|Passenger stage jettisoned from booster stage photo: DLR|
German Aerospace Center (DLR) has unveiled its latest SpaceLiner 7 concept at the at MAKS airshow in Moscow, which envisions ultra fast intercontinental flights.
The advanced visionary concept for a suborbital, hypersonic, winged passenger transport system will enable to travel from Europe to Australia (up to 17000 km) in 90 minutes, currently under investigation at DLR.
The general baseline design concept consists of a fully-reusable booster and passenger stage arranged in parallel. The rocket engine powered vehicle could reach speed of 20 times that of sound.
Operation of the DLR SpaceLiner concept is similar to the retired NASA Space Shuttle.
SpaceLiner is designed to launch vertically, using rocket engines to accelerate for flight in the outer layers of the atmosphere.
The two-stage, vertical-takeoff configuration concept consists of a large unmanned booster and a manned stage designed for 50 passengers and 2 crew members. The fully-reusable vehicle is accelerated by a total of eleven liquid rocket engines (9 for the booster, 2 for the passenger stage), which are to be operated using cryogenic liquid oxygen (LOX) and hydrogen (LH2).
The nine-engine reusable booster stage separates after the first flight phase, having provided significant thrust to the orbiter. All engines are shut down after eight minutes. The orbiter then begins to glide, initially at over 20 times the speed of sound.
The concept design also foresees the passenger cabin to function as an autonomous rescue capsule which can be separated from the vehicle in case of an emergency, allowing the passengers to return safely to Earth.
After engine cut-off, the orbiter stage is to enter a high-speed gliding flight phase and be capable of traveling long intercontinental distances within a very short time. Altitudes of 80 kilometers and Mach numbers beyond 20 are projected, depending on the mission. Flight times of the SpaceLiner from Australia to Europe should take just 90 minutes or no more than 60 minutes on the Europe – California route.
Acceleration loads for the passengers on these missions are designed to remain below those of the Space Shuttle astronauts, with a maximum of 2.5 g being experienced during the propelled section of the flight.