Media July 2011

The Seaweed-Powered Space Liner

“Tokyo to London in 150 Minutes”

By 2050, seaweed-powered space-liners will fly from London to Tokyo in two-and-a-half hours, at a cruising altitude of 32km and generating no significant pollution, The Independent reported on 20 June.

This is the confident prediction of the Airbus parent company, EADS, which has been working on the Zero Emission Hypersonic Transportation (Zehst) with the Japanese for five years and unveiled its plans for the hypersonic, stratospheric airliner at the International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, near Paris.

The Zehst will fly twice as fast and twice as high as the Concorde, if joint European and Japanese development plans come to fruition.

The likely cost of a 90-minute “space flight” from Paris to New York would be €6,000 per passenger. The Zehst, which resembles a lightweight version of the US Space Shuttle, would carry up to 100 passengers at speeds of up to 4,800kph.

“This is not an aircraft and not a rocket; it’s a commercial rocket plane”, Jean Botti, EADS director-general for technology and innovation said. “The future of air travel will involve something like the Zehst”, Botti told Le Parisien.

The plane would take off using quiet turbo-reactors powered by a biofuel made from seaweed or algae, later using clean rocket engines fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen before switching to another form of rocket propulsion.