QUOTE (ngunn @ Mar 16 2009, 06:44 AM)
Some interesting new technology here - half satellite half airplane! Well maybe mainly satellite, but an interesting concept that could have applications in other atmospheres, making lower orbiting feasible.
Not least for Titan.
I have to say I have a very soft spot for the concept of aerodynamic stabilization for ram-pointing coupled with electric propulsion. The very first conference paper I wrote (which I presented a couple of months after my 19th birthday at the IAF conference in Bangalore..) was about just that...
Aerodynamic attitude stabilization for a small, low-orbiting, manoeuvrable satellite,
(later published in Acta Astronautica, 19, 573-576, 1989)
I since discovered that a few early satellites did exploit aerodynamic stabilization, albeit without
ion thrusters or resistojets..