Consolidated Astronautics VX-10
Rolling off the assembly line in 1978, the VX-10 was the successor to Consolidated Astronautics' famous VX-9 rocket transport. While the VX-9 had consistently demonstrated its reliability on numerous flights to the Moon, its solid core nuclear reactor limited the spaceship's interplanetary capabilities to long transfer orbits. The VX-10 solved the problem by utilizing a high-temperature gaseous core reactor to obtain greater performance from the same propellant mass. With its higher specific impulse, the VX-10 proved the perfect vessel for deep space voyages.
The VX-10 shared the same hull design as the earlier VX-9, but featured enlarged fins with beefed-up shock absorbers to improve atmospheric handling and landings on Mars and Venus. The ship's higher performance drive allowed less reaction mass to be carried, which increased the internal hull space available for cargo and passengers. The VX-10 was also designed for indigenous refueling and used water as reaction mass, although the ship's rugged gaseous core engine could use a variety of propellants (i.e., liquid hydrogen, methane, etc.) with minor adjustments. The VX-10's versatility and performance made it ideal for both exploratory and supply missions, and variants of the model were used by both the USAF Space Command and Interplanetary Spacelines.
The VX-10 featured a number of technical innovations that are now standard on most spaceships, such as television cameras in the nose and tail section and a large high-resolution color television monitor in the control room. In many ways, the VX-10 has been to interplanetary travel what the famous Douglas DC-3 aircraft was to air travel. Although now obsolete, dozens of VX-10s are still in use with the Patrol as training vessels and with several small companies. A few have reportedly found their way into private hands.
About the model: The VX-10 model featured on this page was built using an Estes "Moondog" flying model rocket. The Moondog's fins were removed and replaced with new ones cut from leftover pieces of a jet aircraft model. The photo was taken by Free Trader using a Nikon F2 Photomic SLR with Kodak Gold ASA 200 film in natural outdoor light, then the background was replaced with black "outer space" using Corel Photohouse.