Aloha, Rocketplane?

An AP article yesterday reports that Rocketplane Kistler is considering setting up suborbital flight operations in Hawaii. The flights by the XP spaceplane could start as early as 2010; in one approach mentioned in the article, the vehicle would take off from Honolulu but land at the Kona Airport on the big island. The flights, as well as the creation of a “space-themed” training center, would be in addition to flights from Oklahoma; company officials had previously expressed interest in setting up flight operations at a number of different locations, including Japan.

There are two interesting items of note in the article. The article mentions in passing that, in order for RpK to carry out the Hawaii flights, the state would have to get spaceport license(s) for the airport(s) the XP would fly from. A bill introduced in the Hawaii State Senate last month, SB 907, would create an Office of Aerospace Development (originally to be called the Office of Space Industry) within the state’s economic development and tourism department and set aside $500,000 for “Establishment of an international commercial spaceport”. However, when the legislation was reported out of committee the accompanying report to the president of the state senate stated that “Your Committee also has concerns regarding the establishment of a commercial spaceport, which has generated considerable community opposition in the past.” (A reference to past efforts to establish a spaceport on the southern tip of the Big Island). Therefore, the committee decided to “delete all references to a commercial space launch, international spaceport, and the appropriation for a spaceport” in the bill.

The second item of note in the article is the state of RpK’s financing for the XP vehicle program. Chuck Lauer, VP for business development for RpK, told the AP that the company has raised only $25 million of the $150 million it believes it needs “to field a commercial fleet of space planes.” RpK has been spending a lot of time lining up several hundred million it needs to develop the K-1 vehicle as part of NASA’s COTS demonstration program; will it be able to win a somewhat smaller amount in addition to support the XP?

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>