Friday, December 16, 2005

Space: The Final Day Trip

Time to book your reservation for a trip into space? Maybe soon
( -- A space tourism group developing a suborbital rocket ship is now taking aim at orbital trips with a new spacecraft that doubles as a hypersonic glider.

Canada's London, Ontario-based firm PlanetSpace unveiled designs for its Silver Dart spacecraft, an eight-person vehicle derived from experimental aircraft studies in the 1970s, Thursday with hopes of carrying fare-paying passengers into orbit and resupplying the international space station (ISS).

"The Silver Dart is the DC-3 of the space industry," said Geoff Sheerin, PlanetSpace president and CEO, in a telephone interview. "It has so many things going for it in terms of performance."

Sheerin's Silver Dart program is separate from his Canadian Arrow effort to use a proven V2 rocket design to build a three-person rocket ship for suborbital flights.
Plans for the Silver Dart date back about four years as Sheerin was researching the Canadian Arrow rocket to compete in the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition for suborbital spaceflight.
Uhhhhhhhh…hold on a minute. What V2 rocket design are we talking about here? Admittedly, I’m no rocket scientist (to coin a term) but the only V2 rockets I’ve ever heard of were the pioneer rocket weapons used by the Nazis in World War II.

And that’s not the only mention of old technology that has me a bit worried. The few paragraphs I reprinted also include a reference to 1970s experimental aircraft and a later comparison to the DC-3, a 1930s aircraft. What, they aren’t using breakthrough steam power technology that ended the age of sails?

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