Friday, February 15, 2008

Even More Space Tourism Companies (Continued)

I'm sorry I didn't get the rest of these up as quickly as I had promised! I've been busy with some projects in the last couple days. But fear not! Here's the rest of my list, as promised.

Space Access
Space Access is yet another company that is determined to be the first to take you into space. This seems unlikely, since their target date for the first launches is 2011, but that shouldn't keep them from competing for your business when they do launch. They are designing their vehicle to be sort of a hypersonic airliner instead of a conventional rocket, using ramjet technology. They plan to use this craft initially for suborbital flights, but they're planning to begin orbital flights in 2014. They plan on eventually having eight suborbital vehicles, which will perform 15 flights per day; a pretty ambitious plan! They are developing their craft on Key Largo, Florida, and offer a vacation package that involves a visit to their development facility.

Sprague Astronautics
Not much news has come from Sprague Astronautics recently, but basically, they carry an emphasis on luxury space travel. Their spacecraft, called Altairis, is being designed in Temecula, California, and is said to have a solid basis in previous conventional rocket launch designs. Their long-term plans include three-day orbital spaceflight, and eventually lunar expeditions. They plan to make their first test flights this year, however, specific operational details on this company are sparse.

Space Island Group
The Space Island Group has a unique plan to build a massive space complex using existing NASA technologies. They will use the Space Shuttle's external fuel tank design to launch people and supplies into space. However, they will not send those tanks to burn up in the atmosphere as NASA does today. Instead, they will use those tanks as one of the primary components in their planned space complex. Their first facility is planned to be constructed of seven of these tanks, and will house up to 200 people. Future facilities will be created using twelve or more of these tanks, will house up to 500 people, and will spin to create artificial gravity equal to 1/3 of Earth's. They're still in the development stage, and they say plans may change if they find a better way of constructing space facilities, but their plans are ambitious, and from what I can tell, entirely feasible.

The Spacefleet Project
Founded in 2004, The Spacefleet Project is a British company currently designing the SF-01, a spacecraft capable of taking ten people to upper sub-orbit. By that, I'm referring to the fact that most suborbital tourism craft in the works will take passengers to just above the 100km border of space and provide about five minutes of spaceflight. This craft will take people to about 340km and provide a greater duration of spaceflight. It will be a single-stage nearly-vertical takeoff, horizontal re-entry craft that will employ a heat shield upon re-entry. Development of this craft is expected to take three years.
Proposed sub-orbital flights: €120,000

Starchaser is another British company entering the space tourism market. They're currently designing a craft called Thunderstar that will be able to take three people to sub-orbit, and another 8-person craft that will eventually have orbital capabilities. The reusable craft are expected to be able to fly once per week. They are involved in researching and developing every aspect of these craft, and they also have an educational outreach program currently in operating, visiting over 200 schools per year.

And, well, that's it! Those are the last of the (potential) space tourism companies that I was able to find in my last bit of research. For those of you who are counting, that brings the total to twenty-eight space tourism companies that I have been able to find. Twenty eight! 28! That's incredible number! And to think, just a couple of weeks ago, I only knew of ten or so. It certainly adds a hopeful note to the prospects of space tourism competition. I am really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out. How about you?

Progress: 3.24%  Flight Time: 0:04:51

No comments: