Challenger

On January 28, 1986, 1 min and 13 s after liftoff, Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. The crew of seven was lost, but their sacrifice was not in vain, because the lessons we can learn from this event will make the spaceplanes of tomorrow Fig. 7.3 Ice at the pad cold temperatures on the morning of STS-51-L's launch contributed to the loss of Challenger (courtesy NASA) Fig. 7.3 Ice at the pad cold temperatures on the morning of STS-51-L's launch contributed to the loss of Challenger (courtesy...

Types of Rockets

In this section we will examine soM-propellant, liquid-propellant, hybrid-propellant, and multistage rockets. There are three main types of chemical propellant rocket. There are those that use solid fuels combined with a solid oxidizer in a single matrix, the so-called solid rockets. Then there are those that use separate liquid fuels and oxidizers, the so-called liquid rockets. And there are those that use a solid fuel with a liquid oxidizer (or vice versa), a design that gives a solid fuel...

The Bell X2 Starbuster 19521956

Following the transonic and supersonic research mission of the X-1 up to about Mach 2, the X-2's goal was to investigate the region above Mach 3. The X-2 program was a joint effort between Bell Aircraft, the US Air Force, and the NACA. It was plagued with problems, and ultimately took the lives of three men. Bell built two swept-wing aircraft, each containing a Curtiss-Wright XLR-25 throttleable liquid-fueled rocket engine with two thrust chambers. One was a 5,000-lb chamber and the other, a...

The Spacefaring Public

Xerus Spaceplane

Who will ride on the advanced spaceplanes of the future Anyone with enough money who wants to go, and anyone with a destination in space. This will include space tourists, astronauts commuting to space stations, and inanimate cargo. The very same factors that funded the phenomenal success of the DC-3 will be responsible for ensuring the success of the advanced spaceplane, as well as the suborbital spaceplanes that precede it. If the public feels assured that the vehicle and its engines are...

Ballistic Background

During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Russia were locked in a fierce competition for the ultimate high ground of space. The Space Race was thus an international contest that resulted in amazing advances in just a few years. Ballistic missiles allowed this to happen. Let us take a quick look at how these events unfolded, before examining several ballistic spaceplane ideas. On October 4, 1957, Russia launched Sputnik, the world's first artificial satellite. This sent shock waves...

Appendix A Glossary

Device that measures the acceleration of a rocket or space vehicle, used in inertial guidance systems. In an integrating accelerometer, the acceleration is integrated over time to give accurate velocity and position readouts. Attitude control system, the system of small thrusters that allow a spacecraft to control its attitude in the vacuum of space. The technique of using a planet's atmosphere to decelerate a spacecraft by aerodynamic friction, rather than having to use onboard propellants. An...

NASA Lifting Bodies

From 1963 until 1975, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in a joint program with the US Air Force, conducted a series of flight tests of various wingless lifting bodies at Edwards AFB, California (Fig. 1.14). The mission of the lifting body program was to validate the concept of flying a wingless vehicle back from space and landing it precisely like an airplane. There were six different lifting bodies - the M2-F1, the M2-F2, the M2-F3, the HL-10, the X-24A, and the X-24B (Table...

From DC3 to DCX

Aviation, from an operational standpoint, did not take off overnight. Even though the Wright brothers flew their Flyer I no less than four times that first day at Kitty Hawk, it was many years before the general public was willing to risk their necks in the new flying machines. Only after Charles Lindbergh, in the Spirit of St. Louis, demonstrated that it was possible to fly nonstop across the Atlantic, did general Fig. 9.2 The Space Shuttle on its mobile launch platform and...

Anatomy of a Spaceplane

The conventional airplane uses the atmosphere to (1) sustain combustion in the power plant, (2) generate lift against gravity, and (3) provide propellant. The advanced spaceplane in our future will do likewise, and will be similar in many respects to a very large jet airplane. There will be important differences, however. It may have a delta wing, or a double-delta wing similar to the Space Shuttle orbiter. Or it may be designed as a lifting body without wings as such, but able to generate lift...

The Space Shuttle

The premier example of the piggyback ride to orbit, and one which has been demonstrated over 120 times, is the Space Shuttle. Let us take a look at where the idea came from, how successful it has been, and where it might lead. As noted earlier, the Space Shuttle represents the vertical takeoff horizontal landing concept rather than the relatively unexplored horizontal takeoff and landing mode. If the Shuttle were equipped with jet engines, it could indeed take off from a runway and operate as a...

Ramjets and Scramjets

Ramjet Rocket

They are essentially hollow tubes containing an inlet-diffuser, combustion chamber with fuel injectors, and exit nozzle. They produce zero static thrust, and so a ramjet-equipped vehicle cannot taxi or take off Fig. 8.1 SR-71 Blackbird flight-testing linear aerospike rocket engine (courtesy NASA) Fig. 8.1 SR-71 Blackbird flight-testing linear aerospike rocket engine (courtesy NASA) Fig. 8.2 Ramjet missile showing simple tubelike construction (courtesy NASA) under...