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Air-Launching Satellites

XP67_Moonbat

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This is a follow-on to the earlier topic in Postwar Projects about satellite launching with fighters. To start it off, I give you this:

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2008/10/iac-2008-video-of-frances-air.html
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Some more links to concepts. I probably posted them earlier but I'm grouping them here in one spot.

Good 'ol NOTSNIK:http://www.designation-systems.net/dusrm/app4/notsnik.html

Project Town Hall (B-58 air launcher): ; thank you Scott. http://www.up-ship.com/apr/extras/townhall.htm

X-15/Blue Scout:
http://astronautix.com/lvs/x15scout.htm

The Boeing AirLaunch concept: http://www.spacedaily.com/news/airlaunch-00a.html

OSC's Pegasus: http://www.astronautix.com/lvs/pegasus.htm

More recently, here is t/Space AirLaunch LLC's newest concept:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

And the list goes on. I leave it with this:
http://www.astronautix.com/lvfam/airnched.htm

Moonbat
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Some info on the NOTSNIK project from Ninfinger

http://www.ninfinger.org/models/vault/NOTSNik/index.html
 

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XP67_Moonbat

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http://www.ninfinger.org/models/vault/NOTS/index.html

A little more.
 

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mz

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Thanks! The last aircraft is a Phantom, and the missile is different as well?
 

XP67_Moonbat

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It sure is a Phantom! My bad. Ninfinger had the photo link saved as "skyray2". I've fixed that now.

And the missile it carried was for the CALEB project. A later program similar to NOTSNIK but not quite the same.

Here's a diagram of the initial missile as well as the stats. And a brief letter from SPACEFLIGHT, with an image of an upgraded CALEB.
 

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XP67_Moonbat

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"Miniature Ascent Vehicles derived from the Navy's Air-Launched Satellite Developed in 1958"

trs-new.jpl.nasa.gov/dspace/bitstream/2014/12284/1/01-0297.pdf

A postscript of sorts, an abstract of a paper from Brian Wilcox, the son of Project PILOT's creator.
 

XP67_Moonbat

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AirLaunch LLC

http://ralph.open-aerospace.org/near/QuickReach/2008.05%20-%20AirLaunch%20Overview%20Charts.pdf
 

XP67_Moonbat

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http://esamultimedia.esa.int/docs/dtos/Starkeetal_v3_AIAA_paper_2008_2525.pdf

Some Considerations on Suborbital Flight in Europe
 

FutureSpaceTourist

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There's also Virgin Galactic's on-going investigations into using WhiteKnightTwo as the first stage of a nano-sat launcher, dubbed Launcher One:

http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2009/11/04/334386/virgin-galactic-considers-new-satellite-design.html

http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2009/11/exclusive-pictures-virgin-gala.html

VG are supposed to be issuing an RFI/RFP to potential launch system/rocket developers in the near future. Haven't seen anything on the wires about this yet though.

Rick Newlands did a presentation at the 2009 UK space conference on a concept called Black Cab that uses WK2 as the first stage of a nano-sat launcher. I think at the time it was independent of VG, although Rob Coppinger says a study contract has since been awarded http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/hyperbola/2009/11/reusable-flyback-first-stage-b.html.

The Black Cab presentation is at http://www.flightglobal.com/airspace/files/folders/38295/download.aspx.
 

XP67_Moonbat

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An oldie but goodie from Boeing. Anybody know what happened to it? Seemed like this concept was quite feasible

I remember the press it got:
http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2000/news_release_000302s.html
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/airlaunch-00a.html
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/business/boeing_airlaunch_000303.html

plus an Avweek article I've since lost

But does anyone know if a full presentation or paper out there about this? Google wasn't much help.

With responsive space getting more attention these days, you'd think something like Boeing's AirLaunch would be perfect.
 

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blackstar

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XP67_Moonbat said:
An oldie but goodie from Boeing. Anybody know what happened to it? Seemed like this concept was quite feasible

I remember the press it got:
http://www.boeing.com/news/releases/2000/news_release_000302s.html
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/airlaunch-00a.html
http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/business/boeing_airlaunch_000303.html

plus and Avweek article I've since lost

But does anyone know if a full presentation or paper out there about this? Google wasn't much help.

