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YOU CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE…

July 2, 2016

No you can NOT get to space like this.

It’s almost the fourth of July and rockets will fill the sky.  But you can’t get there from here.  We have been inspired by fireworks and rockets but they cannot reach the stars by brute force.  Certainly writers of fiction have favored the vertical launch rocket…or even a giant cannon in the past.  German scientists had funding to make it work…up to a point.  Even today we are attempting to do the “Flash Gordon” vertical landing, and it will work…up to a point.

When engineers analyze reliability of systems they involve math for statistics.  Statistically the more machinery, systems, and operations are involved the higher the potential for a tiny failure which may cascade into a big failure.  The Spacex landing has repeated the failure of the DC-X which was precipitated by a tiny landing gear problem.  In fact they have found several ways to bend and burn boosters.  In the long term they will get better, but never perfect, and probably not a lot better.  It is like taking odds on a sports event.  How would Las Vegas rate this system for long term economy?

So far only the first stages have been recovered and we have yet to see a second stage recovery or a capsule recovery and actual reuse.  No capsule has ever been reusable after returning from orbit to date.  But other orbital vehicles have returned from orbit to fly again another day…with wings.  The space shuttle was expensive but it was reusable.  Don’t consider that investment lost though, because the lessons live on today.

The Boeing X-37 is a fully reusable miniature orbital space shuttle.  The Air Force has been flying it to orbit and back for years now.  In fact one remained on orbit for two full years before coming home.  We have two of these in operation today.  While Spacex has been landing and crashing first stages the X-37 has a zero failure history…no crashes.  And another X-plane is about to join the X-37 by delivering cargo to the International Space Station.  The Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser is a design based on Russian and NASA experiments.  It too will be a reusable orbital vehicle.

It begins to look like wings to space is the “Wright stuff” for orbital reentry.  In the future asteroid mining may want to return minerals to earth.  Would you rather have a load of rocks coming home on a parachute or on a winged vehicle?  That sounds like a solid case for winged orbiters.  But they still have one small problem; getting to space.  They depend on expendable (throw away) vertical launch rockets.  We have discovered an unpleasant reality about this system.  Winged orbiters generate aerodynamic lift, which may cause a bending moment on the joint between the vehicles.  Some kind of aerodynamic issues have forced both vehicle to ride in an aerodynamic shroud.  That cover is extra weight that robs the mission of useful payload.  It also forced the Dream Chaser to add folding wings to fit the shroud.

Even if you recover the boosters, this system is fighting against nature several times over.  Imagine launching a Boeing 747 by vertical takeoff.  It would need a rocket engine because the jets can’t do that.  It would have to carry fuel and oxygen tanks that take away from the payload again.  If the airplane uses its jets and normal takeoff the engines breathe atmospheric air and they are far more fuel efficient.  The Orbital Sciences Pegasus has been carried aloft by an airplane for many years now.  A larger version may launch a downsized Dream Chaser one day..  They have several advantages but they are still limited by the lack of oxygen for jets at high altitude.  They also offer little speed to a 15,000 mph mission need.

 

X-37 8

X-37 IN ITS LAUNCH SHROUD…HEAVY!

DREAM 27

DREAM CHASER IN ITS SHROUD ON ATLAS AND ARIANNE LAUNCHERS…HEAVY!

DREAM CUBED

MINI-CHASER, STRATOLAUNCHER, AND THE WINGED ORBITAL SCIENCES MID STAGES

This illustrates some great steps in the right direction.  Orbital Sciences and Scaled Composites have done a lot of work together since the Pegasus.  They will still have to consider the structural forces of the Dream Chaser wings in their aerodynamic studies.  But this is creating lift that helps the craft to climb and does not make a vector force that may change the trajectory.  There is still a lot of frontal area but speeds are low enough that a little extra jet fuel won’t hurt the mission.  First stage performance is low so extra throw away rocket stages are needed.  It is also much smaller than the original Dream Chaser design though.  How does the first stage climb to 5 miles at 500 mph contribute to a mission that needs 15,000 mph to reach orbit?  With more expendable stages.  

Suppose that we plan a purpose built clean sheet solution.  We want a high performance first stage that can breathe air and go really fast with an upper stage that can go to orbit.  We need the best aerodynamics and propulsion available.  The defense department has been straining to build such launch systems.  One proposal offers a hypersonic airplane with a typical cylindrical rocket on its back.  Now hypersonic demands exotic jets engines and razor sharp aerodynamics.  I wonder how this big tank rocket will be pushed to extreme speeds and temperatures in this shape?  Seriously guys, hypersonic??

Then we have to remember a piggy back high speed drone from history.  The SR-71 launched D-21 drones until one had aerodynamic or control issues and hit the carrier aircraft.  Vertical launch rockets are staged in-line so the Orbital Sciences vehicle may enjoy a safety factor during staging.  Well the Shuttle was a piggy back design but you remember how THAT worked!  Two shuttles were destroyed by being too close to the booster malfunctions.  Capsules staged in-line were enabled to escape to the front and that saved a Russian crew once.  We must also remember that vertical launch may end in range destruction while a jet may get out to sea before initiating rocket ignition.  With wings, stage separation may rescue your customer payload.  What do your insurance carriers and facility owners think about that?

