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Airbus A380 Freighter Could Launch Space Vehicle  
User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5582 times:

Quote:


Air launching two six-person suborbital vehicles from the back of a specially modified Airbus A380 Freighter is possible, according to a mid-term review of a European Union (EU) study held on 25 April.


http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...uld-air-launch-space-tourists.html

Big version: Width: 850 Height: 560 File size: 53kb


Very interesting IMO.

26 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5537 times:

Sharks with lasers would also be very interesting to see, and I'm sure the U.S. Navy could produce a study validating their worth.

Using the A380 to launch sub-orbital spacecraft is a woefully impractical idea on so many levels, and it screams of a worried EU looking for some new application of an aircraft that just isn't selling.


User currently offlineCorey07850 From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2528 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5530 times:

Quoting EI321 (Thread starter):
Very interesting IMO.

Glad to see the EU is grounded in reality... Can we get the passenger version in service first??

The freighter's future is up in the air, and they have plans to launch space vehicles from it???

BTW your link doesn't work


User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5530 times:

Quoting EI321 (Thread starter):
http://www.flightglobal.com/articles...uld-air-launch-space-tourists.html

When you click on the link, it says bad request.


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5519 times:

Quoting Bohica (Reply 3):
When you click on the link, it says bad request.

It looks like the A.net code just chopped the URL on accident. Here is the link:

Airbus A380F Could Air Launch Space Tourists


User currently offlineN844AA From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1352 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5519 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 1):
Using the A380 to launch sub-orbital spacecraft is a woefully impractical idea on so many levels, and it screams of a worried EU looking for some new application of an aircraft that just isn't selling.

I've read once that if you can get a launch vehicle up to 45,000 feet or so, the energy necessary to take it the rest of the way up is substantially reduced, so much that the idea isn't entirely impractical. There's an L-1011 used for this purpose. I doubt it's capable of launching a six-person vehicle, however, even a suborbital one.

Agreed, however, that this alone would seem to be a foolish reason to build the A380F. I'm sure Burt Rutan's design is vastly cheaper and vastly more efficient, and will achieve substantially the same purpose.



New airplanes, new employees, low fares, all touchy-feely ... all of them are losers. -Gordon Bethune
User currently offlineBohica From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 2749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5463 times:

Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 4):
It looks like the A.net code just chopped the URL on accident. Here is the link:

Airbus A380F Could Air Launch Space Tourists

Thanks.

I just don't see this happening. The A380F is on the back burner indefinitely. Airbus isn't going to build the A380F just to be a mothership for spacecraft. That would be way too expensive.

What is the possibility the spacecraft can be launched from a current plane like the C5, C17, or the AN124?


User currently offlineDfwRevolution From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 51
Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5451 times:

Quoting N844AA (Reply 5):
I'm sure Burt Rutan's design is vastly cheaper and vastly more efficient, and will achieve substantially the same purpose.

I don't necessarily agree with that either. Scaled Composites has shown they can build some incredibly specialized aircraft, but to air-launch a six-passenger vehicle, you really just need something that can lift a vehicle up to altitude. In that regard, a second-hand 777-200 or A340-300 with modification would be more than adequate for air launching a single six-passenger vehicle. **

Now, how does the EU study expect to make practical use out of launching two such vehicles from a single flight? There may very well be an enthusiastic market for space tourist, but to have sufficient demand to regularly fill both aircraft seems wildly optimistic. The economics of scale from launching a second vehicle would not lower the price per seat sufficient enough to allow space tourism to the masses. Even if such demand did exist, land your 777 or A340, hook-up another vehicle, and fly a second flight.

The first rule of business is keep your costs low, and modifying a new-build A380 is not a sound strategy.

------------

** Edit - less I forget that there are already two 747-100 modified to carry spacecraft to altitude and release them, that will also happen to be unemployed after 2011.

[Edited 2007-04-29 20:35:21]

User currently offlineXT6Wagon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 3432 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5443 times:

Quoting Bohica (Reply 6):
I just don't see this happening. The A380F is on the back burner indefinitely. Airbus isn't going to build the A380F just to be a mothership for spacecraft. That would be way too expensive.

It would be possible to produce only one or two as seen by the 744LCF, but I doubt that it would be a good idea even with A380F parts laying around gathering dust.


User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 5443 times:

I dont see why it has to be the Freighter model rather than the passenger model.

User currently offlineAminobwana From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5392 times:

[

Quoting Bohica (Reply 6):
SUGGEST DELETIONSELECTED TEXT QUOTED_

Bohica From United States, joined Feb 2004, 852 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted Sun Apr 29 2007 12:28:19 your local time (13 secs ago) and read 0 times:


Quoting DfwRevolution (Reply 4):
It looks like the A.net code just chopped the URL on accident. Here is the link:

Airbus A380F Could Air Launch Space Tourists

Thanks.

