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Wings - The Future

There have been many remarkable accomplishments in the short time since the Wright brothers flew for the first time. New technology enabled the first nonstop, unrefueled flight around the world in December 1986 by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager aboard the Voyager. This technology will be applied to make future aircraft lighter and more fuel-efficient; the first flight of the X-30 AeroSpace was tentatively scheduled for the late 1990s. This research vehicle was to be used to pave the way for fleets of space planes that would have been able to attain low Earth orbit or leave from Dulles Airport and arrive in Tokyo in two hours. The United States and the Soviet Union are working on plans for permanent space stations that will eventually house hundreds and thousands of people. In 1986, the National Commission on Space envisioned a manned outpost on the moon by 2005 and a full-fledged colony by 2020. After the manned outpost on the Moon, the commission sees an outpost on Mars by 2016 and a colony by 2028.

An US Air Force Conceptual Sketch of the Space Plane

Artist's Concept

Another Conceptual Sketch of the Space Plane

The history of flight has always been filled with seemingly unsolvable problems. Each new accomplishment solved these problems but also created just as many new seemingly unsolvable problems. Are these problems unsolvable or will new developments and accomplishments solve them just as they have all others? Only time will tell; but, without a doubt, there will be even more amazing aerospace achievements in the future.

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Updated: 12 March, 2004