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neutrino78x

Guest
Here is a PDF copy of a paper describing how to make a poor man's space elevator. It is basically a balloon, attached to a ship via a 26 mile cable. The ship is at the equator. The cable is also attached to a pulley, so you can attach a rocket to the cable and hoist it up to the balloon, and launch the rocket from 26 miles. Apparently no new technology is required to do this.

NASA link

(you want to scroll down to "files in this item" and click on the PDF link.)

--Brian
 
E

EarthlingX

Guest
Details about the rail launch solicitation :

http://www.spaceref.com : NASA Solicitation: Horizontal Launch Study
Source: Dryden Flight Research Center
Posted Sunday, September 19, 2010



Synopsis - Sep 15, 2010

General Information

Solicitation Number: N/A
Reference Number: NND11Z34567L
Posted Date: Sep 15, 2010
...

NASA along with other government agencies is collaboratively looking at development of technologies that would have mutual payoffs in the area of horizontal launch. Horizontal launch is the ability to take-off with a vehicle from a runway to a predetermined speed and altitude and then launch an orbital vehicle or an ascent system including orbital vehicle to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The Horizontal Launch Study (HLS) study will provide an assessment of horizontal launch architectures for several payload classes to access/service LEO for both military and civilian applications. HLS will open the trade space to several payload classes from micro to medium sized payloads and different staging scenarios from subsonic to supersonic separations speeds for each payload classes. HLS will identify architectures that support near term LEO mission capabilities along with identifying mid-term technology investment areas that will enable larger payloads and future capabilities.

Candidates for potential investments through future solicitations must have demonstrated their fundamental feasibility. Although future activities expect to accept technological risk, a candidate near-term approach must be in accord with established scientific and engineering principles and must not depend on inventions or discoveries that are not credible within a 5-year timeframe and have the potential to mature to a realistic flight.

The defined timeframes for flight would include near-term which is from one to three years to integrate systems. A mid-term flight date would be from four to nine years, and far-term architecture would be over ten to twenty years of development effort required. Payload weight classes include Micro (1 kg) to a medium weight payload of 10,000 kg.

To support HLS, NASA is seeking information about horizontal launch architectures that could be included in the assessment. The information being sought is description of the horizontal launch architecture, key technologies, and launch payload class. The responses will help NASA and other government agencies to understand the technical possibilities for horizontal launch, structure future solicitations to encompass the appropriate range of possibilities, and identify potential bidders.
...
more details.
 
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csmyth3025

Guest
I dont see any mention of Skylon in the NASA solicitation. I suppose one could reasonably conclude that Reacation Engines Limited will submit their Skylon concept as a candidate, though.

Chris
 
A

annodomini2

Guest
csmyth3025":1yhwh417 said:
annodomini2":1yhwh417 said:
There's some a[m]biguity over the Takeoff mass, the main page is saying 275 tonnes, the C2 version manual is saying 345 tonnes.

Sorry but relative to the cost of the vehicle and its development fuel is cheap, spending another $10-20Bil developing a 2nd aircraft to save maybe 20tons of fuel (its probably less and it's from the orbiters perspective) is naive.

The 2nd aircraft would use more fuel, simply due to the extra mass, there would need to be more ground support and maintenance such as the runway to allow this enormously heavy vehicle to take off. Which increases overheads...
The C-2 variant is the most recent design iteration of the original (275 tonne) Skylon concept.

I think that I wasn't clear about value of the fuel and undercarriage weight savings. The Skylon, as proposed, has a limited deliverable payload to altitudes compatible with rendezvous with the ISS or other (future) space facilities at higher orbits. Any fuel and weight savings would presumably be applied towards extending its payload capacity and/or its maximum achievable orbit.

The object is to provide a vehicle that works well in the lower atmosphere (the carrier wing) and a vehicle that works well in the upper atmosphere and in space (Skylon). I think trying to design a vehicle that can do both will result in a compromise vehicle that that will not do either very well.

