Backyard Spaceships - Passenger-Related Microlights for Hobby Rocketry

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D. Sivier (2004), JBIS, 57, 45-52

Refcode: 2004.57.45
Keywords: Aircraft, balloons, rockets, leisure, tourism

The FINDS and CATS prizes have introduced to contemporary astronautics the competitive spirit, which led to such spectacular advances in the fledgling aviation industry. This pioneering spirit is also shared by present day microlight aircraft enthusiasts. If the expected expansion of commercial passenger spaceflight with mass space tourism occurs, then it may create a demand for extreme short-range crewed rockets as a new form of leisure craft, just as microlight aircraft recreate the experience of large aircraft flight on a smaller scale. If the technologies, materials and procedures used in microlight and balloon aviation are applied to those of high power solid propellant rocketry, then similar `microlight' rockets with a mass of 500 kg, powered by 20 kg of fuel and able to reach altitudes of c.3,200 m, may be a possibility. Apart from the leisure and sporting opportunities offered by such craft, which would also encourage technological experimentation and progress, they would also greatly benefit astronautical education by adding the practical human experience of rocket flight to ground studies' curricula.

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