With responsive space getting more attention these days, you'd think something like Boeing's AirLaunch would be perfect.

I forgot about that. I can probably find the Aviation Week article on Lexis at work next week.

According to one of those sites, AirLaunch was being developed to launch the Space Maneuvering Vehicle. SMV got canceled and presumably it took this project with it. Why did SMV get canceled? I forget, but it probably has to do with the fact that it was a poorly defined program to begin with.

A legitimate question is why this did not get revived for the DARPA FALCON program, or for Operationally Responsive Space. I suspect that the performance of this vehicle was not that great. Air launching provides only modest performance improvements, and has some substantial limitations (for instance, it is really hard to upgrade the booster because it is stuck on the back of an aircraft and thus cannot get bigger).

There can also be some hidden costs as well. For example, NASA's airborne telescope program, SOFIA, uses a 747-SP. One of the problems was that when NASA initiated the program, the first thing they had to do was go buy an airplane. Even though old 747s are relatively cheap, that still represented a substantial up-front expenditure--they wanted to spend only a few million at first and instead they had to spend a few tens of millions to buy an airplane. That could have been an issue with this project as well. They would have had to put some money into the aircraft right from the start, blowing their funding curve.

The press release also talks about serving the commercial market. There was no commercial market. The bottom dropped out of it by the late 1990s and still hasn't come back.
 

RanulfC

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From what I understand from various air-launch studies, top-mounted launch is about the hardest way to do air-launch possible. While it avoids issues with ground clearance and carrier aircraft modifications somewhat it has major difficulties from an aerodynamics standing.

Once the carrier aircraft is "relieved" of the load it wants to climb and you can't do that with the carried vehicle ABOVE you. So in order to get a clean seperation distance you need to have large wings on the rocket, (increasing drag and limiting your launch altitude) AND you have to perform a "negative-G" toss manuver. This is where you enter a shallow dive to gain speed, pull up into a climb and suddenly shove-over into a dive while simultaniously releasing the rocket, fire-walling the throttles and turning away just in case the rocket DOESN'T fire and comes falling back down!

Transformational Space (T-Space) did a lot of work on studying the various aspects and types of air-launch types and proposals some of which is available in various studies and papers on the AirLaunch LLC website:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/TechPapers.html

and here for an overview:
http://mae.ucdavis.edu/faculty/sarigul/aiaa2001-4619.pdf
(Which actually details this concept: Boeing AirLaunch concept, page-6. I should note that the authors of THIS paper are also the authors of the majority of the papers at the AirLaunch LLC website so they have evidently substantially changed thier minds on the "best" method of air-launching a rocket vehicle)

The biggest drawback for concepts of air launching booster vehicles has always been the limited ability to "use" off-the-shelf military and civil aircraft without extensive modification almost always leading to the need for custom built carrier aircraft. Both the modifications of existing aircraft or building all new aircraft have historically been major expenses. Some of this has changed with studies for using large cargo aircraft as carrier vehicles but the limitation on space remains significant, and recent studies by AirLaunch exanding on the T-Space launch vehicle concept have qualifed that current 747-class aircraft actually ARE capable of being used as carrier aircraft with less extensive modifications that previously thought.
(By using different landing gear hydralic systems that allow "over-filling" the gear a ground clearance of up to 8 feet is possible while still useing essentially the already qualifed landing gear that comes on the 747. This allows both a cost savings on certification as well as not haveing to extensivly modifiy the airframe with extended landing gear systems)
The majority of the modifications costs now almost equal the conversion costs of a 747 air-freighter into a fire-tanker aircraft with the added benefits that the modification still leave the air-freighter with significant "on-board" cargo capability AND the ability to be used as a fire-tanker as well as a launch vehicle carrier aircraft.
See:
http://www.airlaunchllc.com/AIAA-2008-7835-176.pdf

Randy
 

blackstar

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RanulfC said:
(Which actually details this concept: Boeing AirLaunch concept, page-6. I should note that the authors of THIS paper are also the authors of the majority of the papers at the AirLaunch LLC website so they have evidently substantially changed thier minds on the "best" method of air-launching a rocket vehicle)

And AirLaunch has also essentially ceased to exist.
 

