Encyclopedia Astronautica
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Category of launch vehicles and spacecraft.

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Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Saenger German sled-launched intercontinental boost-glide missile. Saenger-Bredt antipodal bomber - sled launched, boosted to suborbital velocity, 'skips' off upper atmosphere to deliver bombload on target, recovery back at launch site. Fascinated Stalin, led to US Dynasoar project. More...
  • A8 German cruise missile. Planned stretched version of the V-2 with storable propellants. Never reached the hardware stage, but design continued after the war in France as the 'Super V-2'. More...
  • A9/A10/A11 German winged orbital launch vehicle. The A11 was planned at Peenemuende to use the A9/A10 transoceanic missile atop the tubby A11 stage to form the basis for launching the first earth satellite - or as an ICBM.... More...
  • A9/A10/A11/A12 German orbital launch vehicle. The A12 has been named as the designation for a true orbital launch vehicle, as sketched out at Peenemuende. It would have been a four-stage vehicle consisting of the A9+A10+A11+A12 stages. Caluclation suggest it could have placed 10 tonnes into low earth orbit. More...
  • G-2 The G-2 design objective was to create the first IRBM - to deliver a 1000 kg payload over a 2500 km range. The missile would use three V-2 derived engines with a total thrust of 100 tonnes. A variety of alternate configurations (R-12A through R-12K) were considered by the German team in Russia. These included parallel and consecutive staging, gimballed motors, and other innovations. The R-12K was particularly interesting because it represented a concept later used on the US Atlas missile - jettisoning of the two outboard engines at altitude to significantly improve range. The G-2 was given the secret designation R-6 and overt designation R-12 by the Russians. More...
  • G-3 German aerodynamicist Albring designed the G-3 missile for the Russians in October 1949. This would use a rocket-powered Groettrup-designed G-1 as the first stage. The cruise stage would have an aerodynamic layout like that of the Saenger-Bredt rocket-powered antipodal bomber of World War II. Cruising at 13 km altitude, the supersonic missile would carry a 3000 kg warhead to a range of 2900 km. More...
  • G-4 Russian intermediate range ballistic missile. The G-4 was designed by the Groettrup German team in the Soviet Union in competition with Korolev's R-3. Rocket chief Ustinov informed Groettrup of the requirement on 9 April 1949: to deliver a 3000 kg atomic bomb to a 3000 km. This requirement meant a massive improvement over existing V-2 technology. The G-4 was evaluated against Korolev's R-3 on 7 December 1949 - and the G-4 was found to be superior. Neither ended up in production, but the design concepts of the G-4 led directly to Korolev's R-7 ICBM (essentially a cluster of G-4's or R-3A's) and the N1 superbooster. Work on the G-4 continued through 1952. More...
  • G-1 Russian intermediate range ballistic missile. The G-1, an improved 600 km range version of the V-2 missile, was the first design produced by Groettrup's German engineering team after they had been moved to Russia. A Soviet state commission found in 1948 that it was superior to Korolev's R-2 concept. Nevertheless the R-2 was put in production instead. More...
  • EKR Russian intermediate range cruise missile. B Chertok of NII-8 took the preliminary German R-13 cruise missile design and elaborated it, including consideration of the key problem of long-range automatic astronavigation. By 1951 to 1953 Korolev's design bureau had prepared an experimental design, the EKR. I Lisovich had developed a prototype astronavigation system that met the necessary specifications, and solution of basic problems in use of steel and titanium hot airframe technology had been solved at VIAM (All-Union Institute of Aviation Materials) and MVTU Bauman Institute. An expert commission in 1953 examined the EKR design and felt that there were still many technical problems to be solved, most of which were better handled by an aircraft designer rather than Korolev. More...
  • Von Braun 1948 German winged orbital launch vehicle. Von Braun's 1948 design for a reusable space launcher was remarkable in its tubby design. This was partly driven by the need for large parachute cannisters in the base of the first and second stages, which took up one half of the diameter, with the engines arranged around the periphery. More...
  • G-5 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Some sources indicate the G-5 / R-15 designation was assigned to an ICBM designed by the Groettrup team. If so, it may have been the 'packet of G-4's' that was the direct ancestor of the Korolev R-7. The designation G-5 / R-15 has also been reported as that of the ramjet missile more often referred to as G-3 or R-13. More...
  • MKR Russian intercontinental cruise missile. A wide range of MKR (intercontinental winged missiles) were studied in 1957-1960 in accordance with a decree of the General Staff. The trade-off studies encompassed long-range air-breathing aircraft, winged rockets, and aircraft launchers for air-breathing missiles. More...
