So we think there may be a future for horizontal launch in distant future systems. There may be safety applications for manned operations, but investors today are looking for returns on real investments. The economy doesn’t offer a lot of growth areas so the new space ventures may have a valid offering now. But most investors won’t launch into pie in the sky dreams. They need real customers and real markets.
Today I joined a meeting of minds in Houston to generate a real market solution to lower cost launches to orbit. There is no nonsense about fantasy joy rides, but real satellite customer interest. We previously published an article by Wes Kelly of Triton Systems and now we are seeing the fruit of more than ten years of his work towards this goal.
Horizontal launch is being proposed by several ventures, but none are offering more than an air launch at low altitudes. Five miles of altitude and 500 miles per hour do not make a great stride to reusable launch hopes. The goal is 200 miles of altitude and 17,000 miles per hour, so those proposals leave a lot of expendable stages and throw away rocket engines. Reaching 19 miles of altitude would be a slight improvement, but a rocket boost could add a lot of needed acceleration. If a first stage space plane were rocket powered it would allow that stage and its rocket engine to be reusable.
Triton Systems Stellar-J launch system may become the first reusable fly back booster using horizontal launch. runway operations can eliminate waiting for vertical launch facilities and deliver a more flexible choice of orbital inclinations. http://stellar-j.com/Stellar-J-TritonSystemsLLC-p2-1.htm
The illustrations on the present web page are already evolved into a refined version which will be published later. The most important news of this meeting is the decision to launch the serious design and funding effort to go for launch. There are letters of intent from satellite customers and a highly qualified leadership gathering now. In these photographs are men and women of deep aerospace experience and vision. If any of you have a lot of NASA experience you may recognize a few of these people.
I show up in a few places but I can only deliver the blueprints that tell the shop what the engineers need to build. In my limited experience I have rarely been privileged to join a historical first in the opening stages. I think you are witnessing something special in these image of our meeting at Denny’s today.