A startup has raised a seed round of funding to pursue development of what’s long been considered the holy grail of space transportation: a single-stage-to-orbit reusable spaceplane.
The powerful linear aerospike engines intended for the orphaned X-33 experimental rocket could rumble to life this summer under an agreement being hammered out between NASA and the engines' manufacturer.
Damage to the X-33’s two hydrogen fuel tanks could delay the program one to two years, government and industry officials told Space News. “Frankly, there was very little chance of flying in 2000 prior to the damage,” said an industry official. “This just drove a stake through that.”