XP67_Moonbat

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It's always the old "no bucks, no Buck Rogers" paradigm. Regarding the Boeing AirLaunch concept, it's a shame. Somehow I always thought it was pretty simple.

Ranulf, thanks for the links.

And while doing some more digging I found this. It's a student paper for a concept called SARRA:
http://www.ae.illinois.edu/ISJ/Reports/43JPCairlaunch2007AIAA5841.pdf
 

blackstar

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XP67_Moonbat said:
plus an Avweek article I've since lost

Found:


Aviation Week & Space Technology
March 13, 2000

747 Studied In Launch Role

BYLINE: BRUCE A. SMITH
SECTION: WORLD NEWS & ANALYSIS; Vol. 152, No. 11; Pg. 33
DATELINE: LOS ANGELES

Boeing is wind-tunnel testing a large booster that would be deployed from the top of a modified 747-400F for a launch-on-demand capability.

The design, called AirLaunch, is similar in concept to Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Pegasus XL in its use of a wide-body transport to serve as the ''first stage'' of the launch system. Pegasus is carried under the fuselage of an L-1011.

AirLaunch has been designed as a possible booster for the U.S. Air Force's proposed space maneuver vehicle (SMV), an unpiloted, reusable spacecraft intended to support various military space activities ranging from satellite deployment to on-orbit operations.


The AirLaunch system -- for missions to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and lower medium-altitude orbits -- would be developed in two primary configurations. The first would be to place an SMV in orbit in support of military operations, while the second would be an expendable Conventional Payload Module (CPM) for civil, commercial and military missions. The booster could lift a 7,500-lb. payload to low-Earth orbit.

''The principal driver for the airborne launch system is launch-on-demand,'' according to Rick Stephens, vice president and general manager of Boeing Reusable Space Systems.

STEPHENS SAID BOEING SEES A MARKET requirement primarily driven by the government or military segment, but added that the company's market analysis indicates there are commercial customers who are also looking at launch-on-demand capability.

Boeing plans to conduct a system-requirements review for AirLaunch in June or early July, followed by a preliminary design review in November. A decision on whether to proceed with development could be made late this year.

The Boeing booster, significantly larger than Pegasus XL, is carried on top of the aircraft because of its larger size. The first two AirLaunch stages would be Thiokol Castor 120 solid rocket motors, derivatives of MX ICBM motor designs used on Lockheed Martin's Athena 2 launcher.

The first and second stages alone are about 60 ft. long when stacked, with a diameter of 7.7 ft. The third-stage motor would be a proprietary design which is being developed by Thiokol, a planned strategic partner in the program. Officials said payload performance would be just under that of the Boeing Delta II booster.

''We really see it as a complement to the other Boeing launch systems,'' Stephens said. ''It does bump up against Delta II, but it does not have the capability to replace Delta II.''

AirLaunch would be carried to an altitude of 18,000-30,000 ft. by the 747 freighter aircraft where it would separate at a velocity of Mach 0.7-0.75. Equipped with wings and a tail section, the booster would glide for 30-40 sec. to achieve a 4-5-mi. separation from the aircraft prior to first-stage motor ignition. The booster would lose 2,000-3,000-ft. in altitude during the glide phase, program officials estimated.

The wing would not have control surfaces, but empennage control surfaces would provide pitch and yaw inputs during the short glide phase and for the start of first-stage motor firing. Within 5 sec. of ignition, the wings and tail assembly would be jettisoned at a velocity of about Mach 0.92.

Program officials said they have some data which can be used for the program as a result of Rockwell's experience in the mid-1970s on the space shuttle program. During testing in 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise was deployed from NASA's 747 shuttle carrier aircraft for approach and landing tests at Edwards AFB, Calif.

THE ROCKWELL ORGANIZATION, which built the shuttle orbiter fleet and was involved in the landing tests at Edwards, was acquired by Boeing in 1996.

The AirLaunch system would have a launch weight of about 300,000 lb. The 747 would be modified during production for additional structural strength, as well as to install the booster attach points on the fuselage.

Launch-on-demand would enable tactical responses to support sortie and free-flier satellite missions. Some roles envisioned for the system include replenishment of LEO satellites, remote sensing, hypersonic research and technology development.
 

blackstar

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It looks like Boeing's AirLaunch proposal was pretty much a dead-end soon after it was initiated. I found no other articles reporting news on it after that March 2000 article (there were a couple of mentions of it in later articles, but they did not have any new info, they simply offered it as a possible solution to the military requirement for rapid launch).

