Two-seater rocket may fly humans to space by 2011

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Washington, Feb 22 (ANI): Spaceflight could soon be opened up to hundreds or potentially thousands of researchers rather than just an elite few, all thanks to the development of a piloted, two-seat suborbital rocket plane called Lynx that could fly humans and experimental payloads to space as early as 2011.

According to a report in Nature News, the plane was announced recently at the Next-Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, which drew more than 250 delegates, including space scientists, aerospace-industry representatives and government officials.

Lynx will operate like an aircraft, taking humans and experimental payloads on 30-45-minute suborbital flights up to heights of some 100 kilometres and then returning to the landing strip from which it launched.

"I think it's going to shock a lot of people by how transformative it is when access to space becomes like a laboratory instrument, when it becomes something you just go out and do," said Jeff Greason, president of XCOR Aerospace, based in Mojave, California.

"The immediacy of being able to do science live from space every day of the week is going to be spectacular," he added.

"By the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012, you're going to see spaceports struggling to deal with a flight rate that's completely unprecedented," said Greason. (ANI)

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