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Captain’s Log Stardate 47634.44

Captain’s Log Stardate 47634.44

(see http://www.stoacademy.com/tools/stardate.php for translation)

Where no one has gone before must include a fully reusable horizontal launch space plane.  In all of our blog posts past we had a vision without substance, but that is what hope is; the substance of things hoped for.  This journey is shorter than previous ones but by reaching the Universities of Colorado and Wyoming we are reaching the young builders who may actually flesh out our VISION.  A ten-year old trailer, a dog, and old man are the headquarters, plant security and one Wornout Von Braun for our venture.

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LOADED FOR LAUNCH

Our first leg extended to Longmont Colorado where we have often camped to be near Boulder and the University of Colorado.  This is a pretty easy drive at our usual 65 mph cruise speed on I-25 south.  The Boulder county fairgrounds offer affordable sites and a large park for walking the dog.  This year we also had a horse show at the fairgrounds, and camping was really full.  With a mobile hot spot we got to work on the internet and email communications too.

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LOADED FOR LUNCH

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REST STOP ON THE PRAIRIE

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UNLOADING IN LONGMONT

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FULLY EXPANDED, MADE IN THE SHADE

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ENGINEERING BUILDING, CU

We were able to meet new interns and faculty members at CU in the first two days.  And dopey David forgot to get photos of anyone because of over-excitement!  I did have time to clean the dust out of the trailer after a previous trip on Nebraska dirt roads though.  It was actually warm enough to run the air conditioning for a while.  Watching weather over the mountains and hiking around the lakes made the stay enjoyable.

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MOUNTAINS AND GEESE

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HEY-I DID REMEMBER TO GET A PHOTO OF WILL PFOUTS!

When moving from Longmont to Laramie Wyoming we let Google maps take us on a shortcut.  The directions were a bit spun about, but we found a westbound road and it delivered us over some partially paved adventure roads.  Winding on mountain roads is always fun and dog always enjoys rest stops along the way.  This route took us north of Fort Collins before leaving the freeway, but still delivered a diagonal route with some scenery.  With a slow trailer the light traffic is a stress reliever too!

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GOOGLE SHORT CUTS…OILED GRAVEL

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HIGHWAY 287 NORTH…BETTER NOW!

Laramie is always a delight to me because it is not a huge city and I am getting familiar with the streets.  But hauling a trailer faces the same narrow streets and construction that we saw in Colorado towns.  I was glad to park it and do the unloading drill.  With the sewer and barbecue boxes  on the ground the trailer is cleared out for easy living.  I roll out the runner rugs and it is pretty homey.  Computer gear and office tools make it a functional office.  Frozen meals from home were stockpiled for a great variety of home cooking.  We do get some work done on these trips!

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GOOD SCENERY ON THE WAY

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BIG SKIES, BIG WEATHER

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HIGH COUNTRY REST STOP

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LANDED IN LARAMIE

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BARBEQUE UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF THE BOSS…

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AND THERE WAS A GAME DAY IN WYOMING

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WHICH WAS SPOILT BY DEM DANGED DUCKS!

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RETURNING TO WHEATLAND FROM LARAMIE

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PUT US ON A PATH BACK TO THE SCENE…

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OF THE GREAT 2016 FRIDAY THE 13TH MARS MISADVENTURE

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IT LOOKS MUCH BETTER IN THE SUNSHINE!

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BUT IT IS STILL VERY REMOTE…AND MARS-LIKE.

ANYONE UP FOR A SIMULATED MISSION?

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AND WE ARE WATCHING SOME REAL ESTATE…KNOW WHAT IT IS?

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BACK HOME IN WHEATLAND…END OF MISSION

P5.4 BLUEPRINT

AND BEGINNING OF ANOTHER ONE

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THE VISION

LAUNCHER EVOLUTION ADVANCED PROTOTYPE 

(L.E.A.P.)

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This is our vision for the next generation of space launch.  This is an orbital system that will be the model for our first prototypes.  The technology is reachable, and we will grow this in affordable stages.  Stay tuned for the hardware!

CONTENTS

  1. KEY TECHNOLOGIES 
  2. DENSE FUELS 
  3. TANKS AND STORAGE 
  4. UNMANNED BOOSTERS 
  5. AIR BREATHING PROPULSION 
  6. EMERGENCY PROTECTION 
  7. UN-MANNED ORBITERS        
  8. MANNED ORBITERS        
  9. ORBITER REENTRY FEATURES 
  10. ORBITER LANDING 
  11. GETTING OFF THE GROUND 
  12. VEHICLE AND MARKET POTENTIAL 
  13. THE EXODUS TEAM 

This small venture has spent the winter projecting a look at a new way to access space launch.  We have assembled a technology and a few leaders to grow the vision.

 

1. KEY TECHNOLOGIES

HORIZONTAL IN LINE LAUNCH STAGING…WHAT IS “H.I.L.L.S.”?

This is the joining of two delta wing aircraft, nose to tail, to operate as one aircraft powered by the first stage until separation to deliver the second stage and payloads to orbital missions.

PATENT US 8528853 B2   http://www.google.nl/patents/US8528853

By moving our orbiter to the front, the mass of its wings is working to produce lift.  This allows the booster wings to shrink, saving mass there.  The smaller craft also becomes a nose cone to the larger craft instead of increasing frontal area.  By using a blended wing body form we add the efficiency of a lifting fuselage per the concepts of Burnelli.  The lifting bodies maximize internal volume and still allow runway operations.  Stage separation in emergencies can rescue payloads or crews for lower insurance rates.

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2. DENSE FUELS

We found an issue with packaging cryogenic fuels tanks in wings and flattened fuselage areas.  This led us to consider High Test Peroxide (HTP) and jet fuel instead of cryogenic fuels.  Like jet fuel, HTP can fit in wing tanks, but it is heavier than liquid oxygen.  That is offset by lighter tanks and smaller airframe size.

Published reports for other space planes reinforced our interest in HTP:

  1. Oxidizer Selection for the ISTAR Program (Liquid Oxygen versus Hydrogen Peroxide)  https://archive.org/details/nasa_techdoc_20030006267
  2. Quicksat: A Two-Stage to Orbit Reusable Launch Vehicle Utilizing Air-Breathing Propulsion for Responsive Space Access  http://www.sei.aero/archive/AIAA-2004-5950.pdf

With HTP we can effectively fill the gaps between the structures and follow the airfoil form fully.  This delivers the required fuel for the mission and allows vacant tank volume for in-flight balance in supersonic flight.  We will also maintain low pressure (30 psi) in these tanks, so structural strength is aided, and mass is further reduced.

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PEROXIDE AND JET FUEL TANKS

We will choose to use more conservative air breathing engines.  We may propose to use turbine or ramjet engines.  These still yield high supersonic performance without missing the value of harvesting atmospheric oxygen.

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MASS ESTIMATION COMPARISONS

Wing loading is not too unreasonable in historical comparisons.

WINGLOAD

L/D DATA L/D
Concorde 7.4
SR-71 6.6 6.6
B-58 4.5 4.5
XB-70 7.2 7.2
LEAP GUESS 7.0

So fuel will shape the mission and the vehicle.  But it will also affect costs in shipping and storage.  Peroxide also comes off as a fairly clean and affordable fuel.

3. TANKS AND STORAGE

Rocket cost can’t be divorced from the storage and transportation of rocket fuel.  This is what you can expect with cryogenic fuels; not a cheap plan to deliver cold fuels.

Hydrogen peroxide and jet fuel are room temperature low cost storage issues.  Thin tanks and fuel bladders work in about any shape.  Even plastic water tanks work, as seen here at Frontier Astronautics’ facility in Wyoming.

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4. UNMANNED BOOSTERS

To reach orbit by horizontal launch is a challenge.  We need a first stage that is nearly single stage to orbit capable.  New propulsion may take us there, but there is no reason to take air breathing engines to orbit.  Better to leave that mass behind in favor of customer payload.

