Military Review

Prospects and problems of spaceplanes


Last launch of space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135), July 2011

The concept of an aerospace system with an orbiting spaceplane has a number of positive qualities and therefore attracts attention. For several decades, various projects of such systems have been developed, but their real prospects remain in question. To date, only a few such projects have been brought into operation, and the future of the entire direction remains in question.

Successes of the past

The concept of an orbiting spaceplane provides for the creation of an aircraft capable of ascending into orbit independently or using a launch vehicle, and then returning to Earth through aerodynamic flight with a horizontal landing. This method of flight provides certain advantages and therefore is of interest to the rocket and space industry.

The ship Endeavor (STS-118) approaches the ISS, August 2007.

The leading powers began active work on this topic back in the fifties of the last century. Subsequently, a wide variety of aerospace systems (AKS) were developed using different spaceplanes. Some of these projects even went as far as full-scale experiments using experimental techniques.

At the same time, the direction is still not very successful and developed. The number of tested samples is much less than the total number of proposed projects, and only one complex reached real operation.

The most successful orbiting aircraft is the American Space Shuttle. In 1981-2011. Such devices made 135 flights (2 accidents), during which hundreds of tons of cargo and dozens of astronauts were delivered to orbit and returned to Earth. However, this program did not solve the problem of reducing the cost of withdrawal and recovery of the payload, and also proved to be overly complicated. In addition, by the beginning of the tenth years, spaceplanes had exhausted their resource, and the construction of new ones turned out to be inexpedient.

Experienced spaceplane SpaceShipOne. Photo Wikimedia Commons

In our country, work on spaceplanes stopped at the testing stage. So, in the seventies and eighties, an extensive program of bench and flight tests of the BOR series devices was carried out, incl. with access to orbit. In 1988, the "Buran" spacecraft made its only space flight. Further domestic projects did not progress beyond the earliest stages.

Perspective development

At the beginning of the XNUMXs, The Spaceship Company and Virgin Galactic tested an experimental spaceplane SpaceShipOne. Later, on the basis of this product, a new spacecraft SpaceShipTwo was developed, capable of lifting small loads to the lower boundary of outer space. Due to such restrictions, the spaceplane is considered only as a transport for space tourists or as a platform for some research.

In 2018-19. experienced SpaceShipTwo in two flights ascended to an altitude of more than 80 km. New flights are planned after the completion of the modernization and preparation of the existing ship for commercial operation. Also under construction are two new "serial appearance" spaceplanes. How soon SpaceShipTwo will reach commercial use is unclear. The project has repeatedly faced the problem of postponement, and this trend may continue in the future.

SpaceShipTwo under the wing of the carrier aircraft. Photo by Virgin Galactic

More successful and promising is the Dream Chaser project from Sierra Nevada Corp. He proposes the construction of an AKS with a launch vehicle and a spaceplane capable of ascending to low Earth orbits. Dream Chaser is being developed primarily to work with the International Space Station; he will have to deliver people and cargo to orbit and return to Earth. The estimated payload will reach 5 tons, the flight time will be no more than a few hours.

To date, ground and flight tests have been carried out using two experimental spaceplanes. The first flight is planned for 2022 using the standard Vulcan Centaur launch vehicle. Then a test launch to the ISS will take place. By the end of the decade, it is planned to begin full-fledged operation of this AKS with regular flights with one or another load on board. How realistic such plans are is unclear. According to NASA, Sierra Nevada is facing various challenges that, at the very least, make it difficult to prepare for flights.

Orbital tests

Since the beginning of the 37s, a promising spaceplane has been developed by the US Air Force, DARPA, NASA and Boeing. Flight tests of a product called X-2006A began in 37. Then, an improved X-XNUMXB device was created, suitable for launching into orbit. The project was created by order of the Air Force and probably had an exclusively military purpose. At the same time, the exact data of this kind have not yet been disclosed.

Experienced ship Dream Chaser, flying to an altitude of 80 km. Photo by NASA

The first orbital flight of the experienced X-37B began in April 2010 and lasted 224 days - until December. Then four more flights took place, and the last one lasted more than 779 days. Since May last year, one of the two prototypes has been in orbit; the date of return and boarding is unknown. Perhaps this time they will again set the record for the duration of the flight.

