Radian raises $27.5 million to develop single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane

Capitalism in space: The startup Radian Aerospace announced yesterday that it has raised $27.5 million in private investment capital to fund the development of a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane it dubs Radian One.

Radian has disclosed few technical details about the Radian One design. The seed round “essentially helps us transition more robustly into the hardware development phase,” Holder said. The company’s work to date has focused on the conceptual design and a few key technologies, such as test-firing “critical elements” of the vehicle’s main propulsion system.

The company said it has launch service agreements for Radian One with commercial space station developers, in-space manufacturers, satellite, and cargo companies, as well as agreements with the U.S. government and selected foreign governments. It did not identify specific customers, value of any such agreements or schedules for delivering those launch services.

Company officials seem confident they can do this. Their chief technology officer worked on the failed 1990s single-stage-to-orbit X-33 project, and is convinced the advances in technology since now make such a spaceplane possible.

We shall see. Radian faces stiff competition, as it is one of more than a hundred new orbital rocket companies. Its advantage, if successful, is its completely reusable airplane-like design.