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Reusable Launch & Space Vehicle News
January-March 2002

Armadillo Test Flight
Copyright 2002- Armadillo Aerospace
January 2002 test flight of Amadillo Aerospace's rocket powered
vertical-takeoff-and-landing prototype. The vehicle has a
seat for a pilot but in this instance was remotely controlled.
Still image taken from video (10MB).

Other RLV News sites:
Space Frontier Society * Space Access Society Updates *
NASA SLI News * SpaceTransportation at MSFC *
NASA Watch Launch System News * OrbiReport - Space Transportation News

This section contains brief articles concerning developments in the field of reusable launch and space vehicles with links to news sources, NASA, company sites, etc.

RLV News Archive Directory

"Steal this banner" and post on your site.
Space Access 2002
Designed by Mike Massee of XCOR Aerospace

March 27, 2002

News Brief...Check out the paper Fast Package Delivery: Commercial Applications of a Hypersonic Airbreathing Vehicle by J. Martin,K. Palmer, M. Chan, A. Karasi, D. Glas - AIAA - 1998 (pdf - 83kb). Based on the master thesis work of these guys while at MIT. Reviews the market potential for package delivery and postulates the best vehicle to serve that market. (More links in the Fast Package Delivery entry in the New Space Business Concepts.)

March 26, 2002

News Briefs...Came across this nice review of the HOTOL and SKYLON projects in Britain: SSTO The UK Experience by Mark Hempsell - SpaceEquity.com...

...Be sure to attend the XCOR presentations at the Space Access'02 meeting in Phoenix, April 25 -27: XCOR to present at Space Access '02 - XCOR PR - Mar.26.02

March 23, 2002

News Briefs...There is still no formal announcement at DARPA on the RASCAL winners but NASA Watch (see the March 21 item) has published a list that includes Pioneer (paired with Gary Hudson's HMX), as mentioned below, and 5 other teams. Each will receive "$1- $2 million". ...

...Russia and Europe begin work on a reusable engine - Russian, European Organizations to Collaborate on Reusable Engine - Space.com - Mar.22.02

March 21, 2002

Pioneer XP
Copyright Pioneer Rocketplane
A single-stage suborbiter, the Pioneer XP reaches over 100km
without a carrier first stage or aerial refueling.

Pioneer Rocketplane Roars Back...After years of web site inactivity, the Pioneer Rocketplane site has been revamped and offers news on its Pioneer XP and RASCAL projects.

The XP offers suborbital capabilites. It is a

"...four-seat fighter-sized vehicle powered by two jet engines and two rocket engines, enabling it to reach altitudes of 350,000 feet. It has applications for passenger travel, as a research and observation platform, and as a promotional and sponsorship opportunity. The XP will operate from ordinary airfields within the well-established rules and practices for aircraft. A crew escape system will give the crew an option for survival if the XP is no longer capable of controlled flight." Pioneer webpage

The XP is a "single-stage" system with no carrier aircraft, as, for example with the Russian C-21 system, yet still reaches over 100km. Furthermore, "The XP does not use any launch assist: No airdrop, no towing, no aerial propellant transfer, and no magical engines."

They also plan to design it to allow for later development of a long range version.

The company has also won a phase one contract in DARPA's RASCAL program. (See below.) This is news since there is no announcement yet on the DARPA site about the awards decision.

Oklahoma Spaceport Grand Opening.... The Oklahoma Spaceport, located in west Oklahoma on the former Air Force base at Burns Flat, will formally open on March 23th. Oklahoma Spaceport Launch Set - ChannelOklahoma - Mar.18.02

The events will include a flight of JP Aerospace's balloon launch platform "Dark Sky Station", which the group is developing for high altitude rocket launches.

As part of a student education project, Oklahoma Spaceplanes, when the station reaches 100,000feet (30km) it will release 500 paper planes labeled and folded by Oklahoma students.

Pioneer, TGV Rockets, Armadillo and other startup rocket companies have been working with the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) to obtain access to the facilities at Burns Flat. Some of the companies have also sought tax credits and other support from the state.

March 20, 2002

News Briefs...Check out the snazzy new website format at the X-Prize. Can't tell if there's much new info but what's there is easier to find.

March 19, 2002

News Briefs...I've posted a copy of my article Sub-orbital Rockets to Space: The next logical step? that should appear in the the March-April 2002 issue of Ad Astra Magazine - National Space Society...

