CNES Searches for the Rocket Propellant of the Future

Ariane Ultimate (Credits: CNES)

PARIS (CNES PR) — With a view to preparing for the future, the development of new dense and energetic propellants (HEDM) is one of the avenues to be explored to optimize the performance of launchers.

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NIIMash Looks to Develop Single-stage-to-orbit Launcher

MOSCOW (ROSCOSMOS PR) — The management of the Scientific Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering (NIIMash, part of the Roscosmos State Corporation) and the South Ural State University discussed issues of expanding cooperation on the creation of a new space complex aimed at protecting the Earth from falling space bodies. Today Scientists from the State Rocket Center named after V.I. Academician V.P. Makeev together with engineers from SUSU and NIIMash.

At present, SUSU is studying the issues of the possibility of creating a reusable single-stage space launch vehicle, the project of which was proposed by the State Rocket Center named after Academician V.P. Makeeva (part of the Roscosmos State Corporation). The launch vehicle will deliver up to seven tons of payload to low-earth orbit. The rocket service time will be only 24 hours.

Such a breakthrough can only be achieved by fundamentally new technical solutions. One of them is aimed at providing a significant increase in the efficiency of the propulsion system. NIIMash specialists will be working on this solution; currently, a project is being developed to prepare and conduct a corresponding experiment.

The space complex project is being implemented by the Ural interregional scientific and educational center of the world level “Advanced industrial technologies and materials”. It was created to combine the potentials of educational and scientific organizations of the Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk and Kurgan regions. Scientists and engineers plan to test the first prototype of the launch vehicle in 2028.

Skylon Update: Big Bucks, Buck Rogers

During a plenary session at the International Astronautic Federation conference in Naples on Wednesday, Reaction Engines Founding Director Alan Bond said that the Skylon space plane could be commercially operational in 2022 after a development program that would cost about $14 billion. Flights of the reusable, single-stage-to-orbit vehicle would cost roughly $5 million each.

None of that is really news to anyone who has been following the program. However, what Bond said about the technical progress on the Skylon’s advanced propulsion system was intriguing, providing hope to supporters that the company might find the financial backing it needs to carry the program to completion.

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Krukin: Let Free Market Drive Space Innovation

Jeff Krukin has some thoughts about the role of government funding in spurring on space development over at the Space Commercial Gateway:

Remember Lockheed Martin’s ill-fated VentureStar, cancelled in early 2001 after $1.5 Billion was spent over five years in a government-directed (rather than free-market) effort to build a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) Reusable Launch Vehicle?

NewSpace has learned from that debacle. Can NewSpace lead America’s innovative edge?

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Are SSTOs Close to Being a Reality at Last?

Air-breathing planes: the spaceships of the future?
New Scientist

For decades, engineers have dreamed of a better way: a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle that would be lighter, cheaper, and easy to reuse. A fleet of these vehicles, supporters say, could be almost as easy to maintain as conventional jet planes, reducing the preparation time before each launch from months to days or even hours.

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Reaction Engine Continues Quest for Launch Industry’s Holy Grail: An Affordable SSTO

Clark Lindsey over at Hobby Space points to some updated news on UK-based Reaction Engine’s efforts to build its Skylon spaceplane. There is a story by Aviation Week on an upcoming test (which unfortunately requires registration).

There is a paper posted on the company’s website that was published just this week in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. It has a clear description of the project:

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Scramjets: The Secret to Single-Stage Spaceplanes?

Mike Snead assesses the role that scramjets could play in opening up the space frontier to routine, aircraft-like operations in an article in this week’s Space Review. Snead has written a detailed article assessing the pro’s and con’s of this approach that is definitely worth a look.