By offering an unmanned booster, customer payloads or crew are not on that craft in the event of an emergency.  The booster may be recovered by manual controls, or ditched in a safe place.  Being able to save the payload or crew by separating the upper stage will reduce insurance costs.  Being able to avoid the launch facility, personnel and communities on the ground is also important.  Any potential to save one or more stages is frosting on the cake.

The orbiter fins align with the junction mechanisms and with matching structures on the booster.  Both craft have vertical beams on a common line for hard point junctions.

G1

Thus the orbiter vertical tail provides structural strength for the junction of the two stages.

G3

Looking forward through part of the booster shows all the mechanisms clustered in the structures.  This series of illustrations animates the pin release and piston separation sequence.

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PINNED

G5

RELEASED

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PISTON PRESSURE BOOSTED SEPARATION

This leaves some booster aerodynamic thoughts to be explored.

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Orbiter vertical surfaces are inboard to preserve a clean flow along the joined wings.  The wings target the vortex demonstrated by the Concorde.  This helps assure efficient lift at low speed without complex flaps.  When joined the craft should be optimized to climb efficiently during air breathing flight, accelerate, and transition to hypersonic flight under rocket power.

We can provide full scale Siemens NX CAD models that may be used for CFD which consider the possibility of B-70 type winglets.  We understand the “waver rider” concept, as well as potential use to help balance the CG during supersonic center pressure shift.  Fuel transfer may not have to be the only way to manage the center of gravity.

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After this study was progressing we gained some expertise from Gary Johnson on some lessons from the past.  Here attached is a little photo essay I did a while back, on shock impingement heating.  It based on an incident that very nearly caused the loss of an X-15 half a century ago.  This is important,  because as it currently exists,  your booster craft has parallel nacelles for its air breathing engines.”

Our study provided some ideas, but not all the answers.  At least we are finding some answer men to cover this and other issues.  Meanwhile any copy-cat will inherit some regrets if they go after easy answers!

This kind of launch may take the unmanned booster on quite a trajectory, possibly making a skip across the ocean or a return to base.  At some point it needs to be called home for reentry and a landing.  Engines may be closed by the inlet cones for thermal protection during reentry.  With the orbiter gone the leading edges are largely rounded for thermal loads and drag to slow reentry speeds.

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Will it be on final approach to the old shuttle landing strip?  To save mass our landing gear is reduced to a nose wheel and two skids, per the X-15.  Like that craft it will have a dedicated launch vehicle, but not one you might expect.

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5. AIR BREATHING PROPULSION: AN IMPORTANT KEY

We illustrate simple cylindrical engine installations in part for fast service removal, replacement, and servicing between missions.  Reality will probably be more complex as Gary Johnson pointed out.

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For a prototype, engine development may be part of the early missions.  There have been many air breathing propulsion designs proposed, but this is not an easy performance realm.  We may consider proposing turbine based systems in the outboard positions for low speed and takeoff operations.  These have been reliable and efficient in the past, but they may also be a bit heavy and complex.  The Concorde, XB-70, and SR-71 are all complex installations.

Even a greatly simplified view of Concorde engines suggests sophisticated understanding of shock wave and flow management.  This delivered supersonic speeds with greater fuel efficiency than rockets.  Engine vendors are proposing new designs for supersonic business jets which may offer promise for better things to come.

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TURBINES ARE NOT THE ONLY OPPORTUNITY

In 1999 Orbital Sciences did a study of modification of a D-21 drone to use for space launch.  Their proposal would use avionics from their Pegasus launcher and the X-34 for economical development.  A ram jet engine is considered for these missions.  We have senior ram jet expertise in house now.

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Gangs of engines in square inlet configurations are seen on the XB-70 and the Concorde.  The SR-72 has inlets and airframe configured and tuned for Aerojet turbine and scramjet engines.  Our goal is not extreme speeds until leaving the atmosphere.  To harvest atmospheric oxygen cannot come at the cost of a massive fuel burn penalty or huge development costs.  To field a serviceable test bed that can climb at supersonic speed and switch to rockets is a better goal.  Identifying efficient air breathing propulsion may require flight testing.  Our platform proposes to deliver variable test opportunities.

6. EMERGENCY PROTECTION

GOOD PLANS OFTEN EXPERIENCE A BUMP IN THE NIGHT.  Even near the earth aviation does on occasion experience a bump in the night.

Unfortunately not every collision has a happy ending, as we saw with the space shuttle.  That orbiter never had a problem that wasn’t associated with the booster stage.  With in-line staging we literally leave the booster problems behind us.  In an emergency we can separate the stages and make insurance companies and passengers pretty happy.

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 GETTING OUT OF DODGE

We did look at one way that we might avoid a bump in the night for a blind unmanned spacecraft.  To augment guidance systems we hope to offer UAV style ground control with cameras.  This installation is an opportunity to challenge vendors too.  We propose to use a Surmet Alon brand Aluminum Oxynitride dome for this installation.  It has a “Star Trek” connection for being called “transparent aluminum”.  But it has a far more stellar performance than aluminum in optical, impact, and thermal durability.

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The auto industry has a term; “crush zone”, which suggests a cushion for impact.  In space any small object, even plastic foam, can be a lethal weapon.  For our mission these impacts may go unnoticed until thermal issues begin to invade your structures.  During reentry it is too late to do a space walk to make repairs.

Ultramet offers an idea for thermal protection that we may expand on.  Using carbon foam as a lightweight filler, aerogel is added to improve thermal protection.  We would enlarge this in the nose and wing caps to provide a thermal “crush zone”.  A variety of thermal protection systems may cover the outer shell, including tiles, ceramic composites, or carbon-carbon.  When damaged, these are fragile shells.  A deeper zone of carbon foam and aerogel is light, but may slow incoming plasma and gasses.  Some penetration is tolerable in this material.

A second inner wall of the wing cap is a solid carbon-carbon barrier, which will not tolerate a prolonged thermal battle.  To relieve this, there is an open passage, a tunnel through the carbon foam.  That opening encourages the flow to pass to the rear of the wing cap.  At that point it is vented ahead of the elevons.  If the fairings are still in place, they would be ejected to allow the gasses to vent.

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THERMAL CRUSH ZONE

It’s not enough to consider reusability as a means to profit.  Insurance costs could be reduced with this so survivability also rates as high value.  Added reliability must be part of planning our future, and reusable systems require it.  Going back to Apollo is not a road to the future.  This is not just a launcher, it is an orbiting service station.  As the X-37 has demonstrated, a fly-back space station has far more utility than a throw away system.  And we cannot afford to postpone affordable access to low earth orbit.  No serious exploration or mining of the solar system can go ahead without sensible access to low earth orbit.

7. UNMANNED ORBITERS

The satellite market is rewarding enough but servicing that market is more so .  A fly-back orbiter is a valuable concept proven by the Boeing X-37B.  Being able to deliver a similar success story with a reusable booster can reduce G forces and add safety features.  It also opens up entirely new market applications.

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ROUGH SCALE TO THE X-37 AT 29 AND 54 FT. LENGTH.

This early X-37 study indicates that they once considered HTP and JP as we are doing now.  Currently the X-37 uses highly toxic fuels that we will avoid.  Besides, we have a source of 100% HTP here in Wyoming!

So how much can be done with the prototype that we have been illustrating?  The prototypes may only have room for a small payload.   That is no challenge to the heavy launch companies, but then our size is scalable.  Steps will be important when they reach the right audience.

The largest payload would be 66 inches in diameter by 166 inches long, or about 5 feet diameter by 14 feet long.  That allows a pretty big payload if not including a kicker motor.

E1

Unlike vertical launch we do not just kick the fairings off and boot the satellite.  We have to move the payload vertically, or lateral to the centerline after the doors open.  One might use a robotic arm, but we illustrated a simple extending arm with linear actuation.  This will still allow the satellite to be tested before it is released.  We can recover it and return it to base for servicing if needed.  That’s the difference between a launch vehicle and a service vehicle.

