Back in the 80s, the future of space exploration seemed to lie in Single Stage to Orbit vehicles. Every design team around the world was working on various reusable spaceplanes in order to achieve SSTO and reach the ultimate dream : get a cheap, reliable and common way to access low earth orbit.
Aerospatiale, a french company that will later merged into EADS, came up with an elegant spaceplane concept study. Known as the Space Transportation System of years 2000 (STS-2000), it included a combination of air-breathing and rocket engines and was able to deliver 7 tons in orbit. The SSTO 73 meters long plane weighted 338 tons when taking-off horizontally.
I made a 3D model of the plane and pasted it over a high altitude pics of the earth.
Below is an original artwork of the plan.
- STS-2000 SSTO - Astronautix.com
- DESMA - Défi Aérospatial Etudiant 2011 - http://www.studentaerospacechallenge.eu
- Aerospaceplane technology - GAO - July 1991 - pp39 - http://www.dtic.mil
- Earth background credit = http://space.1337arts.com/