Encyclopedia Astronautica
Pioneer XP



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Pioneer XP
American manned spaceplane. Study 2004. X-Prize suborbital spaceplane concept of Pioneer Rocketplane, Solvang, California. No backing forthcoming.

Pioneer XP was the X-Plane design of Mitchell Burnside Clapp of Pioneer Rocketplane, Solvang, California. The XP was a four-seat fighter-sized vehicle powered by two jet engines and one rocket engine. It was suitable for military applications, use as a research or observation platform, and promotional and sponsorship purposes. The XP would not use any launch assist, and could achieve speeds of about 6,600 kph, altitudes of 107 km, and three to four minutes of zero G. The thermal protection system, wing propellant tanks, and other systems were designed with the possibility of eventual upgrade so that the option for a longer-range aircraft could be realized in the future without the need for expensive reinvestment. The XP was to operate from ordinary airfields within the well-established rules and practices for experimental aircraft. The spacecraft was to be equipped with a cabin pressurized to 0.54 atmospheres plus pressure suits for the crew for redundancy

The engine rocket engine was a pressure-fed, vortex cold-wall-based system developed by Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC). This engine could provide the needed performance at a low cost, with high reliability and long life. By 2004 Rocketplane Limited had reached the full design phase. Rocketplane's propulsion team member, ORBITEC, had conducted tested of prototype rocket engines of many sizes, including a static firing of the RP-1/LOX cold-wall vortex engine.

The flight sequence would involve: takeoff at jet engines, and ignition of rocket engine while cruising horizontally at 9 km altitude; maximum G-force during the 120 second engine burn of 2 g's; engine cut-off at 53 km altitude and 3200 kph; ballistic arc to 107 km with four minutes of weightlessness; orientation in space using cold gas reaction control jets; re-entry deceleration of 3 to 4 g's; pullout to horizontal glide and restart of jet engines; powered, horizontal landing at landing strip from which flight originated; one hour total duration of mission; turnaround time between missions: 3 to 5 days .

Crew Size: 4.

Gross mass: 8,200 kg (18,000 lb).
Unfuelled mass: 3,200 kg (7,000 lb).
Payload: 400 kg (880 lb).
Height: 13.10 m (42.90 ft).
Diameter: 1.52 m (4.98 ft).
Thrust: 88.94 kN (19,995 lbf).

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Associated Countries
See also
  • America's Space Prize Following the success of the Ansari X-Prize in motivating flight of the first commercial suborbital manned spacecraft, Robert Bigelow announced the 'America's Space Prize' - $ 50 million - to the first team to fly an orbital manned spacecraft that completes two missions safely and successfully by January 10, 2010. More...
  • X-Prize The X-Prize competition was an attempt to promote commercial civilian spaceflight in a manner similar to the prizes handed out in the early days of aviation. Ten million dollars was to go to the first team to fly a vehicle capable of launching three people into space (defined as an altitude of 100 km in a suborbital trajectory), twice in a two-week period. The vehicle had to be 90% reusable by dry mass. For purposes of the two flights, the competition accepted flight by one person and ballast equivalent to two others at 90 kg per passenger. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Pioneer American manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft. Pioneer Rocketplane, USA. More...

Associated Propellants
  • Lox/Kerosene Liquid oxygen was the earliest, cheapest, safest, and eventually the preferred oxidiser for large space launchers. Its main drawback is that it is moderately cryogenic, and therefore not suitable for military uses where storage of the fuelled missile and quick launch are required. In January 1953 Rocketdyne commenced the REAP program to develop a number of improvements to the engines being developed for the Navaho and Atlas missiles. Among these was development of a special grade of kerosene suitable for rocket engines. Prior to that any number of rocket propellants derived from petroleum had been used. Goddard had begun with gasoline, and there were experimental engines powered by kerosene, diesel oil, paint thinner, or jet fuel kerosene JP-4 or JP-5. The wide variance in physical properties among fuels of the same class led to the identification of narrow-range petroleum fractions, embodied in 1954 in the standard US kerosene rocket fuel RP-1, covered by Military Specification MIL-R-25576. In Russia, similar specifications were developed for kerosene under the specifications T-1 and RG-1. The Russians also developed a compound of unknown formulation in the 1980's known as 'Sintin', or synthetic kerosene. More...

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