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TSTO spaceplanes
by IKE - 19-4-2006

 
Introduction

Until now, apart from the STS space shuttle almost every space program is based around vertically launched expendable rockets. These rockets not only they are very expensive but they also are very difficult to operate. In most circumstances a long period of many days, weeks or months of preparations is needed for a successful launch.

It is a widely spread belief that the ideal vehicle would be a system that could take off horizontally like a conventional airliner, reach high altitude and place its cargo in to orbit and later land also as a conventional airplane. This system would combine the operational agility of common aircraft with very low operating cost because it would be almost completely reusable. However the previous concept (single stage to orbit - SSTO) would require a huge amount of thrust potential from the engines and so it is quite a leap from the technology available at the time being.

The following projects are two stage to orbit (TSTO) vehicles that consist from a carrier aircraft and a -smaller- orbital vehicle. The first is a presentation of a patent application by Boeing in two variations of a tsto system, the second is a XB-70 derived project known as Blackstar and the third is the short-lived rascal project of DARPA.


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