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The Spaceflight Research List


It is this period that I would fill about 6000 pages of notebooks. The most contact I really had with anyone was at the grocery.

This is the period I either went to grocery store, the University Engineering Library or Long's Book Store. I would check out books or just roam the stacks seeing what titles might interest me. The one was a book on the X-15. I got a notice to return it or buy it. The price was $9.80 I really wanted to keep it. I had been the first person to check it out in 7 years. I have looked at most of the Jane's from the 1950s and 1960s. Long's Book Store was interesting because it was the only place in the city where you could sell old books. That coupled with the fact that it was 3 blocks from the University. The part of the library on physics, airplanes and rockets came from there. These were obviously from some of the professor private collections; that they now viewed as out dated.

The library by age 23 now included the following books which were part of what came from Long's Book Store. The books on aircraft design, rocket design, welding and guns. There were also the first texts on nuclear fusion and the physics texts.

One of the books was on some of the odd things that could show up in some of the missile designs. The other sections were about metals then being used and metals that might be considered for future use. The standard metals aluminum, steel, stainless steel properties were discussed and the new metals were compared to them. The new metals or metals treated in a new way titanium, magnesium, beryllium, the alloy beryllium-aluminum as well as margining steel very slow heat treatment. The metals being considered were talk about in terms of both their possible uses and how they would have to be handled. Problems that had not been solved were pointed out along with some things that had been tried. Composite materials and shapes like honeycombs were discussed along with their properties. I considered this very helpful, because it explained a lot more just what could not be done but what had already been tried to fix the problem.

The most notable articles other then the section on metals was the section on the Atlas rocket. The Atlas Rocket can not support it's own wait without it's tanks being pressurized. The loads the structure had to bear through it's flight path from standing on the pad to the cross loads due to the fact the flying near horizontal, hoop stress loads, etc. The equations were solved in the book).

There was another book on considering problems of supersonic and hypersonic flight (up to about mach 10). The book was written about 1960. The hypersonic experimental aircraft engines proposed in the 1980s were engine designs proposed in that book. The book was based on the results of experiments preformed in the 50s. The hyper-X and X-43 similar to based on those design ideas.

A book on how to determine the cause of an airplane crash and the condition of the aircraft at the time of the crash. On how to tell if the engine running when it hit the ground. How to tell what systems might have failed. What it will look like if a bearing fails. The signs that an engine may have ingested metal. If a compressor blade broke and then went through the burners and was sprayed on the turbine. Before it hit the ground These of course make up a list of problems that no one is going tell you to watch out for. When they show the hub of a compressor on the ground I know it hit at full throttle. Ouch!

These books were my background sources for my original work. This now when I would go to check your finds to check against my thoughts. This is how I checked my thinking on these subjects. I used the University's Engineering Library. (If there was a collection of the history of experiments in aviation I read a lot of it.)
Of the book from the engineering library there are 2 that used as a reference. They were Stillwell's book on the X-15 and The Space Environment. I was the first to have check either out in many years; in the case of the X-15 book it was over 7 years. I got a notice to buy or return the books. They wanted $9.80 for The X-15 Book. I want to just buy it but that would be cheating. The book on the X-15 will be one I will study everything about and look to see what they are doing. It is not very technical but the pictures and diagrams are good. On the pages for general public to read I use the picture from there to help people understand what they were talking about. The picture and diagrams were what I found most useful. One will show something very important I included the picture but not the diagram but did not say why it was important. The Space Environment(1969) covers a range of subjects from asteroid impact, radiation from the stand point of the hazards of space. To what has be thought of as far as way to provide air, water, food and the long term survivability of humans.

The questions of asteroid impact and radiation will show up in the designs of the next generation of ships. The use of separate working, recreation areas with separate safe sleeping areas. These would have the highest protection from radiation and asteroids. They would serve as shelters in case of emergency. There were tables on the changes of getting hit by various sizes of asteroids. The equations for calculating the chances getting hit by an asteroid, where also there. I calculated the chances of the earth getting hit by something very large. The figure of about once every 100 years came up. There was no way to calculate the damage though.

