The Pathfinder Rocketplane

hesham

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Hi,

The Pathfinder Rocketplane was capable of lifting
three people to an altitude 99.2 km.


http://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1997/1997%20-%200624.pdf
 

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Orionblamblam

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hesham said:
Hi,

The Pathfinder Rocketplane was capable of lifting
three people to an altitude 99.2 km.


http://www.flightglobal.com/FlightPDFArchive/1997/1997%20-%200624.pdf

Ah, those were the days. I designed that friggen' thing, then watched one of the three founders of the company go completely buggo and destroy the whole effort. Bah.

Sadly, I lost my dcollection of Pioneer Rocketplane artwork by space artist Mike Carroll. My favorite was the one where I convinced him to add a Shadow Battlecrab into the background. Heh.
 

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Orionblamblam said:
Ah, those were the days. I designed that friggen' thing, then watched one of the three founders of the company go completely buggo and destroy the whole effort. Bah.

Would that be Mitch Clapp? I'm not familiar with the other two founders.
 

Orionblamblam

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CFE said:
Orionblamblam said:
Ah, those were the days. I designed that friggen' thing, then watched one of the three founders of the company go completely buggo and destroy the whole effort. Bah.

Would that be Mitch Clapp? I'm not familiar with the other two founders.

Chuck Lauer and Robert Zubrin were the other two. I won't say who the dumbass was who pretty much single-handedly shot down the one good chance of major investment the company had (NorGrum wanted to throw something like $30 million at 'em... wound up throwing it at Kistler instead, and eventually writing it off). But I will say that I found Clapp and Lauer to be reasonable, honorable and skilled men who did the best they could.
 

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I would tend to think that Bob Zubrin was already overextended with his Mars Society work and wouldn't be able to devote himself to the work at Pioneer.

I recall being fascinated with the Pathfinder concept for many years. My biggest question was how they planned to protect the turbofans during reentry.

I hope the best for Chuck Lauer and the rest of the team at RpK. Unfortunately, it looks like Kistler will again be the Albatross dragging that company down. Rocketplane XP really has a good chance of being the #1 competitor to SpaceShipTwo, but it appears the company is too bogged down with its COTS work on K-1.
 

Orionblamblam

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CFE said:
I would tend to think that Bob Zubrin was already overextended with his Mars Society work and wouldn't be able to devote himself to the work at Pioneer.

Pioneer came first.

And as an aside... sometimes it's best if certain people *don't* devote themselves to certain projects. Screaming at potential investors that they are theives is not a particualrly effective approach.

I recall being fascinated with the Pathfinder concept for many years. My biggest question was how they planned to protect the turbofans during reentry.

All versions had some form of closing door. Some were rotating structures, some were "flaps."

Unfortunately, it looks like Kistler will again be the Albatross dragging that company down.

Yup.

:-[
 

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Orion,

I've recently come across Karl Gallagher's LiveJournal (http://selenite.livejournal.com/) in which he claims to have worked on the original Pioneer Rocketplane. I then learned that Dan Raymer (author if the aircraft design textbook and father of Rockwell's ATF) was also a designer (and holds the patent on the Rocketplane design.) So I have to ask, exactly who was on the Rocketplane design team, and what roles did they play? It seems like some fairly well-known engineers worked on the project.

Slightly OT, what's your opinion on the XP redesign? I think they're pretty far back in the suborbital game if they can perform a major redesign at this stage (as in, they must not have procured a lot of hardware up to this point.) I also have reservations about the effectiveness of the T-tail during what I presume to be a nose-high reentry. I don't see the justification for ditching the V-tail.

The XP design represents, IMHO, a risk-reduction step that would have been needed had the original Pioneer Rocketplane gone ahead. Too bad RpK got cleaned out in the K-1 fiasco. While I have no perspective into this, it would seem like there won't be much, if anything, left of RpK after NASA re-awards their COTS contract.
 

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CFE said:
Orion,

I've recently come across Karl Gallagher's LiveJournal (http://selenite.livejournal.com/) in which he claims to have worked on the original Pioneer Rocketplane. I then learned that Dan Raymer (author if the aircraft design textbook and father of Rockwell's ATF) was also a designer (and holds the patent on the Rocketplane design.) So I have to ask, exactly who was on the Rocketplane design team, and what roles did they play?

There were a lot of people who worked on the various forms of Rocketplane, and they often worked somewhat against each other. PR was originally formed by three guys... Clapp in New Mexico, Zubrin in Colorado, Lauer or, IIRC, Michigan. They each lived and worked from theior homes, and often worked rather independantly. iw as hired in COlorado as the very first Rocketplane employee... a decision that I understand kinda surprised the pther two founders. The three founders never did get together, and in fact two kicked one out.

Gallagher I never met. I believe he came onboard after the split (when I suddenly found myself *not* working for Rocketplane, as my boss was no longer working there either). Raymer is a prolific conceptual designer of aircraft and was, I believe, hired as a consultant, producing a number of designs for PR. He designed:
rocketplane%20CAD.gif

p54-3flp.jpg

pioneera.jpg

That last one I created some crappy "art" (the light gray images):
pionpix.jpg


I had previously designed:
pioneer.jpg

I also produced that bit of what I jokingly refer to as "art."



Slightly OT, what's your opinion on the XP redesign?

I'm about 9 years out of the loop on Rocketplanes design work, and have no insight into the inner workings of the company the way it currently stands. I know that initially the company was a bit of a mess and lost out on some big money from Northrop Grumman (a primary reason for why three founders became two), but much beyond that I can't say.
 

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I was checking out the Pioneer Pathfinder paper from Mitch Clapp that was published by AIAA in 2002. It looked like the plan was to actually perform two refuelings per mission. The first tanker would top off the kerosene tanks, and the second would transfer the LOX. I guess it would be too expensive to modify the tanker to transfer both at once.
 

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CFE said:
I also have reservations about the effectiveness of the T-tail during what I presume to be a nose-high reentry. I don't see the justification for ditching the V-tail.

What are the worries about a T-tail in a nose-high reentry?
 

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Tail stall from main wing shadowing or blocking the airflow and main wing vortices plus turbulencegenerated at high angles of attack. Not based on factual information just my assumption.
 

selenite

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Stumbled across this in Google . . .

Yep, I joined Pioneer in California about the time Scott left. In my configuration manager role (among other hats) I numbered the different designs in order. Scott's (engines along wing root) was 1.0. Dan Raymer's (engines on top) was 2.0. The color CAD image above is of 4.0 (engines back on the wing roots, but four small rocket engines added in pairs alongside the main one). The 3.0 design didn't last long, we had to freeze for a NASA deadline before doing a real analysis on it and it wasn't stable on reentry with payload in.

I wrote a paper describing our spiral design process for my MS program:
http://www.kelthaven.org/papers/

Karl Gallagher
 

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(Would figure the paper websites would be 'blocked' all the good stuff is ;) )
Scott, Karl or anyone got a sorta-on-topic question:

I'd understood that the PR folks were involved with the design and building of a test "ejector-ramjet" of some type. I know it never got to flight status but a report I read from Zubrin said that a ground test version was successful and I was wondering if it was part of the PR effort or seperate from and where I could get more information on it?

Thanks

Randy
 

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