Encyclopedia Astronautica
Shuttle LRB 1989

Shuttle LRB 1998
Credit: © Mark Wade
American orbital launch vehicle. In July 1989 a NASA Langley/George Washington University joint study was made of various Liquid Rocket Booster configurations.

A parametric trade analysis looked at the optimum solution. This was found to be twin oblique-wing recoverable boosters. Staging at Mach 3 would allow them to be built of aluminium rather than higher-temperature materials. Standard SSME's would power each booster. Two optimum configurations were identified. One was a 2-engine orbiter and two 3-engine boosters (2-3-3). In this case the orbiter would be 45 m long, and the booster 35.4 m long. Payload would be 16,800 kg, and gross liftoff mass 880,000 kg. Staging would be at 86 seconds after launch at 26,000 m altitude, earth orbit insertion 516 seconds after launch. The 3-4-4-configuration would result in a 50.3 m long orbiter and 40.5 m long booster. Payload would be 31,750 kg, gross liftoff mass 1,316,000 kg. In either case the orbiter would be equipped with a 4.6 m x 9.2 m cargo bay and a crew of two. A 5-3-3 configuration, using 3 x liquid oxygen/kerosene engines in each booster was also studied. This would have a payload of 38,000 kg to orbit. However the study concluded that having the same propellants and engines in the orbiter and booster was an advantage that outweighed other considerations.

Status: Study 1989.

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See also
  • Shuttle The manned reusable space system which was designed to slash the cost of space transport and replace all expendable launch vehicles. It did neither, but did keep NASA in the manned space flight business for 30 years. More...
  • Winged In the beginning, nobody (except Jules Verne) thought anybody would be travelling to space and back in ballistic cannon balls. The only proper way for a space voyager to return to earth was at the controls of a real winged airplane. More...

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