SpaceLiner is a hypersonic capable of reaching 24 times the speed of sound and by 2050 could transport passengers from London to Sydney in just 90 minutes.
Although the finished article is still a long way off, Martin Sippel, project coordinator for SpaceLiner at the German Aerospace Center believes the project could attract private funding within a decade.
The current concept includes a rocket booster stage for launch and a separate orbiter stage to carry up to 50 passengers halfway around the world without ever making it to space.
A journey between Europe and the U.S. would be reduced to just over 60 minutes, providing passengers are happy to pay space travel prices, estimated to be in the region of several hundred thousand dollars per ticket.
Should it take off in both sense of the word, there is no reason why a fleet of SpaceLiners couldn’t make up to 15 flights a day, believes Martin Sippel.
“Maybe we can best characterize the SpaceLiner by saying it’s a kind of second-generation space shuttle, but with a completely different task,” Martin Sippel told TechNewsDaily.
SpaceLiner is a hypersonic capable of reaching 24 times the speed of sound and by 2050 could transport passengers from London to Sydney in just 90 minutes
The SpaceLiner would take approximately 8 minutes to climb to an altitude of some 50 miles where it reach the earth’s upper atmosphere before gliding back to Earth at hypersonic speeds of more than 15,000mph.
SpaceLiner engineers hope to use a liquid oxygen and hydrogen rocket fuel, leaving water vapor as waste.
Engineers predict that advances in materials could be combined with new cooling technologies and heat shielding to safeguard the SpaceLiner’s structures against the intense heat of hypersonic flight.
The SpaceLiner would likely require an isolated launch site and careful route planning to keep sonic booms from negatively affecting residential areas.
The empty rocket stage from SpaceLiner would return to Earth after launch so that it could be reused.
The plan would be for an aircraft to fly out and latch on to the rocket stage before towing it towards an airfield where it could glide in to land.
SpaceLiner’s eventually design could well be influenced by upcoming, EU-funded study FAST20XX (Future High-Altitude High-Speed Transport 20xx).
A close eye will also be on the success or failure of space ventures by the likes of Virgin Galactic. Should space travel capture the interest of travelers, Martin Sippel is confident a fleet of SpaceLiners could make up to 15 flights a day.
European scientists are developing a system to protect Earth from the giant asteroids which travel around the Milky Way.
The NEOShield project is run out of Berlin with funds from the EU.
The project, which will look for a way to protect Earth from the space rocks, is expected to take three years to complete.
Some of the ideas being tossed around at the moment include repelling asteroids with projectiles or explosives or using gravity to change its course.
NEOShield project though is a little late as a chunk of rock 400 times the City of London is set to hurtle closer than a rock of its size has in a very long time.
The asteroid labelled “(433) Eros” measures 19 by 8 by 8 miles and is set to pass by next week.
Despite its massive size, the cosmic rock shouldn’t be too cause too much of a threat as it is on a circular path far outside the moon’s orbit.
A smaller bus-sized asteroid passed extremely close to Earth yesterday.
European scientists are developing a system to protect Earth from the giant asteroids which travel around the Milky Way
With NASA estimating that there are almost one thousand asteroids over one kilometre in length and 19,500 over 100-metres, scientists at the Institute of Planetary Research are trying to find a way to protect Earth.
With an investment of some €4 million ($5.2 million) by the European Commission and an extra €1.8 million ($2.3 million) coming from scientific institutions and partners, the German Aerospace Center aims to have a plan for a test mission drafted within three years.
After that, if they can find the extra cash, the mission may be launched by 2020.
The scientists will be looking at a host of ideas, many of which have already been proposed.
For one, there’s the “kinetic impactor” plan where a massive projectile would deflect the asteroid.
Another is the “gravity tractor” idea where a small probe would linger near the asteroid and use its gravitational traction to move it out of Earth’s way.
Or, like waging an all-out space war, some have suggested a full scale strike with nuclear missiles.
“Of course, a lot of things have already been proposed,” Alan Harris, the study’s leader, told Spiegel Online.
“But, so far, most of them have come from a single institution, perhaps even from a single person. So it has been hard to pursue them.”
Investigating each idea ‘will take place on paper and in lab experiments, since we don’t have the money to do more than that,” said Wolfram Lork, who works with a subsidiary on the project.
One other, coarser idea would be “blast deflection” which would involve deterring the asteroid with directed explosive charges. Harris says this would be the “final, desperate approach”.
“We would like to present plans for a feasible, affordable mission. We want to show the world it can be done,” Alan Harris said, adding that the ultimate solution might be a combining a gravity tractor with a kinetic impactor.
By observing the huge craters around the world – such as the Barringer Crater in Arizona or the Nördlinger Ries near Munich – scientists know that asteroids have struck Earth in its history and that, without action, they could well strike again.