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The Scientist as Space Tourist

Private rockets like SpaceShipTwo will offer space-based science on the cheap

3 min read

Powered flight tests are slated later this year for SpaceShipTwo, a craft built to carry humans on brief excursions more than 100 kilometers into space. And although publicity indicates that these travelers will be rich thrill-seeking "space tourists," some of them are, in fact, going to be scientists, engineers, and probably even graduate students on funded research programs, ­according to S. Alan Stern, a scientist now spearheading the development of this new concept.

SpaceShipTwo is the descendant of SpaceShipOne, the X-Prize–winning craft designed by Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites. Now funded by Virgin Galactic, the space company owned by British aviation mogul Sir Richard Branson, the new vehicle was geared to wealthy adventurers ­willing to pay US $200 000 for a ride into space.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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