Brief...Check out the paper Fast
Package Delivery: Commercial Applications of a Hypersonic Airbreathing
Vehicle by J. Martin,K. Palmer, M. Chan, A. Karasi, D. Glas
- AIAA - 1998 (pdf - 83kb). Based on the master thesis work
of these guys while at MIT. Reviews the market potential for
package delivery and postulates the best vehicle to serve that
market. (More links in the Fast
Package Delivery entry in the New Space Business
Briefs...Came across this nice review of the HOTOL
and SKYLON projects
in Britain: SSTO
The UK Experience by Mark Hempsell - SpaceEquity.com...
sure to attend the XCOR presentations at the Space
Access'02 meeting in Phoenix, April 25 -27: XCOR
to present at Space Access '02 - XCOR PR - Mar.26.02
Briefs...There is still no formal announcement at
on the RASCAL winners but NASA
Watch (see the March 21 item) has published a list that
(paired with Gary Hudson's HMX),
as mentioned below, and 5 other teams. Each will receive "$1-
$2 million". ...
and Europe begin work on a reusable engine - Russian,
European Organizations to Collaborate on Reusable Engine - Space.com
A single-stage suborbiter,
XP reaches over
without a carrier first stage or aerial refueling.
Rocketplane Roars Back...After years of web site
inactivity, the Pioneer
Rocketplane site has been revamped and offers news on its
XP and RASCAL projects.
The XP offers
suborbital capabilites. It is a
vehicle powered by two jet engines and two rocket engines, enabling
it to reach altitudes of 350,000 feet. It has applications for
passenger travel, as a research and observation platform,
and as a promotional and sponsorship opportunity. The
XP will operate from ordinary airfields within the well-established
rules and practices for aircraft. A crew escape system will
give the crew an option for survival if the XP is no longer
capable of controlled flight." Pioneer
The XP is a "single-stage"
system with no carrier aircraft, as, for example with the Russian
C-21 system, yet still reaches over 100km. Furthermore,
"The XP does not use any launch assist: No airdrop, no
towing, no aerial propellant transfer, and no magical engines."
They also plan to design
it to allow for later development of a long range version.
The company has also won
a phase one contract in DARPA's RASCAL
program. (See below.)
This is news since there is no announcement yet on the DARPA
site about the awards decision.
Spaceport Grand Opening.... The Oklahoma
Spaceport, located in west Oklahoma on the former Air Force
base at Burns Flat, will formally open on March 23th. Oklahoma
Spaceport Launch Set - ChannelOklahoma - Mar.18.02
The events will include a
flight of JP
Aerospace's balloon launch platform "Dark
Sky Station", which the group is developing for high
altitude rocket launches.
As part of a student education
project, Oklahoma Spaceplanes,
when the station reaches 100,000feet (30km) it will release 500
paper planes labeled and folded by Oklahoma students.
Pioneer, TGV Rockets, Armadillo
and other startup rocket companies have been working with the
Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) to obtain access to
the facilities at Burns Flat. Some of the companies have also
sought tax credits and other support from the state.
Briefs...Check out the snazzy new website format
at the X-Prize.
Can't tell if there's much new info but what's there is easier
Briefs...I've posted a copy of my article Sub-orbital
Rockets to Space: The next logical step? that should
appear in the the March-April 2002 issue of Ad
Astra Magazine - National Space Society...
came across the website of Donald
Robertson, a freelance aerospace reporter, who has posted
a number of his articles. The report Commercial
Space, Single Stage to Orbit SSTO by Donald F. Robertson
from the early 1990's gives an interesting look at the thinking
during the time of the DC-X development and the possibilities
of a DC-Y follow-on project...
brags about the selection of its software for ground control
communication with the X-38: TIBCO
Software Selected by NASA to Provide Real-Time Communication
and Integration Capability for X-38 Crew Return Vehicle - TIBCO
PR - Mar.19.02
to Use Oklahoma Spaceport...According to the latest
12 and 16, 2002 Meeting Notes) from Armadillo Aerospace,
John Carmack signed an agreement with the Oklahoma
Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) to obtain help
in "getting flight clearances for our higher altitude testing"
in exchange for favoring Oklahoma companies for fabrication
will test their "moderate altitude flights, both unmanned
and manned" at the Clinton-Sherman air base, which the
OSIDA took over after it was closed by the US military. The
company will rent one of the former bunkers used for nuclear
also the images and videos of their recent rocket-tipped rotor
tests ala Rotary Rocket. In one test they pushed the rpm's to
the point at which the rotor "spontaneously disassembled
about Myasishchev Rocketplanes... Investigating more
about the C-21 program mentioned below,
I examined the Astronautix
reference materials on Russian
was a top Russian rocket engineer and colloborator with Korolev.