Smaller payloads are possible, including non-orbital experiments.  Materials, products, and biology can be tested and returned to earth.  The X-37 has orbited for as long as two years delivering classified services for the Air Force.  How many services can you imagine here?  What would be the value of returning an inoperative satellite for salvage?  Those are a few opportunities to return things.  But there is value in bringing home things that have never been to earth.  If there is any mining in space this is the safest way to bring home samples.  Would you want loads of rocks coming home on parachutes in your town?  But this could be the means for regular service to runways and paying customers.

E3

One alternative that we also show is a cube satellite dispenser.  Using a 12 inch cube we now illustrate the revolving “Gatling gun” dispenser.  This can hold 180 cubes or 60 cubes and 60 12 x 24 inch rectangular satellites.  The military may want a fast satellite replacement supply on orbit at all times.

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Having an orbiting dispenser one could make many orbits between launches for dispersal.  Today the small customer is like a kid on a skateboard shagging a ride behind a taxi.  You have to follow the paying customer and the ride may be a bit risky.  We need to take these customers to work as valued business.

There is extra room under these payloads that offers another opportunity.  We have tanks available for servicing fuels or oxygen for satellites or stations.  Larger tanks may be delivered for orbital refueling.  This is a space station and a service station at the same time.  If a small step delivers many small parts one can build greater visions far beyond low earth orbit.

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8. MANNED ORBITERS

If unmanned development goes well, manned versions will add real value.  Many safety features are available for this application.  One basic modular vehicle can be configured for either mission.

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COMPOUND CURVED GLASS???

Didn’t I warn you about transparent aluminum?  We propose to use Surmet Alon brand Aluminum Oxynitride for this installation too.

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If we offer a manned version, it will need durable high temperature windows inside and out.  Our cargo area was cylindrical for typical payloads, and this fits a pressure vessel as well.

E17

MODULAR..CARGO OR CREW

F14

Unfortunately the “Launcher Evolution Advanced Prototype” (LEAP) is a bit tight.  Is there a customer for a wide body out there?

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At least claustrophobia will not be a problem with a big “Vista Cruiser” view.  There should be plenty to see for passengers, whether touring or commuting to work on the moon mines.

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9. ORBITER REENTRY FEATURES

We have to enter the atmosphere with the nose high and the belly serving as a heat shield.  There must be control of pitch, roll, and yaw in temperatures reaching 2000 degrees or more.

J2

The booster’s nose is removed from the aft of the orbiter, so there is room for a nozzle extension to move aft into that vacant zone.  This will yield an efficient vacuum nozzle and reduce radiant heating of adjacent surfaces.

J3

Since body flaps can open, they are further removed from radiant heat damage during operation of the main engine.

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A MOVABLE ABLATIVE NOZZLE EXTENSION COULD BE EXPENDABLE.

A12

THIS CLEARS THE RADIANT HEATING OF ADJACENT FEATURES

A14

For roll and pitch control during reentry the lower body flaps are split.  The elevon fairings remain in place during the early reentry phase.

A13

We now have an upper body flap to replace the old “duck tail” to keep the nose high during reentry.  Most of our turns can be by roll and pitching up during reentry.  Rudders are less effective at high angle of attack, and the thin vertical surfaces are sheltered from most thermal issues.

J5

We will need have better control surfaces to manage pitch, roll, and yaw at lower altitudes.  To allow full flying elevons we remove two small protective fairings after staging.   The small elevons might not suffer extreme damage, but they are probably not especially effective during the fireball phase.

J6

Cutting the fairings off as a flat leaves an edge to break off some boundary flow.  This may keep some thermal issues from invading the seam between the flat and the full flying elevons.  The elevons are blunt to ease thermal loads.

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At lower altitudes the “duck tail” flaps drop to allow bottom flaps and elevons to work in level flight.  Better yaw control comes as the rudders get better flow.

10. ORBITER LANDING

With level flight and good control surfaces we can get into ground effect at the runway.  We still want a gentle touchdown with minimal mass.  So we effect a half-vertical landing.

With all these thrusters, the orbiter should be using them on final approach.  In ground effect this may allow a “Soyuz” like cushion, reverse thrust, and little or no actual skid on the landing feet.  This becomes a hybrid semi-vertical landing, but on a wide stable base.

A2

MANY THRUSTERS

A18

SO WITH THRUSTERS WE CAN DO THIS TOO.  ON A WIDE STABLE BASE.

SO WHO NEEDS LANDING GEAR?

That concludes a lot of considerations for the orbiter.  Now we need to go back to reveal one final mass reduction and energy saver for the takeoff roll.

11. GETTING OFF THE GROUND

We have presented a case for horizontal launch with several notions to reduce mass.  With Hydrogen Peroxide oxidizer we still face some high takeoff weight figures.  Getting a heavy aircraft off the runway without adding more mass for flaps and mechanisms is a challenge.  By The Concorde wing achieved a vortex that aided lift at a high angle of attack.  That inspired our design to emulate this or any similar form that can enhance lift on the takeoff roll.

For an in-line two stage vehicle, our challenge includes reducing the ground structural loads on the junction of these two aircraft.  If we considered a rail launch we might have a “sled” that could provide a cradle to support the two stages.  That would allow us to have only light weight landing gear at the end of the mission.  We could also provide a hydraulic lift to elevate the craft to the ideal angle of attack before even starting the takeoff roll.  That will deliver the ideal angle of attack before we even start the engines.  Looking at Concorde images, that AOA appears to be between 10 and 30 degrees.

Rail launch will have other issues.  When a vertical launch fails it either explodes, or is deliberately blown up, destroying the rocket, its payload, and often the launch facility.  Such damage could also be produced by sabotage, causing long launch delays to other missions.  Even our horizontal launch vehicle might fall directly on the rail.  A rail launching system would require a dedicated facility with considerable construction cost.  Adding that cost to limited available sites and risk is not our goal.

Other solutions have been demonstrated in the past.  The ME 163 rocket fighter used wheels only for takeoff, then they just dropped them…on whoever got in the way!  The Rockwell Star-Raker proposed to do the same thing, only with much larger gear and more serious damage potential.

There is a way to do this without a dramatic increase in your insurance costs.  And Boeing is already doing this on a small scale.  Their Phantom Eye drone has a huge hydrogen fuel tank, high takeoff mass, and little tolerance for heavy landing gear.  To keep mass down they use only light landing gear, leaving takeoff to a launch cart.  Nothing falls out of the sky, as the cradle stays on the runway.  This probably has an auto-pilot to stay on the runway.  That looks like a good start that we can build on.  We can add the cradle and some propulsion at the same time.

I17

If we add electric hub motors we can begin to provide acceleration without as much fuel burn.  The cradle vehicle can be heavy enough to operate on a runway in crosswinds and still be fast.  Electric cars are demonstrating great performance potential and this is renewable energy without volatile fuels.  Notice that takeoff is not the only drain when aircraft use fuel while moving on the ground, and waiting on the runway.  The electric can wait all day without draining fuel from the flight vehicle.

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Analysis of Aircraft Fuel Burn and Emissions in the Landing and Take Off Cycle using Operational Data

A launch cradle vehicle offers protection from another hazard.  The Concorde experienced a tire failure that threw debris and caused a fatal crash.  A cradle truck can shield the aircraft from tire and other debris that could damage thermal protection or fuel tanks.

But there are other issues to consider.  Launching an aircraft does not always happen in ideal weather conditions.  In a crosswind, takeoff and landing can be very challenging.  In flight an aircraft can “crab” or turn upwind, while the actual flight direction remains at an angle to the direction the craft is pointing.  This can be difficult when you are operating as a ground vehicle, where tire scrub would be pretty severe!

I20

But again, solutions in the past have addressed this issue.  The Boeing B-52 has fully steerable landing gear which can crab at an angle during takeoff or landing.

