Skip to comments.Fire in the sky: the Air Launched Sortie Vehicle of the early 1980s (part 2)
Posted on 03/08/2010 11:38:45 PM PST by ErnstStavroBlofeld
Many things remain murky about the Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratorys sponsorship of an effort starting in 1980 to study the possibility of launching a spaceplane off the back of a 747. AFRPL was located at Edwards Air Force Base and in early December of that year, an AFRPL engineer named Don Hart produced a several page description of what such a vehicle might look like and might be capable of doing. (See: Fire in the sky: the Air Launched Sortie Vehicle of the early 1980s (part 1), The Space Review, February 22, 2010) Very quickly at least one contractor jumped at the opportunity to study the concept.
On December 11, 1980, only ten days after Harts description of the Air Force Space Sortie System, William J. Ketchum of General Dynamics Convair Division produced a memo that he sent to his superiors. Because Hart had referred to the spacecraft using tanks similar to the Atlas rocket, which Convair manufactured, it was only natural that the company would take notice.
Ketchums memo stated that they had sought to explore the initial conditions provided by the 747 carrier, lifting ascent trajectory modeling and performance determination, and drop tank weight estimating based on Atlas hardware.
(Excerpt) Read more at thespacereview.com ...
Artists concept of General Dynamics version of the Air Launched Sortie Vehicle. It is unclear how far General Dynamics Convair Division got in their studies of this spacecraft, although their interest was sparked by the possibility of supplying the drop tanks derived from the Atlas launch vehicle. (Copyright: Giuseppe de Chiara)
Many ideas were tried out during the cold war. Ever seen the footage of an ICBM being air launched out of a C-141?
Yes, I have a copy.
Man I loved thost C-141’s. Many jumps out of those quiet beasts.
Actually it was a C-5 Galaxy
You post a lot of military tech related articles and I find them interesting too.
As with your article here and air launching of ICBM’s out of the back of cargo transport airplanes, successful execution of a concept does not mean that it will be practical in a operational sense. That among other things seems to be lost on you in all the mil-tech articles you post.
If you want to look into a really cool project that never made it inot operation, research the ‘Convair Kingfish’.
ahhhh.........everybody knows the cia built the third valkyrie, and used it to launch the x-40 for spy missions.....
Looking at your first (color) image in post #4, judging from the winglets I’d say that’s a C-17, not a C-5.
Offhand other than the X-Plane series, I cant think of any piggyback or parasite aircraft combinations that really worked.
All I can remember right now are the FICON project, the XF-85 Goblin, and the CIA M-21/D-21 programs. The M21 was an A-12 modified to launch the D-21 reconnaissance drone.
The C-5 was according to the History of the Minuteman site.
The Air Force thought it had potential.
But potential is matter of degree, and this concept was never made into an operational system.
You are correct.