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 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
Dec 162017
 

A few days ago I uploaded in the 2017-12 APR Patron Extras Dropbox folder a scan of an old magazine article on the X-24 lifting body which including this interesting piece of art depicting an X-24 atop a Titan IIIc launch vehicle. There were indeed proposals to launch X-24 derivatives into orbit with Titan IIIs, but they wouldn’t be *exactly* X-24’s. The X-24 was not built as a spacecraft or a re-entry vehicle; it would be uncontrollable outside the atmosphere and would be a molten collection of rubbish on re-entry. Still, the proposed vehicles did look a *lot* like the X-24.

Support the APR Patreon to help bring more of this sort of thing to light!

 

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 Posted by at 4:22 am
Nov 152017
 

Every now and then something of aerospace history interest and importance shows up on EBay that is too expensive for easy acquisition, and so I will run a “crowdfunding campaign” to procure the funds to purchase the item. In these cases, the item – almost always a document of some kind – is scanned, the funders get complete copies, and the original is then sent to a relevant archive. Another such item has popped up.

In this case, the item is expensive because the seller has put a stupid-high Buy It Now price on it. What they have is a pair of early-1960’s Grumman documents abut manned lifting body logistics spacecraft. Very interesting-looking stuff, the sort of item I’d snap up in a heartbeat for Aerospace Projects Review… if they didn’t cost $800.

 

So, I’m looking for people willing to join in on purchasing this. I currently have six people lined up, but the minimum this time is fifteen: this would drop the price per person to about $53.50. That’s still a pretty good chunk of change, but the more people who sign on, the lower the price will be.

So if you’d like to sign on, just send me an email or comment below. You won’t be asked to put up money unless the documents are purchased, and that won’t happen until at least 15 people sign up. Check back here for updates.

UPDATE, 11/15/2017-9:37PM mountain time: 10 people signed up. 2/3 of the way there…

UPDATE, 11:17 PM: 12 people.

UPDATE, 11/16/2017-8:29 AM: 14 people signed up. One more and I’ll pull the trigger on this, but I’ll keep availability open for a little while longer in order to hopefully bring in more funders and reduce the per-person cost. Can’t keep it open *too* long, because… sheesh, 800 bucks. My mortgage payment comes due *tomorrow.*

UPDATE, 7:54 PM: Now at 17 funders. The seller is currently away for a few days and it seems unlikely that anyone else will plunk down the $802 for this, so I’ll risk it and leave things open for a few more days to get more funders on board. With 17, the price per person is now $47.17. If it gets to 20, that’ll be $40.10, and so on.

 Posted by at 9:19 pm
Oct 192017
 

A rare piece of color art depicting an early Dyna Soar being dropped from a B-52. The Dyna Soar is equipped with two rocket engines used to boost it to higher altitude and higher speed (supersonic, though not very supersonic… think the test flights of the M2-F3 and the HL-10). Note that this shows the Dyna Soar having been tucked into a modified bomb bay in the B-52’s fuselage; planning  would soon move the Dyna Soar to under the wing, using the same attachment point used by the B-52 to carry the X-15 and the lifting bodies.

 

 Posted by at 11:59 am
Sep 252017
 

Another rare piece of early Dyna Soar color art. This one shows the Dyna Soar heading to space atop the centaur upper stage of an Atlas booster. And if you think you are seeing corrugations on the back of the spaceplane, you are correct. At this stage in the design process the Dyna Soar *did* have some fairly massive, un-aerodynamic corrugations, and for the same reason why the SR-71 has corrugations on the wing: to allow for thermal expansion. Why exactly the Boeing Dyna Soar corrugations run crossways to the airflow, I’m a little unclear on. Terrible aerodynamics, but I imagine that’s just the way the structure wanted to flex.

The corrugations rarely appear on the usually simple diagrams you see of early Dyna Soar configurations, but they were there on full-scale mockups.

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Sep 212017
 

Now available: two new US Aerospace Projects issues. Cover art was provided by Rob Parthoens, www.baroba.be

US Bomber Projects #20:XB-59 Special

US Bomber Projects #20 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #20 collects all the previously published articles and diagrams of the XB-59 antecedent designs and updates them. Additionally, more antecedent designs have been included as well as several designs that followed along after the XB-59. The biggest USXP publication yet!