  • Von Braun 1952 German winged orbital launch vehicle. Von Braun's 1952 design for a reusable space launcher used the same mass and performance calculations done in 1948. However the large parachute cannisters were replaced by deployable drag skirts. This allowed the design to be substantially less squat and more elegant than the 1948 version -- but still fatter than the sleek paintings that appeared in print! More...
  • Von Braun 1956 German winged orbital launch vehicle. In 1956, for the book Exploration of Mars and the Disney television series, the 1952 design was significantly 'down-sized'. The first and second stages were simply reduced to 20% of their former size. A tiny expendable third stage replaced the manned glider. The manned glider itself became a seperate payload, that could be replaced by an 'all cargo' module. More...
  • T-1 Original conceptual design for ICBM. Final design was R-7 due to unachievability of mass ratio for this single stage design. Data from chart at Russian Space Agency HQ. More...
  • R-8 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Glushko project 1956 for multistage 650t ICBM powered by Lox/UDMH. More...
  • KR Russian intercontinental boost-glide missile. The KR (winged rocket) was a three-stage unmanned boost-glide missile developed at the Tupolev's OKB-156. Work began in 1957. Two alternates were considered for the first stage: a conventional liquid rocket or a special manned aircraft launcher. The second stage was a conventional rocket. The final winged stage included a propulsion section and nuclear warhead. The glider would cut-off at an altitude of 50 km and a velocity of 20,000 km/hr. Planned-over target speed was 7,000 km/hr at 30 km altitude. Work on the project continued only about a year before it was abandoned in favour of the more conventional Tu-123 supersonic cruise missile. The KR would have had a gross weight of 240 tonnes, and delivered a payload of 3 to 5 tonnes over a range of 9,000 to 12,000 km. More...
  • Tu-130 Russian intercontinental boost-glide missile. Three-stage intercontinental boost-glide missile. Studied 1957-1960. More...
  • Tu-123 Russian intercontinental boost-glide missile. Exotic design for an intercontinental missile using a gas core fission reactor for cruise propulsion. Studied circa 1957. More...
  • Saturn C-2 American orbital launch vehicle. The launch vehicle initially considered for realizing the Apollo lunar landing at the earliest possible date. 15 launches and rendezvous required to assemble direct landing spacecraft in earth orbit. More...
  • Hyperion 1958 American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Hyperion was considered in 1958 as a ca. 1970 Saturn follow-on. It used a small jettisonable chemical booster stage that contained chemical engines and the LOX oxidizer for the conventional engines. More...
  • Helios American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Study by Kraft Ehricke of a vehicle where the booster stage contains liquid oxygen tanks only and takes the nuclear second stage to the stratosphere. The nuclear sustainer then takes the payload to orbit or escape trajectory. More...
  • Saturn C-3 The launch vehicle concept considered for a time as the leading contender for the Earth Orbit Rendezvous approach to an American lunar landing. More...
  • MR Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Korolev studied this Multimodular Rocket (MR), based on stages already designed for the 8K74 and 8K77 (R-7 and R-9) missiles. As was the case of the 8K74, work on the design was stopped in September 1961. More...
  • 8K79 Russian intermediate range ballistic missile. Korolev 1961 design for a single stage military rocket. A competing missile was selected for the requirement. More...
  • 8K73 Russian ballistic missile. Korolev project. Possibly designation for variant of GR-1. More...
  • 8K711 Russian ballistic missile. Korolev project. No other information available. More...
  • Astro IV American orbital launch vehicle. A two-stage all-Lox/LH2 vehicle proposed for the USAF SLV-4 requirement. Ruled out because it did not use the large segmented solids then favored by the USAF and its think tanks. More...
  • SLS American orbital launch vehicle. In the mid-1950's, US Air Force-funded studies identified the optimum long-term solution for space launch. The studies indicated the desirability of segmented solids for a first stage to achieve low cost, high reliability and flexibility of basic booster size by adding or subtracting segments. Studies further showed that oxygen-hydrogen propellants, with their very high specific impulse, were a preferred choice for upper stages, where mass was more important. This choice also resulted in minimum systems cost. More...
  • Saturn C-8 American orbital launch vehicle. The largest member of the Saturn family ever contemplated. Designed for direct landing of Apollo command module on moon. Configuration used eight F-1 engines in the first stage, eight J-2 engines in the second stage, and one J-2 engine in the third stage. Distinguishable from Nova 8L in use of J-2 engines instead of M-1 engines in second stage. More...
  • Douglas Astro American winged orbital launch vehicle. The Douglas "Astro" was a VTHL TSTO system designed for launching space station crews and cargo by the 1968-70 period. A key requirement was that off-the-shelf technologies must be used, e.g. existing M-1, J-2 and RL-10 engines from the Saturn and Nova expendable launch vehicle programs. More...
