Bill Holmes - Innovations - Tri-Cone

Concerned with the cost of space transportation, particularly Earth to orbit, I imagined that mass-producing essentially the same structure for the boosters and the orbiter would accomplish that end. I also wanted to improve the poor cross-range performance of lifting bodies. One of the most simple high-volume and low-drag structures is a cone, so during the second summer in Advanced Design, NASA, Edwards, I built my Tri-cone lifting body as one-third of a cone. Along the flat surfaces are delta wings the pivot out on demand.

During launch, three Tri-Cones are bound together.  Two consist entirely of fuel and engines.  They are the boosters. The third, the orbiter has less or no fuel and engines, or it may have only engines fed from the tanks of the boosters.

Immediately after the boosters have exhausted their fuel, they separate from the orbiter and each other, re-enter as a lifting body, and then at a sufficiently low altitude and speed, the wings deploy to increase the lift performance of the vehicle during its glide back to earth, and conventional landing under autonomous or remote control.

The orbitor performs its mission, and then re-enters as above. It may have a human crew and pilot.

The model flew well from the roof of NASA, Edwards. The facility submitted a patent in my name, but I heard nothing about it after the application was submitted.
Tricone Tricone  Tricone

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