Chris

I get your point of trying to increase the payload fraction, however you have missed the point of Skylon.

Heavy lift is currently needed because launch costs are high, the costs of launching lots of smaller payloads outweighs the smaller launch costs and the adaptions to the payload to be launched in this way.

Skylon is intended to be fully reusable, therefore once developed and built the costs come from fuel and maintenance.

When factoring the design and build costs, this is where the majority of the costs come in current launch technologies.

The main issue as the originator of this thread was attempting to overcome, is that the problem is not the cost of the vehicle, but frequency of launch and the mechanisms by which the rockets are produced.

Skylon eliminates the second part of that and in theory, should allow a higher frequency of launch at a lower cost.

As an example;

Conventional Rocket:
If it costs you $20 Billion to develop a rocket.

It costs you $150 Million to build each rocket

The fuel for each lauch is say $100,000 (This is a guess!)

You launch the rocket 150 times say over a 10 year period, before something else comes along to replace it.

The cost of launch of each vehicle is $283,433,333.3

Skylon

If it costs you $20 Billion to develop Skylon

If it costs you $300 Million to build a Skylon

The fuel for each lauch is say $150,000 (This is a guess!, but fuel is higher due to lower payload fraction)

Maintenance costs are say $250,000 per launch.

Because you only need to build the Skylon once and apply the maintenance costs per launch.

The cost of the launch of skylon over the same frequency and period is:

$135,733,333.3

Or less than half of the conventional rocket.

Now if we say skylon turnaround takes 2 weeks and launch at every window (26times a year)

= 260 times over 10 years.

The cost reduces to:

$78,476,923

If you build 5 Ships instead of one, launching at the same frequency.

With the build cost dropping to $250,000,000 (Larger volume, generally = lower build costs)

This drops to:

$16,746,154

Or less than Soyuz.

With the passenger compartment with 24 passengers,

This translates to approximately $700,000 launch costs, so with a good profit margin $1mil for an orbital jaunt.

More ships and higher frequency would result in even lower costs.

Obviously I am guessing at the fuel and maintenance costs, so these numbers aren't realistic, but as an example.

Basically Spending another $20Bil developing another carrier aircraft is going to double launch costs, for the sake of a small amount of payload fraction.

This is where the US screwed up with the Shuttle, trying to add heavy lift capability which wasn't needed.

Personally I would spend the $20Bil building another bigger ship, if you needed a heavier launch capability.

ETA:

To Expound a little, if a commercial operator bought a skylon for say:

$500mil

Over a 10year life

this would be

2.4Mil per launch (assuming they could complete all available launch slots)

With 24 Passengers

This is $100k per passenger

So $200k orbital launch (equivalent to the proposed Sub-orbital ticket costs)
 
A

annodomini2

Guest
csmyth3025":14pxdfhx said:
I dont see any mention of Skylon in the NASA solicitation. I suppose one could reasonably conclude that Reacation Engines Limited will submit their Skylon concept as a candidate, though.

Chris
Skylon is being funded by ESA.
 
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vulture4

Guest
To clarify, the images presented for the rail launch concept looked a lot like Skylon but the NASA RFI appears to be for an air-launched orbital system. If NASA is interested in air-launch, surely they should consider continuing the X-34, the most advanced air launched NASA vehicle. To my knowledge the 3 X-34 prototypes are still in storage. Given the substantial investment and the questionable logic that resulted in the project's termination, and the considerable amount that could be learned form a few test flights, surely restarting this program should be a starting point.

I think that the failure to mention reusable systems in the RFI is peculiar. Only fully reusable liquid-fueled launch systems can attain the operational costs needed to significantly enlarge the market for spaceflight, and it's unlikely that anyone could design a fully reusable operaitonal space launch system without at least one generation of suborbital technology demonstration prototypes.
 