According to various estimates and estimates, the X-37B is already being used by the US Air Force for real-world missions. The device performs various maneuvers and changes its orbits. It has been reported to dump the payload. Thus, the process of developing flight technical capabilities can be accompanied by real work in favor of the army.

In September 2020, Chinese specialists launched the Changzheng-2F launch vehicle with a promising reusable spacecraft. The latter went into low-earth orbit and, probably, began to perform the assigned tasks. No details of the Chinese AKC project were disclosed. Even the class of the withdrawn apparatus remains unknown.

Preparing the X-37B for its maiden flight, April 2010. Photo by US Air Force

According to foreign sources, the first reusable ship in China is similar in architecture and appearance to the American X-37B and should have similar capabilities. This product, allegedly, is made in the form of an airplane with a delta wing of a small span and has a mass of no more than 8 tons. The range of tasks to be solved and the scope of application are unknown. China has yet to reveal the details of its project.

Direction problems

Despite all efforts, the direction of the AKS with an orbiting aircraft has so far only had limited success. In the near future, the situation may change - but the timing and results of the current processes are still in question. A number of characteristic factors and difficulties that the rocket and space industry has to face have led to this state of affairs.

The main problem with spaceplanes is the complexity of their creation. Designers need to combine the specific features of orbital technology and aerodynamic flight, taking into account the characteristic loads on the structure. This often requires the development of new technologies and components. The cost of the work rises accordingly.

Launch of the Changzheng-2F rocket. The same carrier was put into orbit by a Chinese reusable spacecraft. Photo by Xinhua

The proposed projects of spaceplanes cannot yet compete with rocket and space systems of other classes. Existing ships and launch vehicles are capable of delivering different payloads to different orbits - the customer can choose the optimal system. Spaceplanes of the proposed types cannot yet provide such flexibility of use. To do this, it is necessary to complete the development of current projects and create new samples with different characteristics.

Finally, the prospects of the direction are negatively affected by the general conjuncture of the rocket and space industry. The best successes are shown by the American and Chinese projects created by order of the armed forces and with their direct support. Commercial developers with proactive projects and even large organizations such as NASA are not yet able to independently provide fast and high-quality creation of systems with the desired capabilities.

Due to objective limitations and various difficulties, the development of aerospace systems with spaceplanes so far can boast of only limited achievements. Most of the projects of this kind went into history without real results, and the bulk of current developments have not yet left the testing stage. However, interest in this topic remains and stimulates the continuation of work. It can be assumed that in the future the situation will gradually change, and new samples of orbital aircraft will be brought into service. However, analogs of the old Space Shuttle with the same dimensions and payload, most likely, will not appear in the coming years.
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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 16 March 2021 05: 04
    In my opinion, there is a sense in a spaceplane only when it is necessary to return something from orbit, and in one piece. ))
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Aerodrome
      Aerodrome 16 March 2021 05: 31
      there were breakthrough projects, albeit in another country ..

      1. Civil
        Civil 16 March 2021 06: 48
        Anything can be done ... the only question is money. Rogozin is trying to explain this. There is no money, the country of the 3rd world in decline can hardly maintain what it is.
      2. Bad_gr
        Bad_gr 16 March 2021 20: 55
        We could also mention the Clipper. The model was taken to exhibitions ...
    3. Login_Off
      Login_Off 16 March 2021 05: 31
      What to return and why?
      Payload is usually calculated as a maximum of ten kilograms (biological samples, soil samples). The rest is faster to transfer in real time.
      To steal someone else's satellite from orbit, but why? It is easier to simply disable it.
      To fix the satellite and return it back, it's cheaper to start a new one.
      What to carry from orbit?
      Even in the future, regalite or helium3 is cheaper to return in standard balloon-type containers.
      1. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U 16 March 2021 05: 45
        Quote: Login_Off
        What to return and why?
        Those. do you think spaceplanes are not needed at all?

        Quote: Login_Off
        The rest is faster to transfer in real time.
        We're not talking about a modem now, but about a spaceship, actually.

        Quote: Login_Off
        To steal someone else's satellite from orbit, but why? It is easier to simply disable it.
        To steal and disable words is the same for you. Pickpockets give a standing ovation!

