Ceiling for First Trip: 113,000 Feet

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-08-18 Print this article Print

Providing that all the test flights work out safely, the first commercial trip would have the craft towed by balloons tethered to safety parachutes to 113,000 feet-about 21 miles high. During an undoubtedly scary free-fall back to the ground, passengers would experience about 5 minutes of weightlessness.

The entire flight would last 6 or 7 hours, with most of that time spent going slowly up. (I believe I'll pass, thanks.)

In his second round of flights, Jarvis claims, passengers would experience 10 minutes of zero gravity and fly to a suborbital altitude of 330,000 feet, or about 62 miles. The round-trip flight would take about 45 minutes.

A few months after as many tethered flights as are needed, Hermes will be equipped with an engine so it can be flown like a high-speed aircraft. These flights will be manned by experienced pilots, Morris said.

Thank God for that.

Morris and his colleagues will use data collected from the various test flights by the Tolapai controller and the Dot Hill arrays to build the production version of Hermes, which will then feature a special heat shield necessary for re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on Salesforce.com and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and DevX.com and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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