I18

So now we are getting a conceptual look at the future of horizontal launch.  With enough mass, rubber on the ground, acceleration energy, and crosswind capability we may be “go for launch”.

I9

In the lowered position fueling, services, and payload mating can be performed in a hangar.  The vehicle can move the aircraft as needed, and wait on the runway for clearance to take off.

I11

NOW BOARDING

I4

ON A ROLL

This may be a stretch, but driver-less vehicles may add another capacity.  In an emergency, the robotic vehicle may be able to return to the upwind end of the runway and meet the combined craft for a rendezvous landing.  The robotics guys are full of tricks these days!  Has range control ever asked a malfunctioning vertical launch vehicle to return to the pad?  Range destruction often destroys both vehicle and facilities.  How are your insurance costs?

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12. VEHICLE AND MARKET POTENTIAL

We have not presented a completed design or even a feasibility study at this point, that will require some funding.  But we approached some of the known issues with possible solutions to make the mission.  With the energy savings of the launch cradle, this may be worth evaluating properly.  Is it time to dust off the horizontal launch concept again?  We delivered an illustration; can we pay the smart guys to deliver validation?  This is modeled in Siemens NX software so it is compatible with CFD programs.  If you have such tools we can deliver the solid models to you to analyze.  The real refinement comes when the smart guys have a chance to get paid.

We have a generation of orbiters like the shuttle and the X-37 demonstrating uses for reusable orbiting spacecraft.  A fly-back orbiter like the Dream Chaser has a lot of potential for services beyond just throwing great mass into orbit.  But these spacecraft are still hampered with heavy aerodynamic fairings and throw away boosters.  Fly-back boosters and orbiters must be  part of fully reusable function.

Business models look for customers with problems that have no other solution.  Investors need to know that they will own a tool that others cannot duplicate or build cheaper.

Exodus Aerospace owns a part of the answer in the patents for Horizontal In Line Launch Staging (HILLS).  Affordable access to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is a valuable key that is being  ignored in our passion for Mars and deep space adventures.  We are ready for the visionary customer who needs a world beating solution.

13. THE EXODUS TEAM

Our team is small, but growing and we may have some assets still under development.  A project as big as this needs a lot more development.  It would be wise to show that competent leadership and execution can be delivered.  We have part time help and advisers with some experience now.  Who can build on this base?

We are affiliated with X-L SPACE SYSTEMS owner Michael Carden, and FRONTIER ASTRONAUTICS owner Tim Bendel in Chugwater Wyoming.  Michael is a veteran Air Force Space Systems officer with program management experience in that role.  He has also served the new space community with his firm and Beal Aerospace.  His interest in ejector ramjets has us planning more development in that area.  He also sells 100% HTP and better fuels to come.

Exodus Aerospace also has consulting engineers and retired aerospace managers now.

KEY EXODUS TEAM PARTNERS, AND ADVISERS:

Stiles, Richard                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/richard-stiles-3b1b487/

Ragole, Michael                      https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-ragole-857330

Mindt, Michael                        https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelmindt

Luther, David                          https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-luther-1ba93bb5

Petterson, Bob                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-petterson-50042534

Schulze, Ken                            https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenschulze

Peach, Robert                          https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-peach-a8156ba

Beasley, Joseph Craig             https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-beasley-ba10b813/

 

We have other vendor teams available for air advanced breathing propulsion, airframes, and guidance systems.  For prototypes we would offer design and analysis through established design firms.  Fabrication teams are available who have experience from Scaled Composites and Skunk Works projects.  These shops have facilities, skills, and human resources from their established customer businesses.  We can offer them work without causing high overhead to investment partners.

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Exodus Aerospace

Wings to space…the Wright Stuff

 

DAVID I. LUTHER

phone 307-331-6448

diluther@exodusaerospace.com

 

EXODUS AEROSPACE LLC  http://www.exodusaerospace.com/

905 15TH ST WHEATLAND, WY

82201

CAGE CODE:   7LVC8

Duns#:  080145496

 

LIFTOFF

MASS PROBLEMS ?  NO MAS!

We have presented a case for horizontal launch with several notions to reduce mass.  With Hydrogen Peroxide oxidizer we still face some high takeoff weight figures.  Getting a heavy aircraft off the runway is always a challenge, especially without adding more mass for flaps and mechanisms.  We can see the Concorde as an example that made strides in that direction.

By careful shaping, the Concorde wing achieved a vortex that aided lift at a high angle of attack.  It had to accelerate up to speed sufficient to allow it to rotate on the main gear to do that.  Then we see that vortex actually being visible in many photographs.  That inspired our design to emulate this or any similar form that can enhance lift on the takeoff roll.

I16

Since we have an in-line two stage vehicle, our challenge includes reducing the structural loads on the junction of these two aircraft.  If we considered a rail launch we might have a “sled” that could provide a cradle to support the two stages.  That would allow us to have only light weight landing gear for empty weight at the end of the mission.  We could also provide a hydraulic lift to elevate the craft to the ideal angle of attack before even starting the takeoff roll.  That will deliver the ideal angle of attack before we even start the engines.  Looking at Concorde images, that AOA appears to be between 10 and 30 degrees, so our lift can probably allow us to experiment with that in taxi testing or wind tunnel evaluation.

Now if we consider a rail launch we have other issues.  When a vertical launch fails it either explodes, or is deliberately blown up, destroying the rocket, its payload, and often the launch facility.  Such damage could also be produced by sabotage or a sniper rifle, causing long launch delays to other missions.  For our horizontal launch the vehicle might not fall directly on the rail, but it might.  A rail launching system would require a dedicated facility with considerable construction cost.  Adding that cost to the limited availability of sites and risk is not our goal.  Having a rocket sled was a fun idea in the books I grew up with though.

I21

Other solutions have been demonstrated in the past.  The ME 163 rocket fighter used wheels only for takeoff, then they just dropped them…on whoever got in the way!  The Star-Raker proposed to do the same thing, only with much larger gear and more serious damage potential.

I22

There is a way to do this without a dramatic increase in your insurance costs.  And Boeing is already doing this on a small scale.  Their Phantom Eye drone has a huge hydrogen fuel tank, high mass, and little tolerance for heavy landing gear.  To keep mass down they use only landing gear, leaving takeoff to a launch cart.  Nothing falls out of the sky, as the cradle stays on the runway.  This probably has an auto-pilot to stay on the runway.  That looks like a good start that we can build on.  We can add the cradle and some propulsion at the same time.

I17

If we add electric hub motors we can begin to provide acceleration without as much fuel burn.  The cradle vehicle can be heavy enough to operate on a runway in crosswinds and still be fast.  Electric cars are demonstrating great performance potential and this is renewable energy without volatile fuels.  Notice that takeoff is not the only drain when aircraft use fuel while moving on the ground, and waiting on the runway.  The electric can wait all day without draining fuel from the flight vehicle.

I14

Analysis of Aircraft Fuel Burn and Emissions in the Landing and Take Off Cycle using Operational Data

The launch cradle vehicle offers protection from another hazard.  The Concorde experienced a tire failure that threw debris and caused a fatal crash.  A cradle can shield the aircraft from tire and other debris that could damage thermal protection or fuel tanks.

I12

But there are other issues to consider.  Launching an aircraft does not always happen in ideal weather conditions.  In a crosswind, takeoff and landing can be very challenging.  In flight an aircraft can “crab” of turn upwind, while the actual flight direction remains at an angle to the direction the craft is pointing.  This can be difficult when you are operating as a ground vehicle, where tire scrub would be pretty severe!

I20

But again, solutions in the past have addressed this issue.  The Boeing B-52 has fully steerable landing gear which can crab at an angle up to 45 degrees during takeoff or landing.

I18

So now we are getting a concept of the look of the future of horizontal launch.  With enough mass, rubber on the ground, acceleration energy, and crosswind capability we may be “go for launch”.

I9

In the lowered position fueling, services, and payload mating can be performed in a hangar.  The vehicle can move the aircraft as needed, and wait on the runway for clearance to take off.

