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Creating A New Space Industry

Since rocketplanes are a near-term technology with widespread commercial application, it should be possible to finance their development primarily with private investment. Nevertheless, development of novel flight systems always involves significant business risk, which could be mitigated by government participation.

Reference to our current era as the Space Age is a misnomer-like calling the 1910s the Air Age. Except for the military, the world did not really feel the impact of air travel until the technology became routine and commonplace and affordable to more than an elite few. Likewise, if a real Space Age is going to arrive, there needs to be a market for rocket vehicle technology that supports the manufacture of spacecraft components not in lots of ones or twos, but in hundreds or thousands.

Producers of these planes will have to start using the production methods common in commercial aviation rather than the costly small-lot production techniques that dominate the space industry today. Moreover, we will need a worldwide launch infrastructure that supports not hundreds of flights per year, but hundreds of flights per day. The only markets large enough to stimulate investment in such production capacity and launch infrastructure are long-distance package delivery and passenger transport.

For the same reason that military and then postal aircraft preceded passenger aircraft, satellite launch, military, and fast package-delivery rocketplanes will no doubt precede passenger rocketplanes. Nevertheless, the day will surely come when thousands of rocketplanes cross the globe daily, serving business and vacation travelers from New York to Tokyo-perhaps even into orbit.

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