Son Pham

Document Type

Honors Thesis


The demand for economical and sustainable access to space serves as an impetus for launch vehicle designers to pursue novel methods for designing highly-efficient vehicles. Focusing on the design of the former Lockheed Martin Skunk Works X33/VentureStar project, this Honors Project presents a synthesis architecture utilizing Hypersonic Convergence to produce a space access vehicle design topography that meets the unique requirements of the reusable single-stage-to-orbit lifting-body configuration. Iterating over a range of planform area, Hypersonic Convergence was used to size the X33 and illustrates a solution space based on a selection of feasible slenderness ratio. The synthesis process then identifies the design drivers for capable implementations of minimum weight, cost, and maximum volumetric efficiency. This project ultimately presents an integrated solution space to provide a consistent comparison of MAE 4350 Senior Design’s two-stage-to-orbit Hypernova, Mae 4351’s XS-1 Phantom Express, the single-stage-to-orbit DC-X by a fellow Honors student, and the single-stage-to-orbit X33/VentureStar, all sized for the same mission of delivering a 1,360 kg payload to a lowearth-orbit of 185 km.

Publication Date






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