Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The New Space Race Begins

A new company has thrown their hat into the space tourism ring: Dassault.

Following the trail of SpaceShipTwo, Dassault has been working on a new suborbital civilian spacecraft. Not to be confused with the Future High-Altitude High-Speed Transport 20XX, the new aircraft could be a 11-ton vehicle derived from their VEHRA satellite launcher.

VEHRA and VSH—the name of the new civilian vehicle—are both air launched, and "based on the X-38 experimental lifting body from NASA, for which Dassault Aviation had defined the shape." While VEHRA will have heavy versions capable of putting a 7-ton payload in low orbit, VSH is only designed to bring tourists into the edge of space, flying at Mach 3.5.

The VSH is still very early in development, but by the time it flies, SpaceShipTwo should have already made its maiden voyage.

This could be the start of something big.

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