He had his own design bureau in the 1950's that, among other
projects, proposed several high altitude ramjet and rocketplane
- "M-42 and M-44
Buran trisonic ramjet missiles were considered in both manned
and unmanned versions."
- 1958 - "Phase One would take an experimental vehicle up
to 6,000 to 7,000 km/hour at altitudes of 80 to 100 km...."
Design 1 - 1959 - a critical design review of the M-48 led
to this improved design that addressed a number of issues, especially
the problems of thermal protection.
Design 2 - 1960 - the "second Myasishchev VKA-23 design
was an elegant-looking, porpoise-fuselaged winged vehicle, similar
to Japan's HOPE design of forty years later."
Due to Kremlin politics, the
Myasishchev design bureau was closed down in October 1960. According
to the FAS, Myasishchev amd a number of co-workers then went to
work for the Central
Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI).
There he headed a new center
that came to be called the V.M.Myasishchev
Experimental Machine-Building Plant (EMZ). The plant developed
several aircraft including the high altitude M-17 and M-55, the
latter of which would carry the C-21.
As indicated in the Space Adventures
release, the Myasishchev Experimental Machine-Building Plant
is now also referred to as the "Myasishchev
Experimental Design Bureau" or MDB.
Note: While built by
MiG rather than Myasishchev, the Spiral
105-11 or EPOS (Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft), which
was test flown in the late 1970's, shows some resemblence to the
Background...I tracked down some info on the Myasishchev
M-55 Geofizika, a version of which would be used to carry the
C-21 (see below)
Looks like the M-55X would
be a special version of the M-55 that included, for example, an
attachment/release mechanism for the C-21. Whether it would need
substantial performance enhancements isn't clear. I've not found
any info on the weight of the C-21 but it probably isn't substantially
more than the 2000kg payload capability of the M-55.
Research Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville
is working on rocket-based combined cycle (RBCC)
technology - UAH
leads team to construct new, reusable launch vehicle - Univ.
of Alabama at Huntsville - Feb.25.02
Adventures Ltd. photo
Mockup of the C-21 suborbital spacecraft
positioned over an M-55 carrier
aircraft during a media presentation at
Zhukovsky Air Base near Moscow
XXI Debuts...A full scale mock-up of the Russian
C-21 system was unveiled today at Zhukovsky Air Base near
Moscow. The 2-stage launch system consists of a jet powered
carrier called the M-55X "Geophysika" and a rocket powered second
stage called the C-21.
The C-21 is
a lifting body vehicle carrying 1 pilot and two passengers and
is powered by a detachable solid rocket motor module. The M-55X
releases the C-21 at an altitude of 20km. The rocket module
fires and propels the C-21 to over 100km. When the motor burns
out, the rocket module is separated from the crew compartment.
(No info given on whether the rocket motor is also recovered.)
The crew compartment
uses the control surfaces of the lifting body for the first
phase of the descent and then makes a "final parachute-assisted
touch down. "
Adventures funding, the Myasishchev Design Bureau (MDB)
and the Cosmopolis XXI Suborbital Corporation are developing
the hardware. MDB previously developed the Buran space shuttle.
says that it has over "100 sub-orbital reservations"
for the $98,000 package. Space.com
says that SA is looking for more investors in the project. The
SA press release claims that test flights "for the C-21
are expected to begin by 2004 and tourist flights by 2005. Doesn't
say if this hinges on additional funding.
Space and Tech says that the goal of the Suborbital Corporation
is to acquire two M-55X aircraft and seven C-21 modules for
aircraft, in fact, have been built already for other purposes.
See one of them in the above photo. However, it's not clear
if these must be enhanced to perform the carrier mission for
the C-21, i.e. perhaps the X in M-55X means a special version
must be developed.
AFP says that MDB is in "final phase of negotiations
with several investors" and that they need $70 million for the
Briefs...Scientific American takes a quick glance
at the status of RLV development: Has
the Space Age Stalled? ROCKET SCIENCE PROVES HARDER THAN ROCKET
SCIENTISTS HAD THOUGHT - Scientific American - April-2002 issue...
