HyPlane for Space Tourism and Business Transportation

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R. Savino et al. (2014), JBIS, 67, pp.82-89

Refcode: 2014.67.82
Keywords: Space tourism, hypersonic cruise, combined-cycle propulsion systems

In the present work a preliminary study on a small hypersonic airplane for a long duration space tourism mission is presented. It is also consistent with a point-to-point medium range (5000-6000 km) hypersonic trip, in the frame of the "urgent business travel" market segment. The main ideas is to transfer technological solutions developed for aeronautical and space atmospheric re-entry systems to the design of such a hypersonic airplane. A winged vehicle characterized by high aerodynamic efficiency and able to manoeuvre along the flight path, in all aerodynamic regimes encountered, is taken into consideration. Rocket-Based Combined Cycle and Turbine-Based Combined Cycle engines are investigated to ensure higher performances in terms of flight duration and range. Different flight-paths are also considered, including sub-orbital parabolic trajectories and steady state hypersonic cruise. The former, in particular, takes advantage of the high aerodynamic efficiency during the unpowered phase, in combination with a periodic engine actuation, to guarantee a long duration oscillating flight path. These trajectories offer Space tourists the opportunity of extended missions, characterized by repeated periods of low-gravity at altitudes high enough to ensure a wide view of the Earth from Space.

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