S3 Spaceplane, A Dassault Black Program?

Robert Hewson, senior writer for Aviation Week's ShowNews reports the following from EBACE.

Alongside the usual models of Falcon business jets, there is an unfamiliar shape on the Dassault stand at EBACE. It’s even more unusual than you might guess, because it’s actually a Swiss spaceship. To be precise, it’s a 1:10 scale model of the proposed S3 reusable spaceplane from Swiss Space Systems (S3).

One of several ventures attempting to deliver affordable suborbital flight – either for satellite launch or ‘space tourism’ purposes – S3 is hoping to start flight tests in 2017. The project is now in its preliminary definition phase, and Dassault has signed a joint venture agreement with S3 to provide technical know-how. Breitling is another program partner.

“We have been working for a long time on this kind of technology; we have done a lot of studies,” Dassault CEO Eric Trappier tells ShowNews, “and we are actively preparing to support S3. We hope it can produce something useful for France and for Switzerland.” Trappier adds that the S3 has obvious military applications, too. Dassault’s involvement in the program is linked to its earlier bid to sell Rafale fighters in Switzerland.

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