...I came across the website of Donald Robertson, a freelance aerospace reporter, who has posted a number of his articles. The report Commercial Space, Single Stage to Orbit SSTO by Donald F. Robertson from the early 1990's gives an interesting look at the thinking during the time of the DC-X development and the possibilities of a DC-Y follow-on project...

...TIBCO brags about the selection of its software for ground control communication with the X-38: TIBCO Software Selected by NASA to Provide Real-Time Communication and Integration Capability for X-38 Crew Return Vehicle - TIBCO PR - Mar.19.02

March 17, 2002

Armadillo to Use Oklahoma Spaceport...According to the latest news (March 12 and 16, 2002 Meeting Notes) from Armadillo Aerospace, John Carmack signed an agreement with the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority (OSIDA) to obtain help in "getting flight clearances for our higher altitude testing" in exchange for favoring Oklahoma companies for fabrication services.

Armadillio will test their "moderate altitude flights, both unmanned and manned" at the Clinton-Sherman air base, which the OSIDA took over after it was closed by the US military. The company will rent one of the former bunkers used for nuclear weapons storage.

Check out also the images and videos of their recent rocket-tipped rotor tests ala Rotary Rocket. In one test they pushed the rpm's to the point at which the rotor "spontaneously disassembled itself."

More about Myasishchev Rocketplanes... Investigating more about the C-21 program mentioned below, I examined the Astronautix reference materials on Russian Rocketplanes.

V.M.Myasishchev was a top Russian rocket engineer and colloborator with Korolev. He had his own design bureau in the 1950's that, among other projects, proposed several high altitude ramjet and rocketplane designs:

  • M-42 - "M-42 and M-44 Buran trisonic ramjet missiles were considered in both manned and unmanned versions."
  • VKA Myasishchev 1957 - "the first serious manned winged spacecraft design."
  • M-48 - 1958 - "Phase One would take an experimental vehicle up to 6,000 to 7,000 km/hour at altitudes of 80 to 100 km...."
  • VKA-23 Design 1 - 1959 - a critical design review of the M-48 led to this improved design that addressed a number of issues, especially the problems of thermal protection.
  • VKA-23 Design 2 - 1960 - the "second Myasishchev VKA-23 design was an elegant-looking, porpoise-fuselaged winged vehicle, similar to Japan's HOPE design of forty years later."

Due to Kremlin politics, the Myasishchev design bureau was closed down in October 1960. According to the FAS, Myasishchev amd a number of co-workers then went to work for the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI).

There he headed a new center that came to be called the V.M.Myasishchev Experimental Machine-Building Plant (EMZ). The plant developed several aircraft including the high altitude M-17 and M-55, the latter of which would carry the C-21.

As indicated in the Space Adventures press release, the Myasishchev Experimental Machine-Building Plant is now also referred to as the "Myasishchev Experimental Design Bureau" or MDB.

Note: While built by MiG rather than Myasishchev, the Spiral 105-11 or EPOS (Experimental Passenger Orbital Aircraft), which was test flown in the late 1970's, shows some resemblence to the C-21.

March 16, 2002

M-55 Background...I tracked down some info on the Myasishchev M-55 Geofizika, a version of which would be used to carry the C-21 (see below) to 17km.

Looks like the M-55X would be a special version of the M-55 that included, for example, an attachment/release mechanism for the C-21. Whether it would need substantial performance enhancements isn't clear. I've not found any info on the weight of the C-21 but it probably isn't substantially more than the 2000kg payload capability of the M-55.

March 15, 2002

News Brief...The Propulsion Research Center at the University of Alabama at Huntsville is working on rocket-based combined cycle (RBCC) technology - UAH leads team to construct new, reusable launch vehicle - Univ. of Alabama at Huntsville - Feb.25.02

March 14, 2002

C-21 Mockup positioned over M-55 carrier
Space Adventures Ltd. photo
Mockup of the C-21 suborbital spacecraft positioned over an M-55 carrier
aircraft during a media presentation at
Zhukovsky Air Base near Moscow

Cosmopolis XXI Debuts...A full scale mock-up of the Russian X-Prize C-21 system was unveiled today at Zhukovsky Air Base near Moscow. The 2-stage launch system consists of a jet powered carrier called the M-55X "Geophysika" and a rocket powered second stage called the C-21.