There were things on the list that could have been amusing such as removal and storage of carbon dioxide using carbon dioxide solubility in water. There was another one that manufactured a simple sugar. These 2 together the carbon dioxide dissolved in water and the manufacture of simple sugars and you have almost made a soda pop. There were a couple parts that over lapped also. Together this fostered the idea of using all or if not as many as possible of the methods. They were of a range that they would keep a person in contact with as many concepts as possible. What you do regularly is easier to do. Plus these would provide ready backup.

The study of jet, ramjet and scramjet engines were a part of learning what could be done with the knowledge of that time. This lead into a hybrid design of a jet/ramjet without knowledge of how the SR-71 Blackbird was designed. The SR-71 is a spike generated ramjet, which is then all the air that can be is routed through the jet engine. The rest is dumped after the inlet so as to keep the inlet balanced. These were my thoughts on the how to design a hybrid. The ramjet peaks at about mach 4 but how far past the peak can it be effectively operated (mach 5.5). The question here is how much heat can the engine take. The design was for full bypass above mach 1.5 with the sections then adjusting to the best compression ratio at that speed. Below mach 4 a compression of 8 to 1 is best above 4 it should start to go down to 1 to 1. Among other reasons is to decrease the heat caused by the compression as this temperature gets to close to maximum allowable. To allow for greater heating to take place, by the burning of fuel. This was to be done moving sections of the ramjet parts and the jet engine. This can be done because a jet engine can support it's own weight. That is can be held in place attached only at both ends. The engine can have a sleeve that moves in relation to the engine over the outside. The sleeve shaped on the outside so the flow area can be adjusted. This adjusts the compression through during the ramjet phase. When engine is moved can be enclosed when not in use. This is of course just a rough description I hope at some time to include a diagram. This idea of adjustability lead to a being able to lower the pressure at Mach 4 and above allowing it to work up into the scramjet region. This would of course make a fine top speed machine but for various reasons it is not useful fighter bomber or a way out of here i.e. thrust to weight ratio and for a different propose the need to fly a certain speed at a certain altitudes etc.

X-1 Chuck Inflight


The X-1 was flown by Chuck Yeager to fast than Mach 1. Later Scott Crossfield took a similar model of plane past Mach 2. The plane's shape is that of the German Me-163. The X-1 was very hard to handle and the plane started shaking violently at about Mach 1 then as it had passed Mach 1 the X-1 stopped shaking. This is, what is call transonic buffeting. They tried go slower and that did not help. So it must be assumed that it was agreed that fat must be better. There a problems that arise with high acceleration. The errors that happen in steering would become a problem much faster. The fact that thrust comes from the tail rather then being pulled by the propeller from the nose or the wing makes the design less stable. The amount of aerodynamic drag (the resistance due to shape) is very high, the back of the X-1 has a gentler slope then the front.

The X-15 was made to go much faster than the X-1 and to do this as safely as possible. It was designed to correct what they thought the problems were and to handle what might happen if they were in error. The design may look crude at first glance but it is all on purpose. The back end is to provide drag at the back end when the engine is shutdown in case there is a control error and the plane gets askew to the direction it is going. The fully moveable horizontal tail surfaces to effect adequate control even in thin air or holding the body and wings at a high attack angle. (These will later find there way on to most high performance airplanes.) The lower tail is for control holding the plane vertical while at high attack angles.

X-15a2 with abative coating scramjet fuel tanks X-15a2 with just scramjet


These two pictures I have include after the others. The first part to consider is the as they are calling the scramjet. This by what was know at the time is not a true scramjet. This is more of a ramjet then a scramjet. The ramjet by definition requires that the air be slow to subsonic speeds for combustion this giving a combustion like a car or a jet engine. From the jets at that time it was considered that the air must be going under 400 miles per hour when combustion was taking place for it to occur properly. The standard was then to calculate the compression ratio and at cruising speed with the compressed gases moving slower then 400 miles per hour. This engine is more of a hybrid of the ramjet and scramjet. A true ramjet which by this combustion was not considered to be effective a above mach 4. The way that this hybrid is works I do not believe it is wise to say at this time even though it is not very effective. The problems for the hybrid ramjet/scramjet as tried on the X-15a-2 was that it cannot be used at a high angle of attack. For the hybrid ramjet/scramjet to be effective also from the point of thrust to weight ratio the walls must be thin. The air currents from where the wing joins the fuselage on the X-15a-2 beat the hybrid ramjet/scramjet to where it was ruined.

