A sneak peek at Aerospace Projects Review issue V2N5. Aerospaceplane (“ASP”) was an early 1960’s USAF program to develop a practical “orbital airplane,” with multiple bidders turning in a wide range of competing designs based on some wildly differing propulsion systems. Unlike the 30-year later, but largely identical, X-30 NASP competition, in this case the various bidders were not constrained by the government dictating all aspects of the design.
While ASP was certainly well beyond the technological capabilities of the early ’60’s, it cannot be reliably declared that it could not have been made to work if development had been continued. As with far too many aerospace programs, large sums of money were spent, considerable knowledge and talent were gathered… and then it was all pissed away, only to be repeatedly resurrected years later, and then again pissed away. All the money spent on the myriad of “orbital airplane” programs over the years (ASP, Dyna Soar, NASP, X-33, X-34, X-43, etc) could have easily led to an actual vehicle, if only a rational development program had been initiated… and stuck with.
Bah. Anyway, V2N5 of APR will have an article describing a “snapshot” in time of the ASP program, including the above designs.