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LONDON - British entrepreneur Richard Branson said Monday that his company plans to launch commercial space flights over the next few years.Branson’s Virgin transport, entertainment and communications group has signed an agreement with pioneering aviation designer Burt Rutan to build an aircraft based on Rutan’s SpaceShipOne vessel, Branson said.SpaceShipOne cracked the barrier to manned commercial space flight in June by flying 328,491 feet, or about 62 miles, above Earth — about 400 feet above the distance scientists widely consider to be the boundary of space. The flight lasted 90 minutes.
Why not - build a rather large "ski-jump" instead?We could accelerate a spacecraft in a horizontal tube (significantly evacuated of course) by a linear induction motor, then run it up the side of a large mountain to get as high as possible before it exited the tube.Could this reduce the amount of fuel the rocket needs to carry?(I'm assuming the speed on exit from the tube would be several thousand MPH.)
...why not try high-altitude aircraft?