SCRAM PIG

HYPER-PIG?

MD21A

DOOMED

Now a clean sheet design needs to be focused on aerodynamic harmony and reachable propulsion solutions.  Putting stages in line can consider two craft as one if the wings work in harmony.  Two wings that work as one avoid conflicting forces in flight.  To that end advanced aerodynamics are looking hard at blended wing bodies.  They offer internal volume, structural advantages, low drag, and natural heat shield forms.  If they were attractive in atmospheric operations they are more so to launch services.

The ideal form for takeoff would emulate the vortex of the Concorde, which needs no flaps to launch a heavy aircraft with a full fuel load.  The combined stages will have this form initially, then divide as two craft optimized for different flight conditions.  The first stage returns as a delta wing with low mass after most fuel is burned off.  The orbital stage is typical for reentry bodies with low aspect ratio and a rounded under body.  It will use the same fuel as the X-37 because Hydrogen peroxide can stay on orbit without cryogenic cooling.  Both stages use jet fuel which is also used by air breathing engines.

vortex

DELTA WING VORTEX LIFT AT HIGH ANGLE OF ATTACK

The vehicle illustrated next is a small suborbital prototype.  The problem here is that suborbital is not a great market for an expensive development program.  A fully reusable system begins to offer good returns on satellite launching services.  But asteroid mining may generate two way traffic that really increases the value of this system.  The real future belongs to manned operations where safety and comfort mean much more than lower insurance costs.  For now consider the market potential of regular low cost reliable reusable satellite launches.  And remember; the orbital vehicles will be even more interesting than these prototypes.

L1b

EXODUS AEROSPACE PROTOTYPE P5; “SKIP”

L8

STAGE SEPARATION AT HIGH ALTITUDE TO REDUCE AERODYNAMIC THREATS

L21

FIRST STAGE RETURNING TO MOUNTAIN HOME

L19

SECOND STAGE ON ASSIGNMENT

So; are we done?  No, we are just getting started.  There is one more big target that we need to look at.  The Saturn moon program was too expensive, and now we are doing it again.  The Space Launch System (Senate Launch System) is dictated to NASA by pork barrel politicians.  How expensive is it?

SLS1

Almost ANY competitive commercial design is better than this for cost.  Spacex is not my favorite of course but this is a pretty good comparison.

10700397_564928870277973_6918935689481825476_o

COST COMPARISON

New space people don’t want to move a six man crew to Mars for a one time mission that we can’t afford to repeat.  They want to move a population to space colonization.  You can’t get there from here.  To throw away the booster and the national budget is not the answer.  The future market will need large crews for lunar bases and space station operations.  Those crews will want to have shore leave on the earth.  Mining operations will want to return large volumes of precious metals and minerals in regular flight schedules.  We need heavy lifters with light budgets which require heavy investment in reliable reusable vehicles.

What could impossibly tiny Exodus Aerospace offer against a program of that scale?  Perhaps a preview of common sense would help.  Well if we took the same fuel load, number of stages, and keep the engines reusable we may have an interesting comparison as a horizontal launch vehicle.

COMP 12

ADD AIR BREATHING ENGINES AND AN X-37 STYLE UPPER STAGE

F53

AND LET COMMERCIAL SPACE PRICES PREVAIL

(ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS TO ELECT SOME SENSIBLE CONGRESSMEN!)

ILS4

TRUE AIRLINE EFFICIENCY IS POSSIBLE…AND CHEAPER TOO!

WHITE ROSE: THE ORBITAL AIRLINER

Well, possible and probable may be as different as elected official and honesty.  For now there are a few steps between the “Skip” prototype and the manned space future.  Sorry, we are NOT going to show you the next prototypes!  I can reveal the prototype names though:

Highly Optimistic Prototype  (HOP)  model under construction

Staging Key Intermediate Prototype (SKIP) small satellite launcher

Junior Unmanned Mission Prototype (JUMP) heavy satellite launcher

Launcher Evolved Advanced Prototype (LEAP) small manned prototype

Now we’re just a hop, skip, and a jump away from one giant leap for bad acronyms!

While this looks a bit like pie in the sky, every adventure begins with one small step for man.  For us it is to identify the strongest market and press in to the first flight vehicles.  We are already being approached by a group with interest in the manned missions.  But it is more important to get customer interest from satellite and asteroid mining missions at this stage.  Satellite servicing missions are another possibility. The future will include a lot of traffic to the moon, and workers coming home on leave.  Mars needs lunar fuel and construction facilities in low gravity.  The road to the stars is totally dependent on reaching low earth orbit efficiently.

For routine space access this is not a solution;  This is THE solution.  For all the above reasons we will use the limited manpower we have to educate the customer base and deliver a true growth market to investors.  This is a big market, and a big commercial opportunity; now boarding!      EXODUS AEROSPACE

EXO LOGO 6

WINGS TO SPACE…THE WRIGHT STUFF

EXODUS AEROSPACE

905 15TH ST

WHEATLAND WY

82201

CONTACT DAVID LUTHER

307-331-6448

diluther@exodusaerospace.com

 

PATENTS ISSUED:

US 8528853 B2

US 20140158812 A1

US 20140158812

 

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