Basic Comparisons

Let us now compare the salient features of both airplanes and rocketships, as well as future spaceplanes, to provide a clearer picture of where we've been and where we are going.

A glance at Table 2.1 shows us that the only area in which rocketships outperform airplanes is in altitude and speed. As we shall see, this is really a question of energy. In each of the other categories, airplanes have a distinct advantage over rockets, from reusability to infrastructure. A good spaceplane design will incorporate each of the good attributes of the airplane with the ability to harness great energies currently enjoyed only by the rocket. Let us look at each of these factors more closely.

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