Vulcan satellite launch vehicle?

PMN1

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From the current issue of the British Interplanetary Society’s Space Chronicles.

Based on studies of manned Blue Steel to do the same research as the X-15

The Vulcan Obiter Z 124

By October 1962 ambitions had increased to the extent of considering a brand new rocket vehicle completely different in principal from Blue Steel. The concept began with the recognition that the Vulcan, because of its delta wing, had very tall undercarriage. This would permit the installation of a large ballistic multi-stage rocket weighing up to 40,000lb (the drawing shows the missile hanging outside the bomb bay which appears to have had the doors removed). This would be carried and air launched much as was Blue Steel, from a height of about 50,000ft, but the trajectory would be more akin to that of the ballistic Skybolt as the obiter was wing-less. It was calculated that this three-stage vehicle could place a 650lb payload into a low earth orbit. Although less design detailing was done on the obiter than on the manned Blue Steel its potential was recognised. Here was a revolutionary way of placing application satellites (for communications, meteorology, survey, navigation etc) in orbit launched from a mobile platform. Two advantages sprang from this: firstly the Vulcan could fly to any base in Europe, collect its rocket and launch into a variety of orbital planes; secondly, with flight refuelling, the craft could be placed in an equatorial orbit. In this way Europe could have had its very own launching system, quite different from that of the USA, which was totally expendable.

This project was announced at a lecture and received a lot of publicity. Whether it was ever considered seriously by HMG is doubted but it could have given the RAF an opportunity to take a bold step, into spaceflight.
 

Archibald

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That's fascinating... :eek: A kind of early Pegasus launch system!
 

PMN1

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Assuming the 650lb to LEO is correct, what kind of 'market' is there in the early 60's for that kind of payload?
 

Barrington Bond

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Slightyly better scans from The Aeroplane 14 Feb 1958.
 

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PMN1

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Any reason why the launch vehicle couldn't be carried above the fuselage as with some other proposals that use an aicraft as a first stage?
 

blackstar

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PMN1 said:
Any reason why the launch vehicle couldn't be carried above the fuselage as with some other proposals that use an aicraft as a first stage?

I think that the rule of thumb is that if you can carry it underneath the aircraft, that's where you want to carry it. There's two reasons. First, when you're going to launch it, it's easier to drop it than to have it fly off the top and not impact the carrier aircraft. Second, if the aircraft has a problem in flight, such as losing an engine, you can drop the payload. That's not an option if the thing is on top of the carrier.

Rockets are problematic enough as is. Carrying them into the air adds a whole new set of challenges.
 

CNH

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Without wishing to be a wet blanket, there are certain limitations to the proposal.

You can't upgrade the rocket - you're stuck at 40,000lbs.

The extra speed and height gained from the airlaunch are fairly minimal. Velocity of say 200m/s when orbital velocity is around 8000m/s; height of 10km when orbital height is 500km.

On a related issue - the rocket's trajectory would be horizontal initially, but it would have climb quite quickly to get out of the atmosphere. I would have thought a vertical launch followed by a pitch over would be more efficient.

John Allan was always coming up with '101 Things You Can Do With Blue Steel'. Unfortunately, no one wanted to do them.
 

blackstar

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To add to that, the abort options are lousy. Think about it this way: if you have a rocket on the pad and the engine doesn't fire usually it will just sit there and you can try again, but if you drop it from the airplane and the engine doesn't fire all you can do is watch it impact the ocean.

And you're right that upgrade options are limited and the performance gains from air-launch just aren't that great.

There is a niche for air-launching rockets, but it's a really small one and has not really justified the cost.
 

OM

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PMN1 said:
Any reason why the launch vehicle couldn't be carried above the fuselage as with some other proposals that use an aicraft as a first stage?

...In addition to what Dwayne noted, there's past history with top-launched payloads, and most of it's not good. Probably the most infamous example is that of the D-21 Drone mishap. I'll let Kelly Johnson himself tell you the details:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMyC2urCl_4

...Of course, Scott would normally be the first to point out another infamous example of how top-launching isn't a good idea, but.....DAMMIT! Someone pulled that opening sequence of Moonraker off of YouTube! Drax strikes again, alas :-\
 

Spark

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Hi,
FLIGHT, 25 November 1960 Missiles and Spaceflight MOUNT KENYA LAUNCH-SITE PROPOSED A multi-phase plan for a British space-research programme wasput forward by Mr E. G. D. Andrews, chief designer

CNH said:
Without wishing to be a wet blanket, there are certain limitations to the proposal.

