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bok_rev_mclinko - Single Stage to Orbit Review Ryan McLinko...

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Single Stage to Orbit Review Ryan McLinko April 2 nd , 2007
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In Single Stage to Orbit, Andrew J Butrica details the development and eventual cancellation of the single stage to orbit concept, specifically the SSX (Single Stage eXperimental and later Space Ship eXperimental) program. As Butrica emphasizes throughout the book, the SSX vehicles tended to focus on two key ides: single stage to orbit and aircraft-like operations. Single stage to orbit means just as it says and aircraft-like operations means the capability for fast turnaround time and not needed a standing army to operate the spacecraft. The story of the single stage to orbit vehicle truly begins in the late 1800s when visionaries such as Jules Verne, who wrote From the Earth to the Moon… , began describing vehicles that could take humans to the moon and further and were primarily single staged. These ideas, however, did not really begin to turn into practice until the early 1980s during the Reagan administration. At this time, supporters of the DC-X program, such as Newt Gingrich, and supporters of space-based defense systems, such as Max Hunter and Daniel Graham, pressured Reagan to develop a space policy. Reagan’s space agenda therefore focused on two fronts: the commercialization of space by providing companies with more realistic methods for getting into space and the development of space-based weaponry that could be used against other satellites and incoming ballistic missiles (the “Star Wars” system that became the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)). Since the Space Shuttle was not fulfilling the role necessary for SDI, various designs, including the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP), Continental/SemiGlobal Transport (C/SGT), and SSX. Max Hunter, Daniel Graham, and Jerry Pournelle eventually drove SSX through the Phase I and Phase II designs, but eventually due to funding restraints and a new administration, Phase III was delayed and the SSX took on new names (DC-X, Delta Clipper, and DC-XA). Eventually, the Delta Clipper was tested and proved itself successful on initial test flights, but a human error resulted in the destruction of the vehicle on the fourth test flight of the second iteration and a compilation of budget constraints and the end of the inability to justify further funding resulted in this being the last flight of the program. Before examining the book’s arguments, a discussion of the author is in order.
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This note was uploaded on 11/08/2011 for the course AERO 16.872 taught by Professor Danielhastings during the Fall '03 term at MIT.

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bok_rev_mclinko - Single Stage to Orbit Review Ryan McLinko...

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