Talk:Launch vehicle

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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Launch vehicle:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Expand : *Types of payloads: humans, cargo, scientific experiments, space structures, etc.
    • Describe ground elements of launch system.
  • Stubs : * Describe size and shape: height, circumference, weight, etc., and indicate reasons for this.

Where to draw the line with Rocket article[edit]

Would anyone care to provide feedback on where to draw the line between material that belongs in this article vs. material that belongs in the Rocket article? Any help making this line "bright" would be appreciated! Sdsds 14:33, 2 April 2007 (UTC)

Responding my own question - it might make sense for this article to include more content about the launch system and (relatively) less about the launch vehicle, since that material overlaps with rocket. In particular, the launch system content could talk about pads, towers and other scaffolding-like support structures, cranes used to erect or assemble the vehicle, pyrotechnics for disconnecting the vehicle from the pad/tower, etc. Not to mention the control room or blockhouse, and other structures at the launch site like fuel storage tanks, and vehicles like those astronauts use for transport to and from the rocket.
Eh? Any comments this time? Or am I effectively just talking out loud in an empty room? (Sdsds - Talk) 21:31, 2 June 2007 (UTC)
Rockets are all vehicles employing rocket engines including missiles. Launch vehicles are the subset of vehicles that go into space. Rocket is more of a broad brush article, Launch vehicles is more focussed. Clearly there is overlap- the whole of 'launch vehicle' is overlap. But I don't see that launch vehicle should be moved into Rocket, rocket is big enough already.WolfKeeper 22:30, 2 June 2007 (UTC)

Description of a launch[edit]

This article would be improved by adding a description of a launch. What happens; what it looks like, smells like and sounds like. For example, the USAF says, "The operation of launch vehicle engines produces significant sound levels. Generally, noise is generated from four sources during launches: (1) Combustion noise from launch vehicle chambers; (2) jet noise generated by the interaction of the exhaust jet and the atmosphere; (3) combustion noise from the post-burning of combustion products; and (4) sonic booms. Launch noise levels are highly dependent on the type of first-stage booster and the fuel used to propel the vehicle." Where in the article can this type of information be most effectively added? (sdsds - talk) 03:42, 21 February 2009 (UTC)


I'm Boldy removing the section describing the so-called classifications of launch system by capacity. This was discussed at Talk:Comparison of orbital launch systems some time ago, but the claims that this section makes regarding the classification of launch systems have no basis in fact, are not widely accepted, and are not supported by the references given. It one actually reads the documents in question, it is quite clear that the quote from Augustine has been cherry-picked, while McConnaughey makes it very clear that the definitions are only being made for the purposes of that document. In short, we are basing our entire description of payload capacity on one draft internal report from one agency in one country at one time. That is not representative or encyclopaedic. --W. D. Graham 22:58, 5 October 2012 (UTC)

