At the heart, Orbital Bridge is a novel launch system, suitable only for durable goods that are capable of supporting sustained 15Gs of acceleration, 25Gs of momentary stress during maneuvers, and minimal protection from the near vacuum of low Earth orbit. The inputs are only electricity and distilled water, and the exhaust is pure water vapor. The patent for the system is titled: SYSTEMS, METHODS, AND DEVICES FOR LAUNCHING SPACE VEHICLES USING MAGNETIC LEVITATION, LINEAR ACCELERATION, THERMAL ENERGY SCAVENGING, AND WATER STEAM ROCKETS.
Materials are pre-loaded into a standardized cargo module, a cylinder with bay doors 2.6 meters in diameter, 2 meters high, and with a usable cargo volume of 6.8 cubic meters and maximum cargo weight of 2,000 kilos. The cargo module is then loaded into a Space Plane Launch Vehicle (SPLV), which is in turn loaded onto a Magnetic Levitation Launch Sled (MLLS), then both SPLV and MLLS are mounted together onto a Maglev Launch Rail.
The Launch Rail is near sea-level, 40 kilometers long, and perfectly flat and straight, rising on each end and with the center buried under the ground, to account for the curvature of the Earth.
30.1 kilometers are used for accelerating the MLLS and SPLV to hypersonic speeds, for 20 seconds at 15Gs, at which point the SPLV will detach from the MLLS and become a free-flying craft with its own flight control surfaces and propulsion. The final 9.9 kilometers of Launch Rail will be used in combination with parachutes to decelerate the MLLS to it can be recovered for refurbishment and reuse. This initial acceleration by launch rail to the point of SPLV separation from the MLLS is called Stage One.
At point of release, after twenty seconds of Launch Rail travel, the SPLV is traveling at Mach 8.5, or over 6,500 miles per hour. The Launch Rail, to this point, is contained within an enclosed concrete shell, that has air handling stations along the length, which can remove a large portion of the atmosphere within the tunnel. This lowers the energy requirements to get up to launch speed of Mach 8.5. During the last few seconds of Launch Rail travel, the atmospheric pressure will equalize with the exterior and at separation, will be at sea level atmospheric pressure.
When striking the atmosphere, the leading-edge surfaces of the SPLV will be subjected to extreme pressure and heat, some from atmospheric friction, but mostly from hypersonic compression shockwave, which is heating by compressing a gas, in this case, the atmosphere.
To mitigate the heat, the SPLV will have ceramic tiles of much of its body, but the nose and wing potions that receive the highest amount of stress will be clad with a tungsten alloy plating, which are connected via a heat pump mechanism to a boiler chamber, which replaces the combustion chamber of a traditional rocket and is connected directly to the exhaust nozzle. The SPLV uses super-critical water as fuel. Super-critical water, is water steam under high enough pressure that it remains in liquid state.
The SPLV uses 350° C water at high pressure. The heat from the nose and leading edges of the wings is conducted very rapidly to the boiler chamber, which is cooled down when flooded with super-critical water, which explosively transform into high volumes of super-critical steam when reaching the lower pressure of the atmosphere via the rocket nozzle, which continues the acceleration of the craft. Because the boiler is being cooled, the maximum temperature at the connected leading edges is mitigated long enough to make it through the thickest part of the atmosphere without experiencing catastrophic heat failure, and the bonus is that it converts the heat energy into thrust by adding energy to the explosive steam exhaust. It is important to note that the tungsten alloy plating, heat transfer system, and the boiler chamber are pre-heated, so when launched, they are already at operating temperature for initial steam rocket acceleration. The use of a pre-heated heat-sink, heat transfer system, thermal plating, and then utilizing the work performed by the explosive superheating of the already super-critical waters is the basis of Thermal Energy Scavenging, a major part of our system patent.