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Exoatmospheric Operations Escalation?

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posted on Nov, 5 2009 @ 11:17 PM
There seems to be an inordinate amount of discussion lately about quick access to space.

Chilton: U.S. Needs More Ready to Launch Satellites

Notice the flight schedules in the link below: Omaha (STRATCOM), Sacramento (Aerojet), Baltimore (Orbital Sciences), Seattle (Boeing/Aerojet) and San Antonio (Kelly AFB).

Future Classified Transport

And an interesting launch event.

China Lake Witness Sees Mystery Launch

With possible motivation?

China's Other ASAT

Perhaps a re-spin of a wing-assisted TSTO platform like the L-1011/Pegasus or the White Knight/SpaceShipOne combination. May be why space is needed over the hill?

New Large Hangar

posted on Nov, 6 2009 @ 12:01 AM
Read this earlier in the day, thought it would be of interest on this subject somewhat:
Robot space elevator

posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 04:57 PM
reply to post by TAGBOARD


You are quite an impressive prophet!

any tips for lottery numbers or shock world cup results? (England to win? ....please? if you say it. it might come true)

Air Force to launch winged spaceplane this month

posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 06:25 PM
More speculation: A single mothership could be used for operational TSTO flights, assuming launches are periodic or in response to an event. The new Groom hangar doors could support "drive through" ops, requiring less cycle time for ingress/egress, before overhead sensor assets can respond, like a large "scoot and hide" shelter. The berm blocks some sight to the mountain ranges off the base and suggests an operation with flight frequency beyond a limited number of prototype sorties. It is an additional precaution to protect from "peeks" at sight-sensitive flight assets staged at floor level.

The limited berm height may allow views above floor level, of the mothership which supports the idea that the TSTO operations are more covert, than clandestine. It's as though the customer is attempting to confuse observers about schedules than to keep things covered. Regular logistics operations ferrying personnel and supplies through the hangar could add to the schedule confusion. The hangar could temporarily house two motherships, to allow for switch-out of launch hardware to keep flight ops online, while the other is ferried out for depot level MRO, off base.

If a two ship rotation is used, it takes excess parking time with doors open, supporting the single mothership concept. The berms were placed in front of the egress doors, and arrangement of the two motherships inside the hangar would happen through the opposite doors from the berm. They'd be opened while wrangling two motherships into and out of the hangar. The high temps from firing a rocket (ducted or not) to reach LEO will be detected by IR sensors. The ability to launch in a safe location (ocean) will require no RF LO features and allows crews flexibility to vary the location and reduces the size of the space vehicle rocket motor.

Site-sensitive operations may not be a requirement, but operating at Groom Lake still helps to keep a low profile schedule, to use a CTF that supports this launch type and to hide within a regular logistics schedule. Also, a hangar with "drive through" doors would accommodate better ferrying logistics in and out of the base, thus giving the customer more return on hangar investment. If this launch was to operate at a less obscure base, the cost of hiding such would be prohibitive and draw attention.

If the space asset lost rocket motor, the launch ops could recover at the Vandenberg runway or self-destruct. The best glide ratio of a body may be 8 to 1, making the down range glide 70 miles from the launch. Is this why we've heard of launches over China Lake? During prototype development, it's prudent to test near Groom Lake, due to the increased chance of failure that requires recovery back on base.

C-17 as Mothership/Transport?

Plan View

The C-17 is a USAF asset they could fit two of inside the hangar and can ferry cargo and personnel as well. Groom Lake is near the latitude of Vandenberg AFB, which supports polar orbits for a spy sat mission. Launches happen within the C-17's operating radius, which places them into the extended sea range off the Pacific coast. The C-17's can hide its mission "in plain sight" and has the lift capacity for large space assets and has proven to launch them out of its cargo bay.

AirLaunch LLC

Boeing Air Launch Program

Unknown Contracts to Boeing "performance in Texas" - Global Strike Dallas?

May 11, 2009

May 15, 2009

May 27, 2009

June 18, 2009

posted on Apr, 15 2010 @ 06:41 PM
Below is a link to a past Boeing Military Aircraft Global Strike - Dallas requisition (sixth on the list). There were several posted in spring 2009 for this organization requiring SAP/SAR clearances.