        Quote: Login_Off
        To fix the satellite and return it back, it's cheaper to start a new one.
        What to carry from orbit?
        The great space economist died in you.
        1. Maikcg
          Maikcg 18 March 2021 21: 56
          I will support, the spaceplanes of the Shuttle and Buran schemes are not needed .. As an exception, a purely passenger version, when the same amount of cargo (approximately) moves into orbit and back. While there are no factories in space to transport their products without stopping down, the main flow of cargo from Earth into space and the extra 100 tons of the shuttle does not even justify its reusability.
      2. Lannan Shi
        Lannan Shi 16 March 2021 06: 35
        Quote: Login_Off
        Even in the future, regalite or helium3 is cheaper to return in standard balloon-type containers.

        At the beginning of the last century, many argued about the same. Why this incomprehensible plane when there is a cheap and reliable steam locomotive. And before last - why this explosive and expensive steam locomotive, when there is a reliable and cheap cart.
      3. Avior
        Avior 16 March 2021 07: 02
        To deliver a spaceship from orbit to the Earth. For rerun. use as planes land
        1. shahor
          shahor 16 March 2021 18: 04
          Quote: Avior
          To deliver a spaceship from orbit to the Earth. For rerun. use as planes land

          Well, so the Mask plants and reuses his Dragon - although this Dragon is not a spaceplane at all ...
      4. donavi49
        donavi49 16 March 2021 08: 56
        Well, this is by type - since there is no opportunity for us, then it is not necessary. Firm and clear. Moreover, the peak of experiments in the Russian segment without Science is rat-flies on a couple of stands.

        The Americans have the opportunity to return, so they return 1,5t + each time. Starting from voluminous experiments, ending with entire laboratories. They also reuse equipment quite a lot. The system has broken down - we are taking it back -> we fix it -> we are taking it back to the ISS. They also have a unique opportunity to study the structural changes of entire blocks and mechanisms over 10-15 years of work in space. Again, in the Russian segment, several pieces are cut out.

        For example, the last truck is packing 1700 kg of Noguchi.

        Here's a refund.

        And an autopsy.
      5. Vadim237
        Vadim237 16 March 2021 17: 31
        What to return and why? Satellites - some of them can cost up to $ 10 billion.
      6. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 16 March 2021 20: 47
        "What to transport from orbit?" ////
        Critical microcircuits, multilayer boards. In weightlessness they
        the best quality is obtained.
        On the ISS, the Japanese made minifactories, and Dragon launches products to Earth.
        Medicines. Centrifuges work better in zero gravity.
        Orbiting factories are a promising business.
      7. da Vinci
        da Vinci 17 March 2021 19: 00
        Well, I suppose the X-37B didn’t do fools?
    4. Andrey Yuryevich
      Andrey Yuryevich 16 March 2021 05: 59
      Quote: Vladimir_2U
      In my opinion, there is a sense in a spaceplane only when it is necessary to return something from orbit, and in one piece. ))

      have you thought about a space fighter?
      1. carstorm 11
        carstorm 11 16 March 2021 06: 25
        There was a Spiral. Because of Buran, she was essentially finished and buried
        1. Cosm22
          Cosm22 16 March 2021 13: 22
          And what was "essentially ready", do you deign to remind?
          And when was it "ready"?
          After starting design in 1965? And how are you doing? And the Spiral itself was created? And the booster plane? And the problem of separating devices at a speed of Mach 6 was solved? Then why did Defense Minister Grechko cover up this adventure with his own hand by imposing a murderous resolution?
          Or was it "ready" after a kind of reincarnation of the project in connection with the development of Buran? As far as we know, the apparatus itself was not created in those years. Only his reduced mock-ups of BORs flew. Moreover, not particularly successfully. Only the fifth RBB showed some results. Which, however, did not satisfy the military, and the project was finally buried.
          So what was "done" after all?
        2. Vadim237
          Vadim237 16 March 2021 17: 34
          M 19 and Tu 2000 are much more advanced projects than Spiral and Buran, but the latter cut all the previous ones.
      2. Waltasar
        Waltasar 16 March 2021 06: 30
        Quote: Andrey Yurievich
        space fighter

        And how can wings, reusability and biorobots inside help to shoot down satellites?
        Isn't it better to throw small armed satellites?
        1. Alarmist79
          Alarmist79 April 17 2021 21: 03
          = Isn't it better to throw small armed satellites? =

