China reaches for the stars with its space tourism program
WE’VE ALL SEEN Nasa’s breathtakingly beautiful pictures of outer space and watched movies about space travel.
And that may soon become a reality, thanks to China and its rapid advancement in technology.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, a prestigious developer of carrier rockets, is aiming to be the country’s first space tourism provider.
The academy’s engineers are currently working on a new spacecraft to send any aspiring space traveler on an intergalactic journey to get a closer view of the vast universe that surrounds Earth.
China has always been quick to embrace and support new technology, accounting for 20 percent of total world research and development (R&D) spending, with aims to become a global technology leader.
Here are some quick facts about the program:
- The spacecraft is a fixed-wing aircraft without a vertical stabilizer, upright fin at the tail end and propelled by a rocket engine.
- The carrier rocket will blast off vertically but make a horizontal landing on a runway like an ordinary plane.
- It will function without pilots or controllers inside the spacecraft. Instead, it will use preset programs.
- All 10 square meters of its inside area will be capable of carrying almost 20 travelers.
- Only passengers between ages 18 and 65 and have neither heart disease nor hypertension can participate.
- Participating travelers will need to undergo training sessions for several weeks to prepare for the effects of gravitational acceleration and weightlessness.
- Travelers will no need to wear spacesuits during the journey as there will be oxygen and life-support instruments inside the spacecraft.
- The spacecraft will carry passengers to an altitude of more than 100km, 10 times the cruising altitude of a commercial plane.
- The half-hour-long flight will culminate in an over 10 minute-long sightseeing session.
- The magnificent view of the stars and the feeling of weightlessness comes with a price tag: US$200,000 to US$250,000.
- According to the plans, the reusable spacecraft is scheduled to enter service sometime in 2028.
China Daily quoted project manager Han Pengxin as saying that the spacecraft will be safe and reliable since it will employ the academy’s cutting-edge technologies.
The academy’s senior researches of reusable spacecraft Cai Qiaoyan said maintaining the space tourism spacecraft would be easy, so it could be used for frequent flights.
“After one flight, our engineers will only need to make some simple examinations of the spacecraft and refuel it, which could be done in as little as two days, and then the spacecraft could be used for a new flight,” he said, adding that such a spacecraft could make some 50 flights before being retired.
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Source: Travels travelwireasia.com