posted on Aug, 17 2015 @ 03:07 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58
Other than that black and white Rockwell craft that's now at the Smithsonian
Though wasn't Mach ~17 the design goal for the McDonnell Isinglass studies? Even if it cheated and used a rocket instead of a scramjet, the "X-15 on
steroids" design always seemed to me to be a great workaround for the problems with the scramjet, even if it kills your payload fraction...
Also, an air-launched two-stage-to-(almost)orbit design seems to be more than feasible with current tech, which is why we've seen SpaceShipOne/Two,
Stratolaunch, the Isinglass studies, early STS concepts, MAKS, etc.
Actually, come to think of it, the MAKS design appeared in the late-80s as a Soviet initiative. We know the Soviets only turned to spaceplanes as a
means to counter US developments, i.e. Dynasoar--->Spiral, STS--->Buran, so what prompted them to throw together a small air-launched T(and a half)STO
right at the close of the cold war, especially when they were more or less bankrupting the country developing Buran.
Could it have anything to do with the rumors of the US developing a certain rumored craft with similar capabilities in the years after the Challenger
loss as a more flexible lower cost alternative to the shuttle? A craft that was hinted to have used a certain green-burning fuel... (Just to bring
things sorta back on topic)