Today we are living on the cusp of the one of the greatest changes in human history. We are climbing out of our planetary cradle, using chemically fueled rockets, as Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy clearly foresaw so many years ago. Although large bureaucratic boosters have accomplished amazing feats, the privately owned spaceplanes now being developed in several countries are, even now, writing the prologue to all future space-based civilization. It is they, and their descendants, who will take humankind by the millions into the vacuous voids of interplanetary and, someday, interstellar space.
Following is a short run-down on current projects, as they stand in the first decade of the twenty-first century.1 This list is by no means exhaustive and is in a constant state of flux.
Benson Dream Chaser
Benson Space Company based in Poway, California, has a new design, the Benson Dream Chaser. It uses a sleek and simple rocket, launches vertically on hybrid motors to take a small...