Critical Factors in Conceptual Design and Techno-Economics of Reusable Spaceplanes

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R. Gopalaswami (2010), JBIS, 63, pp.395-405

Refcode: 2010.63.395
Keywords: Hydrogen fuel fraction, aerocryogenic, LACE-FLOX, spaceplane equation, scalability

Comparing advanced reusable spaceplane concepts and programmes, Buffo identified seven attributes to describe a true spaceplane. This paper adds two more attributes to clearly distinguish spaceplanes from rocketplanes. One of them is the hydrogen fuel fraction (HFF), the ratio of the mass of liquid hydrogen fuel to the take-off mass. Excellent correlation between HFF and spaceplane techno-economic performance is seen from regression trends arising from parametric analysis. A modified rocket equation, termed spaceplane equation, shows how high HFF, scalability and multi-stage rocket performance are feasible in single stage to orbit (SSTO) spaceplane by the combined use of fuel efficient airbreathing engines and in-flight LOX addition (FLOX). A LACE-FLOX aerocryogenic engine cycle with air liquefaction (using LACE engines) integrated with vortex/higee liquid oxygen separators may well provide both high HFF and a single combined-cycle engine from earth- to-orbit. The global status of aerocryogenic technologies is also provided.

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