The plane would carry up to 20 passengers, significantly more people than any other commercial spaceflight firm intended to take to the space
Spaceflight companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have already revealed their grand plans to get people into the space and are striving hard to make space tourism a reality. Now, China has also decided to join the race for launching people into the space and has come up with an even bigger plan.
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A state-backed firm The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing is eyeing to build a spaceplane that would carry up to 20 passengers to the edge of the space, most by any other commercial spaceflight firm promising to offer trips to space to date. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo,which is intended to take people on brief trips to suborbital space, would carry six passengers on a single flight. Blue Origin’s spaceplane New Shepard is also expected to take same number of tourists when it begins commercial flights while rest are planning to carry even fewer number of people at a time.
Academy suggests that building a much higher capacity spacecraft will soon become inevitable as many people are excited about the idea of space travel and want to get experience of the spaceflight themselves.
The basic design of the spacecraft was revealed at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico last week and it will consist of simple, one-piece vehicle, which will take off on its own power.
“The vehicle will take off vertically like a rocket and land on the runway automatically without any ground or on-board intervention.” Academy team leader Han Pengxin said.
New Scientist provides more details on the supposedly biggest spaceplane to date.
“Han’s team has designed two versions of their rocket plane. The first has a mass of 10 tonnes and a wingspan of 6 metres. This one, he says, should be able to fly five people to an altitude of 100 kilometres – where space officially begins – at speeds up to Mach 6, giving 2 minutes of weightlessness. But a scaled up 100-tonne version, with a 12-metre wingspan, could fly 20 people to 130 kilometres at Mach 8, giving 4 minutes of weightlessness.”
“That larger spacecraft is fast enough to help deliver small satellites into orbit, with the help of a small rocket stage add-on that would sit on top of the vehicle. And that payload-carrying capability will reduce tourist ticket prices, says Han. They also intend to make it reusable, so each plane should be good for up to 50 flights.”
Hans further reveals that ground tests are almost completed and the test flights expected to be done in the next two years.