A German aerospace agency has designed a futuristic rocket-propelled jet that could take passengers from Australia to Europe in as little as 90 minutes by 2050.
The hypersonic “SpaceLiner” is designed to stand up upright like a space shuttle before launching into the Earth’s stratosphere to altitudes of 80km and reaching 24 times the speed of sound in less than 10 minutes.
“Maybe we can best characterize the SpaceLiner by saying it’s a kind of second-generation space shuttle, but with a completely different task,” DLR project coordinator Martin Sippel.
The futuristic capsule which has been described as a suborbital, winged passenger jet will be powered by 11 liquid rocket engines with an estimated capacity of 50 passengers.
The rocket propellants will be made of liquid oxygen and hydrogen, an environmentally friendly option leaving only water vapor and hydrogen in the atmosphere.
“We are having to define the dimensions ourselves and use computer models of the SpaceLiner to feel our way,” said Sippel.
“The SpaceLiner is a challenge in terms of both technology and operations.”
The company is now planning to test the first prototype of the design by 2035 with expectations that the SpaceLiner could make 15 trips a day.
“The vision is seductive,” a DLR statement said.
“Boarding in Europe, sit back, and already 90 minutes at the other end of the world to get out again in Australia.”