Hypervelocity launching and frozen fuels as a major contribution to spaceflight

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Acting as a virtual first stage, a hypervelocity launch together with the use of frozen hydrogen/frozen oxygen propellant, offers a Single-Stage-To-Orbit (SSTO) system that promises an enormous increase in SSTO massratio. Ram acceleration provides hypervelocity (≈2 km/sec) to the orbital vehicle with a gas gun supplying the initial velocity required for ram operation. The vehicle itself acts as the center body of a ramjet inside a launch tube, filled with gaseous fuel and oxidizer, acting as an engine cowling. The high acceleration needed to achieve hypervelocity precludes a crew, and it would require greatly increased liquid fuel tank structural mass if a liquid propellant is used for post-launch vehicle propulsion. Solid propellents do not require as much fuelchamber strengthening to withstand a hypervelocity launch as do liquid propellants, but traditional solid fuels have lower exhaust velocities than liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen. The shock-stability of frozen hydrogen/frozen oxygen propellant has been experimentally demonstrated. A hypervelocity launch system using frozen hydrogen/frozen oxygen propellant would be a revolutionary new development in spaceflight.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cocks, FH; Harman, CM; Klenk, PA; Summons, WN

Published Date

  • January 1, 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 58 / 1-2

Start / End Page

  • 2 - 8

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0007-084X

Citation Source

  • Scopus