Sydney in… two hours! “Space” passenger transport is in the works

By | May 18, 2023

London-Sydney in… two hours? Maybe if you can handle 6G!

A ‘space-based’ passenger transport concept is in the works as calculations show that commercial flight times could be reduced by more than 20 times over the next decade, making the London-Sydney journey just 2 hours, following ambitious plans to transport passengers to other countries. through… space.

Aviation experts are investigating how ordinary citizens will cope with short periods in zero gravity during long-distance travel, such as between the UK and Australia.

Normally, a flight from London to Sydney on a commercial airliner takes more than 22 hours, but suborbital flights would cut that down to just two hours, breaking the record set by Concorde in 1985.
However, passengers would experience G-forces during takeoff and landing, and zero gravity in mid-flight would mean they would have to keep their seatbelts on.

Travelers could also keep their seat tilted back during launch and “clench their buttocks” as they exit and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

According to the Times, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) conducted a study on the effects of suborbital spaceflight on the human body.

published in magazine Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance found that most people can cope with the G-forces of suborbital spaceflight, although there may be potentially problematic “physiological responses.”

“Commercial suborbital spaceflight is now available for tourism and scientific research and is expected to eventually mature into ultra-fast point-to-point travel, e.g. London-Sydney in less than 2 hours”, they say.

“As with air travel, a solid fundamental understanding of the fundamental physiology associated with flight is required to inform medical decision-making and maximize safe access to suborbital flight.

“Suborbital acceleration profiles are generally well tolerated, but are not physiologically insignificant.”

Dr. Ryan Anderton, the CAA’s spaceflight medical director, told the Times that it was “definitely not science fiction” and will happen “much sooner than people think…certainly less than 10 years.”

Here’s a report that says we’re entering a new era of “space tourism” that includes suborbital and orbital flights.

Suborbital flights are defined as those that enter space but do not have enough speed to stay there, so suborbital vehicles return to earth.
They contrast with orbital flights, which have a stronger orbit in order to stay in space and orbit the Earth at least once, as is the case with space stations or satellites.

Suborbital flights, such as those already offered by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, currently cost more than £350,000 per seat.
However, regulators have predicted that they will soon become less expensive, eventually making intercontinental travel an affordable option for everyone.

Experts believe that commercial suborbital flights between countries could be possible “within a decade”, although research is still ongoing, but it is not clear exactly how much it would cost.

So how would these flights work?

A commercial suborbital flight would take off from a specially adapted launch site at an existing airport (such as London Heathrow) or one with more space more suitable for space travel launches (such as Cornwall Spaceport).

The passengers will be launched into space in a suborbital ship similar to the Dream Chaser, a space plane developed by the US company Sierra Space, or Virgin Galactic’s VSS Imagine.

The Dream Chaser, which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show last year, is designed to carry up to seven people to and from low-Earth orbit.

But the selected vehicle could have a higher capacity than that, more in line with the capacity of current commercial lines, to make the project profitable.

The occupants would experience G forces four times the force of Earth’s gravity, known as 4G, not to be confused with the mobile communications standard.

This 4G period would last 20 to 30 seconds after the moment of the explosion, according to the study, but would then taper off. Not long after disembarking, the vehicle will enter a period of microgravity, meaning travelers may need to be strapped into their seats to prevent them from floating.

As the vehicle reaches its destination, the G forces will peak at six times (6G) during descent for approximately 10 to 15 seconds. This could be a problem because with 5G, pilots and passengers risk losing consciousness.

HE new research, conducted with King’s College London and facilitated by the RAF, it tested the limits of normal, sane civilians.

The scientists put 24 healthy people of various ages inside a human centrifuge at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. Human centrifuges are large rotating chambers that simulate the effects of high acceleration, memorably depicted in the 1979 James Bond film Moonraker.

When exposed to launch-style G forces, the researchers found that the participants experienced “particularly dynamic changes” in heart rate, blood pressure and cardiac output, as well as hypoxemia, a low level of oxygen in the blood .

Although increasing age was associated with greater hypoxemia and reduced cardiac output, it had no adverse cardiovascular effects. However, respiratory and visual symptoms were common, with 88 percent of participants reporting “graying” — dullness or blurry vision.

One of the 24 participants experienced a G-force induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC), although he recovered once the G-force was reduced.

The image from the new study shows arterial oxygen saturation (SpO2) during suborbital acceleration during each launch and re-entry phase, simulated by the human centrifuge. Black bars indicate breathable air, while gray bars breathe 15% oxygen.

This suggests that a suborbital traveler could lose consciousness during takeoff and landing, but otherwise be fine during the flight. The researchers also found that the physiological effects were generally reduced when the seat was tilted (it is already known that sitting at an angle can increase G-force tolerance).

Study author Dr Ross Pollock, from King’s College London, told MailOnline: “By changing the position of the chair, you change the direction that the G goes through the body.”

“When the chair is upright, you are a long way from the G-force from head to toe. “This actually moves blood away from your head and eyes to your feet, so you don’t have enough oxygen to get to those parts of your body and your vision changes and you can lose consciousness.”

The recline of the chair has a lesser effect on the cardiovascular system, but a greater effect on the respiratory system, so passengers will be “more breathless,” though not too much, Dr. Pollock said.

The author team concludes that suborbital acceleration is “generally well tolerated” but “physiologically not negligible.”

“Marked hemodynamic effects and transient respiratory compromise could interact with predisposing factors to precipitate adverse cardiopulmonary effects in a minority of participants,” they say in their article.

Before embarking on such a flight, individuals may benefit from a “centrifuge familiarization” and physiological assessment, especially if they are “medically susceptible.”

Dr Pollock said it was “very difficult to say” how much such a passenger flight would cost, although it would probably be “very expensive” to start before the price drops as it becomes a viable form of public transport.

Alternatively, they may prefer to stick to cheaper, more traditional forms of travel, even if it takes much longer than a super-fast suborbital flight.

Such a flight would break the London-Sydney journey time record of 17 hours, three minutes and 45 seconds, set by Concorde in February 1985.

Concorde was the world’s first supersonic aircraft and operated for 27 years, but was grounded in October 2003.

Dr. Pollock also believes it will be “at least 15 to 20 years” before commercial suborbital flights become a form of public transportation.

“There will need to be some development of the spacecraft before it can reach the relevant altitudes and speeds required for travel,” he told MailOnline. “To be commercial for a realistic means of travel, the aircraft would also have to be much larger.”


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