16 thoughts on “A New Spaceplane Company”

  1. Good luck with this.

    You gave up your right to be cynical about launcher proposals when you became a Rotary Rocket shill. 🙂

  2. What sort of technology do you demonstrate by launching a “drone sized” craft to 32,000 feet? Doesn’t sound like they’re very far along.

    1. SpaceX started rather modestly with Falcon 1. Starting small is hardly a novelty in the launch business. The last few years, in fact, it has become normative.

      1. Modestly yes, but with a clear path to where they are today. This seems like some sort of a hopelessly small scale toy. That, with the low altitude keeps me from seeing what sort of technology they could demonstrate that could make this seem more realistic.

        Time will tell if this is more than a slick rendering, they’re gong to need to raise a lot of money.

        1. Low alt simple flights aren’t always done for tech dev. Sometimes it’s to train your people and learn about things you know you’re ignorant about or even wonder that you’re ignorant about.

          I see no problem starting simply.

  3. How to make a small fortune in the Aerospace business:

    Start out with a very large fortune.

    Wait a week.

      1. How much has he made from Spaceflight, in the entire history of his company?

        Now, I do wish him well: If we have a chance at all, it’s him and the other non-governmental orgaizations.

        1. SpaceX is solidly profitable and has been for at least half its existence. The company was also valued at north of $30 billion dollars a year or so ago. I suspect that number has continued to climb smartly in the interim. The imminent advents of Starlink and Starship should see to keeping up the momentum.

  4. It looks to be a lot of probable expense and complexity for not much in the way of payload, but it’s also:

    1) A two-stage design instead of one of these chimerical SSTO ideas that keep cropping up.

    2) Looking to be entirely rocket-powered and not – at least as far as I can tell – based in any way on notional scramjets.

    3) Vastly more plausible as a point-to-point terrestrial transport than VG’s notional idea of addressing the same use case with SpaceShipTwo technology.

    Those are the good points.

    On the downside, it might well have to compete with SpaceX’s Starship. That’s going to be a very tough row to hoe anent both sub-orbital terrestrial point-to-point service and orbital missions.

    As with any announced effort that’s not obviously batshit crazy (SpinLaunch to the white courtesy telephone please) I will wish these folks well and await tangible results should any be forthcoming.

  5. I hope as many companies as possible launching things into space. Not a fan of this “SpaceX-Uber-Alles” attitude where any other effort is belittled because they aren’t SpaceX. The starship is also a paper rocket until they demonstrate it. (No, their poorly welded model upper stage doesn’t count.) Their performance claims are either buggy or dependent on attaining extremely small inert mass fractions. (Memories of all the wild claims made about the delta-clipper as an SSTO)

    Everyone starts with paper rockets and builds from there. Hard to do without crazy-money to start with, but we should celebrate efforts to build hardware.

    I don’t want SpaceX to be the only game in town for the same reasons I don’t want Boeing to be the only game in town. Having one mostly-government supported monopoly is a great way to grow an out of touch bureaucracy that goes nowhere. The Russian space program, Aerojet, Boeing – all these places were dynamic and innovative at one time too. To be healthy we need room for many competing organizations to start up at all times so that when one goes rotten we aren’t left with no alternative.

  6. The problem with anything that has a long development time like this is, it’s obsolete before it flies. My gut feeling is, if it isn’t flying by 2025, it never will. Front and center example of the problem is New Shepard. And what good will New Glenn be if Starship is already making crewed lunar flights, and queuing up for Mars?

    1. Along with that is that the vehicle is heavily on the aircraft side of Aero-Space, but in a highly unique configuration that will require extensive aerodynamic development and testing. Most rocket start-ups go for a reasonably conventional missile configuration that avoids the subtle nuances and optimizations required for efficient flight across a wide envelope. The usual way just needs to hold together till the air gets thin enough to ignore, and there aren’t many unknowns in the engineering.

      In this case they really have three vehicles to test, as the combined stages are yet another configuration to debug. I would rate it as a long and complex development effort, more so than the X-15 or lifting body vehicles. But I assume they’re well aware of all that and are more confident in the configuration’s potential than the surety of funding.

      Of course one pitfall of the approach is that the final payload capability tends to be really dependent on the second or third significant figure in the mass, drag, or air-breathing ISP, and those numbers aren’t known with precision until the fat lady sings, or is at least in dress rehearsals.

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