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March 9, 2017


Reentry is a fiery ordeal for an orbital vehicle.  But before it can experience that adventure we have to get it to space.  Not wanting to use a huge fairing for vertical launch we need to be sure we can do a horizontal launch.  We identified issues with using a mid-stage fairing previously.  Now we want to consider the aerodynamics as well.


Seeing the “V” tail so close to the leading edge of the Concorde style wing is a concern.  While this may not be the only way to cultivate a friendly vortex, we still want to make it work.  If the tails throw off their own vortexes they may interfere with this.  For this reason I chose to move the tails inboard and upright.  There are many issues, but the first one is getting off the runway in the most efficient manner.  So this is the look of the next stage of our adventure.


This long thin shape moves the tails inboard and vertical to avoid interference with the wings.  We have the tails serving as both aerodynamic and structural elements where hard point attachment is provided.


Again, there may be better wings to tame the vortex.  I suspect this wing has that “zig-zag” as a vortex producing feature.  And this engine inlet is not avoiding boundary layer air!  Smart guys may give you solutions like this as soon as you pay them!


We will need to modify the placement of control surfaces to manage pitch, roll, and yaw.  To allow full flying tail ailerons I remove two small fairings after staging.   Better than a 14,000 lb expendable fairing I should hope?


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 tails.


We now have 20 degrees of roll control and an upper body flap to replace the old “duck tail”.  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.


On the lower surface is a lower body flap to bring the nose down at lower altitudes and speeds.  Two stub fins provide hard point attachment and also serve as landing skids as well.  In level flight the conventional rudders will be an asset in cross wind landings.


The lower side of the craft is fairly smooth and protected with fat rounded features.  As an artificial meteorite these should be good for a glorious blazing reentry.  All’s well that falls well, right?  Hopefully aerodynamic analysis will reveal enough wide and flat for the slow part of our landing as well.


This aft view reveals four extended vertical fin surfaces that double as the hard point structure for stage attachment.  This recessed engine will make thermal issues for the rear surfaces.  It may also offer a unique opportunity to provide a trick nozzle solution.  We can position a telescoping section of nozzle extension in this opening that will provide both a cooled shield and a vacuum nozzle shape. More fun to come for the engineers!


This brings us to the rough structural notions with the attachment lining our structures up between the two stages.  There will be a lot more fuel volume available in the orbiter now.


This long slim shape offers a cylindrical payload area since most are still designed to fit vertical launch rockets.  This still allows a lot of internal volume for fuel and systems.


Now we have more details to define as systems are added to the rough structural cut.  There will be more fun ahead, and more mistakes for the smart guys to fix, so stay tuned.  And just think what the draftsman has to look forward to.  When the engineers make the outer shape better we get to re-do every part that gets warped by the changes!


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