Actually, the aerospace plane idea goes back 50 years to the Boeing "Dyna-Soar" project. The idea of using wings for lift is so intuitively attractive that I don't think engineers could believe it wasn't practical until we actually built the space shuttle. At the point in the design when they realized it would need the SRBs, they should have given it up. It was a kludge and it incorporate the expense and the risks of both forms fo space flight without giving a lower cost per pound in orbit than a conventional rocket.
The aerospace plane is one of those ideas the sure seems like it ought to be great, but once you actually try to design it, turns out not to be.
Naperlou: I, too, am curious why this would take so long. About twenty years ago, defense contractors were working on the National Aerospace Plane, which was supposed to fly into earth orbit like an airplane and land like an airplane. I know that got shelved, but it seems like we've gone backwards to the 1960s to do this in the "quick and dirty" fashion used by the Mercury programs. Sounds like it goes up in a classic rocket trajectory. The only difference seems to be that it can land on hard ground.
Mydesign, I think this capsule is for both legs of the trip. It would take people to the space station and bring others back.
It really does look like the Apollo capsule. It is typical of the space program that when a single specification changes you have a new device. It is just a scaled up Apollo capsule. It uses the same heat shield approach and lands in the same way. The addition of the air bags allows landing on land as well as water, but that probably could have been added to the Apollo capsule if air bags were as well developed as they are now. Even the chutes look the same as the original, as Beth might well be remembering. So, why does this take so long???
Seeing the image of that space capsule reminded me of when I was a kid watching the astronauts touch down after their time on the moon. (I know, I'm dating myself). It was an exciting time and let's hope that these commercial spacecraft endeavors can recapture some of that magic and reignite interest in the space program.
Elizabeth, am not getting the need of this parachute. Is it for carrying passengers from ground station to the international space station or from space vehicle to the space station? Whats the advantage in using this type of space capsules.
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