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On converting an airliner into a spacecraft...

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space_tycoon

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It sounds outlandish, but I could have sworn we once had a thread devoted to the concept of taking a commercial passenger plane and somehow altering it to take cargo or passengers into LEO. <br /><br />Am I dreaming? Or did we in fact have such a discussion? Help me out, please. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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j05h

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Rocketplane-Kistler (RpK) is attempting this with a Learjet, IRRC. They want to put TPS and a hybrid engine onboard, specifically not a SpaceDev hybrid. Not sure about their level of progress, this is their latest iteration of what started as Black Colt/Black Horse.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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<It sounds outlandish, but I could have sworn we once had a thread devoted to the concept of taking a commercial passenger plane and somehow altering it to take cargo or passengers into LEO.><br /><br />I can't recall any such thread. Try using the search function.<br /><br />I do remember a thread about converting an F-106 into an orbital launcher, and yes it was an outlandish idea. Here is the link to that thread...<br /><br />http://uplink.space.com/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Board=businesstech&Number=409143&page=&view=&sb=&o=&vc=1 <br />
 
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Aetius

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I <i>do</i> remember exactly what you're talking about. I just can't remember what the thread title was. Doubtless it got zorched a long time ago.
 
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space_tycoon

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Thanks for the replies. <br /><br />I tried the search function, but found nothing. I think it was deleted. Oh well... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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j05h

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<i>> but it's not going into LEO. modifying an airliner to go into LEO is akin to building a spacecraft around the airliner...in which case you don't need the airliner at all.</i><br /><br />It was the closest example I could think of.<br /><br />Josh <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <div align="center"><em>We need a first generation of pioneers.</em><br /></div> </div>
 
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summoner

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I read a scifi book once that the humans and some alien allies used submarines for spacecraft. That seems a much better choice, although they had some type of antigrav drive to get them to space. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> <br /><table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="width:271px;background-color:#FFF;border:1pxsolid#999"><tr><td colspan="2"><div style="height:35px"><img src="http://banners.wunderground.com/weathersticker/htmlSticker1/language/www/US/MT/Three_Forks.gif" alt="" height="35" width="271" style="border:0px" /></div>
 
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spacefire

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I thought about that....I'm not sure if the hull can take the stresses reversed in magnitude, that is instead of pressure acting on the hull you have pressure acting from inside.<br />Granted, submarines are built much tougher than aircraft or spacecraft, methinks, so it might not be an issue.<br />All we need is that antigrav device now <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>http://asteroid-invasion.blogspot.com</p><p>http://www.solvengineer.com/asteroid-invasion.html </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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spacefire

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he didn't seem that bad, just excentric and dissapointed with NASA.<br /><br /><img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> anyway I found this gem in the thread you referred:<br /><br />"10/11/2006 - obsolete username suss banned, user now using shydn account <br /><br />10/11/2006 - User sslbbeaver banned for sending profane PMs and disruptive posts. <br /><br />10/11/2006 - User shydn banned for spamming." <br /><br /><br />I found his site:<br />http://www.lorrey.biz/<br /><br />It's the design that comes closer to the OP's idea.<br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>http://asteroid-invasion.blogspot.com</p><p>http://www.solvengineer.com/asteroid-invasion.html </p><p> </p> </div>
 
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kelvinzero

Guest
This reminds me of my brilliant idea to fly a jet into space on a trail of air projected by a satellite.. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />The idea was to project the gas at just the right speed so that jet engine always seemed to be moving at only a few hundred kph relative to the air column.<br /><br />But then I realised, hey, why spend all this effort slowing the air down from orbital velocity? If you could lay this gas in a column but with basically no velocity (relative to the satellite that projected it) then it would carry a huge momentum wrt to any object not yet at orbital velocity that placed itself in the path of the air column.<br /><br />http://uplink.space.com/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=freespace&Number=709338<br /><br />For some reason the idea was not well received <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />
 
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tomnackid

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JP Aerospace has seriously proposed putting a blimp into LEO! They have claimed that an ultra high flying airship could achieve orbit since the air resistence becomes low enough at ultra high altititudes that a low thurst engine applied over several days can accelrate the airship to orbital velocity. Since an airship sturdy enough to survive the lower atmosphere is far too heavy to achieve orbit their proposed system consists of two airships and a balloon born "Black Sky Station" at 140,000 feet for transfer to the orbital airship. If it works it could mean tons of cargo and passengers to LEO on a regular basis for far, far less than rockets. And a much safer (though longer) trip at that. JP Aerospace has been funding thier research by building high altitude observation airships for the military and by launching sounding rockets and high altitude reserach balloons for paying customers--so at least the are more than a paper and Power Point operation! Skeptics point out the (almost?) insurmountable problem of producing a continuous thrust engine that can operate for days at a time yet still be light enough to make the whole scheme workable. JP claims they have propriatary ion-engine technology that can do the job. I guess will see. There is also the problem of protecting the airship from micrometeorites without making it too heavy. All in all it is an intriging notion that may be a bridge between rockets and and orbital elevator. <br /><br />Here is a link: http://www.jpaerospace.com
 
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MeteorWayne

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What an intriguing idea!<br /><br />I'll have to follow that, thanx for the link. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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gunsandrockets

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<JP Aerospace has seriously proposed putting a blimp into LEO! ><br /><br />Of the various exotic methods to reach orbit I like the JP Aerospace idea the best.<br /><br />< JP claims they have propriatary ion-engine technology that can do the job. I guess will see. /><br /><br />I wonder. Any electrical propulsion system has such a crappy thrust to weight ratio I'm very skeptical. I will say though that the envelope of the baloon could provide a convenient surface for photovoltaic solar power panels.<br /><br /><There is also the problem of protecting the airship from micrometeorites without making it too heavy. /><br /><br />And then there is the question of thermal protection during re-entry!
 
