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|Origin:||Proceedings of 6th ISCOPS, AAS Vol 91, AAS, pp 529-541|
Full reusability, combined with intact abort capability during all phases of flight, will have a profound effect on the development certification and operation of space launch vehicles. Because these future space transport vehicles will be fully reusable and have the ability for intact abort, their development, certification and operation will have much more in common with aircraft than expendable launch vehicles (ELVs).
The cost of launch facilities is a major part of the cost of development of new launch systems. Increasingly, commercial space transport vehicles will be most cost-effective if they can operate from simple launch bases. To achieve this goal, the design philosophy behind a new concept in space transport vehicles, called the ROTON(tm), is discussed.
ROTON is a single stage (SSTO) rocket system powered by a number of small liquid-propellant rocket engines attached to the tips of a large diameter rotor blades. Pumping pressure at the rotor tip is supplied by rotational forces of the rotor. At liftoff, the rocket engines are aligned parallel to the ground, with the rotor providing most of the liftoff thrust, while the rocket engines are operating at only a small fraction of their rated thrust. As the vehicle climbs, the engines are aligned with the flight directional axis of the vehicle, and remain in this position until orbital velocity is achieved. Upon re-entry, the rotor may provide both lifting and drag forces, and also permits low velocity, controllable approaches to the landing field. Landing is in a vertical orientation, the same as liftoff.
Benefits of this technical approach will be discussed, including the elimination of the need for a fixed launch stand or blast deflector, since no rocket exhaust impacts the ground. The suitability of the ROTON for both space cargo delivery and space tourism will be presented, along with the requirements for ground support facilities.