Encyclopedia Astronautica
Aurora X-Prize



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Aurora X-Prize
American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Fundamental Technology Systems, Orlando, Florida.

Aurora was a design of Ray Nielsen of Fundamental Technology Systems, Orlando, Florida. The rocketplane would takeoff and land horizontally from a conventional airfield. After takeoff at 204 kph the climb attitude would be continually increased to maintain subsonic flight until 18 km altitude was reached. At 24 km, and with a flight path angle nearly 75 degrees above the horizon, the engine would be commanded to 100% power. After main engine cut off Aurora would coast above 106 km. In preparation for re-entry, the pilot used an RCS to orient the spacecraft into the initial deceleration attitude, and the flight path angle was decreased until a turn-back toward the departure field could be initiated. The best glide profile was commanded until the downwind initial point for landing was achieved.

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  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. More...

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