A plan of a unique space-plane capable of moving passengers and cargoes at heights of 100-200 kilometers at a speed of up to 30,000 kmph was presented Monday by Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) experts at the opening of an international exhibition "Aviation and Astronautics-2003".
A module-construction space-plane is equipped with rocket engines. It can be used for cargo deliveries to low near-earth orbits, as well as for space tourism.
"Flight tests of the 1:25 sized experimental model were a success. They confirmed that the geometry and construction of the suborbital flying vehicle were well calculated," a project designer, academician Ivan Obraztsov, research manager of the Applied Mechanics Institute told RIA Novosti.
In his words, in case the project is realized, the cost of putting a kilogram of payload to a height of 200 kilometers will total some $300 for a one-stage version and some $100 for a two-stage one.
The 75-meter-long space-plane with a launching mass of about 180 tons is planned to be equipped with liquid-propellant rocket engines that run on a mix of liquid hydrogen and oxygen.
"The first stage of the apparatus will be equipped with six RD-701 rocket engines designed by research-and-production enterprise "Energomash" with a specific propulsive impulse of 120 tons," Obraztsov said.
The space-plane is round-shaped and has two tail pylons. The front fuselage will house the crew or cargo, and the rear fuselage will house rocket engines. The flying vehicle will be able to operate both in piloted and unmanned modes.
The space-plane's tourist versions will make it possible to move up to 1,000 passengers at a height of some 100 kilometers at a maximum speed of 30,000 kmph. G forces in flight will be almost the same as in an express elevator.
"A space-plane flight from Moscow to New York will take 50 minutes, to Tokyo 53 minutes, to Sydney 66 minutes," Obraztsov said.