Though a lot of the space-faring focus is on getting to the moon or Mars, would-be space tourists are still waiting for some semi-affordable trips into orbit. Now China is looking to step in and fill the void.
New Scientist reports a state-backed group is developing a “gigantic spaceplane” that could eventually fly 20 passengers to the edge of space. The concept is apparently a scaled-up version of a space plane designed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, which they believe could work at a size large enough to carry that many passengers at around $200,000 per ticket. The reusable, winged rocket is designed to be able to take off on its own.
That’s obviously not cheap, but it’s a lot less than the millions it’d cost to hitch a ride on a Russian rocket (which is about the only way to get up there right now). The company hopes to start payload launches by 2020, but by then there should (hopefully) be some other options on the market. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is hard at work perfecting the SpaceShipTwo spaceplane, while the company XCOR is developing its own space plane to take folks to the edge of space.
(Via New Scientist)