Prior to STS-107 and the founding of the After Columbia Project, I worked on concepts under the still unpublished flag of the International Space Exploration Alliance, or INSEA, which is a fictional alternate space race, sort of a "what the space race should have been" rendition. It's not perfect...I decided to make one concept that flunked detailed analysis in late 2005 into one of INSEA's mistakes...that one is Greystar, the 40,000kg payload edition of Bluestar, it suffers from the rather simple problem of being just plain too big, coming to a gross mass of 3400 tonnes and having a bunch of nettlesome area scale issues that required expensive solutions.
Anyway, this post is about Cyanstar. The After Columbia/Ascent version of Cyanstar has not been detailed, however the INSEA version had some numbers worked up for it in late 2004. The INSEA Cyanstar enters service in 1975, and is basically a classic aluminum constructed supersonic shoulder wing delta aircraft not too unlike the North American XB-70 Valkyrie or the Avro CF-105 Arrow, both of which enter service in the INSEA universe...XB-70 does not last very long because Cyanstar replaces it. By 1975 the CF-105 Mk. 4 as published in the real book "Avro Aircraft and Cold War Aviation" (by Randall L. Whitcomb in 2001, no relation to '50s and '60's supersonic aerodynamicist Richard Whitcomb, BTW) is the highest performing aircraft, with ramjet speeds of up to Mach 4 and the P-13 ICBM interceptor. The Cyanstar therefore has a healthier legacy of successful supersonic aircraft to build upon that the "real" Ascent version does not have.
The Cyanstar consists of two major components...which by quirk of my vocabulary, both wind up being defined as "booster" (i.e. INSEA "booster", a runway operated vehicle designed to begin the ascent of a multistage reusuable or partially reusable system, vs. ACP "booster", a launch vehicle including all of its stages and dunnage.) Reverting then to INSEA terms, the booster is the supersonic aircraft which begins the flight, and the SULV (for Single Use Launch Vehicle; a term originally from Sierra On-Line's 1997 computer game Outpost 2: Divided Destiny.)
The booster is a typical aircraft of the day, constructed primarily of 2219-T6 aluminum and with smatterings of Inconel 718, 6AL-4V titanium and A-286 steel...basically the same stuff that the Shuttle Orbiter is made of, except the Cyanstar booster doesn't need tile or RCC. It uses four afterburning turboramjets in three dimensional intakes that go critical off of wing leading edge dogteeth at Mach 2.5. The booster's maximum speed is Mach 3.5, with the 1981 Cyanstar Mk. 2 booster capable of Mach 4.1 with materials and cooling improvements. Its mass breakdown worked something like this:
Total: 500,000kg (Ramp weight)
Turbine Engine Fuel: 150,000kg
Everything else: 250,000kg (Operational Dry Weight)
The Cyanstar Mk. 2 would be just a shade lighter.
The SULV launched a payload of 4800kg to orbit (in the case of the Union II piloted spacecraft, the ascent guidance was controlled by the spacecraft, and so could weigh 5100kg.) The Cyanstar SULV staged from the Cyanstar at 1000m/s in a considerable climb, and proceeded to orbit using a pressure-fed oxykerosene first stage, a pressure-fed oxykerosene second stage, and a hypergolic (NTO/UDMH+Hydrazine 50%; better known as Aerozine-50) pressure-fed third stage. The choice of pressure-fed was dictated by costs. With turbopumps, Cyanstar would not have beaten its predecessor Kilder's cost/kg to LEO by enough to be worth doing. The choice of three stages was dictated by performance: the Cyanstar bay imposed a rather inflexible and limited facilities environment upon it. Because the SULV was volume limited, these performances did not improve with commercial operators on the Mk. 2, but the Mk. 2 was operated at derated capacity and saved a lot of money on the booster's maintenance and amortization (the Cyanstar was replaced in 1990 by the Bluestar, and so enjoyed a long commercial life.) All of the SULV main structures were made of 2024-T4 and some GFRP (better known as "fiberglass".)
Military operators preferred denser solids and payloads, and could take advantage of the Mk. 2's performance. The US Air Force was the primary military customer of the Cyanstar (only one until 1982, when USAF and RCAF began to allow exporting of a dumbed-down Mk. 1 as an export version; commercial operators were able to lease Cyanstar Mk. 1's prior to this. The Royal Canadian Air Force was a strong presence in the INSEA universe during this period, as the public environment needed to allow INSEA to be successful would not have allowed the cancellation of the CF-105 Arrow and the fracas of the Glassco commission as early as they happened historically. The RCAF did not use the Cyanstar, as its primarily defensive purposes didn't need an aircraft like this.)
The USAF designed an all-solid air launched ICBM to be launched from Cyanstar. This ICBM was lighter, thus allowing more fuel to be carried for airbreathing propulsion, allowing it to remain on airborne alert. From airborne alert, the missile's warhead could be delivered in 40 minutes, which involved 10 minutes of accelleration and climbout, and 30 minutes of missile flight time. Scramble added about 30 minutes. The warhead mass was in the 3000kg ballpark, for a performance similar to that of the Minuteman III (The Cyanstar missile wasn't much smaller.) The Cyanstar remained in military service until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was retired because of its expense, which was unjustifiable in a conventional role (also Cyanstar was not a stealth aircraft and wouldn't have been very good at it.)
All of my INSEA concepts were adjusted to the year 2000 dollar, and so these costs come out as such:
Development: 12 billion from 1968 to 1976
A booster: $450 million
An SULV: $11 million (incl. charter to launch)
A scrub: from $500,000 (no worse than real launch vehicles)
A missile: I don't give a hoot