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A. An Air Flight of the Future

Narrator: This is Science Today. Imagine flying anywhere on the planet from the continental U.S. in just two hours or less? Although this concept is still a dream for many international travelers, such an aircraft has already been designed by aerospace engineers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Preston Carter is the mastermind behind HyperSoar - and says this futuristic, hypersonic aircraft can fly ten times the speed of sound.

Carter: But it does it in an unusual way. It takes off like a regular airplane, accelerates up to ten times the speed of sound and at a hundred and fifteen thousand feet in altitude, it shuts off its engines. It will coast out of the atmosphere and then it starts skipping on the atmosphere.

Narrator: Carter likens this to a rock skipping across water - the only difference is, unlike a rock, HyperSoar's skipping motion will not damp out. To a person aboard, the sensation would be like being on a swing - only much slower. A prototype will be built within the next five years, but Carter says it'll be a while before passengers board HyperSoar.

Carter: I certainly hope that it will happen in my lifetime and it certainly will happen in my kid's lifetime.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.