The next substantive mention of AirLaunch was for AirLaunch LLC, which bid on the DARPA/USAF "Force Application and Launch from the CONtinental US (FALCON)" program. In order for them to use that name, Boeing must not have trademarked it.

You can learn a little bit from this 2003 article in retrospect. Note the references to Elon Musk and how cheap everything was supposed to be.


Aviation Week & Space Technology
December 8, 2003

Launching Smallsats

BYLINE: Frank Morring, Jr.
SECTION: SMALL SATELLITES; Vol. 159, No. 23; Pg. 50
DATELINE: Washington

Renewed interest in small satellites has sparked a low-key push by the U.S. military to develop a new generation of launch vehicles that can match the low-cost and flexibility smallsats afford, a capability those not bound by U.S. law and policy already find in the surplus ICBM fleets of the former Soviet Union.

Smallsats have long lagged the promise they offer of low cost and mission flexibility because it can cost more to launch a smallsat than to build it. With even the cheapest launch on an Orbital Sciences Corp. Pegasus going for $ 12-15 million, potential users have often preferred to pay more for their satellites to buy reliability that may not be present in a simple, cheap little spacecraft that meets the classic definition of a smallsat.

"There's sort of a rule of thumb that says you need rough equivalence between the spacecraft, the payload and the launcher," said Dave Thompson, president and CEO of Spectrum Astro, which has moved from building small satellites for the U.S. government to larger, more expensive spacecraft.


In Europe and elsewhere, smallsat builders have often turned to the former Soviet Union for that rough equivalence in cost between their spacecraft and their rides to orbit. Surplus ICBMs like the Eurockot and the Cosmos-3M are reliable and low cost, and their launch operations earn high marks from customers.

"The way they work is very impressive," said Sir Martin Sweeting, CEO of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL). "You have a couple of dozen people, you launch the rocket, and everything goes and wham! There's none of this big six-month lead-in and thousands of people and everybody tuning everything to the last widget, and when something goes wrong the whole thing gets caught up. If it doesn't fail, you get delays and cost."

The Soviet-surplus option isn't available to satellites built by or for the U.S. military, NASA and other U.S. government customers, who are bound by strict technology export-control rules and buy-American policies. In the past, they have opted for the air-launched Pegasus and its ground-launched spinoffs, or for piggyback rides as secondary payloads on larger rockets. Now, however, development of a new class of small U.S. launch vehicles is being pushed by a shift in U.S. military-space doctrine to small "tailored" spacecraft and "prompt" launch (see story p. 52).

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is well along on its Responsive Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch (Rascal) technology-development effort, which seeks to revive the 1950s-vintage mass injector precompressor cooling propulsion concept and push other technology for the first stage of a partially reusable two-stage-to-orbit vehicle (AW&ST Sept. 22, p. 48).

And just last month Darpa, the U.S. Air Force Space Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory issued the first contracts in its Force Application and Launch from the Continental U.S. (Falcon) development effort, which includes a dedicated smallsat launcher and hypersonic weapons technology that could lead to advanced launch vehicles later (AW&ST Nov. 24, p. 15).

Winners of the Falcon small launcher contracts were AirLaunch LLC, Reno, Nev.; Andrews Space Inc., Seattle; Exquadrum Inc., Victorville, Calif.; KT Engineering, Huntsville, Ala.; Lockheed Martin Michoud Operations, New Orleans; Microcosm Inc., El Segundo, Calif.; Orbital Sciences Corp., Dulles, Va.; Schafer Corp., Chelmsford, Mass.; and SpaceX, El Segundo. Andrews Space also picked up one of the hypersonic contracts, as did Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, Palmdale, Calif.; and Northrop Grumman Air Combat Systems, El Segundo.

Pending negotiation of contracts in the $ 350,000-540,000 range for launchers, and in the $ 1.2-1.5 million range for hypersonics, each contractor will have six months to produce a system definition study outlining how they would meet Falcon-program goals. The Pentagon wants a "responsive, affordable smallsat spacelift" vehicle ready by 2010 that can put a 1,000-lb. spacecraft in low-Earth orbit for less than $ 5 million. By 2025 it is looking for a reusable "Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle" that can deliver an unpowered "Common Aero Vehicle" loaded with 1,000 lb. of munitions to a target 9,000 naut. mi. distant within 2 hr.

