Rocketplane Kistler [RPK]
C: We know that you are a company somewhat based on private space travel, but exactly how far are you in that process?
RPK: Well, we’ve begun… our business has been going for several years now, and we’ve put about 200,000 hours into design and engineering of our first space tourism vehicle. So we’ve come quite a long way.
C: How much money did it cost to develop the K1 rocket, the main rocket that you use?
RPK: Well, the K1 rocket actually… let’s see, probably over $600 million have been invested in the engineering of that, and the development of that vehicle itself. And that [the K1 rocket] is an orbital vehicle. We have another vehicle [the XP vehicle], which is a sub-orbital vehicle.
C: Are trying to get ordinary people into space, and if so, by when do think your first flight for this purpose will be launched?
RPK: Absolutely. Our main goal is to get civilians into space. We believe we’ll be flying civilian astronauts into space by about 2010 – so just around the corner.
C: I know you are a fusion of two older companies. Can you tell me how and why you combined two companies instead of making a brand-new one?
RPK: Well, there’s a lot of benefits you get from combining two companies. One of our companies, Rocketplane, was just a completely suborbital company, and then Kistler Aerospace was orbital, and the combination of the two companies gave us one company that was a double-edged sword; not only could we bring civilian astronauts to suborbital space, but we could also provide orbital services as well – we could put satellites up, resupply the ISS, do longer duration science experiments, stuff that suborbital vehicle couldn’t do. It really helps the business model.
C: What project are you working on currently?
RPK: Currently, I’m working on the XP project that’s our suborbital tourism vehicle. And right now that’s really our main focus, that XP vehicle.