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SSTO
Category of launch vehicles. Single Stage To Orbit.



Subtopics

Nexus American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Early 1960's recoverable launch vehicle proposed by Krafft Ehricke at General Dynamics. Perhaps the largest conventionally-powered launch vehicle ever conceived, it was designed to deliver 900 metric tons to low earth orbit.

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%.

OOST ISI American SSTO orbital launch vehicle. Alternate version of OOST using Improved Specific Impulse approach: many engines feeding into single large nozzle.

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.

ROOST ISI American SSTO orbital launch vehicle. Bono's first design for a reusable single stage to orbit LH2/LOx booster, using Improved Specific Impulse approach: many engines feeding into single large nozzle.

ROOST American SSTO orbital launch vehicle. Bono's first design for a reusable single stage to orbit LH2/LOx booster, using conventional engines.

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.

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!!

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 Saturn V-size payload to LEO or 172 passengers and their luggage the 12,000 km from Vandenberg to Singapore in 39 minutes.

SASSTO American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Bono proposal for first step toward VTOVL SSTO vehicle - heavily modified Saturn IVB with plug nozzle engine.

Hyperion SSTO American sled-launched SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Study 1966. 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.

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 metric tons of payload to orbit.

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.

Gommersall American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Edward Gomersall of NASA's Ames Research Center produced a conservative design for an SSTO in 1970. His vehicle was based on realistic structural technology and used a derivative of the J-2S engine.

Detko ATV American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. George Detko of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center produced designs for SSTO vehicles as early as 1960. This final design for a minimum SSTO VTOVL vehicle was completed in 1972. The expendable vehicle had a gross liftoff mass of only 22 metric tons, and could deliver a two-person crew to orbit.

SSOAR American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. P Seigler founded a company in 1976 to promote his design for a VTOVL SSTO vehicle using a LOx/hydrogen aerospike engine.

Boeing SPS SSTO American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. In 1977 Boeing produced a vehicle design for a 227 metric tons payload vertical takeoff launch vehicle to be used to launch components for the huge Satellite Solar Power platforms that NASA was promoting at the time. The booster would launch from the edge of a water-filled man-made lagoon and recover in the lagoon and used a water-cooled heat shield for reentry.

VTOHL 45t American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Horizontal Landing (winged).

VTOHL 9t American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Horizontal Landing (winged).

VTOVL 1978 American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Vertical Takeoff Vertical Landing.

Beta II German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Beta II was Dietrich Koelle's nominal 350 metric tons lift-off mass SSTO design for launch of a 10 metric ton European spaceplane.

Beta III German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. In 1969 Dietrich Koelle proposed his BETA III design. This was to deliver 20 metric tons to orbit with a launch mass of 600 metric tons. 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.

Beta IV German SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Beta II was Dietrich Koelle's largest SSTO concept, with a nominal 2000 metric ton lift-off mass SSTO design and 100 metric ton payload.

Phoenix C American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. The larger 180 metric ton 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 oxidizer and two fuels (hydrogen and propane) but later iterations used only oxygen and hydrogen (varying the oxidizer 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.

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 oxidizer and two fuels (hydrogen and propane) but later iterations used only oxygen and hydrogen (varying the oxidizer to fuel ratio during ascent). The designs used an 'aeroplug' in place of the 'aerospike' of earlier SSTO designs.

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.

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 metric ton 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 Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) officials in 1988. It was largely through their efforts that the US government funded the DC-X demonstrator in the 1990's.

Aerospatiale VTVL French SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Aerospatiale vertical takeoff, vertical landing single stage to orbit study.

X-30 American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Air-breathing scramjet single stage to orbit. Second attempt after study of similar proposal in early 1960's. Cancelled due to cost, technical challenges. Superseded by X-33 rocket-powered SSTO.

Millennium 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 separable 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.

Delta Clipper The ultimate goal of the Delta Clipper program was to produce a prototype reusable single-stage to orbit, vertical takeoff/vertical landing space truck. The DC-I Delta Clipper would be the full production version.

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.

Kankoh Maru Japanese SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Kawasaki design for single stage to orbit reusable booster. Would carry 50 passengers to orbiting hotels or fast intercontinental flights.

Venturestar American SSTO winged orbital launch vehicle. Production reusable single-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle using technology developed in X-33 test bed.

MVKS RKK Energia's proposed solution to the Soviet government's MVKS requirement for a single-stage-to-orbit reusable aerospaceplane system was this 700-metric-ton, turboramjet/rocket propulsion design. Work began in 1986 but abandoned when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Yakovlev MVKS Russian manned spaceplane. Study 1986. In reaction to US X-30 project, government decrees of 27 January and 19 July 1986 ordered development of a Soviet equivalent.

Roton The American Roton company developed this unique manned SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle until it was cancelled in 2000. The Roton was a piloted commercial space vehicle design intended to provide rapid and routine access to orbit for both its two-person crew and their cargo.



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