  • Martin Astrorocket American winged orbital launch vehicle. Early two-stage-to-orbit shuttle study, using storable propellants, Dynasoar-configuration delta wing orbiter and booster. More...
  • R-38 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Small, economical ICBM studied by Yangel as an alternative to Chelomei's UR-100. Both one and two stage variants were considered. Work ended when Yangel was ordered to concentrate on R-36. More...
  • RBSS American winged orbital launch vehicle. The Recoverable Booster Space System was a plan circulated in the early 1960's to use the XB-70 as a recoverable supersonic first stage for a range of systems. The XB-70 would be capable of orbiting a 6800 kg payload, or an X-20 manned space glider. More...
  • Astro American winged orbital launch vehicle. Douglas design of the early 1960's for a two-stage-to-orbit, winged, recoverable vehicle. Two versions were envisioned - a preliminary one the size of a DC-8 and a monster vehicle capable of delivering one million pounds payload to orbit. It was assumed at this scale that Lox/LH2 vehicles could achieve stage propellant mass fractions of 88% to 86%. More...
  • CNES Shuttle 1963 French studies in the 1960's were supervised by the French Space Agency, CNES, and developed along two paths. Path 1 was a manned hypersonic booster stage, with upper stages coming in manned or unmanned variants according to the mission. Path 2 was more conservative, with either the Path 1 booster or an expendable booster launching a small re-entry vehicle - a 'Space Taxi'. More...
  • DAC Helios American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Douglas/Bono 1963 concept for a chemical-boosted / nuclear upper stage launch vehicle, designed as alternatives to the Convair/Ehricke Helios. The baseline version used a nuclear, recoverable upper stage boosted above the atmosphere by a minimum chemical stage. More...
  • Lockheed RTTOCV American sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Lockheed's HTHL TSTO spaceplane concept from 1963, an outgrowth of an earlier USAF study with Hughes. The fully reusable orbiter would have been carried by a sled-launched booster rocket rocketplane. More...
  • North American Air Augmented VTOVL North American Aviation's air-augmented vertical takeoff & landing single-stage-to-orbit RLV from 1963 would have used external burning ramjets which, according to preliminary studies would reduce the gross liftoff mass of a VTVL SSTO by up to 30%. More...
  • OOST American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Bono's earliest design for an expendable single-stage-to-orbit LH2/Lox booster. The baseline version used conventional engines. More...
  • RITA C American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Nuclear single-stage-to-orbit booster. More...
  • Recoverable Booster Systems for Orbital Logistics American winged orbital launch vehicle. Lockheed investigated the economics of reusable launch vehicles for crews and light space station cargo during the early 1960s. Anticipated manned space activities in the 1970s included a two-phase Earth-orbital space station program, a lunar base, an early Mars mission, plus later Mars/Venus missions. Lockheed proposed four possible launch systems to support the scenario, ranging from System I, a 6-man Apollo CSM/Saturn-IB vehicle, to a fully reusable System IV with a ramjet-rocket booster. More...
  • Winged Saturn V In June 1962 NASA funded studies with several contractors on Operations and Logistics for Space Stations. North American's study was dated 18 March 1963. The second alternative was a two-stage reusable booster derived from the Saturn V. This would boost either an 11,400 kg cargo, or a half-disc lifting body spaceplane, which would accommodate two crew plus ten passengers and minor cargo More...
  • Mustard The British Aircraft Corporation "Multi-Unit Space Transport And Recovery Device" design of 1964-1965 was a winged two-stage-to-orbit reuseable space shuttle using the 'triamese' concept. The three components of the design were lifting bodies with a configuration similar to the American HL-10 vehicle. BAC sought to reduce development cost by use of two boosters nearly identical to the orbiter vehicle. More...
  • Reusable Orbital Carrier American sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. The Reusable Orbital Carrier (ROC) was a 1964 Lockheed study of a sled-launched HTHL TSTO. The booster's rocket engines would burn liquid oxygen and jet fuel while small turbojets would be used for landing approach. The 2nd stage orbiter rocketplane would make an unpowered glide return and landing. LOX, LH2 rocket propulsion would be used on the second stage. The gross liftoff weight would be about 453t and the vehicle could deliver ten passengers+3000kg to a space station. Alternatively, an unmanned 11,340kg payload could be carried. More...
  • Rombus American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Bono original design for ballistic single-stage-to-orbit (not quite - it dropped liquid hydrogen tanks on the way up) heavy lift launch vehicle. The recoverable vehicle would re-enter, using its actively-cooled plug nozzle as a heat shield. More...
