Science: Space: Launch
Geothermal Space Launch   (+2)  [vote for, against]
Volcanoes & high altitude gliders with a second stage booster

We use the thermal lift above a volcano (Hawaii seems an appropriate place to start from) to achieve altitude & from there use a booster rocket to push the vehicle into orbit.

Additional lift might be provided with a design that fills the wings (etc) with Hydrogen.

We jettison the booster when empty to parachute into the ocean for recovery & reuse.

The wings may either have an adjustable profile (perhaps an articulated carbon fiber frame with hydrogen filled cells) & be fully retracted during the second stage or else jettisoned along with the booster for recovery & reuse.

For reentry we use parachutes to slow it's descent, if we don't use the wing jettison design we can re-extend them in stages as speed decreases until it's able to glide again & maybe add a small air turbine for more control over your final landing point.

I see this more as for the space tourism market than any serious commercial use but I suppose if it is feasible (which I'm really not sure about) it could be scaled up.

Skewed Co. invites you to spend the morning ascending over Hawaii & admiring the view in one of our new gliders & to then boost into low earth orbit to visit our new restaurant opened in partnership with McDonald's on the international space station where you will have lunch & watch the planet spin below you, you'll be back in time for a spot of surfing at Waiamea Bay followed by a beach luau & dinner.

Disclaimer: All waivers & release forms for any injury (up to & including death) must be signed & lodged with our lawyers before embarking, any prior payments made for flights that you're denied embarkation onto for not doing so are non-refundable.

There must be prior art on this but a brief (lazy) search of the bakery & Google hasn't found it so I'm posting this anyway :)
-- Skewed, Mar 21 2018

Hawaii Glider Record Altitude
[Skewed, Mar 21 2018]

David Bigelow-Fatal Altitude Record Flight
[Skewed, Mar 21 2018]

Flying at 90,000 feet
[Skewed, Mar 21 2018]

Perlan 2 Glider Altitude Worldrecord
[Skewed, Mar 21 2018]

Glider Team Sets Altitude Record
BBC 6 September 2017 [Skewed, Mar 22 2018]

Air Launch via Towed Glider https://www.nasa.go...h-towed-glider.html
A proposed (?) cheaper method of inserting satellites into orbit from NASA [Skewed, Mar 22 2018]

Lava lyrics
As hinted-at by an annotation. [Vernon, Mar 23 2018]

There have been some proposals regarding energy production, involving a tall tower heated by the sun, to cause rising air. If that air was not passed through turbines, bur merely allowed to climb, it could be a reasonable substitute for the volcano in this Idea.
-- Vernon, Mar 21 2018

But why [Vern]?

All that does is change a project with no infrastructure & maintenance requirements any airport can't meet into one you have to spend oodles of dollars on giant chimneys for.

One you could relocate anywhere (with a volcano or any other suitable updraft) you want at any time by just flying away in the gliders into one you can't move if you want to.

One with no detrimental effects to peoples homes, views & the environment.. to one where you're dropping bloody big giant chimneys all over the place.
-- Skewed, Mar 22 2018

Aha! I thought so..

A brief study of last quarters publicly filed reports for Verns Amalgamated Industries shows heavy investment in brick manufacture at a time when due to the unexpected extinction of the Wiltshire Whistling Whelk new clay fields have opened leading to a drop in brick prices.

Your desire to foist unwanted bricks on my innocent little project now makes perfect sense, not cool Vern not cool.
-- Skewed, Mar 22 2018

It's not extinct, it just learned some lyrics.
-- pertinax, Mar 22 2018

[Skewed], volcanoes don't exist everywhere. But a tall tower as described in my other anno can be built almost anywhere. Why should only countries that have volcanoes get the easy space launch system you described?

Also, remember this is the HalfBakery. Excessively technical notions are often encouraged here. (Oh, and by the way, most of the tower I described needs to be glass, not brick, to maximize warming of air by sunlight.)
-- Vernon, Mar 22 2018

//Excessively technical notions are often encouraged//

Really can't argue with that :)

I prefer natural updrafts & thermals as I was looking for ways to minimize infrastructure, costs & environmental impact, but that aside..

How big do you think such a chimney would need to be & how far above it might the air column retain some usable integrity do you think, would it even provide noticeably more lift than experienced above a large built up area?

//volcanoes don't exist everywhere//

Yes but they do in Hawaii & for various reasons unrelated to the actual idea (sun, surfing, beaches.. girls in bikinis) I'd prefer to have company HQ there.

//Why should only countries that have volcanoes get the easy space launch system//

This may not work & premature jealousy is so unbecoming in a country.
-- Skewed, Mar 22 2018

//It's not extinct, it just learned some lyrics//

You may have confused it with the Welsh Mumbling Whelk (common throughout East Anglia but strangely enough not Wales) which is indeed known to throw in the odd word.
-- Skewed, Mar 22 2018

Oh, we know why that is.

M'Lud Buchanan has a breeding herd of them on one exceedingly damp and unpleasant corner of the family estates. They aren't Welsh whelks; he produces them as a foodstuff in case any indigent welsh nationals happen by.

Hence the "Welsh" refers to "for the welsh", not "from wales".
-- 8th of 7, Mar 22 2018


<manic cackling/>
-- 8th of 7, Mar 24 2018

why are there no volcano power plants yet? Is it too powerful to harness?
-- pashute, Mar 25 2018

//why are there no volcano power plants yet?//

There are, Geothermal power is widely used in some countries, visit Iceland sometime & have a look at theirs.
-- Skewed, Mar 25 2018

random, halfbakery