          Classic ones are tethered to orbits and 1. cannot evade attacks 2. have a limited sweep zone themselves. 3. They can be launched either only where the enemy already has worthy targets - and you may not be able to catch up with the prompt response to its launches. Or in advance, but then they may be useless.
          In addition, it is also a question to calculate 100% in advance the results of battles. Reinforcements / "cavalry" may be needed.
          So you need something capable of maneuvering in space. A maneuvering person needs a lot of fuel / working fluid and a lot of ammunition.
          As a result, we either sculpt a "dreadnought" in orbit with a supply of fuel, rum, rockets, molts and crackers for all occasions. Or we sculpt a "cruiser" and try to supply it with molts in the process. Or we sculpt a piece that flies for the bread itself. That's all in principle.
      3. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U 16 March 2021 06: 47
        Quote: Andrey Yurievich
        but they didn't think about a space fighter

        Then aerospace and precisely with an independent takeoff without props such as accelerators and the first stage, but this is still a fantasy.
  2. Uncle lee
    Uncle lee 16 March 2021 05: 26
    In addition to "Buran" and nothing to show ... And he comes from the USSR!
  3. magdama
    magdama 16 March 2021 06: 46
    Why is there no Russian space technology in this wonderful lineup ???)) Because she was killed along with the Soviet Union in the "blessed" 90s! Hosanna to the Great Gorbachev and Yeltsin! And damn them!
    1. Avior
      Avior 16 March 2021 06: 58
      In fairness, Buran flew just under Gorbachev.
      1. magdama
        magdama 16 March 2021 07: 33
        Flew under Gorbachev. But it was developed for decades. And not under Gorbachev.
        1. Avior
          Avior 16 March 2021 08: 04
          Flew under Gorbachev.

          And I didn’t say anything else.
          And they closed the program under Yeltsin.
    2. Stas157
      Stas157 16 March 2021 07: 31
      Quote: magdama
      Why is there no Russian space technology in this wonderful series ???)) Because she was killed together with the Soviet Union in the "blessed" 90s!

      They killed Soviet equipment, but where is the Russian one? Where are those leaps and breakthroughs announced by Putin?

      Putin also got the advanced Soviet cosmonautics (the first in terms of the number of launches) and our leading positions in sports. And now even this is gone. The current stability is a stable downhill slide with no prospects whatsoever.
      1. Woodman
        Woodman 16 March 2021 08: 34
        Quote: Stas157
        Putin got more advanced Soviet cosmonautics

        Putin got only what Yeltsin did not manage to destroy. And Yeltsin got the "advanced Soviet cosmonautics". But he did not need this cosmonautics (censorship).
        1. Stas157
          Stas157 16 March 2021 12: 54
          Quote: Lesovik
          Putin got only what Yeltsin did not manage to destroy

          And the drunkard did not manage to destroy much, which then the tsar completed! In addition to space and sports, most of the Soviet city-forming enterprises were destroyed and converted into shopping centers and warehouses, precisely under the current activist-lifter from his knees.
      2. Vadim237
        Vadim237 16 March 2021 17: 42
        The planning controlled orbital warhead Avangard - what is not an impulse for you in heat engineering, materials science, control in a plasma cloud, hypersonic aerodynamics of descent vehicles and much more - having such technical solutions worked out in practice will allow Russia in the future to create its own aerospace aircraft that will not need a rocket to launch completely reusable system with takeoff and landing like an airplane.
  4. Grossvater
    Grossvater 16 March 2021 06: 57
    I could be wrong, of course, but the mass of the structure itself for the amerovsky inflatable Atlas did not exceed 4% of the starting one, for the self-supporting Union there is more, perhaps 5. The resource engines are triggered at the start, the increase in the resource is directly proportional to the increase in mass. And what for, I ask, is all this necessary?
    This I still keep quiet about checking and repairing the piece of iron after each flight! An aerospace plane, taking off on an airplane, theoretically, it may make sense if it turns out to accelerate the unit to cosmic speeds in the atmosphere.
    1. Intruder
      Intruder 16 March 2021 11: 28
      if it turns out to accelerate the unit to cosmic speeds in the atmosphere.
      Than!? laughing A meson reactor and a gravity reactor ...!? laughing wink
    2. Proctologist
      Proctologist 16 March 2021 11: 42
      What are the problems with checks and repairs after each flight? This is the case in aviation, and it's okay - planes fly. The restoration of the stealth coating on the first generations of stealth aircraft is quite comparable to the maintenance of the thermal protection of a spacecraft.
      1. tolancop
        tolancop 22 March 2021 15: 09
        Quote: Proctologist
        What are the problems with checks and repairs after each flight?

