Space planes have been dreamed of for centuries.
Leonardo da Vinci (painter of the renowned Mona Lisa) drew
the first concept of a plane that would air-transport people.
Ever since that time, man's imagination is rife with vivid
visions not only of regular planes but also of space planes
that are capable of suborbital, orbital and even staying indefinitely
in outer space.
Such imaginings were supported by the animated depiction
of space travel in comic books, sci-fi novels and now scientific
journals. The era of space travel is definitely at hand.
We are left in awe each time we see astronauts donned in
their gear as they enter the shuttle. And we can't help but
imagine what it would be like to be in their position, feel
the experience of a lifetime, being able to look over Earth,
seeing the vast expanse, walking in space and especially being
weightless among other activities that come inherent with
a space journey.
Considering man's quest for adventure and for space travel,
a number of our aircraft designers are now developing space
planes that will serve as vehicles to ferry interested passenger's
or tourists on a trip beyond the Earth's atmosphere.
Unlike the rocket planes, space planes are conveyed by carrier
aircraft strapped in the carrier's underbelly or piggy backed
ride and released at altitudes of over 50,000 feet. And, then
the aircraft will then continue its journey using the built-in
rocket propellant. On the trip back to the earth, the space
plane operates similarly to a conventional airplane that can
land on its own accord. Apart from that, modern space planes
guarantee passengers or tourists that they can effectively
operate both in the atmosphere, during extended periods at
the edge of space and on the Earth's orbit.
Primarily, the only reason hindering full-scale space plane
development is the large funding or investment necessary to
finance a project of this magnitude. But, this has changed
since then, due to the advent of space tourism that is expected
to be a lucrative investment after all. Besides, the invention
of new technology to support this venture has undoubtedly
elevated the possibility of space tourism to new heights while
likewise reducing the costs related to space plane travel.
In view of this recent development, investors are in a hurried
pace to launch the first vehicle into space and get the lion's
share of the emerging industry.
And, with space planes already in our midst, we are therefore
closer to achieving our dreams of space travel. Imagine what
it would be like when you can actually travel to and from
space conveniently in a method similar to a cross country
flight from a conventional airport? Definitely, this will
be an exhilarating experience. Most likely, this is the reason
why a number of privileged individuals today are willing to
spend millions of dollars for ticket reservation on a flight
to outer space even if it means just a couple of hours or
maybe a couple of days in the near future.
Although there are a number of investors pursuing space planes,
we cannot expect the vehicles to be available before 2009
since a lot of tests need to be conducted before said vehicles
may be declared fit and safe for suborbital travel. The next
decade will be critical for the space tourism industry, particularly
with the development of space planes that will most likely
dictate the pace of this new industry.