The Space Shuttle was a cool idea, but it never accomplished the goal of providing a relatively low-cost route to space. The concept of reusable space ships is still attractive, but it really depends on how much it takes to refurbish them before they attempt another launch. A few different organizations are already testing some reusable space vehicles (and Boeing has its X-37B that’s orbiting somewhere above us right now). Here are just a few more spaceplanes that might join the new reusable space race.
- The EU has its Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) robotic space plane that was tested last year. The IXV is scheduled to fly another test in 2019, and it might be operating by the time Elon Musk is on Mars.
- DARPA’s XS-1 spaceplane project has a goal of flying 10 times in 10 days and putting a few tons of satellite payload into space — for less than $5 million per flight. That’s a pretty ambitious plan, especially if it’s supposed to start testing by 2019 (and they’re still narrowing down the technology).
- The Skylon concept spaceplane is a single-stage-to-orbit dream. It might not be hard to explain how it could work, but it’ll sure be difficult to actually build a working prototype.
After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.