Rocketplane For Hawaiian Spaceport?

Would you pay $200,000 for a trip from a Hawaiian spaceport to near space and back in a Rocketplane? What would you pay to travel from Japan to Hawaii - in 45 minutes?

If the plan goes forward, tourists would pay $200,000 for a weeklong package including spaceflight training, resort accommodations and short test flights to simulate weightlessness.

At the vacation's finale, five voyagers would embark on a horizontal takeoff aboard a special rocket plane, climb to 40,000 feet before rockets fire, accelerate to 3,500 mph, coast for a few minutes of weightlessness 62 miles above the Earth, flip over and then return to ground.


(Rocketplane XP spacecraft concept drawing)

The RocketplaneŽ XP Vehicle is a six-seat fighter-sized vehicle fitted with a high performance wing and a T-tail which provide good flight characteristics both subsonically and supersonically. The cabin environment is designed to maintain a comfortable temperature and pressure for the occupants while providing an excellent view of the Earth from space. It is constructed with many of the same systems as a normal jet aircraft, but also includes features required for its flight into space including its rocket engine, reaction control system (RCS), and internal air supply.

The vehicle is powered by both turbojet engines and a rocket engine, enabling it to accelerate to speeds just over 3,500 feet per second (2,386 miles per hour) and reach altitudes in excess of 330,000 feet (100 kilometers) providing the sensation of weightlessness for three to four minutes.

Fans of Robert Heinlein recall the winged rocket shuttle from his 1951 novel Between Planets:

At first the noise of the blast-off bothered him more than the pressure. But the noise dopplered away as they passed the speed of sound while the acceleration grew worse; he blacked out.

He came to as the ship went into free flight, arching in a high parabola over the plains...

[He] listened half-heartedly to the canned description coming out of the loudspeaker of the country over which they were falling. Presently, near Kansas City, the sky turned from black to purple again, the air foils took hold, and the passengers again felt weight as the rocket continued glider fashion on a long, screaming approach to New Chicago.
(Read more about Heinlein's winged rocket shuttle)

Read more about the Rocketplane XP; via Physorg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/23/2009)

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