Exocet Alpha - The Foundation of Bifrost
The Exocet Alpha project is a possible starting point of the Bifrost space program and would be a product of the Open Space Project of the Foundation Promotional Effort. It is envisioned as a very sophisticated ‘hobby’ rocketry program with practical goals and may be attempted as part of the community activity of residents in the earliest Seed settlements of the Aquarius phase.
The Exocet Alpha launch vehicle would be an in-water-launched sub-orbital rocket serving as a test bed for marine launch systems and radial aerospike engine technology. It is intended to initiate development of the initial unmanned Low-Reliability cargo launch version of the full scale LEO capable Exocet launch vehicle. The Exocet Alpha would be a modest scale rocket based on predominately carbon fiber composite construction and whose most sophisticated feature would be its radial aerospike engine, precluding the use of aerodynamic stabilizer fins. It would be deployed on the open sea from a modified 20-30 meter solar wingsail catamaran yacht employing a bi-plane sail configuration to allow its center deck structure to be free of obstruction and usable as a support and carrier structure. The vessel would employ photovoltaic-equipped wingsails as both an economical means of propulsion and as an expression of environmental responsibility for the project. The twin hulls of the vessel would feature 1.5-2 deck areas each, organized into workshop and launch command facility in one hull, crew accommodation and pilot station in the other.
This combined carrier and command vessel would transport the Exocet rocket underslung along the center deck frame while, top deck, an umbilical cable winch and additional support equipment would be deployed. The rocket would be carried in reverse position, its engine array covered by a ballast and umbilical pod. The rocket would be loaded by simple tracked dolly on a low profile marina extension the carrier/command vessel would be docked over. When deployed at sea, it would be lowered tail-first into the water, the ballast compartments of the pod flooded to hold the vehicle vertical between the aft ends of the catamaran hulls for final preparation and fuel pressurization. The rocket would then be released, the command/carrier vessel trailing an umbilical cable from the ballast pod as its moves to a position some half to a full kilometer away for launch. After launch, the command/carrier vessel would track the rocket and its remains by directional radio transponder for recovery using cargo nets.
The same carrier/command vessel would also be used for deployment of light spar buoy structures for use as temporary downrange telemetry systems and remote camera tracking stations.
As later versions of the Exocet Alpha series advance toward the size of the full scale Exocet cargo vehicle and begin use of cryogenic fuels, the combined carrier and command yacht will likely be superseded by larger dedicated carrier, fuel, and command vessels operating as a launch team. Likely vehicles for this purpose would be SWATH vessels or Wave Adapted Modular vessels such as the prototype Proteus catamaran.
The Exocet Alpha project would likely be conducted from such locations as Hawaii or the southern California coast -which, of course, are also likely locations of Aquarian Seed settlement development. Although initially intended as a very advanced hobby project and modest in scale, the project would be a powerful catalyst for public attention toward TMP and any communities the project calls home. Other launch system concepts of the early Bifrost program, such as the Wizard, Mountain Waverider, and SkyScraper are also suited to modest scale beginnings and may develop similar alpha projects.