Launch Systems

Happiness is the Earth in your rear view mirror

Advent Launch Services

Advent Suborbital rocket

Advent Launch Services is proposing a three year or 1,500 flight lease deal on its six person passenger vehicle. The vehicle will pull 3 G's on launch and re-entry. It will accelerate to about 5,000 mph and attain a 150 mile plus apogee with a 5 minute Zero G coast. It will glide with a 2000 fpm sink rate for a landing roughly 20 minutes after re-entry.

They use the following financial projections:

Their objective is to use suborbital joy rides as a financial first step to full orbital joyrides using a vehicle with two flyback stages and an orbiter.

Australian Space Research Institute

ASRI engine test

ASRI is currently working on a number of projects, including AUSROC II-2, AUSROC III, AUSROC IV, the CARATEL Experimental Liquid Fuelled Vehicle, a Scramjet Development Program and the AUSTRALIS-1 Micro-satellite.

  • ASRI - Space Technology Education within Australia (Sep 94)

    Black Horse - USAF

    Black Horse, and a possible predecessor named Black Colt is an embryonic USAF program to build an H202/JP5 fueled HTHL SSTO using in flight H202 refueling. This is simple and striaghtforward - the USAF does tanker ops many times a day.


    DCX launch
    The DC-X is an experimental re-usable SSTO testbed built by MacDonald Douglass under the SSRT SDIO (now BMDO) program office on a budget of roughly $60M and a time line of 24 months. It was intended only to show that a spaceship built with commercial design criteria could be reflown quickly with little maintainance and small crews. It has done so. It graphically proved the ease of VTVL operations. It has also proven the resiliency of systems that are designed with wide margins. It has survived launch mishaps that would have destroyed any other rocket in existance. The testbed has only been flown in low altitude ops but it is hoped that it will eventually be flown to 5000m and demonstrate the full pitchover maneuver from nose first entry to tail first landing.

  • SSTO: A Spaceship for the Rest of US (1992) is a good summary of why we should build DCX.
  • A large ftp archive of DCX images and information can be found at the University of Texas.. There is also a DC-X web page at that site.
  • The Space Access Society's Space Access Update bulliten's are another valuable source of information.

    Express Capsule

    The EXPRESS project is a cooperative industrial research program arranged and funded by the German and Japanese governments. It involves the launch, over a period of five years, of three to five unmanned space capsules to carry out on-board scientific research. The South Australian based company, British Aerospace Australia Ltd, will recover the capsule from it's landing site at Woomera.


    EER Systems Corp

    Space Services Inc of America was bought out/merged with EER a few years ago and through this merger the Conestoga orbital vehicle has remainded alive as a concept and the Starfire has been flying sounding flights on a regular basis. Space Services dates back to Gary Hudson's original attempts to build the Percheron rocket - which created a lovely fireball on it's pad at Matagorda Island. The new management of the company included Deke Slayton who was the company MD until his death. SSIA is also the first company to privately fund, build and launch a rocket from the USA, a suborbital flight of a Redstone sized rocket in the early 80's.

  • NASA Selects EER for Orbital, Recovery Experiments

    Lockheed Martin

    Lockheed Martin produces the Atlas (formerly General Dynamcis) and Titan rockets (formerly Martin Marietta).

    Kistler Aerospace

    Kistler K1 rocket

    Kistler Aerospace is building test hardware for a privately financed spacecraft. Test flights are scheduled to begin at White Sands this year. There appears to be serious money behind them, but there is not a lot of information that is public. One very notable tidbit - Kistler Aerospace is headquartered in Kirtland, WA. Teledesic, the Gates/McCaw LEO constellation venture is also headquartered in Kirtland, WA...

  • As of February 1997, Space Systems/Loral was signed up for 10 launches beginning in 1999. The contract is said to be in excess of $100 million, but depends on Kistler's ability to finance and build the K-1 launch vehicle. Kistler has as of this date raised the first $50 million of the required $500M needed for full development. The two-stage K-1 rocket is hoped to be able to place 8,000 pounds into low Earth orbit.
  • The only public information we have available at present is a copy of the Kister aerospace brochure on the K-series launchers, scanned in by Scott Lowther of Part Time Models:

    Lorrey Aerospace

    Lorrey Aerospace is looking at the possibilities in some almost black or nearly ignored technologies such High Density Fuels, Boron-Gel Fuels and Diboride Thermal Protection Systems

    PanAero, Inc

    See The Space Van


    Picture of model of Phoenix S rocket
    The Phoenix design series by GCH Inc is one of the earliest of the modern SSTO concepts - it dates back to the early 80's. One can see a definite familial resemblance between the DC-X and with Gary Hudson's design's.


    Roton rocket
    The ROTON is a proposed design for an RLV SSTO being developed by Gary Hudson's latest venture, HMX Inc. It is an "orbital helicopter": tip-mounted rockets drive a rotor. This gives a very high effective specific impulse due both to aerodynamic thrust augmentation from the rotor and high chamber pressures from centrifugal propellant pumping.


    The Space Cub is a hobbyist kit spaceship meant to fly a suborbital hop that is high enough for astronaut wings but not high enough to require special materials for re-entry. It is as yet a paper design, but it is has serious intent and is not a high budget effort in the worst of cases. It would be about the size and power of a 1950's Redstone - something that should be easily attainable to a hobbyist with 40 years of technological advancement at their disposal.

  • Spacecub Frequenty Asked Questions - 18-Nov-94

    Space Access

    Space Access is a 4th bidder on the X-33 CAN proposal. It is a southern California startup company with engineers drawn from some of the aerospace contractors in the region. Steve Worst is the CEO. Harry A. Scott, the VP, is ex-Rockwell/Space Systems Div. who has worked on hypersonic vehicle designs since the 60's but didn't like NASP for a number of technical & programatic reasons. As a company they have experience more on the engineering side than the business side. We do not know what their financial backing or manufacturing capability might be.

    Space Access submitted a design using an aero-assisted first stage. Space Access are proposing an unmanned air-launched, airbreather to get to Mach 5 and over 100K ft. At this altitude they separate an internally-carried upper stage and glide the airbreather back to base. The upper stage is recovered in some unspecified way. (Information from February 95 presentation at AIAA mini-syposium in Van Nuys, CA)

    Space Services Inc of America

    See EER Systems Corp

    Space Tour

    See The Space Van

    The Space Van

    Third Millennium Aerospace, Inc., Space Tour, and PanAero, Inc propose The Space Van. For those of you familiar with the commercial space field, this is Len Cormier's brainchild.

    The Space Van is designed to carry 16 passengers -- plus a pilot, copilot and flight attendant -- to a 40-degree low Earth Orbit for $3,000,000 per flight in 1996 dollars. highly similar cargo variant is designed to carry 4200 kg. of cargo. Space Tour is closely affiliated with a Nevada corporation named Third Millennium° Aerospace, Inc., which will operate the Space Van -- if venture funds are forthcoming.

    Third Millennium Aerospace, Inc

    See The Space Van

    X-33 - NASA

    The X-33 is a NASA project to development the technology of SSTO. The configuration will be decided when the winner of the competitive bid is selected. Until then, your guess is as good as mine as to what it will look like. Which is as it should be. NASA is buying results this time around

    X-34 - NASA

    The X-34 is a research project by NASA to development the technology base for reusable small boosters.

    Related Technology Developments

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