        I think the cost of these checks and repairs is a problem. If it is comparable to the manufacture of a new product, then a new one is better - more reliable. And there is no need to carry extra mass into orbit ...
    3. Vadim237
      Vadim237 16 March 2021 17: 48
      In Great Britain, they have been working on a similar engine for 10 years already, and there is a project of an aerospace plane and money is being allocated for it.
    4. Alarmist79
      Alarmist79 April 17 2021 21: 10
      = Resource engines are triggered at start, the increase in resource is directly proportional to the increase in mass. And what for, I ask, is all this necessary?
      This I am still silent about checking and repairing the piece of iron after each flight! =

      It was in these terms that Roscosmos declared Musk a rogue. Then, however, he started to talk about the development of reusable systems.
  5. Avior
    Avior 16 March 2021 06: 57
    ... The main problem with spaceplanes is the complexity of their creation.

    In my opinion, the main problem is the high cost of the flight. Service too expensive. And now the general trend is to reduce the cost of launching into space.
    If we could provide the same flight parameters and quality of equipment, so that the cost of a flight hour was comparable to aviation, such a spacecraft would be in great demand.
    1. Proctologist
      Proctologist 16 March 2021 11: 50
      A spacecraft a priori means a lot of its own mass to the detriment of its payload. There are two ways to justify this inefficiency:
      A. Reusable aircraft type design (re-launch quickly and cheaply, reducing launch costs to fuel and ground operations)
      B. Acceleration in the atmosphere using an oxidizer from the air, thus saving on the weight of the oxidizer (Skylon).
      B. Launch from conventional aerodromes using their infrastructure.

      ... but (A) does just as well with a classic rocket, as SpaceX hopes to show with its Starship. Remains (B) and (C). Moreover, the latter is not yet in the project, as far as I know. And in the meantime, and floating spaceports will become a reality and the meaning then in the airfields?
      1. Avior
        Avior 16 March 2021 12: 40
        Option B is an air launch from an aircraft carrier. But there are also nuances.
        When the price of flights was not in the first place. But this time has passed, everything will be determined by the price.
        1. Proctologist
          Proctologist 16 March 2021 15: 05
          so nothing serious in terms of mass is launched into orbit from an air launch! Today, the plane lifts a small disposable rocket (second stage) and it puts a light satellite into orbit, or a rocket plane flies off from an air launch, but then it is suborbital, not a spaceship. The idea of ​​Skylon was to accelerate in the atmosphere to hypersonic speeds - this would shift the balance of the PN weight relative to the second stage, or even the Skylon itself could (I personally doubt) reach orbit in a one-stage version. Otherwise, there is no special benefit to get - well, what are these -900 km / h and -10 km for orbital speeds?
  6. U-58
    U-58 16 March 2021 09: 44
    Give the engine and even the fence will fly with it.
    Until there is a replacement for the chemical engine, there will be no progress in spacecraft and LV flights.
  7. Proctologist
    Proctologist 16 March 2021 11: 39
    A surprisingly weak article. I will write off the fact that it is not 100% on the topic of military equipment - not about weapons, but about certain technologies that can be used for military purposes ...

    The concept of an aerospace system with an orbiting spaceplane plane has a number of positive qualities and therefore attracts attention.
    What exactly are the "benefits"? What is their military significance (landing at conventional airfields + quick preparation for the next launch, the ability not only to raise, but also to lower a significant mass from orbit, including foreign satellites).

    Where is the overview of the actually ongoing spaceplanes development? Dream Chaser is mentioned, thanks. But I would always mention and emphasize its Soviet roots, because there is something to be proud of. Where's Skylon? The only any actual spaceplane project with an airplane takeoff, and not just landing?
    1. Knell wardenheart
      Knell wardenheart 16 March 2021 13: 12
      Skylon is probably still a concept - because too much time has passed since the beginning of its development, they faced a lot of problems there, the resolution of each of which no longer fits into their budgets. The plane comes out too monstrously huge, hybridization of engines (as far as I remember) is unnecessarily complicated - in general, it should not be considered as a project going "into the metal", it is rather a developer of technologies, possibly dead-end.
      1. Vadim237
        Vadim237 16 March 2021 17: 56
        “In September 2019, the UK Space Agency announced a close collaboration with the Australian Space Agency on a hypersonic 'space plane' project. As CNN reported, as part of the agreement, the agencies will create a spaceplane that will cut flights between London and Sydney by 2030% by 80 Reaction Engines has received over £ 100 million to develop the engine A demonstrator of an ambient air / liquid hydrogen propulsion gas generator will be tested at a research facility under construction in Buckinghamshire, UK, which is currently completing a test facility there. where the first ground demonstration of the SABER engine will take place.

