The horizontal take-off and landing Ascender (Fig. 12.1) is the brainchild of aerospace engineer David Ashford of Bristol Spaceplanes, Bristol, England. He is also the author of one of the first books about spaceplanes, Spaceflight Revolution, published in 2002 by Imperial College Press. The initial design calls for a single stage suborbital spaceplane that will take off under its own jet engines from a conventional runway, and rocket into space in a steep ascent trajectory. It will then glide back to Earth and land at the point of departure. Future designs call for the mating of Ascender with a large HTHL booster aircraft which will take the orbital vehicle up to supersonic speeds in the upper stratosphere. The winged orbiter will then continue into space while the winged booster returns to its runway for reuse. There is more information on this design in Chap. 7.
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