  • R-56 Ukrainian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The R-56 was Yangel's ultimate superbooster design. Trade studies begun in 1962 resulted in a conventional tandem stage design capable of being transported on the Soviet canal system from the factory to the launch site, while still placing 40 metric tons into low earth orbit. However various Soviet government factions favored the much larger (and less practical) Korolev N1 or Chelomei UR-700 designs. Yangel made one last attempt to convince the government to sponsor a common approach to the lunar program, with different design bureaus concentrating on just one part of the mission, as the American's were doing. But his practical solutions obtained no traction, and further work on the R-56 was abandoned. More...
  • Temp-S.2M Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. The Temp-S.2M was the first strategic rocket designed by A D Nadiradze at NII-1. The design was abandoned when weight growth made it too heavy for the planned mobile transport. More...
  • AACB Class 1 American winged orbital launch vehicle. In 1965-1966 NASA and the Department of Defense jointly studied two-stage-to-orbit reusable launch vehicles as a follow-on to existing expendable launchers. Following review of the three classes of alternative approaches, it was recommended that the immediate goal of the United States should be development of a partially reusable 'Class I' launch vehicle, which could be available by 1975 and would be competitive with existing expendable boosters. A fully reusable vehicle should only be pursued at a later date. More...
  • AACB Class 2 American winged orbital launch vehicle. The AACB Class II launch vehicle was a fully reusable, two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle. Both stages would be lifting bodies and be powered by Lox/LH2 engines. The system would be operational by 1978 and place 9,100 kg of payload in orbit. More...
  • AACB Class 3 American winged orbital launch vehicle. The AACB Class III launch vehicle was an advanced concept use air-breathing stages, but still requiring two stages to achieve orbit. The joint NASA/USAF panel concluded that the technology did not yet exist to develop this concept, so it was only regarded as an option by 1982 at the earliest. More...
  • Ithacus American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. An adaptation of Phillip Bono's enormous ROMBUS plug-nozzle semi-single-stage-orbit launch vehicle as a 1,200 soldier intercontinental troop transport!! The recoverable vehicle would re-enter, using its actively-cooled plug nozzle as a heat shield. More...
  • Pegasus VTOVL American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Bono design for semi-single-stage-to-orbit ballistic VTOVL launch vehicle. Drop tanks were shed on the way to orbit. Pegasus could deliver either a Satun V-size payload to LEO or 172 passengers and their luggage the 12,000 km from Vandenberg to Singapore in 39 minutes. More...
  • RT-21 Russian intercontinental ballistic missile. Project work began in 1963 on this three-stage solid propellant ICBM. Five train-launched variants were studied, as well as a silo-launched version. Studies were completed in 1966 but it was decided not to proceed with the concept. More...
  • R-46 Ukrainian intercontinental ballistic missile. Super-heavy ICBM designed by Yangel in 1963-1966. The original R-56 super-booster concept consisted of clustered R-46's. More...
  • Starclipper American winged orbital launch vehicle. Lockheed ILRV design created for the USAF in 1966. X-24B lifting body configuration orbiter with linear aerospike engine and wrap-around drop tank. Related to Lockheed Shuttle LS200 proposal. More...
  • SASSTO American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Bono proposal for first step toward VTOVL SSTO vehicle - heavily modified Saturn IVB with plug nozzle engine. More...
  • Spacemaster American winged orbital launch vehicle. Martin-Marrietta shuttle Phase A design. X-24B type lifting body orbiter with unique catamaran-configuration booster. More...
  • Hyperion SSTO American sled-launched SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Yet another of Philip Bono's single-stage-to-orbit designs of the 1960's, using a plug-nozzle engine for ascent and as a re-entry heat shield. Hyperion would have taken 18,100 kg of payload or 110 passengers to orbit or on 45 minute flights to any point on earth. Hyperion used a sled for launch, which would have seriously hurt its utility. The sled gave a 300 m/s boost to the vehicle before it ascended to orbit. The sled would have 3 km of straight course, followed by 1 km up a mountainside, with a 3 G acceleration. More...
  • Starclipper Light American winged orbital launch vehicle. Downsized version of the Starclipper, equipped with conventional bell nozzle engines, released by NASA for public consumption in 1968. More...
  • Triamese American winged orbital launch vehicle. The General Dynamics proposed an ingenious "Triamese" concept for the US Air Force "Integral Launch & Re-entry Vehicle" program. This system (originally developed in 1965 for a classified USAF SAMSO study) would have utilised three virtually identical reusable booster/orbiter element vehicles rather than develop two different booster and orbiter spaceplanes. General Dynamics estimated that the Triamese only would cost $1-2 billion to develop (=$4.5-9B at 1999 economic conditions) and be operational by 1976. More...
