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Stratolaunch - Burt Rutan comes out of retirement.


Lumpy Talbot

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I find myself reassured that we are indeed heading back to true pioneering days when I see names like Elon Musk and Burt Rutan are mentioned.

The names themselves are like something out of lurid 1950s science fiction.

Is mise le meas,

Jetski Planetbadger III.
 

silverharp

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how high does it fly? i assume its to launch something into space?
 

Lumpy Talbot

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I just hope there is never a momentary confusion between the two cockpits. 'Port-no, starboard-no, wait- SH1T!'
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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I just hope there is never a momentary confusion between the two cockpits. 'Port-no, starboard-no, wait- SH1T!'
The double flight deck is a difference from depiction of the design of 6 years ago but I think one flight deck will be used by the pilots controlling the aircraft whereas the other will be for the control of the parasite payload.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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At least it is made to take off and land on ground rather than sea which is what the Spruce Goose was rather awkwardly designed for if I remember correctly. I have a vague memory of some news film of the Goose attempting to struggle into the air from the sea and it did look edgily preposterous in terms of physics.

The drag/friction factor must have been enormous. What with modern materiel design I can see how such an enormous vehicle becomes possible.

I'm still a fan of the airship model and like the physics of balloon expansion in the stratosphere which seems to me a useful dynamic which produces an energy of its own.

I like the implications of the fuel savings possible and the economies of solar powered electric engines being fed by an expanded balloon surface.

After all the plane has to power its way to near freedom from the earth's atmosphere but the physics behind airships implies massive savings over the powered airplane ascent model.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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how high does it fly? i assume its to launch something into space?
The typical launch altitude will be approx 35,000'. First launch is planned for 2019(not with a space plane per this picture).

 

Lumpy Talbot

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Interesting concorde shape to the nosecones there in that depiction but I wouldn't want to be climbing at that angle. I suspect that it will be a very gentle ascent over hours to the required height.

I suppose the saving over a rocket launch from the ground pays for the stratolaunch over time.

Mind you it will take some fuel bill to get a fully laden stratolaunch to the right height for the central module to be released and take the second punch to leave the atmosphere.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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At least it is made to take off and land on ground rather than sea which is what the Spruce Goose was rather awkwardly designed for if I remember correctly. I have a vague memory of some news film of the Goose attempting to struggle into the air from the sea and it did look edgily preposterous in terms of physics.

The drag/friction factor must have been enormous. What with modern materiel design I can see how such an enormous vehicle becomes possible.

I'm still a fan of the airship model and like the physics of balloon expansion in the stratosphere which seems to me a useful dynamic which produces an energy of its own.

I like the implications of the fuel savings possible and the economies of solar powered electric engines being fed by an expanded balloon surface.

After all the plane has to power its way to near freedom from the earth's atmosphere but the physics behind airships implies massive savings over the powered airplane ascent model.
Did you notice Airlander's 'bump' on her maiden flight last year? Just a minor setback for an interesting project I hope.

 

Lumpy Talbot

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Yes, I've been following the Airlander developments and I still think they are on to something in terms of international freight business.

I can see the day when huge airships guided by autonomous drones are maneouvering such craft about at very high altitudes.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Stratolaunch press release from Monday......

Stratolaunch announces today its new family of launch vehicles that will enter regular service starting in 2020. The company’s unique air-launch system will use the world’s largest aircraft as a mobile launch platform, capable of deploying launch vehicles that will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission. With these new vehicles, Stratolaunch is poised to make access to space convenient, affordable, and routine.
.....I think something similar was said about the Spaceshuttle many moons ago but I think this time they may be right.

https://www.stratolaunch.com/2018/08/20/stratolaunch-announces-new-launch-vehicles/
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Wonder why they design it with crew space. Unless they calculate they can offset mission expenditure by charging billionaires for flight-jollies I suppose.

If you ran the numbers on it as an autonomous fleet versus a fleet with cabin and all the expense that humans entail I'd say there must be a fair margin of difference in cost.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Wonder why they design it with crew space. Unless they calculate they can offset mission expenditure by charging billionaires for flight-jollies I suppose.

If you ran the numbers on it as an autonomous fleet versus a fleet with cabin and all the expense that humans entail I'd say there must be a fair margin of difference in cost.
Dunno. Paul Allen’s and Burt Rutan’s love of aviation has always very much involved the element of human endeavour. Rutan’s design philosophy(although I’m not sure how involved he is in this project) has always been to keep systems as simple as possible. Their focus has not just been upon the engineering aspects. I think a crewed aircraft, with some of the mission control aloft in the mother aircraft gives more flexibility and more direct and immediate control.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Dunno. Paul Allen’s and Burt Rutan’s love of aviation has always very much involved the element of human endeavour. Their focus has not just been upon the engineering aspects. I think a crewed aircraft, with some of the mission control aloft in the mother aircraft gives more flexibility and more direct and immediate control.
Could have been worse, I suppose. They could have got Michael O'Leary on board. Who would have charged for the oxygen by the cubic centimetre.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Could have been worse, I suppose. They could have got Michael O'Leary on board. Who would have charged for the oxygen by the cubic centimetre.
... first ever astronauts to go on strike.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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Following on from #12 above the British Govt recently announced that it will provide £60 million in funding for the next stage in the development of the Sabre air breathing rocket engine with both Chancellor George Osborne and Min of Universities and Science Davis Willets taking a direct and high profile interest in the project. A modest enough amount of money but none the less this project has survived years of indifference and has developed on from its shoestring origins to become a serious industrial outfit. Reaction Engines Ltd are planning to have a prototype engine in operation by 2017 with flight tests in 2020.

If and when this engine gets to pair up with the Skylon spaceplane it promises a capability of 15 tons payload to low earth orbit at 1/50 the price of conventional rockets.

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/press_release/Press_Release_17July2013_SABRE.pdf

BBC News - UK government excited by 'disruptive' Sabre engine

Reaction Engines Ltd still making slow but steady prorgress. They carried out a successful rest run in Colorado on its precooler system which is vital for its hypersonic hybrid air breathing rocket engine SABRE.

17520

One of the most vexing issue when flying at high speeds is how you handle airflow. In supersonic and hypersonic flight, air reaching the engine intake gets extremely hot, and an engine that can’t manage that heat is going to fail in spectacular fashion. The SABRE design includes a pre-cooler that quenches heat from incoming air. Reaction Engines says it successfully tested its precooler test article (HTX) with air at 788 degrees Fahrenheit (420 degrees Celsius). That corresponds to Mach 3.3 flight, the maximum speed of the now-retired SR-71 Blackbird. Engineers believe the final engine could hit Mach 5 or higher.
17519

Reaction Engines are a privately owned British company which receives modest funding from the UK govt and also a smaller amount from the European Space Agency.

Hopefully the fact that this latest test was carried out in the USA in collaboration with DARPA isn’t an indication that this project will slip away from British/European control. Hopefully not another example of the loss of British aviation innovation such as Frank Whittles engines or the powered all moving tailplane for supersonic flight(Miles M52).

Hypersonic Rocket Engine Passes Testing Milestone - ExtremeTech
 
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Lumpy Talbot

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The whole area of space exploration is becoming much more 1950'ish now with a whole lot better screen resolution. That image there of a jet with the SABRE engine looks very Dan Dare.

Very cool also now in terms of accessibility. Last week one lunch time I watched NASA TV which was showing film of the ISS Astronauts performing an extra-vehicular walk to replace batteries and adaptors on the solar cell wings of the space-station.

Still waiting for the feckin' hoverboard that Hollywood promised me in the 1980s.
 
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