I’ve been too busy in the last week with other work to post here, so instead here are a few summaries of some recent developments in space tourism and related fields:
Flight International reported this week that the European Commission is considering funding a feasibility study for a “European version” of SpaceShipTwo. The €110,000 (US$145,000), 12-month study would look at the various issues associated with developing an air-launched suborbital passenger spacecraft similar to SS2 (but launched from an Airbus, of course; this is a European study, after all.) If this is the best that the EC and European industry can come up with, it’s hard to think that they’re that serious about suborbital space tourism: they’d be better off supporting existing European ventures, like ARCA in Romania or Starchaser, nominally based in the UK but with a presence in New Mexico.
Flight International also reports that plans by Virgin Galactic to built its New Mexico spaceport facilities underground have been changed by geologic studies that found that the bedrock at Spaceport America was unsuitable for their original plans. The spaceport design will still be environmentally friendly, Virgin officials said, including a dome that will collect what rainwater falls there and solar panels for generating power.
Space tourist, er, private space traveler Anousheh Ansari paid a visit to Huntsville last week, visiting the US Space and Rocket Center and speaking to Space Camp attendees there. She was accompanied by Homer Hickam of Rocket Boys fame, who had struck up an email correspondence with Ansari prior to her flight.Asked if Hickam might write about Ansari and her flight, he responded, “We may talk about that. It could happen.”
Potential space tourists in Kansas City, Jacksonville, and even Naples, Florida don’t have to go far to book a flight: travel agents in those cities are among the 45 in North America selected by Virgin Galactic to sell trips. The selected agents will have to under go “accreditation training” next year before beginning their five-year sales agreements.