VentureStar: Perspective space shuttle with a unique start system


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It is no secret that the American Reusable Space Ship Space Shuttle and its Soviet Aqualus «Buran» — steel vertex in world manned cosmonautics. It is necessary to soberly assess the achievements of astronautics in order to understand that nothing is better yet created. Other existing ships are impossible to attribute here, as they differ from both the tonnage delivered to orbit and the ship’s delivery system in the orbit of the Earth itself.

Naturally, in both cases, liquid rocket engines are used to derive orbit, but it’s not about it. For example, «Buran» was delivered to orbit due to the ultra-axis at its time the «Energy» missile. Space Shuttle started using solid fuel accelerators and a huge fuel tank, which served directly by the march engines installed on the reusable ship itself. Thanks to them, the ship and climbed into orbit, after the discharge of solid fuel accelerators.

One way or another, but to achieve reusable ships of the Earth’s orbit, it was necessary to use multistage systems. Otherwise, because the steps that have worked out their fuel must be reset to the ground, as they were an additional load and extra tons. And the overweight and fuel in orbit play the main role, since every drop of precious fuel is important.

But you need to remind the 1990s. In the US, there was an ambitious project of a reusable ship, which, when started from the Earth, did not use additional accelerators and fuel tanks, which would have to drop during takeoff. The project was called VentureStar and was proposed by the American aerospace corporation Lockheed Martin. This program started in 1992, was officially presented in 1996. In 2004, the real prototype of the ship was to be created.

According to the project, VentureStar ship was a reusable single-stage spacecraft. In general, the starting mass of the ship was supposed to be 1 thousand tons. Of these, 20 tons would occupy a payload. The height of the ship was to be 38.7 m, and the diameter — 39.0 m. Many other features of this ship was that the takeoff would have done vertically, and landing to earth would have happened like a regular aircraft. It would not be used, as mentioned above, external tanks and accelerators. In addition, unique wedge rocket engines should have been used on this ship.

For testing, its reduced analogue was created, called X-33. After his tests, it was planned to create a full prototype of the ship in full size. But problems with composite tank for liquid hydrogen, as well as other technical problems put a fatty point on this project. And this is despite the fact that the cost of the contract between NASA and Lockheed Martin amounted to 1 billion US dollars. As they say, even the big money did not save this project.

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