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Space Liner 7 on the ascent (computer-generated illustration)

SpaceLiner is a vision for a suborbital, hypersonic , winged passenger transporter, which has been under investigation at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) since 2005 . The cost-effective transport of larger satellite payloads into orbit was named as a second application of the SpaceLiner.

Draft status from 2013


The DLR developed the following vision for a space shuttle:

The two-stage, vertical take-off configuration of unmanned booster and manned passenger stage ( orbiter ) is designed for 50 passengers and has a total of eleven liquid rocket engines (booster 9, orbiter 2), which are operated with cryogenic oxygen ( LOX ) and hydrogen ( LH2 ). After the engines burn out , the orbiter stage can cover large intercontinental distances in a very short time in gliding flight. Depending on the mission, altitudes of 80 kilometers and Mach numbers over 20 can be reached. Flight times with the SpaceLiner should only be 90 minutes on the Australia-Europe route or no more than 60 minutes on the Europe-California route. With accelerations of a maximum of 2.5 g , the loads on the passengers on these missions are still below those of the space shuttle astronauts. In addition, the concept provides for the passenger cabin to be designed in the form of a separate escape capsule, which can be separated from the vehicle in an emergency and should enable the passengers to return safely to earth.

The DLR considered it possible to commission the first system between 2040 and 2050. The core aspect of the concept is a complete reusability in connection with a series production comparable to aviation, through which an increased cost efficiency compared to today's space transport systems is expected. A central challenge lies in improving the safety and reliability of space components such as B. rocket engines, so that they are suitable for daily use in passenger transport.

Research work

In the early 2010s, the SpaceLiner was in the preliminary design stage. Based on the results of the previous investigations, the design should be advanced in the course of development and with increasing consideration of sub-system development and integration. At the same time, studies were planned with regard to variants with changed requirements and specifications, the results of which could also be incorporated into the entire design process.

SpaceLiner 2 denotes a concept for a first version in which the integration of an active cooling system for thermally highly stressed components in the event of atmospheric re-entry was provided.

The Vision SpaceLiner 4 was intended as a further development of the SpaceLiner 2 with improved aerodynamic and flight mechanical characteristics. In the FAST20XX research project funded by the EU, various technologies required for the SpaceLiner were examined experimentally and numerically in more detail using this configuration.

In 2013, the SpaceLiner 7 concept was being investigated at DLR . As part of a numerical optimization , the use of a single instead of a double delta wing was tested to improve the aerodynamic, thermal and structural-mechanical properties in hypersonic flight . In addition, the design and integration of subsystems such as the passenger cabin, the cryogenic tanks, the fuel delivery system and the heat shield were designed.

In addition, a 100- passenger version of the SpaceLiner 7 for shorter distances under the designation SL7-100 was examined. To fulfill the missions, depending on the required range, a long or a short version of the booster level should be used, which is combined with the 50 or 100 passenger version of the orbiter.

This design work was financed by DLR internal funds as well as within the framework of EU-funded FP7 projects such as FAST20XX and CHATT. In addition to DLR, various partners from the European aerospace sector are or have been involved.

Technical specifications

Parameter Orbiter
(50-passenger version)
(long version)
Length: 65.6 m 82.3 m
Wingspan : 33.0 m 36 m
Height: 12.1 m 8.7 m 21.5 m
Cabin length: 15.3 m
Max. Hull diameter: 6.4 m 8.6 m
Empty mass: 130 t 198 t 328 t
Takeoff mass: 366 t 1467 t 1832 t
Fuel mass: 220 t 1272 t 1502 t
Burnout mass: 151 t 213 t
Max. Altitude: approx. 80 km approx. 75 km
Max. speed: 7 km / s (25,200 km / h) 3.7 km / s (13,300 km / h)
Max Mach number: 24 14th
Max. Range: approx. 18,000 km
Number of engines: 2 9 11


The SpaceLiner concept is designed to use a single type of reusable liquid rocket engine that operates on the full flow cycle with full pre-combustion. The expansion ratio of the nozzles is adapted to the different missions of the booster and orbiter. The high-energy combination of liquid hydrogen with liquid oxygen is intended as fuel.

Parameter Orbiter
(50-passenger version)
(long version)
Mixing ratio: 6.0
Combustion chamber pressure: 16.0 MPa
Mass flow (per engine) : 518 kg / s
Expansion ratio: 59.0 33.0
Specific impulse (vacuum) : 449 s 437 s
Specific impulse (sea level): 363 s 389 s
Thrust per engine (vacuum) : 2268 kN 2206 kN
Thrust per engine (sea level): 1830 kN 1961 kN

Web links

Commons : SpaceLiner  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. M. Sippel, J. Klevanski, J. Steelant: Comparative study on options for high-speed intercontinental passenger transports: air-breathing- vs. rocket-propelled . IAC-05-D2.4.09, October 2005.
  2. Sippel, M., Trivailo, O., Bussler, L., Lipp, S., Kaltenhäuser, S .; Molina, R .: Evolution of the SpaceLiner towards a Reusable TSTO Launcher . IAC-16-D2.4.03, 67th International Astronautical Congress, Guadalajara, Mexico, September 2016.
  3. M. Sippel: Promising roadmap alternative for the Spaceliner . In: Acta Astronautica , Vol. 66, 2010, pp. 1652-1658. doi : 10.1016 / j.actaastro.2010.01.020 .
  4. T. Schwanekamp, ​​C. Bauer, A. Kopp: Development of the SpaceLiner Concept and its Latest Progress (PDF; 2 MB) 4th CSA-IAA Conference on Advanced Space Technology, September 2011. Accessed on May 10, 2013.
  5. ^ A. van Foreest et al .: Transpiration Cooling Using Liquid Water (PDF; 0.03 MB) Journal of Thermodynamics and Heat Transfer, Vol. 23, Number 4. Accessed February 15, 2011.
  6. ^ A. van Foreest: The Progress on the SpaceLiner Design in the Frame of the FAST20XX Program. 16th AIAA / DLR / DGLR International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference, 2009.
  7. T. Schwanekamp, ​​J. Bütünley, M. Sippel: Preliminary Multidisciplinary Design Studies on an Upgraded 100 Passenger SpaceLiner Derivative (PDF; 2 MB) 18th AIAA / 3AF International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference. 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  8. ^ M. Sippel et al .: Technical Maturation of the SpaceLiner Concept . 18th AIAA / 3AF International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference. 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2013.