LAS - Launch Assist System
The companies involved in the space business are making efforts to reduce the launch cost, and their efforts are directed mainly to improve technologies that are decades old.They push the envelope to gain a few more seconds of specific impulse by increasing the chamber pressure, or using slightly better propellants like methane instead of kerosene, or to densify the propellants by cooling them.
1. Why are rocket launches expensive?
2. Why are rocket systems complex?
3. How can we avoid rocket’s complexity?
4. What potential propellant has completely different properties than the current ones?
On top of everything, water as propellant does not lead only to an unprecedentedly cost effective vehicle to build and launch, but it came with two other great features: no pollution and unprecedented safety.
Extensive tests were done at ARCA since July 2018 to develop a water-based rocket engine, and here is how the system works:
It was clear that what matters for boosters is the thrust/weight ratio, while the specific impulse is of secondary importance. As long as the thrust to weight ratio is higher than the first stages’, the booster will fulfill its duty to contribute to the vehicle’s acceleration during ascent, regardless of the booster’s impulse. Also, the higher the acceleration at start, the better the flight performance of the orbital vehicle and LAS was designed with this feature in mind.
It was concluded that LAS can be used both as booster as well as a first stage for an orbital rocket, providing a boost of their payload weight with up to 30%, or make the current rockets use 25% less polluting propellant.
For more details about the Launch Assist System, check the: White Paper.
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