Commercial Orbital Space Flight
Commercial orbital space flight is on the horizon.

Several Attempts in the Past

Commercial space enterprise in the launch vehicle domain is nothing new. Since the early 80'ies a number of companies has been actively pursuing launch vehicle developments oriented primarily for a free, commercial launch market. Some of these companies include (in somewhat historical order): OTRAG, AmRoc, Roton, Kistler, Microcosm, Beal, AirLaunch, SpaceX.

Some companies succeeded to raise several hundred million US$ of funding. Most companies obtained remarkable achievements such as rocket engine developements up to full scale testing or flight tests of single stages. However no company could yet demonstrate a successful orbital space flight.

Public Support

SpaceX, Kistler (now part of Rocketplane), Microcosm and AirLaunch are still actively continuing their development efforts. All of them received funding in the range of several million US$ from Darpa (US defense procurement agency) and NASA.

In 2005 NASA created the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, in order to stimulate the development of launch vehicles for the commercial resupply of the international space station (ISS). In 2006 SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler won the competition and will receive US$ 278 million (SpaceX) and US$ 207 million (Rocketplane) to advance their vehicle developments. 

Getting Ready

On March 24, 2006, SpaceX achieved one of the most outstanding successes so far, the launch of their Falcon I launch vehicle. Although a fire due to a fuel leak 25 seconds into the flight caused the failure of the flight, this launch was yet the most successful attempt towards a private commercial orbital space flight. Rocketplane Kistler, MicroCosm and AirLaunch are following closely behind.

Europe and Orbspace

There are very little or no activities in the field of private commercial space flight in Europe today.  Europe needs to fill this gap in order to avoid to be left behind in a commercial, global free market.

Orbspace wants to fill this gap in Europe by proposing a semi-reusable two-stage orbital launch vehicle for micro-satellite payloads. Our suborbital vehicle Infinity will be used as reusable first stage. A subset of Infinities main propulsion cluster engine will propel the expendable upper stage.

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