> In a message dated 1/7/99 11:06:12 PM Central Standard Time, firstname.lastname@example.org
> > i wonder if i could get
> > a mountain top launch site? a high one could get me out of half
> > the atmosphere. the environmental types wouldnt like it tho.
> What about launching from a hi flying aircraft?...or possible a ballon
There is an amateur program using balloons, and one using a peroxide/asphalt hybrid motor was launched from a balloon to set an amateur altitude record just this past year. I beleive the record was set somewhere around 135,000 feet (about 25 miles altitude).
As for aircraft, the Pioneer Rocketplane's project, called the Pathfinder program, will take off from a runway with the kerosene loaded, and will only be fueled with the liquid oxygen at 35,000 feet by a specially equipped tanker plane. The takeoff will be with two turbofan engines recessed in the wing roots of the Pathfinder craft, and once it is fueled with LOx at altitude, it will then fire off its RD-120 engine. This not only optimizes the use of current technologies, with no need for development of a special balloon or ferry aircraft, but it allows the Pathfinder craft to ferry itself from landing site to its next launch site as a normal aircraft. I personally think that of all of the private reusable launcher programs that this is the most likely to succeed, provided sufficient financing.