Part of this process is knowing which questions to ask, and this requires vision also. Asking the right questions is a good thing, but answering them correctly is even better. Here is a short list of a few basic questions, together with my answers. These questions already assume that you have already chosen spaceplanes over ballistic capsules or wingless launch vehicles.
• Should Iperch my spaceplane on top ofmy rocket?
No - too much dead weight. Your booster will be too expensive to operate, unless you are already rich.
• Should I mount my spaceplanepiggyback?
No - too costly and operationally complex. Again, you will go broke before you get off the ground (Fig. 11.4).
• Should I use a mothership?
No - again, this is too complex and costly in the long run, because you have to operate two vehicles (Fig. 11.5).
• Should I let my spaceplanefly on its own?
Yes. This way it can mature into a proper SSTO spaceplane in time. Like the kid that never had training wheels, this little spaceplane will develop superior capabilities by itself (Fig. 11.6).
• What kinds ofpropellants should I use?
Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen - water electrolyzed. This way you can ship water through space, and someday refuel there. This answer requires clear vision.
• What is wrong with easy-to-use-fuels such as kerosene or methane?
With these fuels you cannot refuel in LEO, and that cancels the future. Also, they pollute.
• Should I lift offvertically or take offhorizontally?
Horizontally - the main reason is passenger safety and comfort, but it also enables conventional operations.
• Should I operate my crewless spaceplane by remote control?
Remember DC-X and X-33? Besides, who wants to ride in a pilotless spaceplane?
• What kind of engine should I use?
The most advanced air-breathing turborocket you can find, assuming good reliability.
• Ido not have a turborocket handy. Should I usejet engines in addition to my rocket engines?
Yes. Auxiliary jets will increase safety and enable you to light off from high altitude. A single crash without jets installed, and you are finished. Jets will increase ticket sales, too.
• What is the single most importantfactor in my spaceplane design? Safety, which is the reason you chose wings to begin with.
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