Oct 292011

A few examples of models and mockups of different versions of the Dyna Soar:

A few years back I got to poke around a little bit in the NASM Garber facility. Lighting was not the best and some areas were photography-discouraged, but there were a few things that I got some photos of. One was a large model of an early Boeing Dyna Soar configuration. It may have originally been a wind tunnel model that was repurposed into a display model, or it may have been a display model from the get-go (kinda big, though).


One of Boeings earliest Dyna Soar designs, the Model 814-1012, dating from about March, 1958. Terribly ’50′s in design, looks like a hood ornament. All angles and fins, including two ventral fins which would have had a hell of a time surviving re-entry. This image is made from two separate kinda blurry photos of presumably the same display model.


Mockup and display model photos, circa 1960. Taken from a mockup review film.


A photo of a Martin corp. display model showing an early Dyna Soar/Titan III configuration. The Titan III would lose the fins after testing showed that the thrust vectoring capability of the Titan III’s UA-1205 booster rockets was up to the task of countering pitch moments produced by the Dyna Soar.

Parts of this were originally posted HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

 Posted by at 1:05 pm
Oct 242011

The Grumman 698 was a mid-1980s concept for a VTOL aircraft. Several somewhat different versions were produced, including a canard design; but all shared the same basic propulsion system. One or two turbofans would be mounted on either side of the fuselage, and given the ability to tilt through more than 90 degrees. This allowed the craft to take off vertically and fly horizontally at high speed. Aerodynamic control surfaces were mounted in the jet exhaust to provide roll, pitch and yaw control at low speed. A full scale powered model was tested in the NASA-Ames 40 X 80 foot wind tunnel, and a lot of art was produced.


Two variants of the same piece of art. These were scanned from photos of the actual paintings; one is clearly cruder than the other, and probably represents a preliminary “sketch” in advance of the final piece.


The Grumman 698 as a rescue aircraft, snagging a pilot in mid parachute descent. How the rescue plane just happened to be where it would be needed is unknown.


A Grumman 698 landing on an oil rig. This is the sort of role that only helicopters can currently fulfill.


 Posted by at 9:31 pm
Oct 142011

In the 1960’s Vought extensively studied a concept for VTOL propulsion known as ADAM (Air Deflection and Modulation). This used a bank of horizontally oriented turbojets exhausting into a common manifold that formed the main structure of the wing and which drove larger-diameter fans. The exhaust from the jets, and the thrust from the fans, could be directed either aft for forward thrust or down for vertical thrust. Vought proposed the ADAM concept for everything from small single-seat fighters and ground attack aircraft to large military and commercial transports.

A few of these designs are presented below:

A photograph taken in the 1960′s showing a Vought ADAM (Air Deflection and Modulation) VTOL fighter concept display model. ADAM used engines in the wings with thrust deflection to achieve VTOL performance.

Scan made from a slide. No further information on this particular design concept.

More after the break.

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 Posted by at 11:44 pm
Oct 142011

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 Posted by at 11:14 pm
Oct 062011

Boeings initial concept for the Dyna Soar – meant to be an actual orbital bomber – bore almost no relationship to the final X-20 Dyna Soar. All sharp edges and fins like a 57 Cadillac, it wound up looking almost nothing like the Dyna Soar that almost got built. Irritatingly for Bell Aerospace, the final Dyna Soar design looked a *lot* like the Bell entry. The winning Boeing entry was just very, very wrong. The baseline launch vehicle for it, for instance, was a kludged-together monstrosity composed of Minuteman ICBM stages clustered together. Of course, Minuteman had the advantage of being a Boeing product, so there ya go.

Another oddity about the Boeing design is that even though it won, and you can get some pretty detailed drawings and wind tunnel reports and whatnot about many of the competing designs… the Boeing design  is rarely depicted with much more detail than a bare three-view. It’s like they phoned it in, not expecting to win… and they won anyway.

