*The following is archival content from 2003, hosted on the original X PRIZE website, to maintain authenticity.
Quote from Len Cormier
"The X PRIZE provides a potentially powerful incentive for opening space to commercial competition and development. Our concept appears to be feasible with far lower investment than any of the other concepts proposed for winning the X PRIZE. Accordingly, we feel that we can offer a potentially leveraged return on investment based solely upon potential revenues from sponsors and possibly the prize money. Like the other teams, we also feel that even a good showing with respect to competing for the X PRIZE could be highly beneficial to our other plans of commercial opportunities in near Earth orbit and deep space."
PanAero will create the SabreRocket by modifying an existing Sabre-40 jet. The Sabre-40, already certified to fly at mach 0.8 at 45,000 feet (13,716 meters), will use the existing air breathing turbojet engines only until the altitude of 11 km. At this time, the pilot will ignite a center rocket engine and start a pull-up and climb. After about 30 seconds, the pilot will start two more rocket engines, increasing the climb angle to about 50 degrees. At about 15.5 km altitude, the pilot will start the remaining four rocket engines and continue the pull-up to an 85 degree flight-path angle. At the time when all the rocket propellant is consumed, the SabreRocket will have reached a speed of mach 2.97 at an altitude of approximately 54 km.
From an altitude of 55 km and a speed of mach 2.97, it will take the SabreRocket approximately 100 seconds to coast past the 100 km altitude limit at a speed of approximately mach 0.4. The vehicle reaches the apogee of its flight at an altitude of 102 km and then begins its free fall decent. For approximately another 80 seconds, the SabreRocket descends unpowered. The total time that crew and passengers experience weightless conditions is approximately 180 seconds.
Using the attitude control system, the pilot reenters the atmosphere at an 85 or 90-degree flight-path angle and an angle-of-attack of 70 degrees. In this attitude, the wings act as a parachute or drag brake. For this phase of the flight, the wing is much more effective at generating drag than lift. This technique will minimize mach number on reentry and will also minimize the reentry g's and heating. Preliminary calculations suggest that provisions required for thermal protection during the transient heating period should be minimal. The SabreRocket will land on a horizontal runway.