SpaceX, a startup rocket company that dot.com millionaire Elon Musk is financing, has already won a contract to launch a "transformational" Pentagon smallsat on the first flight of its launch vehicle early next year (AW&ST Oct. 6, p. 31). In what the company no doubt hopes will be a self-fulfilling prophecy regarding the Pentagon development program, it has named the new rocket the Falcon. Musk's approach -- hiring engineering talent with his own money to build a simple vehicle -- has intrigued potential launch-services customers inside and outside the U.S. government.

"Elon Musk is going, I think, exactly in the right direction," said SSTL's Sweeting. "[The U.S. Defense Dept.] wants to have small, responsive satellites. They don't want to have big, expensive vehicles. He realizes that if he tries to compete in the open market he's going to have a tough time, because it will be difficult to meet the Russians. He probably could just about meet them, but he won't make much money out of it. But if you look at the internal U.S. market, he can afford to charge a little bit more and make money out of it, and still be a lot cheaper than the other U.S. counterparts if he sticks to the basic premise in the way he's doing it, and doesn't get seduced into the fancy bells and whistles mode."

Spectrum Astro's Thompson is less sanguine, arguing that "our customers all want very reliable launch vehicles, so the kind of money that the government needs to spend to develop highly reliable alternative launchers is not there.

"You have SpaceX and you have Rascal and you have some interesting guys out there, but look at the people who have failed," Thompson continued. "You had Beal that tried to develop an alternate launcher. He failed. You have Kistler, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars, but we don't have a launch there yet. There've been several alternative launch companies which have failed. So we're going to stick to the tried-and-true guys."

Philip McAlister, director for space and telecommunications at Futron Corp., agreed that low-cost launchers are going to rise or fall on reliability. Those concerns drove up the launch price of Orbital Sciences' Pegasus, which he said originally cost about $ 6 million a flight.

"That is just what Elon Musk is saying he's going to launch the Falcon for," McAlister said. "So that's the way they started out. But then the Pegasus had a couple of failures, as all launch systems do, as all transportation systems do, as a matter of fact, and then the amount of oversight and the amount of quality control that the customer insisted upon increased significantly, so now the Pegasus doesn't cost $ 6 million anymore, and it's not Orbital's fault. It was an evolution primarily driven by the customer requirements."
 

RanulfC

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RASCAL was one of those programs that started out sounding like such a good idea and rapidly escalated to something DARPA couldn't build on the budget they had.

MIPCC (Mass Injection Pre-Compressor Cooling just FYI) had a lot of promise for enhancing performance for short periods, but I got the feeling actually building basically and "X-Plane" platform would have been tons better than trying to build an operational vehicle from the start.

Randy
 

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RanulfC said:
RASCAL was one of those programs that started out sounding like such a good idea and rapidly escalated to something DARPA couldn't build on the budget they had.

It was also based on a wrong, but sadly common, premise. The right approach to RASCAL would've been something like:
1) "We need a cheap, adaptable air-launch space system. Go Forth and design such a thing, with economics being the highest priority."

What they did instead was...
2) "We need a cheap, adaptable air-launch space system. Go Forth and design a vehicle based on this one neato bit of uncertain technology that we're crushing on like a teenage girl crushing on a sparkly vampire."

Had RASCAL been more like the X-Prize in this respect, it might've panned out.
 

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RanulfC said:
RASCAL was one of those programs that started out sounding like such a good idea and rapidly escalated to something DARPA couldn't build on the budget they had.

DARPA's space efforts have long been inconsistent. They put money into some space technologies for awhile and then (apparently) they get a new director who declares "we don't do space, let other agencies develop that stuff" and then they quit. They did some smallsats in the early 1990s, including some store/dump communications satellites. Nothing ever became of that work. Then there was a long period where they didn't do any space stuff. Then in the later 1990s they started working on the Discoverer II radarsats. They were supposed to cooperate with USAF and NRO on them, but apparently NRO really did not like DARPA intruding on their turf, and killed DII. Then they played around with FALCON and RASCAL for awhile, then quit.

