Rocketplane Global

Chuck Lauer is giving a status on Rocketplane. Showing the latest version of the XP.

Past year has been difficult, and financial situation has not gotten any better — primary challenge in wake of COTS debacle has been financial, not technical.

Five spaceflight participants, single pilot, two plus two plus two seating, each person gets two windows and video monitor. Using kerosene for turnaround and allows jets and rockets to use same fuel, which allows diversion of rocket fuel to jets in emergencies. Using derivative of Atlas sustainer engine. Turbopump engine with peroxide monoprop for pump. Similar to SpaceX engine, which is legacy from FasTrack. Affordable proven technology. Need peroxide anyway for RCS. Has high flight reliability with benign failure modes and shutdown. Abort modes and safe shutdowns are key to passenger safety. Provides automatic shutdown with health monitoring. Only dump LOX in event of shutdown and fuel is transferred from fuselage to wings. Carry light load of jet fuel, but in event of problem, use rocket fuel for jet safety margin. Using J-85 jet engines, still flying, still supported. Afterburning for takeoff performance and to allow higher altitude before lighting rockets which improves overall system performance. Uses electromechanical actuators. All-electric fly-by-wire system. Peroxide RCS provides full three-axis control. 309 seconds Isp which is pretty good without staged combustion.

Multi-function displays for cockpit. Paragon building ECLS for non-suited cabin. Believe strongly that pressure suit detracts from experience. Also there are failure modes where pressure suit actually introduces hazard. Will provide necessary redundancy to persuade FAA that they can safely fly without pressure suits. Experience will be captured on built-in cameras, though passengers can bring their own.

Doing wind-tunnel tests, and have one more run to do before designing flight-control system.

View from Oklahoma provides views from Rockies to Gulf of Mexico. Thinks that clouds detract from flight experience, so scratching head over flying from northern Scotland. Have hired designer who has worked for BMW and others for quality interior and comfort.

Thinks that non-passenger, non-tourist market is significant for them and the entire industry. Ames doing good work, but need to update Futron study to better understand suborbital market. Thinks an update could be done for a hundred thousand or so. Ames is showing that we can do other things with these vehicles. Showing picture of standard rack in vehicle after seats have been pulled out. Should be able to swap out passenger seats for mid-deck lockers to whatever degree necessary to fly combination of experimenters and experiments. Working with media sponsorships, selling rides to others who give them away for marketing purposes. Have seen increase in sales by space-based ad campaign.

Also have applications for external stores for either launching satellites or sensors. Astronomy community interested in observation in bands that don’t get through the atmosphere. High-fidelity astronomy and remote sensing. Can put a lot of equipment on if passengers and seats removed. Working with Hawaii for first FAA-licensed point-to-point corridor, from Kona to Oahu. Hawaii sees this as analogous to digging channels in Honolulul for flying boats in the thirties, to enhance tourism industry. Combining real-life spaceport with virtual reality all the way out into the solar system. Sweden, UAE, Singapore, Hokkaido also interested. Awareness growing internationally, and expects going from first to second generation vehicles with one-hour ocean hops (Mach 10). Growth from suborbital to orbital separate discussion.

His efforts focused totally on suborbital now, and it’s much cheaper than orbital. Thinks they can do suborbital for hundred million. $28M invested so far. Orbital (Kistler) not dead, and restructuring to find the money. Price increases have made them more viable. They were first canary in the coal mine looking for capital when everything was shutting down. Order book that NASA has now is four times what it was in COTS 1, and if they’d had that then, they could have raised the money. $220M per launch for cargo is a nice market, and they think they could be flying the first reusable system to go after that within three years of funding. K1 is not dead, and when you look at Bigelow and non-NASA markets the business case can be made once the money starts flowing in the financial markets again.

6 thoughts on “Rocketplane Global”

  1. How does the Latest version of the XP differ from the
    Latest version of the XP Mitch Clapp showed off
    in 2001?

    After 8 years, $40 Million dollars and much hype
    are they any further along then when Mitch was
    showing those slides at Space Access in 2001?

  2. I wonder where they’re getting their EMAs from? There aren’t that many choices in the class they will likely need.

  3. Vapourplane Kistler. Only way they could get more ridiculous was if they merged, and merge they did.

  4. In answer to Jack Lee’s question, LOTS has changed. Rob Coppinger is supposed to be posting my chart set when he gets back home so you can see the latest design iteration of the spaceplane and the depth of engineering and systems development work that has gone into the XP to date. With any modern aerospace vehicle the craft is built in the CAD / CAE system and validated FIRST and then hardware starts to show up on the shop floor. We have advanced the XP design as far as possible with the resources available and the final design and susbystems fabrication work is ready to go as soon as the next round of funding is in place.

    In answer to cthulhu, the EMA’s are from Moog and are the same systems they supply for military jets. FYI, Moog made a big point of coming to us and pitching to be our EMA supplier in order to add suborbital spaceplanes to their list of applications for Moog systems.

    In answer to Godzilla, (whoever you really are) it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and throw rocks. Show the NewSpace community what YOU can do in raising money and designing and developing space vehicles better than those of us that are already out there doing it. Resorting to childish name-calling is not exactly leading by example.

  5. I may sound skeptical, but, I saw Mitch Clapp
    waving around Powerpoints 10 years ago,
    claiming the XP was going to be the greatest thing
    since sliced bread, and that it could be done for
    a mere $15 Million. Cheerleading in that crowd one
    could usually find Chuck Lauer and George French.

    Now the Price appears to have gone up to 150 Million,
    it’s still Powerpoints and it’s still Chuck Lauer Cheerleading.

    Where I come from we call that going backwards.
    Mitch Clapp assured me in 2000, that the vehicle
    was fully laid out in a 3D CAD system, that the
    conceptual design was outstanding, and that
    Conceptual Design Corp had validated all their numbers.

    A decade spent, Millions Spent in Public Sector funding
    and, negative Progress.

    Has anyone ever made money investing in Rocketplane?

  6. Glad to hear that Moog is supplying the EMAs. There’s nobody who can do it better than they can.

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