1992 or so...ah the days when you
could buy a Mig-29 for $100K.

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