News Stratolaunch

Pipcard

mikusingularity
Addon Developer
Donator
Joined
Nov 7, 2009
Messages
3,709
Reaction score
42
Points
88
Location
Negishima Space Center
Getting some serious SpaceShipTwo (+WhiteKnightTwo) vibes from this. As well as Orbital's Pegasus.

Oh, I get it now, because Paul G. Allen helped on SpaceShipOne.
 
Last edited:

Ark

New member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
2,200
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Sure looks like fun.

Though, 30,000 feet and cruising speed is a drop in the bucket compared to orbital speed, it hardly seems worth the effort compared to regular launch.
 

RGClark

Mathematician
Joined
Jan 27, 2010
Messages
1,635
Reaction score
1
Points
36
Location
Philadelphia
Website
exoscientist.blogspot.com
This reminds me of a very interesting US Air Force air-launcher study that I read a while back. It mentioned super White Knight style carrier aircraft and SpaceX liquid rockets, among others. I'll try to find it...

Found it! (pdf)

DARPA wants this type of airlaunch system but for small payloads, ca. 100 pounds:

Article:
US Military Wants to Launch Satellites from Airplanes.
Date: 07 November 2011 Time: 12:08 PM ET
http://www.space.com/13529-darpa-military-airplane-satellite-launches.html

Curiously they also expect it to fly by 2015. For launches this small it might work to use a WhiteKnight1 or WhiteKnight2 for the carrier aircraft, and Falcon 1 or Falcon 1e for the rocket.

Bob Clark
 

Spicer

New member
Joined
Jun 3, 2008
Messages
192
Reaction score
0
Points
0
The video does not show it, but I know that they were talking about a 5 engine rocket by spacex. Does this mean that Falcon 5 is re-born?
 

MattBaker

New member
Joined
Jul 9, 2011
Messages
2,750
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Sure looks like fun.

Though, 30,000 feet and cruising speed is a drop in the bucket compared to orbital speed, it hardly seems worth the effort compared to regular launch.

I think it's much more about the atmosphere and its pressure.

By the way, you could "launch" from a point 2000 miles south of the US, so even if you assemble the rocket+aircraft at the Cape you could launch from a latitude comparable to Kourou, another few percent more payload.
 

Ark

New member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
2,200
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I think it's much more about the atmosphere and its pressure.

By the way, you could "launch" from a point 2000 miles south of the US, so even if you assemble the rocket+aircraft at the Cape you could launch from a latitude comparable to Kourou, another few percent more payload.

That's true, depending on range you could reach a much more advantageous launch position, without the challenge of towing a barge out there.

But, still, 30,000 feet is reached in what, the first 20 seconds of burn time? It can't be worth R&D for a whole carrier vehicle just to save 20 seconds of fuel.
 

cymrych

The Probe abides
Donator
Joined
Mar 10, 2010
Messages
138
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Where there are dead guys to dig up
Those were my thoughts as well, Ark. The main advantage of such a system are: 1) ability to travel to optimal global launch position for desired inclination; and 2) perhaps see lower facility costs by not requiring a fixed dedicated vertical launch complex.

I also don't see how such a system will provide much benefit over traditional methods at this point, or make it significantly easier to increase launch rates and ultimately lower launch costs.
 

jedidia

shoemaker without legs
Addon Developer
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Messages
10,937
Reaction score
2,213
Points
203
Location
between the planets
So how exactly is this different from more classical air-launch concepts? Appart from that it doesn't look nearly as cool, and that I don't quite see how that plane could do anything that a third stage couldn't do a lot better. It can't get very high for launch, and it can't reach significant velocities to help with orbital insertion...

Alright, it's more flexible... So if it ends up being slightly cheaper too, that's an incremental progress, I guess.
 
Last edited:

Ark

New member
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
2,200
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Those were my thoughts as well, Ark. The main advantage of such a system are: 1) ability to travel to optimal global launch position for desired inclination; and 2) perhaps see lower facility costs by not requiring a fixed dedicated vertical launch complex.

I also don't see how such a system will provide much benefit over traditional methods at this point, or make it significantly easier to increase launch rates and ultimately lower launch costs.

You might gain flexibility and save infrastructure costs by ditching the stationary launch platform, but what are the requirements for launching and landing this monster? Extremely long, reinforced runways? Commercial airports are obviously out of the question, but what military fields can possibly support this thing?

