Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Radian plans to build world’s first truly reusable orbital spaceplane

Washington-based Radian Aerospace (Radian) has announced the plans to build Radian One, the world’s first fully functional horizontal takeoff and landing, single-stage to orbit spaceplane. The company recently received $27.5 million in a seed funding round to support its plans to build an orbital spaceplane.

According to the company, the revolutionary aerospace vehicle will fill the efficiency and capability gaps that exist with traditional vertical rockets. Radian’s system will be capable of a wide range of space operations, including the delivery of people and light cargo to low earth orbit (LEO) with aircraft-like operations.

Radian One’s fully reusable, aircraft-like configuration requires far less infrastructure than vertical launch systems and can be re-flown within 48 hours. The ability to fly to space, perform a mission, return, refuel, and fly again almost immediately enables in-space and terrestrial missions that are simply not possible with traditional vehicles.

The current design of Radian One will be capable of flying up to five people and 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg) of cargo into orbit. Powered by three liquid-fueled engines, the vehicle would have a down-mass capability of about 10,000 pounds (4,536 kg), Ars Technica reported.

The vehicle will take off from a regular runway, ascend to a comfortable altitude and fire its rocket engines to reach orbit. The company claims it would stay there for up to five days and then re-enter the atmosphere. The aircraft’s wing would allow smooth landing on any 10,000ft runway.

“Wings offer capabilities and mission types that are simply not possible with traditional vertical takeoff right circular cylinder rockets,” said Livingston Holder, Radian’s co-founder, CTO, and former head of the Future Space Transportation and X-33 program at Boeing. “What we are doing is hard, but it’s no longer impossible thanks to significant advancements in materials science, miniaturization, and manufacturing technologies.”

Radian’s goal is to steadily mature its core technologies, eventually permitting aircraft-like flight cadence at lower per mission cost.

“On-demand space operations is a growing economy, and I believe Radian’s technology can deliver on the right-sized, high-cadence operations that the market opportunity is showing,” said Dylan Taylor, Chairman, and CEO of Voyager Space and an early personal investor in Radian. “I am confident in the team working at Radian and look forward to cheering them along in this historic endeavor.”

Radian One is still in the concept stage. When we could possibly see space shuttles like Radian One or similar creations actually heading towards space remains to be seen.