EADS Astrium space plane
This is a concept model for a space plane that would carry passengers to 100 kilometers (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface, where they would experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth. The plane would take off from a commercial airport using its jet engines until it reached an altitude of 12 km, when it would ignite its rocket engine to climb to 60 km. At this point the plane’s rocket engines would shut down and inertia would carry it to an altitude of more than 100 km.
The concept has been devised by designers at EADS Astrium, the company that designs the Ariane 5 space rocket and the main European contributor to the International Space Station. EADS also predict that such an aircraft could transport passengers between airports more rapidly than conventional aircraft, as it could fly at a higher altitude with less atmospheric resistance.
July 13, 2012 11:43 AM PDT
Photo by: Nick Heath/TechRepublic
| Caption by: Nick Heath
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