Cologne-based SART's concept developed from conventional fixed delta wing booster

The German Aerospace Centre's space launcher systems analysis group, SART, has designed a reusable winged rocket that would fly back to its landing site.

For its return journey, the liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen-fuelled booster deploys forward-swept wings that are folded away during its launch to reduce aerodynamic drag.

SART's researchers developed a mechanism that would deploy the wings at its flight apogee of 100km (62 miles), and keep them in a fixed position under re-entry loads of up to 3.5g. "Not to move again in the atmosphere, [the mechanism] has to be very reliable," says Dr Martin Sippel, head of the Cologne-based SART group. "This is the reason for the design choice."

The deployable-wing rocket evolved from a conventional fixed delta wing booster concept. The new rocket design is 820kg (1,800lb) heavier than the delta wing booster because of its longer wing span and the deployment mechanism. But improved aerodynamics mean the new concept requires 600kg less fuel, so the overall weight increase is only 200kg.

It has been developed as a candidate for the European Space Agency's Future Launcher Preparatory Programme, which seeks to develop a partially reusable vehicle by 2020.


Source: Flight International