Aztec: A TSTO Hypersonic Vehicle Concept Utilizing TBCC and HEDM Propulsion Technologies

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Kokan, Timothy Salim
Hutchinson, Virgil L., Jr.
Reeves, John Daniel
Olds, John R.
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The Aztec reusable launch vehicle (RLV) concept is a two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) horizontal takeoff, horizontal landing (HTHL) vehicle. The first stage is powered by ten JP- 5 fueled turbine-based combined-cycle (TBCC) engines. The second stage is powered by three high energy density matter (HEDM)/liquid oxygen (LOX) staged-combustion rocket engines. The HEDM fuel is a liquid hydrogen-based propellant with a solid aluminum and methane gel additive. Aztec is designed to deliver 20,000 lbs of payload to a 100 nmi x 100 nmi x 28.5 deg orbit due East out of Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The second stage separates at Mach 8 and continues to the target orbit while the first stage flies back to KSC in ramjet mode. For the above payload and target orbit, the gross lift-off weight (GLOW) is estimated to be 690,000 lbs and the total dry weight for both stages is estimated to be 230,000 lbs. Economic analysis indicates that the Aztec recurring launch costs will be approximately 590 dollars per lb. of payload delivered to the target orbit. The total non-recurring cost including design, development, testing and evaluation (DDT&E), acquisition of the first vehicle, and the construction of launch and processing facilities is expected to be 13.6 B dollars. All cost figures are in FY2004 unless otherwise noted. Details of the Aztec design including external and internal configuration, aerodynamics, mass properties, first and second stage engine performance, ascent and flyback trajectory, aeroheating results and thermal protection system (TPS), vehicle ground operations, vehicle safety and reliability, and a cost and economics assessment are provided.
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