XCOR keeps moving right along. Check out the latest videos
of test flights and engine firings (thanks to Mike Massee of
Express/ASTRO contract -
DARPA Awards Orbital Express Demonstration to Boeing - SpaceAndTech
Briefs...Shuttle becomes a SLV (Seldom-used Launch
Vehicle, or maybe that should be Seldom-useable LV). According
to Aviation Week (Mar.4.02), Sean O'Keefe says the shuttle program
will only fly 4 times a year from now on...
March 4, 2002 issue of Space News discusses the "National
Aerospace Initiative" or NAI concepte proposed by Ronald
Sega, head of R&D in the Department of Defense. The not-yet-funded-or-clearly-defined
concept would emphasize development of technologies in the areas
of hypersonics, launchers and spacecraft.
The NAI is
apparently what Keith Cowing at NASA Watch was referring to
(see previous entry). However, the Space News article says that
it is not yet clear if the NAI would develop into a Defense
version of SLI or become just a framework for RLV and other
technology development that would include joint projects within
reported recently that the Pentagon is considering the creation
of its own SLI program, patterned after NASA's but independent
of it. This could indicate that the recent
joint study group failed to agree on a common approach to
an RLV. The two programs will probably pursue development of
vehicles tuned to their own needs rather than the one size fits
all approach that many have blamed for the Shuttle's shortcomings...
See also the
Strategy for America's Future in Space, March 2002 - NASA Watch/Spaceref
Awards Soon...Aviation Week (Feb.25, 2002, p.19)
reports that in the coming week, DARPA will give out $5M to
as many as 6 companies for initial feasibity studies for the
RASCAL (see below)
small payload launcher. A second phase starting in November
will reduce the entries to two participants who will share about
$10M to do detailed designs.
aerospace firms are expected to compete as well as several smaller
ones including Pioneer
Rocketplane, HMX, Space
Launch, Destiny Aerospace [no web site found] and even a
submission by Prof.
Ron Humble at the Air Force Academy Astronautics
A third phase
starting near the end of 2003 would reduce the field to one
contractor who would get $60M to build an operational
(not prototype) vehicle with first flight in 2006.
Launch Corp - The RASCAL plan specifies an air
launched 2-stage approach. The Space Launch company, which has
apparently been in business since 1999 but has kept a low profile,
is proposing its SLC-1 system composed of:
major subsystems - the launch platform (carrier aircraft) and
an air-launched booster. The launch platform is a standard jet
aircraft suitably modified to carry and deploy the booster vehicle.
The booster itself is a small expendable launch vehicle utilizing
multiple solid-motor stages." - microsat
launch services at SL website
has been doing propulsion
research and won
funding in 2001 from the California Space Grant Program
to "develop a high-performance, non-toxic solid propellant
for use in existing and future launch vehicle solid rocket motors."
Hope for Japan (Hope-X that is)...Space News (Feb.18.2002)
reports that NASDA will drop the Hope-X spaceplane project.
The reusable unmanned vehicle would have flown atop the expendable
H-2A booster to take supplies to the ISS and then returned to
earth. The problems with the H-2A had caused the agency to freeze
the Hope-X budget since 2000.
the H-2A is now flying, they believe that combining the expensive
ELV with the Hope-X would be uneconomical. The vehicle would
not have been ready before 2015 anyway and it would be obsolete
by then. So NASDA plans to rethink it's whole approach to reusable
space vehicles and try to come up with something more useful.
brief... The X-Prize team Funtech
Systems and their Aurora
spaceplane get some exposure in Florida Today: Orlando
team vies for orbit - $10 million X PRIZE contest seeks space-tourism
vehicles - Florida Today - Feb.23.02. (Link via Spacetoday.net)
projects... Wandering around the DARPA
web site I came across a handful of reusable launch & space
vehicle related projects, especially in the Tactical
Technology Office :
Rocket - a clever approach to orbital transfer and
sevicing vehicles. Water would be used both in a fuel cell/electrolyzer
combo and for propulsion. The electrolyzer, using solar
power typically, would break the water into separate hydrogen
and oxygen tanks. These could then be extracted either for
running the fuel cell or "burned in a rocket for rapid
maneuvering while the water itself can be used as a propellant
in electric thrusters for slower maneuvering." Water
is also a safe medium for refueling the vehicle when needed.
