Previewing the XCOR announcement

As announced last week, XCOR will unveil some new details about their business plans for Lynx at a press conference today, including their first customer and their sales partner. Much of that news, though, has already leaked out.

Yesterday The Daily Mail reported that London investment banker Per Wimmer will be XCOR’s first customer. When I first heard the description of the customer — “a European adventurer who aims to be the first person from his country to make a suborbital flight” — Wimmer’s name immediately came to mind: the native of Denmark is clearly an adventurer, as you can see from his web site, and has long had an interest in flying in space. However, he already signed up with Virgin Galactic, so I assumed he wouldn’t sign up with another company. Apparently not: after all, his web site notes that the 2010-2011 timeframe is the “expected launch window for his first amongst several trips to space.” (emphasis added). Also, if you look at the press release on the XCOR site, there’s an image of someone that does look like Wimmer.

This morning came a press release announcing that RocketShip Tours will sell rides on the Lynx for $95,000. The heretofore unknown company, based in Phoenix, was founded by Jules Klar, whose work in the travel industry dates back to the creation of “$5-A-Day Tours” of Europe in 1961. The $95,000 price point is not surprising, since the company had originally hinted that they would offer flights at about half the cost of competing companies; Virgin Galactic’s list price is $200,000. (The past tense format of the press release — “XCOR officials discussed” — suggest that this press release was supposed to go out no earlier than today’s press conference at 10 am PST/1 pm EST, but hit the wires instead in the early morning hours today. Also, the web site for RocketShip Tours is showing only a generic Apache server test page as of this morning.)

I will be listening in to today’s press conference (technology permitting) and relay any additional news that comes out of the event.

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