  • Beta German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. In 1969 rocket pioneer Dietrich Koelle was working at MBB (Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm). There he sketched out a reusable VTOVL design called BETA using Bono's SASSTO as a starting point. The vehicle, taking European technology into account, was a bit heavier than Bono's design. But the thorough analysis showed even this design would be capable of delivering 2 tonnes of payload to orbit. More...
  • MLLV American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Boeing study, 1969, for Saturn follow-on. Plug nozzle, single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle could itself put 1 million pounds payload into orbit. By addition of up to 12 260 inch solid motors up to 3.5 million pounds payload into orbit with a single launch. More...
  • Sentry American anti-ballistic missile. ABM, BTDS missile More...
  • Saenger I German winged orbital launch vehicle. Final version of the Saenger spaceplane, as conceived by Eugen Saenger during his lifetime. A rocket propelled sled would be used for horizontal launch of delta-winged, rocket-propelled first and second stages. More...
  • RLA Russian heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The RLA (Rocket Flight Apparatus) family of modular, lox/kerosene powered vehicles were designed by Glushko in 1974 to meet the Soviet military's third-generation space launch requirements. The approach was rejected by 1976 in favor of the Zenit/Energia family using both lox/kerosene amd lox/hydrogen stages. More...
  • Albatros Unique Russian space shuttle design of 1974. Hydrofoil-launched, winged recoverable first and second stages. Hydrofoil would have been propelled to launch speed by the launch vehicles rocket engines, using a 200 tonne fuel store in the hydrofoil. Advantages: launch from the Caspian Sea into a variety of orbital inclinations, variations in launch track possible to meet range safety requirements. Proposal of Alexeyev/Sukhoi OKBs. More...
  • System 49 Russian air-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. The Spiral project was not cancelled with the decision to proceed with the large Buran spaceplane. Instead flight test of the orbiter continued but the launcher design was rethought. The ambitious Mach 4 air-breathing first stage was abandoned. Instead the rocket stages and the manned Spiral orbiter were mounted on the back of an An-124 subsonic transport. This concept would evolve through the Bizan concept to the MAKS of the 1980's, which reached the hardware development stage. More...
  • VTOVL American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing. More...
  • VTOHL 9t American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Horizontal Landing (winged). More...
  • Star-raker American winged orbital launch vehicle. Rockwell International's Star-raker was an enormous 1979 heavy-lift ramjet/rocket horizontal takeoff/horizontal landing single-stage-to-orbit concept capable of atmospheric cruise and powered landing for maximum operational flexibility. More...
  • Bizan-T Russian air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Air launched from catamaran heavy-life aircraft, predecessor of later Gerakl / Molniya-1000 design. 900 tonnes takeoff mass. Release conditions: Suspended load, Mach 0.7 at 8 to 9 km altitude. Effective velocity gain compared to vertical launch 270 m/s. More...
  • Bizan Russian air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Bizan was the 1982 Soviet air-launched spaceplane design iteration between the '49' and 'MAKS' concepts. Like the '49', it was air-launched from atop an An-124 transport. Unlike the '49', it was a single-stage-to-orbit tripropellant concept. More...
  • Jarvis American orbital launch vehicle. Launch vehicle planned for Pacific launch based on Saturn V engines, tooling. Masses, payload estimated. More...
  • LART German winged orbital launch vehicle. MBB/ERNO airbreathing horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing single stage to orbit proposal from the mid-1980s. Largely similar to the BAe HOTOL. More...
  • Saenger II Proposed two stage to orbit vehicle. Air-breathing hypersonic first stage and delta wing second stage. The German Hypersonics Programme and its Saenger II reference vehicle received most of the domestic funding for spaceplane development in the late 1980s and early 1990s. More...
  • Barbarian MM American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. The Zenith Star space-based chemical laser missile defence weapon required a launch vehicle capable of placing a 45,000 kg payload into low earth orbit. Martin and Aerojet turned to their work 20 years earlier on advanced Titans for the MOL program. These earlier studies were combined with new concepts for tank construction and materials. The Martin Barbarian was a 4.57 m diameter Titan vehicle (instead of the customary 3.05 m) with four LR-87 engines on the first stage, and a single LR-87 engine on the second stage. More...
  • Barbarian MDD American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Proposed launch vehicle for large SDI 'Star Wars' payloads. Expected to cost $ 400-500 million, the Barbarian could place the Zenith-Star chemical laser into low earth orbit. It would consist of 3 Shuttle SRM's, attached around a ring of six Delta RS-27 first stage boosters, which in turn clustered around a single Delta first stage booster that was the last stage of the launch vehicle. More...
  • Beta II German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Beta II was Dietrich Koelle's nominal 350 tonne lift-off mass SSTO design for launch of a 10 tonne European spaceplane. More...