I just don't see this happening. The A380F is on the back burner indefinitely. Airbus isn't going to build the A380F just to be a mothership for spacecraft. That would be way too expensive.

What is the possibility the spacecraft can be launched from a current plane like the C5, C17, or the AN124?

I add to the possible candidate list: The B747-Dreamlifter !! As it is designed to carry ultra-bulky
items and no other applications are foreseen, possibly it could be used as it is, with only minor
applications. As this is a problem of bulk and not weight, the non-existent A380F would be a overshot !
The other aircrafts you cite are for multiple applications and possibly would need some modifications.

But obviously the EU has only focused on the A380F, as EADS was a memebr of the EU study group.

aminobwana


User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5362 times:

Quoting Aminobwana (Reply 10):
But obviously the EU has only focused on the A380F, as EADS was a memebr of the EU study group.

 Yeah sure

Quoting Aminobwana (Reply 10):
What is the possibility the spacecraft can be launched from a current plane like the C5, C17, or the AN124?

I add to the possible candidate list: The B747-Dreamlifter !! As it is designed to carry ultra-bulky
items and no other applications are foreseen, possibly it could be used as it is, with only minor
applications

The dreamlifter would be no use for launching spacecraft compared to the other aircraft mentioned. If an aircraft is needed to piggy back a spaceceaft, the NASA 747 and the AN225 can aleeady do it, but thats just for transporting it, not launching.

The A380 is probably used here due to its high payload capabilities as this vehicle probably needs boosters.


User currently offlineMham001 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 3723 posts, RR: 3
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 5307 times:

NASA has already done this years ago, although it was launching smaller vehicles.

http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/M2-F2/Small/ECN-1436.jpg
http://www.dfrc.nasa.gov/gallery/photo/X-38/Small/EC99-45080-25.jpg

[Edited 2007-04-29 21:18:36]

User currently offlineIkramerica From United States of America, joined May 2005, 21582 posts, RR: 59
Reply 13, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5203 times:

I don't get why the A380F is the best vehicle for this. Is it because of the 4 engines?


Of all the things to worry about... the Wookie has no pants.
User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5178 times:

Quoting Ikramerica (Reply 13):
I don't get why the A380F is the best vehicle for this. Is it because of the 4 engines?

I suspect its just the aircrafts size combined with its MTOW. But I dont see why they specifically mention the Freighter rather than the Passenger version.

[Edited 2007-04-29 21:57:59]

User currently offlineDefAeroSales From United States of America, joined Feb 2006, 49 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5088 times:

Quoting N844AA (Reply 5):
There's an L-1011 used for this purpose. I doubt it's capable of launching a six-person vehicle, however, even a suborbital one.

You may be referring to Pegasus ( Pegasus Project ). This is an Orbital Sciences project which has completed over 30 missions launching small (~ 1000 lb) satellites into Low Earth Orbits.

Edited to try and make link operative

[Edited 2007-04-29 22:33:18]

User currently offline777236ER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 5050 times:

747s with giant lasers on board to shoot down missiles is also a pretty ridiculous idea. Oh wait.

User currently offlineRheinbote From Germany, joined May 2006, 1968 posts, RR: 52
Reply 17, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 5 days ago) and read 4976 times:

Air launching two six-person suborbital vehicles from the back of a specially modified Airbus A380 Freighter is possible, according to a mid-term review of a European Union (EU) study held on 25 April.

'Possible'...a great many things are 'possible'. What a waste of time and resources. It is also entirely possible that this is just another EU-funded token study solely intended to feed 'easy money' to whoever the contractor is .  sarcastic 


User currently offlineKaneporta1 From Greece, joined May 2005, 749 posts, RR: 12
Reply 18, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 4865 times:

The A380F could launch a space vehicle. But who's gonna launch the A380F???


I'd rather die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather, not terrified and screaming, like his passengers
User currently offlineTheRonald From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 41 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3798 times:

Quoting Corey07850 (Reply 2):
BTW your link doesn't work

DITTO  Confused



I already have the quilty concious, may as well have the money, too.
User currently offlineDw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1265 posts, RR: 1
Reply 20, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3607 times:

Quoting EI321 (Reply 11):
the NASA 747 and the AN225 can aleeady do it, but thats just for transporting it, not launching.

The 747s are quite capable of releasing a shuttle--the problem lies with the shuttle's need for external fuel. The other limitation would be the 26,000 foot ceiling NASA has imposed, though I'm not sure if these are extra-conservative numbers or realistic limitations imposed by the structural modifications.

AN-225 would be a great platform for this. Ultimately, I agree that a much more practical approach would be launching a single vehicle from a smaller, cheaper jet.



