For some people, flying from London to Sydney in four hours just won't be fast enough. So, those of you unimpressed with that tiresome 240-minute ride, maybe this will do: Germany's space agency will get you there in 90 minutes.
According to Scientific American, the 50-passenger SpaceLiner would make the UK-to-Australia route commutable "by riding a rocket into Earth's atmosphere, reaching 24 times the speed of sound before gliding in for a landing."
The concept at the German Aerospace Center also calls to stop just short of space by hitting an altitude of 50 miles, to use separate orbiter propulsion after the rocket booster launch, and to glide back to earth at 15,000 miles per hour. The magazine writes,
"Many challenges still remain, including finding the right shape for the vehicle, said Martin Sippel, project coordinator for SpaceLiner at the German Aerospace Center. But he suggested the project could make enough progress to begin attracting private funding in another 10 years and aim for full operations by 2050."
So if you've already booked your ticket on the four-hour supersonic cruiser planned by Boeing, NASA and others, maybe you should ask for a refund.
Image: German Aerospace Center.
If you have to settle for something slower:
More distance defying, on SmartPlanet: