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Aerospikes basically tackle the issue of the variability in required expansion ratio for a rocket engine to be efficient at a given altitude. A recent example though mired in legal issues is a small SSTO in development by ARCA one of many including Amaero's 3D printed example. I'll reference Wikipedia as a comprehensive source of performance numbers ->wiki link.

What I'm interested in is the educated speculation of the improved function of the eagerly awaited New Glenn by Blue Origin or BFR by SpaceX( youtube ) if the bells were replaced with the best possible Aerospike nozzles. Improved range, mission flexibility, payload mass/volume etcetera! Reusable two-stage large rockets like these are I think harbingers of the new status quo. So let us theorize on these next-gen rockets in progress if money and R&D time weren't an issue.

Here’s an image of how much each rocket can carry to space.

Rocket Comparison

I wanted to see the napkin math for the potential impact of Aerospikes on possibly both stages if not just the boosters. For powered landings in an atmosphere, done by first and second stages, it would be a useful engine feature!

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    $\begingroup$ This should be left open. I think there is some math that estimates the effect. If so, then this is not primarily opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – Everyday Astronaut Jun 1 '18 at 10:54
  • $\begingroup$ @derwodamaso I agree. I've modified the title a bit, but the question seems very reasonable to me (though I'm no rocket scientist). $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jun 1 '18 at 12:02
  • $\begingroup$ The answer depends heavily on how much heavier the aerospike version of an engine is than the bell nozzle version, I'm afraid. $\endgroup$ – Russell Borogove Jun 1 '18 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, I based the question on the best possible aerospike based on current tech. So I guess we would use the additive manufactured one made out of that special alloy scaled up? For more info/details check this in depth page that's above my pay grade. $\endgroup$ – bob dash Jun 2 '18 at 3:39
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    $\begingroup$ Please don't post comparisons with SLS B2: That rocket is currently pure SF and will most likely never fly. $\endgroup$ – Martin Schröder Jun 2 '18 at 16:15

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