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What commerical markets will need suborbital spaceplanes?

Posted by: Rocket Scientist - Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:42 pm
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What commerical markets will need suborbital spaceplanes? 
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Space Walker
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Post What commerical markets will need suborbital spaceplanes?   Posted on: Fri Oct 26, 2007 7:42 pm
I wanted to break this off into its own thread from the Pioneer XP thread in the BREAKING NEWS forum. There seems to be several suborbital spaceplanes in development.

Spaceship II
Pioneer XP
Benson Dream Chaser
C-21
EADS Astrium
Ascender Spaceplane


I'm sure there are others. Every spaceplane in history either never got past the feasibility study phase or was canceled in its early development and prototype stage. So what markets will these spaceplaces be addressing? I can't image space tourism being that large a market at least in it's early years to need all these spaceplanes. What might happen is that one design will dominate the market and drive out the rest out of business. What do you think?

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 1:04 am
Just like Armadillo is again the only competitor in the X-prize lunar lander challenge because they are the only ones to have actually flown their vehicle before, SS2 will be the only suborbital tourist vehicle for quite a while, because they actually flew SS1 to space. I had high hopes for Rocket plane for a while, especially when they got their $20 million funding, but now they have redesigned the plane and are seeking more funding.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 4:22 am
campbelp2002 wrote:
Just like Armadillo is again the only competitor in the X-prize lunar lander challenge because they are the only ones to have actually flown their vehicle before, SS2 will be the only suborbital tourist vehicle for quite a while, because they actually flew SS1 to space. I had high hopes for Rocket plane for a while, especially when they got their $20 million funding, but now they have redesigned the plane and are seeking more funding.

Do you believe the other companies developing spaceplanes are just wasting their time? I agree that SS2 has a huge head start.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:20 am
One thing I like to throw into the discussion:

SS2 will be operating from the US only at the beginning (with perhaps expanding later to the UK and perhaps to some Gulf Emirates).

So EADS could perhaps try to target European tourists as not everyone would want to travel to the US (travel regulations are one reason I would say)

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:24 am
I believe that it will be hard for anyone even to come close to Scaled. As said, they have actually done some flights and some extensive testing before these flights. For the rest, i don't think anyone got into the process of actually manufacturing something to test. And i don't see anyone doing that anytime soon.

So, from my perspective, Scaled will be the only manufacturer for a long time to come. It's up to the public (read: rich kids) to actually get us to the next step. I just hope that the takeover from Northrop Grumman will not lead them to the ever increasing price tickets.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:43 am
I think to be honest there is an interesting debate with the design of the planes. My interview with RpG showed that they feel thet people will want familiar designs that looks like planes, perhaps for safety reasons? My thoughts however are that if something is different it is recognisable. I bet half the population would know the SS1 design. If you were givena list you would think hm yeah i remember that one in space years ago, must be good. Also Bransson is a big name, if hes doing it then people will go. He may be a bit crazy but he normally gets business ventures done well and at a high level.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:45 am
Everytime a company annouces that it has changed its design I feel dissappointed. While I accept that designs evlove over time and some changes are made for good reasons, its hard to accept the often radical changes that happen before anything has flown.

Take Benson's Dreamchaser, nothing like the original offerring (a HL-20 clone), such a huge difference IMO indicates either the original concept was not thought out clearly enough or was not able to be built. In either way why would I believe that the new design is any more realistic? For me there is a credability gap. It would have been better IMO to build the original and flown something first to show the capability then incorporate the things learnt during those flights into later designs. But the most inportant thing IMO is to fly something or everything is just so much waste paper.

Why has no one flown scaled models on sounding rockets or dropped from light planes in the case of air launch to show proof of concept? Such flights would not have to actually reach space but would give something tangible for people to believe in, relying on ppt studies is not enough.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:49 am
hi,
Once somebody's done something for the first time everybody starts to see opportunities that were not obvious before.
Wasn't there someone at IBM who once said that there would never be more use in the world for more that 3 computers?
I think once SS2 has flown there will be a flood of money to actually build a lot of these other vehicles.
Then someone will want to shove a rocket plane on top of a falcon 9 to really service Bigelow's hotel in space.
And then ...

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 8:53 am
Rob Goldsmith wrote:
I think to be honest there is an interesting debate with the design of the planes. My interview with RpG showed that they feel thet people will want familiar designs that looks like planes, perhaps for safety reasons? My thoughts however are that if something is different it is recognisable. I bet half the population would know the SS1 design. If you were givena list you would think hm yeah i remember that one in space years ago, must be good. Also Bransson is a big name, if hes doing it then people will go. He may be a bit crazy but he normally gets business ventures done well and at a high level.


I think it's utterly silly to they consider that people want familiar designs. It's as nonsensical as it can get. I don't think they think of such a matter when they were starting to build rockets, or planes. Such a factor shouldn't even be in an engineering process. That's a job for the marketing people, if any.

This only shows what the majority of these companies do, and it hasn't much to do with engineering imho. But back to basics, i guess it's all about getting funding. If you can't sell a slick design, can you sell a design that actually will work? Only way the funding will come is to actually spend some money of your own to show that you think it's a good idea to invest in. Off course, you would have to be close to a millionair to develop something like that, but not necessairely. There are more ways to get a good design with just a few dollars instead of spending years and millions of euros/dollars on designing something you wouldn't be able to build.

Imo the suborbital market is allready divided and conquered by Scaled. I do like their approach that they won't be actually in the market to sell the tickets, they only provide the transportation. Which is the best way for the market. Only question will be imo, if that market gets saturated, will they have found enough money and solutions to the problems to get us into orbit for less then a million per person?


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:00 am
looking at the dates is SS2 def the first one to fly passengers?
Also we arent looking at the problem that one might fail! I think it will be a lot slower than people think, and personally i would rather be on top of a rocket! more thunderbird style :)

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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 9:07 am
Rob Goldsmith wrote:
looking at the dates is SS2 def the first one to fly passengers?
Also we arent looking at the problem that one might fail! I think it will be a lot slower than people think, and personally i would rather be on top of a rocket! more thunderbird style :)


Yes, definately. Like said, they are the only ones who have actually flown something, have experience in flying it, building it and designing it. So, any other competitor has to sue them for something, or design, build, test and fly their ships within 2,5 years. And that is not even including getting the funding in the first place. So apart from finding the twin borther of Rutan, Branson and Allen, no way on this planet that that is going to happen.


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Post    Posted on: Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:10 pm
I found this website that list about 15 spaceplane projects around the world. I didn't know there were that many. I guess it comes down to whether we truly have the technology today to design, build, and fly a true spaceplane that don't need boosters or hitch a ride with an aircraft to high altitude.

http://www.spacefuture.com/vehicles/designs.shtml

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:26 am
If you could make a suborbital spaceplane that could take off and land on a conventional airway with little or no boost there would be a small but lucrative market for speed parcel delivery. SS1 is close but not quite there. Also there would be market for microsattelite launches.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:37 am
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
...I just hope that the takeover from Northrop Grumman will not lead them to the ever increasing price tickets.

NG already owned a significant percentage of Scaled before the buyout, they just upped their percentage to 100%. And they're only building the vehicles, not running the airline. I think Branson's smart enough to run it right...At least I hope so! I'm hoping the tickets come down into the $10K range eventually :) I can manage that price!!


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