Why hypersonic?

Message posted by toms on May 07, 2002 at 9:16:44 PST:

Hi ya all!
Maybe this is a stupid question...
Given all the known diffculties, like fuel consumption and aerodynamic heating, I can't quite understand why anybody would want to go hypesonic WITHIN the atmosphere. ( OK - strictly speaking you can't even go SUPERsonic outside the atmosphere, because if there's no sound, you can't go faster than it... ;-) )
If you want to go "90 minutes from New York to Paris" - for a trip ( "Orient Express" ), to shoot some pics ( "Aurora" )or to drop off something nasty ( HGV )- why not just pop out of the atmosphere, hit the accelerator until you've reached orbital velocity ( that's Mach 18 or 20, right? ), switch off the engines and re-enter at your point of destiny?!? We've been doing that for almost half a century now...
Best wishes,


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