What's up with the flat noses?
These aircraft should be able to reach 50,000 feet to launch their payload.
I don't have no problem with twin fuselage, already been done... But just one connection between them? If the tails had been twinned, i'd understand...Looks strange and fragile, do you think it flies?
@BeinThayer. The flat noses will likely be fitted with radar antenna and a pointy radome. Many planes would look like that if you removed the radome and radar antenna.
Ralf Biernacki
@BeinThayer: They made a mistake sizing the hangar, and had to cut off the noses to make the plane fit. ;-)
Bob-- Near the equator, the stratosphere starts at 18 km (59,000 ft; 11 mi); at mid latitudes, it starts at 10–13 km (33,000–43,000 ft; 6.2–8.1 mi) and ends at 50 km (160,000 ft; 31 mi) So, yeh- 50,000 ft sounds practical.
guilhen it does look weird- also piloting from both fuselages? I imagine the stresses in that single cross-member will be enormous, specially torsion from turning & turbulence. We shall see. Presumably the experienced engineers have good reason to design the thing this way. The only thing I can think is that a tail-end strut might be hit on release of the rocket?
Bob Stuart
I always wondered why we built such dreadfully inefficient first stage rockets. They are just stronger than available aircraft, and thus cheaper for a few shots. However, a cable system would let several 747s work together on a single load.
As for twin fuselage Burt Rutan designed several aircraft like this. Being that this aircraft was built at Mojave near Scaled Composites (Rutan's company) I would not be a bit surprised if either he or they had some kind of relationship with this company.
Rutan has always been one of my l life heroes. About 18 years ago I helped Toyota deliver an experimental electric car to him at Scaled Composites. I had a wonderful conversation with him and a guided tour of Scaled Composites. What an amazing place run by an aerodynamic genius.
Another benefit of being at Mojave is that the airport is used to store hundreds of airliners either leaving service or waiting to go online. There is a huge "bone yard" and a great place to scrounge up 6 serviceable 747 engines and all the instrumentation, radars and such. It is also recognized as a "Spaceport".
The entire project makes sense to me.
I suspect that the separated tail planes were done to prevent bad things from happening. Joining the tail would certainly make the craft stiffer, but it would also increase the potential for catastrophic stress-risers forming. With a flexible design the controls can be employed to dampen any adverse harmonics. There may even be active (or passive) mass-dampening in a machine that large.