Illustration of Winged Orbital Vehicle
During the 1950s members of the British Interplantary discussed the concept of a reliable launch vehicle which could send people into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. It was seen as one of the most important initial objectives in astronautics. The concept the members came up with was a multi-stage launcher carrying a small winged glider which served as the orbital vehicle and the return craft. This can be seen sitting at the top of the rocket launcher. The glider showed strong similaries to supersonic aircraft being proposed at the time. The launch design was clearly influence by the V2 rocket from its aerodynamic shape, rear fins and the graphite steering vanes in the exhaust. It also had some novel features, including the engines and fuel tanks were buried in the centre of the propellant tanks and the propellant tank bulk heads acted as structural members carrying loads between one stage and the next. The launch weight would have been in excess of 1,000 tonnes and the single engine in the first stage of the launcher would have to develop a thrust in excess of the F-1 engines of the Saturn V.