Chinese space plane firm target crewed sub-orbital tourism flights by 2025

A Chinese company is building a rocket with wings for tourists heading to both space and far-flung destinations on Earth.

Space Transportation says it is developing an aircraft which will be cheaper to make than a standard rocket but faster than any commercial plane.

Sub-orbital flights which the firm say will be carried out by the new vehicle, are expected to transport passengers from one side of the world to the other within an hour.

Travelling from London to Sydney would give barely enough time for an in-flight meal, let alone a blockbuster movie.

The 'winged rocket' would achieve this by breaching the space Kármán line and returning to Earth again rather than following the globe's curvature.

The Kármán line is an attempt to define a boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space.

The ambitious Space Transportation told Yicheng Times: "We are developing a winged rocket for high-speed, point-to-point transportation, which is lower in cost than rockets that carry satellites and faster than traditional aircraft."

According to an animated video, the aircraft will launch vertically thanks to a rocket which will later detach as the journey continues.

The aircraft lands using three legs which are deployed at its rear.

The company, whose full name is Beijing Lingkong Tianxing Technology Co., Ltd, is planning to have ground tests by 2023 followed by its first flight in 2024 and a crewed trip the year after.

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Space Transportation may have only been established in 2018 but it has set an ambitious target of 2030 for the year by which it will have completed a full global or orbital, crewed space flight.

Last August, the firm announced that it had raised £34 million of investment for its hypersonic space plane plans, and has more recently been testing its Tianxing 1 and Tianxing 2 vehicles.

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Last week Space Transportation conducted its 10th test flight followed by another in collaboration with a combustion laboratory at Tsinghua University.

It is thought information about the testing has been kept under wraps due to the sensitive nature of hypersonic-related technologies.

The country's main space contractor, The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation conducted highly secretive launch tests of suborbital and orbital vehicles from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

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