Big Dumb Booster in development

19 09 2007

Today I started work on AIA’s Big Dumb Booster, a launcher designed for the company’s future Toehold Project Space Station Modules.

The Launcher is loosely based on the 2 stage BDB from Stephen Baxter’s “Space” novel.  It’s design utilises decomissioned shuttle components following the program’s end in 2010.  The basic principle is to use the existing technology in an altered format in order to lift large payloads to LEO.  Designed as one shot, cheap launch systems with no unnecessary components, they are unlikely to be reusable (except SRBs).

In short, 4 SSMEs are attached to the bottom of a modified ET with a second stage payload mounted on top.  2 standard SRBs are bolted to the side for additional launch lift.  The thrust and fuel numbers are similar to the current shuttle, so the second stage payload mass will be comparable to the total mass of the existing orbiter.

The second stage has a new custom OMS engine equivelant to 2 standard orbiter OMS engines and is twinned with an RCS thruster system.  Once orbital manouvers are complete, these will be used on the station for attitude and re-boosting control.  As far as possible, Toehold payloads will be designed to withstand launch/atmospheric stresses and therefore require no superfluous fairing – although a nose cone may be required for aerodynamic flow.

Payloads will be in the region of 120-150 tons and up to 35m in length with an 8m diameter. (something akin to about 10 Destiny science modules per launch) .  The idea being to use less launches for more mass to establish the key components of the Toehold orbital station.  This launcher is BIG… and DUMB… but cheap.

Development is currently in the early modeling stage.

Early Schematic


Early untextured 3d





One response

20 09 2007

Hope you’re making a good recovery…

I just wanted to thank you for your work on Resolve, I’ve just tried it today and I think she’s beautiful! A bit fat and ugly, maybe, but a fantastic machine. I’m starting your HDW scenarios and I’m looking forward to building this new station.
Do you want any feedback on it?

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