Encyclopedia Astronautica
North American Air Augmented VTOVL

North American Air Augmented VTOVL
Credit: NASA
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%.

The sensitivity to air-augmentation system weight would however be quite high. A pure rocket-powered version would have a gross liftoff mass of 13,607t including a 453.6-tonne useful payload. The maximum diameter was 48.8m and the length without payload fairing was 53m. This design was initially classified by the US Department of Defense before being resurrected for Rockwell's and NASA's solar power satellite launch studies in the late 1970s.

LEO Payload: 453,600 kg (1,000,000 lb).

Status: Study 1963.
Gross mass: 13,607,000 kg (29,998,000 lb).
Payload: 453,600 kg (1,000,000 lb).
Height: 53.00 m (173.00 ft).
Diameter: 48.80 m (160.10 ft).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • SSTO Category of launch vehicles. Single Stage To Orbit. More...
  • VTOVL The concept of a reusable single-stage-to-orbit Vertical Take-Off Vertical Landing (VTOVL) launch vehicle that would reenter and return to its launch site for turnaround and relaunch was first proposed by Philip Bono in the 1960's. The appealing simplicity of the concept has been offset by the technological risk in developing it. The problem with any single-stage-to-orbit concept is that if the empty weight of the final vehicle has been underestimated it will not be able to deliver any payload to orbit, or even reach orbit. Since weight growth of up to 20% is not unknown in aerospace projects, this is a very real threat which has made both NASA and private investors reluctant to invest the billions of dollars it would take to develop a full-scale flight vehicle. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • North American American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. North American, Palmdale, El Segundo. Downey, CA, USA More...

  • Bell, "Advanced Launch Vehicle Systems and Technologies", AAS, AAS 1977/vol.36/p.117.
  • Baker, David, Spaceflight and Rocketry -- a Chronology, Facts on File Inc, 1996.

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