Maybe They Should Call This Craft `Starship Enterprise'

Your article "A small step for man--a tiny one for industry" (Science & Technology, Aug. 12) closed by raising the question: "Will the commercial launch business ever really blast off?" In our view, the answer is an emphatic yes, especially given the prospects of the Single Stage to Orbit spacecraft being sponsored by the Strategic Defense Initiatives Office and designed by teams led by General Dynamics, McDonnell Douglas, and Rockwell International. It promises to drop payload-to-orbit costs from over $8,000 per pound on the shuttle to under $500 per pound. There are tremendous commercial applications for SSTO, so if American investors and industry miss this boat, you can count on our friends in Europe and Japan, or even the Soviets, taking it sooner or later.

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