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« The Fragility Of Science | Main | Leavin' On A Jet Plane »

A Reusable Indian Vehicle?

It doesn't sound like a smart design to me, though:

The first stage is configured as a winged body system, which will attain an altitude of around 100 km and deliver nearly half the orbital velocity. After burnout, the vehicle will re-enter the earth's atmosphere and will be made to land horizontally on a runway, like an aircraft.

In the second stage, after delivering the payload, the vehicle will be made to re-enter the atmosphere and will be recovered using airbags either in sea or land.

No description of the first-stage propulsion, but if Clark Lindsay (from whom I got the link) is right, and it's a scramjet, that's a huge mistake. And an ocean recovery with airbags? Please.

Of course, what do you expect from a government? And at least they haven't bought into the current nonsensical conventional wisdom that "Shuttle proved that reusable vehicles don't work."

Posted by Rand Simberg at February 26, 2006 02:45 PM
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Buzz Aldrin's company has extensively studied the flyback booster system. Their conclusion was that if the first stage burns out below Mach 6, it can use a heat-sink thermal protection system instead of heat shields (and the weight they add.) They also noted that if you burn out between Mach 3 and Mach 6, you will need jet propulsion to return to base.

It sounds like they're counting on the first stage producing more of the delta-V than is practical. If they want scramjets to provide boost-phase propulsion, they must really be kidding themselves, as the scramjets will be no good after Mach 6 or so.

Posted by Chair Force Engineer at February 26, 2006 09:09 PM

Governments and private industry have a similar problem in this area in that it's hard to sell ideas (to investors, the public, government representatives) unless it's sexy and new and cutting edge-ish. That was a real problem for private spaceflight a few years ago (the Roton era), but seems to be less so now.

Posted by Robin Goodfellow at February 26, 2006 09:24 PM

indians probably do have the technology do pull it off though. they do have the Brahmos missile and have invested heavily into hypersonics.

Posted by kert at February 27, 2006 09:22 AM

oh and btw, they have mentioned it before:

Posted by kert at February 27, 2006 09:29 AM

Nice comment spam, "emma"

Posted by Sean at February 27, 2006 09:29 AM

A Reusable Indian Vehicle.

Isn't that a horse?

Posted by Smart@ss at February 27, 2006 12:28 PM

Maybe it's a mistake in translation or one by the writer. If you reverse the stages it might make more sense.

Posted by Jardinero1 at February 27, 2006 01:06 PM

The best choice if your serious about getting mass into space is some version of Orion. Could that somehow be made sexy? (Calling Austin Powers!) As the authors of 'Footfall' pointed out, if we ever get to the point of needing it, it's always available as a backup plan regardless of the environmentalist concerns.

For non-sexy, if you took any vertical launch system and put it on a platform where balloons took it to higher altitude before launch you'd have a higher mass system? Or am I missing something?

I'm still not keen on space elevators (but I wish them luck.)

It seems ironic to me that SSTO can easily be made to work just about anyplace but here!

Horses? Yahoo!

Eewww. Couldn't use amazon for footfall because it had b.b.s. in the link.

Posted by ken anthony at February 28, 2006 08:08 PM

The best choice if your serious about getting mass into space is some version of Orion.

Only if you're nuts. It's a dirty, very difficult to test (and hence very hard to develop), complicated, and probably very unreliable concept. Unlike conventional rocket engines, you can't easily or cheaply test the hardware on a test stand.

Posted by Paul Dietz at March 1, 2006 09:20 AM

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