        Test flights are scheduled to begin closer to mid-2022. The first commercial flight should take place by 2030 "- So it does not need to be dropped; it has great chances of being realized.
        1. Knell wardenheart
          Knell wardenheart 16 March 2021 19: 02
          Liquid hydrogen is a dangerous thing, transportation-manufacturing-storage is a somewhat non-"passenger" level, and the industrial production of hydrogen and, for example, the production of conventional aviation fuel mixtures are somewhat different price levels. If we consider the commercial operation of such an aircraft for fast transoceanic flights, then the ticket price will definitely be a horse, even for VIPs, the size of the product also implies a completely deadly occupancy rate. At the exit, we get a hefty bandura requiring major re-equipment of airports "for it", operating in the VIP-price segment and at the same time requiring decades of 90% regular occupancy, without which the project will not pay off.
          It is for these reasons that I hardly believe in the commercial and passenger implementation of such a thing. But, of course, anything can happen.
          Such toys, in my opinion, are possible after reaching a certain% of the global transition to "hydrogen energy", which objectively does not smell in practice yet, and I do not think that the situation will change with the beginning of the 2030s, because before the mass solution of a thermonuclear reactor or high-performance film solar cells on penny prices (that is, what could contain this hydrogen energy) are still infinitely far away.
          For the military, SKYLON is unnecessarily huge and unconventional - as a rule, an air launch is interesting as an element of some kind of potential anti-satellite operations and is integrated with carriers of a much lower mass and cost (at the moment), an air launch of a larger load MAYBE more interesting, but alas, now missiles have become even better able to cope with this task, and it is for them that manufacturers design some kind of load elements. It turns out, as a whole, a vicious circle in the military direction, at least for now.

          Of course, wait and see.
          1. voyaka uh
            voyaka uh 16 March 2021 20: 53
            "Liquid hydrogen ... dangerous stuff" ////
            But the prospects are huge. Toyota is going, unlike Tesla,
            all cars to be converted to hydrogen-electric.
            It will take a lot of hydrogen.
            Saudi Arabia plans to build in the desert near the Red Sea
            giant factory: solar panels and hydrogen production.
            Shipment by sea.
            1. Vadim237
              Vadim237 17 March 2021 21: 43
              "The British company Reaction Engines has tested the cooler and gas generator of the promising hypersonic hybrid rocket engine SABER. According to Defense News, the president of the company, Adam Diesel, said." Now the company intends to combine several units of SABER and test them together. Details of the tests carried out by the developers of the engine did not disclose.

              The SABER hypersonic hybrid rocket engine has been developed by Reaction Engines since 2016. This power plant will use atmospheric oxygen, and then liquid oxygen, to burn fuel at different stages of flight. The power plant will receive a universal combustion chamber and nozzle. At the start and during acceleration, the SABER will operate like a conventional ramjet engine, using air for fuel combustion. This air will be supplied to the gas generator through bypass air intakes around the fuel and oxidizer supply system.

              When a speed of 5 Mach numbers is reached, the power plant will switch to rocket mode, in which the air intakes will be closed, and liquid oxygen will be supplied in small portions to the air ducts. It is planned to use liquid hydrogen as fuel for the engine. For efficient engine operation at speeds up to and including Mach 5, the air entering the engine will be cooled. For this, a multistage cooling system is being created, which, according to the project, will have to cool the air from 1 degrees Celsius to -150 degrees.

