Travellers will be able to fly from London to Sydney, Australia, in less than two hours within the next decade – if they go through space, research from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suggests.
The CAA, which overseas and regulates aviation safety, is funding medical studies that are looking into the effects of suborbital space flights, which would see passengers briefly sent into space before descending to land at their destination, according to The Sunday Times.
This method of travel would mean journeys last only a fraction of the time taken by the current methods of aviation.
The flight time between the UK capital and Sydney is usually around 22 hours. Earlier this year, Australian flag carrier Qantas announced plans to slash this with new direct flights between the two cities from 2025, although they will still see travellers on board for 19 hours.
The CAA study, conducted with King’s College London and facilitated by the RAF, found that the majority of people handled the G-forces of suborbital space flights well. It’s not just for younger passengers, with older travellers potentially better at handling the journey, according to the research.
Dr Ryan Anderton, the CAA’s medical lead for flight, said that “physiological responses are likely to be benign for most passengers” but older people usually have slightly “stiffer arteries” which could lessen the pooling of blood away from the brain.
Suborbital flights are currently available in limited capacity, such as those offered by Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.
However, they come at a cost: travellers are currently looking at having to pay more than £350,000 per seat. However, the CAA predicts that as time passes this form of flight will become less expensive, and even “accessible to anybody”.
The report, published in the Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance scientific journal, said: “Commercial suborbital space flights are now available for tourism and scientific research, and are ultimately anticipated to mature into extremely fast point-to-point travel, eg London to Sydney in less than two hours.”
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