Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Few More Space Tourism Companies

Well, I've done it again! In the process of researching for these posts, I've run across a few more potential space tourism companies that I neglected in my previous lists. So here are three more!

SpaceDev has the stated goal of building a private affordable space program, and they're doing it incrementally by working on designing and constructing various systems and satellites for use in space. They were founded in 1997 by Jim Benson, and started by creating thermal actuator technologies. It has since specialized in (among other things) the design and construction of very small satellites, and it is credited with the design and construction of SpaceShipOne's rocket engine. SpaceDev is currently designing the Dream Chaser spacecraft, which may be used by the Benson Space company for orbital tourist flights. For the record, I have been aware of this company for a long time, but I didn't include them among my space tourism company lists until now because I was not aware that they are the people who are designing the Dream Chaser.

SPACEHAB was founded in 1984, and has specialized since then in many spaceflight-related services. Notably, they have designed and constructed pressurized and non-pressurized cargo containers that have flown on nineteen shuttle missions. They have also provided services that facilitated the launch of over 200 commercial satellites, and they provide many other services and technologies to NASA and other government organizations. They are currently designing a module for the International Space Station, named (of course) Enterprise, with plans of potentially selling its use to miscellaneous interests. These are expected to be mainly scientific interests, but this could potentially open up the International Space Station for more tourism. Yeah, I know, it's a really slim possibility, but it gives me an excuse to fill out the list with one more company.

t/Space (or Transformational Space) was founded specifically to facilitate NASA's needs concerning the President's Vision in Space Exploration. Already, they have competed and become finalists in NASA's COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program to determine who will provide International Space Station transportation services when the space shuttle is retired. Also, they were one of eight winners in NASA's "Concept Exploration and Refinement" competition to advise them on the best method of getting back to the moon and going on to Mars. They are currently in the process of designing a "Crew Transfer Vehicle" (CXV) to get people to low earth orbit, and potentially the International Space Station. Also, the t/Space website states that the CXV will aid in "opening the public to space for the first time" which suggests space tourism uses.

By my count, those three additions bring the list up to a whopping 31 companies that will potentially be involved in facilitating space tourism! I'm having trouble finding any more though, so maybe I've found most of them? Maybe?

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