Air launch is a new trend in commercial space exploration.

Posted by kachalo on 26 ноября, 2021 in phoenix | Short Link


The «air launch» technology is in fact as «ancient» as the classic vertical payload launching scheme. The first developments date back to 1958. Then the Americans tested the world’s first airborne launch vehicle NOTS-EV-1 Pilot. In fact, it was a combat anti-satellite missile, where, of course, only warheads were the «payload».

In the 60s in the USSR, under the leadership of the genius G.E. Lozino-Lozinsky, the development of the Spiral project began, which eventually grew into the MAKS project (a multipurpose aerospace system). According to this project, it was planned to launch into space, using the air launch scheme, both reusable manned spaceplanes and launch vehicles with a payload in the form of satellites. It was for these purposes that the gigantic An-225 Mriya was built, which was supposed to become the first air stage of the system, the launch site for the vehicles. But as you know, all these projects were not destined to be realized. And the designers are not to blame for this.

In post-Soviet Russia, they also tried to create something in this direction. Many options were proposed, using various carrier aircraft — An-124-100VS «Ruslan», Tu-160, Tu-22M, and even M-55 «Geophysics». In the first half of the 10s, the machine-building KB «Fakel» and

In the 90s of the last century, and at the beginning of this, the L-1011 Stargazer air launch system with the Pegasus launch vehicle was tested in the USA. The launch vehicle was suspended under the aircraft fuselage, at a given altitude, the rocket was disconnected and turned on its engines to launch the satellite into orbit. At that time, this system did not receive much commercial development.

All of the above does not mean that air launch technology is not viable. Even just one thing that the creator of the Soviet «Buran» Lozino-Lozinsky was engaged in, says that this is a very working system. This has been proven and demonstrated in modern times, in the United States, by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.


SpaceShipTwo has already proven in tests that the system works and can be profitable as a «attraction» for those who want to be in space for a few minutes, feel weightlessness, and look at Earth from outside the atmosphere. This, as you know, is the space tourism market. It is not so far from a suborbital spaceplane to a full-fledged reusable glider-type spacecraft. And I can assume that if #virgin galactic goes according to plan, then in five years they will aim to create a ship of this class.


The first commercial launch with the ELaNa 20 mission was to take place on December 19, 2020 from Mojave Air and Space Port in California. But for non-technical reasons, it had to be rescheduled. The reasons are those that «fever» the planet since the beginning of this year.

As part of the ELaNa 20 mission, it is planned to launch 9 CubeSat class satellites:

The plans also include the next mission ELaNa 29, within the framework of which the PAN satellite of Cornell University (Ithaca, New York) is to be launched.

As you understand, for #virgin orbit this is an absolutely commercial business, with the development of which, we can talk about good profits, because the launches of all these satellites are financed by customers, including #nasa, universities, private companies … That is, it is potentially very large market.

All of the above options for air launch have one significant drawback — a manned carrier aircraft. And because of this, it is impossible to develop a high speed in order to give the launch vehicle a greater initial acceleration, and also it is impossible to climb to a greater height in the stratosphere in order to reduce the influence of atmospheric pressure. All these issues are solved by the unmanned aircraft carrier #ravn x, which was recently presented by Aevum

Ravn X is # an unmanned launch vehicle designed specifically for launching launch vehicles from the stratosphere using an air launch scheme. The first flight of the Ravn X with a payload on board, more precisely under the side, is planned for 2021. The project has been under development for several years (the idea originated from the founder of the company back in 2005, and the company was founded in 2016), and recently a completely finished flight model was presented. There is already information that the first customer will be the US Department of Defense, with the withdrawal of the device according to the ASLON-45 project for the US Space Force. According to the head of the company, contracts have already been signed for the implementation of

It is assumed that an air launch of a rocket complex capable of launching loads weighing up to 500 kilograms into low-earth orbit will be carried out at an altitude of up to 18 km. The total takeoff weight of the Ravn X is 25 tons.

With the future Ravn X UAV fleet, Aevum will offer the ability to deliver orbital payloads every 180 minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no risk to human life. It is assumed that in the future, the carrier rocket will also be reusable, launching the payload into orbit.

So, before our eyes, the system that was developed during the years of the cosmic greatness of the USSR, but did not manage to reach the logical stage of its application, for the well-known reasons for the collapse of the country, as well as thanks to the incredible greed and stupidity of some of our officials, brings billions of those, who calmly brought the «air start» to commercial use. You can disgrace selfish and short-sighted bureaucrats as much as you like, it’s just that their essence is that, and they won’t be different. It is bad that such decisions are made, hindering the development of the country, and, accordingly, depriving it of advantageous and profitable positions in the international market for space services. Here, by the way, I also remember that at the beginning of #spacex # activities, Ilon Musk negotiated with senior officials in Russia, but ran into the same greed that ruined our Russian air launch project, as mentioned above. Elon benefited from this, and he achieved everything on his own (by and large), with his persistence, persistence in creating and realizing what others initially looked at with a grin.

Summing up, we can conclude that the «air launch» system is becoming, along with the classical scheme of launching a payload into space, commercially attractive and in demand. And again, where Russia could become a leader, time, opportunities, and, as a result, billions of dollars in profits of the new sector of the space services market are absolutely mediocre and criminally missed.

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