Encyclopedia Astronautica

American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Panaero, Fairfax, Virginia. It envisioned conversion of a Sabre-40 business jet to rocket power.

SabreRocket was designed by Len Cormier of Panaero, Fairfax, Virginia. The SabreRocket would takeoff and land from any conventional airfield, and achieve a 100 km altitude with a single stage system, using a modified Sabre-40 business jet. The jet would be equipped with seven (7) Microcosm engines. Vacuum thrust with the existing nozzles was 2138 kgf per engine, providing an initial thrust-to-weight ratio of about 1.5:1 when all of the rocket engines were ignited. From an altitude of 55 km and a speed of Mach 2.97, it would take the SabreRocket approximately 100 seconds to coast past the 100-km altitude limit at a speed of approximately mach 0.4. The vehicle reached the apogee of its flight at an altitude of 102 km and then began a free fall descent. For approximately another 80 seconds, the SabreRocket descended unpowered. The total time the crew and passengers experienced weightless was approximately 180 seconds. Using the attitude control system, the pilot re-entered the atmosphere at an 85 or 90 degree flight-path angle and an angle-of-attack of 70 degrees. In this attitude, the wings act as a parachute or drag brake. This technique was to minimize Mach number on re-entry in order to minimize G-load and heating.

Thrust: 146.77 kN (32,994 lbf).

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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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