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What is a suborbital space plane?



There's been a lot of interest in recent years in suborbital planes. These aircraft can go much higher and faster than a regular airplane. They are meant to go up about 60 miles (100 kilometers). This means they're not all the way in outer space, but they are high enough that people on board wouldn't feel the effects of gravity. The “sub” of suborbital means below, so these planes won’t go high enough to start orbiting around the Earth.

One of the possible uses of a suborbital plane is for tourism. Many people would love to float around and be weightless, and to say that they've been in space. It's far too expensive for most people to ever go up in a rocket, but a “ticket” on suborbital plane would be cheaper. Suborbital space planes could also be used to carry small satellites. The satellites could be launched from there into orbit. The planes can also carry small science experiments that aren't important enough to be given room on the space shuttle.