Then add to the article, rather than deleting things.
This removal is bad because it specifies the size of real world vehicles, which are otherwise not mentioned. Do launch vehicles usually launch a kilogram, a tonne, a thousand tonnes, a million tonnes? The article doesn't otherwise say.
Although I agree that it's based on a single source, it's still a reliable source.
The article is clearly worse without it, than with it.
It's always much easier to remove stuff from articles for quibbles like these. Good articles are general informative; and you're doing the opposite, making it less informative, for what seem to me to be quite pedantic reasons.GliderMaven (talk) 13:46, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
"Then add to the article, rather than deleting things."
If something is incorrect/misleading/given undue weight then it should be removed. There is no requirement that every edit must increase text. It is not a valid argument to restore incorrect information simply because someone doesn't like there being a lower word count.
"Although I agree that it's based on a single source, it's still a reliable source."
But the source is being used to justify something it does not state. As WDGraham has mentioned these assumed distinctions apply to that report only and are not definitions of the sort that are encyclopaedic and to make them out as so is misleading and giving them FAR too much undue weight.
"Good articles are general informative; and you're doing the opposite, making it less informative, for what seem to me to be quite pedantic reasons."
Saying the "sky is red" is not informative. The information here is false as there are no such widely agreed specific distinctions and nor do they have any influence. ChiZeroOne (talk) 14:06, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
There's nothing stopping the article discussing facts, e.g. "The current launch vehicle with the largest/smallest payload to LEO is..." to provide information on comparisons. However specific payload class distinctions are not encyclopaedic. ChiZeroOne (talk) 14:23, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
You're being ridiculous! Just because there's not global agreement on something does not make it false!!! It just means there's not complete agreement, and there's different positions you can take. We don't delete references to the word 'London' because the French call it something different and label it false! Think about it!GliderMaven (talk) 15:22, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
No ChiZeroOne is right. Some of the proposed classes do not have representatives, either ones that fly now or ones that flew in the past. The division is fairly arbitrary and not at all common. For instance, both ULA and Arianespace refer to their heaviest launchers as heavy lifters. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:31, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
So what? The point is in Wikipedia you're supposed to ramp up the level of information, not simply go around deleting bits you disagree with. So replace it, don't delete it. If you can't replace it, then leave it the heck alone until you can.GliderMaven (talk) 18:51, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
What do you mean "so what"? The alleged information is false, these aren't generally accepted terms, nor does the study claim they are. The statement cannot remain here. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:55, 6 October 2012 (UTC)
I agree with GliderMaven - unless you can improve, don't mess it up.
Unless you have a better classification (sourced), then all allegations at propaganda and similar are not backed. That's a NASA source, not a source from a particular launcher manufacturer. Also, it's not true that the classes "don't have representatives" (you can check here). Jeffsapko (talk) 13:33, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The study makes a classification for internal purposes. It doesn't claim these terms are generally accepted, and they aren't. And the heavier categories do not have flying representatives. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:27, 23 October 2012 (UTC)
The "heavy" category has multiple flying representatives (Delta IV Heavy, Proton, etc.). The "super heavy" has some retired and some in development. As said above - unless you have a source for a "generally accepted" classification, we have to use what sources we already got. Jeffsapko (talk) 13:55, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

I have two issues with this change: one procedural, the question which is the consensus text, the other whether the statement is true and sufficiently sourced.

I was under the impression the text I reverted to was the consensus, hence my revert and insistence discussion should come before adding it back. If you are correct and the list of categories was present as long as two years ago and a new consensus was not subsequently reached, then of course we need to go back to the version with the list and discuss first before removing it. I'm not persuaded you are correct about this, but I'll be happy to be better informed.

As for the substantive argument, three editors have disagreed with you for the same reason, and the source provided does not back up the assertion that this is a widely accepted classification. Why do you disagree? I'd like to see some arguments for it. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:19, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

OK, I'm persuaded that the text with the classification represents the consensus text and since W.D. Graham's bold deletion was challenged, we need to discuss it first before we can restore it. Nevertheless, three editors have agreed with the argument the list in its present form needs to go, so let's hear some arguments why it needs to stay. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:28, 24 October 2012 (UTC)

