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Space Ship Two Cleared For Suborbital Test Flights  
User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10895 posts, RR: 37
Posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 12747 times:

This is some news!
Richard Branson must be a happy bunny!

The FAA has given the go for SS2 to go on experimental suborbital test flights. Will be quite interesting to see how it goes.

  

SpaceShipTwo, a six-passenger commercial spaceship owned by Virgin Galactic, has been cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration to begin test flights beyond the atmosphere.

Spaceship builder Scaled Composites received an experimental launch permit from the FAA on May 23.

http://news.discovery.com/space/spaceshiptwo-cleared-120530.html

Virgin Galactic, which made the announcement on Wednesday, said it expects the first powered test flight near the end of the year.

  


There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
31 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 12716 times:
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I don't understand your excitement about something like SS2 that is a technological and practical dead end that will never progress beyond a ballistic suborbital joyride, while being so dismissive of Falcon-9/Dragon which can actually put real payloads into actual orbit, with a clear path to putting actual humans in orbit.

User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10895 posts, RR: 37
Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 12699 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 1):
with a clear path to putting actual humans in orbit.

It will be a while until non-professional paying passengers can fly on the Falcons/Dragons. They already do it on the Soyuz. Think of those lucky rich few like Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté who could buy themselves rides to the ISS with a stay on board.

SS2 will make it so that others will be able to fly suborbital and get short but interesting trips to heights never yet reached by non-Astronauts with amazing views of earth - only from one set point... but still.

Suppose you can pay for the flight, you can book today and go when your turn comes.

Higher and faster than a Concorde or Mig 29. Not bad.

SS2 is the first one ever. No doubt I would have gone if I had that kind of money. It will only be affordable by a chosen few.
First to Fly the SS2 will be very lucky.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/i...he-green-light-for-powered-flight/

The two ships SS2 and Falcon/Dragon cannot be compared.

     



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlinemaxter From Australia, joined May 2009, 223 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 12674 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 1):
I don't understand your excitement about something like SS2 that is a technological and practical dead end that will never progress beyond a ballistic suborbital joyride, while being so dismissive of Falcon-9/Dragon which can actually put real payloads into actual orbit, with a clear path to putting actual humans in orbit.

Funny that, I was thinking exactly the same thing... And the above answer doesn't explain it either...

[Edited 2012-05-31 02:53:40]


maxter
User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 12652 times:
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Quoting MadameConcorde (Reply 2):
The two ships SS2 and Falcon/Dragon cannot be compared.

That's my point. One will actually accomplish something, the other is a really expensive rollercoaster. Sure it might be fun to ride the latter, but what does it have to excite anyone other than the handful of those with enough spare cash to take one for a five minute ride into space? It doesn't actually accomplish anything. Who knows, Virgin Galactic may actually make money with this thing, but that's no more exciting for real life than the new amusement park in town making money.


User currently offlineMadameConcorde From San Marino, joined Feb 2007, 10895 posts, RR: 37
Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 12644 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 4):
what does it have to excite anyone other than the handful of those with enough spare cash to take one for a five minute ride into space?

Rutan and Branson and their Virgin Galactic plan are just the beginning, same as with the Falcons/Dragons. There will be others, doing other things, more elaborate I hope and maybe for longer trips. Not sure about the XCOR (I have seen real size mockups) and what their goal is and there will be others the same as there will be competition for the Falcons and Dragons, Boeing and others.

For now it's the only way for fairly wealthy people to fly to suborbital heights and see the Earth like you could not see from Concorde or Mig passenger flights.

I for one would love to see the EADS Astrium passenger space plane project coming to fruition. The company already has lots of experience and background in the field. This is one I would really like to fly on.

http://www.astrium.eads.net/fr/programme/avion-spatial.html

Talking about cost, it will probably cost zillions more for a willing passenger to fly on a future Dragon and go orbital than for those who use the Rutan/Branson Virgin Galactic, the XCOR or Astrium space planes.

     



There was a better way to fly it was called Concorde
User currently offlinecasinterest From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 4623 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 12614 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 4):

That's my point. One will actually accomplish something, the other is a really expensive rollercoaster.

