Launch site secured for space touristsFrom New Scientist:
The race to launch the first commercial passenger spacecraft is gaining pace as one of the Ansari X Prize competitors, AERA Corporation, signed an agreement with the US Air Force on Monday to use the launch services at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It is the first space tourism company to do so and claims it may be ready to offer tourist flights as early as 2006.
The US company - which competed in the 2004 contest to fly the first commercial craft to the brink of space under the name American Astronautics - says it could be as close as 18 months away from offering sub-orbital rides to space tourists aboard its Altairis rocket. The space vehicle is scheduled to be unveiled in New York City, US, in April 2005.
The Altairis rocket would enable six paying tourists to look out of their own windows as the rocket ascends vertically to 120 kilometres above Earth. But the craft would land horizontally, probably at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Reynolds says that the first spacecraft to come out of the factory will not be a prototype - it will be ready to fly
More than a dozen companies are vying for what they see as a ripe market. A 2002 report by the Futron Corporation predicted that by 2021, the number of sub-orbital space tourists could surpass 15,000 per year.
New Scientist Breaking News - Launch site secured for space tourists