Boosters can be flown in to assemble and launch from anywhere, but what about the gear to mate everything together? The rig to bolt this thing to the carrier plane is a massive piece of machinery by itself.

Whatever the challenges, I'd still like to see this thing fly. The US hasn't had any colossal aerospace engineering like this in a long time. Plus, anything that has a good chance of making the old vertical launch cartel obsolete is a good thing in my book.
 

T.Neo

SA 2010 Soccermaniac
Addon Developer
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
Messages
6,368
Reaction score
0
Points
0
DARPA wants this type of airlaunch system but for small payloads, ca. 100 pounds:

Curiously they also expect it to fly by 2015. For launches this small it might work to use a WhiteKnight1 or WhiteKnight2 for the carrier aircraft, and Falcon 1 or Falcon 1e for the rocket.

Oh yes, why not use Falcon 1e? Great option... except for the fact that it has a payload of 1010 kilograms, not 40-50... :shifty:

It also can't fit on a WhiteKnight Two, which has a payload of 17 000 kg (F1e has a mass of over 35 tons).

The video does not show it, but I know that they were talking about a 5 engine rocket by spacex. Does this mean that Falcon 5 is re-born?

With wings and slung under a carrier aircraft. It could be.

Though I believe they are looking toward either a four or five engine configuration.

But, still, 30,000 feet is reached in what, the first 20 seconds of burn time? It can't be worth R&D for a whole carrier vehicle just to save 20 seconds of fuel.

Air launch supposedly gives 5-10% of an advantage. It's more than just saving 20 seconds of fuel... but the question is still "is this advantage worth the extra cost".

By the way, you could "launch" from a point 2000 miles south of the US, so even if you assemble the rocket+aircraft at the Cape you could launch from a latitude comparable to Kourou, another few percent more payload.

By flying for 1300 nautical miles at a heading of 116 degrees (you still have to avoid islands), you end up at a launch 'site' at a latitude of roughly 17 degrees. While that would obviously boost payload somewhat, it isn't really comparable to Kourou.

So how exactly is this different from more classical air-launch concepts? Appart from that it doesn't look nearly as cool, and that I don't quite see how that plane could do anything that a third stage couldn't do a lot better. It can't get very high for launch, and it can't reach significant velocities to help with orbital insertion...

For one, this is actually a (seemingly) serious proposal, and not something silly that looks like it came out of science fiction.

In all seriousness though, air launch isn't one fixed definition. it goes from dropping a rocket out the back of a C-5 to some sort of supersonic or even hypersonic, scramjet assisted proposals.

The "air launch scheme" this is most similar to is Pegasus.
 

Arrowstar

Probenaut
Addon Developer
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
1,785
Reaction score
0
Points
36
Personally, I'll believe this when I see it. There may be some big names behind it, but I'm just not sure the need and technology is all there.

(That said, I would love to see them succeed: it's a wicked cool concept. I'm just a bit skeptical at the moment.)
 

RGClark

Mathematician
Joined
Jan 27, 2010
Messages
1,635
Reaction score
1
Points
36
Location
Philadelphia
Website
exoscientist.blogspot.com
Oh yes, why not use Falcon 1e? Great option... except for the fact that it has a payload of 1010 kilograms, not 40-50...
It also can't fit on a WhiteKnight Two, which has a payload of 17 000 kg (F1e has a mass of over 35 tons).

Correct. The report:

Report of the Horizontal Launch Study.
http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/nasa/casi.ntrs.nasa.gov/20110015353_2011016245.pdf

on which the DARPA Alasa program was based used an airlaunched Falcon 1e as a baseline for larger launchers using 747-sized carrier aircraft.


Bob Clark
 
Last edited:

orbitingpluto

Orbiteer
Joined
May 1, 2010
Messages
618
Reaction score
0
Points
16
Seems like there is enough problems in this to stop it from actually happening. This is an feeling of mine, not backed up by numbers or deep knowledge of the sciences at play in a concept like this. So don't argue me on on it.

