Space Tourism Firm Unveils Orbital Spacecraft Concept

A space tourism group developing a suborbital rocket ship is now taking aim at orbital trips with a new spacecraft that doubles as a hypersonic glider. Canada’s London, Ontario-based firm PlanetSpace unveiled designs for its Silver Dart spacecraft, an eight-person vehicle derived from experimental aircraft studies in the 1970s, Thursday with hopes of carrying fare-paying passengers into orbit and resupplying the International Space Station (ISS). “The Silver Dart is the DC-3 of the space industry,” said Geoff Sheerin, PlanetSpace president and CEO, in a telephone interview. “It has so many things going for it in terms of performance.” Sheerin’s Silver Dart program is separate from his Canadian Arrow effort to use a proven V2 rocket design to build a three-person rocket ship for suborbital flights. Plans for the Silver Dart date back about four years as Sheerin was researching the Canadian Arrow rocket to compete in the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition for suborbital spaceflight. “About five percent of my time has been looking and poring over the program,” Sheerin said of the Silver Dart plans. But NASA’s intention to purchase commercial services for both cargo and crew flights to the ISS encouraged Sheerin and his team to push forward with their work. NASA plans to retire its three remaining space shuttles – Atlantis, Endeavour and Discovery – in 2010. Does anyone think that NASA will buy Canadian? well I for one hope so as Both countries share a common border and a long one at that; maybe it is time to bury the hatchet between both governments I hope so.

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