As the countdown commences and Thunderstar's propellant tanks are filled and brought up to full pressure, Starchaser Astronauts will busy themselves running through their own checklists. One of the first items being to check the seals and operation of the Russian made space-suits that each will be wearing.
As the pilot runs through the final pre-flight dialogue with the ground, Starchaser's passenger Astronauts will be able to relax and take in the view from their own porthole windows.
As the countdown clock approaches zero the Starchaser pilot will systematically arm all critical systems until T-4 seconds when he or she will turn the lock-out key and press the ignition button. At that moment all remaining service hoses and cables will be released from their anchor points on the vehicle as the rocket engines ignite.
At T-0 the launch clamps release and Thunderstar will roar off the pad and into the sky.
Inside the ship the crew of three will be pressed back into their seats as they experience a peak accelerative force of 6G, this will quickly settle back to a comfortable 3G for most of the powered ascent phase of the mission.
The pilot's main priority is to monitor cabin pressure, life support systems and be ready to take immediate emergency abort action according to each phase of the mission.
The main engines will shut off 70 seconds into the flight. The spacecraft's Launch Escape System (LES) will then pull the capsule away from the main rocket booster. This has the dual benefit of providing additional velocity to the spacecraft and it will empty the LES tanks of potentially hazardous hydrogen peroxide. The LES will then be jettisoned. Both the LES and the Starchaser 5 booster will be recovered via parachute.
Following LES separation, the capsule will be manoeuvred into a tail first orientation where it will coast to an apogee in excess of 100 km.
Passengers will be able to monitor the ship's progress by means of their personal video display units and communications equipment; they will also be treated to ever changing spectacular views.
Thunderstar's occupants will experience about four minutes of weightlessness, they will see the curvature of the Earth and the blackness of space.
Whilst in space, the pilot will use reaction control thrusters to orientate the vehicle to obtain the best possible views.
The passengers will also have an opportunity to experiment with the items they have brought with them, to see how things float around in the weightless environment of space.
The pilot will then bring the craft about for a tail first re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere. As for launch, Starchaser Astronauts will return in a comfortable reclined G-x orientation.
The spacecraft's relatively benign re-entry velocity of under 4000 miles per hour ensures that it will not be subject to excessive re-entry heating. Nevertheless, the three Starchaser Astronauts will be protected from the heat that is generated by a system of insulative layers.
A stabilising drogue parachute will be deployed at an altitude of about 9 kilometres (30,000 feet); this will reduce the capsule descent rate to about 44 metres per second. A main steerable canopy will be deployed at an altitude of 6 kilometres (20,000 feet). This will enable the capsule to be flown back to the launch area for a controlled soft landing some 20 minutes after lift off.
Mission scenario for sub-orbital flight profile using space plane
In addition to carrying more people, the major difference between the capsule and the space plane is that the space plane will be landed horizontally as a glider, under the control of the pilot and co-pilot.
Space Tourism Mission Scenarios
Mission scenario for sub-orbital flight profile using Capsule
Starchaser Astronauts will be seated in the spacecraft about one hour prior to lift off. Assisted by members of the ground crew, Starchaser's "passenger" Astronauts will take up their positions first. Secured by safety harnesses they will be seated side by side in the seats to the aft of the cabin; they will then plug their life support umbilicals and headsets into the onboard systems. The pilot will take up his or her position in the forwardmost seat and will similarly connect to the spacecraft. The hatch, which is directly above the pilot, will then be sealed. All seating positions are reclined in the G-x orientation so that crew and passengers journey comfortably into space on their backs.