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csmyth3025

Guest
vulture4":nt5ffqsk said:
To clarify, the images presented for the rail launch concept looked a lot like Skylon but the NASA RFI appears to be for an air-launched orbital system. If NASA is interested in air-launch, surely they should consider continuing the X-34, the most advanced air launched NASA vehicle. To my knowledge the 3 X-34 prototypes are still in storage. Given the substantial investment and the questionable logic that resulted in the project's termination, and the considerable amount that could be learned form a few test flights, surely restarting this program should be a starting point.

I think that the failure to mention reusable systems in the RFI is peculiar. Only fully reusable liquid-fueled launch systems can attain the operational costs needed to significantly enlarge the market for spaceflight, and it's unlikely that anyone could design a fully reusable operaitonal space launch system without at least one generation of suborbital technology demonstration prototypes.
I have to agree that a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle would be the ideal method for transporting crews and recurring supplies to LEO. I might also mention that such a vehicle can also serve as a sort of "space tanker" similar to the KC-135's that refuel aircraft in flight. In this case the fuel might be ferried up to the ISS (or similar LOE destination) where the craft (minus fuel) for extended missions can be assembled and fueled after delivery by a heavy-lift launch rocket.

For the reasons I've mentioned before, I'm not sure that a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle can operate satisfactorily through the wide range of atmospheric densities it will experience. I encourage the work of the ESA and Reaction Engines Limited towards this end. As far as I know, both the Sabre engine and the Skytlon vehicle itself only exist on paper at this time. I would like to see funding provided to build prototypes that can be tested and their performance characteristics evaluated.

That said, I would also like to see funding provided for the development of the Russian HERACLES carrier wing paired with their MAKS orbital vehilce. Globally, I think it's better to have two different approaches to getting into space than just one. I think the different roles that the US Space Shuttle and the Russian Soyuz vehicle have played so far illustrates the advantage of having two players on the field. Although both rely on vertical lift rockets, the types of vehicles are entirely different and have, each in their own way, proven vital to the construction and maintenance of the ISS.

Chris
 
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halman

Guest
For some reason, I have difficulty understanding why Congress couldn't come up with 4 billion a year to add to NASA's budget so that we could continue flying the space shuttle. At least until we have some alternative way into space. And by limiting the flights to crew rotation, we would not be impeding the market for launches to send up equipment and supplies.

Perhaps I am stupid, but spending less than 10 billion a year on manned space exploration just seems self-defeating. If we can't spend more than that to at least assure access to space than we are certainly not a first-rate country. I don't care about the 'standing army' or the requirement for dedicated infrastructure, we need to be able to get up there without hitching rides.

Building manned rockets seems so much more difficult than building rockets to carry cargo. Keeping something that works around until we have a proven replacement is just logical. Keeping something that works around displays our intent to continue developing space. We need commitment right now, direction for more than the next few months. Which way is our economy going to develop? What new technologies will drive the next big expansion in wealth? Huge amounts of money are just waiting to find out which way things are going to go, and the administration and Congress seem adamant in their refusal to establish some direction.
 
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frodo1008

Guest
My thoughts (as sometimes expressed on other posts here also) exactly halman.

NASA's ENTIRE budget is not even a blip on the radar screen of the deficit, let alone the entire federal budget. It would only take some three shuttle flights per year to accomplish just what you are saying. And such flights have become both safer and at that same time cheaper over time. I have seen figures that now make the cost of a single shuttle flight at only about $500 million per flight. So it would actually only take an extra $2 billion per year (or even less) to maintain our Human Space Flight capability, instead of depending upon the Russians.

I would also like to ask Congress just what happens if some kind of an international dispute between us and those same Russians makes them cut off ALL access to the ISS for the US? And we are the very country that has paid some 90% of the costs of building that very station! Heck, I would think that this should be even more apparent to the "There is a Communist under every bed!" Republicans.

Just how incredibly stupid can we actually get??????

