Germany ramping up mach 20 hypersonic commercial plane and spaceplane project

SpaceLiner is an advanced concept for a suborbital, hypersonic, winged passenger transport, which is currently under investigation at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, or DLR) since 2005.

The DLR projected that, if funded and development is continued, it could field an operational spaceplane in the 2035-2040s.

It appears that Germany may be stepping up hypersonic space plane and commercial travel efforts. There is active hypersonic plane and spaceplane programs in the USA, UK, Russia, China, Australia and other countries

Recent conference news

The Spaceliner DLR is to stand as a space shuttle before starting upright and start with rocket engines on his journey. The reusable booster stage separates after the first attack from the orbiter, found in the passenger capsule 50 fellow passengers place. Eight minutes then the glider would start with 20x speed of sound. The landing after around 80 minutes will then like a conventional aircraft on a normal runway instead. A project for which there are no existing models

The rocket-powered SpaceLiner, originally conceptualized as a 50-passenger hypersonic airliner, has now been given new urgency and direction with a roadmap for flights within the next 20 years, SpaceLiner project lead Martin Sippel told Aviation Week at last month’s American Institute of Aerodynamics and Astronautics’ Space Planes and Hypersonics Conference in Glasgow. Sippel spoke at the conference, presenting on SpaceLiner’s technical progress and the program’s mission definition—which now includes potentially delivering satellites and other payloads to space.

If hypersonic travel could capture 0.2% share of air travel… from a space perspective that’s a potentially huge impact. We could increase hundredfold the number of launches and, as it is a reusable vehicle designed for between 150 and 300 flights, you have serial production of engines. If you have 11 engines per vehicle then you would build 2,000 engines per year or so.

Old Design information

The SpaceLiner concept intends to use a single type of reusable liquid rocket engine, which operates in the full-flow staged combustion cycle mode. The nozzle expansion ratio is adapted to the different missions of the booster and passenger stages. Furthermore, liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen will be used as the propellants, a combination which is both very powerful while remaining eco-friendly.

As of November 2011, the SpaceLiner was in a preliminary design phase, and research was ongoing to further this status. Based on the results of previous work, the development is continuously progressing, with increasingly detailed and in-depth considerations of the various subsystem development and integration. Some variants with different requirements and specifications were studied with associated results influencing and redirecting the entire design process.

SpaceLiner 2 refers to the first version, which featured the integration of an innovative active cooling system for the areas of particularly high thermal stresses during atmospheric, re-entry, being the nose and wing leading edge sections.

The SpaceLiner 4 is an evolution of the version 2 with improved aerodynamic and flight dynamic characteristics. Based on this configuration, various technologies necessary for the SpaceLiner were experimentally and numerically examined, research that was funded by the EU research project FAST20XX.

The current and latest configuration under investigation at the DLR is the SpaceLiner 7. Based on results obtained from application of numerical optimization methods which achieved an improvement of the aerodynamic, thermal and structural-mechanical properties in hypersonic flight, the initial double delta wing of previous versions has been modified and replaced by a single delta wing. Currently, subsystems such as the passenger cabin, the cryogenic tanks, the propellant feed system and the vehicle thermal protection have been preliminarily designed and integrated

SOURCES- Wikipedia, Ars Technica, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt