June 14, 2007

A EUROPEAN ROCKET PLANE aimed at the space tourism market:

Europe’s biggest aerospace company, EADS, has concluded that carrying wealthy tourists to 100 kilometers in altitude for several minutes of weightlessness could be a multibillion-dollar industry in 20 years and is seeking co-investors to build a rocket plane it already has designed. . . .

Taking off from an as-yet undetermined spaceport using two conventional jet engines, the plane would climb to 12 kilometers in altitude before its rocket engine ignites, powering the vehicle through the atmosphere and into a coast phase whose 100-kilometer apogee would provide passengers with one and one-half minutes of near-zero-gravity experience.

It’s very nice to see how this field is, er, taking off. I remember a seeing presentation by Wolfgang Demisch on the likely impact of space tourism as a technology and economic driver over ten years ago, and being very impressed with its potential. Looks like that potential is becoming actual.

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