The basic design of the initial Model 814 Dyna Soar was tinkered with repeatedly until it eventually turned into the well-known Dyna Soar (as shown in the Aerospace Projects Review Blog header image). One such early configuration is the Model 814-1012 is shown in model form here:

While the initial baseline launch vehicle was proposed to be a cluster of Minuteman stages with sizable fins to maintain aerodynamic stability, alternative designs were of course put forward. One such design is shown in these drawings of the Model 814-0002 launch vehicle + Dyna Soar. This design, from 3-13-1958, features a three-stage booster composed of clusters of XM-20 “Sergeant” rocket motors… seven on the first stage, three on the second, a single rocket on the third… and the biggest damned fins EVAR. Note that the concept is named “Early Bird.” Note that “Early Bird” was also a name for Intelsat 1, the first communications satellite. In the case of the Boeing Model 814-0002, Early Bird likely referred to the supposed ability of a cluster of Sergeant motors to be slapped together and made to fly quickly, sooner than a dedicated launch vehicle.

Portions of this were originally posted HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE.

 Posted by at 7:18 pm
Oct 052011

The Titan IIIL series was a Martin Marietta concept (late 1960’s into early 1970’s) for a heavy lift derivative of the Titan IIIC launch vehicle. The core would be increased in diameter from 10 feet to 15, and the number of liquid propellant rocket engines increased from two to four. Additionally, the vehicle could be given two, four or six solid rocket motors (Titan IIIL2, Titan IIIL4, Titan IIIL6). The Titan IIIL6 concept was considered as a first stage booster for the Space Shuttle.

The Titan IIIL2 had enough lift capacity to launch an Apollo-derived capsule and service module, providing an alternative to the Saturn Ib for space station logistics and crew transfer.


Portions of this were originally posted HERE and HERE.

 Posted by at 9:42 am
Oct 052011

Designed in the early 1990′s at Lawrence Livermore National Labs by Jordin Kare, the “Mockingbird” was a conceptual design of a single stage rocket vehicle. It was to be relatively cheap, as befits a vehicle designed officially to serve as a target. Replicating the trajectory of ballistic missiles, it was to serve as the target for ballistic missile defense systems.

But it was found that, if design properly, the simple target vehicle could do some rather more interesting things than simply get blasted. With a very lightweight aluminum rocket engine (yes, a rocket engine can be made from aluminum – it simply needs good regen cooling and, preferably, some additional fuel-film cooling) burning a combination of hydrogen peroxide and JP-5 performance in terms of thrust and Isp would be fairly high, and bulk vehicle density would also be quite high. It would, in fact, be just barely possible that this modest target vehicle would be able to attain low Earth orbit with a payload of 10 kilograms… hence the nickname “bricklifter.” Empty weight would be 75 kilograms; light enough to be picked up be two men.Gross weight would be 1500 kilograms; light enough to be carried by a largish pickup truck. And small enough that it could potentially be launched from the back of a smallish pickup truck.

Included in that 75 kilograms was re-entry shielding to allow the Mockingbird to survive re-entry, landing gear and enough rocket propellant for a soft touchdown. It was, essentially, a minimum-size Delta Clipper.


Like just about everything in aerospace, it likely would have come in over budget and over weight. But as the likes of Xcor, Armadillo Aerospace and Masten Space Systems have shown, relatively small groups on shoestring budgets (by government standards) can, with time and effort, develop just the sort of technologies needed to make vehicles like the Mockingbird work. And if one of these companies can actually build a SSTO on the scale of the Mockingbird… boy howdy, the Air Force should be *desperately* interested. Sadly, so will the regulatory agencies. But private citizens building orbital vehicles they can launch from their trucks? Awesome.

This was originally posted HERE.

 Posted by at 8:46 am
Oct 042011

ATK artwork showing the Boeing/ATK “AirLaunch” concept from a few years back. Started around 1999, petered out a few years later. It called for a winged solid rocket booster similar in outlines to the OSC Pegasus, but larger and carried on the back of a 747. Upon release, the 747 would be obliged to dive out of the way, lest the rather dense booster bonk back into it. As shown below it is equipped with a Space Maneuver Vehicle for payload… a slightly earlier iteration of the X-37 spaceplane. The first two stages would have been Castor 120′s (Peacekeeper first stages, also the Athena booster), while the third would be a new design. Total payload was to have been about 7,500 pounds.

 Posted by at 6:19 pm