Feeds

US airforce looking at winged-rocket booster 'X-plane'

'VTHL': Cheaper than disposables, proper spaceplanes

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The US Air Force has announced that it is interested in a "Reusable Booster System" (RBS) - a combination of rocket and aeroplane which could replace the first stage of existing orbital launch stacks. After the upper stages separated and carried on into space, the winged RBS would glide down to a winged landing for refuelling and subsequent re-use.

US Air Force concept of the Reusable Booster in action

Up, up and... back down

The RBS plans are the subject of a "concept options maturation study" announced this week by the Air Force Research Laboratory, aimed at an expected "integrated demonstration project" in future. In outline, the air force boffins set out what they're interested in doing:

Studies have suggested that a Reusable Booster System (RBS) could reduce the cost of space transportation by significantly reducing the amount of flight hardware expended to achieve orbit while maintaining a moderate vehicle stack weight and associated development cost ... The architecture consists of a reusable booster that can be integrated with a family of expendable stages to support the full range of [military] payloads from suborbital missions to operationally responsive payloads to heavy-lift missions.

There are loads of different ideas around for re-usable first stage boosters. It's already possible to use a modified jet airliner, for instance, to lift a small satellite-carrying rocket rocket up to launch height and speed. There's a similar scheme to launch small satellites from the Virgin Galactic "mothership" jet.

In other ploys, the lower stages might include rocket engines of their own, or super-high-tech hypersonic air-breathing engines - scramjets or things even more exotic. There are even ambitious plans which might one day produce a single craft able to reach orbit from a runway takeoff.

Alternatively you might build something relatively prosaic and achievable like a normal rocket booster which lifts off vertically and then tips over to fly back down like a plane after saying goodbye to the throwaway upper stages and payload. This, it seems, is what the airforce lab boys have in mind. They also have firm ideas as to what kind of rocket they want:

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.