Sep 192016

There was a time when American auto manufacturers had important aerospace divisions. Chrysler, for example, was responsible for rockets such as the Redstone, Jupiter and the Saturn I and Ib first stage.

In late 1956, Lovell Lawrence Jr, an assistant chief engineer at the missiles division of Chrysler, publicized a concept for a nuclear-powered “flying saucer.” It seems to have been *partially* a reasonably rational concept for a long duration spacecraft for missions to Mars.  It would spin like a frisbee to generate artificial gravity, though the relatively small radius would be likely to produce some harsh Coriolis effects. The saucer would be about 50 feet in diameter and only 6 feet thick.

Where the design goes a bit off the rails is that the performance expected of the craft was insanely impressive. It was a single-stage-to-solar-orbit craft, capable of taking off horizontally from a runway using nuclear-powered jet engines (note: “jet” in this case might mean “rocket.”) The craft would be capable of going from the Earth to Mars in 9 to 12 weeks.

Being that close to an atomic reactor (with a light enough shield to allow the thing to take off) would be a death sentence long before the craft would get to Mars.

After years of trying to research this concept, all I’ve managed to scrape up are three things from Ye Olde internet: two newspaper articles and one cover story from a UFO “fanzine.” I have tried over some years to obtain a copy of the “Saucer News” from August-September 1957 from sites like ebay, but without success. It seems like an original printing, or at least a decent scan, would provide a reasonably good version of the Chrysler saucer art.

saucernews25-1957-aug-sep chrysler-saucer-2 chrysler-saucer-1

 Posted by at 1:28 pm
Sep 122016

Jeff Bezos of Blue Origin has described a new rocket his company is working on , the “New Glenn.” It’s kinda big:


The “New Glenn” will be 27 feet in diameter (close to the Shuttle External Tank, it seems), 270 feet tall in a two-stage configuration and 313 feet tall in a three stage configuration. The first stage is recoverable, landing vertically under rocket power. It will have seven BE-4 engines burning natural gas and oxygen, producing 3.85 million pounds of thrust. The second stage uses a single BE-4 engine with an increased expansion ratio. The third stage uses a LOX/LH2 BE-3 engine.

The article says that Bezos has claimed that the rocket will fly “within the decade.” If that means by the end of 2019, that’s pretty ambitious.

 Posted by at 9:58 pm
Sep 042016

Produced by Bell Aerospace around 1960 as a promotional item was this “ticket” for a flight from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. The aircraft shown was a two-stage hypersonic passenger transport; the first stage was essentially a supersonic transport equipped with turboramjet engines; it carried on its back a rocket powered passenger spaceplane. At the time it was pushed by the likes of Walter Dornberger, who had previously publicized a two-stage all-rocket powered hypersonic transport. There was some link between this design and the Dyna Soar program, but it is unclear just how involved the engineering was on the HST. Artwork was produced and a good display model, but it’s hard to tell if it went any further than that.

bell hst ticket 2 bell hst ticket 1

I have uploaded high-rez scans (600 dpi) to the 2016-09 APR Extras folder on Dropbox. This is accessible to all APR Patreon patrons at the $4 level and above.

 Posted by at 2:10 pm