Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Going Up and Coming Down

The drive to turn space travel into a commercial enterprise continues. Virgin Galactic revealed the design for the spaceship which they think will become the backbone of a commercial fleet. The airplane designed to carry it looks nifty, and the ship itself reportedly has the ability to reenter the atmosphere at any angle. The price tag for a ride remains quite steep (where quite = prohibitively), but hopefully the design will work and begin a new age space race.

If going into orbit isn't for you, perhaps you will be interested in an experiment to take a paper airplane, launch it from the international space station and have it survive reentry. According to the Slashdot link for the article (which is in Japanese, so I can't actually read it), a group at the University of Tokyo has already designed a plane capable of withstanding Mach 7 for a few seconds before burning up. When I read that, I immediately thought: coolest grad student gig ever.

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