The Hypersonic Airplane Space Tether Orbital Launch (HASTOL) system is a NASA advanced concept for a low-cost, low-fuel, satellite launch system designed to provide an order of magnitude reduction in the cost of transporting people and materials from earth to orbit.
The HASTOL concept would offer low cost and low fuel consumption access to space for satellite launch as well as manned missions. The HASTOL system consists of several elements: an air-breathing subsonic to hypersonic airplane, (NASA has recently tested such vehicles), a tether system which then transports the payload from the intermediate point to orbit; and a grapple system for transferring the payload from the hypersonic vehicle to the tether.
The space tether uses either gravity or earthâ€™s electromagnetic energy as a slingshot to accelerate payloads up to orbital speeds. Momentum-Exchange Tethers allow momentum and energy to be transferred between objects in space, enabling a tether system to toss spacecraft from one orbit to another. Check out space tethers at tethers.com.
The HASTOL concept minimizes, and perhaps even eliminates, the use of rockets for satellite launch, while limiting the design requirements for a reusable air-breathing hypersonic vehicle to Mach 10. The benefits which accrue from the eventual development of this system are a reusable â€œpipelineâ€ from runways near the equator to Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).
Via: NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (which is unfortunately closing at the end of August)
written by Chase, August 11, 2007
written by Char, August 13, 2007
written by random girl, August 16, 2007
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