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Origin:paper AAS 91-643, Proceedings of 4th International Space Conference of Pacific-basin Societies, AAS Vol 77, pp 329-351; also at www.spacefuture.com/archive/ history_of_the_phoenix_vtol_ssto_and_recent_developments_in_single_stage_launch_systems.shtml

If the long-awaited exploitation of space is to occur in an economical and affordable fashion, inexpensive and reliable means to transport cargoo and people to and from LEO will be required in the 21st Century. The author has studied the vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle concept for use as a LEO transport for more than two decades. VTOL SSTO represents one feasible solution to the problem of low cost space transportation.

Building on work conducted in the 1960s by Bono and in the early 1970s by the Chrysler Corporation, Gomersall and others, the author conceived the Phoenix concept in 1972 as a means to provide inexpensive access to space. The basic concept survived into the 1980s and was refined to the degree that the vehicle could be built with existing technology and prove suitable for use by non-astronaut passengers.

This paper will review the history of the VTOL SSTO concept and the Phoenix designs. It will also discuss the role the Phoenix concept had in stimulating consideration of the single-stage-to-orbit approach by the U.S. Government in on-going SSTO concept studies. These studies are currently expected to lead to prototype hardware development aimed at demonstrating the SSTO approach by 1995-97 in the form of the McDonnell-Douglas DC-Y.

  • A Reusable Commercial Space Transport in a World of Expendables: Development, Certification, and Operation
  • ...the Heavens and the Earth: a Political History of the Space Age
  • Single Stage Launching of Large Preassembled Space Station Structures
  • An Integrated Systems Study for a Reusable One-Stage Orbital Space Truck (ROOST)
  • Frontiers of Space
  • Design Objectives for Tomorrow's Big Boosters
  • The ROMBUS Concept
  • Rocket-Sled Launching for Reusable Ballistic Transport Systems
  • The Saturn S-IVB Stage as a Test Bed for Booster Recovery
  • The Enigma of Booster Recovery--Ballistic or Winged?
  • Feasibility Study of a Single-Stage Re-usable Ballistic Booster System - BETA
  • BETA, A Single-Stage Reusable Ballistic Space Shuttle Concept
  • The Single-stage Reusable Ballistic Launcher Concept for Economic Cargo Transportation
  • Final Report on Project SERV: Single-Stage Earth-Orbital Reusable Vehicle, Space Shuttle Feasibility Study
  • A Single-Stage-to-Orbit Shuttle Concept
  • Aerospike Test Vehicle
  • Systems Concepts for STS-Derived Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle Study
  • Phoenix Briefing
  • Economical Orbit: SSOAR-A Freighter to Space
  • A Single-Fuel, Mixed-Mode Engine Concept and Utility Assessment
  • Phoenix: A Commercial, Reusable Single-Stage Launch Vehicle
  • X-Rocket Concept Description
  • Space Logistics - A Solution
  • The SSX Single-Stage Experimental Rocket
  • Review of Pacific American Launch System SSX:Phoenix VTOL Concept
  • SSTO Program Status & Opportunities
  • Acta Astronautica
  • Advances in the Astronautical Sciences
Referred to by:
Related Entries:
  • Beta
  • SSX

See Also:
  • Phoenix
  • SSTO
  • VTOL
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