  • Beta III German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. In 1969 Dietrich Koelle proposed his BETA III design. This was to deliver 20 tonnes to orbit with a launch mass of 600 tonnes. In 1996 and 1998 he updated the design for use as an ISS resupply vehicle in place of the shuttle, and as a space tourism vehicle for 100 passengers. More...
  • Beta IV German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Beta II was Dietrich Koelle's largest SSTO concept, with a nominal 2000 tonne lift-off mass SSTO design and 100 tonne payload. More...
  • STS-2000 SSTO French winged orbital launch vehicle. Single stage to orbit ramjet/rocket mix power horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing study of the 1980's. More...
  • STS-2000 TSTO Two stage to orbit horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing variant of STS-2000. Ramjet/rocket mixed power first stage. Mach 6 separation of rocket-powered second stage. French study of the 1980's. More...
  • EARL German winged orbital launch vehicle. Vertical takoff / horizontal landing two-stage launch vehicle study from the 1980s. More...
  • Phoenix C American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. The larger 180 tonne Phoenix design of the 1980's was envisioned in two versions -- the Phoenix C (Cargo, unmanned) and Phoenix E (Excursion -- for use as a lunar or Mars lander and personnel transport to earth orbit). The earlier versions used liquid oxygen oxidiser and two fuels (hydrogen and propane) but later iterations used only oxygen and hydrogen (varying the oxidiser to fuel ration during ascent). The designs used an 'aeroplug' in place of the 'aerospike' of earlier SSTO designs. Gary Hudson and Maxwell Hunter spent several years trying to interest investors in the designs before the company folded. More...
  • Phoenix L American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. The small Phoenix design of the 1980's was envisioned in two versions -- the Phoenix L (Light, cargo only) and Phoenix LP (Light-Prime, crewed). The earlier versions used liquid oxygen oxidiser and two fuels (hydrogen and propane) but later iterations used only oxygen and hydrogen (varying the oxidiser to fuel ratio during ascent). The designs used an 'aeroplug' in place of the 'aerospike' of earlier SSTO designs. More...
  • Phoenix M American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Intermediate versions of the Phoenix concept were sketched out in the mid-1980's. These more conservative vehicles used individual altitude-compensating bell nozzles rather than the aeroplug baseline. Composite materials were to be used in the aeroshell and, possibly, in the propellant tankage. More...
  • SSX American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. The X-Rocket was a VTOVL SSTO design by Maxwell Hunter II at Lockheed in the late 1980's. The 227 tonne vehicle was powered by clustered RL10 engines. Internal reviews at Lockheed rejected the feasibility of the vehicle. After Hunter retired he worked with Gary Hudson to refine the design as the SSX. This was briefed by the pair to Space Defence Inititive Organization (SDIO) officials in 1988. It was largely through their efforts that the US government funded the DC-X demonstrator in the 1990's. More...
  • Exploration HLLV American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Numerous NASA studies in the late 1980's and 1990's came to the same conclusion as the Nova studies of the 1960's - to get to Mars, an extremely heavy lift launch vehicle was needed to assemble Mars expeditions in low earth orbit. A nominal heavy list vehicle with a payload of at least 140 tonnes into a Space Station Freedom orbit would have to be developed for such missions. More...
  • Aerospatiale VTVL French SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Aerospatiale vertical takeoff, vertical landing single stage to orbit study. More...
  • Astros German sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Under the Future European Space Transportation Investigation Programme (FESTIP) of 1994-1999 French agencies and contractors designed a number of alternative reusable space launchers. This one was a Sled-launched horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing single stage to orbit. Essentially similar to FESTIP FSS-4 More...
  • DSL HTHL German winged orbital launch vehicle. Under the Future European Space Transportation Investigation Programme (FESTIP) of 1994-1999 French agencies and contractors designed a number of alternative reusable space launchers. This one was a Horizontal Takeoff / Horizontal Landing Two Stage to Orbit proposal with Mach 3 stage separation. Later evolved into the FESTIP FSS-11,which was merged with FSS-12. Reusable and expendable upper stage options. More...
  • ERINT American anti-ballistic missile. Extended-Range Interceptor, Patriot improvements, SDIO/BMDO project More...
  • Oriflamme French design for a scramjet-powered horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing, single stage to orbit vehicle. More...
  • Radiance French winged orbital launch vehicle. Two stage to orbit horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing vehicle. Booster would be powered by scramjets to Mach 12 separation before second stage separated. More...