selects contractors for water-based propulsion for space
program (DOC file) - DARPA - Feb.14.02
Such a water rocket
system could be used in the Orbital
Express/ASTRO vehicle, which is currently planned
to be launched in 2005. It would "repeatedly demonstrate
the feasibility of autonomously upgrading, refueling and
reconfiguring satellites" while in orbit.
history...The Rotary site disappeared last year,
taking it with all those great images and videos. You can now
at least see a short streamed video of the last flight of the
ATV at the Air & Space magazine site Rotary
Rocket - Air & Space. ATV pilot Marti
Sarigul-Klijn has an article - I Survived the Rotary
Rocket - in the current issue (Feb-March) in which he talks
about the extreme difficulties he and his co-pilot had in controlling
brief...See also the cool video of a rocket launched
Zero Length Launch - Air & Space Magazine
continues search for funding...The X-Prize
has had $5 million of the $10 million prize committed for a
couple of years. Efforts continue to obtain the remaining purse
money and they will now get some help from a Lindbergh descendant
Solo Flights of Charles Lindbergh To be Recreated by Grandson
- X-Prize PR - Feb.6.02.
At a Washington
DC Space Tourist conference last June, Peter
Diamandis reported on the status of the program. One item
of note is that the financial firm First USA, which kicked
in $2.5 million, "wants the prize won by December 17, 2003".
This implies that they may withdraw the offer if it isn't. He
reports that seven teams have shown at least some hardware development
progress. (See also the table
some Russians are interested in the X-Prize using a rocket launched
from a Mig-31 - South
African Space Tourist To Insure His flight in Russia - Space.com
brief...Boeing continues with hardware development
for the X-37 - Wings
for X-37 Spaceplane Shipped to Palmdale Final Assembly Facility
- Boeing PR - Feb.6.02. However, there is still no clear
word from NASA on when the X-37
orbital test flight would occur.
brief...Andrews Air & Space announced a contract
from Northrup Grumman "to perform market analysis, business
planning, systems engineering, and launch vehicle design services
in support of Northrop Grummanís second-generation Reusable
Launch Vehicle (RLV) program. The $15.7 million dollar contract
was awarded to Northrop Grumman in December 2001 to conduct
vehicle architecture design studies as part of NASAís Space
Launch Initiative (SLI)."
Grumman Selects Andrews Space & Technology to Support Vehicle
Concept Develpment for NASA's Space Launch Initiative - Andrews
PR - Jan. 31, 2002 ....
has also recently posted additional artist's images of its own
Gryphon 2-stage RLV system. See Andrews
Space :: News :: Multimedia Gallery
brief...Dick Rutan aborted a touch-and-go landing
test of the EZ-Rocket today after an engine failed to re-light
during the power-off landing - XOR
EZ-Rocket Attempts Touch-and-Go Landing = XCOR PR - Feb.1.02
. They believe they've located the cause of the re-light failure
and will try the test again in a couple of weeks.
brief...Leonard David at Space.com reviews the latest
in reusable TPS: Beat
the Heat: New Thermal Protection For Reusable Rockets - Space.com
posts a new video
page with a selection of videos of test flights, TV News
reports, and engine tests. ...
Rocketdyne decides on the design for its SLI funded RS-83 engine:
Rocketdyne Chooses Design for Next-Generation Reusable Rocket
Engine - Boeing PR - Jan.28.02
announces request for proposals for a second round of RLV technology
funding of $500M - NASAís
Space Launch Initiative seeks next round of proposals from industry,
academia in late March - NASA MSFC PR - Jan.25.02. The proposals,
due by March 27, should address "research on propulsion,
flight demonstrations and NASA-unique projects such as life
support and crew safety, and integrated ground testing and simulations
for a second-generation reusable launch vehicle."[NASA
Seeks New Ideas For Propulsion, Life-Support - Aviation Week
- Jan.28.02] ...
project gets an engine for an orbital test but no word on whether
funding for the project will go that far. - Aerojet
Delivers X-38 Deorbit Propulsion Stage to NASA - Aerojet - Jan.25.02.
carries out a successful 8th
test flight. While in the air for nearly 8 minutes, in-flight
re-ignition of the two 400 pound thrust engines was tested by
first turning off one engine for 19 seconds and restarting it
and then the second one off for 10 seconds before re-ignition.
