I've been looking at the altitude boosted SSTO designs from the 90s that were designed to be lifted to launch altitude by modified jetliners and thinking about bumblebees and wondering if bioships used for surface-to-orbit cargo transfers could make use of insectile wings to gain altitude before using a liquid-fuel rocket to boost into orbit proper.
What I want to know is would it be metabolically worthwhile for a creature weighing some 15,000 metric tonnes fully laden to use biomechanical insectile wings, with a similar structure to and operated by the same muscle-based mechanism as, those of a bee, wasp, or dragon fly etc... they need not be materially identical in fact I'm reasonably certain they can't be (are such even materially possible on this scale at all?) to gain altitude before engaging a liquid hydrogen-oxygen rocket or would boosting directly from the ground be more efficient?
I believe that bumblebees have the most metabolically efficient wings of any organism but if you know that isn't so then use whatever does as the basis of comparison. Base the energy cost of fuel on electrolysis of water.
I've looked at this question on engine systems for bioships but I want to know whether it is worthwhile to use wings to gain altitude before using a particular engine, in this case a hydrogen-oxygen liquid fuel rocket motor.