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As we are goinh into 2019 and we've seen the likes of XCOR Aerospace adn Virgin orbit working towards spaceplanes. How many other companies are working on getting humans to space, suborbital and orbital.

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  • $\begingroup$ There are some "spaceplanes" for sub orbital ballistic flights, but is there anything capable of orbital flights? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Sep 22, 2018 at 10:32
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't call them ballistic , but if I may ask, why do you define them that way. $\endgroup$
    – Rajath Pai
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 1:34
  • $\begingroup$ See wikipedia for ballistic missile and ballistic trajectory. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 20:28

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At this point the only company actively working (at least publicly) on creating a "spaceplane" for human spaceflight is Virgin Galactic (Plane actually made by Scaled Composites). Their SpaceshipTwo is only suborbital, however.

Other companies have spaceplanes in their long term plans - but usually as a goal, rather than a funded strategic path. For instance, Sierra Nevada Corporation, still hopes to make a human rated Dreamchaser, but at the moment they are focusing on a smaller cargo-only variant. They had originally bid a crewed Dreamchaser for NASA's commercial crew program, but they were not selected. Stratolaunch also recently announced their long term road map, which includes a winged vehicle that would have "a follow up variant for crew". Some have speculated that the Boeing X37 could be upgraded to cargo crew. There are several others who fall into the category of "one day we want to have a spaceplane", but in general it is very long term dream. Often from companies that haven flown any vehicles.

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  • $\begingroup$ Technically the Dream Chaser and x37 are not spaceplanes in the same way that the shuttle is not a spaceplane; they all launch on conventional rockets, not runways. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek - I'm not really sure there are any true "space planes" in that case. Spaceship2 launches under the wings of an airplane. Same with Bristol. Sure they have horizontal takeoff from a runway, but only thanks to their first stage being an actual plane. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 15:00
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If "working on" includes "trying to raise money for" then in the UK, Bristol Spaceplanes is still trying:

David Ashford with a model of the sub-orbital Ascender

And Reaction engines still has long-term plans for a Skylon-like vehicle, capable of carrying a passenger module"

Reaction engines SPLM concept

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  • $\begingroup$ Pretty crazy that we'll get more legroom on a passenger spaceflight than a transatlantic flight-- that passenger shuttle looks decently roomy. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 14:26
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    $\begingroup$ wait 'til you see the reclined seats @MagicOctopusUrn, but it's cramped compared to the shuttle... $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ compared to Soyuz on the other hand, amazing. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 23, 2018 at 22:27
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    $\begingroup$ Good call on these two. I know Bristol and Reaction have been going at it for many, many years. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 15:01

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