You can't upgrade the rocket - you're stuck at 40,000lbs.

The extra speed and height gained from the airlaunch are fairly minimal. Velocity of say 200m/s when orbital velocity is around 8000m/s; height of 10km when orbital height is 500km.

On a related issue - the rocket's trajectory would be horizontal initially, but it would have climb quite quickly to get out of the atmosphere. I would have thought a vertical launch followed by a pitch over would be more efficient.

John Allan was always coming up with '101 Things You Can Do With Blue Steel'. Unfortunately, no one wanted to do them.
 

Spark

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Hi PMN1,Folks,
A few observations, first, circa 1955 there were two proposals in support of the UK/Commonwealth military space programme for experimental TAV research.
1. A piggybacked Avro 720 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan launch platform.
2. A piggybacked Saunders Roe SR53 rocket-plane variant carried by a Vickers Valiant launch platform.
3. At a latter date a piggybacked Saunders Roe SR177 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan Launch platform. The rocket and jet engine being removed and replaced by Stentor HTP rocket engine, the same as that used by the Blue Steel stand off-bomb. This I assume was also intended as research vehicle. (There is one other possibility, at about this time it was reported that the Soviets were testing a Sanger type space bomber, so maybe it could also have been intended as an interceptor).
These early proposals are all piggyback launched.

Given Political will the possibility of a significant launch platform.
4. There were several wide bodied transports proposals to support the UK/Commonwealth military space programme. I assume the 1955 Bristol Type 195 high-wing rear-loading strategic freighter proposal for the RAAF was intended as an Australian contribution to this effort. (has any one pictures of this interesting beast?)
5. The Vickers V1000 type 1004 wide body transport proposal circa 1955 was with certainty intended as a carrier for the SLV/LRBM and a larger Titan size vehicle in support of the UK/Commonwealth military space/missile programme. Note it was a dictum of the Air Staff that the Vickers V1000 type 1001 was to operate at the same altitude and speeds as the V Bomber Force. The V1000’s large (bigger wing area than the Tu95) very advanced wing with in all but name super critical wing section allowed a high speed and an altitude of 55,000ft to be reached. The payload must have been significantly larger than the Vulcan.
6. The Handley Page Victor could fly higher and faster with a bigger heavier payload potential than the Avro Vulcan. Are there any proposals for use as a SLV platform
7. Vickers proposed the use of a Vickers Valiant as a launch platform for a SLV.
8. Both the Vickers VC10 and the Short Belfast with smaller wings than the V1000 were considered as Skybolt carriers. Not with the potential of the V1000 but they flew.

PMN1 said:
Any reason why the launch vehicle couldn't be carried above the fuselage as with some other proposals that use an aicraft as a first stage?
 

Spark

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HI Folks,
E G David Andrews, Bristol Aircraft Company. 1960
(1) An equatorial trajectory makes it easier to place satellites into orbit in the plane of the ecliptic; and the easterly launch makes it possible to launch "stationary" GSO satellites efficiently.
(2) An equatorial launch provides the maximum initial velocity (1,500ft/sec) for a vehicle launched in an easterly direction.
(3) The low atmospheric pressure at 17,000ft causes the specific impulse of the rocket engine to be increased at launch by about six per cent.
(4) The improvement in specific impulse enables an increased launch weight to be used without corresponding increase in engine weight, hence increasing the mass ratio of the vehicle by nearly the same amount.
(5) The low density of the atmosphere results in lower aerodynamic drag during the initial phases of the launch. "Compared with an equatorial sea level site, the gain could be worth about l,5OOft/sec. Although this does not sound very high it corresponds to an increase in payload of between 20 and 30 per cent, depending on the conditions.

(For the launch of a manned expedition to the Moon this could be worth £5m per shot. The only known technical disadvantage is that the launch trajectory passes through the deepest section of the Van Allen belt.")

Open to correction,
Change from polar to equatorial oribit ( x 1.3 gain) and high altitude (x 1.3 gain ) launch assuming David was correct about the above and the Black Arrow developments took place..

