A revolution in spaceflight is likely soon, leading to everyday access to orbit and large-scale space tourism within fifteen years. Costly launch vehicles based on ballistic missiles are likely to be replaced by spaceplanes, using technology that exists today. A spaceplane prototype could be built within five years and, with a further ten years of detailed development, the design could approach airliner maturity. The resulting mature spaceplane would reduce the cost of sending people into space some one thousand times to around $20,000 per seat.
In the 1960s, spaceplanes were widely considered by most large aircraft companies to be the logical next step in space transportation, and the X-15 research aeroplane was demonstrating much of the required technology. Development has, in effect, been suppressed by entrenched thinking and short-term vested interests. However, the present policies of monopolistic large government space agencies are rapidly becoming untenable, and support for radical change is approaching critical mass.
The book examines these issues and shows why space tourism is likely soon to become the single largest business in space, and how astronomy and environmental science will be transformed by low-cost access making affordable instruments orders of magnitude larger than those today.
“Spaceplane development has, in effect, been suppressed by entrenched thinking and short-term vested interests. But the present monopoly of large government space agencies is becoming unsupportable, and the market that understands the very real opportunities for space travel will be reaching critical mass in the near future.
This book examines these issues and shows why space tourism will soon become the single largest business in space, and how astronomy and environmental science will be transformed by low-cost access making possible instruments vastly larger than those today.
The future development of safe and easy reusable space-planes has been a holy grail for those who wish to see access to space to become safe, reliable, indeed routine approximating to what we expect with air travel.
In this fascinating book the author, founder of Bristol Spaceplanes, argues the case clearly and very effectively – but unfortunately it is not me that has to be persuaded and one can hope that this book will help to dislodge entrenched thinking where it matters.
Recommended, indeed essential, reading.”
Richard Taylor, Spaceflight Magazine 2003
Space Future, August 2003