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Air-dropping a satellite launcher from a cargo aircraft?

cluttonfred

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Fishing through some of the recent threads here, I had an idea (and my head still hurts).

Some pretty big payloads can be air-dropped on pallets out of a military cargo aircraft and the can cruise pretty high. A C-130J has a 42,000 lb payload and a service ceiling of 28,000 ft, a C-27J Spartan has a 25,000 lb payload and a service ceiling of 30,000 ft. Has anyone ever come up with a scheme for, or tried, a microsatellite launcher carried to altitude and then air-dropped out the back of a cargo aircraft for mid-air ignition?

It's not hard to imagine a couple of schemes that might work. True, you give up some altitude and speed compared to something like a B-52 or OSC's L-1011, but you gain a great deal of flexibility in terms of the shape and configuration of the launcher, all without any modifications to the carrier aircraft whatsoever. Has it ever been tried or seriously examined?

Cheers,

Matthew
 

Michel Van

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there were plans for ICBM drop from cargobay
fall is stabilise by parachute until rocket engine ignite

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U.S. made test with minutemen drop from C-5 back in 1970's

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more here:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,470.0.html

so it works
air launch in high alitute has also benefits
that rocket engine better works du low airpressure
so rocket can perform up to 30% better as grund launch.
 

sferrin

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Don't forget these:

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/sralt.html
 

cluttonfred

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Ah, so I'm not completely crazy. I wonder why no commercial space launch entrepreneur has gone this route? Come up with a simple, expendable rocket to put a modest weight in low-earth orbit, refurbish a surplus C-130 and, bingo! You've yourself a low-budget satellite launch company that can operate from almost anywhere.
 

quellish

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Mole said:
Ah, so I'm not completely crazy. I wonder why no commercial space launch entrepreneur has gone this route? Come up with a simple, expendable rocket to put a modest weight in low-earth orbit, refurbish a surplus C-130 and, bingo! You've yourself a low-budget satellite launch company that can operate from almost anywhere.

These guys, and I think one other have:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/Concept.htm
 

cluttonfred

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That's bigger than I had in mind (1,000 payload but requires a C-17). Come down to a 100 kg payload and a C-27 and the per launch (though probably not the per pound) costs would come down substantially. I am glad that somebody is trying to keep it simple, though.
 

quellish

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Mole said:
That's bigger than I had in mind (1,000 payload but requires a C-17). Come down to a 100 kg payload and a C-27 and the per launch (though probably not the per pound) costs would come down substantially. I am glad that somebody is trying to keep it simple, though.

These guys were too:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T/Space
Though they were talking about a White Knight type vehicle rather than a C-141 or whatever.
100kg is too small to be useful, for the most part. The applications would be very limited. Pegasus has a larger capacity, but has never enjoyed all that much commercial success.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasus_rocket#Launch_history
 

martinbayer

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Note there was a link between T/Space and Airlaunch LLC:

http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/quireach.htm

http://www.space.com/spacenews/businessmonday_050509.html

Gary Hudson of Phoenix and Roton fame was engaged in both enterprises.

But the basic air launch concept goes at least as far back as the late 1950's:

http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/notsnik.html

Martin
 

XP67_Moonbat

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There was Robert Salkeld's proposal for a mini-shuttle launched from a C-5 back in the day.

http://web.archive.org/web/20070608062516/www.abo.fi/~mlindroo/SpaceLVs/Slides/sld039.htm
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Here you go, sir.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/world/russia/air.htm

Moonbat
 

flateric

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...all it has started with 1974th idea to launch Stingray and Skiff SLBMs from Il-76 and An-124 (with a target point rather different than LEO)
 

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blackstar

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There is quite a bit of literature available about this on the web. I suggest looking for the proceedings of the Operationally Responsive Space conferences. They have had a number of presentations from AirLaunch. I believe that about a year ago they had a paper online (pdf) that addressed the issues of a dedicated launch aircraft (like White Knight II) versus using an existing aircraft such as a transport (the C-17 in the case of AirLaunch). They came out in favor of using an existing aircraft for a couple of reasons. First was saving development costs. Second was that you can use the transport for other things. Launch rates are so low that most of the time the aircraft is unused, so you might as well fly cargo.

The air-launch concept goes way back to the 1950s and has been evaluated numerous times. The CIA looked at using a C-130 for launching a small rocket and satellite. They also evaluated using the A-12 as well as a B-58 and B-70. In all those cases the payload was low.

More recently I believe both the Israelis and the French have looked at air-launching. I believe that the French concept was pretty weird, using a trimaran-type vehicle with rockets on the outer wings and the payload in the center. This was so that they could fit it under a fighter plane and still have ground clearance with the landing gear. The booster rockets were outside of the jet engines and the payload in between. But a lot of these concepts never go beyond a single paper.
 

compton_effect

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Thanks Moonbat, But I found the one I was thinking about.
Airlaunch Aerospace Corporation http://www.airlaunch.ru/
It was supposed to be launched from the original big ugly - the Antonov AN-124-100AL transport, using a special pneumatic ejector. So its definitely a commercial spin-off of their military projects.
Last I could find about it on the net was for 2006 when they had Indonesia interested in a partnership and were planning to start operations 'real soon'.
 

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robunos

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Airlaunch Aerospace Corporation http://www.airlaunch.ru/

interesting that this system drops the vehicle nose-first , and without a parachute...


cheers,
Robin.
 

Archibald

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The CIA looked at using a C-130 for launching a small rocket and satellite. They also evaluated using the A-12 as well as a B-58 and B-70. In all those cases the payload was low.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17161.0

:)

(all hail the search function of this forum!)
 

OM

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Archibald said:
The CIA looked at using a C-130 for launching a small rocket and satellite. They also evaluated using the A-12 as well as a B-58 and B-70. In all those cases the payload was low.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=17161.0

...Good only for those who can access the forum.

Tsk.
 

Antonio

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The link to the forum works for me, what's the problem?
 

XP67_Moonbat

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On the NASA forum, just open up the report link you want and save it to your drive. Worked for me.
 

OM

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XP67_Moonbat said:
On the NASA forum, just open up the report link you want and save it to your drive. Worked for me.

...Needless to say, does anyone have an alternative site where this is located?
 

FutureSpaceTourist

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blackstar said:
I believe that the French concept was pretty weird, using a trimaran-type vehicle with rockets on the outer wings and the payload in the center. This was so that they could fit it under a fighter plane and still have ground clearance with the landing gear.

I guess this is the Dassault Rafale? See http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5583.0

index.php
 

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