That's a bit shortsighted.

Think about the folks that are behind Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic. These are the same folks that designed a plane to fly around the world non-stop and an airline owner. Think about the long term possibilites of their success. Perhaps a 2 hour flight from New York to Sydney?

Scaled has designed something that can be reused reasonably fast and lands on a runway. They are going for a niche earth to earth transport, while others are looking for commercialized space transport.



Older than I just was ,and younger than I will soo be.
User currently offlinenomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1864 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 12607 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 1):
I don't understand your excitement about something like SS2 that is a technological and practical dead end that will never progress beyond a ballistic suborbital joyride, while being so dismissive of Falcon-9/Dragon which can actually put real payloads into actual orbit, with a clear path to putting actual humans in orbit.

I don't understand people's need to pollute a technical thread with their whining about other people's interests. But, that's life.



Andy Goetsch
User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 12592 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 1):
I don't understand your excitement about something like SS2 that is a technological and practical dead end

I don't know about that: SS2 + Stratolaunch could contain the technological seeds to a viable passenger suborbital transport service... and *that* would be something to be excited about.

Picture something like this:
1 - a fully reusable air-launched suborbital passenger transport, with a pressurized cabin but otherwise quite unlike SS2: a main engine with ISP around 450s (SSME-like), a re-entry shield from near-orbital velocities and hypersonic glide capability (no "feather" maneuver!), total wet mass including passengers, baggage and crew around 10 t
2 - an expendable external tank packing around 55t of fuel and oxidizer, probably criogenic, as light and cheap as possibile al long as it's able to whithstand ascent stresses (not meant as the "structural backbone" of the assembly, unlike SST), max 3-5 t empty
3 - a mother ship capable of lifting to FL300 and air-dropping a 70t craft

The back-of-the envelope gives me a max speed around 7 km/s, an apogee of 1500 km and a ballistic cross-range radius of over 5000 km (and as much as 50-70% more by stretching the re-entry glide). That means you would be able to fly almost anywhere on the planet in 2-3 hours (getting a landing clearance for a supersonic glider would be tough, though), peaking at *15 times* the altitude of a SS2 ride (actually, a lot higher than LEO: talk about a breath-taking view), at a cost of at least many times a SS2 ticket (but less than a trip to ISS).

I know, that's quite a leap of imagination, and we're talking at most about a niche market for billionaires, but seeing more and more bits and pieces coming to reality one can always dream

[Edited 2012-05-31 06:25:55]

User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 12519 times:
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Quoting jollo (Reply 8):
I don't know about that: SS2 + Stratolaunch could contain the technological seeds to a viable passenger suborbital transport service... and *that* would be something to be excited about.

Picture something like this:
1 - a fully reusable air-launched suborbital passenger transport, with a pressurized cabin but otherwise quite unlike SS2: a main engine with ISP around 450s (SSME-like), a re-entry shield from near-orbital velocities and hypersonic glide capability (no "feather" maneuver!), total wet mass including passengers, baggage and crew around 10 t
2 - an expendable external tank packing around 55t of fuel and oxidizer, probably criogenic, as light and cheap as possibile al long as it's able to whithstand ascent stresses (not meant as the "structural backbone" of the assembly, unlike SST), max 3-5 t empty
3 - a mother ship capable of lifting to FL300 and air-dropping a 70t craft

OK, so a completely different carrier aircraft, a completely different engine technology (BTW, LOX/LH2 is the only thing that will give you that ISP, and more than a bit of an issue for passenger flight, IMO, plus the boil-off issue will complicate things on the long slog to altitude by the carrier), a completely different reentry system (not only do I not think the SS2 shuttle-cock reentry will actually work at Mach 20, using it would also eliminate most of the final glide you're hoping for), so basically a complete different spacecraft. I don't see any of the main technologies going into SS2 as being applicable to such a design, or reasonable predecessors of applicable technologies.

IOW, if you want to go in this direction, what Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic are doing with WK2/SS2 is not actual progress towards that goal.