Just how long does it take our useless and continuing war efforts in the Middle East to use up some $2 billion each year? At some $200 billion per year for such tragic efforts (some 10 rimes NASA's ENTIRE budget, just about 3.5 days!

I can not even begin to express just how totally disgusted I get over this!! :x :x :x
 
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Skyskimmer

Guest
You need to increase the volume of launches at a consistant rate, doubling the volume of stuff shot into orbit every five years.
 
V

Valcan

Guest
frodo1008 said:
Frodo,

We've gone over this. That money wouldnt go to the space program. It would go to buy votes in some way. That money that existed at all.

But we may disagree but lets not turn this into a political forum and kill the thread. I would continue it but im unaware of a politics thread.
 
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halman

Guest
Valcan,

Frodo1008 was responding to my post, which is a cry of anger that our government has refused to maintain a vital capability by spending an additional 4 billion dollars a year. The whole justification for scrapping the shuttle was that NASA could not afford to fly the shuttle at the same time that it was building a new launch vehicle. That and the shuttle being an 'unsafe' launch vehicle. The B-52 was supposed to be retired by the B-1, yet which one is still our primary heavy bomber? The B-52, because it works! Even though it is now nearly 60 years old!

I am not suggesting putting another 4 billion a year into developing a new launch vehicle, I am suggesting spending 4 billion a year to keep the only operational launch vehicle we have operational. Yes, I understand that the orbiters are due for major maintenance, but at a flight rate of once per year, that maintenance could be deferred for quite a while.

And the 'safety' thing is a sham, a cover-up. The only reason that we lost two shuttles is because management refused to listen to the engineers, who were screaming at the tops of their lungs that the: 1. conditions were too cold on the pad prior to the Challenger launch, and; 2. that the foam shedding problem required a temporary grounding of the fleet until the problem could be resolved.

In spite of all the compromises made in its design and construction, the shuttle has proven to be a reliable, safe launch vehicle. To blame its design for the failures that have occurred is like saying that a car is faulty because it crashed during a snowstorm while riding on bald tires.

The cost differences between unmanned and manned launch vehicles is staggering. Even a highly reliable, proven launch vehicle such as the Atlas is not considered worthy of a manned rating, because it lacks essential back up systems. The entire United States manned space exploration effort is at a standstill over the costs of building a new, man-rated launch vehicle. We could go forward without ANY new launch vehicle, if we continued flying the space shuttle exclusively for transporting people to and from space. The cargo capacity exists to support any purposed program of exploration, but the only man rated vehicle in the inventory right now is the shuttle, and it looks like there will be nothing to replace it for another decade, if not longer.

There is a huge amount of money waiting to find out where new technologies are going to be developed, and what they will be. The single greatest obstacle to large scale investment in space technology is the difficulty in putting people into space and bringing them back. Engineers must be able to be on site with an experiment to find out why it is not working right, which is why they have flown in test aircraft, gone down in new submarines, and gotten blown up at oil refineries.

Big business will not invest in developing a new technology if their scientists and engineers cannot work on the development in secret, on the spot, hands on. We can put a space station in orbit using expendable launch vehicles much cheaper than the International Space Station was built for, and there are companies that would be willing to foot the bill for their own space station. But what good would it do them if they can not get their people up there?

The space shuttle could fly for another 50 years, and even make a profit, eventually, if it was only used as a bus, to haul people into orbit and back for the private sector. But there seems to be opposition to the idea of advancement in space. Maybe it is the big energy (coal, oil, and gas,) companies blocking the progress, out of fear of losing market share to a new form of very cheap energy. Maybe it is radical right wing religious fundamentalists, who believe that Man should not transgress into Heaven. I don't know. But I do know that this country has the resources to make space exploitation a reality, a profitable venture.
 
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Valcan

Guest
Halman,

From what i've understood it would cost total well over 4 billion to get the lines for parts up and running again.
Also no matter what you do you cant get over the fact that the space shuttle cost 1 billion dollars just to launch.

