Orbit to ground shuttling via air car?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 12, 2009 - 7:48am
I just read the Ben Bova novel Privateers and in the novel they used the piggy back shuttle on an air craft to get to orbit. I was thinking that the reverse could be possible in SF.

A specially designed HS 2 or 3 system ship could carry 1 or more attached air cars into the outer reaches of the atmosphere and drop them. They plummet a little and then lite off their drive and land normal. The system ship never lands so it saves on fuel.

To reverse the process? I'd say require these have to be specially designed air cars and allow for a rocket booster attachment- air car flies up to its "ceiling" normally then lites off the rocket boost- kind of like what Chuck Yeger did in the Right Stuff movie when he took the F104 straight up to the edges of the atmosphere.
The proposed rocket booster would be cheap and small since the air car only needs to boost from extreme altitude then use a small compressed air maneuver thruster in space. the proposed HS 2-3 ship could also be used for recovery as well though good plotting and navigation would put the air car close enough to a station that maneuver thrusters aught to allow it to dock.

The limitations are that it's limited to the carrying capacity of the air car and while it might be cheaper than operating a shuttle craft HS 1-3 from planet to orbit its more expensive on a per passenger basis as a shuttle can spread its cost over a greater number of passengers. This would be the prefered method of the rich, the corporate CEO and Planetary Express Parcel (PEP) shippers (when a package absolutely has to get there over night).

It also would lead to using air cars for trans orbital flights- again air car boosts into orbit and at the proper time it fires maneuver jets to re-enter the atmosphere- to compensate for the extra velocity of the generated by the rocket booster a parachute (part of the rocket booster attachment) deploys in atmosphere to slow it to a reasonable speed.

The Ultra Condominium level of space stations would have options for life pods to be replaced by this type of air car cause the super rich have to have control even in an emergency situation. Basically their palatial quarters have a private life pod/ air car port.

The PEP shipping air car would be built with only one seat for the pilot and the rest of the space would be cargo but they would sell tickets for someone who needs a ride now and then they'd bolt in a chair for the passenger- it be very spartan and much like a MAC flight for US military personal- kind of like when a military family is stationed in Europe and the want to come back to the states for say a wedding- they can buy tickets (use to be $10/person) to ride on an air force plane on a as space and wt allow basis. its rough- you have to load your own luggage, wear ear plugs the whole time, and sit in a canvas seat with your back to the wall of the plane but hey it gets the job done the in flight entertainment is watching the boom operator refuel fightercraft over the Atlantic if you happen to be on a KC135 or a KC10!



I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
March 12, 2009 - 9:04am

This is pretty cool. You should do a write-up for this and send it in to SFMan.
I also want to see a company profile for PEP.Smile

Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 12, 2009 - 9:51am
I'll have to look an KH and determin a rough cost for HS 1-3 operation as a shuttle and scale a air car booster to be cheaper than that cost but more costly per person delivered to orbit. the special air car can be priced at +25% to +50% of std. air car price? Your thoughts on that?

I would think that most of the frontier uses the old way and this would be a shiney new tech to hit the market and currently only widely used on corporate owned systems where a corporation would be focused on the cost savings over time and among the rich who buy the new thing just to keep up with the Gates. (In my campaign I would enforce longer layovers though cheaper tickets for using the older shuttles vs the air car system)

Maybe this new system could be the brainchild of some one in CDC or another mega corp and PEP would be a subsidary corp for that mega corp.

How many air cars would you suppose a HS 2 ship could mount externally? Or would a HS3 ship be better as a tender? the air car tender would also need to areodynamic since it will be skirting the outer atmosphere.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
March 12, 2009 - 11:09am
jedion357 wrote:
I'll have to look an KH and determin a rough cost for HS 1-3 operation as a shuttle and scale a air car booster to be cheaper than that cost but more costly per person delivered to orbit. the special air car can be priced at +25% to +50% of std. air car price? Your thoughts on that?

How many air cars would you suppose a HS 2 ship could mount externally? Or would a HS3 ship be better as a tender? the air car tender would also need to areodynamic since it will be skirting the outer atmosphere.

I have some ideas. Will have to wait till I get home...damn job is interfering with my SF...
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 12, 2009 - 7:01pm
Great ideas.  A few comments/suggestions/ideas:

For comparison, NASA's Space shuttle is a HS 2 ship by KH rules. (Actually I think it is 2.5 but I'd have to redo the math.)  Depending on how it is designed I'd say you could get 6-8 air cars on that.

You would definintely need specially designed air cars as they have to be able to maintain the atmosphere in the vacuum of space.  Standard air cars are probably not air tight.

Booster rocket.  - This will still have to be pretty big.  You've got to get from 900 km/h (the top speed of an air car) to something on the order of 30,000 kp/h (orbital speed aournd the earth) and even if you allow the aircars to fly up to 120,000 feet thats only about 5% of the way up to the lowest orbits you'd want your space stations orbiting in.

Reentry - to get down you've got to shed that 30,000 km/h speed to get down to 900 kp/h to deploy your air cars.  Unless your shuttles are atomic drive craft, they are going to have to come in hot and use the atmosphere to slow down which means shielding the air cars from the 3-4000 degree temperatures.  If you try to do the suborbital balistic trajectory with just the aircar it has to be able to withstand that heat itself.  It won't be going quite as fast but it issue is still there.
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Rum Rogue's picture
Rum Rogue
March 12, 2009 - 8:16pm
Well, my thoughts/ideas really didnt play out as well as i thought.  But here is what I am left with.

A standard/basic aircar costs 50,000 cr. I figure rich/ecentric persons will spend more.
A life support package will run 20% of the base vehicle.
Vacuum proofing will run 25% of the base.

I was thinking about the rocket booster, then saw TerlObar's post.
After that I got to thinking that permanant boosters wouldnt work.  How about the space worthy aircar is strapped into or onto a rocket sled?  A vehicle sized rocket pack, so to speak.
This sled is reusable.  After the aircar lands, a service crew quickly unhitches the sled, and the VIPpers can be on their way.  The sled is then refuelled/recharged and ready to be installed onto another vehicle for a return trip.
Time flies when your having rum.

Im a government employee, I dont goof-off. I constructively abuse my time.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 13, 2009 - 12:53pm
TerlObar wrote:


Booster rocket.  - This will still have to be pretty big.  You've got to get from 900 km/h (the top speed of an air car) to something on the order of 30,000 kp/h (orbital speed aournd the earth) and even if you allow the aircars to fly up to 120,000 feet thats only about 5% of the way up to the lowest orbits you'd want your space stations orbiting in.

Reentry - to get down you've got to shed that 30,000 km/h speed to get down to 900 kp/h to deploy your air cars.  Unless your shuttles are atomic drive craft, they are going to have to come in hot and use the atmosphere to slow down which means shielding the air cars from the 3-4000 degree temperatures.  If you try to do the suborbital balistic trajectory with just the aircar it has to be able to withstand that heat itself.  It won't be going quite as fast but it issue is still there.


In light of this would there still be a monetary savings on operating a tender if it had to do all the breaking for the air cars and then return to orbit? sounds like it would have to make 95% of the trip twice.

I almost want to scrap the idea in favor of the rotan rocket that was developed here on earth as a commercial space vehicle. rocket booster to get to it to orbit and it lands like a helicopter which would allow any old mook with lvl 2 tech skill land it from orbit as it lands like a helicopter and a jet copter pilot ought to be able to handle that. I could easily see the very rich having docking ports within their space station condo to allow them to dock one of these so the could come and go from the station at will and duck the paparatzi


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotary_Rocket
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!