Wizard is a contingency development program intended to be a companion to the Exocet program focused on development of a manned and unmanned LEO capable reusable SSTO launch system based on largely similar technology and seeking the same kind of economy on ground-support infrastructure but suited to land based launch and landing locations. To this end it would employ a design approach akin to that of the Conic Shuttle to be described later in the Avalon phase section.
Wizard gets its name from its shape, a simple cone structure largely identical to the Phoenix radial Aerospike Test Vehicle proposed in the 1970s. Likewise equipped, the Wizard would be larger (perhaps 20 meters tall) and be capable of launch and landing without any additional support structures, using a hybrid powered fork-lift-like transporter for on-ground mobility. The reusable Wizard would employ either a simple ballistic bottom-forward re-entry profile based on a shallow domed ejectable replaceable ablative shield or a conic side-forward re-entry profile with nose cone and half of its hull surface conditioned for re-rentry, using pneumatically actuated panels at the base of the cone shape for attitude control. A ring of six or more short vertical landing struts just inside the aerospike engine faring ring would be deployed on landing. Though intended specifically for land or platform based launch and landing, the vehicle would be capable of emergency landing in water as well as on unimproved terrain.
As with the SeaStar, four basic configurations would be developed; unmanned/disposable, manned/disposable, unmanned/reusable, manned/reusable –all with essentially the same form-factor but differing levels of sophistication in engineering.
The unmanned form would feature a simple top-mounted cargo pallet under a disposable nose cone for the disposable form and an articulated retracting clamshell nose cone with the reusable form. This configuration would also support automated pressurized cargo transfer using cylindrical cargo stacks in a pressurized cargo module.
The manned form would feature a large single-unit crew capsule with side-mounted hatch and top-mounted docking module under a hinged spherical nose cap. Several simple porthole windows would also be included on the unshielded ‘dorsal’ side. The crew capsule would be designed for whole detachment with an ablative shield at its base for ballistic re-entry, allowing for completely independent re-entry. This would be the normal re-entry mode for the disposable vehicle form and an emergency re-entry mode for the reusable vehicle in the event of on-orbit failure as well as for parachute ejection mid-launch. The manned version would also feature a novel form of deployable solar and radiator array shaped like a Japanese fan that would unfold along the dorsal side in a half-circle shape.
A very advanced version of the Wizard may employ later air-breathing LACE (liquid air cycle engine) versions of the aerospike engine using conformal intake ducts above the engine ring. This would allow for a reduction in stored liquid oxygen mass, providing a greater payload fraction –assuming the added complexity of LACE systems can be incorporated without a great mass cost using future materials.
Though about as simple as the SeaStar in basic design, Wizard may ultimately prove a more difficult system to develop, as suggested by the storeyed histories of its closest analogs in the Phoenix program. SeaStar has the advantage that, for many of its variants, it can employ simpler ballistic re-entry and parachute water landing even with large vehicles. For the reusable Wizard, there is no such option. High precision vertical landing must be mastered at an early stage with these more complex engine systems resulting in reduced mass fraction. But Wizard is ultimately a modest vehicle whose potentially radically reduced ground support infrastructure could afford an economy comparable to the SeaStar concept.
- Mountain Waverider
- UltraLight SSTO
- Marine Mass Launcher - MML
- Bifrost Space Elevator
- Bifrost Support Systems