Space Adventures to acquire Space Launch Corp.

Space Adventures announced Tuesday morning that it will acquire Space Launch Corporation, a company that was at one point developing a low-cost responsive launch system for DARPA. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed; Space Launch will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Space Adventures. Space Launch, founded in 1999, is best known as the company that won the Phase 2 contract for the Responsive Access Small Cargo Affordable Launch (RASCAL) program run by DARPA. RASCAL would have been a two-stage launch system with a reusable supersonic aircraft as the first stage (implementing an engine technology known as MIPCC) and an expendable second stage, for launching small satellites into low Earth orbit. DARPA elected not to proceed with RASCAL in early 2005 and the company has been keeping a low profile since.

Space Adventures said in its release that its acquisition of Space Launch Corp. gives it “a technology development capability and access to significant space system intellectual property that will be leveraged to bring to market future space tourism vehicles in the United States.” While Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson said that his company “will remain focused on the marketing of spaceflights as a space travel company”, it seems that the company is starting to blur the line between a pure space tourism travel agency and a developer/operator of space tourism vehicles.

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