A giant ekranoplan (ground-effect vehicle) will help rockets reach space
Yuri Grudin, the head of the Beriev Aircraft Company, said today that his organisation has resumed development of the sketch design of Be-2500 'Neptune', an ekranoplan, which development started initially during the last years of existence of the USSR. Be-2500 is expected to have (approximately) a length of 115 meters and a wingspan of 125 meters. Expected take-off weight should be no less than 2500 tons. The payload is expected to be up to thousand tons and the range of flight — up to 16 thousand kilometres.
The developers envisage the ekranoplan to be capable of delivering missiles to the equator, so that they could be launched into space from there. It is cheaper to launch a spacecraft at the equator, because in that case less energy is required for the same payload.