Maybe that's just the way the agency is. They don't have an "aircraft program" or an "infantry program" in terms of a long-term vision. They only have individual projects that are run for short periods of time and then abandoned. But they do seem to have made a decision to get out of space programs for at least five years or more in the 1990s.

DARPA has this public reputation as a whiz-bang agency that develops great stuff like the Internet and stealth and toasted sandwiches. But they have also put a lot of money into technologies that either flopped, or that were never picked up by other DoD agencies (like the aforementioned satellites).
 

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DARPA is supposed to pursue high risk but high payoff programs. Other then that they don’t have any real mandate or objective. They do however accept requests from the military and naval services to study specific concepts and technologies and report back. Stuff the military is too unsure about to risk starting a formal procurement program on.

Most DARPA space efforts I’ve seen clearly never had a budget to do more then a concept study to see how much technology has changed since the last time the concept (be it air launch, fly back booster ect…). Once the budget runs its course they file a report, and its up to the big services with the big budgets to decide if the idea is worth throwing real money at.
 

RanulfC

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Sea Skimmer said:
DARPA is supposed to pursue high risk but high payoff programs. Other then that they don’t have any real mandate or objective. They do however accept requests from the military and naval services to study specific concepts and technologies and report back. Stuff the military is too unsure about to risk starting a formal procurement program on.

Most DARPA space efforts I’ve seen clearly never had a budget to do more then a concept study to see how much technology has changed since the last time the concept (be it air launch, fly back booster ect…). Once the budget runs its course they file a report, and its up to the big services with the big budgets to decide if the idea is worth throwing real money at.
Yup seems to be the normal way they run, which is why I was so surprised that RASCAL was to be not only a "from the ground up" build program but be an "operational" one as well.

Also there was the person in charge (Preston Carter) who was/is a fairly prolific designer and advocat of high-speed flight who can't ever seem to get his ideas tested or produced. (He designed the HyperSoar externally-burning ramjet skip glider) Maybe actually getting a budget and program to play with went to his head ;D

Orionblamblam wrote:
It was also based on a wrong, but sadly common, premise. The right approach to RASCAL would've been something like:
1) "We need a cheap, adaptable air-launch space system. Go Forth and design such a thing, with economics being the highest priority."

What they did instead was...
2) "We need a cheap, adaptable air-launch space system. Go Forth and design a vehicle based on this one neato bit of uncertain technology that we're crushing on like a teenage girl crushing on a sparkly vampire."

Had RASCAL been more like the X-Prize in this respect, it might've panned out.
Well MIPCC works and the added work on and with the F100 and the test stand showed some great results but I really wish they had done the F-106 conversion originally planned and done an incremental test program. I'd have liked to have some real data on actualy operation and flight ability.

Randy
 

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I've been trying to post the actual pdf here, but it's 19 megs and the software/site won't handle it.

However, there is a multi-volume history from 1990 on DARPA projects, including a bunch of space projects mentioned in vol. 1.

Here is volume 1, which includes space programs such as Saturn, Centaur, Tiros, and Vela:

http://www.darpa.mil/history-docs/Accomplishments%20vol%201.pdf

Here's vol. 2, which includes stuff on Teal Ruby, a satellite program that I've written about:

http://www.darpa.mil/history-docs/Accomplishments%20vol%202.pdf

Here is volume 3:

http://www.darpa.mil/history-docs/Accomplishments%20vol%203.pdf
 

quellish

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"Aircraft technology was a major area of concnrn with several of DARPA's EEMIT programs--such as the X-29, X-Wing, STEALTH, as well as large RPVs and Mini- RPVs--subjects of attention as Cooper became Director. At the time, DARPA was also involved in a Special Operations aircraft for low-intensity conflict injection and retrieval."

Innnnnnnteresting.
 

FutureSpaceTourist

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FutureSpaceTourist said:
There's also Virgin Galactic's on-going investigations into using WhiteKnightTwo as the first stage of a nano-sat launcher, dubbed Launcher One:

[...]

VG are supposed to be issuing an RFI/RFP to potential launch system/rocket developers in the near future. Haven't seen anything on the wires about this yet though.