That said, just because a concept has problems doesn't mean we can't try it out in orbiter. We don't have a twined 747 airplane around, but we do have a [ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=5377"]twined B52[/ame]. I can't check how well it might work [ame="http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=5442"]Glider's Falcons[/ame] at the moment, but we could be flying this thing and debating the relative merits of it before the inevitable configuration change. Which could be two weeks from now:lol:
 

T.Neo

SA 2010 Soccermaniac
Addon Developer
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
Messages
6,368
Reaction score
0
Points
0
I don't think Glider's Falcons include F5, especially winged F5...

Seems like there is enough problems in this to stop it from actually happening. This is an feeling of mine, not backed up by numbers or deep knowledge of the sciences at play in a concept like this. So don't argue me on on it.

I also have this feeling, but not about the technical aspects- rather the economic ones. But they are just uneducated possibilities, there is obviously a lot going on behind the scenes.

The technical concept has quite a bit going for it, but there are still technical problems of course. How much will the Falcon structure have to be re-engineered to handle the different loads? Will the propellant handling systems face any significant challenges? Etc.
 

C3PO

Addon Developer
Addon Developer
Donator
Joined
Feb 11, 2008
Messages
2,605
Reaction score
17
Points
53
But, still, 30,000 feet is reached in what, the first 20 seconds of burn time? It can't be worth R&D for a whole carrier vehicle just to save 20 seconds of fuel.

It's not so much about the 20 seconds of fuel. If you launch at surface pressure, you'll have to make compromises in engine design to get enough thrust at lift-off. This makes the engines less efficient at lower pressure.

By flying for 1300 nautical miles at a heading of 116 degrees (you still have to avoid islands), you end up at a launch 'site' at a latitude of roughly 17 degrees. While that would obviously boost payload somewhat, it isn't really comparable to Kourou.

The big advantage is that you can fly to a location where you can launch into the desired direction. Land based sites have many restrictions on launch azimuth.

I hope this thing "gets of the ground" and I'll be in the basement building my own Deltaglider to strap on to it. :lol:
 
Last edited:

T.Neo

SA 2010 Soccermaniac
Addon Developer
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
Messages
6,368
Reaction score
0
Points
0
It's not so much about the 20 seconds of fuel. If you launch at surface pressure, you'll have to make compromises in engine design to get enough thrust at lift-off. This makes the engines less efficient at lower pressure.

Still, how much of an advantage go you get? And doesn't designing a totally different nozzle mean that SpaceX needs tooling to produce two different (first stage Merlin) nozzles?

Maybe you still get a nice performance boost just by launching at altitude with usual ground-adapted nozzles.

Land based sites have many restrictions on launch azimuth.

Can't KSC pretty much support station, GTO and planetary launches and VAFB support retrograde/polar military and Earth sciences payloads?

Wouldn't it cost less to share the same facilities that already exist (or should hopefully soon exist) there for F9/FH?
 

anemazoso

Addon Developer
Addon Developer
Joined
May 23, 2008
Messages
442
Reaction score
0
Points
0
Location
Las Vegas, NV
Some things that caught my attention in the NASAspaceflight.com article:

The company announced they have already acquired two 747s to become the opening hardware for this system.

So that should save some money. They aren't building the aircraft from scratch.

Stratolaunch’s carrier aircraft, built by Scaled Composites, weighs more than 1.2 million pounds and has a wingspan of 385 feet. Using six 747 engines, the carrier aircraft will be the largest aircraft ever constructed.

A truly appropriate use for the word AWESOME...

But it makes me think that such a unique aircraft is a big gamble.

The aviation/engineer side of me would love to see this fly but the rational side says it will fail financially.
 

T.Neo

SA 2010 Soccermaniac
Addon Developer
Joined
Jun 22, 2008
Messages
6,368
Reaction score
0
Points
0
So that should save some money. They aren't building the aircraft from scratch.

But if you look at Stratolaunch, and you look at a 747, they look totally different. One is a high wing, the other is a low wing, for example. The wings are different... the tailplane is totally different...

If they intend to use said 747s, I would imagine they would utilise the engines/engine pods, or other subsystems in the new aircraft if possible.
 

MaverickSawyer

Acolyte of the Probe
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
3,919
Reaction score
5
Points
61
Location
Wichita
From the looks of it, the landing gear is from a 747. The engines are confirmed to be from one, and the cockpit windows look similar.
:hmm:
Bitzer, anyone?
 
Top