Encyclopedia Astronautica
Phoenix L

Phoenix L
Credit: Gary Hudson
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.

The original concepts for these vehicles were similar to the DC-Y concept of the 1990's. Nose entry was investigated, but rejected due to thermal and stability concerns.

Status: Study 1982-1988.
Gross mass: 31,000 kg (68,000 lb).

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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...

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