The C-21 is a lifting body vehicle carrying 1 pilot and two passengers and is powered by a detachable solid rocket motor module. The M-55X releases the C-21 at an altitude of 20km. The rocket module fires and propels the C-21 to over 100km. When the motor burns out, the rocket module is separated from the crew compartment. (No info given on whether the rocket motor is also recovered.)

The crew compartment uses the control surfaces of the lifting body for the first phase of the descent and then makes a "final parachute-assisted touch down. "

With Space Adventures funding, the Myasishchev Design Bureau (MDB) and the Cosmopolis XXI Suborbital Corporation are developing the hardware. MDB previously developed the Buran space shuttle.

Space Adventures says that it has over "100 sub-orbital reservations" for the $98,000 package. Space.com says that SA is looking for more investors in the project. The SA press release claims that test flights "for the C-21 are expected to begin by 2004 and tourist flights by 2005. Doesn't say if this hinges on additional funding.

Andrews Space and Tech says that the goal of the Suborbital Corporation is to acquire two M-55X aircraft and seven C-21 modules for $60M.

Two M-55 aircraft, in fact, have been built already for other purposes. See one of them in the above photo. However, it's not clear if these must be enhanced to perform the carrier mission for the C-21, i.e. perhaps the X in M-55X means a special version must be developed.

The Newswire AFP says that MDB is in "final phase of negotiations with several investors" and that they need $70 million for the full project.

March 13, 2002

News Briefs...Scientific American takes a quick glance at the status of RLV development: Has the Space Age Stalled? ROCKET SCIENCE PROVES HARDER THAN ROCKET SCIENTISTS HAD THOUGHT - Scientific American - April-2002 issue...

...Meanwhile XCOR keeps moving right along. Check out the latest videos of test flights and engine firings (thanks to Mike Massee of XCOR)...

Boeing gets Orbital Express/ASTRO contract - DARPA Awards Orbital Express Demonstration to Boeing - SpaceAndTech - Mar.12.02

March 12, 2002

News Briefs...Shuttle becomes a SLV (Seldom-used Launch Vehicle, or maybe that should be Seldom-useable LV). According to Aviation Week (Mar.4.02), Sean O'Keefe says the shuttle program will only fly 4 times a year from now on...

...The March 4, 2002 issue of Space News discusses the "National Aerospace Initiative" or NAI concepte proposed by Ronald Sega, head of R&D in the Department of Defense. The not-yet-funded-or-clearly-defined concept would emphasize development of technologies in the areas of hypersonics, launchers and spacecraft.

The NAI is apparently what Keith Cowing at NASA Watch was referring to (see previous entry). However, the Space News article says that it is not yet clear if the NAI would develop into a Defense version of SLI or become just a framework for RLV and other technology development that would include joint projects within NASA's SLI.

March 8, 2002

Military SLI...NASA Watch/Spaceref reported recently that the Pentagon is considering the creation of its own SLI program, patterned after NASA's but independent of it. This could indicate that the recent joint study group failed to agree on a common approach to an RLV. The two programs will probably pursue development of vehicles tuned to their own needs rather than the one size fits all approach that many have blamed for the Shuttle's shortcomings...

See also the report National Strategy for America's Future in Space, March 2002 - NASA Watch/Spaceref (pdf 2MB).

February 26, 2002

RASCAL Awards Soon...Aviation Week (Feb.25, 2002, p.19) reports that in the coming week, DARPA will give out $5M to as many as 6 companies for initial feasibity studies for the RASCAL (see below) small payload launcher. A second phase starting in November will reduce the entries to two participants who will share about $10M to do detailed designs.

The large aerospace firms are expected to compete as well as several smaller ones including Pioneer Rocketplane, HMX, Space Launch, Destiny Aerospace [no web site found] and even a submission by Prof. Ron Humble at the Air Force Academy Astronautics Dept.

A third phase starting near the end of 2003 would reduce the field to one contractor who would get $60M to build an operational (not prototype) vehicle with first flight in 2006.

