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- Type: SPH
- Style: spaceplane
- Part Count: 52
- Mods: 10
- RLA Stockalike
- Squad (stock)
WARNING: This spaceplane is EXTREMELY outdated and was designed before the jet engines were significantly reworked. I guarantee you this thin CANNOT make it to orbit anymore.
The Phoenix Class SSTO Crew Shuttle is a small, 6 seat SSTO crew shuttle. She may not be very large or have a massive cargo bay, but she’s totally reusable and a delight to fly.
HOW TO FLY THE PHOENIX:
The Phoenix was designed with autopilot-assisted flight in mind, especially on ascent. However, you can still fly her manually, and the craft is extremely responsive and easy to handle if trimmed properly.
Lock the brakes and kill the throttle right away.
Toggle action group 2, then action group 1. This will configure the craft for atmospheric flight. NEVER USE STAGING!
Set your MechJeb Smart A.S.S. to surface mode, and set heading to 90, pitch to 17, and roll to 0. DO NOT ENGAGE IT YET!
Lock standard SAS, toggle the lights, and check your control surfaces. (Toggle your ABORT to cycle the airbrakes.)
Keeping the brakes locked, apply full power.
Once your engine reaches at least 80 kN thrust, release the brakes. DO NOT ROTATE YET!
Upon crossing the first set of hash marks on the runway, you should be going down the runway at more than 30 m/s. Engage the Smart A.S.S. Surface mode you set up earlier.
The Phoenix should rotate nose up and spring from the runway. Retract your gear immediately and climb out. You should be almost a kilometer in the air by the time you cross the departure end of the runway and going over 110 m/s.
Phoenix’s fuel state and distribution upon launch is intended to ease the takeoff loads. However, you’ll have to shift the fuel aft to maintain neutral trim as you climb. Pull from the middle tank first.
Toggle your lights off as you pass through 20 km altitude. Your nearest real life companions at this altitude are U-2 Dragon Ladies and RQ-4 Global Hawks.
As you climb, pay attention to both your time to Apoapsis and your vertical speed. These will tell you when to progress to the next phase of the flight. Once the Time to ApA begins to drop, set up your next pitch hold on Smart A.S.S.: 21 degrees nose up. DO NOT ENGAGE IT YET!
As soon as your Time to ApA reaches 14.0 seconds, engage the new pitch hold on Smart A.S.S. Hold this attitude for now, but set up your next hold: 15 degrees nose up.
TRANSITION TO ROCKET MODE
As you reach 35 km altitude, keep a close eye on your intake airflow and your Turbojet engine. Transition takes place somewhere around 37 km, plus or minus about 250 meters. (I just listen for the
popof flameout.) Hover over the key or button that triggers action group 2.
FLAMEOUT! IMMEDIATELY trigger Action Group 2 and switch to the rockets. As soon as the transition is complete, engage the newest hold on Smart A.S.S.: 15 degrees. As soon as that’s activated, switch Smart A.S.S. to the Orbital Tab, but DO NOT ENGAGE ANY AUTOPILOTS!
As you cross through 45 km, engage the Prograde Autopilot. At this point, the wings aren’t helping you at all. You’re remaining aloft due to your phenomenal speed and altitude.
Watch your ApA. Your target for OMS cutoff is 103-107 km altitude.
Once you hit the target ApA, kill the throttle. Coast until you reach the Apoapsis, then burn to circularize. dV required should be less than 100 m/s, and is usually around 60-70 m/s.
As soon as you arrive in orbit, activate your RCS to help with maneuvers and deploy your solar panels.
When docking, keep in mind that you have a large central rudder. Docking at a 90 degree offset helps with this issue, but a long spar can help provide the standoff space you need.
I recommend a manual docking, with MechJeb providing attitude control. The Docking Autopilot can perform the docking… but it tends to freak out and burn more fuel than a manual docking.
REENTRY AND LANDING
Before attempting reentry, drop to a 72x72 km orbit. This will reduce heating loads on the craft.
Aim about 50-100 km short of the target, and deorbit at least a third of an orbit before the target. This will both prevent you from overshooting your target and reduce heating loads with Deadly Reentry installed.
Use the airbrakes only at the beginning and end of the entry. DO NO USE DURING PEAK HEATING.
I find that using Smart A.S.S. in surface mode with Pitch set to 0 tends to result in the best performance.
Landing speeds are surprisingly low, usually somewhere at or below 30 m/s. I suggest using the Spaceplane Autopilot for final approach and landing, but you can fly it manually if you want. Trim requirements shouldn’t be too bad, and are likely going to be slightly nose up.
Phoenix is Deadly Reentry compliant.
Phoenix is intended for use with STOCK aerodynamics only! NEAR and FAR compatibility is not guaranteed. Use at your own risk!
To arrive in fairly close proximity to your target (100x100 km equatorial orbit assumed), launch when you are between 400 and 500 km from your target as you sit on the runway. If you wind up ahead of your target, climb to a circular 115 km orbit before planning your rendezvous burn. If you’re behind the target, descend to a circular 85 km orbit before planning your rendezvous burn.