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Delta Clipper. To Boldly Go…. A presentation by:. Jason Moore & Ashraf Shaikh. How do we get there now?. Space Shuttle Partially reusable Multi-stage Manned ~$500 Million / Launch. Picture courtesy of NASA. How do we get there now?. Titan IV, et. al. Single use Multi-stage

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Delta clipper

Delta Clipper

To Boldly Go…

A presentation by

A presentation by:

Jason Moore


Ashraf Shaikh

How do we get there now
How do we get there now?

  • Space Shuttle

    • Partially reusable

    • Multi-stage

    • Manned

    • ~$500 Million / Launch

Picture courtesy of NASA

How do we get there now1
How do we get there now?

  • Titan IV, et. al.

    • Single use

    • Multi-stage

    • Expensive

    • Long build time

Picture courtesy of NASA

A need for something better
A need for something better…

  • Current vehicles suffer from a few drawbacks.

    • They are expensive to build and maintain.

    • Multi-stage rockets require large uninhabited areas for stage recovery/disposal.

    • It takes many months to prep the Shuttle or build a new expendable vehicle.

    • Large specialized space ports are needed to launch these vehicles.

A solution from the past
A solution from the past…

  • SSTO – Single Stage to Orbit

  • RLV – Reusable Launch Vehicle

  • Aerospace engineers have been working on this problem for years; it has been a dream for many in the industry.

Picture courtesy of Space Merchants Inc. and G. Stine

A few noble attempts
A few noble attempts…

  • Early vision for what the Space Shuttle was to have been…

    • NASA investigated the possibility of building a fully reusable shuttle

    • Due to compromises with Congress, as well as then-current technology limitations, the Shuttle designers had to pick a staged design.

A few noble attempts1
A few noble attempts…

  • X-33

    • Subscale Technology Demonstrator

    • NASA budgeted $941 Million for the project

    • No powered prototype ever flew

    • Vertical takeoff, Horizontal landing configuration

    • Full scale version dubbed ‘VentureStar’

A few noble attempts2
A few noble attempts…

  • X-37

    • Technology demonstrator

    • Designed to validate concepts and designs for a future Orbital Space Plane

    • OSP not intended to be fully reusable

    • Stop-gap measure while more time and money is spent studying a true RLV

    • So far NASA has only done drop tests and structural tests

Faster better cheaper
Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • Delta Clipper

    • Originally completed in 1993 as the DC-X

    • Joint venture between the Air Force and McDonnell Douglas

    • Intended as a one third scale prototype of a RLV proposed by the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization

Picture courtesy of NASA

Faster better cheaper1
Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • A primary goal of the Delta Clipper project was to show that an RLV could be operated in a manner similar to a commercial airliner.

Pictures courtesy of NASA

Faster better cheaper2
Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • Compare the mission profiles of the Space Shuttle and a Delta Clipper.

Picture courtesy of NASA

Picture courtesy of McDonnell Douglas

Faster better cheaper3
Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • DC-X Program

    • Built in 21 months for $60 Million by a team of 100

    • USAF completed 8 test flights

    • During flight 5 the vehicle demonstrated its autoland capability, an important safety feature

    • Built almost entirely of off the shelf parts

Picture courtesy of NASA

Faster better cheaper4
Faster, Better, Cheaper

  • DC-XA

    • Delta Clipper program acquired by NASA

    • NASA installed experimental fuel tanks and a better reaction control system, saving 620 kilograms of weight

    • 4 Test flights were completed, as well as 2 static engine tests

Picture courtesy of NASA

A path to the future
A path to the future…

  • A private organization should build an RLV based on the Delta Clipper experimental rocket.

  • A full scale Delta Clipper would be a SSTO launch vehicle.

  • Goal for the project will be to build a vehicle which can be operated much like a commercial airliner, and drastically reduce the cost of putting a payload into orbit.

Whose mission should this be
Whose mission should this be?

  • NASA should be a consumer of launch services, not a supplier.

  • Bureaucracy gets in the way. DC-X an example of unhindered engineering.

  • NASA’s Mission Statement…

    • To understand and protect our home planet

    • To explore the Universe and search for life

    • To inspire the next generation of explorers

    • … as only NASA can.

What will it be used for
What will it be used for?

  • Smaller and cheaper satellites. More advanced technology in orbit due to faster and cheaper access to space.

  • Space Station construction & payload ferry.

  • Space tourism

  • Global Express

  • Moon exploration

Why hasn t this been done

Why hasn’t this been done?

It has.

The DC-X.

Why hasn t the project been completed
Why hasn’t the project been completed?

  • Lack of support from Congress

  • Misinformation

  • Wrong culture at NASA (not a corporate culture)

  • NASA too busy with Shuttle and its many explorative missions

  • NASA prefers to study new technologies, where as the Delta Clipper would require little new technology

Why not just build the venturestar
Why not just build the VentureStar?

  • The Delta Clipper has flown. It doesn’t rely on cutting edge technology.

  • The first stage of most development programs, the proof-of-concept prototype, has already been built and tested.

  • Versatility. A modified Clipper could make a trip to the moon, land on the surface, and return to Earth.

  • Safety features. Powered engine-out landing capability and engine redundancy to name two.

X prize

  • $10 Million prize to the first team to complete the following goals:

    • Fly 3 people to an altitude of 100Km

    • Repeat flight within 2 weeks

  • Encourages development outside of the regular Aerospace industry

  • Not ambitious enough to solve the problem of current launch technologies

Picture courtesy of Scaled Composites

Picture courtesy of Armadillo Aerospace

A real success

A real success…