The RANGER system aircraft has a propulsion system that consists of a turbine engine, two gimbaled methane rocket engines and a reaction control system. The electrical system consists of both an APU and battery system. This unique configuration allows the RANGER system vehicles to operate in both the atmosphere, trans-atmosphere and the vacuum of space. Flight profiles can vary by combinations of payload, engine use, range requirements and re-entry locations. Sonic booms during re-entry can be significant and and should be avoided over populated areas.
Maximum Altitude Profile
The RANGER vehicle takes off from an airport runway using both jet and rocket engines. The jet engine is throttled back and then shutoff as the Ranger vehicle escapes the Earth atmosphere. The rocket engines continue to burn until the minmum fuel state is reached. The vehicle continues to coast along the flight path until the apogee is reached.
The approximated max apogee of the vehicle is 650,000 feet. The approximated max speed is Mach 7. The vehicle will experience high G-forces during re-entry if a maximum altitude profile is flown. The max G-force at pullout is 8G and the air frame is designed for 9Gs. Total flight time is estimated to 30 minutes.
Maximum Speed, Point-to-Point Profile
The RANGER takes off from an airport runway using both jet and rocket engines. Using about a 60 degree climb angle, the vehicle rapidly gains altitude with the turbines being throttled back and shut off around 70,000 feet. The angle of attack is reduced as the vehicle approaches 100,000 feet and shallows until zero angle of attack at around 150,000 feet. The rocket engines continue burning until minimum fuel state is reached. The vehicle continues to coast and re-enters the atmosphere around mach 7 at a shallow angle. As the atmospheric drag increases the RANGER slows and drops altitude to around 35,000 feet cruising and restarts its turbine engine.
The ability for the RANGER to cruise on its turbine engine allows it to operate much like a frontline fighter plane including in-flight refueling which gives unlimited range.