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Why I like ATO!

Posted by: ralpher05 - Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:01 pm
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Why I like ATO! 
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Post Why I like ATO!   Posted on: Sun Sep 13, 2009 8:01 pm
I just wanted to put out a blurp on why I like ATO technology idea.

Well first its bold. Really bold. And its out of the box.

But its also simple and almost common sense when you consider the atmosphere. Or any planet with an atmosphere for that matter.

Earth orbit requires 17,000 to 18,000 miles an hour following the contour of the planet. The atmosphere naturally resists such speeds so accelerating to orbit velocity on the horizontal is impractical from the ground. So rockets blast off from the vertical and then transfer to horizontal acceleration where the atmosphere is thinner. But they use and enormous amount of energy just for liftoff. Dirigibles and balloons can launch from the ground to altitude with minimal energy expended and using the mass and pressure of the atmosphere to lift the craft. You can't get any more renewable energy expenditure (work) than that.

Then there is the idea of reentry. Current space craft that reenter the atmosphere use the atmosphere to slow down, and that's smart. But they do it really fast, so risk is high and it spends material and or carries high operational costs. Aerobraking with a balloon makes great sense since you can manage how fast you slow down and the risk involved. SpaceShipOne demonstrated that high drag can minimize heat cause by viscosity (erroneously known as friction) on reentry. A balloon has much more area and much less relative mass to volume than SpaceShipOne, so it should make the transition in slowing down nicely.

Then there is the idea of replicating the system on other planets, namely Venus. Somewhere I read that it may be possible to have a manned balloon station on the upper atmosphere of Venus. Thus examine Venus and its atmosphere up close. Or how about replicating the system on Mars? Allowing for economical (in logistics) access to the surface.

It seems to me that ATO is more plausible than the space elevator which IMHO is fraught with insurmountable challenges.

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Post Re: Why I like ATO!   Posted on: Sat Dec 05, 2009 6:58 pm
Hmmm. Not so sure about Mars, given it's low atmosphere. However, a space elevator could probably do the trick, and SSTOs are muc more feasible there.

Venus... now that's a different matter. We're pretty much limited to Aerostats there anyway, and that includes launching stuff and imports. When we colonize Venus, we'll need an AtO type craft just to get there.

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