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European Rocketplanes
Category of spacecraft.


Von Braun Rocketplane German manned rocketplane. Study 1939. On 6 July 1939 Wernher von Braun proposed to the German Reich Air Ministry a "fighter with rocket drive".

Me-163 German winged rocketplane. The rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me-163 was the world's first and only operational pure rocket fighter and represented the culmination of Alexander Lippisch's years of research in rocketplanes, tail-less aircraft, and delta wings. As a weapon, the Me-163 had tremendous speed but very limited range. However the concepts developed by Lippisch contributed to the Space Shuttle and Buran orbiters of a quarter century later.

He-112 The Heinkel He-112 was an unsuccessful pre-war German monoplane fighter, competing for orders with the Bf 109. However it entered rocketry history when tests were conducted in 1935 with rocket engines.

A-9 German manned rocketplane. Study 1944. Manned, winged boost-glide version of the V-2 missile. It would have been capable of delivering express cargo 600 km from the launch point within 17 minutes.

Lofer Mystery Craft German manned spaceplane. Hardware construction stage, 1945. There exist in US Army postwar files a murky photo of what some think is a large-scale mock-up of the Saenger antipodal bomber, taken in Lofer, Austria after the end of the World War II.

Nonweiler Waverider British manned spaceplane. Study 1951. The Nonweiler Waverider of the 1950`s was the original caret wing waverider concept. Developed by Professor Terence R F Nonweiler, of Queen's University, Belfast.

Armstrong Whitworth Waverider British manned spaceplane. Study 1960. The Armstrong Whitworth Waverider study of the 1950`s called for a two-crew waverider spacecraft powered by a second stage atop a British Blue Streak rocket.

Hawker Siddeley Waverider-1960 British manned spaceplane. Study 1960. An ambitious Blue Streak / Waverider design study was conducted by Hawker Siddeley Aviation in the 1960's. The project was led by Peter A E Stewart, Astronautics Section, Advanced Projects Group.

RAE Orbital Fighter British winged orbital launch vehicle. The Royal Aircraft Establishment Orbital Fighter proposal of the 1960's envisioned a two-stage single-crew vehicle.

Saenger I German winged orbital launch vehicle. Studied by MBB 1962-1969. Final version of the Saenger spaceplane, as conceived by Eugen Saenger during his lifetime. A rocket propelled sled would be used for horizontal launch of delta-winged, rocket-propelled first and second stages. An alternate version used a vertical-launch, horizontal landing, two-stage winged launch vehicle.

Spacecab The Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) Concorde-sized Spacecab would deliver a payload of six persons to low Earth orbit. It would serve as a prototype for the larger 50-person Spacebus.

Spacebus British winged orbital launch vehicle. The Bristol Spaceplanes Spacebus was a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) Manned Spaceplane designed to take 50 passengers into space.

VERAS French manned spaceplane. Study 1968. A Mach 10 spaceplane demonstrator proposed by Nord Aviation in 1968.

Hawker Siddeley Waverider-1971 British manned spaceplane. Study 1971. The Hawker Siddeley Waverider study of 1971 laid out a space vehicle with a waveriding airbreathing hypersonic first stage, and a rocket propelled, lifting body second stage.

Horus German manned spaceplane. Hypersonic Orbital Upper Stage was part of the Saenger-II spaceplane studied in Germany from 1985-1993. It would have separated from the lower stage at Mach 6.6 and flown to orbit.

Ascender British manned rocketplane. The Bristol Spaceplanes Ascender of the 1992 was a sub-orbital four-crew manned spaceplane concept proposed by David Ashford. In 2001 Ashford proposed the design as an X-Prize contender. However adequate funding was still not forthcoming for development.

Hermes French manned spaceplane. Cancelled 1992. The Hermes spaceplane would have provided independent European manned access to space. Hermes was designed to take three astronauts to orbits of up to 800 km altitude on missions of 30 to 90 days in space.

Hytex German manned rocketplane. Study 1995. Following the cancellation of Saenger II, Germany briefly considered a manned X-15/NASP type flight test vehicle (HYTEX) capable of Mach 6 flight. This too was cancelled for cost reasons.

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