Rockets not jets: the future of orbital launch

Tom James @ 04-03-2009

rocketA fascinating article on the pros and cons of air-breathing spacecraft vs. rockets for orbital launch at Short Sharp Science:

Trying to build a spaceship by making airplanes fly faster and higher is like trying to build an airplane by making locomotives faster and lighter – with a lot of effort, perhaps you could get something that more or less works, but it really isn’t the right way to proceed. The problems are fundamentally different, and so are the best solutions.

[image from jurvetson on flickr]


Sub-orbital tourism prices fall

Tom James @ 04-12-2008

Space tourism business RocketShip Tours offers 38 miles straight up into space for less than half the cost of Virgin Galactic‘s 62 miles. Hopefully this is the first of many tumbles down the supply demand curve towards mass market space tourism, from PhysOrg:

Per Wimmer, a Danish investment banker holds the first reservation for the Lynx sub-orbital flight expected to launch sometime in 2011.

Mr. Wimmer hedged his bet by plunking down the necessary reservation fee to Richard Branson´s Virgin Galactic and another rival for commercial space travel, Space Adventure. According to Wimmer, “It will be a real race to see which one goes up first”. The main difference between the XCOR Lynx is its ability to launch on any 10,000 foot runway with clear air space.

Just to remind us the future is nearly here, there is a computer generated (natch) video of what it’ll look like:

[via PhysOrg][image from Marxchivist on flickr]


Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo images released

Paul Raven @ 24-01-2008

Whatever you may think of Branson, Virgin Galactic, Burt Rutan and space tourism in general, you have to admit that there’s something deliciously skiffy about the look of SpaceShipTwo.

SpaceShipTwo

I don’t care about practicalities when I see images like that – I just want to take a ride on the thing. Like, today. [Image from linked article – click through for a few more, including construction shots.]

[tags]space, tourism, SpaceShipTwo[/tags]