Made in Singapore: Ho (fifth from left), Airbus’ Christophe Chavagnac (fourth from left) and some of Hope’s engineers posing in front of a model of the space plane. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
A MADE-IN-SINGAPORE prototype of a space plane, which can take travellers to the edge of space 100km above earth, will take off for its maiden test flights in May.
The tests will mark a milestone for home-grown defence contractor Hope Technik, which signed a deal with French aerospace giant Airbus Defence and Space at the previous Singapore Airshow two years ago.
The May flights are part of a series of tests to assess the model plane’s aviation electronics, aerodynamics and glide capability.
To be held in the South China Sea, the flights will require a helicopter to lift the prototype about 4km off the surface and release it in mid-air to see how it glides over the sea.
Over the week-long trial, flight data will be collected and analysed for adjustments needed before the model is tested at a higher altitude of 30km above sea level in trials next year.
The final version of the space plane is supposed to rocket at supersonic speeds into orbit beyond the height that commercial planes fly.
To get the prototype ready for its debut, Hope’s more than 50 engineers and researchers have gone down to the “littlest of details”, said its co-founder and technical manager, Peter Ho. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network