Encyclopedia Astronautica

American SSTO VTOVL orbital launch vehicle. Edward Gomersall of NASA's Ames Research Center produced a conservative design for an SSTO in 1970. His vehicle was based on realistic structural technology and used a derivative of the J-2S engine.

Through use of strap-on solids it could be used to launch manned lunar spacecraft, 100 tonne space stations, or passengers with the use of a winged spaceplane upper stage. The paper, seen as a threat to NASA's push for a winged shuttle, was suppressed and Gomersall assigned to other duties.

Status: Design 1970.

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Associated Countries
See also
  • SSTO Category of launch vehicles. Single Stage To Orbit. More...
  • VTOVL The concept of a reusable single-stage-to-orbit Vertical Take-Off Vertical Landing (VTOVL) launch vehicle that would reenter and return to its launch site for turnaround and relaunch was first proposed by Philip Bono in the 1960's. The appealing simplicity of the concept has been offset by the technological risk in developing it. The problem with any single-stage-to-orbit concept is that if the empty weight of the final vehicle has been underestimated it will not be able to deliver any payload to orbit, or even reach orbit. Since weight growth of up to 20% is not unknown in aerospace projects, this is a very real threat which has made both NASA and private investors reluctant to invest the billions of dollars it would take to develop a full-scale flight vehicle. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA Ames American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. Ames, USA. More...

  • Hudson, Gary C, History of the Phoenix VTOL SSTO and Recent Developments in Single-Stage Launch Systems, AAS 91-643, included in Proceedings of 5th ISCOPS, AAS Vol. 77, pp 329-351, November 1991.

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