Thursday, December 15, 2005

Silver Dart Flies Again, This Time To Space

Despite the fact their first Spacecraft design, the Canadian Arrow, has yet to leave the ground, Canada's London, Ontario based firm PlanetSpace unveiled designs for a new orbital Spaceplane they are calling the Silver Dart.
In a story at CNN.com, PlanetSpace CEO Geoff Sheerin called the new eight-person craft the "DC-3 of the Space industry". Bold talk considering no actual flight test data is available, much less a full-size working model.
At least the name has a pedigree: In 1909, "Silver Dart" was the name of the first aircraft to demonstrate powered flight in Canada. The frail and spindly looking craft took to the skies directly from the ice.

Once built, the new Silver Dart will be lofted vertically atop a stack of Canadian Arrow engines, cruise to orbit, return to earth horizontally, utilizing lifting-body techniques and land like an airplane. Working since the beginning of the X-Prize contest, the Canadian Arrow team has chosen a launch location, and is ready to begin some equipment tests, but doesn't expect to begin actual flights to Space until 2008 at the earliest.
In fact, a number of former X-prize contenders still plan to build and launch Spacecraft of their own, in an effort to provide regular Space access to what they believe will be a multitude of paying customers.

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