Re: Exploding SSTOs
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 03:41:02 -0700 (PDT)

Philip Witham [] wrote:
>See my reply to Mark, I am saying that in an equal comparison, the
>simpler vehicle will be more reliable. And I think that an assumption
>that any rocket can be immune to catastrophic failure (in the near term)
>is an obvious mistake.

Ok, let me repeat this one more time and see how simple I can put it to see if you finally get it.

If one of Truax's multi-stage monsters suffers an engine failure, whether or not it's catastrophic, it has two choices. It aborts to orbit or it crashes and burns. That's all it can do, because there's no way you can land a multi-stage monster like that. So if it can't abort to orbit it's going down and there's no point bothering to design it to survive; the range safety officer is going to blow it up anyway. This would, in most cases, also apply to an expendable SSTO.

If a reusable SSTO like Roton loses an engine it can abort to orbit, land, or crash and burn. It can land because it's, like, designed to. It's not a huge, tall, narrow monster rocket that's only designed to fall into an ocean, it's actually supposed to land intact at the end of its flight. Hence the designers can design it to survive such an in-flight failure and land safely with the crew and payload intact.

Is that clear enough?