Swiss Space Systems high-speed intercontinental transport spaceplane

Swiss Space Systems (S3) has announced the establishment of a US subsidiary, S3 USA. The news follows last week’s announcement of a partnership between S3 and Spaceport Colorado, located at Front Range Airport just south of Denver.

S3, which is developing the SOAR spaceplane, currently has 50 employees in Switzerland. The suborbital SOAR spaceplane would be launched from the top of an Airbus A300 airliner at an altitude of 33,000 feet, reaching an apogee of 50 miles. The payload could be a pressurized module for microgravity experiments or an upper stage capable of placing a 550-pound satellite into orbit. A later version of the SOAR spaceplane could carry passengers on long-distance suborbital point-to-point flights.

The air-launch approach is similar to concepts proposed by Len Cormier and the US Air Force in the past.

Spaceport Colorado is a concept that’s been in development since August 2011. Front Range Airport is located just 40 minutes from downtown Denver and 18 minutes from Denver International Airport, currently the 11th busiest airport in the world. According to spaceport officials, “Colorado companies already conduct business with Europe in the morning, Asia in the evening and South America in the same business day. Future suborbital trips will reduce flight times to these destinations to a few hours.”

Front Range Airport started work on the FAA spaceport licensing application process in early 2012. The State of Colorado has supported the venture by passing a limited-liability spaceflight act, which received unanimous approval from both houses of the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs on April 19, 2012.

Spaceport Colorado montage

Written by Astro1 on October 17th, 2013 , Spaceports, Swiss Space Systems

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    jim brown commented

    Their is a serious danger when the daughter ship is launched. The SR71 launched a drone of the tail and had two accidents. One ended in the death of the pilot. The other did serious damage to both. When a large wing mother ship lets loose of a load it rise. When the daughter looses the support and has less wind than it needs to fly at that speed it drops. When this happened at the same time it is very hard to not have a serious high speed accident. This is why the Space Ship one and two had a new double carrier so it put put the daughter and drop her. That is why all air launched cruse missiles are mound under and are dropped.

    You should look at bridging the wings on two airplanes to have a very safe launch, or use a very strong tether that can supply both thrust but lift until quite high.

    October 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm