Throughout the years, space program spinoffs have served us well. Everyday products include freeze-dried food, firefighting equipment, emergency “space blankets,” Dustbusters and more. First they were proven in space, then adapted to fulfill earthly needs. Today, forward-thinking scientists are talking about adapting technology not even in practice yet to address current real-life desires.
XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation formed by people who realized the only way for them to get to space is to make it affordable for private citizens. Their current focus is set on developing the Lynx commercial reusable launch vehicle (RLV). Lynx will take humans and payloads on a half-hour suborbital flight then return safely to the takeoff runway. But looking beyond what has not even been done yet, XCOR could have the ticket to a flight from New York to Tokyo in 90 minutes by 2030.
Airlines have all but given up on supersonic flight, burned by the two unsolved problems of the Concorde that retired in 2003: the high cost of fuel and the noisy sonic boom created by the aircraft. Those two factors, respectively, led to an inability to make Concorde’s operation profitable and limited its market as nations (including the United States) prohibited landing. Still, the idea of flying from New York to Tokyo in under three hours still has its charm and XCOR might have a way to make it happen.
Flying what is called point to point space travel, the Lynx will take off and land like a conventional plane, going from point A to point B, but cruise at Mach 3.5 (2,688 mph).”Rockets are the way to go,” said XCOR COO Andrew Nelson in an interesting Business Insider article about how the return of supersonic flight will revolutionize travel. Initially it will be “much more like a fighter pilot experience” than business class, says Nelson, but New York to Tokyo in 90 minutes? How great would that be?
In 2008 Gadling reported, “It should be two years before the Lynx is off the ground, and Xcor has still to find a commercial partner to market and operate the flights,” in “The Commercial Space Race Heats Up.” But that was for a joy ride in suborbital space for millionaires launching and landing in the same place.
Point to point space travel is an entirely different animal, as we see in this video:
[Flickr photo by Midland Intl. Airport]