Now as a pure passenger carrier its not a bad idea however, currently there just isnt a need to transport that many people and the soyuz or dragon or the CST100? can deal with the current amount.

Look everyone like the shuttles and something shuttle like is in my opinion needed for passenger service to and from orbit. It justdoesnt need to be so large and have so many redundant abilities. Just make it a bus to and from earth not a bus/science lab/cargo ship/repair vehicle/wafflemaker.

Accually nevermind the last waffles are awesome.

And i truely dont think anyone is that set againt manned spaceflight especially energy companies they honestly have nothing to fear in that direction. Certain greenie factions have problems with it but no one cares abou them anyways.
My biggest problem with the shuttle was never really safety but cost.
Cargo and people shouldnt travel on the same ship. A small lifting body type shuttle able to fly anywhere from 5 to 10 people to orbit and a small bit of personal/high value cargo. Not a general freighter.
 
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frodo1008

Guest
Valcan, I am not trying to be confrontational here, but you did state that your chief concern about the shuttle was cost, and not safety.

The total cost of a current launch of the space shuttle is just about $450 million per each launch (and this from NASA itself, and if they do not know the costs, then who would?), not $1 billion. True, if you were to take the total cost of the entire program over the total number of launches it would be close to $1 billion per launch.

But using the same reasoning, the first launch of the space shuttle back in 1982 cost the entire amount of the program up until that one launch, and that was about $18 billion just to launch some two people into space! So it really somewhat erroneous at this late date to use the average costs.

The truly great people that are responsible for launching the shuttle have steadily brought the original costs down over the years.

As I stated, I am not being confrontational, but I do think that you would wish to use the truth here.
 
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Valcan

Guest
frodo1008":auy369ov said:
Really what the problem we have is that there should have been a replacment for the shuttle. Ares wasn't a replacment.
Like i said before what we need is a shuttle light. Its never made sense to send cargo up at the same time as the people. This simply increases the cost of the cargo.

Really this could go on and on but that is in a nutshell the base of the problem. NASA may have just been to agressive in persuing the next best thing. Instead of a simple people mover after the shuttle they wanted it to be a one peice, fully reusable rocket ship.
 
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frodo1008

Guest
You are correct that NASA really tried to bite off more than it could chew at this time.

However, as I have pointed out before, the eventual bringing down of the costs of a pound to LEO to below about $1,000 per pound (a much better figure that we now have) is going to take a horizontal take off and landing single stage to orbit vehicle.

Such a vehicle should be able to take off and land on runways all over this globe, with a servicing crew of only about twice as much as is now needed for regular commercial aircraft. Such flights should be many, to not only other destinations here on the Earth itself, but also into LEO.

The key technology to such a vehicle is even now being developed by the very well funded space military budget. And that technology is one that allows sustained hypersonic flight with hypersonic jet engines.

I would like to think that we are no more than about 10 years away from such a craft which could very well carry not only people but also cargo.

In the meantime, let us truly hope that such as spacex and others will be able to produce a relatively inexpensive craft capable of getting our people up and down from the ISS in only about 2 years!

Reasonable??
 
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frodo1008

Guest
I agree totally. However, unfortunately from all the latest coming out of the Republicans in Congress, both old and new, it seems that they are going to be in a major funding cutting mode.

And for some reason it always seems that NASA is one of the first targets of such efforts!

I have been there and seen this before, and although I consider it to be very foolish and ignoring the future, it does not seem to matter anyway! :x :x :x

PS: This is once when I truly hope to be wrong about something, however........
 
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vulture4

Guest
frodo1008":38g26hqg said:
However, as I have pointed out before, the eventual bringing down of the costs of a pound to LEO to below about $1,000 per pound (a much better figure that we now have) is going to take a horizontal take off and landing single stage to orbit vehicle.

