Jan 222015

Now available: US Spacecraft Projects #02, the “Spaceplane Special.” This is done in the same style as the other US Aerospace Projects publications, but this issue is focused specifically on lifting spacecraft… and is more than twice as long as usual with more data and more diagrams.

USSP #02 includes:

  • Boeing Personnel/Cargo Glider: When you have space industry, you need a space bus
  • Convair Manned Orbiting Reconnaissance System: A 1958 concept for a recon spaceplane
  • North American D435-1-4: The delta winged X-15A-3 (not a true spaceplane… but still, relevant)
  • General Electric R-3 Lenticular Apollo: A 1962 Apollo concept for a lifting body lunar ship
  • General Dynamics VL-3A: a 1966 space station logistics transport
  • SRI Space Cruiser: An early 1980’s minimum manned spacecraft for the military
  • Boeing Model 844-2050E Dyna Soar: The almost-built spaceplane from 1963
  • Rockwell MRCC Orbiter: the do-everything concept, modified with additional rockets and propellant

USSP #02 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $6:




 Posted by at 12:37 am
Jan 212015

Illustrations of a Martin concept from 1961 called “DEIMOS” (Development and Investigation of a Military Orbital System). Pitched to the Air Force, this entailed a modified Titan II launch vehicle, a standard cargo hauler and a scaled-up two-man Mercury capsule (this was before Gemini was finalized). The result was something akin to a smaller version of the later MOL (Manned Orbiting Laboratory).  The Titan II described here (modifications unknown) could put a 10,000 pound payload into a 300 nautical mile orbit.

Capabilities and roles of DEIMOS were not provided, but it would presumably serve much the same role as MOL, though simpler and lighter weight: basic science as well as reconnaissance and intelligence gathering. The claim as of August 1961 was that if work began soon DEIMOS could begin flying in 1963.

deimos 1

 Posted by at 10:51 am
Jan 182015

I’ve made available to all APR Patreon patrons full-rez scan of of an article from Mechanix Illustrated, March, 1956. “Why Don’t We Build an Atom-For-Peace” was written and illustrated by Frank Tinsley and is, to say the least, kinda technologically optimistic. But it demonstrated a difference in psychology between then and now… sixty years ago, thinking this kind of big was not seen as crazy as it would be today.


If this is of interest, please consider signing up to become a patron. For a pittance per month, you get all kinds of aerospace history goodies.


 Posted by at 12:07 am
Jan 092015

This is one of the more unlikely-looking launch vehicle designs I’ve seen… a 1961 Saturn I first stage with an S-IV second stage and a nuclear upper stage. In and of itself that’s not that unusual… but the upper stage is *really* long and thin and appears to be devoid of a recognizable payload. The result, if it managed to survive launch and bending forces, is that at burnout it would be accelerating *really* hard.

However, the great probability here is that this was not an actual serious engineering study for a launch vehicle, but instead a notional concept, useful for studying the whichness of the why regarding the use of automated systems for nuclear rocket preparation an launch.

missiles and rockets Sept 61 nuclear rockets

 Posted by at 10:34 pm
Jan 072015

A wind tunnel model of the Saturn I, checking specifically for base heating (i.e. heating of the base of the vehicle, between the engines, due to radiant heat from the plumes and convection/conduction from hot exhaust gases recirculating between the engines). This model is odd in that it depicts the clustered booster stage as a straight cylinder; further, there appears to be at least one long fairing up the side (although that could be an artifact of reflections & shadows). I suspect this *may* be a repurposed Atlas model.

missiles and rockets nov 16 saturn wind tunnel

 Posted by at 6:18 pm
Jan 052015

A scan of a piece of art from 1961 depicting a Long Beach-class guided missile cruiser launching a Polaris ballistic missile. Note that the caption says that this *will* happen; as it turned out, not only was the Long Beach never equipped with Polarises, it was also the only ship in its class. The US Navy decided that putting strategic nuclear ballistic missiles on easily-spotted and tracked surface ships was less desirable than putting them on far stealthier submarines.

missiles and rockets feb 61 polaris long beach

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Jan 012015

An illustration from the 1980’s, publicized fairly widely by Lockheed to illustrate their thinking for an Advanced Tactical Fighter (which led to the F-22). This almost certainly did *not* represent actual design work on Lockheeds part, but instead pure artistry. This particular version of the artwork depicts a rather apocalyptic color scheme; other versions were rather cheerier.

lockheed atf art

 Posted by at 1:14 am