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An-225 as white knight?

Posted by: Alessandro - Fri Nov 26, 2004 3:49 pm
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An-225 as white knight? 
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Post An-225 as white knight?   Posted on: Fri Nov 26, 2004 3:49 pm
There are still a semi built An-225 waiting to be complete in Ukraine, it´s flying sister ship
flew 28 hrs with the Russian spaceshuttle Buran on its back.
Could you use the An-225 and build a bigger version of SS1?

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Post    Posted on: Fri Nov 26, 2004 4:55 pm
Doesn't fly high enough to make it worth the trouble (36,000 ft unladen IIRC)

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:02 am
The apogee of SS1's second XPRIZE flight has been 112 km - launch altitude was 14 to 15 km. 36,000 ft are 10.8 km - a potential launch altitude 4.2 km less only. From this altitude SS1 could reach 107.8 km altitude perhaps.

So the question is, what altitude the An-225 would reach with SS1 docked to it. It's not improbable that SS1 could go over 100 km this way.

Additionaly SS1's engine didn't have the maximum possible burn time - it was a few seconds less.



All in all - it seems to be possible. But to some it may seem to be less interesting unless the An-225 will be improved.



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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 9:25 am
Aye you might be right. But using an Antonov to launch a bigger (and what exactly that means was not detailed by the original poster) version of SS1, suggests that you need a carrier-plane with a very heavy lift capacity. Which in turn suggests that in using a very heavy version of SS1 (let's call it SS9 or something) you are aiming for either a very high suborbital flight or perhaps even an orbital flight.

For orbital we have argued against, repeatedly, the value of air-launch for large craft. On a number of levels, big SS1-type does not equal pegasus.

For very high suborbital, I guess you could be extending the flight time for a tourist by a few minutes (help, I don't really know, I'm just going on the recent Swedish sounding rocket report for a rule of thumb guesstimate). Which then begs the question - is it worth the astronimical costs involved (probably more than $20 mil per flight, which exceeds the cost of orbital tourist trips that have been got so far).

Not very fair I suppose, because the original question was academic. So to be fair, and for me that's always a stretch, I would say "possibly ... but why?"

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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 10:03 am
"but why?" is a question I'm asking too - I'm trying to find answers myself. The question of the value of air-launch for large aircrafts has got one answer from Burt Rutan: safety. But we don't know what he will do and as far as I remember this moment nobody here can imagine a solution Burt Rutan will use. The concepts of Interorbital Systems and JP Aerospace are known in the public. ...

I suppose the An-225 isn't made of light weight materials. An Antonov-225 out of light weight materials still would be an Antonov-225 but it could carry and launch heavier spacecrafts than the current An-225 can I think. Not to forget that Buran is much heavier than SS1 and supposedly heavier than a private five-passenger-only orbital spacecraft will be - Buran has a cargo bay but a private ASP vehicle won't have a cargo bay...

There may be a significant amount of capacity left for an air launch of an ASP vehicle from an An-225 - the problem may be the price of the airplane...



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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 11:18 am
There were proposals to use the AN-255 before. I think it was the HOTOL. There are also plans for launches on commercial airliners.


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Post    Posted on: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:21 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The apogee of SS1's second XPRIZE flight has been 112 km - launch altitude was 14 to 15 km. 36,000 ft are 10.8 km - a potential launch altitude 4.2 km less only. From this altitude SS1 could reach 107.8 km altitude perhaps.

No, that not right. I believe that during the climb of White Knight, it was explained that for every foot WK could gain, SS1 would end up 10 foot higher. Those 4.2 km altitude are very significant.

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So the question is, what altitude the An-225 would reach with SS1 docked to it. It's not improbable that SS1 could go over 100 km this way.

Probably not much less than it does normally. I mean, SS1 is tiny in comparison to the An-225 and Buran. However, it's just not good enough. Improving an airplane like the 225 to go that much higher is no easy job either. Air density is much lower, meaning less oxigen for the engines, amongst other problems.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 30, 2004 2:31 pm
The biggest problem I see, is that the An-225 would carry the spaceship un its back and not under the plane. This will make the separation a lot more difficult, that with the White Knight.


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Post    Posted on: Tue Nov 30, 2004 3:01 pm
Yes, but this problem could be solved easyly. Scaled has the plans for the mechanism required to carry SS1 under the plane and could construct a version for the An-225 which then could be installed some way I think.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:46 am
hehe double post

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Last edited by 109Ace on Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:48 am, edited 2 times in total.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 12:47 am
or use the AN225 to tow and before release refuel a two stage system that could launch payloads or people to orbit.

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Post Why would he bother?   Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 5:48 am
At the end of the day Scaled could design and build their own ship for less than the cost of refurbishing the An.
The AN has a very large fuse which would be totally wasted payload for a first stage. I dont know the ceiling of the AN but I would guess its less than 40000ft, while white knites alt was closer to 60.
At teh end of teh day it would have been cheaper for Burt to drop SS1 from a B-52, but he chose to make WK, why? Because then he could get exactly what he wanted. Dont forget, Proteus was the original drop vehicle, but for what ever reason they chose to build a whole new ship to meet the mission profile.


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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 9:56 am
Alright - I have to shift the sense of my posts here a little bit: The An-225 idea is possible in principle but economical suboptimal in the long run - the idea is an example for an alternative air launch vehicle that requires improvemnets to be optimal.

So I never would insist on an An-225 - a B-52 would do it as well or better. But the B-52 still may be suboptimal.

But everyone can consider these both airplanes and some others too to think about an airplane of that size improved up to an optimal plane for air-launches of suborbital spacecrafts larger or heavier than SS1 - orbital perhaps.



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Post    Posted on: Wed Dec 01, 2004 4:59 pm
Well, shucks if we're just dreamin' about the ultimate air-launch platform, I'd have to opt for the XB-70 http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/bomber/b-70.htm

Although the article does not specify payload, the aircraft was alomst certainly intended to be capable of delivering one or more of these monsters http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/B53.html at nearly 5 tons....

I wonder if Black Armadillo could make orbit if it was launched at 78000 feet and mach 3?


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 02, 2004 7:29 am
Yes - we may be "dreaming" about the ultimate air-launch-hardware.

But I am shifting the direction of thoughts a little bit even in my answer to OSD.

OSD is right, Alessandro tends to be right and you are right too, SawSS1Jun21. To use an An-225 is suboptimal concerning launch costs and launch performance etc., the B52 is a little bit better but suboptimal concerning these things too and the XB-70 supposedly will be too.

But they all have one advantage - they are allready there and only need to be modified. The modification perhaps can be restricted to the installation of the mechanism by which SS1 is connected to and released from Wight Knight. This way the R&D-costs for a new Wight Knight would be prevented - it would mean saving funds.

The disadvantage then is suboptimality of vehicles which would require further improvements. It would shift R&D costs only farther into the future - which may be a reasonable strategy if there are no sufficient financial ressources.

All this is based on the thought, that the docking mechanism, SS1 and Wight Knight could be used without the others.



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