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CGI  Simulation  of a Spaceport & Spaceplane

There a two distinct types of Spaceplane design. The single stage and the two stage.

THE SINGLE STAGE DESIGN

The Single stage is an ‘All in one’ design. Arguably the purer design as this uses no other support vehicle or Mothership. It takes off under it own power in much the same way as a conventional aircraft. When it reaches a certain altitude power is increased via a rocket motor(s) unit until sub-orbital, or even orbital space is reached. The vehicle either returns to the original spaceport/airport as a glider or under jet power.

THE TWO STAGE DESIGN

The two stage design use a parent vehicle that carries the Spaceplane to a certain height, the Spaceplane then detaches from the ‘mothership’ and using rocket motors reaches space. The Spaceplane then returns to the Spaceport as a glider. This Spaceplane can be launched in a similar way to the Space shuttle or using a carrier vehicle like Virgin Galactic.

THE THEORETICAL SINGLE STAGE DESIGN

PROPULSION - THE JETS

The theoretical Spaceplane depicted in the video is a Single stage design. It derives its take-off propulsion from two high performance jet engines in the wings and and to reach sub-orbital, or orbital space, propulsion is derived from a centrally mounted rocket motor (or motors). Depending on the configuration of the jet fuel tanks this means that the Spaceplane is capable of operating as  a conventional jet for both landing and taking off. For simple space flights this allows greater control of the craft. Take-off will very similar to a high performance military jet with fairly low noise and take-off speeds. The aircraft can be manoeuvred and controlled to various heights depending on the payload before engaging the rocket motor.

Critically, upon return the Spaceplane is not a glider, it could change landing destinations or hold in a landing queue. This design would remove the dangers of the ‘one go’ glider landing. In the long run this could mean that the Spaceplane could travel between two locations.

PROPULSION - THE ROCKET MOTOR

The rocket motor(s) would be either a ‘traditional’ liquid hydrogen/ Oxygen burner or the new generation of air breathing rocket motors. Instead of carrying all their oxidiser (the oxygen) in compressed liquid form some very clever compressor technology derives a substantial amount of their oxygen requirement from the air the Spaceplane is racing through. The rocket motor is re-useable and fully controllable. Flights can be aborted . The Cargo area could be adaptable to take fuel for purely passenger flights or even intercontinental sub-orbital passenger flight.

OUR THEORETICAL SPACEPLANE

FRONT VIEW

TWIN JET ENGINES

CARGO AREA

PASSENGER/CREW AREA

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TOP VIEW

ROCKET MOTOR

FUEL

FUEL

FUEL

ROCKET MOTOR

FUEL

REAR VIEW

ROCKET MOTOR

FUEL

JET 1

JET 2

PASSENGER AND CREW AREA

CONSTRUCTION

All aspects of the body shell is modern composites with the new graphene fibres, and other exotic materials massively decreasing the overall weight. These would be significantly stronger, lighter and easier to cast into shape than traditional aeronautical construction materials enabling the Spaceplane to be mass produced.

The Spaceplane would have a modular construction. This serves two purposes, to make it adaptable and safer. Using lifting body architecture the wings would contain fuel and the jet engines. The Central fuselage would be separated into a passenger and crew compartment. There would be the mid to rear placed rocket motor and fuel tanks. The cargo bay would have traditional twin bay doors and able to launch ‘self contained’ rockets. When there is no cargo it could accommodate additional fuel tanks for purely passenger flight.

Critically the passenger and crew compartment can be detached from the entire craft. In the most severe of circumstances this survival pod can be separated and either passengers and crew can leave individually with parachutes or a single large parachute can deployed for the whole capsule. Not unlike the Blue Origin escape pod. Explosion relief’s would be built into other parts of the craft so even if the vehicle was to explode without warning the survival capsule would be jettisoned from the exploding craft. Sadly an example of this could be seen with the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster - the crew compartment was originally designed to be separated in a disaster. Sadly this was never carried through, however, the compartment they eventually fixed in place was a distinctly isolated and mostly self-contained structure. After the explosion the compartment was ripped off largely intact. Tragically the crew may have survived until it hit the ocean and if there had been some form of parachute or eject system some, or all, may have survived.

CARGO BAY

The cargo bay would use a secondary deployment system depending on the payload. Essentially this would be a self contained rocket able to reach much greater altitudes. Exactly as depicted in the video.  Otherwise it could be configured for additional fuel tanks or simply cargo.