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently offlineEI321 From Iraq, joined Jul 2009, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3515 times:

Quoting Dw747400 (Reply 20):
AN-225 would be a great platform for this. Ultimately, I agree that a much more practical approach would be launching a single vehicle from a smaller, cheaper jet.

I think the cost of modifying a jet is a minority in comparison to the cost of a new space vehicle.


User currently offlineCygnusChicago From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 758 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 3076 times:

Quoting EI321 (Reply 21):
I think the cost of modifying a jet is a minority in comparison to the cost of a new space vehicle.

Russia's An-225 was proposed to be adapted for the MAKS system (http://www.aerospaceguide.net/space_planes/maks.html).

Quoting N844AA (Reply 5):
I've read once that if you can get a launch vehicle up to 45,000 feet or so, the energy necessary to take it the rest of the way up is substantially reduced, so much that the idea isn't entirely impractical.

Frankly I see no need for a subsonic aircraft launching a spacecraft. What matters for rocket launches is Delta-V, not height. If the A380F carried the aircraft up to say 30,000 ft, it would still only be flying at Mach 0.85, and not at the required angle of launch. You really don't gain much.



If you cannot do the math, your opinion means squat!
User currently offlineLemurs From United States of America, joined Mar 2005, 1439 posts, RR: 4
Reply 23, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 2897 times:

Quoting CygnusChicago (Reply 22):
Frankly I see no need for a subsonic aircraft launching a spacecraft. What matters for rocket launches is Delta-V, not height. If the A380F carried the aircraft up to say 30,000 ft, it would still only be flying at Mach 0.85, and not at the required angle of launch. You really don't gain much.

You're thinking in terms of physics, not logisitics. With flight-launched aircraft you get:

1) Ability to fly where the weather is good, meaning no costly launch delays.
2) No ground facility costs. Launch pads, range equipment, etc...are more costly to maintain than a well-known and understood converted airplane.
3) Favorable launch latitudes. Need an equatorial launch for best payload? Why try and buy a ton of land there? Just fly there!
4) Simplified nozzle design on the first stage, as it doesn't need to handle the higher density air like a sea-level launch would.
5) Reduced safety and insurance costs, because you can launch over the ocean. (Insurance costs for any orbital launch attempt are decidedly expensive.)

The cost of entry for smaller players is dramatically reduced over ground-based launching.



There are 10 kinds of people in the world; those who understand binary, and those that don't.
User currently offlineRwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2411 posts, RR: 2
Reply 24, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2652 times:
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Quoting CygnusChicago (Reply 22):
Frankly I see no need for a subsonic aircraft launching a spacecraft. What matters for rocket launches is Delta-V, not height. If the A380F carried the aircraft up to say 30,000 ft, it would still only be flying at Mach 0.85, and not at the required angle of launch. You really don't gain much.

It's significantly more complicated than "just delta-V." Two factors that must be considered include avoiding a lot of flight through dense atmosphere with correspondingly high amounts of air friction, and second, you cannot consider just delta-V during a launch from a planetary surface, since a significant amount of thrust has to be expended just to counteract gravity, and that amount varies greatly as horizontal velocity changes. Nor are those requirements curves simple - in an effort to get through the dense atmosphere quickly launches usually start much more vertical than you'd expect, and transition to a mainly horizontal thrust line much earlier than you'd expect (with the launch vehicle having a significant residual positive vertical velocity from the early part of the flight). Taking off from an airless world, you'd normally fly a much flatter launch trajectory (all other things being equal).

But anyway, even if it were just a matter of delta-V, the extra 500mph (about 230m/s) gained by launching from an airplane would reduce the fuel requirements by about 7%, hardly trivial. That would be comparing equatorial launches to LEO, one from a point stationary with respect to the earth surface (IOW, moving east at about 460m/s), and the second, aircraft launch, with a net east velocity at launch of 690m/s, with a 5000m/s exhaust velocity (in the range you'd expect for LOX/LH).

Remember that the fuel mass required grows exponentially (relative to a constant "empty" vehicle mass) with the delta-V required, even small reductions in required delta-V (at least one the delta V starts getting close to the exhaust velocity), have significant impact on the required amount of fuel. The general rocket equation is a harsh mistress.

Combined with avoiding the denser atmosphere and the quicker drop off in the thrust needed for "hovering", the savings is significantly greater than the simple delta-V only calculation would suggest.


25 CygnusChicago : Not sure how you get the 7% reduction. If you consider a standard equitorial LEO launch, you need about 30,000 fps to get into orbit, and that includ
26 Post contains links Rwessel : The basic amount of reaction mass (for a rocket that's fuel plus oxidizer) to achieve a given delta-V is given by the general rocket equation (also k
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