Singer (space transport system)

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Model in the Technik Museum Speyer

Singer is a concept for a space glider by Eugen Singer . It was developed from 1961 to 1974 by Junkers as a study for space gliders.


Similar to the space shuttle, the concept consists of two stages. The lower level is a horizontally launched carrier unit that brings the actual spaceship to a height of 30 km in the stratosphere . The advantage of this concept is that the lower stage can be equipped with an air-breathing drive - like a jet - and therefore does not have to transport the oxidizer required for combustion, unlike a rocket. If it is possible to separate the upper stage at a speed of several 1000 km / h, you not only gain a considerable amount of energy, but also avoid a large part of the otherwise occurring atmospheric friction losses. The upper school itself always has a conventional rocket engine. Another advantage is the possibility of controlling the lower level, which enables a very flexible choice of the target orbit .

The upper stage has a wingspan of 31 m × 12 m. The singer should be able to carry two astronauts . The ferry was not realized, but experienced a brief revival as Singer II.

Singer II

In the singer-II project was planned a European space shuttle. At the end of the 1980s, the West German company Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm proposed the concept of a two-stage reusable carrier. It should take off and land like an airplane .

The second stage should be cut off at a speed of Mach  7 at an altitude of about 30 km. As the lower stage returns to the launch site like an airplane, the upper stage continues to accelerate until it reaches orbit. Optionally, an upper stage for cargo (“CARGUS” = Cargo Upper Stage) or space travel (“HORUS” = Hypersonic Orbital Upper Stage) can be used. In doing so, it could have put about 10 t or a few space travelers into low earth orbit, which would correspond to about a third of the capacity of the space shuttle.

The total take-off mass would have been around 366 t. The lower stage would have had a mass of 156 t when empty and 98 t of hydrogen had been refueled. The empty weight of the manned upper stage would have been around 33 t, with a fuel mass of 74 t (hydrogen and liquid oxygen) and around 5 t payload.

The project was discontinued in 1995 for numerous reasons. The program was originally founded by MBB Raumfahrt for technology research. After the main German industrial sites merged to form Deutsche Aerospace AG and the unexpected initial success of the Singer II, the numerically dominating aviation departments took hold of the program, declared it a future European space transporter and demanded corresponding program funds. At the same time, however, the essential hypersonic research areas were abandoned, the displeasure of the European neighbors, who were still working on Hermes at the time, aroused and finally the available budget, especially with the desire for a manned prototype , incorrectly assessed. Within the Collaborative Research Center , however, the German Research Foundation , from which the topic originally originated, was able to successfully continue work at various universities for several years. On the technical side, the drive of the lower stage was the main problem. However, it was not possible to develop a drive that would have been equally efficient in the entire required speed range, although the first tests across Europe with a “turbo” Ramjet started in 1991. Finally, cost calculations also showed that Sänger II would not have brought any significant savings compared to the Ariane 5, which was also developed at the time .

See also


  • Dietrich E. Koelle, Peter Sacher, Herbert Grallert: German rocket planes and space transporter projects (=  Die deutsche Luftfahrt . Volume 34 ). Bernard & Graefe, Bonn 2007, ISBN 978-3-7637-6126-5 .
  • Konrad Ott , Hans-Dieter Mutschler : Common sense in space travel? The German space glider "Singer" (=  theological-ethical workshop. Context Frankfurt . Band 2 ). Verlag für Interkulturelle Kommunikation, Frankfurt am Main 1992, ISBN 3-88939-191-5 .
  • Herbert Paschen : Technology assessment for the space transport system SÄNGER. In: Technology Assessment Theory and Practice 13, No. 1, 2003, ISSN  1619-7623 , pp. 27–31 ( ).
  • Niklas Reinke: History of the German space policy. Concepts, influencing factors and interdependencies. 1923–2002 (= writings of the research institute of the German Society for Foreign Policy eV, Berlin. International Politics and Economics series. Volume 71). Oldenbourg, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-486-56842-6 (also: Bonn, Univ., Diss., 2003).
  • With almost 400 million marks, Bonn is pushing an ambitious project: the development of the hypersonic aircraft “Singer” . In: Der Spiegel . No. 10 , 1989 ( online ).

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