Date of Award
Master of Science
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Milton E. Franke, PhD
The Department of Defense (DoD) has identified operationally responsive, low-cost access to space as vital to maintaining U.S. military supremacy. Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs) will allow the U.S. to keep a technological advantage over our adversaries, and advances in airbreathing propulsion technology have made it feasible for use in space launch vehicles. This study considers two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) RLV configurations, each using combinations of propulsion including pure rocket, pure turbine, rocket-based-combined-cycle (RBCC), and turbine-based-combined-cycle (TBCC) for the both stages. This study explores the advantages of airbreathing propulsion in those key areas when compared to a baseline configuration, using vehicle empty mass and vehicle wetted area as the primary figures of merit. Results show that a vehicle using airbreathing propulsion on the orbiter stage has a lower vehicle empty mass and wetted area than a pure rocket, and allows the RLV to gain the advantages of using airbreathing propulsion. The requirements used for this comparison are: 1) a payload module requirement of 20,000 pounds; 2) a 100x100 nautical mile, 28.5 lat. Easterly orbit and return; 3) use of hydrocarbon fuels (RP-1 and/or JP-7) and liquid hydrogen (LH2); and 4) use of liquid oxygen and/or air as oxidizers. ASTROX Corporation's Hypersonic System Integrated Design Environment (HySIDE) code is used as the design tool throughout the study.
DTIC Accession Number
Hank, Joseph M., "Comparative Analysis of Two-Stage-to-Orbit Rocket and Airbreathing Reusable Launch Vehicles for Military Applications" (2006). Theses and Dissertations. 3558.