Preliminary survey of propulsion using chemical energy stored in the upper atmosphere

Baldwin, Lionel V Blackshear, Perry L
May 1958

Ram-jet cycles that use the chemical energy of dissociated oxygen for propulsion in the ionosphere are presented. After a review of the properties and compositions of the upper atmosphere, the external drag, recombination kinetics, and aerodynamic-heating problems of an orbiting ram jet are analyzed. The study indicates that the recombination ram jet might be useful for sustaining a satellite at an altitude of about 60 miles. Atmospheric composition and recombination-rate coefficients were too uncertain for more definite conclusions. The ram jet is a marginal device even in the optimistic view.

An Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file of the entire report: