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Rocketplane CEO Confident in Tech, the Financial Markets….Not So Much


Expressing confidence in the design and technology for his company’s suborbital tourism vehicle, Rocketplane Global CEO Chuck Lauer told participants at Space Access ’09 on Saturday that the biggest problem his company is facing is financial, not technical.

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If You’re Spending $200K on Space Tourism, What’s an Extra $10K for the Dress?


New Scientist has a photo essay about the latest stylings for the fashion conscience millionaut. It includes a photo of a winning design from a fashion competition co-sponsored by Rocketplane Global and Spacefashion.org.

Rocketplane Global Plans Point-to-Point Suborbital Travel in Hawaii


Jeff Foust has an interesting piece in The Space Review about Rocketplane Global’s plan to launch point-to-point suborbital travel between two Hawaiian islands.

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Space Fashion Hits the Big Apple


There is an interesting piece excerpted below about an upcoming space fashion design competition in New York co-sponsored by Rocketplane Global and SpaceFashion.org. The prizes? A contract to design fashion for millionauts and a flight into space. The question: will the winner be able to collect on that?

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UK Space Update: Astronaut Training, Space Station Designs, Microsats and More


Four brief updates on developments in the UK, courtesy of Rocketeers.co.uk….

UK-based Worldview Spaceflight is offering astronaut training in collaboration with Rocketplane Global. “We can offer the full package, from trainee to astronaut, Worldview will take you through every step of your training and your eventual spaceflight in 2010,” Worldview says. Rocketplane, based in Oklahoma, will apparently fly from bases in Europe.

The N-prize is offering a £9,999.99 prize to any group capable launching a satellite between 9.99 and 19.99 grams into orbit for no more than £999.99. The spacecraft must complete at least 9 orbits in order to win the prize, which seems awkwardly named (to American ears, anyway). The “N” stands for “Nanosatellite” or “Negligible Resources,” BTW.

The Space ’08 conference will be held at the Barbican Conference Centre in London on 4th September 2008. The conference “will identify and examine the key rationales” of the British National Space Centre’s Civil Space Strategy 2008-2012.

ESA will conduct the Space Station Design Workshop in collaboration with the Institute of Space Systems of the Universitaet Stuttgart on July 13-18, 2008. The event – held at ESTEC, in Noordwijk, the Netherlands – is open to university students (up to Masters level or equivalent) from ESA member states. The ESA website has more information.

Will Rocketplane Global Soar or Stall?


Investors and would-be space tourists are getting antsy about the prospects of Rocketplane Global, the Oklahoma company that plans to launch suborbital flights in two to three years.

Eliza Strickland has an excellent story at Wired.com about the problems plaguing Rocketplane, which originally hoped to begin flying its business jet-style space plane last year. Some investors and customers are looking at other options.

Strickland believes the company made a mistake by trying to tackle both suborbital tourism while also developing an orbital vehicle under NASA’s COTS program. The space agency ended the $207 million agreement in September after Rocketplane failed to come up with private financing to supplement NASA’s funding.

Rocketplane is also suffering from a lack of billionaire investors, such as Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson and Microsoft’s Paul Allen. Virgin also has suffered years of delay, soaring costs, and a fatal explosion that killed three workers at spaceplane builder Scaled Composites. However, investors are still confident about Branson’s suborbital venture.

Former astronaut John Herrington resigned as Rocketplane’s chief test pilot in December. Earlier in the year, a travel company sued Rocketplane alleging the space firm was focusing on the COTS and had abandoned it space plane.

Rocketplane Global Appoints Paul Metz as New Test Pilot, Promotes Faulkner to CTO


Source: Rocket Global Press Releases

Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Global has announced the appointment of Paul Metz as its new vice president and chief test pilot. The company has also promoted David G. Faulkner to the position of chief technology officer.

As Chief Test Pilot, Metz will be responsible for all aspects of the pilot and passengers interfaces on the Rocketplane XP as well as training of the flight test team that will perform the flight test and licensing of the first XP. He will also work closely with the engineers developing the flight control system to ensure the best possible flying qualities for the vehicle and develop and supervise the training programs for passengers and future XP pilots.

“Paul is one of the most respected and capable test pilots in the country and we are very pleased to have him join the team,” Faulkner said. “His experience is second to none as a test pilot. Paul has been involved in three complete vehicle developments from concept to flight test as Chief Test Pilot for the F-20, the YF-23 and the F-22. In addition, he has had significant involvement during the development and flight testing phases of the F-5, B-2 and F-35. This experience makes Paul invaluable to the Rocketplane XP Program.”

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The Unsung Rocketeers


Cosmic Log’s Alan Boyle examines some of the unsung designers and engineers working with Burt Rutan at Scaled Composites, including Matt Stinemetze, Bob Morgan, Jim Tighe, Pete Siebold, and Luke Colby.

Boyle also rounds up the latest happens at Rocketplane Global, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Space Adventures, Bigelow and other leading commercial space companies.

Rocketplane to focus on space tourism


Rocketplane officials say that NASA’s decision to cut off its funding on the COTS program will actually help the Oklahoma company to focus on a bigger goal: launching tourists into space aboard its XP vehicle.

“We’re looking at a stronger focus on the XP,” said George French, chairman and chief executive officer, told NewsOK.com.