Chicago companies launch plans for business in outer space

Orbital Transports mentioned in the Chicago Tribune: [Hurst] wants Orbital Transports to eventually develop infrastructure in space — cosmic equivalents to earth’s roads, trains and bridges — to support continuing operations in the first 100 to 200 miles of space, called low-earth orbit, and beyond. That could mean mining ice from the lunar south pole or metals from asteroids near earth, … or delivering rocket fuel to spacecraft while they’re in orbit. “The entire goal is to really develop this infrastructure that will make it possible and in fact easier for people to travel and work and operate in space,”…

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Mission Profile for a Buoyant Spacecraft

For the purposes of analyzing the characteristics of buoyant spacecraft, we will develop a conceptual mission profile for a lighter-than-air vehicle designed to launch 10,000 kg of payload to low Earth orbit.  It will dock with a space station or release satellites and then return to Earth. This payload mass was chosen as a representative value for a medium lift launch vehicle capable of transporting crew and cargo to the International Space Station. Consequently the target orbit is at an altitude between 410km and 420km, included to 51.65 degrees, and an average velocity of 7.66 km/s. We assume the buoyant…

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Could Buoyant Spacecraft replace rockets for ascent to orbit?

The fundamental kinematic characteristic of orbiting spacecraft is high-velocity ballistic trajectory, which can only be achieved at very high altitude where drag forces drop to near zero. Thus, the problem of launch to orbit can be decomposed into two separate issues: altitude and velocity. Rockets solve this problem all at once, using reaction force to accelerate very rapidly to high-altitude ballistic flight. Rockets must accelerate at high levels compared to gravity. Such rapid acceleration requires the rapid release of enormous amounts of energy, which is inherently dangerous. In addition, rockets are highly complex vehicles, prone to failure, and expensive to…

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