3324. One Idea for a Next Generation Space Shuttle


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Ian O. MacConochie, Jeffrey Cerro: 3324. One Idea for a Next Generation Space Shuttle. 2004.



In this configuration, the current Shuttle external tank serves as core structure for a fully reusable second stage. This stage is equipped with wings, vertical fin, landing gear, and thermal protection. The stage is geometrically identical to (but smaller than) a single stage that has been tested hypersonically, supersonically, and subsonically in the NASA Langley Research Center wind tunnels. The three LOX/LH engines that currently serve as main propulsion for the Shuttle Orbiter, serve as main propulsion on the new stage. The new stage is unmanned but is equipped with the avionics needed for automatic maneuvering on orbit and for landing on a runway. Three rails are installed along the top surface of the vehicle for attachment of various payloads. Payloads might include third stages with satellites attached, personnel pods, propellants, or other items.


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