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Aerospace Vehicle of the Future

Vehicle of the Future
K-1 Missions

  The human imagination for space ventures contains no boundaries as popular media demonstrates. The high cost of getting to space, however, has historically impeded the pursuit of these ventures, confining them to drawing boards and science fiction novels. To open the space frontier, lower priced transportation is essential, but the reality of reduced cost to space has not been clear until now.

In 1968, when the Space Shuttle was conceived, people recognized that a fully reusable space transportation system could significantly reduce the cost of space access.

Although the initial cost of a reusable launch vehicle is greater than expendable vehicles, it takes no more than ten flights to recover the extra cost. On this premise, along with its promise of easy access to space, Rocketplane Kistler was formed.

Rocketplane Kistler is committed to creating a space delivery business. We are building the equivalent of a light truck to transport packages to orbit. Whether the package is a remote sensing satellite, a communications system, a microgravity experiment or cargo for the International Space Station, Rocketplane Kistler will provide affordable access to space and spur the exploration and implementation of new space ventures.

The Rocketplane Kistler Vehicle, the K-1, is a new class of vehicle. It is not an aeroplane, though it lands on land by means of parachutes and airbags. It is not a rocket vehicle, since it returns to its launch site under its own power. Instead, the K-1 is a fully-reusable, two-stage aerospace vehicle based on highly reliable, fully characterized materials and technologies.

We have adopted an innovative approach to design, build and operate the total K-1 system. Our fundamental design philosophy has been to choose the simplest and most reliable, available implementation of each function and component. We also utilize entirely commercial business practices that enable price and operations benefits to our customers.

This new approach to space transportation is designed to lower the price of space access by a factor of two or more and to service multiple payload markets using the K-1.

In addition to cost reductions, the K-1 vehicle brings other benefits to customers. With its quick turnaround time, the K-1 introduces launch-on-demand service, eliminating schedule constraints that often affect time sensitive businesses or missions. Existing space transportation customers will also enjoy significant reductions in insurance premiums resulting from the continual use of the same proven vehicle. We expect to eventually approach the cost of aircraft insurance as experience accumulates.

A commercially viable, fully reusable space transportation system is within our grasp. With the K-1 vehicle, Rocketplane Kistler will lead the way into the new market frontier.