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Rocketplane Global

Chuck Lauer starts by informing us that Kistler and Rocketplane have been split off into separate companies. Still want to resurrect Kistler--only two-stage reusable out there.

Bottom line was that markets didn't buy the value proposition that NASA could be a reliable anchor customer.

Drawing contrast between their max gees and Virgin's. Rocketplane is four, Virgin is six. Thinks it will be a significant difference. In terms of market research, early studies had to spend a lot of time educating the customer. Now there's a lot more awareness of various products (runway takeoff and landing single vehicle, versus air drop versus vertical) and it would be useful to update the market research.

Need public/private partnership unless you're a billionaire like Jeff Bezos. They are continuing to partner with Oklahoma, and the action is primarily between the companies and the states, not the federal government. Even Florida is waking up the fact that the entrepreneurial space community is the future.

Marketing strategy is to work with partners all over the world. Going after one third of the tourist market. Expect 80/20 tourism/other (microgravity science and microsatellite), but the latter may be a bigger market than they think. Looking at charter flight model with things like reality teevee shows, sponsorship of contests (currently have one going with Nestle--paying full price for two seats and giving them away). Can see the Kitkat promotion at Another contest in India for a multi-media company with a four-episode show to pick the winner. Winner's sound bite: "I want to see what it's like to pee in space."

They can provide a blank canvas for corporate customers without having to compete with a brand (as they do with Virgin).

Lost a year plus of schedule in 2005/2006 as a result of the focus on COTS. Original plan was to build a couple four-place Learjet version, and then build a bigger version for more throughput. Since then have taken a step back and decided to go directly to the larger vehicle, built from scratch. New vehicle is pure cylinder fuselage, cabin the size of a large SUV 2+2+2 seating, with more revenue per flight but no increase in ops costs. Upgraded to an after-burning turbo jet with higher thrust, shorter takeoff roll, higher air-breathing altitude.

Frank Nuovo designed the interior of the aircraft (former head cellphone designer for Nokia). Everyone sees out the front (even in the rear seats), has their own window, and a personal video display. Will show tail camera view during ascent. Video screen will also be selectable for different angles. May use Google Earth overlay on monitor to know what you're looking at.

[Update at 11:30 AM MST]

I got pulled away from the rest of the Lauer talk, but Clark Lindsey has some good notes, as well as more from the Frontier Astronautics talk.


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Dennis Ray Wingo wrote:

Bottom line was that markets didn't buy the value proposition that NASA could be a reliable anchor customer


In what universe is this not universally known? Still,the bottom line is that they missed their milestones, where given multiple passes, and then still did not cross the line and thus had their money yanked. That is what everyone was demanding of NASA a few years ago and then when it is actually done this way they wail and gnash their teeth at the unfairness of it all?

Sorry, the irony meter here just pegged.

Habitat Hermit wrote:

"Winner's sound bite: "I want to see what it's like to pee in space.""

Lol I'd hate to be his fellow passenger... ;>_>

Bill Osprey wrote:

It's a standard tactic in the space entrepreneurial biz: if you fail, blame NASA.

See also: Beal Aerospace, MirCorp.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on March 29, 2008 9:18 AM.

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