Jan 062018
 

The L-2000 was Lockheed’s entrance into the mid-1960’s FAA contest to design and develop an American supersonic transport. The FAA wanted the US to have an SST substantially better than the Anglo-French Concorde, with up to 250 passengers and a cruise speed of up to Mach 3 (as fast as an SR-71). Interestingly, the Concorde was not expected to be a long0lived design, but rather was simply going to be the *first* SST, a technology demonstrator, a diplomatic endeavor between historic enemies Britain and France, a flying sales brochure for Angle-French industry. And the Tupolev Tu 144 was an attempt to put something, *anything*, into the air first.

In the end, the FAA selected the Boeing 2707 design, ending the L-2000. And after great promise was shown, politics killed the Boeing 2707, ending substantial forward progress in civil aviation. Since then, air flight has gotten cheaper and more efficient, but it has not gotten any faster… and it certainly hasn’t become more comfortable.

This artwork depicts the final or near-final L-2000 concept, a double-delta configuration vaguely like a larger Concorde in shape. The Boeing design started off as a swing-wing configuration but became a fixed, tailed design prior to cancellation.

 

I’ve uploaded the full rez scans to the 2018-01 APR Extras Dropbox folder, available to all current APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in this and a great many other “extras” and monthly aerospace history rewards, please sign up for the APR Patreon. Chances are good that $4/month is far cheaper than your espresso/booze budget!

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 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Jan 012018
 

This piece of art depicts the McDonnell-Douglas “Drawbridge” orbiter in orbit delivering a satellite. Note that the wing are deployed, even though they would be folded up during entry. The geometry of the craft was such that in order to get the cargo bay door open and payloads safely in and out, the wing needed to fold down out of the way.

This points out one of the reasons why you don’t often see a whole lot of “cool” stuff in aerospace… everything has tradeoffs. And needing the wings to constantly go up and down is a bit of a headache. When it comes to spacecraft, mass is a primary priority; the mechanisms needed to deploy the wings weight a lot… never mind the mechanisms needed to retract the wing again. As an example, the real space shuttle orbiter had no landing gear retraction system. And why should it? The landing gear is hardly something the Orbiter would ever need to retract. That could be done by the ground crew without adding weight and complexity to the craft itself.

Note that the Orbiter and the payload here seem to have not NASA markings, but Red Cross markings. I suspect that a number of variants of this piece of art would have been produced with several different markings (NASA and Pan Am being the obvious ones), but why exactly Red Cross? Dunno.

Also note that this might not be an actual “Drawbridge” design, as no extension mechanism for the wing s in evidence. This might be an oversight on the part of the artist; it might be that this was a fixed-wing design. Given the RCS thrusters on the wingtips, this is most likely *not* a Drawbridge.

I’ve uploaded the high-rez version of this artwork (11.2 megabyte 6271×4763 pixel JPG) to the APR Extras Dropbox folder for 2018-01, available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in accessing this and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

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 Posted by at 3:59 pm
Dec 302017
 

The rewards for APR Patrons have been issued. This month:

CAD Diagram: Marquardt hypersonic burning ramjet booster

Diagram: Convair Class VP Airplane High Performance Flying Boat

Document 1: Apollo Exploration Shelter System

Document 2: Chrysler Work Station Capsule (“work pod” for astronauts)

Document 3: Sikorsky S-97 “Raider” brochure

 

If you are interested in helping to preserve (and get copies of) this sort of thing, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 

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 Posted by at 12:06 pm
Dec 252017
 

This piece of art depicts the McDonnell-Douglas “Drawbridge” orbiter staging off the manned flyback booster, showing the wings still folded against the sides of the fuselage. The wings served no purpose during ascent; they would only be used after-re-entry. Of course, in the event of a mission abort shortly after launch, the wings would need to deploy fairly quickly. There are no doubt numerous abort scenarios where the orbiter would be left intact after separation from a presumably stricken booster (or after a main engine failure on the orbiter stage), but would nevertheless still be doomed due to inability to get the wings deployed in time.

I’ve uploaded the high-rez version of this artwork (5 megabyte 3951×2121 pixel JPG) to the APR Extras Dropbox folder for 2017-12, available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in accessing this and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

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 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Dec 212017
 

The early development of the Space Shuttle was filled with bizarre designs, attempts to jam capabilities into existing technologies. One such unconventional concept came from McDonnell-Douglas: a low-cross-range orbiter atop a flyback booster. The orbiter, unlike the Shuttle Orbiter actually built, contained considerable internal propellant; the booster would get it up to high altitude and velocity, but the bulk of the actual delta V would come from the Orbiters own propulsion. The vehicle had small, straight wings that would fold up against the side of the fuselage for launch and for re-entry… but they would have to deploy on-orbit to allow the payload bay doors to open, and they’d deploy again once the craft had entered the atmosphere.

I’ve uploaded the high-rez version of this artwork (8 megabyte 5598×4529 pixel JPG) to the APR Extras Dropbox folder for 2017-12, available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in accessing this and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 

 

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 Posted by at 9:23 pm
Nov 302017
 

A bit of Martin Marietta artwork depicting the Titan IVA, rescued from ebay. I’ve put the full-rez scan (600 dpi, so it’s pretty big) in the 2017-11 APR Extras Dropbox folder, available to all APR Patreon patrons at the $4 level and above.

 

If you are interested in helping to preserve this sort of thing, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 

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 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Nov 282017
 

Back when NASA thought that the Apollo program would lead to more than just flags & footprints, they expressed an interest in ways for astronauts to get around on the surface. Along with rovers there were many designs for “flying vehicles,” basically “rocket packs” built into one or two-man platforms. Due to the lack of aerodynamic resistance and the lower gravity, performance of these systems was substantially less laughable than comparable Earthly systems.

Recently acquired from ebay is this bit of Bell Aerosystems artwork depicting a one-man flying platform designed to be carried by a Lunar Module. I’ve put the full-rez scan in the 2017-11 APR Extras Dropbox folder, available to all PR Patreon patrons at the $4 level and above.

 

If you are interested in helping to preserve this sort of thing, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 

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 Posted by at 12:40 am
Nov 182017
 

A recent acquisition from ebay was a pretty good B&W glossy showing a Martin Company illustration of the Titan IIIC launch vehicle, circa August, 1964. One of the better Titan IIIC illustrations I’ve seen, showing the innards to good effect.

I have uploaded the full 600-dpi scan to the 2017-11 APR Extras Dropbox available to all $4 and up APR Patreon patrons. It’s in two formats… the raw scan, and a cleaned-up version that looks better. Also included is the press release printed on the back of the glossy. If you are interested, take a look at the APR Patreon and consider signing up.

 Posted by at 11:16 pm
Oct 092017
 

Posted to a NASA Flickr page is this illustration of a 1984 space station concept:

This is the Johnson Space Center’s 1984 “roof” concept for a space station. The “roof” was covered with solar array cells, that were to generate about 120 kilowatts of electricity. Within the V-shaped beams there would be five modules for living, laboratory space, and external areas for instruments and other facilities.

This would probably be a very heavy station for the volume and usable surface area provided. However, once that truss structure is in place, it seems like it would be possible to keep adding on to it without overly stressing the structure, with the possible result of a very capable station. It should also be possible to keep tacking on new truss elements.

The design would necessarily keep most of the station elements shadowed by the solar arrays.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm