Conceptual design analysis for a two-stage-to-orbit semi-reusable launch system for small satellites

Christie Maddock, Federico Toso, Michael West, Joanne West, Kostantinos Kontis, Sriram Rengarajan, David Evans, Andy Milne, Stuart McIntyre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

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This paper presents the conceptual design and performance analysis of a partially reusable space launch vehicle for small payloads. The system uses a multi-stage vehicle with rocket engines, with a reusable first stage capable of glided or powered flight, and expendable upper stage(s) to inject 500 kg payload in different low Earth orbits. The space access vehicle is designed to be air-launched from a modified aircraft carrier. The aim of the system design is to develop a commercially viable launch system for near-term operation, thus emphasis is placed on the efficient use of high TRL technologies. The vehicle design are analysed using a multi-disciplinary design optimisation approach to evaluate the performance, operational capabilities and design trade-offs. Results from two trade-offs studies are shown, evaluating the choice wing area and thus aerodynamic characteristics, and the choice of stage masses and engines selection on the mission performance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication68th Proceedings of the International Astronautical Congress
Place of PublicationAdelaide, South Australia
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 25 Sept 2017
EventInternational Astronautical Congress - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 25 Sept 201729 Sept 2017
Conference number: 68


ConferenceInternational Astronautical Congress
Abbreviated titleIAC
Internet address


  • space access
  • trajectory optimisation
  • space transportation


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