              The multistage cooling system is a network of 16800 thinnest tubes. Liquid helium is supplied to the tubes themselves under a pressure of 200 bar (197 atmospheres), which acts as a heat carrier. In 2019, Reaction Engines tested the SABER engine precooler, an air precooler, at hypersonic flow rate. During tests at a speed of Mach 5, heated gas was supplied from a working jet engine. The gas temperature was 1000 degrees Celsius. "The likelihood that Skylon will be realized and fly is growing every year.
  8. Knell wardenheart
    Knell wardenheart 16 March 2021 13: 07
    Too much concentration of technologies, too expensive a product, for commercial use worthless indicators in terms of mass-capabilities (as far as I understand). In the case of Energia-Buran, a super-heavy launch vehicle was required, the development and operation of which is an unbearable burden for commercial tasks. Prospects, I would probably reduce to a division into two directions - the most capacious device for a crew of 2 people - for transporting large cargo or a certain number of passengers, smaller than the Shuttle and a UAV device launched by air launch or an average district, and intended exclusively for the transport of goods.
  9. ont65
    ont65 16 March 2021 14: 08
    The cosmoplane as a variant of a transport and manned spacecraft or a tanker is quite effective when used repeatedly, it can also work as a scavenger, bringing non-working satellites into the atmosphere, even geostationary ones, but the latter is not obvious. For such work, it is enough to maintain the operability of a conventional non-atmospheric unit plying in orbits and fueled by other launch vehicles in low orbits. As a truck, it is, after all, limited by volume and weight, and if it is intended to carry something here and there, then it is exclusively standard cargo for its parameters. The X37 operates only in low orbits and is clearly intended to control the spacecraft of the Russian Federation and China put into intermediate orbits, and possibly destroy them.
  10. Falcon5555
    Falcon5555 16 March 2021 15: 34
    Again this meaningless verbal cotton wool:
    a number of positive qualities ... attracts attention ... various projects ... remain questionable ... interest in this topic remains and stimulates the continuation of work.

    This author turns any interesting topic into boredom. It does not stimulate or even keep readers interested in any topic. sad
  11. Old26
    Old26 16 March 2021 17: 39
    Quote: carstorm 11
    There was a Spiral. Because of Buran, she was essentially finished and buried

    There was no READY SPIRAL. The Spiral system consisted of a spaceplane, a booster block and a hypersonic booster aircraft. There was no booster plane, and there was no booster block. Under the Spiral program, there were only tests of the subsonic analogue "105-11" (EMNIP in Vladimirovka). There were no tests of either the supersonic version 105-12, or the hypersonic version 105-13.
    After the closure of the program, as part of the development of "Buran", tests of unmanned rocket-planes of the BOR type were carried out. Here BOR-4 was similar to the "Spiral", But it flew only in the form of a scale EMNIP model 4 times (2 landing in the Black Sea, two - in the region of Australia)

    Quote: Cosm22
    And what was "essentially ready", do you deign to remind?

    They will not please, namesake. Because essentially nothing WAS NOT READY
  12. Maikcg
    Maikcg 18 March 2021 22: 20
    I think it's funny to refer to games. Kerbal Space Program type wassat
    But even there, a spaceplane similar to the Shuttle and Buran, an expensive and difficult piece of garbage to remove, loses in all respects to a classic rocket. And only in the version of the SSTO spaceplane, that is, a single stage of that orbits with a single universal engine capable of operating both in the atmosphere on an aircraft and in space on a rocket, this thing has the right to exist. And, well, even for show-off. And all the same it loses in terms of the mass of the removed cargo, because the spaceplane itself weighs hundreds and thousands (fuel) tons.
    1. su25
      su25 28 March 2021 08: 00
      Here you just need to decide which version of the war we unleash ... - set aside! - we are considering. wink From the point of view of the possibility of putting the maximum payload into orbit, any "reusable" systems lose to "one-time" ones, since first, the additional mass of the "landing" structure is dragged into orbit, and then it is returned to Earth.
      From the point of view of reducing the cost of launching relatively small objects in terms of mass, "reusability" can give a certain effect, but here a lot depends on the complexity and cost of "post-flight maintenance" and the resource of the "reusable" design. For example, the frequency of use of many UAVs does not exceed 10-20.
      Any technology can be applied in the field of "space tourism" - from suborbital flight on the modernized "V-2" laughing (see project BP-190) to SpaceShip. If only the money was paid.
      Delivery of bulky cargo from orbit is still a relatively rare phenomenon. However, this task can be successfully solved by the means available today. Instead of a space station, no one bothers to assemble in orbit from "standard modules" ... a disposable descent vehicle for any conceivable load.
      Perhaps, only the air launch system gives the AKC certain advantages - and then on condition that for take-off and landing it will be possible to use ordinary airfields of a certain category.