Quoting jollo (Reply 8):
The back-of-the envelope gives me a max speed around 7 km/s, an apogee of 1500 km and a ballistic cross-range radius of over 5000 km (and as much as 50-70% more by stretching the re-entry glide). That means you would be able to fly almost anywhere on the planet in 2-3 hours (getting a landing clearance for a supersonic glider would be tough, though), peaking at *15 times* the altitude of a SS2 ride (actually, a lot higher than LEO: talk about a breath-taking view), at a cost of at least many times a SS2 ticket (but less than a trip to ISS).

Didn't I post numbers just like these over in TechOps a couple of months ago?  

But what the Stratolaunch is planning (again Rutan's got his fingers in there), will be using a scaled down Falcon-9 (LOX/RP-1, not LH2) as the dropped vehicle in the half-million-pound range, and should manage to put 6t into orbit. 10t suborbital should be doable, but we're still short a ship to mount on the front of that (which is going to be nothing at all like SS2). If you want that sort of sub-orbital transport, the Stratolaunch guys are on the actual track (although not very far down it).


User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 12462 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 9):
so basically a complete different spacecraft.

Yes, "quite unlike SS2" was probably an understatement. More to the point, I specifically wrote that an hypersonic glider cannot rely on SS2 "feathered" re-entry method (*of course* that maneuver would rip any craft apart at 7 km/s).

Quoting rwessel (Reply 9):

Didn't I post numbers just like these over in TechOps a couple of months ago?

You did better than that: you posted a tutorial and shown me (and many others) how to *run* the numbers! Teach a man how to go fishing...   Thanks again for making the rocket equation work on the back of *my* envelope as well.

Actually, these are slightly revised numbers: dropping the requirement for a powered landing and a few more tons of total mass make things a lot easier.

Virgin Galactic is the first commercial enterprise to seriously work towards bringing passengers out of the atmosphere: their craft may be very different from what may one day the first commercial suborbital transport, but it's still a step in the general direction.


User currently offlinetugger From United States of America, joined Apr 2006, 5599 posts, RR: 8
Reply 11, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 12432 times:

Quoting casinterest (Reply 6):
Perhaps a 2 hour flight from New York to Sydney?
Quoting jollo (Reply 8):
That means you would be able to fly almost anywhere on the planet in 2-3 hours

And with a slight modification to this slogan:


to make it "When it absolutely positively has to be there in 2-3hours"

 

Tugg



I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. -W. Shatner
User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 12331 times:

Quoting tugger (Reply 11):
to make it "When it absolutely positively has to be there in 2-3hours"

As Rwessel pointed out, the re-entry vehicle will likely look nothing like SS2. Probably something more along these general lines:




... with an engine permanently bolted on the tail and, when dropped from the mother-ship, riding a (comparatively) huge expendable tank.


User currently offlinetitanmiller From United States of America, joined May 2006, 90 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12141 times:

Quoting jollo (Reply 8):
That means you would be able to fly almost anywhere on the planet in 2-3 hours

Precisely. Any idea how far SS2 could fly horizontally? Granted, the White Knight 2 ride to 50,000' will be so slow that it would negate a lot of the benefit.

I think the point is that this is a stepping stone to "affordable" hypersonic point-to-point transportation.


User currently offlineZANL188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12131 times:
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Quoting jollo (Reply 8):
I don't know about that: SS2 + Stratolaunch could contain the technological seeds to a viable passenger suborbital transport service... and *that* would be something to be excited about.

What you need for a long range sub orbital transport service is an orbital craft on a near orbital trajectory. SS2 won't cut it, it's designed to fall, as in nearly straight down, back thru the atmosphere - not glide thru it at near orbital velocities.



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User currently offlineMigPilot From Germany, joined Nov 2005, 26 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 12116 times:

I couldn't care less about SS2, nothing useful will ever come of this. It only serves the vanity of a few astronaut wannabes with too much money at their hands. Oh look I was in space, right!

I have much more respect for what SpaceX is doing. SS2 will never make it to suborbital flight - let alone into actual space.


User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 12087 times:

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 14):
SS2 won't cut it, it's designed to fall, as in nearly straight down, back thru the atmosphere

See reply 11.

