German idea on replacing Space Shuttle

SHARP test vehicle

SHARP test vehicle : illustration credit DLR

German engineering holds a long standard of being some of the best in the world. The German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) claims they have a great idea for a shuttle replacement. The Shefex II (SHarp Edge Flight EXperiment) is sheduled for test flight in early 2011 at Woomera in Australia. The SHARP spacecraft is a unique design that employs and eight sided nose cone shape with “active” rather than “passive”( like the shuttle tiles) cooling. Gas flows around the skin of the craft creating a cooling known as “effusion cooling”. In addition to the new heat shield cooling method the engineers claim that the eight sided shape of the craft creates improved aerodynamic properties so that the shape has the same flight abilities as the shuttle but without wings. The claim also states that this design is much cheaper than shuttle.
SHARP scale model

SHARP scale model- photo credit DLR

Shefex II Plan

Shefex II Plan - illustration credit DLR

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One Response to German idea on replacing Space Shuttle

  1. r2k says:

    One problem is that the shuttle design was flawed so replicating, even with a better rocket, may not work out well. It really does seem that expendable rockets are just cheaper. And certainly it seems that carrying men and payload at the same time is a major mistake.

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