Space Launch Corp - The RASCAL plan specifies an air launched 2-stage approach. The Space Launch company, which has apparently been in business since 1999 but has kept a low profile, is proposing its SLC-1 system composed of:

"..two major subsystems - the launch platform (carrier aircraft) and an air-launched booster. The launch platform is a standard jet aircraft suitably modified to carry and deploy the booster vehicle. The booster itself is a small expendable launch vehicle utilizing multiple solid-motor stages." - microsat launch services at SL website

The company has been doing propulsion research and won funding in 2001 from the California Space Grant Program to "develop a high-performance, non-toxic solid propellant for use in existing and future launch vehicle solid rocket motors."

February 24, 2002

No Hope for Japan (Hope-X that is)...Space News (Feb.18.2002) reports that NASDA will drop the Hope-X spaceplane project. The reusable unmanned vehicle would have flown atop the expendable H-2A booster to take supplies to the ISS and then returned to earth. The problems with the H-2A had caused the agency to freeze the Hope-X budget since 2000.

Even though the H-2A is now flying, they believe that combining the expensive ELV with the Hope-X would be uneconomical. The vehicle would not have been ready before 2015 anyway and it would be obsolete by then. So NASDA plans to rethink it's whole approach to reusable space vehicles and try to come up with something more useful.

News brief... The X-Prize team Funtech Systems and their Aurora spaceplane get some exposure in Florida Today: Orlando team vies for orbit - $10 million X PRIZE contest seeks space-tourism vehicles - Florida Today - Feb.23.02. (Link via Spacetoday.net)

February 19, 2002

DARPA projects... Wandering around the DARPA web site I came across a handful of reusable launch & space vehicle related projects, especially in the Tactical Technology Office :

Water Rocket - a clever approach to orbital transfer and sevicing vehicles. Water would be used both in a fuel cell/electrolyzer combo and for propulsion. The electrolyzer, using solar power typically, would break the water into separate hydrogen and oxygen tanks. These could then be extracted either for running the fuel cell or "burned in a rocket for rapid maneuvering while the water itself can be used as a propellant in electric thrusters for slower maneuvering." Water is also a safe medium for refueling the vehicle when needed. DARPA selects contractors for water-based propulsion for space program (DOC file) - DARPA - Feb.14.02

Such a water rocket system could be used in the Orbital Express/ASTRO vehicle, which is currently planned to be launched in 2005. It would "repeatedly demonstrate the feasibility of autonomously upgrading, refueling and reconfiguring satellites" while in orbit.

RASCAL (Responsive Access, Small Cargo, Affordable Launch), mentioned here earlier, aims for an air launched hybrid rocket combo that can deliver small payloads (~50kg) to orbit on short notice for $2500/kg or less.

The hypersonic program HyFly is apparently aimed more at MACH 6 cruise missiles than launch vehicles.

February 18, 2002

News briefs... Get your autographed XCOR poster before they run out! XCOR Aerospace: Limited signed EZ-Rocket Poster offer ...

Frank Sietzen says that the high flight rates demanded by military planners my do more for development of a commercial RLV than NASA's limited requirements: Spacelift Washington: Military RLV Needs May Stimulate Commercial Prospects - Spaceref - Feb.17.02 ...

... NASA reviews its X demonstrators in the report: Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) Technology Flight Demonstration Study (1MB pdf) ...

... NASA names a new head of the X-37 project: Susan Turner, Jeff Sexton named to top positions in NASA's Space Launch Initiative - NASA MSFC PR - Feb.15.02. It looks increasingly clear that both the X-37 and X-38 programs will continue through to space flight tests using SLI money. They will now fall under the Crew Transfer Vehicle category at SLI.

February 15, 2002

Space Access '02 - Phoenix, Arizona - April 25-27: Henry Vanderbilt announced this week the final arrangements for the next edition of the yearly meeting. The SAS bulletin also includes comments from Henry on some current RLV issues.

News briefs... Henry notes that the USAF is joining the NASA SLI party, as confirmed by Secretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets: Teets' goal: Transform Space Ops - AF News/Spaceref - Feb.15.02 ...

... Optimal Energy has supplied a flywheel battery to Lockheed-Martin under its SLI contract for possible application to RLV's - Optimal Energy Systems PR - Nov.2001 - Flywheel battery for RLV development (pdf file). Advanced flywheels, with magnetic bearings and carbon fiber wheels, are gaining interest for spacecraft batteries.

February 13, 2002

Rotary history...The Rotary site disappeared last year, taking it with all those great images and videos. You can now at least see a short streamed video of the last flight of the ATV at the Air & Space magazine site Rotary Rocket - Air & Space. ATV pilot Marti Sarigul-Klijn has an article - I Survived the Rotary Rocket - in the current issue (Feb-March) in which he talks about the extreme difficulties he and his co-pilot had in controlling the vehicle....