Req at Boeing Military Aircraft Global Strike - Dallas

posted on Apr, 25 2010 @ 03:46 PM
Aircrew Breaks C-17 Record with Heaviest Airdrop

"We have to do this incrementally to see how the parachutes hold up," Mr. Hines said. "The ultimate goal is 90,000 pounds (in fall 2011)."

Drop Test Vehicle Loading

Drop Test Vehicle Deployed

It is essential to flight test deceleration parachutes for the NASA Ares Program. However, the drop of a parachute and component from 25,000 feet MSL seems overkill. You should have sufficient time for parachute deployment, followed by accelerating to terminal fall velocity at altitudes much below 25 kft.

Additionally, why did they choose the C-17 as the mothership? Perhaps the primary purpose of this test is the integration of deployment of a space asset out of the back of a C-17? Maybe just a coincidence.

posted on Apr, 26 2010 @ 02:51 PM
I saw a memo/proposal from the Marines, I think was in 2002/3..It is online but I picked it up through a random google search ( I will se if I can find it). It was proposed the USMC want the ability to hypersonically insert marines to hotspots in less than 18 hours, for quick reaction scenarios. It maybe that they are gonna get thier wishes. Exo-atmospheric craft for SpecOps insertions and delivery would give the USSOCOM an extremely unique and effective ability to react at a moment's notice to situations around the globe. So I think the OP definatley has some merit. Good investigation work my friend.

Edit to add: found a version of it: Space Marines?

[edit on 26-4-2010 by djvexd]

posted on Apr, 27 2010 @ 04:56 PM
Thanks for the link. Suppose the Navy would run the project for the Marines? Often times the large programs have multiple levels (or family of systems) that could include manned and unmanned operations. I know there's a thrust for "Irregular Warfare" within the Pentagon, that would support the SOCOM/Marines manned space ops.

On another note, I read about a Navy project award to Orbital Sciences today that seems to fit into this TSTO puzzle (see original post above):

DoD Contracts for April 27, 2010

Orbital Sciences Corp., Greenbelt, Md., is being awarded a $94,713,285 cost-plus-fixed-fee level of effort contract for spacecraft and airborne systems research analysis and prototype development. This includes the analysis, design, development, test, operation demonstration, and transition of these prototype systems and subsystems. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. (87 percent), and Greenbelt, Md. (13 percent), and will be completed April 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $100,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured under Request for Proposal Number N000173-00-R-KS03 for which one offer was received. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting facility (N000173-10-C-2026).

On the other hand, it may be a C-PGS project, related to integrating conventional warheads on sub-launched Trident Missiles.

Conventional Trident Missile

Other than those two possibilities, what is the above contract for?

posted on May, 18 2010 @ 09:05 PM
I was reviewing a Flight Operations Mechanic job requisition for Boeing, at what appears to be DET 3 or TTR. The opening mentions potential spacecraft as part of the job tasking.

Flight Operations Mechanic

"Perform aircraft or spacecraft bench & flight line operational checkout, trouble-shooting, adjustment and repair of electrical or electronic system, modify other electronic test equipment as directed."

This may be another piece of evidence supporting the existence of Boeing TSTO operations.

posted on May, 19 2010 @ 02:37 PM

Originally posted by TAGBOARD
Additionally, why did they choose the C-17 as the mothership? Perhaps the primary purpose of this test is the integration of deployment of a space asset out of the back of a C-17? Maybe just a coincidence.

Because in the military inventory, only the C-5, C-17, or C-130J could safely carry the payload and drop it. Boeing makes the C-17, while Lockheed makes the C-5, and C-130. Since the test is being done by Boeing, it makes sense to use the aircraft that they make, so that it will be a much more comprehensive test. Boeing already has all the numbers, and knows the stress points, etc.

posted on May, 25 2010 @ 04:22 PM
Probably me just adding 2 + 2 together and getting 22, and i'm mostly joking.... however....

