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NASA's revolutionary launcher dreams could improve mass transit systems, boost astronaut applications

Darren Murph

If there's one thing we hate waiting for, it's getting to space. Those 18 hour jaunts from Newark to Singapore just seem so brisk compared to getting from ground zero to the stratosphere, you know? All jesting aside, a team of engineers at NASA are pursuing a revolutionary new launcher that would rely solely on existing technologies. The catch? Said technologies need to be pushed forward a good bit, but if it all pans out, the result could lead to more efficient commuter rail systems, better batteries for motorcars and roller coasters that force a waiver upon you prior to riding. The proposal details a "wedge-shaped aircraft with scramjets to be launched horizontally on an electrified track or gas-powered sled," and once launched, the craft would soar at Mach 10 in order to breach the atmosphere and allow a rocket's second stage to fire. It's pretty riveting stuff -- we'd recommend giving that source link a look for the full skinny, but not if you're hoping to see this materialize in the next decade score.

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