Eagle Sarmont is the author of "Opening the High Frontier", a book about how spaceflight can be made affordable to everyone using a combination of ideas that can be affordably built right now with existing technology. Mr. Sarmont is a retired aerospace engineer and former ship's officer. He has helped design and build high performance aircraft, launch vehicles, satellites, and space stations. He has also sailed all around the world on working cargo ships and tankers which has given him a real world perspective on what it would be like to sail around the solar system once affordable to everyone spaceflight has become a reality. "It's about being all we can be. The ideas and concepts in this book are about empowering all of us to follow our dreams by making possible a future of unlimited opportunities and possibilities. It's about ending the limits to growth. Limits that will restrict each and every one of us should we choose to remain a single planet civilization."
SC17: Eagle Sarmont
Opening the High Frontier: The Combination Launch System
The key to interstellar travel, to building a spacefaring civilization, to cities on the Moon and Mars, to asteroid mining, space colonies, and large-scale space tourism, is making Earth to orbit and Earth orbit to escape velocity spaceflight affordable to everyone. The answer to making that happen is called a combination launch system.
A combination launch system is a launch system that consists of multiple launch technologies that work together to boost a payload to orbit and beyond for a small fraction of the cost of current launch vehicles. It works by reducing the amount of velocity that the rocket-powered components of the launch system need to achieve. This reduces the propellant fraction and increases the payload fraction to such a degree that airliner like operations to orbit and beyond using a fully reusable launch system becomes possible.
It starts with either a ground assisted launch or an air-assisted launch. The next component in the system is an X-15 style vehicle that carries a two-stage rocket to somewhere between Mach 6 and Mach 8. This can be either a rocket-powered vehicle of a rocket-ramjet-scramjet powered vehicle. The third component is a vertical landing rocket powered suborbital upper stage. The fourth component is a reusable rocket-powered spacecraft for carrying passengers and cargo to the lower end of a non-rotating skyhook.
The last component in the system is a space station equipped with a 200 to 400-kilometer long non-rotating skyhook.