maandag 17 maart 2008

Space planes 'to meet big demand'

Interesting story about space touristic market:

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.
"To satisfy the market you will need more planes than you think, because once there is regular operation, the price will decrease which means there will be more customers," Robert Laine, chief technical officer (CTO) of the pan-European company, told BBC News.

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.

As the plane then begins to fall back to Earth, the pilot will use small thrusters to control its attitude, keeping the plane's belly flat to the Earth.

Read the whole fascinating story at BBC News (with lot of movies)

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