Tuesday, July 21, 2009
SPACE SHUTTLE REDUX: HOTOL
"HOTOL, for Horizontal Take-Off and Landing, was an unrealised British space shuttle proposal.
Designed as a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) reusable winged launch vehicle, it was to be fitted with a unique air-breathing engine, the RB545, to be developed by Rolls Royce. The engine was technically a liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen design, but by air-breathing as the spacecraft climbed through the lower atmosphere, the amount of propellant needed to be carried onboard, for use in the upper atmosphere and space, was dramatically reduced. Since propellant typically represents the majority of the takeoff weight of a rocket, HOTOL was to be considerably smaller than normal pure-rocket designs, roughly the size of a medium-haul airliner such as the McDonnell Douglas DC-9/MD-80."
This British project was a heart-breaker. Destined never to leave the drawing board, what once looked promising turned out to have almost no cargo capacity and an engine that could probably not be built (the arguments rage on).
Whilst looking for a decent image of HOTOL for my book, and leaving fistfuls of torn-out hair on the ground, I came across uber-talented space artist Emil Petrinic, who created a number of original illustrations for me. This one shows the unrealized HOTOL, all 206 by 90 feet of her. Hey, the shuttle is definitely better looking, but kudos to the artist!
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE, CIRCA 1969
Welcome to the Missions to the Moon book blog. This is a place to re-live the heady days of the Apollo and Soyuz lunar programs- perhaps the crowning achievements of the 20th Century. Many blog entries will include a new downloadable image or artifact from the space age- items rarely seen and not available in print. It's all in the spirit of my newest book, Missions to the Moon- to remember the great adventure of the Golden Age of space exploration, and ponder what wonders await us in space.
For more info on the author, go to www.rodpylebooks.com.