This is the Dream Chaser, a supersonic plane that Sierra Space is developing for space tourism.
With the help of Blue Origin and Virgin, it was designed as the world’s first, and only, commercial spaceplane with wings.
And there’s some crazy engineering going on here.
The plane is designed to take off from the top of a rocket and then once it’s airborne and in outer orbit, it can use its own wings to travel before returning to Earth.
Sierra Space said it will soon start testing the plane in Nex Mexico, on the 12,000-foot ‘Spaceport America’ runway.
It is also building a facility to train private citizens to become astronauts.
Specifically, they’ll have to learn how to operate and live in the Orbital Reef, the world’s first private space station that’s currently being developed.
Dream Chaser space design
Despite its ultra-modern looks, the Dream Chaser is actually based on a design concept called HL-20 that NASA first unveiled in the 1990s.
They built a prototype in the early 2010s but the test failed, which is why they decided to rethink the project and make a cargo version.
It is going to deliver more than 5,400 kg (12,000 pounds) of supplies to the International Space Station next year.
The crewed version of the plane, the one developed by Sierra, Blue Origin and Virgin, should be ready by 2025 and big enough to carry between three and seven astronauts.
Space travel has become somewhat of a trending topic, fuelled by the ambitious plans of wealthy tycoons like Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos.
In the 1960s, the space race was on and that’s why people were paying attention.
But then we had a relatively long period of about 40-50 years during which, for some reason, much of the world stopped caring.
Now it looks like we’re heading towards a future where space tourism could become a real thing.
Yes it’ll be for the ultra-rich only, at least at first.
But sooner or later the cost might come down enough that ‘regular’ tourists might be able to join in as well.
When? Well, that’s the million-dollar question.