Boeing patented multiple stage orbital delivery vehicle that uses tractor propulsion to launch the vehicle into space. The multiple stage orbital delivery vehicle can be air launched from an airborne aircraft. Further, only the upper stage of the vehicle includes an engine and avionics allowing the lower stages to be only liquid propellant tanks that may be dumped when empty.
The patented multi-stage launch vehicle employs only a single set of engines resulting in a lower overall part count, higher reliability, and lower cost compared to multiple stages each having separate engines and steering actuation systems.
Publication number: US20160031571
Patent Title: MULTIPLE STAGE TRACTOR PROPULSION VEHICLE
Publication type: Grant
Publication date: 4 Feb 2016
Filing date: 20 Jul 2015
Inventors: JAMES M. BALL; AARON J. KUTZMANN; DAVID A. DEAMER;
Original Assignee: The Boeing Company