  • RWDT HTHL German winged orbital launch vehicle. Under the Future European Space Transportation Investigation Programme (FESTIP) of 1994-1999 French agencies and contractors designed a number of alternative reusable space launchers. This one was a Horizontal Takeoff / Horizontal Landing Two Stage to Orbit proposal with Mach 4 stage separation. Vehicle consisted of an unpowered 'reusable winged drop tank' and 2-engine expendable Ariane-5 upper stage. More...
  • AMS-H American tactical ballistic missile. Advanced Missile System - Heavy, US Army More...
  • Spacecab British winged orbital launch vehicle. The Bristol Spaceplanes Spacecab was a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) Manned Spaceplane, with an airbreathing supersonic / hypersonic, delta winged first stage and a second stage powered by a liquid fuelled rocket engine. It was proposed by David Ashford of Bristol Spaceplanes Ltd. in the 1980`s / 1990's. The Concorde-sized spacecraft would deliver a payload of 6 persons to low Earth orbit. It would serve as a prototype for the larger 50-person Spacebus. More...
  • STAR-H French winged orbital launch vehicle. Mach 6 hypersonic first stage would launch Hermes spaceplane with an expendable second stage. More...
  • Hytex Following the cancellation of Saenger II, Germany briefly considered a manned X-15/NASP type flight test vehicle (HYTEX) capable of Mach 6 flight. This too was cancelled for cost reasons. More...
  • TARANIS French study of vertical takeoff / horizontal landing, two stage to orbit launch vehicle with expendable orbiter fuel tanks. More...
  • LCLV American low cost orbital launch vehicle. As a result of TRW's review of the Truax/Aerojet Sea Dragon, TRW became so interested in the concept that they undertook studies of their own, which resulted in a design that became known as the 'Big Dumb Booster'. They proposed structural approaches that were even more conservative than Aerojet's, e.g., the use of T-180 steel instead of maraging steel, which would result in even heavier and cheaper tankage. TRW finally obtained USAF funding for fabrication of stage sections and demonstration of scaled-up versions of the TRW pump-fed Apollo Lunar Module ascent engine. The design promised low cost access to space using low technology (steel stages built to low tolerances in shipyards, pressure-fed engines, and low cost storable propellants). But yet again neither NASA or USAF showed interest in true cheap access to space. More...
  • Millenium Express American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. General Dynamics Space Systems Division proposal for the 1990 SDIO competition was a VTOL SSTO named Millennium Express. The final vehicle was a 15 degree cone with a 20%-length Rocketdyne aerospike engine. Payload was specified as 4500 kg into a polar low earth orbit. The Express could carry on its nose a payload module, a small Apollo-type two-crew seperable manned capsule, or a six-crew module that remained attached to the vehicle for recovery. The similar Douglas Delta Clipper was selected by the USAF for further development. More...
  • Nerva 2 American nuclear-powered orbital launch vehicle. Version of 1960's nuclear fission engine proposed in 1990's. More...
  • NLS American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. New (or National) Launch System (NLS) joint NASA/USAF studies began in 1989, following the demise of the ALS. They proposed development of a family of launch vehicles using a new STME engine to replace the existing ‘high cost' boosters derived from 1950's missile designs. The $12 billion nonrecurring cost was nearly that estimated for ALS, and this cost could not be recouped at projected launch rates. NLS was terminated in 1991. More...
  • Ascender British winged rocketplane. The Bristol Spaceplanes Ascender of the 1990`s was a sub-orbital manned spaceplane concept proposed by David Ashford. The Ascender spaceplane would use a small Viper tubojet engine as well as a main liquid fuel rocket engine. The Ascender would act as a technology demonstrator for the orbiter of the orbital Spacecab concept,. More...
  • 17K-AM A small two stage to orbit horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing vehicle proposed for the Russian Air Force in 1993. More...
  • ASA Russian sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Sled-launched airbreathing single stage to orbit horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing launch vehicle proposed in Russia. More...
  • Ajax Russian sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Sled-launched, air-breathing, single stage to orbit, horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing launch vehicle proposed in Russia. More...
  • Black Horse American air-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Winged, single stage to orbit launch vehicle using aerial refueling and lower performance, non-cryogenic propellants. Takes off from runway at 22,000 kg gross weight; rendezvous with tanker to load 66,760 kg oxidizer; then flies to orbit. More...
  • Black Colt American air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Winged, first stage of a launch vehicle using aerial refueling and existing engines. Takes off from runway; rendezvous with tanker to load oxidizer; then flies to Mach 12/150 nm to release Star 48V second stage and 450 kg payload. In comparison to Black Horse, uses existing engines and a much more achievable mass fraction by only flying to half orbital speed. More...
  • DC-X2 American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Proposed intermediate 1/2 scale test vehicle between DC-X and DC-Y orbital version. No government agency was willing to fund the $450 million development cost -- and neither were any private investors. More...