News brief...See also the cool video of a rocket launched F-104: F-104 Zero Length Launch - Air & Space Magazine

February 5, 2002

X-Prize continues search for funding...The X-Prize has had $5 million of the $10 million prize committed for a couple of years. Efforts continue to obtain the remaining purse money and they will now get some help from a Lindbergh descendant - Historic Solo Flights of Charles Lindbergh To be Recreated by Grandson - X-Prize PR - Feb.6.02.

At a Washington DC Space Tourist conference last June, Peter Diamandis reported on the status of the program. One item of note is that the financial firm First USA, which kicked in $2.5 million, "wants the prize won by December 17, 2003". This implies that they may withdraw the offer if it isn't. He reports that seven teams have shown at least some hardware development progress. (See also the table here.)

Sounds like some Russians are interested in the X-Prize using a rocket launched from a Mig-31 - South African Space Tourist To Insure His flight in Russia - Space.com - Feb.8.02.

February 5, 2002

News brief...Boeing continues with hardware development for the X-37 - Wings for X-37 Spaceplane Shipped to Palmdale Final Assembly Facility - Boeing PR - Feb.6.02. However, there is still no clear word from NASA on when the X-37 orbital test flight would occur.

February 5, 2002

News brief...Andrews Air & Space announced a contract from Northrup Grumman "to perform market analysis, business planning, systems engineering, and launch vehicle design services in support of Northrop Grummanís second-generation Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program. The $15.7 million dollar contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in December 2001 to conduct vehicle architecture design studies as part of NASAís Space Launch Initiative (SLI)."

See Northrup Grumman Selects Andrews Space & Technology to Support Vehicle Concept Develpment for NASA's Space Launch Initiative - Andrews PR - Jan. 31, 2002 ....

...Andrews has also recently posted additional artist's images of its own Gryphon 2-stage RLV system. See Andrews Space :: News :: Multimedia Gallery

February 1, 2002

News brief...Dick Rutan aborted a touch-and-go landing test of the EZ-Rocket today after an engine failed to re-light during the power-off landing - XOR EZ-Rocket Attempts Touch-and-Go Landing = XCOR PR - Feb.1.02 . They believe they've located the cause of the re-light failure and will try the test again in a couple of weeks.

January 30, 2002

News brief...Leonard David at Space.com reviews the latest in reusable TPS: Beat the Heat: New Thermal Protection For Reusable Rockets - Space.com - Jan.30.02

January 28, 2002

News Briefs... XCOR posts a new video page with a selection of videos of test flights, TV News reports, and engine tests. ...

...Boeing Rocketdyne decides on the design for its SLI funded RS-83 engine: Boeing Rocketdyne Chooses Design for Next-Generation Reusable Rocket Engine - Boeing PR - Jan.28.02

January 25, 2002

News Briefs... SLI announces request for proposals for a second round of RLV technology funding of $500M - NASAís Space Launch Initiative seeks next round of proposals from industry, academia in late March - NASA MSFC PR - Jan.25.02. The proposals, due by March 27, should address "research on propulsion, flight demonstrations and NASA-unique projects such as life support and crew safety, and integrated ground testing and simulations for a second-generation reusable launch vehicle."[NASA Seeks New Ideas For Propulsion, Life-Support - Aviation Week - Jan.28.02] ...

...X-38 project gets an engine for an orbital test but no word on whether funding for the project will go that far. - Aerojet Delivers X-38 Deorbit Propulsion Stage to NASA - Aerojet - Jan.25.02.

January 24, 2002

News Briefs... XCOR carries out a successful 8th test flight. While in the air for nearly 8 minutes, in-flight re-ignition of the two 400 pound thrust engines was tested by first turning off one engine for 19 seconds and restarting it and then the second one off for 10 seconds before re-ignition. The press release includes an MP3 recording of the cockpit communications...

...Spaceref reports on a NASA/USAF One Team Industry Review Day on January 17 that was part of a joint 120 day study on how to achieve "national operationally responsive spacecraft capability". Materials release include the paper: The Military Space Plane: Providing Transformational and Responsive Global Precision Striking Power. and NASA-USAF Reusable Space Launch Development Briefing (10.3 MB Powerpoint) [USAF, NASA Eye Cooperation On Next Reusable Launcher - Aviation Week - Jan.28.02]...

