There has been repeated flirtation with the idea of using a common airframe as both orbiter and booster. Generally, though, it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, since the requirements and environments are so different.

In 1957, Darrell Romick of Goodyear produced the “Meteor Jr.”  design for a three stage fully reusable manned launch vehicle, a smaller version of the “Meteor” design from 1954. The designs were straightforward, with simple but gigantic delta wings.

The Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy facility has a Goodyear display model of the Meteor Jr. vehicle on display.

An interesting inversion of the final STS stack layout.

Seventy years ago, a Spitfire crashed into an Irish bog. It was recently dug up and found to be ina  remarkable state of preservation; one of the main wheels was still inflated. Impressively, one of the Browning machine guns  was cleaned up… and proved perfectly capable of firing.


Spitfire redux: The WWII guns firing after 70 years buried in peat

One orbiter with two booster options: a flyback booster and an interim Titan III L4 booster

A preview of the next APR, showing the planforms of four F-23-related designs overlaid to scale.

These days, if you need artwork for your technical presentation, chances are good that you can not only size the artwork to fit your needs but also adjust the level of detail. A simple control of “layers” will let you select what to show.

But before computers, if you wanted two similar drawings but with different levels of detail, you had to manually draw the things.  As an example. behold these drawings of an early Lockheed Space Shuttle concept, derived from the STAR Clipper concept. All three of them wound up in the STAR Clipper article I’m working on for issue V3N2 of APR. Coming from three separate sources, they each wormed their way into the article until I recognized that they were all essentially the same thing, and boiled ‘em down to the last, and best, of the drawings.

One of the more unusual Shuttle designs I’ve come across is this Lockheed design from 1970. Included as part of a trade study against the “STAR Clipper,” this design featured an orbiter that was configured very much like a subsonic aircraft. Straight wings, a very conventional tail and a rather un-hypersonic fuselage were married to a podded bank of 11 rocket engines and two very large external propellant tanks. As with the STAR Clipper, “configuration 1-150″ used droppable propellant tanks for 1.5 stage-to-orbit performance. Payload was 22,408 pounds.

With the booster attached to the aft end of the external tank, it would be theoretically easy to switch boosters. Start with a simple large solid rocket motor, go to a manned flyback booster when it becomes available.

Another artist impression of the North American Aviation FX design, the NA-335. This time in glorious ExtraColor.

If you want to read more on the NA-335 or see a three-view, I can’t recommend highly enough Tony Buttler’s “American Secret Projects: Fighters & Interceptors 1945-1978.”

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