Press Release

SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. Receives Multi-Year Award from USAF to Examine Innovative Vehicle Concepts That Utilize Combined-Cycle Propulsion

By SpaceRef Editor
November 10, 2003
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Atlanta, November 11, 2003 – Engineering consulting firm SpaceWorks
Engineering, Inc. (SEI) has been selected by the United States Air Force
Research Lab (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio
to explore new concepts for future military reusable launch vehicles
(RLVs) and spaceplanes that can benefit from AFRL’s ongoing research
into combined-cycle hypersonic propulsion engines. SEI will establish
baseline spaceplane concepts and perform a full life-cycle engineering
analysis. Employing both industry standard and SEI-developed
conceptual-level tools and design optimization methodologies, the design
environment will consider risk and uncertainty of the various subsystems
and missions. This study will result in new parametric designs for
next-generation hypersonic spaceplanes. These concepts will enable
propulsion technologists to quickly see the effect of combined-cycle
engine technologies on the system-level figures of merit.

SEI’s robust, multidisciplinary modeling approach will provide the Air
Force with a more realistic analysis of the impacts of candidate engine
technologies on the cost and operational complexity of the entire
system. Concurrently, innovative vehicle concepts will be developed that
showcase new operational capabilities available to the military from
such hypersonic architectures.

“We are very excited to undertake this effort with the Air Force,” said
Dr. John E. Bradford, Director of Hypersonics at SpaceWorks Engineering,
Inc. (SEI). “This project will allow us to start examining the full
potential of advanced air-breathing propulsion systems. Too often, RLV
studies focus solely on performance metrics for a single payload
delivery mission to low earth orbit. These missions are only one small
area of hypersonic propulsion applicability. This new effort will allow
us to examine a variety of mission scenarios for these concepts.
Additionally, SEI’s unique ability to perform a complete life-cycle
analysis for these architectures will provide not only an understanding
of the performance of these systems in terms of vehicle weight, thrust,
specific impulse, etc., but will characterize their economic viability
towards supporting U.S. Air Force space mission needs, measured in
turnaround time, reliability, recurring cost, development cost, and
surge capability.”

More information can be found at the SEI website:

About SpaceWorks Engineering

SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI) is an engineering consulting and
concept analysis firm. SEI specializes in providing unbiased,
independent assessment of advanced space and infrastructure concepts for
government and commercial clients. SEI also develops engineering
disciplinary analysis tools and software enhancements for collaborative
design frameworks. SEI is privately held. (

Contact: Dr. John E. Bradford

SpaceWorks Engineering, Inc. (SEI)


SpaceRef staff editor.