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TSTO spaceplanes
by IKE - 19-4-2006


The RASCAL (Responsive Access Small cargo Affordable Launch) is smaller than the 3 systems described above and also it isn't totally reusable. It is though very similar in concept. It consists of a carrier aircraft and an expendable small rocket as a second stage.

The RASCAL was a project initiated by DARPA and Scaled Composites was to build the main carrier aircraft. Allied Aerospace was to install and integrate the propulsion system while the overhaul management was awarded to Space Launch. Although it was cancelled it has already reached early development.

The fuselage was 89ft long and the wingspan was 81ft with a wing area of 2700sq.ft. Cargo bay was 42ft long and the aircraft's gross weight was 80.000lb with a maximum of 16.000lb of cargo.

The aircraft used four turbofan engines, with the P&W F100 as proposed (also used in the F-15/F16 fighters). Its main novelty was the MIPCC system in the engine which made the system feasable.

The second stage was an expendable 2 stage rocket with solid propellant or hybrid propulsion.

Flight profile

The aircraft reaches 3.1 mach at 63.000ft and with a steep climb ascends to 200.000ft while decelerating to 1.2 mach. At this point it launches the rocket to place its cargo into orbit.

During the entire flight path the lateral forces never exceed 4g while the longitude forces remain under 5g, in order to stress the cargo no more than a vertically launched rocket.

Rascal's main advantage is its operational flexibility, it can be used anytime and re-launched again in 24 hours after its mission.

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MIPCC (Mass injection pre compressor cooling) is a system that injects water and liquid oxygen to a turbofan/jet's inlet. Turbojets sustain a drop in their efficiency as the atmospheric pressure decreases (in higher altitude) and the air temperature rises (high airspeed).

With the water injection the air temperature is substantially lower and the additional oxygen helps to stabilize the flame front (especially inside the afterburner)

This system has the advantage of increasing the performance without sacrificing the engines life or reliability because it just simulates the operating conditions of lower altitudes.

An aircraft equipped with MIPCC turbojets flying at 100.000ft at 3.0 mach has operating conditions at its engines similar to those flying at sea level. With the appropriate aircraft conventional turbojets with MIPCC can operate at speeds that reaches 6 mach. This system can be disengaged easily in lower altitudes where the engine doesn't benefit from its function.

Tests have taken place in the US by applying similar systems in J57 and J75 engines and the Soviet Union used water and methanol injection in the high altitude 2.8-3 mach MiG-25.

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