A group of UK, Ukrainian and German academics and engineers are seeking financing for a suborbital horizontal take-off and landing space tourism vehicle, following 16 months of design work.
The Spacefleet consortium's SF-01 vehicle is a 14m (45.9ft)-long, 14m-span titanium lifting-body design carrying two pilots and eight passengers. The rocket glider has a maximum take-off weight of 50,000kg (110,000lb) and would be launched horizontally via a ramp, or vertically, and glide back to a runway landing.
Four 33,700lb-thrust (150kN) turbopump-driven, regeneratively cooled "vortex combustion" engines would power the vehicle for 125s. Each liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engine has four combustion chambers separated to maximise safety. Acceleration would peak at 2.4g during ascent, with engine cut-off at 140km (87 miles) altitude and a velocity of 2,250m/s (442,000ft/min) producing an apogee of 340km and 6.5min of weightlessness. Thermal loads on re-entry would be higher than with Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. Passenger seat costs are notionally €120,000 ($155,000).
"With funding, a nine-month study could result in construction plans for a prototype engine by the [Ukrainian] University of Dnepropetrovsk. The aerodynamics of the vehicle are to be determined and refined using windtunnel and computational fluid dynamics studies at the University of Hertfordshire," says Spacefleet managing director Ray Wright, a doctor of chemistry and former UK energy industry manager.
The suborbital SF-01 is designed to carry two pilots and eifgt passengers