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  (Source: flightglobal.com)
Researchers working on aircraft that would send tourists out into space faster than the speed of sound.

The ultimate adventure ride could be coming soon to an airport near you.  It's called "Skylon" and the special aircraft is being developed for commercial use to carry tourists out into space within the next ten years. 

Skylon would take off from a standard airport runway and travel at more than five times the speed of sound, according to the
 Telegraph and Daily Mail. The revolutionary aircraft was developed by Reaction Engines, with support from the new UK space agency. 

The 270 foot-long spaceplane is unpiloted, has no external rockets, and has two engines that use hydrogen and oxygen to propel it more than 18 miles out of the Earth's atmosphere.  

The propulsion and attitude control are provided using computer systems while in orbit.  The engine uses the propulsion to reach the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere before switching to rocket power.

The aircraft – which can can remain operational in orbit for up to seven days – would take off from an airport, fly out into orbit, and then land on the runway. The craft is expected to carry up to 24 passengers into space at a time, revolutionize space travel, and cut costs. 

The reusable spaceplane is intended to provide inexpensive and reliable access to space within a decade.  

"Access to space is extraordinarily expensive, yet there’s no law of physics that says it has to be that way," said Technical Director and one of the founders of Reaction Engines, Richard Varvill. "We just need to prove it’s viable. The simple truth is that the Earth is part of a much bigger system."

In the future, Skylon could be used in place of NASA's Space Shuttle to transport astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station.



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I'll believe it when I see it
By kyleb2112 on 9/19/2010 11:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I remember conceptual sketches of the Space Shuttle all lean an mean like that without any external tanks. Then it ends up looking like a tick on a water balloon by the time they've got enough reaction mass to make it work. And doesn't the shuttle do something like mach 17?




RE: I'll believe it when I see it
By deputc26 on 9/20/2010 1:10:38 AM , Rating: 2
Mach 25+ (equivalent, there is no mach in space).


RE: I'll believe it when I see it
By Aloonatic on 9/20/2010 3:54:46 AM , Rating: 4
Well, there might not be now, but if this space tourism thing catches on it wont be long 'till someone opens a McDonald's franchise there.

(You see what I did there?! Did ya?!)

Remember, no one hears you groan at a terrible joke in space!


"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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