Video: Whitehorn assesses the competition

Below is a brief snippet of Will Whitehorn’s speech at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference on Friday. In this segment Whitehorn examines some of the other ventures developing suborbital vehicles, including Rocketplane, EADS Astrium, Blue Origin, XCOR, Armadillo Aerospace, and Copenhagen Suborbitals, a little-known Danish firm developing a very minimalist suborbital system. Whitehorn’s theme in this segment is that while some of these ventures may be technically viable, they’re not capable—in his opinion, at least—of expanding to markets beyond tourism.

[Note: the video was shot with a Flip handheld camera, so the quality isn't great, and you'll probably want to crank the sound up.]

2 comments to Video: Whitehorn assesses the competition

  • Interesting video, but I think he’s downplaying Armadillo, as well as SpaceX, and overplaying the capabilities of Scaled Composites. While the particular example of Armadillo that he uses certainly doesn’t seem capable of much beyond a unique tourist experience, the key feature of Armadillo’s engines is that they are modular, and so can be linked together to achieve any desired power. In addition, Armadillo’s engines exhibit control that completely surpasses the capabilities of any previous rockets.

    SpaceX is a company he leaves completely unmentioned, and yet they’ve already succeeded in orbital capabilities. While they haven’t yet developed a tourist (or even passenger!) vehicle, they’re much more focused on succeeding as a company heading to space. Tourism can happen when they know they’re a viable company.

    As for the capabilities of SpaceX, they’re still going to be confined to sub-orbital. While their rocket design may be something that can be enlarged at a future point to an orbital vehicle of some sort, the current sub-orbital capabilities would seem to limit their industry to tourism – and both Armadillo and SpaceX would seem to have designs that can go orbital with less development.

  • Kristian von Bengtson

    Please note that the suborbital system by Copenhagen Suborbitals is not for tourists, as a start. Its a private rocket system…

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