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RE: starship-design: FTL travel
> It is a good design, but better for a smaller gravity well than the
> When we get to interstellar travel a beamed energy craft that looks a
> like the general saucer shaped could be the ticket, or a
> fusion lander.
> For bootstrapping into space, I bet my $.43 for a 3 stage Reusable
> Manned CH4,O2 plane launch to high alitude, just under mach
> 1. Chemical
> rocket to mach 23 isp 325,(unmmaned cargo pod). Beamed energy docking
> craft to mach 26, isp 650. Docking craft captures the cargo pod and
> places it into orbit. It also
> handles the reentry breaking on the cargo pod.The cargo pod
> uses simple
> winged reentry system.
> While it looks more complex, it splits up the transport to better
> pieces, since cargo is the ticket to space travel, not people.
I agree that from a strictly Earth oriented point of view that Horizontal
Take Off and Landing (HTOL) is preferable to Vertical Take Off and Landing
(VTOL) and that multi stage may well be more practical that Single Stage To
Orbit (SSTO). But this all assumes a large ground infrastructure of runways,
launch facilities, and personnel.
The Delta Clipper needed none of that. True, the DC-X was not able to lift
out of Earth's gravity well, but it was simply a test bed for the full scale
design, similar to the way Venture Star is proposed. (Only DC-X was meeting
its design goals, Venture Star is NOT.) A full blown Delta Clipper could
have two crew members and 10 tons of cargo and/or passengers to Low Earth
Orbit or 2 crew members and 5 tons of cargo/passengers to Polar Orbit.
This is not a great amount compared to the Shuttle, but its lack of need for
ground facilities is the telling point. Coupled with airplane like
operations (quick, no-fuss turnaround), even a first generation Delta
Clipper would have sufficed as a landing craft for an interstellar mission.
Of course, the worst part of this is that the full scale DC-Y prototype
could have been flying by 1997 with Delta Clipper in full operation by 2000.
We would ALREADY be seeing a 90% reduction in launch costs today...