I11

NOW BOARDING

I4

ON A ROLL AT THE RIGHT AOA

I3

GO FOR LAUNCH!

This may be a stretch, but driverless vehicles may add another capacity.  In an emergency, the robotic vehicle may be able to return to the upwind end of the runway and meet the combined craft for a rendezvous landing.  The robotics guys are full of tricks these days!  Has range control ever asked a malfunctioning vertical launch vehicle to return to the pad?  Boom?  How are your insurance costs?

I2

We have not presented a completed design or even a feasibility study at this point, that will require some funding.  But we approached some of the known issues with possible solutions to make the mission.  You may recall we published this mass estimate compared to Spacecab projections.  With the energy savings of the launch cradle, we may have cut this number down to be more favorable.  If aerodynamic advantages add a little more help this may turn out to be worth evaluating properly.

I24

Without more evaluation we cannot be sure this is the answer.  But if you review the earlier posts (and click the links at the bottom left corner of each post for the next one) you will see a lot of unique steps to shave mass and drag.  Is it time to dust off the horizontal launch concept again?

Our team is small, but growing and we may have some assets still under development.  A project as big as this needs a lot more development.  No one would object to doing this if we can offer compensation for the needed labor.  It would be wise to show that competent leadership and execution can be delivered.  We have part time help and advisers with some experience now.

We are affiliated with X-L SPACE SYSTEMS owner Michael Carden, and FRONTIER ASTRONAUTICS owner Tim Bendel in Chugwater Wyoming.  Michael is a veteran Air Force Space Systems officer with program management experience in that role.  He has also served the new space community with his firm and Beal Aerospace.  His interest in ejector ramjets has us planning more development in that area.  He also sells 100% HTP and better fuels to come.

Exodus Aerospace also has consulting engineers and retired aerospace managers now.

KEY EXODUS TEAM PARTNERS, AND ADVISERS:

Ragole, Michael                               https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-ragole-857330

Mindt,   Michael                               https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaelmindt

Luther, David                                   https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-luther-1ba93bb5

Petterson, Bob                                  https://www.linkedin.com/in/robert-petterson-50042534

Schulze, Ken                                      https://www.linkedin.com/in/kenschulze

Peach, Robert                                   https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-peach-a8156ba

Beasley, Joseph Craig                     https://www.linkedin.com/in/craig-beasley-ba10b813/

Booher, Troy                                    https://www.linkedin.com/in/tbooher/

We have other vendor teams available for air advanced breathing propulsion, airframes, and guidance systems.  For prototypes we would offer design and analysis through established design firms.  Fabrication teams are available who have experience from Scaled Composites and Skunk Works projects.  These shops have facilities, skills, and human resources from their established customer businesses.  We can offer them work without causing high overhead to investment partners.

We are recruiting partners at all levels, from interns to retirees.  Mentors and advisers from the private sector or major aerospace players are welcome.  We are already gathering some valuable people but we can always use more, space is a big venture.  It’s time to start building the business and marketing plans.

E18

Wings to space…the Wright Stuff

FOOLISHNESS?

SILLY STUFF?

We went off on adventures with the upper stage, and left our booster alone in the night.  This kind of launch may take the unmanned craft on quite a trajectory, possibly making a skip across the ocean or a return to base.  At some point it needs to be called home for reentry and a landing.

H29

Engines may be closed by the inlet cones for thermal protection.  With the orbiter gone the leading edges are largely rounded for thermal loads and drag to slow reentry speeds.

H24

Will it be on final approach to the old shuttle landing strip?  To save mass our landing gear is reduced to a nose wheel and two skids, per the X-15.  Like that craft it will have a dedicated launch vehicle, but not one you might expect.

H8

Gear down and near the ground.  We may again use thrusters to slow the craft and aid ground effect for a soft touchdown.  Now we can look at ground service and propulsion needs before the next mission.

H10

We illustrate a simple cylindrical engine installation in part for fast service removal, replacement, and servicing between missions.

H7

For a prototype, engine development may be part of the early missions.  There have been many air breathing propulsion designs proposed, but this is not an easy performance realm.  We are illustrating turbine based systems in the outboard positions for low speed and takeoff operations.  These have been reliable and efficient in the past, but they may also be a bit heavy and complex.  This may be just our crude image here, but the Concorde, XB-70, and SR-71 are all complex installations.

H5

THAT INLET MESS?  DON’T ASK!

Even a greatly simplified view of Concorde engines suggests sophisticated understanding of shock wave and flow management.  This delivered supersonic speeds with greater fuel efficiency than rockets.

H32

The SR-71 is a lot more complex to achieve Mach 3 performance.  this also challenges thermal loads on the airframe, so we would not want to go beyond this.  Here again, mechanisms are building a lot of mass and complexity

H34

In 1999 Orbital Sciences did a study of modification of a D-21 drone to use for space launch.  This study proposes a cheap reuse of old tech for space launch.  It again validates Hydrogen Peroxide instead of liquid oxygen.  The proposal would use avionics from their Pegasus launcher and the X-34 for economical development.  The X-37 also demonstrates autonomous operation, so the guidance capacity is out there.  A ram jet engine is often considered for these missions.  These still require a rocket or turbine to reach operational speeds, and may still be a bit complex, but possibly lighter.  The D-21 offered enough fuel economy to reach China, where at least one crashed and is now in a museum there.

H35

We illustrate another slightly silly vision of an ejector ramjet, which features a rocket surrounded by a ram duct.  This may increase the efficiency of a rocket and offer that propulsion when ram air is no longer available.  Ours shows a little rocket in the inlet for air compression and ignition of fuel, and a larger one aft for more thrust.  The aft engine may share an aerospike with the upper rockets for vacuum efficiency.  Don’t copy this design unless you have money to waste…it is fantasy art!

H4

Without striving for unobtanium or hypersonic engines there may be value in the idea of applying lessons learned in historical technical solutions.  As such we have illustrated cylindrical engines where cones may be easier to manage shock and inlet issues during development.  For ease of servicing these engines are installed individually.  The possibility of various combinations of test engines remains here.

Gangs of engines in square inlet configurations are seen on the XB-70 and the Concorde.  The SR-72 has inlets and airframe configured and tuned for Aerojet turbine and scramjet engines.  Our goal is not extreme speeds until leaving the atmosphere.  To harvest atmospheric oxygen cannot come at the cost of a massive fuel burn penalty or huge development costs.  To field a serviceable test bed that can climb at supersonic speed and switch to rockets is a better goal.  Identifying efficient air breathing propulsion may require flight testing.  Our platform proposes to deliver variable test opportunities.

Engineering software and wind tunnels may not deliver all the variables that these engines will experience.  Engine performance can vary with weather, altitude, speed, and thermal loads.  In Wyoming your barbecue may be smothered without a breeze and a good hot start.  But on some days here the 80 mph winds may share your meal and glowing embers with the neighbors.  I read about a physics professor who started his barbecue with liquid oxygen.  High test peroxide would work too, but you may not be able to find your meat!

IMG_6143

WITH SUFFICIENT THRUST, BBQ PIGS FLY JUST FINE!

 

HOP TO IT!

TEAM EXODUS:  FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS

An open letter to our team, readers, and interns

I am about 70-80% done with the “paper airplane” on this blog.  It is a preview of technologies that may enable horizontal launch in the future.  It is not a complete design but it points out some possibilities to investigate.  This is a window on the next generation vision, so review our old blog posts too.  I want to offer you more in the near future.

H1

SPACE SHIPS AND RELATION SHIPS

Some of our team is retired, others working, and others are in school.  We don’t all have time to run a company or even do the analysis.  We don’t have the funding, tools, skills, or manpower to build anything like this “Paper Airplane”.  But I deliver this to illustrate the potential for the future.  That potential will belong to those with the faith to take the first steps.  But more than spaceships, this will be built on relationships.  If you have a little spare time you can begin learning how the new space world works.  Start meeting people who are working on the answers.  You will prosper when you begin to meet people who have different skills.