The second part that is import from these pictures is the ablative coating on the X-15a-2 on your left. The windows are not visible in that picture because they are covered up. The first launch of the X-15a-2 with ablative coating it was found that the ablative coating burned on to the glass. The escort plane had to tell the pilot how far to the ground. This is probably part of the reason that NASA choose the silicon tiles over an ablative coating. The window have covers over them until after they are down below around 70,000 ft.. I had figured on ablative coating before I learned of this problem.

YF-12 the original Sr71 On the edge of black sky


The YF-12 shows it is the result of the research of the X-15 far more than the SR-71 does. The top fin and out wing are hinged. This is to give access to the engine for remove. The is how the YF-12s were modified in to the YF-12C with the other fins. This is from pictures in different books and thinking of how they doing what they say they are doing. The stability need for a high performance plane was not need for high speed plane so the lower fin was eliminated and the upper fin was reduced in strength. This will be lead to a complete recalculation of the strength needed in the airframe for the SR-71. The SR-71 is a much lighter design then YF-12s or A-12. (The Russians will begin working on the Mig-23 Foxbat to counter a plane we will not develop.) The missiles that were to have gone here were better than anyone had hoped and did not need this much plane. They will find there way on to the F-14 and F-15 after the Vietnam War. (One dud missile on the ground is more trouble than any losses.) This is the basic history of this part of the X-planes. Then if, one wants to develop a plane to leave the planet one must look at the X-15 because the SR-71 design was limited so that it could better perform the mission of high speed spy plane.

X-15 Important Cockpit of X-15 not plywood


The first is very important and I will not discuss it at present.

The controls here are the first for high Gs environment and a stick in the middle. The reaction or rocket controls on one side and the high Gs control on the other. There would not be a landing without a wing man if at all possible because of visibility of the ground on approach. That is a piece of plywood just setting on the floor there to cover that hole. You can tell by the fit that they do not work with wood to much it is a fine rocket plane thought. The use of veneer if properly sealed (Sealed while in a vacuum) large metal surfaces would do a lot to reduce the heat sink effect of having to warm all that metal at once.

Cutaway of the -15


The seat was to lay back to allow access to the "living area and equipment. This type of seat back would have to be reinforced and have pins into the wall on either side of the seat. This is necessary for the smallest possible plane. Later when I look close at that little picture and then get a magnifying glass for a closer look. I will see the little room behind the seat of the X-15. The seat must lay down or it must be removable there is no information on that part of the plane. I have found this picture recently that gives a better view of the whole plane X-15 Big Cutaway I was about now wonder how much more there was that I had not see or how much more they were thinking of doing. The atlas rocket used tanks thin enough to be tore by a socket. A supported balder of metal over insulation to protect edges and there could be more fuel and more room after launch. This is just a start but starts are important.

This one I wish you would take my word on but in the news reel that goes with the this still, they are having a hard time standing still. If you saw the movie the Right Stuff the wives say everyone is so interested in maintaining an even keel. The heart rates would in the X-15 climb to over 140 beats a minute just before release and stayed high though out the flight. This is why they picked older test pilots for the job. The reason being they hoped that having experiencing this sort of thing would lessen the effect but it tends to grow on a person. John Glenn is the most leave headed of the group and I think has twice shown us his get back to work nature. Charles "Chuck" Yeager remained a quiet soldier. If we are to belief the Right Stuff about anything Gordon Cooper probably got the go for the 3 orbit launch based on his habit of going to sleep when there was a break in what he was doing.

There is a lot to learn just from these four pictures.



Bob L. Petersen




Bob Petersen