Current strategies towards air-breathing space launch vehicles

In 1988 I wrote an article “Airbreathers To Orbit: The Best Way To Go!”, which presented a host of arguments in favor of air-breathing launchers, most of which are still valid. In 1988, an air-breathing launcher was conceived of by many as a large supersonic airplane that would drop the orbiting part of the vehicle off, just like the White Knight Two drops the SpaceShipTwo during a test flight. Today, no true air-breathing spaceplanes or reusable boosters yet exist, but there is now renewed interest in air-breathing technology. At the same time, remarkable launch cost reductions in more conventional boosters are imminent due to the efforts of SpaceX and other firms. It is beneficial to everyone to explore alternate technological paths, since no one can predict which paths will pan out and produce an economical and reliable vehicle. In addition, the impending launch cost competition will stimulate new ways of thinking in the industry worldwide. What is happening now in the air-breathing launcher field and what strategies should companies and countries pursue in the face of these diverging space launch paths?

Skylon illustration

National Space Society Group News | LinkedIn.�



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