Copyright 2017 Robert Clark
In the blog post "A smaller, faster version of the SpaceX Interplanetary Transport System to Mars", I suggested using just the upper stage of the ITS to get a booster for a Mars rocket, using an existing Ariane 5 core as an upper stage. This would be much cheaper and faster than the 7,000 metric ton, 42 engine booster that SpaceX was planning.
Elon Musk says SpaceX plans to have the smaller upper stage built by 2020. So we could possibly have a Mars transport system by then since the Ariane 5 as an upper stage already exists. However, by using triple cores of the ITS upper stage we could also get a system of the larger size SpaceX is proposing.
We'll input the data into Dr. John Schillings payload estimation program. In the calculator, select "No" for the "Restartable Upper Stage" option, rather than the default "Yes", otherwise the payload will be reduced. Select Cape Canaveral as the launch site, and input 28.5 degrees for the launch inclination to match the latitude of Cape Canaveral, otherwise the payload will be reduced.
We'll use also crossfeed fueling. As I have argued before this is a well-known technique having been used for decades on jet airliners. To emulate crossfeed fueling with the Schilling calculator, enter in 2/3rds the actual propellant load in the field for the sideboosters, and enter in (1 + 2/3) times the actual propellant load in for the first stage propellant load.
So in the side boosters propellant field enter in (2/3) * 2,500,000 kg = 1,667,000 kg. And in the first stage propellant field enter in (1 + 2/3) * 2,500,000 = 4,167,000 kg.
For the thrust fields, enter in the vacuum thrust for 9 vacuum Raptors, since the calculator always takes as input the vacuum values, even for first stages and side boosters. The vacuum thrust for the 382 Isp vacuum Raptor is 3.5 meganewtons, 3,500 kN. So 9 would be 31,500 kN. Enter in also the vacuum Isp 382 s.
For the second stage, we'll increase the vacuum thrust of the Vulcain engine on the Ariane 5 to 1,450 kN in accordance with an increased vacuum Isp of 465 s, since we can get this higher vacuum Isp by just using a nozzle extension. For the dry mass input 12,000 kg and propellant 158,000 kg. Inputting these specs in the calculator results in:
|Launch Vehicle:||User-Defined Launch Vehicle|
|Launch Site:||Cape Canaveral / KSC|
|Destination Orbit:||185 x 185 km, 28 deg|
|Estimated Payload:||504575 kg|
|95% Confidence Interval:||426107 - 597674 kg|
"Payload" refers to complete payload system weight, including any necessary payload attachment fittings or multiple payload adapters
This is an estimate based on the best publicly-available engineering and performance data, and should not be used for detailed mission planning. Operational constraints may reduce performance or preclude this mission.
This is comparable to the payload mass of the expendable version of SpaceX's ITS. This would save greatly on development costs when not having to develop the larger booster. The launch cost would also be greatly reduced since judging by the Falcon Heavy, using triple cores only increased the price 50% over that of the single core rocket.