Encyclopedia Astronautica

American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital rocketplane concept of Kittyhawk of Oroville, Washington.

The Kitten was designed by Kittyhawk, Oroville, Washington. It was a horizontal takeoff and landing concept, with a takeoff speed of 240 kph. After climbing to 12 km altitude, the rocketplane would pitch to 75 degrees and accelerate at 2 Gs for two minutes. After engine cut-off the vehicle would coast to a peak altitude over 100 km, then began a gliding descent to the port of origin for refueling and another trip. The entire flight was to last under two hours, with approximately 4.5 minutes of zero G. Quick turnaround time allowed for multiple flights in one day. More than half of the funds needed for development and testing of the Kittyhawk entry were raised through private investors. The team anticipated launching within 18 months of achieving full funding.

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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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