I’m not sure what it is about humans that makes us always want to go faster. Ever since someone jumped on a horse, a fair amount of technology has been dedicated to getting us from point A to point B in an ever-increasing hurry. The SpaceLiner, backed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), is a future-looking endeavor that aims to make global travel faster than ever.
The SpaceLiner is basically a low orbit shuttle with room for 50 passengers. According to the DLR, the shuttle could take off from the US, zip across the globe, and land in Europe a little over an hour later. Before that can happen, though, the project has its share of engineering problems to overcome.
Just like any other supersonic aircraft, one of the major hurdles in place is the boom left in the wake of the shuttle as it comes in for a landing. This was one of the problems that eventually led to the Concorde being grounded. (Read about sonic boom simulations here.) If you think living near an airport is annoying, imagine having the SpaceLiner zoom overhead.
The tickets wouldn’t be cheap either. Current estimates place the cost of a seat at several hundred thousand dollars, making the venture somewhat dubious as a commercial enterprise. Still, the DLR hopes to improve the design of the SpaceLiner enough in the next 10 years to attract investors, with a launch date somewhere around 2050.
Below you’ll find a video about the SpaceLiner.