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In looking at the questions here and here, I'm wondering - was the VentureStar platform doomed from the start (in ways nobody could foresee), or was it only the cooling problems with aerospike engines that doomed it?

Not to multiply the questions, but to unify them under the main one, could Venturestar have been revamped with more traditional bell engines, and still worked as an SSTO? It just seems to me to have been a massive craft that could never have made SSTO under any configuration.

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  • $\begingroup$ How is this question distinct from space.stackexchange.com/questions/3023/… ? $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 21 '18 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ I am inclined to agree with the accepted answer to that question: chemical propellant SSTO with a useful payload and reusability just isn't physically practical. Can it be done with unlimited money and will? Sure. The error is in defining SSTO as a requirement instead of something sensible like cost-per-payload-kg. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 21 '18 at 20:49
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    $\begingroup$ You'll hit a different point on the cost curve, all right. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Feb 21 '18 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ "cooling problem...with the engines" is not really a correct statement of the problem. The biggest technical problem, as stated in one of the answers to the other question, was fabrication of a composite tank for cryogenic H2. However, this was also a political/programmatic problem, because the alternate Al/Li tank was actually lighter, but not politically acceptable. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 21 '18 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ However, it's important to note that construction was never started on the full up Venture Star. It was only the subscale, suborbital test vehicle X-33 that was being built, and had the problem with the LH2 tank. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Feb 21 '18 at 23:33

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