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This is a vision of the future, a Maglev launch system that will transport ordinary people to the edge of space, and back again. This spacecraft will open the universe to all, it’s a dream of those who will design and build the next generation of space planes.
In the very near future space tourism will become an everyday activity, the corridors of space will become as busy as the airways of today. The environment surrounding our Earth will become the largest construction site ever. Dozens of space stations will orbit our planet, these weightless cities will launch and maintain thousands of communications satellites and provide a stepping stone for deep space exploration. A fleet of commercial spaceplanes will transport passengers and cargo quickly and cheaply. As more and more spaceplanes ferry components up from Earth for use in space we will build larger and more complex space stations, floating gateways to the universe.
But is the future already here?
A spaceplane is a vehicle that operates as an aircraft in Earth's atmosphere, as well as a spacecraft when it is in space. It combines features of an aircraft and a spacecraft, which can be thought of as an aircraft that can endure and manoeuvre in the vacuum of space or likewise a spacecraft that can fly like an airplane. The spaceflight is then followed by an unpowered glide return to landing. Only five spaceplanes have successfully flown to date, having reentered Earth's atmosphere, returned to Earth, and safely landed, the X-15, Space Shuttle, Buran, SpaceShipOne, and X-37. All five are rocket gliders, only rockets and rocket-powered aircraft have thus far succeeded in reaching space.
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