Kitten Space Vehicle

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The Kitten Space Vehicle is a single stage small sub orbital space craft with 3 ceramic engines and a kit space craft you can build and operate. It burns Liquid Propane and Liquid Oxygen as propellants and can lift up to 3 people out to 236 kilometers altitude. 

It is a composite craft with aluminum skin coated with a ceramic. It flies like a small plane. Turn around is just refueling and plug ins for oxygen and CO2 scrubbers etc.

To save weight, compressed nitrogen is used to cool the engines and power hydraulic systems.

Specs:

Length: 6.0 m
Propulsion: 3 ceramic and composite engines each 4,880 lb thrust
Wingspan: 5.25 m
Overall Dimensions: 4m tall, 5m wide and 6.5 long
Max. Weight (fueled): 3200 kg gross
Landing Mass: 900 kg
Maximum Speed: Mach 4
Maximum Altitude: 235 kms  (145 miles)
Kitten Crew: 1
Passenger Seating: 2
Zero-G Experience: 2-6 minutes.
Flight Time: 2 Hours.
Propellant: methane OR propane, and liquid oxygen
Engines: 3 at 4,880 lbs thrust each

Design

The rocket plane had delta wings, a large tail fin a glass cockpit. It was shaped like a stubby cigar. It was designed to take off and land on normal runways.

Kitten would have taken off at 150mph and flying like a plane to 40,000ft. Once it reached this altitude, it would point its nose tilts up and it accelerate into space. After coasting for a few minutes, Kitten’s nose would have pitched down and the vehicle would have begun its descent  back to Earth and head to a runway.

The round trip would have taken about two hours.  Because the Kitten never quite reaches Earth orbit, it does not need a heavy heat shield for re-entry.

Although it will not escape gravity, Kitten is capable of reaching space, defined as 60 miles above the Earth. At peak altitude, its passengers should experience “zero G” – or weightlessness – for up to four minutes.

It was an entrant in the X-Prize competition for the first private group to launch a re-usable vehicle into space.

Expected to cost around £300,000.

The Kitten was a small step forward for Cerulean Freight into a much larger industry. Tourism is only our starting point and we will expand our fleet with the Calico Class vehicle shortly after the TGS Kitten has proven herself.

Name

TGS Kitten or The Good Ship Kitten was named after a Robert A. Heinlein character “Kitten” in the short story “Our Fair City.” In this short story, Kitten was a whirlwind that somehow had gained consciousness. Kitten could do things that no one ever thought possible and for this reason it is the name of our first class of craft. This name is especially fitting because the project has been budgeted for $6.0 million USD.

Construction

TGS Kitten, is a small craft of approximate mass of 3.5 metric tonnes.

Using unique patentable construction techniques, Cerulean Freight Forwarding Company will build and fly the Kitten prototypical craft within 18 months after funding for this development project is complete. Within 21 months of funding, the XPRIZE competition may be near its end. And within 24 months after funding, our astronaut training corps will begin training aboard the world’s first privately funded spacecraft.

Basic construction is an aluminum sandwich foamed in place and coated with a high temperature Boron Nitride ceramic. This makes a very light structure and it will withstand all forces expected. Most of the components are off-the-shelf FAA certified parts and the rest have been used elsewhere in industry. The required performance of each is at or below 80% of its OEM rated ability (we are operating at 80% of component capacity). To date we have been in the design process for approximately 50,000 hours choosing the best Commercially Off the Shelf (COTS) components that mate with our custom systems.

About

Kitten was to have been built from off-the-shelf components that already have safety approval from the Federal Aviation Authority in the United States.

Build It Yourself Spaceship Kit

THE first build-it-yourself spaceship kit, powered by camping gas and capable of carrying a pilot and two passengers 125 miles into weightless orbit, will go on sale within three years.

Cerulean’s Kitten is the latest entry for the X Prize. It is a tiny, rocket-powered, three-seat spaceplace designed to take off and land on normal runways. Takeoff speed is about 120 mph. At approximately 40,000 feet, the craft pitches up and accelerates at 2 gs for two minutes, then coasts into space. Passengers will get about two and a half minutes of weightlessness before reentry. From there, the Kitten glides back to its takeoff point for a conventional landing. Cerulean intends to make the Kitten available as a kit for aircraft homebuilders who really want to step up their flying. Cost is projected at a half-million dollars.

If you have an itch to fly into space and half a million dollars to spare, you may soon be able to nip down to the store and buy a spaceship in kit form. Once assembled, the craft, called the Kitten, will take you and two friends 200 kilometres up at a top speed of Mach 4. It’s not quite Earth orbit, but who’s counting?

“It should be as reliable as any other kit–a boat, a helicopter or a small private sub,” says

X-Prize Entrant

Kitten is Cerulean Freight Forwarding Company’s entry for the X-Prize. It is a small craft that will use 3 rocket engines (LOX + propane or methane) for power. Its design is pretty simple unlike the Ascender, Xvan and CosmosMariner, which also have jet engines on board.

CFFC claims to have gathered more than 50% of the funding and that they will complete the project in 18 months after full funding. Kitten will have the capability to launch microsatellites(30-50kg) to 750 km high polar LEO using an expendable 2nd stage. This adds more safety to their business model.

Did You Know?

Cerulean Freight Forwarding Company (CFFC) was founded April 19, 1999 in Washington State.

Cerulean Freight had designed three classes of craft starting small with Kitten and working through Calico to the largest: Angora. Kitten promises to enable microsatellite launch for $105,000 as well as hour long space rides to 145 miles for up to 6 minutes of zero gee experience.

Other rocket plane / spaceplane designs which also had jet engines onboard around the year 2000 were Ascender and CosmosMariner.


Reference:

Email from Jim Hill on Saturday 25th November, 2000 (cerulean_freight@yahoo.com) – president of Cerulean Freight Forwarding Company.


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