Deployed payload analysis for a single stage to orbit spaceplane

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The growth of the small satellite market requires an affordable and flexible launcher to satisfy the demand for insertion to a varied range of specific orbits. This paper presents the application and results of a tool created for the preliminary analysis of a reusable lifting body vehicle to address the demand of small to medium sized payloads. Trajectory optimisation is performed on the ascent mission of the launcher from a nominal cruise altitude to the release of the payload into different orbits with different mission and vehicle objectives and constraints. Two vehicle configurations are studied and applied to test cases of insertion to 200 km circular orbits at different inclinations. Further analysis on the performances obtained at different altitudes is conducted to study the effect on maximum payload mass. The advantages and limitations of the single stage to orbit approach are discussed and ways to overcome the latter are further analysed with the introduction of a small upper stage or tug. This additional engine can perform small manoeuvres to correct the flight path for orbital insertion, which expands the type of orbits that can be reached, and is integrated in the optimisation routine. The overall performance of the different launch systems are optimised for each mission, and compared against each other looking at the total payload mass and required mass fraction to reach different orbits.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2016
Event67th International Astronautical Congress - Expo Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Mexico
Duration: 26 Sep 201630 Sep 2016
Conference number: 67


Conference67th International Astronautical Congress
Abbreviated titleIAC
Internet address


  • launch vehicle
  • space access
  • payload
  • single stage to orbit
  • trajectory optimisation

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