The press release includes an MP3 recording of the cockpit communications...
reports on a NASA/USAF
One Team Industry Review Day on January 17 that was part
of a joint 120 day study on how to achieve "national operationally
responsive spacecraft capability". Materials release include
the paper: The
Military Space Plane: Providing Transformational and Responsive
Global Precision Striking Power. and NASA-USAF
Reusable Space Launch Development Briefing (10.3 MB Powerpoint)
NASA Eye Cooperation On Next Reusable Launcher - Aviation Week
but X bones left - Stripped
Down X-33 Headed for Hangar - Space.com - Jan.23.02
Issues a Call for Experiments on the first K-1 flights.
At Kistler's website, the SLI
section now includes an announcement of "Flight opportunities
available for NASA Space Launch Initiative Technology Experiments
on the K-1 Reusable Launch Vehicle".
are given on the Call
for Experiments page and in a 1Mb pdf file. They state that
"multiple flight opportunities are available beginning
in 2003". And they promise that "experimenters benefit
from early access to space, and exposure of their technology
to the full ascent, orbit, and reentry profile of the K-1."
potential experimenters can examine the 42 page (pdf file) "K-1
Vehicle TA-10 Flight Experiments Design and Requirements Document"
to see how to fit their equipment into the vehicle.
is still no announcement as to whether assembly of the K-1 has
resumed or if construction of the launch site at Woomera will
reorganizes to build an X-prize vehicle. The "four place
aircraft will have a ceiling of 350,000 feet; weigh less than
10,000 pounds on takeoff, travel in excess of Mach 3.5, and
cost less than $12,000,000 to produce."
briefs...California Congressman Ken Calvert (R) is
pushing a bill to provide tax credits for investments in RLV
development. It didn't pass last year but will apparently be
re-introduced this year. He discusses the Calvert-Ortiz
Invest in Space Now Act in this article at SpaceEquity.com
Questions for Congressman Calvert...
Systems considers the island Tonga as a Pacific Ocean launch
base for its low cost RSX-2
sounding rockets and later for its RLV.
[--Link Dead--]Tonga Eyed as Launch Pad
for Tourist Space Flights - Yahoo News - Jan.16.02 ...
Week and Space Technology January 14th issue includes the
yearly review of the aerospace industry - 2002 Aerospace Source
Book. The section on RLVs gives, not surprisingly, a very downbeat
accessment. Basically it concludes that for the next several
years, SLI will be the
only game in town as far as RLV funding is concerned, at least
in the US. It mentions European, Japanese and Indian programs
but doesn't see them producing even a test vehicle for several
does suggest that the development of "satellite host platforms"
could help spur the creation of new markets that would, in turn,
raise demand for low cost transport in a few years. For example
Payload Orbit Transfer (SPORT) system will allow low cost
launching of piggyback payloads on ELVs.
brief...XCOR releases a statement about the CNN monitored
flight - XCOR
EZ-Rocket Begins 2002 Test Program - XCOR PR - Jan.11.02.
Another public demonstration flight will take place at noon
"on Tuesday, January 22 at the Mojave Civilian Test Flight
Center located at the Mojave, CA, airport, weather permitting."
no hurry to build an SSTO - NASA
Still Not Committed To Single-stage For Third-Generation RLV
- Aviation Week - Jan.10.02
brief...CNN today showed a test flight of the EZ-Rocket
on TV. The website also has an article about it - California
company shoots for cheap ride to space - CNN.com - Jan.10.02
. [Jan.11.02 - To see a streamed video of the report, go to
Sci-Tech page and click on the Watch latest Sci-Tech
video link. This will bring up a window where you can select
"The EZ rocket to space (2:35) CNN's Miles O'Brien reports
on what may be the future of rocket-powered travel (January
10)"] [ Jan.18.02 - for a transcript of program, see Group
of Engineers Bent on Making Outer Space More Accessible Takes
Another Step in That Direction - CNN.com - Transcripts - Jan.10.02
brief...The January 7 issue of Aviation
Week & Space Technology contains a two page article
(pp.60-61) on the 2-stage
RLV concept of Andrews
Space. (The article is also online but requres a paid subscription.)
The RLV is based on the Alchemist
system, which collects oxygen in the air during a turbofan powered
cruise phase. The liquified oxygen will then be used by the
rocket powered second stage to take a 60,000-lb payload to ISS
orbit. The article discusses the expansion of space markets,
e.g. space tourism, if the cost to orbit is reduced to $500
per pound. The goal is to have a final design ready by 2005.
See previous articles in the