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Cuttlefish Single Stage to Orbit Space Plane
Cuttlefish is a lifting body design, powered by two ducted turbo fans and an Estes solid rocket motor. It is designed to take off like an ordinary aircraft, fly as a normal aircraft to a given height. Cuttlefish then, makes its way into orbit powered by a rocket motor. On its return journey back to Earth, after re-entry it then re-ignites its jet engines and flies back to its base.Cuttlefish, as a model of the space plane, is controlled in two ways. It is flown by a human pilot via remote control while in the jet flight phase and while in range of the radio transmitter. During the rocket phase it is flown by its on-board auto pilot (based on a PICAXE board) with (either non mercury tilt switches or a gyro/accelerometer chip) and an SFR005 ultrasonic range finder to navigate the vehicle back into range. The system will also be capable of landing Cuttlefish unaided.Other aspects of Cuttlefish will be controlled by the PICAXE system including deploying the landing gear and automatically igniting the rocket motor. Cuttlefish's target altitude is a maximum of 2000 feet (the maximum allowed by the CAA).
Possible Cuttlefish airframe variants
The team realised that a smaller 'drone' version of the airframe, with simplified electronics/guidance systems, carrying a cargo of water purifiers, military ration packs, simple emergency shelters, air launched from military cargo aircraft, could carry immediate aid, by air into sites of disaster such as earthquake zones etc. to provide rapid aid to areas that cannot be easily accessed due to the disaster.
Competitions and appearances
2015 entry into Big Bang Near Me Fair
The development of Cuttlefish is listed by prototype, below:
Mk I - VIII Cuttlefish
Various card and paper built designs for lifting bodies. some designs flew with varying success.
Mk IX Cuttlefish
First balsa built version, as a blended wing design including canards. Flew well
Mk X - XIII
Second, larger balsa/polystyrene versions each mark with varying control surfaces and positions. These versions of Cuttlefish are true lifting bodies and do not require stub wings or canards to fly.
First full up weight version with rocket motor mount. Flew moderately well.
Mk XV Cuttlefish (current version)
Design change to a facet style lifting body, First to attempt powered flight using EDF propulsion.
Cuttlefish requires funding to allow further development.
Further marks of Cuttlefish will have:
- A larger, lightweight strengthened balsa/polystyrene fuselage.
- On board PICAXE autopilot.
- Gyro/accelerometer chip
- Ultrasonic height detection.
- EDF/Solid rocket propulsion.
- On board rocket flight ignition and control.
- Automatically deployable landing gear controlled by the ultrasonic system.
- On board Wireless camera.
Estimated cost for these enhancements: