Launch me into space

Want to take a ride on a space cruiser? Then 2001 could be your year. All you need is a head for heights and a stomach for weightlessness. Oh, and the odd $98,000 to spare.

The Space Cruiser project is a partnership between VelaTech and Zegrahm Space Voyages, and will offer customers an all-inclusive seven day travel programme including lectures, films, simulator experiences, and astronaut training and flight preparation. The week will culminate with a flight in the Space Cruiser, soaring to 100km above sea level, complete with a period of weightlessness and spectacular views of the Earth’s curvature, after which graduates will receive their astronaut wings.

The Space Cruiser was designed by VelaTech using Microcadam’s Helix Design System. It is a two stage sub-orbital aerospace launch system, taking off from and returning and landing at a commercial airport. The first stage Sky Lifter is a twin jet-powered, broad wing aircraft that carries aloft the second-stage Space Cruiser.

The Cruiser is carried aloft under the lifter on a pylon and separates at approximately 50,000ft. Its engines then propel it to 100km above sea level. Retro-rockets slow the vehicle for re-entry into the atmosphere and the Space Cruiser returns to the airfield under jet power. Acceleration and deceleration won’t exceed 2g, and overall mission time is forecast to be 2 to 3 hours.

Helix’s modelling and verification capabilities played a key role in numerous aspects of the design of the Cruiser, in particular in the inside of the flight cabin (illustrated below) which not only had to provide secure seating for a high acceleration take off, but also needed to be suitable for periods of weightlessness. The solution proved to be seats that folded all the way back to the floor.

Microcadam Tel: 01628 488166