In this post I would like to discuss some of the key considerations and options governing the carrier plane for my Boomerang TSTO RLV concept. Specifically I’ll be covering considerations relating to safely supporting the Gamma Maneuver, and useful support hardware. I’ll also discuss specific options for the carrier plane role, and their pluses and minuses. I had originally intended to include a lot more of the math and illustrations for this post, but I’ll have to come back and provide those in a later part of this series.
Gamma Maneuver Considerations
As discussed in Part I, one of the key enabling concepts for Boomerang is the use of a Gamma Maneuver, where the rocket engines are ignited while still attached to the carrier airplane, enabling the airplane to pull up into a steep flight-path angle prior to rocket separation. For review, some of the key reasons why the Gamma Maneuver is worth considering even though it is scary include:
Performance: The traditional straight-and-level drop-and-light approaches that have been used for most air launches to-date1 all result in a losing most of the performance benefit from air launching. The 3-5 second delay between separation and ignition results in a significant ...