New Space Venture Could Bring Every City On Earth Within Two Hou - New York News

New Space Venture Could Bring Every City On Earth Within Two Hours Travel

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A Formula One tycoon is linking up with KLM, the Dutch airline, to develop spacecraft that could bring every city on Earth within two hours' travel time.

A British passenger was the first to buy a $93,000 ticket for a ride on an early version of the craft, providing suborbital flights for space tourists.

Michiel Mol, 42, a Dutchman who co-owns the Force India Formula One team and made his fortune in computer software, said over the weekend, "Being able to travel from London to Sydney in an hour and 45 minutes, that is the future. It is also the reason why KLM joined our firm [Space Expedition Curacao, or SXC] as a partner."

Peter Hartman, chief executive of the airline, said, "KLM supports this innovative project. The SXC program's aim is to make space flights -- the future of travel -- accessible in a responsible and sustainable way by developing and promoting new technologies."

Sir Richard Branson intends to become the first private space tourism operator, booking seats at $200,000 each for suborbital flights on his Virgin Galactic vehicles, which he hopes to begin launching as soon as 2012.

Mol intends to follow suit in early 2014 and says he has already sold 35 tickets at $93,000 for flights from the Caribbean island of Curacao. Regulatory approval is still under negotiation.

His first spaceship, the Lynx, from the Californian firm XCOR Aerospace, will be unveiled next spring and will, he claims, feature breakthrough technology with a reusable engine.

"It's the first time a spaceship will be capable of doing four flights a day and of doing 5,000 flights with one engine," he said.

Passengers, who will be entitled to call themselves astronauts if they reach an altitude of 62 miles (100km), will be required to pass physical tests which he says are no more stringent than would be expected of an air steward. The first generation spaceship will travel at 2,200mph (3,540kph), but the second generation will need to reach a velocity of 13,750mph (22,100kph) to achieve the desired orbit.

Although Mol concedes this is "a long way off," he adds that once the craft is in space, "where you are going doesn't make much difference."

"Flying from London to Barcelona would still take an hour or so while London to Tokyo would be about one hour and 30 minutes and London to Sydney, one hour and 45 minutes. "

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