You know we should not count, but since you mention three you can also see above that there are two editors who objected this deletion, so basically this leads us nowhere. I already presented the arguments why it needs to stay - classifying launchers by payload capacity is a common practice and actually the payload capacity is the main defining parameter of launch vehicles and their sole purpose is to launch payloads. Payload capacity is the most relevant classification for launchers.
What doesn't have a general practice is where the classification lines go trough. There are various piece-meal sources describing particular launcher or launcher family as "small", "heavy" or whatever - or describing two/three sets such as "launcher X is intermediate, Y is heavy" - but most of those don't give us ranges and don't present the whole scale - they focus on particular launchers and only state what they are - without giving any insight into other launchers and the whole picture. Fewer sources match such classification adjectives to ranges such as "from X to Y kg is medium, above Y is heavy". That makes it hard for Wikipedia to achieve a coherent section describing the launcher classification. Nevertheless we have a NASA source presenting one coherent full-scale classification with ranges - and without bias/focus on particular launcher or family. And we present the information from that source. Also, since we assume that there are alternatives (our assumption is based on the piece-meal sources we have) there is an additional sentence "There are many ways to classify the sizes of launch vehicles, but as one example:" - clearly showing that there may be other payload classifications - and if we find such a source we can add it to the article (maybe by having some table representing both/all available classification sources).
Actually most piece-meal sources match the classification source we have. There may be a odd exceptions, but in any case the payload classification can't be deleted without presenting an alternative one. Jeffsapko (talk) 08:08, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
I don't object to having a classification, though I don't see the point. I do disagree very strongly that the classification has no bias toward a particular launcher or family, it is very clearly biased towards SDLV. It should not be implied that this is either an impartial or even a generally accepted classification scheme. The source doesn't even state that it is. I'll make another BOLD move that we can try on for size. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:04, 28 October 2012 (UTC)
It seems plausible, but I'm not sure Augustine utilized exactly this report (this can be checked in the report's bibliography). Anyway, I'm fine with the remark you added. Also, I'm interested what bias towards SDLV you find in it? Jeffsapko (talk) 10:19, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
The 20-50mT category. For existing launchers 20-30 is more reasonable. Roughly 30-50mT would be achievable with straightforward extensions of commercially viable launchers, 50-70mT with further extensions and anything bigger than that would be very expensive. 70-120mT is ideal for an SDLV, it could reach down as low as 50mT, but then it would clearly have competition from alternatives based on existing commercial launchers. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:02, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
Good point on Augustine by the way, it may be that the source we're quoting was based on Augustine rather than the other way round. We need to check that. Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:32, 29 October 2012 (UTC)
As you say - current EELV can be upgraded to 30-50mT relatively straightforward - and that's a good reason to use 50mT as heavy/super heavy boundary. There is no point in lowering the boundary, because then you'll have two overlapping/redundant/too-small-that-really-should-be-merged categories (and you'll still need another category for the >50mT class). It's also not optimal to have a too wide range (e.g. 20-70/100/120), because that is contrary to the goal to classify/categorize (e.g. it lumps disparate launchers and potential payloads in a common 'pot'). Jeffsapko (talk) 14:47, 31 October 2012 (UTC)

I thought the above discussion went a little beyond real data into some wishfulness. Here is some real data: I came along trying to learn about launch vehicles. I know that ULA sells some big ones, and the Russians and the French also. But what vehicles exactly? And I remember that the old Saturn rocket was huge, I seem to remember that it was bigger than anything we have now. I'd like to learn more about all this. At the present, this article has a section named "By size" with 5 graduations in size. The links for only two of these sizes work. The subject is just not well covered. I'd rather see a table with a list of LV's ranging from say Large down to Small, listing all known rockets used to launch stuff and showing size, payload, owner, and maybe type of fuel. Then I could define my own categories if I needed categories. Friendly Person (talk) 01:59, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Linkfarm for S. A. Kamal[edit]

The External links section consists entirely of about a half dozen links to technical articles by S. A. Kamal. I don't question that Mr./Ms. Kamal is a fine researcher on these matters, but is having the External links section be an advert/linkfarm for his/her work make the article better? N2e (talk) 15:47, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

"Obvious factual errors"[edit]

I don't see any in the remarks about stages. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:34, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

