European Space Jet Unveiled

The European aerospace firm EADS Astrium revealed its plans for space tourism on Wednesday at a special event in Paris. The company also showed plans for a new space plane that it hopes will take customers up to space as early as 2012.

The Astrium space jet will take off and land from a conventional airport using jet engines. Once it reaches an altitude of 12 km, its rocket engines will ignite, and burn long enough to give it the momentum to reach 100 km of altitude. Passengers on board the plane will then get to enjoy a few moments of weightlessness, with a beautiful view of the Earth. Then it will descend, with its jet engines restarting, bringing it back to a safe landing. The whole journey should take about 90 minutes.

A vehicle like this could also be a precursor to suborbital space planes, which would provide rapid point-to-point transportation across the Earth.

Original Source: EADS Astrium News Release