For clarity: no one ever said SS2 will eventually become a suborbital transport: as many underlined, it's designed to have no cross-range capability at all, to keep speed down (because it has no thermal shield worth of the name). So ok, SS2 is a mere joyride, unworthy of your consideration (but, if I had that kind of money to throw at a stunt, you bet I'd book a ride tomorrow).

Still, they are a private enterprise gearing up to fly civilian passengers out of the atmosphere (well, most of it), and that's a capability anyone designing a suborbital trasport will have to match (while adding many more that SS2 lacks by design). Even if that craft will *never* move beyond mere entertainement equipment, it's still a first. That's no mean feat: if you think it's easy to do something no one ever did before, I urge you to try.


User currently offlineZANL188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 12083 times:
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Quoting jollo (Reply 16):
That's no mean feat: if you think it's easy to do something no one ever did before, I urge you to try.

X-15 did the quick ride to space trick in the 60's



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User currently offlineGDB From United Kingdom, joined May 2001, 13206 posts, RR: 77
Reply 18, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 3 days ago) and read 12039 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 4):
One will actually accomplish something, the other is a really expensive rollercoaster. Sure it might be fun to ride the latter, but what does it have to excite anyone other than the handful of those with enough spare cash to take one for a five minute ride into space? It doesn't actually accomplish anything. Who knows, Virgin Galactic may actually make money with this thing, but that's no more exciting for real life than the new amusement park in town making money.

I agree, sure if there was ever a free ticket and I somehow had a chance, I'd go.
But there won't be. How could there be if this venture has any chance of paying it's way?

Of course you have to respect the work that Rutan and his team did in a pure technical sense.
But I find it hard to see any application beyond very rich celebs doing a watered down version of what Alan Shepard did in 1961. But that of course was an - including his personally - early stepping stone that ultimately led to the Moon.

Agreed also that anything beyond this current application would require entirely new vehicles - which is only likely if SS2 is a phenomenal success, with multiple sites doing very brisk business, day in, day out, for a long time.
But the prices and customer base are not likely to allow that.

I sort of get why some see SS2 as more innovative than what at first looks like, with SpaceX, just another conventional rocket. SS2 is a new concept compared to that.
But that, IMHO, is a misunderstanding of what is meant by commercially driven spaceflight.
For me, spaceflight is getting into orbit.

Branson is good at marketing, he's more a modern P.T. Barnum showman than a true player in commercial spaceflight however.

'Spaceship Two' is more of a marketing based name than one that actually describes what it is. Though I guess that Very Brief Suborbital Craft does not quite have the same ring to it.


User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (2 years 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 11925 times:
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Quoting GDB (Reply 18):
For me, spaceflight is getting into orbit.

  

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 17):
X-15 did the quick ride to space trick in the 60's

And they did it more or less accidentally - this was never a goal, just a byproduct of some of the flight profiles chosen for their high-altitude/high-speed research.


User currently offlinezanl188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 8621 times:
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Scaled must be getting close to "lighting the candle".

Recently completed first glide test with propulsion system installed. 2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Scaled & Virgin Galactic.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/i...e-in-powered-flight-configuration/



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User currently offlineStudeDave From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 486 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (1 year 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8586 times:

Quoting zanl188 (Reply 20):
2013 is shaping up to be a big year for Scaled & Virgin Galactic.

VERY BIG indeed.

Several days ago I learned that a friend of my brothers works on this project.
Being as they hadn't seen each other in quite sometime it was hard to ask much,
but he did say much is happening, and it's all forward progress...

I plan to try and keep in touch with him and get updates.
I wanna see this thing fly. In person!!!



Classic planes, Classic trains, and Studebakers~~ what else is there???
User currently offlinezanl188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (1 year 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4241 times:
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Video from SS2s second powered flight earlier this week:

http://youtu.be/H-khULLjtgU

Flight went to 69000ft and Mach 1.43. Also exercised feathering of the tail section.

http://www.virgingalactic.com/news/i...anism-in-second-supersonic-flight/

External view with SRB comments:

http://youtu.be/tqYAQdNWQjQ

[Edited 2013-09-06 11:22:50]


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User currently offlinezanl188 From United States of America, joined Oct 2006, 3522 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 4170 times:
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1st Flight above the atmosphere planned for December....

