Extensive test flights de rigeur

A Flight International article reports that the Explorer suborbital vehicle being developed by Russia’s Myasishchev Design Bureau for Space Adventures will undergo a test regime of at least 100 flights, to be carried out from the Zhukovsky air base near Moscow. The exact schedule of test flights wasn’t revealed by Space Adventures’ Chris Faranetta, but it’s not surprising: several other suborbital space tourism vehicles under development also have rigorous flight tests planned, including Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, Rocketplane Kistler’s Rocketplane XP, and Blue Origin’s New Shepard. This makes perfect sense for a vehicle designed to carry paying passengers, and thus needs to be as rigorously tested as possible to provide customers with some degree of confidence about their safety. It is, though, a marked departure from conventional from conventional space vehicle development, where it’s rare to see 100 test flights—or even 100 flights, period—of a specific vehicle.

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