Suborbital Passenger Travel was a concept for commercial space travel that was similar to passenger airplanes. It got people from one place another faster than a Boeing 787.
Airplanes first appeared in 1903 when the Wright Brothers successfully flew their Wright Flyer. After World War I, airplanes were used in mail service. In 1926, Charles Lindbergh flew the first scheduled flight from St. Louis to Chicago for the Robertson Aircraft Corporation, one of the predecessors of American Airlines. The following year, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in the Spirit of St. Louis. This helped bring about the beginning of passenger air travel. Early planes, like the Curtiss Condor, the Ford Tri-motor, and the Douglas DC-2, were too small to be very profitable carrying only passengers because they had only 14 seats. The Chairman and CEO of American Airlines, Cyrus Rowlett "C.R." Smith, wanted a plane that had 21 seats. C.R. requested Douglas Aircraft Corporation a 21-seat airplane. Douglas did and built the DC-3, the first truly successful passenger airplane. This was followed by the more sophisticated DC-4 requested by United Airlines. The DC-4 was, in turn, the basis for the DC-6, the first four-engine, pressurized aircraft. The DC-6 was built to compete with the equally successful Lockheed Constellation with its impressive tail. The DC-6 was also the basis for the DC-7 which could go from New York to Los Angeles non-stop. The DC-7 was also one of the first land-based airplanes that could do Trans-Atlantic service. At the same time, the first passenger jetliner, the deHavilland Comet, was coming into service. But the Comet suffered a setback. In 1954, two Comets exploded in mid-air. A scientific inquiry led by Sir Arnold Hall determined that the square windows could handle the repeated pressurizations of the Comet. Add to that the fact that the rivets were punched in, and it was a recipe for disaster. The Comet was withdrawn for an overhaul. Meanwhile, in 1956, two planes collided over the Grand Canyon. The head investigator determined that the cause was an inadequate air traffic control system. This led to the use of radar at airports. The Comet did come back into service, but it never achieved success. Boeing had produced the 707, and Douglas had produced the DC-8. These two planes were faster and more economical than the Comet. The jet age was born. Boeing and Douglas continued producing jets. In 1962, Boeing produced the 727. In 1965, Douglas produced the DC-9 which became the first in a series of airplanes which included the MD-80, the MD-90, and the MD-95 (later the Boeing 717). In 1967, Boeing produced the 737 which became the most common plane in the sky. In 1969, Boeing produced the first jumbo jet, the 747. In 1970, Douglas (now McDonnell Douglas) produced the DC-10 which developed a bad reputation for accidents. Air travel became commonplace. In 1977, the Boeing 747s collided on the runaway at Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. It was determined that the cockpit culture was to blame. This led to the introduction of Crew Resource Management. A few years later, a new aircraft company named Airbus produced the A300. In 1981, to compete with the Airbus A-300 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10, Boeing produced the 757 and the 767. By that time, problems began to emerge in the air traffic control system. In 1986, another mid-air collision occurred over Cerritos, California. This led to the creation of the Traffic-Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). A year earlier, Delta Airlines Flight 191 got caught in a microburst near Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Doppler radar started being used as a result at airports. Meanwhile, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas continued building airplanes. In 1983, Airbus produced the A310 which based on the A300. This was followed in 1987 by the A320 which was the first plane to be automated with fly-by-wire. In 1990, McDonnell Douglas produced the MD-11 which was based on the infamous DC-10. In 1994, Airbus also produced the A330 and A340 which were based on the A300 except that it incorporated the fly-by-wire systems of the A320. In 1995, Boeing produced the 777 which was the first Boeing plane with fly-by-wire. At the same time, the Boeing 737 was going through rudder issues which were finally resolved that year. After 9/11/2001, airport and airplane security was increased. Then, in 2005, two planes collided in mid-air over Uberlingen, Switzerland. The crash showed that TCAS was unreliable due to human error. In 2007, Airbus produced the A380 which was larger than the Boeing 747. In 2011, Boeing produced the 787 which the first airliner with carbon fiber composites. This was followed by the Airbus A350. At the same time, passenger travel was going to space.
There were three kinds of suborbitl passenger spaceplanes: the suborbital passenger rocketplane, the suborbital military transport, and the suborbital passenger scramjet.
Suborbital Passenger Rocketplanes
Tech Level: 10
In 2014, the first paying customers flew aboard SpaceShipTwo. It was a suborbital passenger rocketplane. SpaceShipTwo was more efficient and cheaper than the Space Shuttle. It used the same technology as SpaceShipOne, its predecessor. Its hull was made of carbon fiber composites. It was powered by a hybrid fuel rocket motor. It used wing feathering for re-entry. And, finally, SpaceShipTwo was launched from the air by a mothership called the WhiteKnightTwo. This marked the first time that private citizens could undertake suborbital spaceflight. The spaceship's producr, Virgin Galactic, was the most successful spaceflight company in the early 21st century. It followed-on with the SpaceShipThree whose purpose was point-to-point suborbital spaceflights. SpaceShipThree could go from London to Sydney in two hours. This inagurated the age of passenger space travel. Airports became spaceports. Virgin Galactic then produced another spacecraft, the SpaceShipFour. The SpaceShipFour was an orbital spacecraft intended to dock at space hotels. It succeeded in its purpose, and many more people were going to space. Space tourism became big business. However, during World War III, the US military needed passenger spaceplanes to transport soldiers.
Suborbital Military Transports
Tech Level: 11
During World War III, the US military built a spacecraft for military transport. Like most passenger rocketplanes, it was launched from a transport plane. The Hot Eagle, as it was called, could then turn on its rocket go into space for afew miutes, or even hours. It would land at the place where a battle was taking place. The Hot Eagle could carry 13 Marines or other soldiers to the battlefield. As a matter of fact, there were many Hot Eagles that worked together to transport soldiers. Other military transports were used as well. After World War III, they were used in non-military crises and to respond quickly to a disaster. Meanwhile, space tourism was about to get a new technology that revolutionized it: scramjets.
Suborbital Passenger Scramjets
Tech Level: 12
In the late 21st century, orbital spaceflights and going to space hotels were commonplace. During this time, suborbital passenger scramjets were becoming commonplace. These spacecraft were capable of many things. These included conventional air travel, suborbital spaceflight, orbital spaceflight, and flight to space stations where there wasn't a space elevator. They could reach a maximum speed of Mach 25. And since the sonic boom was eliminated, people did not complain. These made single-stage-to-orbit spacecraft commonplace. Later on, scramjets would be replaced by gravitic propulsion.