There are student groups and incubation efforts that include space business, marketing, investment, airframes, propulsion, avionics, and space law.  Start doing your research and make connections.  You will have skills and assets when you learn how to have paychecks.  With relationships you may gather interest in your own goals.  New Space Ventures offer an online spreadsheet listing of new ventures, and an email news list.  HobbySpace is another source for teams and dreams. Colleges have space interest groups, including the business side.  Find the solution makers early and start the conversation. 

HAMIL-SLAMMER

A few years ago I was working for Hamilton Sundstrand in Connecticut.  We were designing parts for the Pratt Whitney F135 engine for the Joint Strike Fighter.  One day employees were all called to a big meeting.  We contract workers watched the direct employees going in thinking that the big pink slip was coming.  It was; but not for them.  The company laid off some of the big management and promoted young leaders into their positions.  Big shock!

 

YOU…

Yes we want YOU to take over this company!  Oh you won’t have long to wait until I’m dead anyway…lol!  I want our group to become a team.  I know that most of you don’t have the time to quit jobs and school.  But you have experience or school resources that we need.  Part time is enough to get your brain working a little.  I want all of you to consider how we can take our first step.  I am planting seeds to draw interest, and I will finish the “paper airplane” with a big bang to bring the big bucks.  I want you to outline a first real hardware project.  A small first step.

LIGHT THE FUSE AND RUN

A first prototype only needs to launch, stage, and crash nicely.  Landing nicely is optional.  It will still be the actual hardware in photographs that validate our basic premises.  We have some components available locally, and other off-the-shelf materials are available.  Let’s look at how this might happen; put on your thinking caps!

NO TEAM, NO DREAM

New space may require a special breed of peopleOne team met while working for Rotary Rocket, stuck together to form Xcor, and later founded Agile Aero.  They endured layoffs, changing corporate cultures, and even the loss of a team founderThey are still leading innovation in new space ventures.

We will take anyone who has a little aptitude and a lot of attitude.  You can’t be afraid to speak up or make suggestions when needed.  I hope we can find people who can meet in this area, but we will have virtual operations too.  We have vendors from Arizona to Wyoming now, and local people can help by working with partners in their area.  Remember; the project spreadsheet I shared with you team members is a source of assets which have not all been explored.  Make contact with the idea people in the industry!  Communications will be our big job.

FACE TIME

I have non-disclosure agreements and resumes from our team now.  That’s like showing up for the job interview; an important step.  A few of you will actually show up for the first day of work, and some of you have made contributions already.  Even answering mail with suggestions counts.  I want to do more for you though.  I can spend a lot of time at locations in Wyoming and Colorado this summer with the trailer.  I can shut off the gas and electric at home to help with costs on the road.  I will make time so you can spend a day or so at the “office”.

G5

Students:  if you leave the area during the summer break, we can still use your help recruiting more local participation while you are here.  While you are in school, consider the student clubs interested in engineering, space (SEDS), and business.  Turn people on to the blog posts of the next generation vision.  We can also watch LinkedIn for people who are “retired, seeking, unemployed, advisers, consultants”, etc.  Our blog posts have a big following on LinkedIn now.

If we find any life signs in this area, I will take another step.  I lived in this trailer for two years while finding and setting up a home near the Wyoming rocket ventures.  I can do the same to get airframes under way.  I can rent my home to ease the cost of renting on the road.  I can move to Laramie, Boulder, Arizona, or anywhere the vision finds function.  Are you ready to boldly go?

OWNERS

If you take the mindset of being an owner, this can be your role as a co-founder.  We have some assets to make the venture happen.  We may have only a few who can live lean in formative times, but that may not be that hard.  The team is the dream.

ALL HATS

Yes, it is hectic doing all the different jobs that need to be done.  If you want to see a paycheck you will learn how to multi-task!  If you are an owner you have a right to expect equity rewards to grow with the venture.  You can lead the organization to assure that result.

FUNDING

In 2013 I launched an unsuccessful H.I.L.L.S. Kickstarter campaign.  But we had $3400 pledged and gathered interest from a drone company in Colorado.  In this wonderful new age there are crowd funding campaigns for equity and for space projects.  I know there are plans forming for more such space funding opportunities now.  If you find great candidates in business you may even be able to interest serious investment.  Can we find people on LinkedIn or at colleges who want to be part of new space capitalism?  If you deliver valid designs and testing you may demonstrate just what serious investors want to see.

ASSETS

A little ground work was done in the early model building phase.  CAD designs yielded flying models and three patents.  A lot of hours and cash were invested to assure ownership of the concept.  Investors can own an exclusive real solution.  We still have computers and software working towards the goal.  We need people who can contribute some basic engineering for a simple prototype.  Anyone who has access to CAE tools, or expert advice can add value now.

RECRUITING

We all know someone who is interested in space, or has some aptitude that we can use.  We need business, computer, systems, propulsion, airframes and many other disciplines.  Oh there are very few around here in cowboy country though for sure.  But remember that Henry Ford was a farm boy, with no degree, no engineering, no business training.  Common sense is the real holy grail, so share this link to those who want to live the dream.  It won’t cost us anything to count the cost and target the rewards.  We can organize focus groups to research and report on needs and resources.

FACILITIES

Well, we don’t pay much for facilities now, if we work from home.  We have held meetings at the Tech center at the University of Wyoming in the past.  But small groups can do some work in the trailer as well.  It has a built in generator and a wifi hot spot so the computers and CAD can run until other campers complain!  At some point we may be able to work with Frontier Astronautics or other vendors in their facilities.  If you have big funds, we can offer 56,000 sq. ft. for $50/sq. ft…Nuke hardened too!

COMPUTERS

I have a desktop, a MacBook, and a cranky Toshiba laptop that may be repairable.  They can all go on the road.  If anyone wants to dive in to CAD or CAE work on their own computer, perhaps we can help with funding for software.  This is your venture; list your needs and find the sources.

SOFTWARE

I have contacted the DAR Corporation in Kansas about design and prototypes in the past.  Now they offer aircraft design software and educational materials.  Those tools can now be linked to interact with a promising new CAD tool.  SharkCAD has more sophisticated tools than most high end systems, and adds aircraft specific tools.  Burt Rutan uses it, so it can’t be all bad.  But look at the other software offerings too, as even the small prototypes need much of this kind of analysis.  Go ahead, develop expensive tastes, then get motivated to listen to the business experts.

Perhaps we can help students get an academic license.  But we may want this for company computers as well.  It can be installed on multiple computers and isn’t all that expensive anyway.  A Professional seat of SharkCAD may run $2,295 compared to $7,000 for NX or on up to $30,000 for Catia.  We do want to look at this for the prototype design work.

DATA MANAGEMENT

No we can’t buy Teamcenter or any data management software yet.  But we can use our project Excel spreadsheets to control part number assignment and track work status.  Every nut and bolt has to be designed and have its mass managed in the assemblies.  That’s a whole lot of design management, even for a small prototype.  Careful record keeping keeps the ship on an even keel.

70000030 SHT 4

COMPETITION AND OPPORTUNITY

I have illustrated our “LEAP” vehicle in a scale comparison to an alternative launcher for the Dream Chaser; the Atlas 5.  Because we have air breathing engines, we carry less oxidizer fuels.  Because we use HTP, those oxidizers are more dense.  Those fuels are spread across the wing body, further reducing the length.  The result is half the length of the Atlas stack!

G2

Now consider a competitor with a small satellite launching vehicle.  Actually this looks just like a baby Atlas.  It isn’t all that small though at 53 feet tall.  Can a winged launcher of only 20-30 feet also deliver a small satellite?  That might be a goal for a smaller “SKIP” prototype.  That might place a vehicle in the market with fully reusable economy.  That will require technology for air breathing and rocket propulsion, along with guidance, airframes, and reentry.