1. CRYOGENIC UPRATED BLACK ARROW 360 n.mile Polar circular orbit A.U.W. 49,210LB PAYLOAD 893 LB ( 1.3 x 1.3 = 1,500lb ) (1,000lb plus to GSO note Black Arrow was to test ion drive vehicle)
2. Standard Black Arrow 300 n.mile Polar circular orbit A.U.W. 40,000LB Payload 232LB. (1.3 x 1.3 = 390lb )
3. UPRATED BLACK ARROW 300 n.mile Polar circular orbit A.U.W. 48,710LB PAYLOAD 375LB (1.3 x 1.3 = 633lb )
4. CRYOGENIC BLACK ARROW 300 n.mile Polar circular orbit A.U.W. 40,000LB PAYLOAD 645 LB ( 1.3 x 1.3 = 1,090lb )

Spark said:
Hi,
FLIGHT, 25 November 1960 Missiles and Spaceflight MOUNT KENYA LAUNCH-SITE PROPOSED A multi-phase plan for a British space-research programme wasput forward by Mr E. G. D. Andrews, chief designer

CNH said:
Without wishing to be a wet blanket, there are certain limitations to the proposal.

You can't upgrade the rocket - you're stuck at 40,000lbs.

The extra speed and height gained from the airlaunch are fairly minimal. Velocity of say 200m/s when orbital velocity is around 8000m/s; height of 10km when orbital height is 500km.

On a related issue - the rocket's trajectory would be horizontal initially, but it would have climb quite quickly to get out of the atmosphere. I would have thought a vertical launch followed by a pitch over would be more efficient.

John Allan was always coming up with '101 Things You Can Do With Blue Steel'. Unfortunately, no one wanted to do them.
 

Michel Van

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nice find, spark


here picture of Z124 Proposal
Vulcansatellitelaunchvehicle.jpg

from this thread
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4130.0.html
 

Spark

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Spark said:
1960 Mr E. G. D. Andrews, chief designer (rockets),
Bristol Siddeley Engines,
The unit costs of vehicles launched might cost anything from £20 to £50 per pound of fixed weight—a range of about £300,000 to £700,000. Including the launching costs, around figure of £lm was suggested.


Blue Streak would be about £18:10s:0d/lb if the
1960 Vehicle unit cost was £250,000
When talking to an Avro test pilot he said that he Zoom climbed a Vulcan to about 65,000ft.
 

Hobbes

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Spark said:
Hi PMN1,Folks,
A few observations, first, circa 1955 there were two proposals in support of the UK/Commonwealth military space programme for experimental TAV research.
1. A piggybacked Avro 720 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan launch platform.
2. A piggybacked Saunders Roe SR53 rocket-plane variant carried by a Vickers Valiant launch platform.
3. At a latter date a piggybacked Saunders Roe SR177 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan Launch platform. The rocket and jet engine being removed and replaced by Stentor HTP rocket engine, the same as that used by the Blue Steel stand off-bomb.

Hi Spark,

Do you have any more information on these projects? I'm looking in particular for the SR.53 (I'm assuming there would be changes to the aircraft to allow it to obtain higher speeds).
 

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Crosslink: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,5657.0.html
 

Spark

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Hi
Have been out of circulation for a year, old age. So sorry about the delay.
There are certain amendments; the SR 53 was also looked at as a military system to be launched from an Avro Vulcan. This would enhance performance compared to a Valiant launch package.
This variant was to have had an early Stentor; I assume one would be trading speed for altitude and payload because of airframe limits. There are references, proposals in the PRO Kew to the prototype research SR 53s being upgraded with jet reaction controls for £40,000 (1958£)per aircraft.
Also a proposal for the aircraft, SR53 to be topped up, air-refuelled, but this does not seem a practical idea. But makes sense in the case of the SR177.
I can only think of one possible military scenario where one would use such a combination without radically updating the airframe.
SR177 could have had steel wing upgrade.
Spark

Hobbes said:
Spark said:
Hi PMN1,Folks,
A few observations, first, circa 1955 there were two proposals in support of the UK/Commonwealth military space programme for experimental TAV research.
1. A piggybacked Avro 720 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan launch platform.
2. A piggybacked Saunders Roe SR53 rocket-plane variant carried by a Vickers Valiant launch platform.
3. At a latter date a piggybacked Saunders Roe SR177 rocket-plane variant carried by an Avro Vulcan Launch platform. The rocket and jet engine being removed and replaced by Stentor HTP rocket engine, the same as that used by the Blue Steel stand off-bomb.

Hi Spark,

Do you have any more information on these projects? I'm looking in particular for the SR.53 (I'm assuming there would be changes to the aircraft to allow it to obtain higher speeds).
 

XP67_Moonbat

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Since we don't actually have a lot on,the manned Blue Steel, I'll just leave this here.

www.as.utexas.edu/~jwbarna/bovsite/Odyssey_24_February_2013.pdf
 

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XP67_Moonbat

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I'll just leave this here too!

https://mobile.twitter.com/combatair/status/730452853274333184
 

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