...Nothing but X bones left - Stripped Down X-33 Headed for Hangar - Space.com - Jan.23.02

January 21, 2002

Kistler Issues a Call for Experiments on the first K-1 flights. At Kistler's website, the SLI section now includes an announcement of "Flight opportunities available for NASA Space Launch Initiative Technology Experiments on the K-1 Reusable Launch Vehicle".

More details are given on the Call for Experiments page and in a 1Mb pdf file. They state that "multiple flight opportunities are available beginning in 2003". And they promise that "experimenters benefit from early access to space, and exposure of their technology to the full ascent, orbit, and reentry profile of the K-1."

In addition, potential experimenters can examine the 42 page (pdf file) "K-1 Vehicle TA-10 Flight Experiments Design and Requirements Document" to see how to fit their equipment into the vehicle.

However, there is still no announcement as to whether assembly of the K-1 has resumed or if construction of the launch site at Woomera will restart soon.

News brief...[--Error--]Thriftyspace reorganizes to build an X-prize vehicle. The "four place aircraft will have a ceiling of 350,000 feet; weigh less than 10,000 pounds on takeoff, travel in excess of Mach 3.5, and cost less than $12,000,000 to produce."

January 17, 2002

News briefs...California Congressman Ken Calvert (R) is pushing a bill to provide tax credits for investments in RLV development. It didn't pass last year but will apparently be re-introduced this year. He discusses the Calvert-Ortiz Invest in Space Now Act in this article at SpaceEquity.com - Seven Questions for Congressman Calvert...

The small startup Interorbital Systems considers the island Tonga as a Pacific Ocean launch base for its low cost RSX-2 sounding rockets and later for its RLV. [--Link Dead--]Tonga Eyed as Launch Pad for Tourist Space Flights - Yahoo News - Jan.16.02 ...

Aviation Week and Space Technology January 14th issue includes the yearly review of the aerospace industry - 2002 Aerospace Source Book. The section on RLVs gives, not surprisingly, a very downbeat accessment. Basically it concludes that for the next several years, SLI will be the only game in town as far as RLV funding is concerned, at least in the US. It mentions European, Japanese and Indian programs but doesn't see them producing even a test vehicle for several years.

The article does suggest that the development of "satellite host platforms" could help spur the creation of new markets that would, in turn, raise demand for low cost transport in a few years. For example Aeroastro's Small Payload Orbit Transfer (SPORT) system will allow low cost launching of piggyback payloads on ELVs.

January 11, 2002

News brief...XCOR releases a statement about the CNN monitored flight - XCOR EZ-Rocket Begins 2002 Test Program - XCOR PR - Jan.11.02. Another public demonstration flight will take place at noon "on Tuesday, January 22 at the Mojave Civilian Test Flight Center located at the Mojave, CA, airport, weather permitting."

...NASA in no hurry to build an SSTO - NASA Still Not Committed To Single-stage For Third-Generation RLV - Aviation Week - Jan.10.02

January 10, 2002

News brief...CNN today showed a test flight of the EZ-Rocket on TV. The website also has an article about it - California company shoots for cheap ride to space - CNN.com - Jan.10.02 . [Jan.11.02 - To see a streamed video of the report, go to the CNN Sci-Tech page and click on the Watch latest Sci-Tech video link. This will bring up a window where you can select "The EZ rocket to space (2:35) CNN's Miles O'Brien reports on what may be the future of rocket-powered travel (January 10)"] [ Jan.18.02 - for a transcript of program, see Group of Engineers Bent on Making Outer Space More Accessible Takes Another Step in That Direction - CNN.com - Transcripts - Jan.10.02 ]

January 9, 2002

News brief...The January 7 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology contains a two page article (pp.60-61) on the 2-stage RLV concept of Andrews Space. (The article is also online but requres a paid subscription.) The RLV is based on the Alchemist system, which collects oxygen in the air during a turbofan powered cruise phase. The liquified oxygen will then be used by the rocket powered second stage to take a 60,000-lb payload to ISS orbit. The article discusses the expansion of space markets, e.g. space tourism, if the cost to orbit is reduced to $500 per pound. The goal is to have a final design ready by 2005.


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