Friday, February 15, 2008

Even More Space Tourism Companies

I can hardly believe it myself, but after the two lists of space tourism companies that I originally wrote up, I still missed a few! I'm completely astounded at the sheer number of these companies that I have found since starting research for this site! You can see my original list of nine here, and my additional list of five here. So without further ado, in no particular order this time:

PlanetSpace is a Chicago-based company that intends to provide many different kinds of spaceflight services, including satellite launches, crew and supply transfer to the International Space Station, (interestingly) global travel, and last but not least, space tourism. They have a very unique and cool-looking spacecraft design in mind called the Silver Dart, which will have the capability to be reconfigured for a variety of purposes, from payload delivery to extended manned orbital missions. Their space tourism craft, however, is called the Arrow. The Arrow is a two-stage rocket that will carry passengers to the brink of space, then will re-enter the atmosphere and slow itself with parachutes and a two-stage descent system. I could find few details on any sort of timeline or development progress, but they claim they will be taking reservations soon.

Alltra (short for All Transport) is a German company interested in constructing a huge space habitat called The Space Hotel Berlin. Currently, they only appear to be involved in promoting space tourism, and in a hybrid rocket propulsion project, but if ambition is a driving force of innovation, who knows? They really could put their plans to practice.

The da Vinci Project and The DreamSpace Group
The da Vinci Project was founded in 1996 to participate in the Ansari X-Prize competition. They had a unique design involving lifting a rocket to 70,000 feet with a helium balloon before igniting it. Their vision has always involved a goal of space tourism. They now participate in the annual X-Prize Cup. Their planned design involved a nine-person sub-orbital craft, with future aspirations of orbital flight and beyond. More recently, they partnered with the DreamSpace Group, a company founded by the founder of The da Vinci Project, to design the XF1, a realization of The da Vinci Project's original design. However, no new news has come out of these companies recently; the 2007 expected test date for the XF1 has come and gone without a peep, and DreamSpace's website seems to have disappeared.

G.A.P Adventures
This us a rather unorthodox space tourism company. Most space tourism endeavors begin with a company that already has some sort of atmospheric or spaceflight capabilities to build from. G.A.P Adventures takes the opposite approach; they're a tourism company seeking to add space to their extensive list of destinations. They announced these intentions last November, and they are starting with three options that simulate spaceflight in various ways (though they don't offer true spaceflight yet). They plan to allow passengers to fly to 60,000 of space aboard a Russian MIG-31 fighter jet, they will take passengers on parabolic flights to simulate zero-gravity, and they will send tourists through five days of Cosmonaut training. These may be good options for those who have no wish to shell out the money for true spaceflight, but are still interested in a similar experience.

Incredible Adventures
So long as we're going to mention companies offering simulated spaceflight experiences, we should mention Incredible Adventures. Like G.A.P Adventures, they offer several forms of space-like experiences, including parabolic flights simulating zero gravity, cosmonaut training, and aircraft flights to the upper atmosphere. However, they have current plans to offer suborbital spaceflight as well, via the Rocketplane XP spacecraft currently being developed.

Interorbital Systems
Interorbital Systems is a company based in Mojave, California, and is currently in the process of developing systems capable of carrying tourists into orbit. They have been working with various spaceflight technologies since their founding in 1996, and they believe they have sufficient technology to construct an orbital spacecraft and begin regular tourist orbital operations by late 2009. Their starting cost is $2 million, but to infuse some extra money in their development project, they have a special "free trip to space" offer. The deal is this: you give them $250,000 now (an eighth of the expected standard price), they take you to space when they begin operations, and two years after your flight, they give your money back. That sounds like a pretty good deal to me! If I was able to get my hands on hat kind of money, I would seriously consider going for it. There's only 9 more tickets available in this offer, so if you like the idea, you had better contact them soon.
Proposed orbital flights: $2,000,000

Masten Space
How could I forget Masten Space? And twice, no less? I've been following this company for ages! Masten Space is a company that has a very organized planned process for designing spacecraft for multiple applications, including extra-orbital activities, extra-planetary landing and takeoff, and of course, space tourism. Specifically, they have an interest in transferring crew to the International Space Station for governments and tourists to the space complex being designed by Bigelow Aerospace. Currently, they are designing the systems necessary for the vertical takeoff and landing capabilities that their spacecraft are planned to have.

The details I've managed to gather about this one are rather sketchy, but in short, Micro-Space fully intends to develop technologies to bring space travel (specifically orbital and deep-space travel) down to the $10-$20 million range. Though the details, again, are sketchy, they do seem to have something to back their claims, because they successfully tested two of the ultra-light rockets that they plan on using for these purposes back in 2004.

I'm afraid I'll have to end it here; I've stumbled across so many more companies, I've literally run out of room to label this post with all their names! Probably best that I break this up into two posts anyway, so look for more tomorrow!

Progress: 3.24%  Flight Time: 0:04:51

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