Boeing and NASA said they completed the flight-test program of the X-48C blended wing body (BWB) research aircraft on April 9. The program consisted of 30 flights over eight months at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
UK-based Reaction Engines has carried out a series of tests on a key component for its new engine, the Sabre, which is capable of operating as both a jet and a rocket engine by employing a translating intake. The novel feature will enable the aircraft–such as the Skylon reusable spaceplane–that the Sabre will power to fly anywhere on earth in less than four hours or directly into space and back to deliver satellites or cargo.
EADS has unveiled two new futuristic “Flightpath 2050” aircraft. The Zero Emission Hyper Sonic Transport (ZEHST) would fly above the atmosphere to avoid dumping pollutants in it, except for a relatively small amount during takeoff. The descent would be a unpowered glide, apart from restarting the engines for the final approach and landing. A steep climb on takeoff would leave a relatively small noise footprint around the airport.
EADS Astrium plans to move into the space tourism market, the company revealed. Rides, including three minutes of weightlessness at an altitude of 330,000 feet, are likely to cost upward of $200,000. The only route to space for non-astronauts today, a ride on the Russian Soyuz to the International Space Station, costs $25 million and involves “six months of horrible training,” the company said.
EADS Astrium’s plans to move into the space tourism market, revealed last week to a VIP audience and represented here by a full-scale mockup of a hybrid spaceplane’s forward fuselage and its business-jet-like cabin, depend on raising money from the private sector.