Sunday, May 13, 2012

British Aerospace - Multi role recovery Capsule - 1987

In the mid eighties, ESA was to choose a project to give Europe a manned access to space. While the French were pushing to develop the Hermes spaceplane further, the British unveiled a much simpler alternative : The multi-role recovery capsule (MRRC).

British Aerospace made a pre-study for a 7 tons capsule that could carry 4 to 6 persons in orbit. The existing Ariane 4 rocket or some US rockets could be used as the launcher after being man-rated. In BAe’s plan, besides providing Europe with a man access to space, the capsule was envisioned to be also used as a lifeboat for the therefore planned US space station. Unfortunately, despite its versatility, the capsule was dropped by the ESA at the end of 1987 in favor of the ambitious Hermes spaceplane. However, several years later, the Hermes spaceplane will also be cancelled.

I found little information about this project. So I build the 3D model from this single artwork depicting the capsule. 

The capsule includes a Command Module with most probably a Common Berthing Mechanism to dock with the space station Freedom and some RCS thrusters on the top part. Windows and hatch are on the side. On the back is a disposable service module with its solar panel array and the communication antenna. 

References :
  1. Marcus Lindroos - Astronautix -
  2. BAe proposes manned capsule - FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL, 24 October 1987 -

Aerospatiale STS-2000

Back in the 80s, the future of space exploration seemed to lie in Single Stage to Orbit vehicles. Every design team around the world was working on various reusable spaceplanes in order to achieve SSTO and reach the ultimate dream : get a cheap, reliable and common way to access low earth orbit.

Aerospatiale, a french company that will later merged into EADS, came up with an elegant spaceplane concept study. Known as the Space Transportation System of years 2000 (STS-2000), it included a combination of air-breathing and rocket engines and was able to deliver 7 tons in orbit. The SSTO 73 meters long plane weighted 338 tons when taking-off horizontally.

I made a 3D model of the plane and pasted it over a high altitude pics of the earth.
Below is an original artwork of the plan.


References :
  1. STS-2000 SSTO -
  2. DESMA - Défi Aérospatial Etudiant 2011 -
  3. Aerospaceplane technology - GAO - July 1991 - pp39 -
  4. Earth background credit =