  • There are three that I can see; firstly by stating launch vehicles have at least two stages it implies that an SSTO is theoretically impossible - while none have been flown to date it is possible. Secondly, "particularly orbital launch vehicles" implies that it also applies to suborbital rockets; a field in which single stage rockets do exist. Thirdly, the assertion that four stages is the most any rocket can consist of is pure fiction; five stage rockets do exist and more stages are possible. --W. D. Graham 20:51, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
I added the word "typically" to deal with #1. I don't think the phrasing implies there are no single stage sounding rockets. There are certainly multi-stage sounding rockets, while the wording correctly implies staging is more important for orbital rockets. As for #3, I don't think the wording implies a hard upper limit of 4, but I've changed it to make it more obvious. Martijn Meijering (talk) 21:40, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
How about refining the sentence so that it only mentions orbital rockets and includes a brief reference to the concept of SSTO while stating none has ever flown? With regards the four-stage limit, why does a number need to be included, and why does that number need to be four? --W. D. Graham 10:07, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
I don't care very strongly about the current wording, including the mention of the number four, but what's wrong with it? I think four is the highest number that's in common use (Proton to high energy orbit for example), but I could be wrong. The reason I undid your initial change is because I'm not sure single stage rockets never orbited themselves in the early days while some of the additional information seemed useful. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:43, 7 January 2014 (UTC)
A true SSTO has never flown, although 1.5-stage rockets (i.e. single-stage with boosters) have reached orbit - Sputnik, Polyot Atlas-B, Atlas LV-3B, the Atlas SLV-3 launch with ATDA and to some extent the Space Shuttle (if you don't count SSME and OMS as separate stages). Five stage rockets have flown - off the top of my head, some Scout configurations, Start-1 with a post-boost module, Start (I can't remember if this had a PBM - if it did it would have been six stages), Minotaur I/HAPS, Minotaur IV/HAPS, Minotaur V, ASLV, N1 and Pilot. --W. D. Graham 12:44, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Bold Copy Edit[edit]

I copy-edited the lead and first section:

  • Removed unnecessary "that"'s, generally replacing
    • "noun that verbs" with "noun verbing"
    • "noun which/that [to be] verb" with "noun verbed"
  • Added an oxford comma to a list
  • Removed an unnecessary comma before a verb phrase
  • Changed "particularly" to "especially" to emphasize difference of degree noted in Talk Page

Duxwing (talk) 20:02, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Lifting ≠ Payload[edit]

I am not familiar on launchers' technical lingo, but is "payload mass" the same as "lift capacity"? In aviation, the payload does not include the mass of the aircraft, just its useful cargo capacity. I am assuming a rocket's 'payload' is the equipment delivered to outer space, and it excludes the mass of the rocket, fuel and the multiple stages/engines to get it there. My point is that if "payload" is not the same as "lift capacity", then it should not be used as a synonym. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 17:59, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Payload is what is normally used, but "lift capacity" is synonymous, even though it's kind of obscure. — Gopher65talk 02:55, 8 September 2015 (UTC)

Merger Discussion[edit]

Request to merge article Space vehicle into Launch vehicle; dated: 03/2017. Proposer's Rationale: "Space vehicle" in space systems terminology refers to the satellite itself, whereas "launch vehicle" refers to the rocket. The current Space vehicle article is about rockets. Discuss here. -- (talk) 20:51, 29 March 2017 (UTC)

I wouldn't say to merge the two articles, though I would definitely agree with altering the content of "Space vehicle" in order to provide the more technically accurate definition. IP.D (talk) 12:38, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
Strong oppose Where do you get the idea that "space vehicle in space systems terminology" refers to a satellite itself? The definition of vehicle is "1. a means of carrying or transporting something; 2. an agent of transmission" (ref Merriam-Webster dictionary). A satellite is the thing (cargo) being transported, not the means of transportation; therefore calling it a "space vehicle" makes absolutely no sense. And there is verifiable use of the opposite. In the days of the Apollo program, NASA used the term "space vehicle" (e.g., Apollo-Saturn V) to refer to the combination of the launch vehicle (e.g. Saturn V) and the spacecraft payload (Apollo spacecraft). That is what this article and space vehicle were written to reflect. JustinTime55 (talk) 21:52, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

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