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Concorde x-prize

Could a Concorde be converted to a spaceplane
  [vote for,

Seeing as Concorde is already designed to withstand high temperatures (2300degC I think, but I'm not sure) and is pressurised (can always be reinforced further) and has engines that run at lower levels of oxygen (and could be converted to have oxygen pumped into them from tanks, or conventional rocket engines could be attached somewhere on the wing or fusellage), could it be adapted for use as a space plane. It could take off, climb and accelerate normally, but then would start to climb sharply, and as the normal jet engines began to lose thrust, cut in its rockets (or oxygen squirters) and climb further into orbit. Seeing as the heat sheilding is already there, and it can take off and land fine and accelerate to high speeds, it might be more economically viable than building a whole new spaceplane that will probably look a lot like concorde anyway. + now it has been retired they aren't being used for anything else.
EdZ, Oct 28 2003

Going for the X-Prize today. http://www.iwantarocket.com/x-prize.htm
Very technical site, but great pictures. [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers http://www.scifi.co...sue212/classic.html
A couple of students make a 747 spaceworthy. [spidermother, Jun 07 2006]


       Is pressure measured in Celsius?   

       In any case, I'll watch from the ground.
bristolz, Oct 28 2003

       Oops, sorry, little typo there. Thanks [bristolz]
EdZ, Oct 28 2003

       Doesn't have any heat shielding to take it in and out of near space EdZ. And the cabin is less pressurised than a Jumbo (but no idea whether this is in any way a factor actually). Main issue I'd have though would have been - how do you carry enough rocket fuel on it (there ain't nowhere to hold it currently) where do you put the rocket engines, and how do you strengthen it enough to survive entering near space and back. Apart from that it's a fantastic idea.
goff, Oct 28 2003

       People are complaining that the space shuttles are physically too old to be reliable in space, and the Concordes are even older, so I don't think this idea could ever fly.
DrCurry, Oct 28 2003

       The heat shielding would be in the leading edges, so it would go in & out of the atmosphere nose-first. The fuel would be stored in the fuselage. The cabin could be reinforced/replaced to withstand the pressure. I was wrong, its about 120degC. Guess the heat shielding would need to be upgraded. Althought the concord design is old, the actual aircraft are newer.
EdZ, Oct 28 2003

       OK, maybe a LOT of extra heat shielding will be needed, but at least the simulations of where the hottest zones on the fuselage are still exist. And even with all the additions, it will probably still be cheaper than developing and building a whole new aircraft.
EdZ, Oct 28 2003

       //interesting aside from ex-BA employee// Which meant incidentally, [bp] that in the first test flights of the "production" plane, the lavatory doors flew open at about mach 1.5, as the loo straddled the expansion gap. They fixed it, I believe, in time for the first commercial flights.
Other useless facts: The first concorde test flight pre-dated the first 747 test flight, and was flown by Capt Brian Trubshaw, whom I met. On the first 747 test flight to Boeing management the 747 test pilot was encouraged to show just how solid the plane was by executing a manouvre that would show what a well built plane it was. The production team, however, were as surprised as the management, when he executed a full 0-g roll. //interesting aside from ex-Ba employee//
goff, Nov 03 2003

       As a pilot, I can tell you that pressurization on an aircraft is very different than on a spacecraft. On the 747, the total "leaked" air is equivalent to having the aircraft flying with a window missing. The Concorde is no exception. That's a lot of leaks to fix. The space shuttle has a self-contained atmosphere.   

       The design changes would be daunting and costly. By the time it was retrofitted, you could have designed a spaceship from scratch for less money. I think the SR-71 might be a better candidate. Faster and higher flying than the Concorde.
Klaatu, Nov 03 2003

       Well you know, suborbital flights don't actually go all that fast/need very much heat shielding anyhow. Have you seen one of the X-prize teams ablative heat sheilds or ceramic heat tiles yet? THAT'S RIGHT JEFF, THERE AIN'T NONE! If you could stick a big rocket engne on the back of this thing, and it held together I think it'd work. I'm not sure it WOULD hold together. As Klaatu put it, the SR-71 is a better choice. In fact, it once carried a ramjet powered drone aircraft for use on very deep penetration spy missions. (The drone failed utterly at its mission but it seemed to work anyhow.) If you could get ahold of a drone and an SR-71, and convince the drone to fire up without letting go of the SR-71, maybe you'd get to the altitude we need to win an X-Prize. Maybe it'd shred into lots of little blackbird fragments too. Idunno. Actually, who's to say that it isn't capable of fulfilling the mission requirements right now? It does go -REALLY- high, and with all the photographic equipment it carried I'm sure it could lift the weight of three crewmembers easily.
Madcat, Nov 03 2003

       Might be too late to try. It seems there is a team ready to launch today. <link>
Klaatu, Dec 30 2003

       There's nothing inherently wrong with an air breathing space ship, it's just a matter of practicality. For an orbital ship is it worth carrying those heavy turbojet engines just to achieve the first 1,400 mph of the necessary 17,000 mph you're going to need? Once you leave the atmosphere, remember, they're just dead weight. Just adding the same amount of weight in fuel for the conventional rocket you're going to need anyway would probably be a better bet. Also, a Concord would melt on re-entry without a whole lot of heavy heat shielding added on. For a suborbital flight it could be cool though. Of course, a sub orbital flight is pretty much a glorified roller coaster with a great view and more potential for throwing up at the apogee. But I'd be there buying a ticket in a second, barf bag in hand, if they made it work.
doctorremulac3, May 21 2005

       The SR71 was able to cruise at 80,000ft with occasional trips to 100,000ft, which is approximately the x-prize threshold. I think the big government-assisted corporates could easily achieve the x-prize, the point is to have a private venture. After all, Concorde was government assisted too!
Jim'll Break It, May 24 2005

       Jim the x prize is to achive private space travel, not gov't. If someone bought a concorde & converted it for space travel, then it may qualify.
the great unknown, Jun 06 2006


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