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Human Space Launch

Suborbital


2012 – U.S. Suborbital

A new aspect of space infrastructure is the development of suborbital reusable launch vehicles (RLVs). Unlike sounding rockets, these vehicles are designed to land intact and be flown again. Stimulated by the $## million Ansari X PRIZE, won in 2004 by Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipOne vehicle, several companies are actively developing such vehicles to serve space tourism, research, and other applications. The technical approaches of the companies vary, from vehicles that take off and land horizontally on runways to vehicles that launch and land vertically. 

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2008 – U.S. Suborbital

The SpaceShipTwo vehicle, scheduled to begin commercial service by 2010, is the product of The Spaceship Company, a joint venture between Scaled Composites and Virgin Galactic. The design of SpaceShipTwo is similar to that of SpaceShipOne, the only suborbital spacecraft with a demonstrated capacity for carrying humans. A carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo, unveiled in July 2008, is designed to carry SpaceShipTwo to launch altitude and release the spacecraft, which will then ignite rockets to achieve suborbital altitude before returning to the Earth. SpaceShipTwo can accommodate up to six passengers and two pilots. In addition to human suborbital spaceflight, Virgin Galactic has explored the idea of launching suborbital cargoes aboard SpaceShipTwo, such as U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climatology experiments.

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2015 – U.S. Suborbital – Snapshot

NASA’s efforts with its Commercial Crew Program and Space Launch System primarily focus on launching humans into Earth orbit and beyond. However, other organizations and companies are pursuing the goal of reusable suborbital launch vehicles for humans.

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Infrastructure: Space Infrastructure – TSR 2012

Infrastructure: Space Infrastructure - TSR 2012 examines global human spaceflight operations to include the Chinese, and the US space stations, launch vehicles from all spacefaring nations, communications satellite constellations, PNT…

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Infrastructure: Space Infrastructure – TSR 2011

Infrastructure: Space Infrastructure - TSR 2011 examines global human spaceflight operations to include both the Chinese and US space stations, launch vehicles from all spacefaring nations, communications satellite constellations, PNT…

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Infrastructure: Space Infrastructure – TSR 2010

Space Infrastructure - TSR 2010 examines global human spaceflight operations to include both the Chinese and US space stations, launch vehicles from all spacefaring nations, communications satellite constellations, PNT satellites,…

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2009 – U.S. Suborbital – Snapshot

Although no suborbital human-rated vehicles flew in 2009, there was considerable progress by several companies actively developing such vehicles. Among the most visible of these was the formal unveiling in December 2009 of SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital vehicle built by The Spaceship Company, a joint venture of Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites. The event culminated a year of continued development of SpaceShipTwo and its carrier aircraft, WhiteKnightTwo. In May 2009, Virgin Galactic announced the beginning of tests of the rocket motor that will power SpaceShipTwo on its suborbital flights. The hybrid rocket motor uses a solid fuel and liquid nitrous oxide oxidizer developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation, the company that developed the rocket motor for SpaceShipOne.

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