This study proposes an alternative (i.e., air-assisted) system for launching payloads (micro-satellites) into space using rockets fired from Su-22 or MiG-29 combat aircraft. This paper verifies and evaluates such an air-assisted rocket system used for launching payloads to low Earth orbit (LEO) in many aspects. Mission profile and rocket drop maneuver concepts have been developed. From the adopted model of calculations and simulation results, it follows that in the considered configuration, the aforementioned aircraft will be capable of accomplishing a mission in which a payload of at least 10 kg is launched into low Earth orbit. The analyses were complemented by simulations and wind tunnel tests verifying the impact that space rockets may exert on the aerodynamic and mechanical properties of the carrier aircraft. Results of numerical simulations and wind tunnel tests to which models of the air-assisted rocket launching system were subjected indicate the rocket's impact on the aerodynamic characteristics of the aircraft and its in-flight properties is negligible. Similarly, load and strength tests to which the airframe’s load-bearing structures have been subjected also failed to show any significant changes or deformations caused by the space rockets attached. The kits proposed may be deemed as the so-called Responsive Space Assets for the Polish Armed Forces. Implementation of such a system not only offers independence from countries or commercial companies providing space services but also allows us to master new capabilities in the context of deploying satellite systems for safety and defense purposes.
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