Such a vehicle should be able to take off and land on runways all over this globe, with a servicing crew of only about twice as much as is now needed for regular commercial aircraft. Such flights should be many, to not only other destinations here on the Earth itself, but also into LEO.

The key technology to such a vehicle is even now being developed by the very well funded space military budget. And that technology is one that allows sustained hypersonic flight with hypersonic jet engines.
Hypersonic airbreathing engines are well adapted for flight at constant speed and altitude. DOD wants them for cruise missile propulsion and is happy to get NASA to help out. But every airbreathing engine has a cruising speed where it is most efficient. Space launch requires continuous acceleration from zero to 7800 m/s, while climbing from the ground to space. For an airbreathing SSTO this requires complex and expensive multimode propulsion, including rocket and ramjet at a minimum, and usually turbine or liquid-air-cycle as well. I am not aware of any analysis that shows this approach to be cost-effective for a vehicle that spends less than three minutes in the sensible atmosphere. Moreover, horizontal launch requires wings that can support the entire weight of the fueled vehicle. While this is optimal for any flight of more than a few minutes, there is for any vehicle a minimum flight duration at which engine and fuel for vertical powered ascent will be lighter and less expensive than the wings required to lift the fully fueled weight of the vehicle. The wings required for landing only, as with the Shuttle, are much smaller, since the vehicle is lighter, although even in this case the use of a lifting body for entry and powered lift for the minute or two before landing, as with the DC-X, might be feasible.

Although technology demonstration prototypes are certainly needed, at the moment the optimal technology for low-cost space launch is two-stage, fully reusable, all-liquid-propulsion, vertical launch and (probably) horizontal landing. Demonstration vehicles for all stages of testing should be subscale and unmanned.
 
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Valcan

Guest
frodo1008":1vivlmkb said:
I agree totally. However, unfortunately from all the latest coming out of the Republicans in Congress, both old and new, it seems that they are going to be in a major funding cutting mode.

And for some reason it always seems that NASA is one of the first targets of such efforts!

I have been there and seen this before, and although I consider it to be very foolish and ignoring the future, it does not seem to matter anyway! :x :x :x

PS: This is once when I truly hope to be wrong about something, however........
I dont know seems they are more focused on getting the earmarks and some of the social programs. Which never seem to be targeted.
 
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neutrino78x

Guest
So frustrating that VentureStar was canceled. The only thing I don't love about it is that it launches vertically, requiring special equipment at its base to set it up. The ideal SSTO space plane would launch horizontally and also land horizontally, like an airplane. Well, I will qualify that: launch vertically from a horizontal orientation, like a Harrier jet. :)

--Brian
 
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frodo1008

Guest
Vulture4, initially (probably the 10 years that I thought it would take) the single stage to orbit type of craft would quite probably have to be a type of two stage to orbit. This is what Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites (funded by Virgin Galatic) are currently working on for sub orbital flights.

A large jet with the carrying capacity to take another craft up to about 50,000 feet and then release it, where a small rocket engine then pushes the craft up to hypersonic speeds at from mach 4 up to about mach 5 where a cruising hypersonic ram jet then takes the craft up to about mach 10 to mach 15 would be logically next.

Such a craft should be fully capable of reaching any large airport (where servicing facilities would be available including another mother ship) anywhere on Earth in less than 2 hours from original take off. Such a craft would of necessity start off at least not much larger than the current Spaceshiptwo craft as it must initially be carried aloft by a carrier aircraft.

The two main propulsion systems needed for this type of craft are even now being pursued (and have been even perfected in the case of the rocket engines) by the company that I worked for most of my aerospace working career. That company is now called Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne, which is a division of United Technologies.

The rocket engine would be a version of the truly excellent XRS 2200 linear aerospike engines developed originally for the X33, but unfortunately never used in actual flight as that excellent program was canceled. The two advantages of such rocket engines for this type of vehicle would be that they work at maximum efficiency from the ground all the way to space (no limits to performance due to a nozzle), and the ability (in the linear mode especially) to be form fitted to the rear of a flat type of structure that would be needed for the other main propulsion configuration, the hypersonic ram jet.

