Space.com Article on Rocket Powered Hypersonic Travel

Hypersonic ‘SpaceLiner’ Aims to Fly Passengers in 2050
By Jeremy Hsu | SPACE.com – 5 hrs ago

A hypersonic “SpaceLiner” would whisk up to 50 passengers from Europe to Australia in 90 minutes. The futuristic vehicle would do so by riding a rocket into Earth’s upper atmosphere, reaching 24 times the speed of sound before gliding in for a landing.

Many challenges still remain, including finding the right shape for the vehicle, said Martin Sippel, project coordinator for SpaceLiner at the German Aerospace Center. But he suggested the project could make enough progress to begin attracting private funding in another 10 years and aim for full operations by 2050.

The current concept includes a rocket booster stage for launch and a separate orbiter stage to carry passengers halfway around the world without ever making it to space. Flight times between the U.S. and Europe could fall to just over an hour if the SpaceLiner takes off — that is, if passengers don’t mind paying the equivalent of space tourism prices around several hundred thousand dollars.

“Maybe we can best characterize the SpaceLiner by saying it’s a kind of second-generation space shuttle, but with a completely different task,” Sippel said.

SpaceLiner passengers would have eight minutes to experience the rocket launch before they reached an altitude of about 47 to 50 miles (75 to 80 kilometers). That falls short of the 62-mile (100-km) boundary considered the edge of space, but even a suborbital flight would allow SpaceLiner to glide back to Earth at hypersonic speeds of more than 15,000 mph (25,200 kph).

Relying on rocket power 

The rocket-powered design stands out compared with other proposed hypersonic jets, which feature new air-breathing engine concepts. European aerospace giant EADS previously unveiled a hypersonic jet concept that would rely mainly upon air-breathing ramjets to reach cruising speeds of Mach 4 — faster than the supersonic Concorde’s Mach 2 performances but far slower than the SpaceLiner’s Mach 24 goal.
SpaceLiner’s European project planners say their reliance upon proven rocket technology could allow their vehicle to fly sooner rather than later. They plan to use liquid oxygen and hydrogen rocket propellants so that the rocket engines leave only water vapor and hydrogen in the atmosphere. [Video: How DARPA’s HTV-2 Hypersonic Bomber Test Works]

“We will not try to improve the performance of the engine but would like to have it more reusable,” Sippel told TechNewsDaily.

The empty rocket stage from SpaceLiner would return to Earth immediately after launch in preparation for reuse. An aircraft could grab the rocket stage in midair, tow it toward an airfield and release it for an autonomous gliding landing.

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About Granger Whitelaw

Granger Whitelaw founded the Rocket Racing League along with partner, Peter Diamandis in 2005. See more information at http://www.grangerwhitelaw.com/blog and http://grangerwhitelaw.brandyourself.com View all posts by Granger Whitelaw

5 responses to “Space.com Article on Rocket Powered Hypersonic Travel

  • Charton

    Imagining the SpaceLiner, wow! its really amazing… who would have thought that a man could make that possible. We cant wait for this any longer until 2050, its 37 years to come before having that. Maybe just make it more earlier than having that on 2050. And I cant wait to it, I cant wait to ride that thing, I’m hoping I would be the first to ride that. Thanks!

  • ROmeo

    Wow! This is incredibly fast and amazingly fast “A hypersonic “SpaceLiner” would whisk up to 50 passengers from Europe to Australia in 90 minutes”, how I wish I can try to have a ride with this one. I wonder what kind of engine is this and what makes it more different to the normal and typical airplane that we have right now.

  • Calvin

    I wonder how excited you will feel with this one “SpaceLiner passengers would have eight minutes to experience the rocket launch before they reached an altitude of about 47 to 50 miles (75 to 80 kilometers).”, I like watching some rocket launch and I even want to see myself in there, inside of the rocket while waiting until the rocket launch and flies to the air and then go in space and that’s why I want to be an astronaut and it’s really my dream.

  • Prona Jurt

    I agree to this kind of plan “They plan to use liquid oxygen and hydrogen rocket propellants so that the rocket engines leave only water vapor and hydrogen in the atmosphere”, this is good for the nature and on our planet since water vapor is just of course a component that is good for the atmosphere. I believe that in the mere future, many engines will be built like this and if that happens, pollution will be lessen.

  • Cerina

    Wow! From Europe to Australia with just 90 minutes and 50 passengers in it. That is really fast, well of course it is a hypersonic and how much more if it will be a supersonic, I forgot my lesson about aerodynamics but it is all about its mach number and comparing it to the speed of sound. It is really unbelievable to achieve that kind of speed and force in the air and atmosphere.

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