Jim Benson, RIP

SpaceDev announced today that its founder, Jim Benson, passed away this morning. Benson had been in ill health since last year, having been diagnosed with a brain tumor that was the cause of his death. That illness led to the dissolution of Benson Space Company, a space tourism venture that Benson founded in 2006 to [...]

Requests for info

I was contacted by a reporter earlier this week looking for information about Sprague Astronautics, a company that made a splash a few years ago (under the name AeraSpaceTours) but has been quiet since. (Its last press release is dated June 28, 2005.) I haven’t heard anything about them for some time, and assume the [...]

ISPS Day 1 wrap-up

(The picture above doesn’t have anything to do directly with the conference, it’s just a nice view of the Moon rising around sunset Wednesday as seen from the conference site in Las Cruces.)

Yesterday’s sessions of the International Symposium for Personal Spaceflight didn’t have any groundbreaking revelations, but there were still some interesting developments [...]

G-loading comparisons

As a followup to Benson Space’s announcement of its “low-G” reentry plan, Brian Binnie of Scaled Composites talked a bit about the planned reentry experience for SpaceShipTwo during a talk Saturday at the Heinlein Centennial in Kansas City. According to Binnie, the peak G forces on reentry will be about 7 Gs. However, in a [...]

Benson’s low-G reentry plan

In his speech at the ISDC in May, Jim Benson said that the reentry forces that his company’s redesigned suborbital spacecraft would be less than the 6 Gs that SpaceShipTwo will experience. He wasn’t more specific then, but this week the company announced that their vehicle will subject passengers to no more than 3 Gs [...]

More on the new Dream Chaser

Jim Benson used his appearance on a panel at the ISDC on Friday afternoon to announce his company’s revised suborbital spaceship. Benson said that the new design came together after SpaceDev completed a five-month study of the viability of using the original Dream Chaser design—a lifting body based on the HL-20—for suborbital flights. The blunt [...]

New Benson Space vehicle design

Ad Astra/SPACE.com reports that Benson Space Company and SpaceDev plan to release a new design for their Dream Chaser suborbital spacecraft during the ISDC this weekend here in Dallas. The design drops the HL-20-based lifting body approach for the vehicle in favor of a more conventional rocketplane approach that bears similarities to the X-15, albeit [...]

Virgin’s Mojave competitors

Today’s Bakersfield Californian profiles two companies that are competing with Virgin Galactic to fly space tourists, namely Interorbital Systems and Benson Space. Both have Mojave ties: Interorbital is located at Mojave Airport and Benson Space plans to do testing at the airport. The same airport, of course, is home to Scaled Composites, which is developing [...]

Time reviews the industry

The website for Time magazine has a fairly detailed review article about the emerging space tourism industry. Writer Cathy Booth Thomas talks with a number of the leading companies, including Virgin Galactic, Armadillo Aerospace, and Benson Space Company, and also covers the more secretive Blue Origin; there’s also coverage if Bigelow Aerospace and developing spaceports, [...]

Rutan vs. Benson

Speaking of the Journal, the front page of today’s issue has an article about the lingering beef between Burt Rutan and Jim Benson. (Yes, subscription required. Blame the Journal, not me.) As many readers are already aware. SpaceDev, founded by Benson, built the hybrid rocket motor used by Rutan’s SpaceShipOne, but the two had a [...]