G4

But first, let’s make the even smaller HOP (Highly Optimistic Prototype).  Then we can look at the Staging Key Intermediate Prototype, Junior unmanned Mission Prototype, and finally the Launcher Evolution Advanced Prototype.   We’re only a HOP, SKIP, and a JUMP away from one giant LEAP for bad acronyms, right?

 

VEHICLE: Highly Optimistic Prototype, the P-4 HOP!

We have two earlier designs that may point out useful ways to get a very heavy vehicle airborne.  One proposes to emulate the Concorde wing, and the other an SR-72 jog.  The old P-5 drawing has a bit of that jog.  I have scaled it down to represent the scale of the proposed P-4 below.  At 10 feet long, our first flights might be flown with jet engines under model airplane rules.  Later flights may use rocket engines if done at the White Sands range.

vortex

CONCORDE VORTEX: ONE POSSIBLE ASSET FOR TAKEOFF

SR72E

SR-72 WITH WING JOG: AN ALTERNATIVE LIFT ENHANCEMENT?

G7

HOP: THE P-4 SMALL PROTOTYPE THAT YOU CAN REDESIGN!

(dimensions in inches)

G6

LEAP: THE P-7 PAPER AIRPLANE MAY ILLUSTRATE SOLUTIONS

(dimensions in feet)

 

LIFTOFF!

With these possible solutions we are ready to define a best design.  We hope to generate maximum lift without mechanical flaps or lift enhancing devices.  Low weight, low drag, and high lift is the goal here.  Are there other ways to achieve this?  We need an aerodynamic study to identify what will work best.  We also need funding and business assets to make it all work.

Can we find resources to define this simple first goal?  We hope to find affordable sources, so universities may be our first hope.  We do not need a complete study of all flight stages yet.  Our first model is not to make supersonic or orbital performances.  Our group should be able to design, refine, and test most of the other systems after this initial study yields a basic mold line.  We should be able to find modest funding for a small demonstration.  You have a free hand to design the “Wright Stuff” for the next generation of space launch.

I am challenging our group and / or our readers to organize a response to these challenges.  These old designs are history; you are free to solve the problem for this two stage launch system in your own way.  We also welcome contributions to the challenges of organization, recruiting, funding, and fabrication.

P4.2A

A P-4 CONCEPT WITH THREE “ASP” ROCKET ENGINES

 

FREE INSPIRATION FREELY OFFERED…evaluate, suggest, optimize.

Our theoretical “Leap” 2 stage system is nearing completion in the 3D CAD model now.  If you have Siemens NX or other CAD with translation capacity you can view these filesSharkCAD has translation tools and interfaces with other tools if you do not have Siemens NX.  That can enable you to modify or create a new design.  We will share these files with interested parties in the United States.  (There may be ITARs issues with other nations.)

If you can flesh out the vision, actual costs can be projected.  That is the first step to funding.  There will be high value learning in this project.  You will have real numbers to project performance and market potential.  You will understand what the engineering, marketing, and management teams have to deal with.  You will learn to walk by faith if you are achieving the impossible!

I will mail a DVD copy of our NX files if you provide a mailing address to us.  You may also join the team if you are willing to send a resume and sign a non-disclosure agreement.  If you are a team member you should want to protect your own IP contributions so this is common practice.  We have patented key innovations already so we can share most of what we are doing now.

You will receive CAD files for a 115 foot long vehicle with all the latest models.  A spreadsheet will outline all the master and sub-assemblies.  There are solid models that may convert for CFD studies.  You may create your own vehicle at this scale for comparison.  Then you can scale the best mold line for testing at smaller scale, and for wind tunnel testing.

I have been harshly evaluated by some critics in the past.  I deserve some of that because I alone do not have the skills, tools, or manpower to deliver a fully designed aircraft for any mission.  You who have better assets now have a few new ideas to evaluate.  Critics may be the best engineers, if they offer constructive alternative solutions.  I don’t have all the right answers, but I may have some of the right questions.  Do you have some of the right answers?  Bank on it!

THIS IS A COMPANY that was founded in 1982 by three friends who met while attending Harvard Business School. Armed with business school studies and an initial round of financing, David Thompson, Scott Webster, and Bruce Ferguson, developed a plan for what would become their first product…

 

ARE YOU READY TO BOLDLY GO?

diluther@exodusaerospace.com

THE WRIGHT WAY

IS THERE A RIGHT WAY OR A WRONG WAY?

There may be more than one right way.  In the latest Aviation Week we see Spacex targeting 100 flights from each reusable booster.  That would be a major challenge to the legacy launch providers.  Vertical landing is one avenue to that kind of economy.  Another one, horizontal launch and landing, has been studied for decades by good engineers, and yet never put in service.

Rockwell proposed the Star-Raker and spent some effort on new ideas.  They did a lot of engineering and evaluation.  That was a huge vehicle and a huge fleet that was perhaps a bridge too far.  The landscape is littered with broken space planes.  And still DARPA and private ventures seek to make space from a runway.  If they deliver a reusable system with wings it may offer greater reliability, safety, and comfort than vertical lauding.

If Exodus Aerospace has even one contribution, there are many other opportunities available.  Finding the right combination may require trade studies.  Proving them will require actual flight vehicles, even if they are small prototypes.  At this point any serious launch providers need to investigate options for the next generation of space access.  Our purpose is not to promote one concept as the only way, but to illustrate possible avenues.  Others have illustrated methods of value which should be considered.

Our prototypes are just illustrations to reveal possible direction.  With funding all the required disciplines can be employed to identify the actual design.  But sometimes a new idea is not the only answer or the best answer.  Our prototype P5.31 was a suborbital concept.  We chose to model an orbital direction with prototype P7.2.  We can return with better ideas for the smaller P5 and P6 designs if we consider what may have value for orbital services.

As we saw with the QuickSat study, getting off the runway and modest fuel consumption is critical.  We considered the Concorde wing to aid takeoff, and conservative propulsion choices on P7.  When the Lockheed SR-72 was revealed, it may point out other solutions for creating a helpful vortex.  As it happens, we may have stumbled on similar opportunities with the earlier P5 design.

SR72E

The SR-72 shows a “jog” in the wing that may be provided to create that vortex.    As it happens, we had a flat wing tip on P5 that may produce the same effect.  It also tips downward slightly which may (or may not?) add to lift on takeoff.  So now we have two candidates for adding lift by tuning the wings.  The Concorde was one example, and the SR-72 may offer a new technique.  There are options to evaluate.  In the 1940s we compared the elliptical wing of the Spitfire and the laminar flow of the P-51.  Our generation can still learn new things about wings today.

A5b

The SR-72 also features air inlets that do not avoid boundary layer air.  Hypersonic designs may tailor the aircraft shape carefully to contribute to the inlet flow.  That is part of the aerodynamic innovation that aerospace is developing…let’s keep them working!

SR72A

Our earlier P5 chose to take boundary layer to inlets to allow doors to close those inlets during reentry and hypersonic operation.  Turbine engines in outboard stations are vulnerable to thermal damage.  For our illustrations we lack the information to get this design right, but at least we may start the conversation.  After all, Star Trek provoked some new technologies, so put this “science fiction” to work too!

L3

Our P-7 proposed to use “Sabre” type inlets with cones that can close.  Will high tech propulsion fit in square or gang inlets better than traditional cylindrical installations?  Trade studies may compare the value of each.  At least there are some new possibilities that could keep the engineers working.

MLD151

What our articles may deliver is opportunity: to shave a few ounces of mass and a slightly cleaner flight.  What remains is the hard work.  Each engineering discipline effects the others and the performance depends on the sum of the best answers.  The industry already has markets and customers.  The leaders will learn how to serve those customers with real economy and reliability.

The possibility of reusable launch vehicles is coming whether we are ready or not.  The opportunity to be competitive or even leapfrog the current reusable designs is available now.  We can be sure that options are being explored. The Air Force is aware that we need to work with new space ventures as a source of innovation.  They are proposing a space consortium to connect new and old space assets.  That may be a good answer for their needs, but private industry may be wise to apply the consortium model to their own business plans.

