Monday, March 17, 2008

Outta This World!

For a few minutes. All you need is money to burn:
Aerospace giant EADS says it will need a production line of rocket planes to satisfy the space tourism market.

The European company's Astrium division, makers of the Ariane rocket, has plans for a commercial vehicle to take ticketed passengers above 100km.

Its market assessment suggests there would be 15,000 people a year prepared to part with some 200,000 euros (£160,000) for the ride of a lifetime.

Astrium anticipates it be will be producing about 10 planes a year.

....Wind tunnel testing has proven the aerodynamic shape; and the vehicle's Romeo rocket engine which will take the plane above 100km has been ignited for burns that have run up to 31 seconds.

The engine will be using the combustion of a liquid oxygen-methane propellant to provide the more than 1km/s punch needed to break through the top of the Earth's atmosphere.

About 50% of the mass of the plane at take-off would be fuel.

The intention is to produce a vehicle that seats five individuals - one pilot and four passengers.

The production model will use normal jet engines to take off and climb to 12km.

From there, the rocket engine will kick the vehicle straight up, taking it beyond 60km in just 80 seconds. By the time the rocket shuts down, the craft should have sufficient velocity to carry it above 100km - into space.

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