Is there any change that some kind of radical new booster (possibly from Boeing) has been paired up with a Boeing X37B and this being thrown out of the back of a Boeing C17?

25,000 ft is a reasonable headstart into space (well, at least it's a little better than taking off below sea level???)

posted on May, 29 2010 @ 11:12 AM
[edit on 29-5-2010 by Catalytic]

posted on May, 29 2010 @ 11:14 AM

Originally posted by Catalytic
On a more realistic note...

Tagboard, I saw this elsewhere appologies if you have seen this already

Responsive Air Launch

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 11:09 PM
Catalytic, I know of no booster rocket development, but the activity up at Aerojet General in Sacramento (see above discussion) may imply that they're working a new development.

The DARPA *.ppt is one outstanding find, Catalytic. I have the following comments about the slides:

- Slide 8 shows the directions of launch from Vandenberg are southward and Kennedy eastward.

- Slide 9 demonstrates the subsonic mothership "flyout" times from Vanderberg to the Pacific test range. It also states "Any runway of adequate length is a potential launch site" this does not bid well for TSTO operations, from a common aircraft C-17 from the Operating Location near Groom. It would more likely draw attention to the operations.

- Slide 11 states C-17 has 170,000 lb payload capacity & 1,000 lb to LEO

- Slide 15 shows launch windows that have been pre-calculated

Based on the size limitations stated in the above news article about the NASA drop testing, I'd bet they're not getting payload masses above 1,000 lb into LEO. This is because the C-17 still needs to maintain stability and control through the deployment event of the space asset. The NASA max-tested 90,000 lb is about half of the 170,000 lb, as stated in the DARPA *.ppt file. They would only test a droppable mass they can safely deploy. Due to this limit, one may speculate that the payload weight is roughly half or 500 lb to LEO.

I recall that the C-17 is capable of altitudes to 45,000 ft+. That is about twice the potential energy of 25,000 ft. If the NASA testing is a cheap and easy way to fund deployments out of a C-17, I don't see why it would need to be at 45,000 ft. The stack of a set of rocket boosters tends to have a snowball effect, the lower altitudes you launch from, the more propellant and oxidizer mass is needed. This supports the idea that 45,000 ft may be adequate for a 500 lf payload to LEO.

Lastly, from another forum I found the following TSTO patent that points out an operating location in the vicinity of Nevada. The TSTO concept is an idea that has been considered for some time.

High Altitude Launch Platform (HALP) Payload Launching Apparatus and Method - Patent

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 11:38 PM
reply to post by TAGBOARD

From the link in your OP: Future Classified Transport

Two United States Transportation Command DoD Couriers with personal baggage and airline provided sealable canisters of various sizes based on cargo weight (average weights per route subject to change) according to the following schedule:

Baltimore to Sacramento approximately 4,800 lbs weekly

Sacramento to Baltimore approximately 4,200 lbs weekly

Baltimore to San Antonio approximately 2,500 lbs weekly

San Antonio to Baltimore approximately 1,900 lbs weekly

Baltimore to Omaha approximately 3,500 lbs bi-weekly

Omaha to Baltimore approximately 2,100 lbs bi-weekly

Sacramento to Seattle approximately 900 lbs bi-weekly

Seattle to Sacramento approximately 450 lbs bi-weekly

(Preferred airports: BWI, Sacramento, San Antonio, Omaha, Seattle. Other airports in the Baltimore (Dulles, Regan, etc.) and Sacramento (San Francisco) area could be used.)

- Prefer all flights to be conducted roundtrip. However couriers can remain overnight if required and return next day.

- On departing flights the canisters must be under constant observation of ground Couriers until the aircraft cargo door is sealed.

- On arriving flights ground couriers must be positioned to view the cargo doors opening and then must observe the containers being removed from the belly of the aircraft. The container must be kept in constant view of the Couriers.

