How do we get there now? Space Shuttle –Partially reusable –Multi-stage –Manned –~$500 Million / Launch Picture courtesy of NASA
How do we get there now? Titan IV, et. al. –Single use –Multi-stage –Expensive –Long build time Picture courtesy of NASA
A need for something better… Current vehicles suffer from a few drawbacks. –They are expensive to build and maintain. –Multi-stage rockets require large uninhabited areas for stage recovery/disposal. –It takes many months to prep the Shuttle or build a new expendable vehicle. –Large specialized space ports are needed to launch these vehicles.
A solution from the past… SSTO – Single Stage to Orbit RLV – Reusable Launch Vehicle Aerospace engineers have been working on this problem for years; it has been a dream for many in the industry. Picture courtesy of Space Merchants Inc. and G. Stine
A few noble attempts… Early vision for what the Space Shuttle was to have been… –NASA investigated the possibility of building a fully reusable shuttle –Due to compromises with Congress, as well as then- current technology limitations, the Shuttle designers had to pick a staged design.
A few noble attempts… X-33 –Subscale Technology Demonstrator –NASA budgeted $941 Million for the project –No powered prototype ever flew –Vertical takeoff, Horizontal landing configuration –Full scale version dubbed ‘VentureStar’
A few noble attempts… X-37 –Technology demonstrator –Designed to validate concepts and designs for a future Orbital Space Plane –OSP not intended to be fully reusable –Stop-gap measure while more time and money is spent studying a true RLV –So far NASA has only done drop tests and structural tests
Faster, Better, Cheaper Delta Clipper –Originally completed in 1993 as the DC-X –Joint venture between the Air Force and McDonnell Douglas –Intended as a one third scale prototype of a RLV proposed by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization Picture courtesy of NASA
Faster, Better, Cheaper A primary goal of the Delta Clipper project was to show that an RLV could be operated in a manner similar to a commercial airliner. Pictures courtesy of NASA
Faster, Better, Cheaper Compare the mission profiles of the Space Shuttle and a Delta Clipper. Picture courtesy of NASAPicture courtesy of McDonnell Douglas
Faster, Better, Cheaper DC-X Program –Built in 21 months for $60 Million by a team of 100 –USAF completed 8 test flights –During flight 5 the vehicle demonstrated its autoland capability, an important safety feature –Built almost entirely of off the shelf parts Picture courtesy of NASA
Faster, Better, Cheaper DC-XA –Delta Clipper program acquired by NASA –NASA installed experimental fuel tanks and a better reaction control system, saving 620 kilograms of weight –4 Test flights were completed, as well as 2 static engine tests Picture courtesy of NASA
A path to the future… A private organization should build an RLV based on the Delta Clipper experimental rocket. A full scale Delta Clipper would be a SSTO launch vehicle. Goal for the project will be to build a vehicle which can be operated much like a commercial airliner, and drastically reduce the cost of putting a payload into orbit.
Whose mission should this be? NASA should be a consumer of launch services, not a supplier. Bureaucracy gets in the way. DC-X an example of unhindered engineering. NASA’s Mission Statement… –To understand and protect our home planet –To explore the Universe and search for life –To inspire the next generation of explorers –… as only NASA can.
What will it be used for? Smaller and cheaper satellites. More advanced technology in orbit due to faster and cheaper access to space. Space Station construction & payload ferry. Space tourism Global Express Moon exploration
Why hasn’t the project been completed? Lack of support from Congress Misinformation Wrong culture at NASA (not a corporate culture) NASA too busy with Shuttle and its many explorative missions NASA prefers to study new technologies, where as the Delta Clipper would require little new technology
Why not just build the VentureStar? The Delta Clipper has flown. It doesn’t rely on cutting edge technology. The first stage of most development programs, the proof-of-concept prototype, has already been built and tested. Versatility. A modified Clipper could make a trip to the moon, land on the surface, and return to Earth. Safety features. Powered engine-out landing capability and engine redundancy to name two.
X-Prize $10 Million prize to the first team to complete the following goals: –Fly 3 people to an altitude of 100Km –Repeat flight within 2 weeks Encourages development outside of the regular Aerospace industry Not ambitious enough to solve the problem of current launch technologies Picture courtesy of Scaled Composites Picture courtesy of Armadillo Aerospace