USBP 20 includes twenty nine unique aircraft concepts (the usual issue of USXP has eight designs) from Boeing Models 484 and 701 showing how Boeing evolved the XB-59, their competitor to the Convair B-58 “Hustler.” Beginning with subsonic flying wings, the concept saw concepts both conventional and unconventional before eventually settling on Model 701-299-1, the final XB-59 design. This issue includes a half dozen Model 701 designs that followed along after the cancellation of the XB-59 program.

 

USBP #20 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $8:

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US Launch Vehicle Projects #04

US Launch Vehicle Projects #04 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #04 includes:

  • Space Carrier Vehicle: A US Army lunar rocket with 8 F-1 engines
  • Convair Reusable Helios: A stage-and-a-half monster with a gas core nuclear engine
  • Boeing Model 896-111: A 1980’s two stage transatmospheric vehicle
  • Project RAND Satellite Rocket 3-Stage: A 1947 satellite launcher
  • Convair Saturn V-R: An idea on how to make a fully reusable Saturn V first stage
  • Lockheed STAR Clipper: A 1968 stage-and-a-half lifting body Space Shuttle
  • Shuttle-C: The  Shuttle derived vehicle design that came closest to being built
  • Titan III Growth/156-inch boosters: A more powerful version of the Titan III for Dyna Soar launch

 

USLP #04 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $4:

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Also recommended, these previous Specials:

US Bomber Projects #14: System 464L Special

USBP#14 brings together the competitors to Weapon System 464L, the first major effort in the Dyna Soar program. These designs were previously shown individually in prior issues of USBP; here they are brought together, with some updates, as well as a few extra diagrams and a section of diagrams formatted for 11X17 printing. This issue includes info and diagrams of the Lockheed, Republic, General Dynamics, McDonnell, Boeing, Douglas, Northrop, North American and Martin-Bell entries as well as their various booster systems. Also included are detailed diagrams of the ultimate Dyna Soar design, the 2050E.

USBP#14 can be purchased for downloading for the low, low price of $6.

usbp14ad2


US Bomber Projects #16: The B-52 Evolution Special

Boeing Model 444 A: A late war turboprop heavy bomber
Boeing Model 461: An early postwar turboprop heavy bomber
Boeing Model 462: A large six-turboprop ancestor of the B-52
Boeing Model 462-5: A six-turboprop B-52 ancestor
Boeing Model 464-17: 1946 four-turboprop strategic bomber, a step toward the B-52
Boeing Model 464-18: a reduced-size version of the 464-17 turboprop strategic bomber
Boeing Model 464-25: a modification of the 464-17 turboprop bomber with slightly swept wings, among other changes
Boeing Model 464-27: a slightly-swept turboprop B-52 progenitor
Boeing Model 464-33-0: A turboprop B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-34-3: A turboprop B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-40: The first all-jet-powered design in the quest for the B-52
Boeing Model 464-40: The first all-jet-powered design in the quest for the B-52
Boeing Model 464-046: A six-engined B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-49: The penultimate major design in the development of the B-52
Fairchild M-121:A highly unconventional canard-biplane
Convair B-60: A swept-wing turboprop-powered derivative of the B-36
Douglas Model 1211-J: An elegant turboprop alternative to the B-52
With additional diagrams of the B-47, XB-52 and B-52B

USBP#16 can be purchased for downloading for the low, low price of $6.

 

 

 Posted by at 7:51 am
Sep 182017
 

A rare piece of color art of an early Dyna Soar being lofted atop an Atlas/Centaur. Color artwork of the Dyna Soar was created in some considerable abundance, but it was mostly reproduced in B&W, and its sadly rare for even those B&W reports to have been printed well, rarer still for them to have been scanned or copied well.

 Posted by at 7:33 pm
Aug 132017
 

As a followup to the photos of the H-33 display model, here’s a Grumman report from July, 1971, giving a pretty good and well illustrated description of the H-33 orbiter.

The abstract on NTRS can be seen HERE.

The PDF file can be directly downloaded here:

Alternate space shuttle concepts study. Part 2: Technical summary. Volume 2: Orbiter definition

 

Support the APR Patreon to help bring more of this sort of thing to light!

 

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 Posted by at 2:23 am