As we saw in the last chapter, the easiest way to give a projectile enough energy to enter space is by using a ballistic missile. Although they are perhaps the most effective and certainly the quickest way to achieve spaceflight, ballistic missiles are also the most costly. Government-run space programs have always used ballistic missiles, because funding was seldom an issue. This was true especially during the early years of the Space Age. Furthermore, these programs have never been bothered by corporate competition, fiscal responsibility, or reputation.
During the Cold War, the United States and Soviet Russia were locked in a fierce competition for the ultimate high ground of space. The Space Race was thus an international contest that resulted in amazing advances in just a few years. Ballistic missiles allowed this to happen. Let us take a quick look at how these events unfolded, before examining several ballistic spaceplane ideas.
On October 4, 1957, Russia...