  • DC-Y American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. The ultimate goal of the Delta Clipper program, a prototype reusable single-stage to orbit, vertical takeoff/vertical landing space truck. The DC-I Delta Clipper would be the full production version. No government sponsor could be found for the concept and the $ 5 billion development cost was never funded. If it had been funded in 1991, the first DC-Y suborbital flight was predicted for 1995, and a first orbital mission in 1997. More...
  • Herakles Russian air-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Launch vehicle design by NPO Molniya / TsAGI that would utilize air launch from a giant cargo aircraft capable of lifting 900 tonne payloads. The single stage to orbit spaceplane would be released at subsonic velocity. More...
  • MiG-2000 Russian sled-launched winged orbital launch vehicle. Sled-launched single stage to orbit vehicle with air-breathing propulsion to Mach 5 (subsonic combustion). The sled would accelerate the launch vehicle to Mach 0.8. Propellants wer slush hydrogen and liquid oxygen. The vehicle would have a 3000 km cross-range on re-entry. More...
  • MIGAKS Russian winged orbital launch vehicle. Turbojet/ramjet-powered two stage to orbit horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing vehicle. Mach 6 stage separation. The orbiter had a 2000 km cross-range capability with landing on airfields with runways of 3500 m length or more. More...
  • Magnum American heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle. Notional NASA/MSFC heavy lift booster design, using no shuttle components but instead new technologies from the EELV and RLV programs that supposedly would reduce launch cost by a large factor. A composite core vehicle powered by RS-68 engines was flanked by two shuttle liquid rocket boosters. Baseline launch vehicle used in most NASA manned lunar and Mars mssion studies 1996-2004. More...
  • Norma Russian winged orbital launch vehicle. Semi-reusable vertically launched two-stage-to-orbit vehicle. The flight profile featured a reusable flyback booster launched from a modular launch platform, an expendable second stage with a reusable orbiter that would have landed vertically. Development cost estimated at $13 billion. More...
  • Yamal Version of the Soyuz proposed with an Ariane 4 or Russian Lox/LH2 upper stage. More...
  • BTDS American anti-ballistic missile. SDIO/BMDO project, Baseline Terminal Defense System (ex-LoADS), with Sentry More...
  • Orel In the late 1990's the Russian space industry undertook the Orel programme to evaluate technology for future launch vehicles. The goals included evaluation of possible concepts for a future Russian launcher, reusable launch vehicle key technology research and analysis of "X-vehicle" flight demonstrators for technology validation. More...
  • ACES American anti-ballistic missile. SDIO/BMDO project, follow on to Arrow More...
  • MiG-31NS Russian air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Orbital launch vehicle air-launched from a MiG-31 fighter. More...
  • Vehra French air-launched rocketplane. Dassault design for an air-launched experimental reusable launch vehicle. It would be launched from Novespace's Airbus 300 zero-G aircraft. The lifting-body design was loosely based on Dassault's work on the NASA-led X-38 Crew Rescue Vehicle program. VEHRA weighed 6.5 t tonnes and carried 19.5 tonnes of kerosene and oxygen propellant. One Russian 400.5 kN-thrust NK-39 engine would power the vehicle, which would be capable of reaching Mach 14. The 11.5 meter long vehicle also contained a small 1.5 x 1.5 x 5 meter payload bay for an expendable upper stage+250 kg satellite. Like THEMIS, VEHRA would explore hypersonic flight and the operational and cost aspects of reusability. More...
  • SLC-1 American air-launched orbital launch vehicle. Nanosat air-launched orbital vehicle which would be dropped from a boosted F-4 carrier aircraft. More...
  • Gryphon American winged orbital launch vehicle. Winged, horizontal-takeoff/horizontal concept space booster concept using an Air Collection and Enrichment System to generate liquid oxygen oxidiser from the atmosphere after takeoff. An upper rocket stage would deliver a crewed orbiter or payload to orbit. More...
  • Aquarius American sea-launched orbital launch vehicle. Proposed expendable, water launch, single-stage-to-orbit, liquid oxygen/hydrogen, low-cost launch vehicle designed to carry small bulk payloads to low earth orbit. A unique attribute was that low reliability was accepted in order to achieve low cost. More...
  • Eaglet American all-solid orbital launch vehicle. E'Prime Aerospace of Titusville, Florida, conceived of a family of launch vehicles, called the Eagle S-series, using rocket stages from the LGM-118A Peacekeeper ICBM. The smallest vehicle, the Eaglet, could launch 580 kilograms into LEO. A somewhat larger version, the Eagle, could put 1,360 kilograms into LEO. Both vehicles would use Peacekeeper solid propellant lower stages and liquid propellant upper stages. More...

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