China to build the world’s biggest space plane by 2020: Aircraft would take 20 tourists 80 miles above Earth
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology designed the plane
It would fly above statosphere giving people 4 minutes of weightlessness
A ride could cost from $200,000 to $250,000 (£160,552 to £200,690)
The test flights will be finished in the next two years, the developers claim
This year China has been firmly establishing its place in the space race, by unveiling the world’s largest radio telescope, launching a space lab in preparation for a space station and unveiling plans to send a mission to Mars.
Now it seems the country also has its eyes on commercial spaceflight.
Designs of a new space plane, which could fly up to 20 passengers to the edge of space each day, have been revealed.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing designed the plane, and presented its ideas at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico last month,New Scientist revealed.
China’s plane would be a vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the magazine reported.
‘The vehicle will take off vertically like a rocket and land on the runway automatically without any ground or on-board intervention,’ said team leader Han Pengxin.
The researchers presented two ideas.
The first design weighs in at 10 tonnes and has a wingspan of 19.6 feet (6 metres).
This smaller version should be able to fly five people to an altitude of 62 miles (100 km), where space officially begins, letting passengers experience two minutes of weightlessness.
The second design was for a scaled up 100-tonne version, with a 40 foot (12 metre) wingspan, could fly 20 people to 80 miles (130 km), giving four minutes of weightlessness.