skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in reusable launch vehicles

Abstract

A concept is shown for a fully reusable, Earth-to-orbit launch vehicle with horizontal takeoff and landing, employing an air-turborocket for low speed and a rocket for high-speed acceleration, both using liquid hydrogen for fuel. The turborocket employs a modified liquid air cycle to supply the oxidizer. The rocket uses 90% pure liquid oxygen as its oxidizer that is collected from the atmosphere, separated, and stored during operation of the turborocket from about Mach 2 to 5 or 6. The takeoff weight and the thrust required at takeoff are markedly reduced by collecting the rocket oxidizer in-flight. This article shows an approach and the corresponding technology needs for using air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle. Reducing the trajectory altitude at the end of collection reduces the wing area and increases payload. The use of state-of-the-art materials, such as graphite polyimide, in a direct substitution for aluminum or aluminum-lithium alloy, is critical to meet the structure weight objective for SSTO. Configurations that utilize `waverider` aerodynamics show great promise to reduce the vehicle weight. 5 refs.

Authors:
;  [1]
  1. Rockwell Int. Corp., Downey, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
45848
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Journal of Propulsion and Power; Journal Volume: 10; Journal Issue: 4; Other Information: PBD: Jul 1994
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
33 ADVANCED PROPULSION SYSTEMS; 32 ENERGY CONSERVATION, CONSUMPTION, AND UTILIZATION; ROCKET ENGINES; DESIGN; COMPOSITE MATERIALS; MECHANICAL PROPERTIES; PROPULSION SYSTEMS; LIQUEFACTION

Citation Formats

Bond, W.H., and Yi, A.C.. Air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in reusable launch vehicles. United States: N. p., 1994. Web. doi:10.2514/3.23798.
Bond, W.H., & Yi, A.C.. Air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in reusable launch vehicles. United States. doi:10.2514/3.23798.
Bond, W.H., and Yi, A.C.. 1994. "Air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in reusable launch vehicles". United States. doi:10.2514/3.23798.
@article{osti_45848,
title = {Air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in reusable launch vehicles},
author = {Bond, W.H. and Yi, A.C.},
abstractNote = {A concept is shown for a fully reusable, Earth-to-orbit launch vehicle with horizontal takeoff and landing, employing an air-turborocket for low speed and a rocket for high-speed acceleration, both using liquid hydrogen for fuel. The turborocket employs a modified liquid air cycle to supply the oxidizer. The rocket uses 90% pure liquid oxygen as its oxidizer that is collected from the atmosphere, separated, and stored during operation of the turborocket from about Mach 2 to 5 or 6. The takeoff weight and the thrust required at takeoff are markedly reduced by collecting the rocket oxidizer in-flight. This article shows an approach and the corresponding technology needs for using air liquefaction and enrichment system propulsion in a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicle. Reducing the trajectory altitude at the end of collection reduces the wing area and increases payload. The use of state-of-the-art materials, such as graphite polyimide, in a direct substitution for aluminum or aluminum-lithium alloy, is critical to meet the structure weight objective for SSTO. Configurations that utilize `waverider` aerodynamics show great promise to reduce the vehicle weight. 5 refs.},
doi = {10.2514/3.23798},
journal = {Journal of Propulsion and Power},
number = 4,
volume = 10,
place = {United States},
year = 1994,
month = 7
}
  • The reusable launch vehicle single stage to orbit concept is a long term goal of the space program. With the reusable concept, government and industry hope to reduce the cost of spacelift and provide fast reliable access to space. For a viable reusable concept, certain operational areas should be well thought out and considered. For instance, {open_quotes}aircraft like{close_quotes} operations should be a goal of the reusable launch vehicle concept. This paper outlines some initial operational considerations for a reusable launch vehicle. The operational areas considered are viewed from the standpoint of operationally testing the system in the areas of effectivenessmore » and suitability. This paper represents thoughts and ideas of the authors and does not represent official Air Force or Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center policies, positions, or direction. {copyright} {ital 1997 American Institute of Physics.}« less
  • In the near future there will be classes of upper stages and payloads that will require initial operation at a high-earth orbit to reduce the probability of an inadvertent reentry that could result in a detrimental impact on humans and the biosphere. A nuclear propulsion system, such as was being developed under the Space Nuclear Thermal Propulsion (SNTP) Program, is an example of such a potential payload. This paper uses the results of a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) study to demonstrate the potential importance of a Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) to test and implement an advanced upper stage (AUS) ormore » payload in a safe orbit and in a cost effective and reliable manner. The RLV is a horizontal takeoff and horizontal landing (HTHL), two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) vehicle. The results of the study shows that an HTHL is cost effective because it implements airplane-like operation, infrastructure, and flight operations. The first stage of the TSTO is powered by Rocket-Based-Combined-Cycle (RBCC) engines, the second stage is powered by a LOX/LH rocket engine. The TSTO is used since it most effectively utilizes the capability of the RBCC engine. The analysis uses the NASA code POST (Program to Optimize Simulated Trajectories) to determine trajectories and weight in high-earth orbit for AUS/advanced payloads. Cost and reliability of an RLV versus current generation expandable launch vehicles are presented.« less
  • A commercially competitive space launch infrastructure remains an enduring US dilemma. Because of the great cost of all-new launch ranges, safety corridors, and launch structures, we present a short zero-stage electromagnetic launch system which will boost the payload of US expendable launch vehicles (ELVs) from existing ranges. This approach uses an innovative electromagnetic launch pad that will accelerate an ELV to a tailored zero-stage velocity. Acceleration thrusts would be transmitted through the ELV{close_quote}s existing thrust structures, with acceleration loads tailored to ELV/payload tolerances. The proposed system consists of individual magnetic coils which are stacked to form a launch tube. Eachmore » coil is fired sequentially generating a magnetic wave which propels the magnetically coupled launch pad through the tube. {copyright} {ital 1996 American Institute of Physics.}« less
  • A non-toxic on-board propulsion system for the Space Shuttle orbiter promises high payoffs in terms of safety, cost, reliability, reduced ground operations, and improved mission flexibility. Significant cost savings and safety enhancements can be realized by eliminating toxic propellant handling from the orbiter processing flow, including elimination of SCAPE suit operations, relaxing leakage concerns, and reducing propellant cost. Mission reliability and safety can be enhanced by reducing the number of critical components that must operate, while maintaining the same fault tolerance as the current propulsion systems. Mission flexibility and management of propellant reserves can be improved by combining the propellantmore » storage and pressurization systems for the orbital maneuvering system (OMS) and the reaction control system (RCS). The reduction and automation of checkout requirements for the upgraded propulsion system can enhance operational ease and reduce the turnaround cost. System integration with the environmental control and life support system (ECLSS) and the power system may save additional turnaround costs by sharing common components such as the storage tanks. Finally, there can be commonality of this technology with Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS) missions that utilize oxygen produced from in-situ planetary resources. This is a major advancement in the state-of-the-art. {copyright} {ital 1997 American Institute of Physics.}« less