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tomnackid

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Suposedly reeentry will be so slow (as will orbital insertion--we are talking days here for insertion and reentry) that currently available polymers should be sufficient--at least that is what I seem to recall.
 
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gunsandrockets

Guest
<Suposedly reeentry will be so slow (as will orbital insertion--we are talking days here for insertion and reentry) that currently available polymers should be sufficient--at least that is what I seem to recall.><br /><br />Hmmm...I don't see how reentry could be slow. Once the velocity drops by even a 100 m/s the orbiter will intersect the atmosphere on it's next orbit.
 
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kelvinzero

Guest
I can't confirm their maths, but if they can slowly gain the velocity to properly orbit, (at no point encountering severe resistance), then they can also slowly lose it (at no point encountering severe resistance) .<br /><br />They are claiming that the balloon can smoothly transition from using boyancy to using orbital velocity to suspend itself. At any height they could choose to step up or step down... interesting and weirder than anything I could come up with <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <br /><br />http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbital_airship<br /><br />Oh.. just read this link. also claiming to use a wing effect? The wiki article has a dubious tone. Still cool.<br /><br />HEY.. I wonder if maintaining a positive charge on the blimp could usefully affect its air resistance. Also that could provide your ion thrust, since postive charge would escape through any pointy bit, creating a slight breeze.<br />
 
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qso1

Guest
I'll have to see what they are proposing to believe it, and seeing how they have been doing some pretty impressive stuff, they might suprise me.<br /><br />Barring that, the shuttle, or any spacecraft in controlled re-entry is doing so because it has been designed to use the earths atmosphere as a brake rather than use propulsive braking to overcome the effects of earths gravity. This has been the only practical demonstrated method of re-entry so far utilized. For a conventional spacecraft to overcome gravity on re-entry, it would have to have massive amounts of propellant to continuously fire engines to overcome gravity. Kind of like...launch in reverse. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><strong>My borrowed quote for the time being:</strong></p><p><em>There are three kinds of people in life. Those who make it happen, those who watch it happen...and those who do not know what happened.</em></p> </div>
 
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tomnackid

Guest
Remember the "space blimp" will also have bouancy working for it when it reenters the atmosphere. In effect the bounacy of the helium acts like "antigravity"--though not nearly as convenient! I assume that this bouancy keeps it from dropping like stone the way a shuttle does when it decelrates adn enters the atmosphere.
 
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Booban

Guest
I did a search for an idea and this turned up. And I thought my idea was crazy.

I didn't think a blimp could make it all the way to Orbit so that wasn't my idea. My idea now is why not use a blimp as a mother ship instead of a ship like white knight and then launch a rocket from under the blimp to go into orbit from there?
 
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Booban

Guest
Re:

tomnackid":3lse9y67 said:
JP Aerospace has seriously proposed putting a blimp into LEO! They have claimed that an ultra high flying airship could achieve orbit since the air resistence becomes low enough at ultra high altititudes that a low thurst engine applied over several days can accelrate the airship to orbital velocity. Since an airship sturdy enough to survive the lower atmosphere is far too heavy to achieve orbit their proposed system consists of two airships and a balloon born "Black Sky Station" at 140,000 feet for transfer to the orbital airship. If it works it could mean tons of cargo and passengers to LEO on a regular basis for far, far less than rockets. And a much safer (though longer) trip at that. JP Aerospace has been funding thier research by building high altitude observation airships for the military and by launching sounding rockets and high altitude reserach balloons for paying customers--so at least the are more than a paper and Power Point operation! Skeptics point out the (almost?) insurmountable problem of producing a continuous thrust engine that can operate for days at a time yet still be light enough to make the whole scheme workable. JP claims they have propriatary ion-engine technology that can do the job. I guess will see. There is also the problem of protecting the airship from micrometeorites without making it too heavy. All in all it is an intriging notion that may be a bridge between rockets and and orbital elevator.

Here is a link: http://www.jpaerospace.com
I think this thread is a bit broken?
 
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scottb50

Guest
Re: Re:

Booban":1d20hiym said:
[All in all it is an intriging notion that may be a bridge between rockets and and orbital elevator.
Putting something into Space is not as much a problem as bringing it back. As long as it's a sealed pressurized container it would work just fine. Coming back you have to deal with the heat of re-entry because the basic structure of an airplane is not based on that.

Enclosing it in an inflated structure that can handle the temperatures then release the vehicle for landing could easily be done though.
 
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