Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd.



Found a company on-line called 'Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd', seemingly no relation of Bristol Aviation, who propose various reusable transatmospheric designs. These range from an X-Prize contender ('The Ascender'), up to a fully-fledged civilian transport, (or 'Spacebus'). See link at:


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Spacecab and Spacebus are extensively discussed in the book Your Spaceflight Manual, subtitled How You Could Be A Tourist In Space Within Twenty Years, written by David Ashford (director of Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd) and Patrick Collins (erstwhile ESA consultant and latterday business economics lecturer). Digging out my copy, which I bought when it first appeared, I was somewhat startled to see that it was published in 1990! Which makes the subtitle poignant, at best...

It's a handy little book, discussing not only Spacecab and Spacebus, but also a potted history of spaceplane design, and the potential for building space hotels (after all, a Spacecab or bus must have somewhere to go to...), with some business analysis thrown in.

Of course, Burt Rutan is now collaborating with Beardie Branson to hurl passengers into brief space jaunts, but even the impressive SpaceShipTwo is a far cry from the rather splendid Spacecab, and even that was supposed to be an easy-peasy, built-using-virtually-existing-technology first-generation passenger spaceplane. The same as for SpaceShipTwo applies to the Bristol Ascender, all of which rather goes to show how crushingly disappointing the development of spaceplanes has been.

Anyway, cheers for the post Wingknut, it reminded me to dust off my Spaceflight Manual...
Many thanks, McTodd.
My apologies: these projects are clearly older and better-documented than I'd suspected, and I've also been guilty of premature thread-starting, as there is a three-view of the Ascender project in the existing thread:,1495.0/highlight,ascender.html
I'll be more careful henceforth.
All best,
Wingknut said:
...I've also been guilty of premature thread-starting, as there is a three-view of the Ascender project in the existing thread:,1495.0/highlight,ascender.html
I'll be more careful henceforth.

I shall pray to Almighty Mod for your soul... ;)

Meanwhile, here are a couple of (small) scans from the Manual, one of which shows how all the elements of the Spacecab design derive from proven technology, and a three-view of the craft (which, to judge by the presumably more recent drawings on the Bristol site you linked to earlier, has changed somewhat over the years; I prefer the old version myself).


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a spacebus concept consisting of a booster and an orbiter. The booster has a very streamlined shape; pointed nose and delta wing in order to generate the minimum possible air resistance. The orbiter fits into the booster's delta wings (Courtesy of Bristol Spaceplanes, Ltd.).


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There's also some information in David Ashford's more recent (2003) book Spaceflight Revolution

Note that this is generally aimed at the layperson and doesn't contain significant technical details. For that I think you'll need:

February 1994, " A Preliminary Feasibility Study of the Spacecab Low-Cost Spaceplane and of the Spacecab Demonstrator", Bristol Spaceplanes Limited Report TR 6. Carried out under European Space Agency Contract No. 10411/93/F/TB. (Volume 1 reproduced as The Potential of Spaceplanes in the J Practical Applications in Space, Spring 1995.)

Unfortunately I don't have a copy :(
To complete the set, here are a couple of images of spacecab from the Bristol Spaceplanes website.


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From TsAGI's Tekhnicheskaya Informatsiya 23-1984,

can anyone ID this Spacecraft ?.


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The Text beneath says: "future concept of a two staged AKS 'Spacebus'". So it seems to me that it must be the Bristol Spacebus. It was a manned Spaceplane, with an airbreathing supersonic / hypersonic, delta winged first stage and a second stage powered by a liquid fuelled rocket engine. It was proposed by David Ashford of Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd. in the 1980`s / 1990's. The 6-crew Concorde-sized Spacecab would serve as a prototype for the larger 50-person Spacebus.


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Thank you Athpilot,

my memory is too bad,please Moderator merge those topics;,3538.msg97005.html#msg97005
hesham said:
my memory is too bad

No hesham! You make it sound like you ought to remember everything you've seen and read! Nobody can do that! ;D

It's not that your memory too bad... just that you have a habit of following too many leads at once! Most of us here have a specialization in something (a country, a certain type of aircraft, a certain period...). It's simply impossible to be interested in every period, every type of aircraft, every country AND remember everything, hesham! So keep cool, search engines and moderators are there to make up for our shortcomings!!! ;)

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