Triton Systems LLC
Address: 17000 El Camino Real
Suite 210A
             Houston, TX 77058

Phone:          (281) 286-368





Why Stellar-J?

                   From Private Equity National Venture Forum presentation,  New York City, February 2004.

19th century California was remote from the East Coast for lack of transcontinental railroads. Today low earth orbit (LEO) remains remote for lack of inexpensive, reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) operating like aircraft. Consequently operators spend vast sums developing satellites for infrequent launch on costly, expendable launch vehicles (ELVs). Business profit margins are narrow or unstable; passenger operations, dismissed as fantasy. Should launch operations become less restrictive, less costly and more frequent, less expensive satellites become replaceable or open to revisit. Other orbital markets open, including passenger launches and space station rendezvous - anyoneıs space station. The key requirement is aircraft-like access to space costing less in development and operation than existing transport so much like 'sailing around the Horn.' Stellar-J, a rocketplane with wings and jet engines for airport horizontal takeoffs and landings constitutes revolutionary change for space launch, yet stands as neither unthinkable nor undoable.

Though those needing new space systems include even NASA, efforts to replace Shuttle founder before launch. Observers assume no one can if NASA canıt. Economists suspect that the aircraft industry (like the automotive) is 'mature', since manufacturers Boeing and Airbus build and sell subsonic commercial jets at razor margin with designs tending to converge. Yet have all inefficiencies been wrung from orbital launch services? Could there be opportunities for start-up ventures as well as dreams?

Loading an ELV with a million pounds of propellant to deliver ten tons to orbit costs $1 million, but expended hardware and preparations increase mission costs 100 fold. Kerosene engines now available could last 30 flights - if reused. This compels a race to field a first stage RLV operable from a conventional runway.

Last spring in Technology Review ('Countdown for Rocket Planes'), David Chandler begins: "Planes powered by cheap reusable rockets could be the future of space transportation. But don't look to NASA: the initiative is coming from a group of small maverick companies...'"Jeff Greason who once managed Pentium chip development at Intel, founded XCOR, a manufacturer of rocket engines and small rocket planes. Chandler writes : "Six years ago [ Greason,] left the booming microchip industry because he saw the space business as being where computers had been in the 1970s: a few companies controlled a market for big, expensive hardware oblivious to the sea change brought about by a few ...[enthusiasts] who, working in garages, used off-the-shelf parts to produce amazing new personal computer systems... "

Since aircraft companies for decades have built commercial jets for subsonic stratospheric flight, customized craft can be built to carry rocket propellant, engines and tanks for higher flight. Contemplating rocket ignition, flight characteristics from liftoff through rocket boost can be analyzed prior to flight; but unlike ballistic rockets, flight tests can proceed incrementally, first loaded with water ballast instead of liquid oxygen, then firing rockets briefly instead of the all or nothing gamble of vertical liftoff from a launch pad. With the envelope explored, a path opens for 2nd stage booster flights to orbit or attached payloads in ballistic ascents that can include space tourists. Ultimately large scale Stellar J's launch cargo or passengers to space stations (747s, Soyuz, and Stellar-J passenger designs: liftoff ~340 tons). Immediate small-scale applications (e.g., 35 ton liftoff) include the underserved micro-satellite market.

 Working since 1997, our designs for Stellar-J already include flight simulations, mission scenarios and timelines. We identified hardware elements and examined performance with reference aerodynamics and mass properties. We have analytical approaches to the technical issues and risks. We have a small core organization with identified subcontractors well positioned to save costs. We want to take Stellar-J through design and development to provide cost competitive and highly capable space transport for satellite delivery and orbital rendezvous.

Stellar-J represents "underground'"aerospace thinking, thought that surfaced dramatically on the 100th anniversary of the Wright Brothersı first flight. Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites team flight-tested a winged, reusable rocketplane competing for the X-Prize. The pilot broke the sound barrier on a climb to 68,000-ft. Rutan expects to reach 100-km incrementally by 2005. There were no more significant observances of 17 Dec. 1903. No other flight demonstrations. No Presidential or NASA policy announcements. That flight was a prelude to a play in which Stellar-J will take up an act.


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