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/...ptwo-glides-toward-december-debut/



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User currently offlineNDiesel From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 81 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (1 year 1 week 2 days ago) and read 3932 times:

Flying a plane was undoubtedly considered nothing more than a rollercoaster-ride a long time ago too, by some. To think that flying would dominate transportation and be available to the masses, crossing oceans and continents in just hours just a century later was probably a far fetched dream. Yet here we are - because someone saw the opportunities. As for Virgin Atlantic, I think they're paving the way for other private enterprises willing to invest in what currently is an expensive joyride, but which could lead to the next revolution in sub-orbital travel.

As for orbital and interstellar exploration, Dragon/SpaceX, Boeing and NASA/ESA et al are in a whole different league.



Delta MD-11 JFK-CDG - Upon sunrise I fell in love with Aviation
User currently offlineneutrino From Singapore, joined May 2012, 611 posts, RR: 0
Reply 25, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3878 times:

Quoting NDiesel (Reply 24):
As for Virgin Atlantic

I take it that you meant Virgin Galactic.



Potestatem obscuri lateris nescitis
User currently offlineNDiesel From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 81 posts, RR: 0
Reply 26, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3825 times:

Quoting neutrino (Reply 25):

I get my virgins mixed up  



Delta MD-11 JFK-CDG - Upon sunrise I fell in love with Aviation
User currently offlinenomadd22 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1864 posts, RR: 0
Reply 27, posted (1 year 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3842 times:

There have been rumors that they decided they were going to go to kerosene/LOX, but I'm starting to think those were started by someone claiming credentials he didn't really have. It just takes a lot longer when you're certifying for paying passengers and you don't have Rutan running things.


Andy Goetsch
User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 28, posted (1 year 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 3277 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 9):
OK, so a completely different carrier aircraft, a completely different engine technology (BTW, LOX/LH2 is the only thing that will give you that ISP, and more than a bit of an issue for passenger flight, IMO, plus the boil-off issue will complicate things on the long slog to altitude by the carrier),

Sorry to bring this back from a lot of posts ago, but an LOX/RP engine witn an ISP of, say, 350 s could still be a viable option for an (imaginary) air-launched sub-orbital transport?

- 10 t reusable sub-orbital ship (completely different from SS2: LOx/RP engine, an heath shield good for a 7km/s reeentry, hypersonic glide capability, no "shuttlecock" maneuver, etc.)
- 3 t expendable, non structural tank
- 60 t LOX/RP
- and a moher-ship capable of air-launching an 73t assembly

would yield a 6 km/s delta V: still enough to get "almost anywhere in the world" in one hop.

Of course, we're still a long, long way from that 10t ship (and, let's repeat it, SS2 will *never* become *that* ship, but takes us nevertheless a few steps further along in terms of getting FAA clearance for commercial, quasi-space human transport).


User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 29, posted (1 year 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3256 times:
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Quoting jollo (Reply 28):
Sorry to bring this back from a lot of posts ago, but an LOX/RP engine witn an ISP of, say, 350 s could still be a viable option for an (imaginary) air-launched sub-orbital transport?

- 10 t reusable sub-orbital ship (completely different from SS2: LOx/RP engine, an heath shield good for a 7km/s reeentry, hypersonic glide capability, no "shuttlecock" maneuver, etc.)
- 3 t expendable, non structural tank
- 60 t LOX/RP
- and a moher-ship capable of air-launching an 73t assembly

would yield a 6 km/s delta V: still enough to get "almost anywhere in the world" in one hop.

Of course, we're still a long, long way from that 10t ship (and, let's repeat it, SS2 will *never* become *that* ship, but takes us nevertheless a few steps further along in terms of getting FAA clearance for commercial, quasi-space human transport).

Well, I think that might well work, technically, although I'm not sure about your ET mass, and almost anywhere seems a bit optimistic (you're going to effectively loose some delta-V during the initial drop/acceleration - not nearly as bad as a launch from the ground, but it's still there).

But you run smack into the economics of the thing. You've got an expensive haul to altitude on your carrier aircraft, 60t of fuel and a disposable ET. Let's be (very) optimistic, and assume that costs you $250K. For five or six passengers? Mind you Virgin Galactic is charging that much for a single seat on SS2, for a much, much, simpler flight.

