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A Walk Between Worlds

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The workhorse of the Lunar Run, and the backbone of Project Argosy to Mars, was the long-duration 4th stage of the NOVA booster- the N IV NERVA, also known as Hercules. With its 175.000 lb thrust NERVA nuclear thermal engine, the stage, once put into low Earth orbit by the NOVA booster, could be refueled and begin a many-year career, ferrying men and supplies from the LEO space stations to Clarke orbit, in support of the Solar Powersat project, to Lunar orbit to supply the Lunar bases on near and farside, and as the boosters and main mission propulsion for the International Argosy missions to Mars and Venus.
Here, Hercules 5 is depicted on Lunar approach, as 2 crew members conduct an EVA to conduct experiments in the cislunar enviroment.

Rendered in Lightwave X. Thanks for having a look!
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© 2011 - 2021 Thomas-Peters
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ThylacoleoCarnifex's avatar
I didn't even have to read the description and I immediately identified that NERVA engine.  Hahah, this is such a cool concept!  I wish we could use NERVAS already. x.x;
NyrathWiz's avatar
Nice work on the NERVA! You even have the proper insignia.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Thank you, sir! I knew about the logo long ago, but had forgotten it until I saw it on the NERVAs you used on your re-imagined DY-100. So you're to blame! :D
NyrathWiz's avatar
Glad to be of assistance. The NASA nuclear shuttle needs a little love, it would have actually worked.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yep! It would have been (and still would be) the most cost-effective method of moving big cargos in NEO and cislunar space. And, of course, as the backbone of the manned Mars program. (see my Project Argosy images...) Truthfully, I really don't understand the thinking of present space planners-they insist of coming up with yet another custom vehicle to do everything, when, in reality, you need very different vehicles for these very different jobs. I can't imagine why you'd want to haul a CEV all the way to Mars and back, for example, when it means abandoning the interplanetary craft and limiting yourself to only the sample that can be crammed in the CEV with the crew. I've not run the numbers, but it sure doesn't SEEM energy efficient...
NyrathWiz's avatar
I was compiling some notes on generalized spacecraft designs, you may or may not find them useful.
[link]

[link]
NyrathWiz's avatar
RE: hell-bent desire to constantly make custom designs.
A person of suspicious mind would suspect that they were less concerned with opening up space for exploration, and more with creating busy-work to ensure their jobs.
Eagle1Division's avatar
I've always wondered what those smaller tanks above rocket engines are. I've seen them on the J-II's for the Saturn V, here, and some other places I can't quiet recall.

Are they the Helium tanks for the engine purge at MECO?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
They are Helium tanks, but not for an engine purge. They're part of the re pressurization system for the fuel tank, to force the tank into the turbopump inlets when the engine is started in zero-gee. They perform the same function on the J-2, the Centaur stage, and other space-restartable engines.
Eagle1Division's avatar
Hah, Neat! So now I know why I've only seen them on space-restartable engines!

So, I'm guessing the viscosity of the propellant wouldn't be enough to keep the surface flat (so all of the propellant exits the tank, instead of staying on the walls and Helium exiting the tank), so a whole array of inlets would be needed to make it more of a "wall" of incoming helium than a bubble?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yep, you've got the picture. Its a difficult problem. When I worked for a NASA subcontractor in the late '80's, we flew some tests of different systems for zero-gee tankage, to try to shake out the best way to do it. von Braun and his team went for the overengineered, brute-force method, but its the one that has the best track record.
Eagle1Division's avatar
lol. Over-engineered, brute-force. So that would be helium insertion?
That's as opposed to what other method?

I thought fuel injectors were 1940's technology. Is that the other method? If blowing helium in one end is such a problem, and injectors have been around since the 40's, why did they go with helium?
RobCaswell's avatar
AbaKon's avatar
You know, the stuff NASA puts out isn't this good. You rock my world...and many others.
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Aww, shucks, Kon, good of you to say. The Nuclear Ferry is, visually, perhaps not the coolest design ever conceived, but it has the virtue of being practical, and if we'd actually pursued this course, it would have opened up the Solar System. And, eventually, something like this will HAVE to be built, if we ever DO move out into the neighborhood.
AbaKon's avatar
I'm still holding out for Orion...
Thomas-Peters's avatar
One of my next modeling projects is going to be a manned ship based on the Daedalus Nuclear Pulse Ship! Whenever I get to it....
AbaKon's avatar
Very cool. I will officially begin looking forward to it in ....

five....
four....
three....
two....
one....

NOW!
Kjasi's avatar
It looks like you're using StarPro for the stars, correct?

If not, then what's your technique?
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Actually, before I switched over to Lightwave X, I had a neat little starfield system called Hyperstars that was a plugin for Lightwave--it was about a tenth the cost of StarPro. I did a number of star-field renders in that, because I knew it wouldn't run in LW X. So this is one of those renders, used as a Background.

I am going to have to get StarPro now, at some point. Hopefully I'll land a good freelance project to finance it!
Kjasi's avatar
It's definatly worth it. I love StarPro.

I've heard of Hyperstars... Wasn't thrilled with it...
Thomas-Peters's avatar
Yeah, Hyperstars was not the easiest to use, but it produced okay results for still images. I'm actually really looking forward to getting StarPro, just have to save my pennies...
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