I found this to be quite interesting, I am sure they are just talking about transporting hammers & wrenches though, being that a hammer cost the DoD $400 USD I can see why they'd need constant observation.
Great thread, very resourceful

posted on Jun, 3 2010 @ 02:20 PM
reply to post by TAGBOARD

Whilst I agree that the DARPA ppt is a fun "peak under the veil", I certainly cannot take credit for the original find, not sure on the rules regarding advertising other sites on ATS (U2U if interest is piqued) so all I'll say here is that the credit belongs to "wb" and speculation (rather unpopular unfortunatley) regarding Project ISINGLASS & Project RHEINBERRY

That patent you found is seductive, a good picture (even a patent drawing) of an interesting concept is generally enough to keep me happy!

Claim 1. A method of launching a payload into earth orbit with a payload launch system having a payload launching rocket with an engine carried by a high altitude launch platform which uses one or more engines having fuel tanks associated therewith, said method comprising the steps of providing a first amount of fuel to the fuel tanks of the engines for the launch platform while the launch platform is on the ground, wherein said first amount is substantially less than a capacity of the fuel tanks; flying said launch platform to a first altitude; and providing a second amount of fuel to the fuel tanks while said high altitude launch platform is at said first altitude, wherein addition of said second amount of fuel is sufficient to allow the payload to be launched into orbit

Obvious really but the idea of only putting enough fuel into the mothership to get the bugger of the ground before topping the tanks up inflight had passed me by... just what is patentable often amazes me.

I'm completely ignorant of Spread Spectrum Inc. in Melbourne, does anybody know anything about them?


posted on Jul, 5 2010 @ 03:07 PM
Catalytic, I know little about Spread Spectrum Inc. in Melbourne, FL, and would welcome any new information on them.

I do know there's a branch of Northrop that works advanced development projects out of Melbourne, FL. Perhaps just coincidence. These folks recently defeated Skunk Works for a $500M US Army program known as LEMV.

On another note, a thread on another forum about the AFRL Speed Agile Program suggests a DoD need for quick space access to support a prompt global strike capability:

Speed Agile - Stealth Cargo Aircraft

Could it be for use with the new military space plane as a launch and/or recovery platform? That would be useful...imagine that - a stealthy transport that could be refueled by say - equally stealthy tankers - that could reach anywhere in the world undetected to launch and/or recover a hypersonic platform that could observe or attack any spot on the globe within an hour - a stated goal of the Pentagon.

This is certainly not the first time I've seen the need for a low observable transport dismissed, other than for a new requirement. Look at what has happened to the B-MACK, for example. This is why the discussion above caught my attention, as it reflects the same opinion as many others that a low observable transport must be for a truly new CONOPS. In this case, perhaps to support TSTO.

Below is a link to another thread on ATS discussing the AFRL Speed Agile effort, for more background information on that program:

AFRL Speed Agile Program

posted on Jul, 5 2010 @ 04:26 PM
Saw this elsewhere, credit to donnage 99 for the find

Innovations in Tankers, Air Mobility and Expeditionary Forces Support

the extension of a BWB strategic transport to the type of concept below is a fun thought

fun and games
credit to matej

I may well be overestimating the payload size for a TSTO system but conventional wisdom would indicate that speed agile might be a bit lightweight?

[edit on 5-7-2010 by Catalytic]

posted on Jun, 1 2012 @ 10:20 PM
One additional comment. There was a big discussion on the "Blackstar" program five years ago.

Two Stage to Orbit Blackstar System Shelved?

Why would this have not at the least been scheduled to happen at NCTF - in the new hangar? In addition, the global strike efforts to reduce the trajectory signatures from ICBM shots would seem to gain benefit from a TSTO effort as well. Perhaps this is the primary driver for interest in TSTO.

posted on Dec, 6 2012 @ 10:30 PM
What are the chances the above unknown contracts to Boeing "performance in Texas" Global Strike Dallas are actually related to an old ASAT missile program by LTV that was launched from an F-15 platform:

LTV Aerospace ASM-135 ASAT

It seems to make sense that Boeing would take over another spiral development cycle of the ASM-135 ASAT, since LTV is essentially defunct, and it was carried by an F-15. Perhaps this also explains the McDonnell Model 119 activity at NCTF mentioned above, as well that would support flight ops at R-4808 N.

edit on 6-12-2012 by TAGBOARD because: (no reason given)

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