We know that Boeing and Sierra Nevada have winged orbiters which have and will deliver value.  Already ventures are preparing spacecraft for on orbit satellite servicing.  How much more could they offer with a fly-back vehicle to return defective satellites?  So these two ventures need to deliver their vehicles and payloads; that load which pays the bills.  A massive payload fairing is not paying the bills.

Lockheed, Boeing, and Northrop build large bombers, freighters, and hypersonic research.  Northrop owns Scaled Composites, which is already building space launch aircraft.  Pratt Whitney, General Electric, Aerojet, Spacex, and Blue Origin are exploring innovative propulsion.  With all this talent, a new design development is a still daunting investment.  Government is sometimes a fickle investor, and often lacks vision.  An idea like a space coalition is an encouraging exception to the many cancelled X-plane programs.  Perhaps industry needs not wait for government to figure it out.  They can do their own consortium if they are truly motivated to compete in the future.

It may not be necessary for traditional aerospace to take the full burden of new innovation.  If more than one venture did operate in a coalition, we may see more innovation.  United Launch Alliance is already an example of such a collaboration.  Can these ventures recognize and mentor innovative new space ventures as well?  We don’t know what arrangement Lockheed made with the founders of Xcor, but I suspect they harvested propulsion value without leaving the founders broke.

Small ventures and academia may be able to deliver early innovation, research and fabrication of prototypes.  There are small firms engaged in mission analysis, avionics, aerodynamics, propulsion, and test operations now.  These may identify value without placing burdens on the major players.  Having a mentor’s guidance may improve their operation and execution.

New space investment is gaining a lot of interest that can relieve aerospace builders.  If they see the deep experience of major aerospace firms growing new space talent, they may be encouraged.  The market is already real, and investors want to own the best tools to serve that market.  That opportunity can only grow as it becomes regular and reliable.  No one firm has to carry risk as Rockwell did with the Star-Raker.  We have help now.

As we have seen, there may be more than one “right way” to deliver the goal.  At times the old ideas may become valuable to a new mission.  In other situations, new solutions are just waiting for you to put them to work.  Our nation needs viable industries and product delivery.  We need more eyes on the goal, and ways to share the burden.  The first stage of a space mission requires the heavy boosters which deliver the big push.  The upper stages may be delivered by the fast thinking next generation of innovation.  Apart they cannot make the mission, but together they are a working system.

OFF LOADING

TAKE A LOAD OFF JACK!

Our vehicle seems to be a bit overweight, but I also carry a load of doubt.  I need something like the Easter story to remind me that the joy comes in the morning.  I dived into this to make mistakes and corrections publicly so I might hope there would be an avenue or redemption sooner or later.

I launched into this investigation based on a few seemingly safe assumptions.  As a designer I have always had a lot of exposure to every intimate detail of a given geometric structure.  As such, I may be aware of opportunities of available space.  My job includes letting the engineers know about opportunities within the available geometry.  If I am aware of other opportunities in materials or vendor solutions I can also make those known.  I have worked on a couple of other space planes and these opportunities came to my attention.

BRISTOL 4

Here is a shuttle on a large booster aircraft.  The wings of this shuttle aren’t working to produce lift, so they are parasite mass.  The shuttle is protruding enough to be slightly parasite drag.  By moving our orbiter to the front, the mass of its wings is working to produce lift.  This allows the booster wings to shrink, saving mass there.  The smaller craft also becomes a nose cone to the larger craft instead of increasing frontal area.  By using a blended wing body form we add the efficiency of a lifting fuselage per the concepts of Burnelli.  The lifting bodies maximize internal volume and still allow aerodynamic deceleration and runway operations.  Both were crafted to emulate the efficient wing of the Concorde, and the wave rider winglets of the XB-70.  Every element is aimed to eliminate wasted effort.  There is also a possibility for stage separation in the atmosphere in an emergency.  We may avoid aerodynamic hazards of staging if we are pushing the two craft apart vigorously.  Thus payloads may be rescued even if a booster is lost.

B18

Still we found an issue with packaging fuel tanks in wings and flattened fuselage areas.  This led us to consider High Test Peroxide (HTP) instead of cryogenic fuels.  Like jet fuel, HTP can fit in wing tanks, but it is heavier than liquid oxygen.  Our early studies suggested that we might need as much as 1.5 times as much HTP as LOX for the mission.  And rocket formulas pointed towards a ratio of 7 or 8 parts of HTP to 1 part Jet fuel for rockets.  We have found new reports that give us better tools to target our fuel ratios.

An AFRL project was published in 2004 called Quicksat.  That was a paper airplane study like this one, but with all the heavy engineering and trade studies.  It presented us with a good trade comparing LOX and HTP for a vehicle of similar size and mission goals.  Their mission differed in using hypersonic speeds with an air breathing booster.  It used little rocket thrust on the booster stage, relying on scramjets for acceleration.  The orbiter was essentially an X-37 with strap on HTP and JP-7 boosters.  Those were expendable.  The article acknowledged “inefficiency” of the booster airfoil at low speeds.  Gross Take Off Weight (GTOW) could be nearly that of a Boeing 747 in some configurations.  Some exciting wing loading on a flying wedge could produce adventures on takeoff.  The study still has value though.

QUICKSAT1

I had harvested some crude estimations from data published about the Bristol Spaceplanes Spacecab.  I estimated a ratio of 1.5 times the Spacecab cryo fuels for HTP use.  That drove mass up on the “Old” Leap (at the bottom) but it was still way less than the Quicksat.  When I projected a “new” hypersonic Leap I included some small mass advantages but still saw a huge wet mass.  To my surprise the Quicksat mass was not from HTP.  They are burning a huge amount of JP-7 in the scramjet mode.  If you feed a gas guzzler, the advantage of air-breathing systems LOX savings is negated.  Back to the drawing board.

QS1

The choice to use more conservative air breathing engines led us back to Spacecab.  That appears to be using a gang of turbine engines.  These may still yield supersonic performance without negating the value of harvesting atmospheric oxygen.  The Quicksat article did publish a table comparing HTP to LOX fuels which I used to establish a more accurate ratio for converting from the Spacecab figures.

LOXHTP

A conversation with Michael Carden of X-L Space Systems yielded another valuable clue.  Most studies propose a 7 or 8 to 1 ratio for HTP to fuel.  Michael suggested a 5 to one ratio where their distillation yields a 100% HTP product.  That will also save us a bunch of mass.

NULEAP

Now we are closing in on the target and I think we can boost the payload with no strain.  We don’t mind any load that is paying.  You also see a very low estimated mass for landing gear because we have a different fix for the takeoff leg.  Every ounce counts, but that detail will be published later.

WINGLOAD

While we began with Spacecab data, we should see other savings.  HTP will have lighter tanks than cryogenics, and it is dense so vehicle size is reduced.  Since the orbiter changed we have saved some weight in that area too.  This helps us to remain reasonable about wing loading and the takeoff roll.   Now we have enough fuel tanks with volume for ullage and balance adjustment in supersonic shift.  This was also an opportunity to clean up the structural junction to the first stage.

G1

Changes to the orbiter also aligned the fin and junction structures with structures on the booster.  We eliminated four stage pin actuators and two separation cylinders as another mass reduction.

G8

Looking forward through part of the booster shows all the mechanisms clustered in the structures.  This is an improvement over the previous mid-stage proposal.

G3

This series of illustrations animates the pin release and piston separation sequence.  Now the engineers can go to work shaving the un-needed mass off of my heavy-handed models!

G4

PINNED

G5

RELEASED

G6

PRESSURIZED FOR SEPARATION

We will explore more booster solutions soon, including some of the skins and service considerations.  This changes every week as problems and solutions are discovered.  We have seen that propulsion choices have a big influence on performance.  We want to get back to new possibilities in that area.  Is anyone out there interested in innovation in air-breathing propulsion?