"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:
> Has anyone checked on the latest from the various rocketplane companies?
> Pioneer Rocketplane seemed to be moving along pretty well a while back.
I just checked the site, and they've apparently got their designs to a 'can do' level and are ready to build a test vehicle. It will use turbofan engines to take off from a normal runway, be fueled with LOx by a tanker plane in the air, then use an RD-120 rocket engine to burn kerosene and LOx to reach a suborbital trajectory where it will deploy a liquid fueled upper stage to launch a 2000 lb cargo into orbit for less than $7 million a ride. This means their cargo launch cost will be $3500.00 per pound, which is still too high in my opinion. If the chinese can launch reusables for under $2000 a cargo pound, then they need to work on trimming costs or increasing payload, or both. However, it looks like their system has high reliability, and it is man rated as well, which I consider important.