49 votes
Accepted

How did the X-15 control attitude above the Kármán line?

The X-15 had a reaction control system for all three axes using thrusters with hydrogen-peroxide monopropellant. There was an automatic as well as a manual mode. The manual mode used a single three-...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49k
40 votes

How did the X-15 control attitude above the Kármán line?

The X-15 has a reaction control system. In this image, it's item 2, 13 and 28, labeled 'ballistic control system'. It was operated via a joystick. Detail of two of the thrusters:
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
22 votes
Accepted

Might either the Buran or the Space Shuttle fly again, or similar spacecraft be built in the future?

Buran and the Space Shuttle will not fly again. Both projects have ended, and the orbiters have gone to museums (or have been destroyed). Reactivating these programs would be enormously expensive at ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
20 votes

What is the difference between a space plane and a space shuttle?

A plane, or airplane, aeroplane, is: An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a jet engine, propeller, or rocket engine. All ...
user3528438's user avatar
  • 1,641
16 votes

Might either the Buran or the Space Shuttle fly again, or similar spacecraft be built in the future?

The US Shuttle program is shut down and can not be restarted without a-never-gonna-happen expediture of funds. The Orbiters are in museums, the tooling to build External Tanks is gone or repurposed, ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
16 votes

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

In order to achieve "weightlessness", you don't need to achieve a certain speed, you need to achieve a certain acceleration. Earth pulls down at approximately 9.8 m/s^2 which means that any object ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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15 votes
Accepted

Seeking concept art or photo of MAKS on carrier plane

Here you go: and another drawing:
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
15 votes

Could the SpaceShipOne fly again?

There is absolutely no reason to ever even conceive of flying it again. It was retired because it successfully did the sole task it was designed to do. SpaceShipOne was unsafe1, barely met its ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Can you get to orbital speed with an air breathing engine?

No. The fastest airbreathing engines we have are scramjets (supersonic combustion ramjet), i.e. a duct that compresses the air while allowing it to flow at supersonic speeds. The fastest scramjet ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
14 votes

Why are the bottoms of spaceplanes black?

I'm afraid that in this case, at least, the conventional wisdom is correct. For the space shuttle at least: A black version with good high-temperature emittance is used on the lower surface of the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Are the US shuttle and Buran the only space planes to have launched vertically with wings exposed?

Yes. Buran and the shuttle are the only ones which entered orbit, launched with wings exposed, and launched vertically. Other such designs have also been serious considered. Boeing's X-20 got the ...
Schlusstein's user avatar
  • 2,157
12 votes
Accepted

Would a spaceplane be able to softly land on an airless planet?

Yes But... This only works if your craft can generate enough thrust to reduce orbital velocity to zero quickly enough that acceleration due to gravity does not produce a crash landing, since you are ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
11 votes

Can you get to orbital speed with an air breathing engine?

It may be possible, but not with existing technology. The US spent almost 2 billion dollars developing an airbreathing single-stage-to-orbit vehicle in the 1990s. This "National Aerospace Plane" (...
Organic Marble's user avatar
10 votes

Seeking concept art or photo of MAKS on carrier plane

There are quite a few drawings in the first link http://www.buran-energia.com/documentation/documentation-akc-maks-multipurpose.php Related development: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-...
Schlusstein's user avatar
  • 2,157
10 votes
Accepted

Why did the SpaceShipTwo's ascent have to be aborted if the feather system wasn't unlocked in time?

If the feather system failed to unlock they would die on entry, so it had to be done before committing to the space portion of the flight. Since the feather system is critical to a safe re-entry, it ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
9 votes

Could you use a hypersonic space plane to fly into space?

I don't think it's that bad a question that it deserves all the criticism it's gotten. Basic idea, fly really high and as fast as possible, then point towards the Earth and use Earth's gravity to go ...
userLTK's user avatar
  • 1,784
9 votes

What does it take for a craft to perform a flight simulating weightlessness without having to fly a steep parabola/ellipse?

It's not so much a matter of speed but one of altitude: where the atmospheric pressure is low enough that there's no air drag so one can longer be weightless without any air limitation. Basically the ...
BowlOfRed's user avatar
  • 6,882
9 votes

Could the SpaceShipOne fly again?

SpaceShipOne was retired so quickly because it was a prototype. One of the key lessons-learned over the last seventy-plus years was that the waterfall model does not work when applied to creating ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 74.8k
9 votes

What is the difference between a space plane and a space shuttle?

Great question! It's like asking what's the difference between a fruit and an apple--an apple is a specific type of fruit. Similarly, the space shuttle(s) were specific examples of spaceplanes. There ...
Anton Hengst's user avatar
  • 10.7k
8 votes
Accepted

ISRO's space plane on top of of a rocket - how unstable was it?

Just to correct original question in RLV-TD (Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstration) mission the winged body TDV (Technology Demonstration Vehicle) separated at 56 km altitude and proceeded ...
Ohsin's user avatar
  • 1,812
8 votes

Gliding into the atmosphere

You can't just slow it down over many orbits I think the question is suggesting letting a little bit of drag slow the Cessna down until it's at a normal speed before gliding through the atmosphere. ...
Phil H's user avatar
  • 2,061
8 votes
Accepted

How much of a rocket's energy is used to achieve altitude vs horizontal velocity?

Potential energy difference at 100 km altitude is about 1000 kilojoules/kilogram and the kinetic energy of a mass moving orbital velocity at 100 km is about 30,000 kilojoules/kilogram. So it’s ...
HopDavid's user avatar
  • 15.8k
8 votes
Accepted

Does Jonathan McDowell access U.S. military tracking network data? If so, how? Is a security clearance involved? (Can I too?)

I'm assuming the reference is to http://space-track.org, where the US government publishes its information on satellite locations to the world. I just checked, the plane is on the site. So far as I ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
7 votes

Gliding into the atmosphere

First of all, the heat shields aren't there just for the dense atmosphere with high deceleration, the upper atmosphere part of reentry also generates heat. If you had a craft that could fly in the ...
JanKanis's user avatar
  • 541
7 votes

What is the difference between a space plane and a space shuttle?

A spaceplane is any spacecraft which can fly like an airplane or a sailplane while it's in the atmosphere. Every spacecraft that acts like that is a spaceplane. "The Space Shuttle" is the ...
Tanner Swett's user avatar
6 votes

Could you use a hypersonic space plane to fly into space?

Skylon's design is, in fact, for a hypersonic SSTO that is partially air-breathing, much as you describe. It has some important differences, though. The first of these is that it does not use a dive ...
Nathan Tuggy's user avatar
  • 4,566
6 votes

ISRO's space plane on top of of a rocket - how unstable was it?

The fins on the HS9 booster are much larger than what you'd normally see on a rocket with a compact payload under a fairing, which contributes to stability passively, and according to this article, ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
6 votes
Accepted

Has the use of any commercial launch vehicle's engines on an unrelated vehicle ever been seriously considered?

Not just discussion, this has been done multiple times. A non-exhaustive list: Blue Origin's BE-4 will be used on ULA Vulcan as well as Blue Origin's New Glenn. the Kuznetsov NK-33 was used on the ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
5 votes

How many companies are working on creating viable spaceplanes in the near future for human spaceflight(10-20 years)

At this point the only company actively working (at least publicly) on creating a "spaceplane" for human spaceflight is Virgin Galactic (Plane actually made by Scaled Composites). Their SpaceshipTwo ...
Carlos N's user avatar
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