A-12 - 1946
Von Braun orbital launcher as first sketched out for the US Army, 1946.
Status: Study 1944. Payload: 500 kg (1,100 lb). Thrust: 11,770.00 kN (2,646,000 lbf). Gross mass: 586,000 kg (1,291,000 lb). Height: 41.50 m (136.10 ft). Diameter: 8.10 m (26.50 ft). Span: 15.30 m (50.10 ft). Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).
A drawing made for the Army in Texas in 1946 illustrates the design. The A11 stage appears to use six of the A-10 engines. The A10 is nested within the A11 propellant tank, as was the A9 in the A10. The A9 was winged, indicating a gliding recovery or bombing mission. To achieve orbit, either a small kick stage would be needed, or the A9 would have to be significantly lightened compared to the standard version. In any case a payload of only a few 100 kg could be orbited.
LEO Payload: 500 kg (1,100 lb) to a 300 km orbit at 90.00 degrees.
Stage Data - A9/A10/A11
Credit: © Mark Wade
Using catapults and wings an A9 might nearly achieve 1000 km range, but the only solution for transatlantic missions was the two-stage A9/A10. The A10 boost stage was to have a total mass of 87 tonnes, of which 62 tonnes would be propellant. The stage's 200 tonne thrust motor would burn for 50 to 60 seconds, taking the A9 upper stage to 1200 m/s. Then the A9 would separate and burn its engine, reaching an apogee of 55 km, followed by a long hypersonic glide in the atmosphere. The second stage would be equipped with air brakes for deceleration over the target, followed by a parachute for recovery in the water. The A9/A10 would reach a maximum velocity of 2800 m/s, and have a range of 4100 km, and a total flight time of 35 minutes. Full-scale development was underway, when further significant work on the project was stopped at the end of 1942. Only the Advanced Projects Group, under the direction of Dip-Ing Roth and Ing Palt, continued design of the missile. It was also planned to develop, after the war, a stratospheric rocket that could travel in 40 minutes from Europe to America. After that, the target was orbital spaceships that could reach 8 km/sec and 500 km orbital altitude. Beyond that, space stations and the burial in space of the embalmed bodies of the rocket developers and men of the rocket service. Manned expeditions to the moon were also a popular theme for research. Finally, the use of nuclear energy to achieve interstellar travel was studied by the Advanced Projects Group.
As part of a summary of his work on rockets during World War II, Wernher von Braun speculated on future uses of rocket power. These included an observatory in space, the construction of space stations in earth orbit, a space mirror, and interplanetary travel, beginning with trips to the moon.