The other propulsion system being pursued by Rocketdyne with Air Force funding would be the hypersonic air breathing jet engine as used on the experimental X-51A Waverider craft. Perhaps Rocketdyne is in a particularly unique position to pursue such technology for the Air Force because it is now owned and operated by Pratt and Whitney, which in turn is one of the largest manufacturers of jet engines in the world. And when combined with Rocketdyne's truly vast experience in large liquid fueled rocket engines gives them the necessary experience to overcome the very difficult problems in yielding an operational sustained hypersonic propulsion system such as is needed by the Air Force (and future point to point hypersonic commercial air travel as well as the type of craft to truly and inexpensively get to LEO).

Is such a system possible within the 10 years or so that I predicted? Well, I think that a much better informed and placed individual than either you or I thinks so in Burt Rutan and his company of very advanced aerospace people out at the Mojave space and airport in the high desert of Southern California.

And then would it be such a great step to give enough power to this point to point system to reach orbital flight?

I certainly would not think that beyond such people, now would you?

Remember almost ALL of the earlier designs for the space shuttle itself were a form of such two stage to orbital craft. All of the big aerospace companies certainly thought they could do this some 40 years ago or so. The only reason that such a craft was not built at that time was that great aerospace expert Richard Nixon said that we could not afford such a craft (and indeed it would have been more expensive to initially develop) and continue to fight the Viet Nahm war at the same time! However, it would have been far cheaper in the long run to have had such a fuly liquid propelled system for the space shuttle. But once again war and politics got in the way!!!

Now, perhaps it IS possible that such as Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites may actually be able to accomplish this in a commercial manner within the lifetimes of even such an old ex aerospace worker as I am at the age of 68. That would be a truly great thing to see before I parted this existence!!

Then, would it really be such a difficult thing to add ordinary jet engines to such a vehicles to enable it to become the true "Holy Grail" of such systems in a horizontal take off and landing single stage to orbit vehicle?

I think not!

Notice that each step of the way for this is to be proven profitable and usable to bring down the costs of such travel from the Earth's surface to LEO, as we go along.

Further, such a system would allow even relatively ordinary people (admittedly wealthy people at first at least) to go into space in a reasonable degree of comfort, instead of being shot up in an over crowded capsule designed some 50 years ago!

The only system possibly far better would be true space elevators from the equatorial regions up to GEO. But that technology is not only going to take quite a bit longer, but would actually depend on being able to use the type of system that I described to even get up to GEO relatively inexpensively to build such elevators in the first place!

But with any luck humanity WILL eventually get there regardless of the stupidity of war and politics!! :D :D :D

PS: Somewhat sorry about the length of this post, but these are not just simple "Sound Bite" issues that we are discussing here!
 
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Valcan

Guest
neutrino78x":y3p69afv said:
So frustrating that VentureStar was canceled. The only thing I don't love about it is that it launches vertically, requiring special equipment at its base to set it up. The ideal SSTO space plane would launch horizontally and also land horizontally, like an airplane. Well, I will qualify that: launch vertically from a horizontal orientation, like a Harrier jet. :)

--Brian
I understand what your saying but thats kinda where the problem is.
EVERYTHING is cost. We need a simple fast and most of all cheap way to get from here to LEO. That is the number one thing right now.
Take a look at how the military spy plane went up. On a rocket. Why because its there, its reletively easy, and reletively simple. What we need is something like Hal has said basically a huge launcher vehicle. The bad part we have the technology.
A C-17III can lift 170,900 lbs or around 85 tons. Imagine if all of that power could be put into making a carrier vehicle. Pretty sure you would be able to launch a space taxi. For big loads for the forseable future we Will have vertical stacks but for smaller ones?
 

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