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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 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…