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Old Sep 21st 2010, 01:45 PM
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Michael Michael is offline
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Default Space Launch Vehicles





These are two different artist's renderings of various new (old) ideas about launching space craft from a horizontal trajectory.

Quote:
(PhysOrg.com) -- As NASA studies possibilities for the next launcher to the stars, a team of engineers from Kennedy Space Center and several other field centers are looking for a system that turns a host of existing cutting-edge technologies into the next giant leap spaceward.

An early proposal has emerged that calls for a wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled. The aircraft would fly up to Mach 10, using the scramjets and wings to lift it to the upper reaches of the atmosphere where a small payload canister or capsule similar to a rocket's second stage would fire off the back of the aircraft and into orbit. The aircraft would come back and land on a runway by the launch site.

Engineers also contend the system, with its advanced technologies, will benefit the nation's high-tech industry by perfecting technologies that would make more efficient commuter rail systems, better batteries for cars and trucks, and numerous other spinoffs.
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I remember reading about 'scram-jets' back in the 1970's, so this idea certainly isn't all that new.
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