Friday, August 04, 2006



Rocketplane Plan
click photo for high detail

Who would be crazy enough to try to blast a rocketized Learjet (hardly a vehicle designed for the rigors of spaceflight) at three times the speed of sound out of the atmosphere—with demanding rich people on board? Top engineers recruited from NASA and mainline aerospace firms such as Lockheed Martin, Cessna and even Learjet itself, as it turns out. Sometime in 2008, Rocketplane says, its creation, called the Rocketplane XP, will take off from a runway powered by the Learjet 25’s stock General Electric CJ610 jet engines with three passengers and a pilot on board. It will climb to 25,000 feet, where it will ignite its rocket. A 70-second boost will send the ship coasting out of the atmosphere—66 miles above Earth—for four minutes of weightless flight and a view stretching west to the Rocky Mountains and south to the Gulf of Mexico. The spaceship will reenter the atmosphere in a controlled, if bumpy, glide like the space shuttle and restart the jets at 25,000 feet for a powered landing back home.

Check out the article at Popular Science.

Check out the Rocketplane website.

I'm not even going to ask how much a ticket costs.

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