Hmm, according to the BBC report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11453390, things are very much on the back-burner with regards to LauncherOne. Possibly a case of needing to focus on getting SS2 working first?
 

blackstar

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FutureSpaceTourist said:
Hmm, according to the BBC report at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11453390, things are very much on the back-burner with regards to LauncherOne. Possibly a case of needing to focus on getting SS2 working first?

I drove through Mojave on Friday afternoon (on my way to Palmdale to see SOFIA) and I kept looking up in the air for any sign of their plane.

I have no evidence at all, but I suspect that they're not making much progress at all. The key issue is how few engine tests they've conducted. Before they start with revenue flights, they will have to make dozens of test flights. And as a prelude to those dozens of test flights, they're going to have to ground test the rocket perhaps hundreds of times. And yet they have done less than ten engine tests. People are distracted every time the plane goes up in the air, but they're missing the lack of progress on the ground.
 

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RanulfC

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Interesting not in Volume-3, part II, page Ii-20/22 on the functional reason(s) NASP funding was continued even after the work was zeroed out by OMB for NASA.
"The focal point of exploring such ideas (note: advanced aircraft projects) was the National Aerospace Plane (NASP--or Hypersonic Research Program). The NASP program had three areas of attention: engine technologies, aerodynamic simulation, and materials. (Dr.) Cooper explicitly emphasizes that this was a technology program, (and that) no experimental aircraft was part of the program.

Notes of importance to this paragraph are:
55- Underpining DARPA's involment was the concern of DDR&E (Director of Defense Research and Engineering) Dr. Richard DeLauer, that "the ramjet industry was dying". (timeline was @1980-1985) He specifically requested (Dr.) Cooper to determine what could be done to see that efforts to stimulate developments of this technology from a defense standpoint. Apparently the Navy and Air Force were not planning to pursues further ramjet R&D. (Dr.) Cooper met with representatives of these Services and got them to put funding back in this technology and developed a DARPA program for supersonic ramjet R&D."

Which actually explains some of the renewal of ramjet research within the services, but also the higher focus on SCRAMJET engines rather than higher performance R&D for some of the promising advanced ramjet concepts. In a way the "ramjet" industry STILL pretty much 'died-out' to be replace by a program of scramjet research.

On another note; The Boeing Air-Launch concept vehicle while being "bigger" than the Pegasus has most of the same issues with cost and performance versus usability. It IS interesting to note that the vehicle WOULD actually fit under the 747 had Boeing thought of the possibility of extending the landing gear oleo's as AirLaunch LLC has shown. (Though with the third stage and SMV or CPM the overall length would have been 'pushing' the limit of clearance for the nose gear: I've seen a illustration somewhere that had a Falcon-1 {70ft} shown mounted but a Falcon-1e {at 81ft} is too long for the space available) Of course they would ALSO need to have come up with the trapezee and lanyard launch system rather than the wings in the first place...

Like most launch ideas the major issues still seems to be PROVING the idea by finding investment money to build a system.

Randy
 

blackstar

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FutureSpaceTourist said:
No question that the rocket motor is the big remaining issue for SS2 and they certainly seem to be behind in terms of equivalent point in the SS1 development.

I'd parse that a little. The rocket engine is the big remaining _obvious_ issue for SS2. But until they solve that issue, they won't know what other issues remain. In other words, they can airdrop the SS2 dozens of times, but they won't know how well it works until they put the engine in it and light it. Maybe then they discover other, potentially major, issues to be resolved.
 

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XP67_Moonbat

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http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3abe5304f4-1881-4067-b2e8-ef38541a0e77&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest
 

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sferrin

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I wonder if Boeing was smart enough to grab all of McDonnell Douglas' research when they bought them. (You'd think it would be a no brainer but apparently they weren't so smart with North American/Rockwell.)
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Posssible.
Now what I'd like to see is the actual layout of this beast. Right now I'm picturing kind of a modified ASTROX design with downturned wings, a la Hypersoar, mated to a mini XB-70, hanging off of WK2. That probably doesn't make any sense but it's the closest I can come to for now.
 

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Bowcutt is one who stays behind origins of HyFly back in 96 too
and also invented a toilet overflow prevention device
 

blackstar

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There is an illustration in the print version of the magazine. Not sure I can capture it.
 

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