The SPARTAN is a scramjet powered accellerator that is being developed by the University of Queensland as a reusable second stage for small satellite launch vehicles. The full SPARTAN system consists of 3-stages, namely:
- ALV-3 Reusable boosters
- SPARTAN accellerator
- Rocket powered third stage
The system features maximal reusability (first and second stage) as well as airplane-like operation. The winged second stage has a high lift-to-drag ratio, that enables revolutionary options like energy efficient orbit inclination changes and spiral ascent trajectories.
Concept of Operation
The SPARTAN accellerator is boosted by the ALV first stages to the initial operating velocity of Mach 5 and an altitude of approximately 25 km. After seperation from the boosters, the hydrogen fuelled scramjet accellerates the vehicle to a velocity of aproximately Mach 10 and an altitude of approxiately 40 km.
The third stage is released under high dynamic pressure conditions in order to ensure maximal energy retention. After third stage release the SPARTAN glides back for a conventional landing.
The reference mission is delivery of a 250 kg payload to a 570 km Sun-Synchonous Orbit using two ALV boosters.
The SPARTAN design is based on a classical winged cone vehicle that provides ease of packaging with low drag. The underside of the vehicle is equipped with quad 3D scramjets.
The development of SPARTAN prototypes is dependent on the availability of the ALV-2 test vehicle, since there are currently no low-cost options available to launch the prototypes to the correct initial conditions. As such the initial focus is on the development of the ALV boosters. However, the University of Queensland is performing advanced studies with regards to vehicle design and trajectory optimisation.