The science-fiction pundits were wrong. The future of space travel doesn’t look like a Buck Rogers-style rocket poised to roar straight up into the twinkling heavens from a tinkerer’s backyard. What space travel will look like, according to a company called Stratolaunch Systems−which includes board member and backyard tinkerer Burt Rutan−is kind of unsurprising, more airplane-like, although no less fantastical.
U.S.-based TGV Rockets has completed test firings of a 30,000-pound-class throttleable rocket engine that uses JP-8 kerosene fuel. The first phase of testing was conducted over the past two months at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The second phase, focused on gaining more information on the performance of the JP-8 fuel, is under way.
For many years, companies such as Space Expeditions, Space Adventures and even some airlines have been seriously talking about lofting paying passengers into space on privately operated (non-governmental) vehicles. When Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize on Oct. 5, 2004, it dawned on people that this idea was a real near-term probability.
Virgin Group boss Sir Richard Branson is touting the UAE as one of the world’s first space tourism centers when his Virgin Galactic venture begins suborbital flights at the end of the decade.