TL7+ Conventional Orbital Lighter (Lifter and Spaceplane) "Branson"

Branson class space planes are cheap reusable two part orbital lighters that can take off and land at a normal landing strip anywhere in the world. It can easily make the return journey to and from a low-earth-orbit space station once for every two orbits or every 180 minutes.

The lifter craft and the orbiter craft are both capable of independent operation and flight. The orbiter rides underneath the lifter until separation above the atmosphere. Both use standard chemical rocket fuel. The lifter also has a large jet engine.

Using Jet engines the lifter takes off and clears local population centres before going supersonic and accelerating to maximum air speed in an easterly direction. It then ignites its rocket drive and boosts towards orbit until it runs out of fuel. At this point the orbiter detaches and engages its rockets and completes the climb into orbit. The lifter drops back into atmosphere and flies back to its base using its jet engines where it refuels and picks up the second orbiter.

Having docked and exchanged passengers the orbiter re-enters atmosphere and then makes a slow glide descent back to Earth. It lands on its airstrip a couple of hours after it took off. The Lifter cycles every 180 minutes and each orbiter every 360 minutes.

To take advantage of the Earth's spin they typically take off from airports close to the equator.

Note these craft are "low tech" TL7 designs, they just bring together technology that is already available.

Branson Lifter "Big Richard":




dST/dHP 50, Hnd/SR 3/6, HT 12, Move Flight 2G/3500 mph/0.97 mps, Move Boost 3G/1.08 mps, LWt 300, Load 0.3, SM +7, Occ 3 SV, dDR 3, Cost M$ 9.8., TL7, Streamlined, Winged, Length 40 yards

DeltaV 2.05 mps

Branson Orbiters "Little One" and "Little Two":




dST/dHP 30, Hnd/SR 4/5, HT 12, Move Boost 3G/4.05 mps, LWt 100, Load 1.4, SM +6, Occ 14 SV, dDR 2, Cost M$ 1.46, TL7, Streamlined, Winged, Length 30 yards

DeltaV 4.05 mps - 15 HO Fuel Tanks 15*0.15*1.8 (15 tank adjustment)

Combined Effective Delta-V = 2.05 + 4.05 = 6.1 mps

Advance Return Ticket price = $40000

Transhuman Space Index