There are a number of operational issues to solve too. Operational emergencies, landing runway scheduling (this thing is a glider, after all, the runway had better be ready when it gets there), diversions, passengers puking, safety...

And as competition you have much cheaper long range bizjets. Sure the flight will take longer, but they can be ready on very short notice (which is unlikely to be true of a suborbital craft). For a lot of missions being able to get 2/3rds of the way around the world in two hours is not going to make up for having to schedule the exact launch time a week in advance. And the development costs of a suborbital would surely cover the development of a Mach-2 bizjet with a fair bit left over, which would allow that 2/3rds around the world flight in about six hours, without the operational difficulties of a suborbital (and at a significantly lower cost).

While a suborbital is certainly a technical possibility, I'm not sure it's economically viable, at least with any technology now on the horizon. Getting into orbit has numerous uses, that can't be satisfied in any other way, but the suborbital is just a somewhat faster (and much more expensive) version of a G650. And if you actually need to meet with people on the other side of the world in a hurry, why not do it *right now* with teleconferencing, for basically pocket change. Yes, not all meetings can be replaced that way, but neither shareholders nor customers should look kindly on a $100K flight that could have been replaced (perhaps not quite as well - although perhaps better, since more people can be involved), with a $100 teleconference.

Perhaps a military application reviving the old skip bomber concept would be viable (although unmanned missiles would almost certainly be less expensive).


User currently offlinejollo From Italy, joined Aug 2011, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 30, posted (1 year 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 3217 times:

Quoting rwessel (Reply 29):

And as competition you have much cheaper long range bizjets. Sure the flight will take longer, but they can be ready on very short notice (which is unlikely to be true of a suborbital craft). For a lot of missions being able to get 2/3rds of the way around the world in two hours is not going to make up for having to schedule the exact launch time a week in advance. And the development costs of a suborbital would surely cover the development of a Mach-2 bizjet with a fair bit left over, which would allow that 2/3rds around the world flight in about six hours, without the operational difficulties of a suborbital (and at a significantly lower cost).

Thanks for your very clear analysis. You have to forgive me for sticking with a pet idea...

Your assessment about the economics of a sub-orbital is, sadly, probably spot on. My take is that, if that idea is ever going to become economically viable, it would only be as a regular route, not as an on-demand custom service. Also, on a 10 t craft, with no fuel on board, you'll probably be able to carry at least a dozen passengers plus luggage and cargo.

You're right, however, that an economic, disposable ET for 60 t of fuel and oxidizer massing under 3 t and still capable of withstanding the aerodynamic stress of the ascent is quite a stretch of imagination...


User currently offlinerwessel From United States of America, joined Jan 2007, 2351 posts, RR: 2
Reply 31, posted (1 year 22 hours ago) and read 3180 times:
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Quoting jollo (Reply 30):
Thanks for your very clear analysis. You have to forgive me for sticking with a pet idea...

Your assessment about the economics of a sub-orbital is, sadly, probably spot on.

Yeah, economics shoots down a lot of cool ideas. Very annoying. We can always hope for a drastic improvement in propulsion to make something like this practical (although that would probably apply quite well to orbital flight too).

Quoting jollo (Reply 30):
My take is that, if that idea is ever going to become economically viable, it would only be as a regular route, not as an on-demand custom service.

Unfortunately that reduces the value of the very fast trip, and limits what you can charge for a seat. Scheduling a flight every couple of hours partially deals with those problems, at least for customers near the O&D "airports".

Quoting jollo (Reply 30):
Also, on a 10 t craft, with no fuel on board, you'll probably be able to carry at least a dozen passengers plus luggage and cargo.

But you have to lug a bunch of rather heavy stuff with you. At 73t, you'd be looking at 300klb+ engine, that alone is going to be about 2.5t (the 500klb SSMEs are just under 4t each). Then you're going to devote a fair bit of mass to the heat shield. Perhaps you'd get a payload of 3000lbs (and manage 12 passengers and bags), but I think that would be a bit tight.


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