The Rocketplane XP spaceplane is taking reservations
for highflying adventurers who want to go where few men have
gone before. The Rocketplane XP is a combination of spacecraft
Rocketplane has engineered the XP so that it utilizes both
jet engines as well as a rocket engine to propel it into suborbital
heights and achieve a safe landing. You can hop in the Rocketplane
XP spaceplane and start your flight on a modified Learjet
25 (plus delta wing and V-tail) from the Oklahoma Spaceport.
You will then fly to about 40,000 feet using the two J-85
So far, the trip is pretty normal as you'll know if you have
ever flown in a plane before. Nothing should feel any different
until the pilot flips a switch and fires the rocket engine,
propelling the pilot and passengers at 3,500 feet per second.
This rocket engine is reusable, meaning that it does not
drop away and need retrieving like that of a traditional spacecraft.
The Rocketdyne RS-88 rocket engine will make the Rocketplane
XP soar to over or 62 miles high where it will enter suborbital
space and low Earth orbit.
This will result in the passengers experiencing a few minutes
of weightlessness and awe-inspiring views. They will be able
to get a glimpse of the Earth that only a few astronauts have
The select few can finally observe the vast place that we
live in with a super eagle eye view, rather than in pictures
or on TV. Once the weightlessness time has elapsed, the Rocketplane
XP will start on its way back to Earth.
The Rocketplane XP's jet fuselage has been specially designed
with a thermal protection system that will safely transfer
heat away from the spaceplane upon reentry. The jet engine
will pick back up at about 30,000 feet and bring the Rocketplane
back to its beginning location in Oklahoma.
The Rocketplane XP will be able to carry a pilot and three
passengers. The first 25 passengers can expect to pay a ticket
price of $250,000 for the initial voyages. Each passenger
thereafter can expect to purchase a ticket for $150,000 to
$160,000. Rocketplane expects that about 200 people a year
could go up in the XP, with the potential for more.
Besides the cost of the ticket, there are other hurdles that
the Rocketplane XP must overcome. Other roadblocks in Rocketplane's
way could be lawyers, insurance agents and the government.
And then, there are the technological hurdles of modifying
the Rocketdyne RS-88 rocket engine from NASA so that it works
well in conjunction with a Learjet.
Right now, the Rocketplane XP is in the trial stage. The
company spent about 10 years doing the background work and
now that they have a working model, they are testing it out.
The first set of space tourist flights are scheduled for early
The Rocketplane XP is more economical and efficient than
any spacecraft that NASA has at it's disposal or most other
developing space tourism companies as well. The XP uses oxygen
from the atmosphere during takeoff instead of stored, compressed
and liquefied oxygen that the traditional rockets use. The
Rocketplane XP rocket engine, however, is fueled by liquid
oxygen (LOX) and kerosene to propel it into low earth orbit.
The XP also has a single body, where the traditional spacecraft
have several pieces, and some are ejected once they have been
utilized. This new spaceplane has everything it needs right
The goal for Rocketplane is to one day make a spaceplane
that will enter orbital space, but that may take many years
of research and test runs. Keep an eye out for this company
and their XP spaceplane for further developments as the countdown
to low earth orbit continues.