North Texans creating spaceplane for citizen astronauts - Dallas News |

North Texans creating spaceplane for citizen astronauts

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PLANO, Texas -

Soon, your friends could be looking up at the stars while you're looking down at the Earth.

The Lynx Suborbital Space Plane is being developed in California and will take off and land in Midland, Texas.

The spacecraft is still being developed and could be ready to fly in about a year.

One north Texas teacher already has his ticket and is ready to launch a new era of citizen astronauts.

Michael Johnson teaches aviation to DeSoto and Irving High School students.

"If it was 1905 and Orville and Wilbur walked up and said I got this airplane out back want to go for a ride? I'd be digging in my pocket for the 10 cents to pay for the ride," said Michael Johnson.

Edward Wright leads the Plano based U.S. Rocket Academy dedicated to putting citizens in space, especially those interested in going for the knowledge they can gain.

"We'd like to make commercial space flight and suborbital space experiments as common a part of the educational curriculum as a mircoscope," said Edward Wright.

His foundation is working with XCOR Aerospace, the company developing the Lynx Suborbital Space Plane that will rocket 60 miles above the Earth and glide back to the same landing strip.

It's one of several companies developing similar spacecraft.

Michael Johnson hopes to bring back first hand experiences his students can use in their own lives.

"What we're looking at is the convergence of really air travel via airplanes with rocket travel. If you look at the life expectancy of the students I'm teaching right now that convergence will happen in the 30 to 40 years they are in the active work force," said Michael Johnson.

After the Challenger accident killed Christa McAuliffe, Barbara Morgan who trained with McAuliffe eventually became the first teacher in space in 2007.

Johnson thinks there's little to compare to the personal experiences she brought back.

"She could discuss that and what she felt and what she saw and what she was thinking so an experience you just can't match," said Michael Johnson.

He said the Lynx will do the same for him, only to look back at the Earth.

"Fewer than 600 people in the history of mankind have ever seen [Earth]. The ride is going to be a blast," said Michael Johnson.

A ride on the Lynx will cost around $95,000.

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