Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Space Adventures Partners with Armadillo

I can't understate the significance of this announcement.

I mentioned a couple years ago that Space Adventures, the provider of tourist flights to the International Space Station, were advertising that they were planning on providing suborbital tourist flights at $102,000 per ticket. I stated this because that's what appears on their website, but I doubted it would actually happen. I felt that way because, among other considerations, Space Adventures didn't appear to have plans to build, purchase, or charter suborbital spacecraft.

Today, that may all have changed.

I got an announcement in my e-mail today that Space Adventures is partnering with Armadillo Aerospace. Armadillo has done rocketry work for NASA and the US Air Force, along with competing in several X-Prize moon lander competitions. However, their plans have always centered around developing the expertise and capabilities necessary to build a suborbital tourist spacecraft. This announcement is a major step toward that goal, because Armadillo will finally have a major source of funding.

It appears that Space Adventures will be to Armadillo Aerospace what Virgin Galactic is to Scaled Composites; the source of marketing and funding necessary to make tourist spacecraft a reality. And at a lower price point, this makes for very healthy competition. I won't be changing my bars below to reflect the lower price because Space Adventures and Armadillo haven't yet announced designs for the potential new spacecraft, making Virgin Galactic still the best bet. It will probably be at least five years before anything is even ready for a test flight.

With that said, this is still amazingly good news.

Trip to Space
Progress: 6.47%  Flight Time: 0:09:42
Solar Array
Progress: 6.47%  Power: 65W

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