Penn and Lindley believe it is possible to design a paraffin-powered rocket engine that would require very little maintenance and that the rocket would be reusable for tens of thousands of flights. The articles that are reporting their claim provide no indication of why they believe this. The first stage would fly itself back to Earth for refueling:
But Jay Penn and Charles Lindley, from the Aerospace Corporation in California believe a ticket into orbit could come substantially down in price.
They say that by using a two-part craft, space travel would become much cheaper.
They think this could be done in fairly short order:
In a forthcoming paper in the journal Acta Astronautica, Penn and Lindley say the reusable system will allow the number of flights to be stepped up dramatically to around 9500 a year, compared with the current 10 or so shuttle launches.
The fleet and infrastructure would take about seven years to develop, and could start to turn in a profit after only six years of flights (see chart).
This scheme would rely on an orbital space tourist hotel:
In the first stage, a small fat rocket with wings would carry the smaller second stage winged rocket to the edge of space.
The second rocket would then fire up its own engines to carry it to a station orbiting the earth. Here it would unload passengers and fill up with returning tourists, while the first rocket glided back to earth ready for another launch.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2002 November 01 01:17 PM Airplanes and Spacecraft|