Australians could be able to fly to Europe in just two hours within the next 10 years, according to new research.
The catch is, to have the flight cut by about 20 hours, they will need go via space.
The new research funded by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is looking into the effects of suborbital space flights, where travellers would be blasted into space before descending to their destination, according to London-based newspaper The Times.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, said: “Commercial suborbital space flights are now available for tourism and scientific research, and are ultimately anticipated to mature into extremely fast point-to-point travel, eg London to Sydney in less than two hours.”
While suborbital flights offered by Sir Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos’ space tourism companies, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, are currently incredibly expensive (more than $655,000 a seat), regulators believe the flights will be “accessible to anybody” in the future, reported The Times.
As part of the research, the G-forces that would be felt during the launch and descent of the suborbital space flight were recreated for 24 “healthy” people between the ages of 32 and 80.
One G is the force of Earth’s gravity and the G-forces peaked at 6G during descent for 10 to 15 seconds – six times the usual force of the Earth’s gravity.
One of the 24 people briefly lost consciousness, but there was no lasting ill effects.
Dr Ryan Anderton, the CAA’s medical lead for space flight, told The Times while astronauts needed to be extremely fit and undergo years of intensive training, that would not be necessary for tourists on the suborbital space flights of the future.
“Physiological responses are likely to be benign for most passengers,” he said.
Dr Anderton did say certain medical problems could make it dangerous to experience high G-forces.
“For the vast majority of people, even older people, that’s not necessarily going to present a problem and there isn’t a detrimental effect long-term,” he said.
“What we’re trying to do in research is determine which individuals might be more susceptible and what we might have to screen them for.”
Virgin Galactic aims to launch its first commercial flight to space in late June after a final four-member test flight in late May. Tickets are priced at about $670,000 per person.
Blue Origin has already launched paying customers into space. One ticket was auctioned off for $US28 million ($A41.8 million).