Overheard on CNN.com: New shuttle needs space plane 'coolness'
Designed by UK-based engineers Reaction Engines Ltd, the Skylon project is a radical idea for future space travel.
June 8th, 2012
07:20 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: New shuttle needs space plane 'coolness'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

CNN commenters - clearly energized about the promise of a new, privately developed space shuttle - are buzzing about winged spacecraft versus capsule-based vehicles like Dragon, which SpaceX used for its historic visit to the space station last month.

A commenter called "gregory" points out the Skylon space plane project in the UK. The theory behind space planes is they would be able to take off from a runway, rocket into low orbit, and then fly to a landing on a runway.

Gregory suggests that space planes are preferable because their engines would be designed to "breathe air like a jet at lower speeds" and then "switch to rocket mode in the high atmosphere." CNN reported on Skylon last year and one insider estimated development cost to be around $10 billion. NASA's program to fund private spacecraft development offers only a fraction of that amount - less than $400 million awarded so far.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
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  3. Steven Moshlak

    The model bears a marking likeness to another spacecraft. Specifically it is a "tricked-out" design of the Pan American Airways, "Orion" space shuttle, from "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968).

    June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am |
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      October 13, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  4. Portland tony

    For transit to a relatively low orbiting space station, it sounds good. For Deeper missions to planets it probably would be too small and wings would just add to the craft's weight. Perhaps with a more advanced propulsion system ie. ion or similar drive, launched from a zero gravity base it might make landing back on earth easier and allow the craft to be recycled.

    June 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for the comment, Portland tony. Your post is the featured Comment of the Day today:

      http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/11/mash-up-aliens-kittens-bears-oh-my/

      June 11, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

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