Encyclopedia Astronautica
Bomi



boostgli.jpg
Boost-Glide Vehicles
US Boost-glide vehicles of the 1950's: From left, Bomi, Robo single and parallel booster versions, Boeing Dynasoar with Titan 1 and Titan 2 boosters
American manned combat spacecraft. Study 1952. Bell manned skip-glide space bomber project of the 1950's. Predecessor to Dynasoar.

Bell was a pioneer in rocket-powered aircraft, having built the X-1, which was the first to break the sound barrier. In 1950 they hired Walter Dornberger, former commander of Peenemuende. He brought on board Kraft Ehricke. They sought to pick up where development at Peenemuende had left off -- to pursue development in the United States of rocket-powered, high speed aircraft for both military and civilian purposes. An attempt to recruit Eugen Saenger in France in early 1952 was unsuccessful, but the Saenger antipodal bomber became the starting point.

The first designs at Bell featured wedge wings, but as studies continued, it was obvious that the delta wing would be superior for the kind of boost-glide vehicle they had in mind. An unsolicited proposal was made to the Air Force on 17 April 1952. Bell's BOmber MIssile was a two stage vehicle very similar to NASA's fully recoverable shuttle proposals twenty years later. The first stage, with a crew of two, would accelerate the combination for two minutes, then separate and glide back to base. The second stage, with a single pilot, would press on to the target. The basic version of the vehicle, using storable liquid propellants, would reach a maximum speed of Mach 4 at 30 km altitude and glide for 6100 km. Payload would be an 1800 kg nuclear bomb. Common engines burning N2O4/UDMH propellants were proposed for both stages, the first stage having five engines, and the glider three. The booster was to be 37 m long with an 18 m wingspan, and the glider 18 m long with an 11 m wingspan. Gross lift-off mass was to be 360,000 kg,.

In May 1952 Bell received $398,459 for a one-year feasibility study of the design. This defined two variants. The suborbital version used an aluminum structure with a titanium leading edge. This would be capable of a 4800 km range and a sustained Mach 4 glide at 30 km altitude. The orbital version would be 44 m long overall, of all-titanium construction, and equipped with a graphite-epoxy spray-on ablative heat shield. Orbital capability would require the use of Lox/LH2 cryogenic propellants. The upper stage would be 23 m long, have a payload of 34,000 kg. The bomber would be capable of delivering two nuclear-weapons in a linear aft-ejecting bomb bay as was being developed for the A-5 Vigilante. The initial project paper was reviewed by the USAF in April 1953. The review found that Bell had not sufficiently resolved the problems of cooling the aircraft, and that the L/D estimates were too optimistic.

The Air Force was unimpressed with the realistic range of BOMI, but thought the concept would be useful for hypersonic research or reconnaissance. Accordingly on 1 April 1954 Bell was given a small one year $220,000 study contract to design weapons system MX-2276. This was to be a much more capable design, capable of reaching 6.7 km/sec at 80 km altitude and gliding for 22,000 km - two thirds of the way around the world.

Bell had to abandon the recoverable first stage and use staged expendable boosters to reach this speed. By the time the study was completed NACA had determined that a steady glide was preferable to Saenger's aerodynamic skipping principle on grounds of airframe heating.

The studies were extended at Bell through a number of bureaucratic twists and turns during the course of 1955. On 4 January 1955 the USAF issued Systems Requirement SR-12 for the WS-118P high-speed reconnaissance vehicle. Range was to be over 5000 km, altitude over 30 km. Bell provided a proposal on 1 December 1955, calling for a three-phase program using a glider designed to be boosted by a two-stage rocket to Mach 15 at 50 km altitude (Phase I would produce an 8,000 km range vehicle; Phase II a 16,000 km range vehicle; and Phase III an orbital vehicle).

General Operations Requirement GOR-12 of 12 May 1955 incorporated findings of the SR-12 studies and called for development of a new manned high-altitude platform by the third quarter of 1959.

In September of 1955 Bell received a funded contract extending its BOMI work under WS-118P. This was superseded in March 1956 by WS-459L, Brass Bell. Bell kept using the BOMI name in its studies through the subsequent Brass Bell and Robo studies, until they were all superseded by Dynasoar.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • USAF American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. United States Air Force, USA. More...
  • Bell American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. ARC Liquid Propellant Division, Niagara Falls, NY, USA. More...

Bomi Chronology


1952 April 17 - .
  • Bell proposal for Bomi. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: The Bell Aircraft Company offered a proposal to the Wright Air Development Center for a manned bomber-missile, known as Bomi..

1954 April 1 - .
  • Bell contract for an advanced, bomber-reconnaissance weapon system. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: The Air Force and the Bell Aircraft Company arranged a contract for the study of an advanced, bomber-reconnaissance weapon system..

1955 January 4 - .
  • ARDC headquarters issued System Requirement 12. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: ARDC headquarters issued System Requirement 12, which called for studies of a reconnaissance aircraft or missile possessing a range of 3,000 nautical miles and capable of reaching 100,000 feet..

1955 May 12 - .
  • General Operational Requirement 12 for a piloted, high-altitude, reconnaissance weapon system available by 1959. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: Air Force headquarters announced General Operational Requirement 12 for a piloted, high-altitude, reconnaissance weapon system available by 1959..

1955 September 21 - .
  • Bomi contract extended as Special Reconnaissance System 118P. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: The Bomi contract of the Bell Aircraft Company was extended as a study for the Special Reconnaissance System 118P..

1955 December 19 - .
  • US industry to investigate the feasibility of a manned, hypersonic, rocket-powered, bombardment and reconnaissance weapon system. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi. Summary: The Air Force requested the aviation industry to investigate the feasibility of developing a manned, hypersonic, rocket-powered, bombardment and reconnaissance weapon system..

1956 March 1 - .
  • Hywards development plan. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi; Hywards. Summary: The Research and Target Systems Division of ARDC headquarters completed an abbreviated development plan for a glide-rocket, research system, designated Hywards. .

1956 March 20 - .
  • Brass Bell. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi; Brass Bell. Summary: The Air Force and Bell Aircraft Company completed negotiations for a study contract involving Reconnaissance System 459L, Brass Bell..

1956 June 12 - .
  • System Requirement 126 for Robo rocket-bomber. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Bomi; Robo. Summary: ARDC headquarters issued System Requirement 126, outlining the requirements for a rocket-bomber, named Robo..

1957 April 30 - .
  • Development plan encompassing all hypersonic weapon systems. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Hywards; Bomi; Brass Bell; Robo. Summary: Air Force headquarters directed the Air Research and Development Command to formulate a development plan encompassing all hypersonic weapon systems..

1957 October 10 - .
  • Hywards, Brass Bell, and Robo consolidated into Dyna-Soar. - . Nation: USA. Spacecraft: Dynasoar; Hywards; Bomi; Brass Bell; Robo. The launch of Sputnik spurs immediate actions within the government to accelerate manned spacecraft work. ARDC headquarters consolidated Hywards, Brass Bell, and Robo studies into a three-step abbreviated development plan for System 464L, Dyna-Soar. On the same day a NACA Hypersonic Steering Committee met to consider the best configuration for such a vehicle. Langley's Faget pushed non-gliding ballistic capsules, another NACA group felt lifting bodies were the best solution, but the majority of participants favoured the flat-bottomed glider configuration.

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