The California based aerospace company, XCOR has announced launching a space tourist fight by 2014, that will allow thrill seekers to fly into the space, experience weightlessness and watch the stars from above the earth.
The two seat space vehicle is designed to carry one pilot and one passenger at a time and is capable of flying up to four flights a day. The suborbital Lynx space plane can take off and land on any conventional airport runway and can reach to altitudes exceeding 100 kilometers. Chief operating officer at XCOR,said that provided things go as planed, the Lynx flight with begin its operation from California’s Mojave Spaceport by next year and from the Island of Curacao, a year later.
"Today, we are at the dawn of a new space age," Nelson told an audience that included officials from Curacao and the Mojave Spaceport. "The old ways of government-designed space exploration are slowly drifting away, and a new commercial space industry is being born right before you."
Curacao’s minister of Economic Development, Abdul Nasser El Hakim said that after seeing technology advance so rapidly, it feels old school to say “sky is the limit”, “In Curacao, we say 'the space is the limit.'"
A ride to the space will cost $95,000 for a single tourist, according to the company officials. While this may sound too much; the ticket is still less than that charged by Virgin Galactic, with $200,000 for a seat on its SpaceShip two suborbital rocket plane. The ticket price includes pre flight training sessions to prepare the passengers for their experience in the space.
In March 2008, when the news that such a spacecraft was being developed was first unveiled, the company announced its first take off date as some time in 2010. “We have designed this vehicle to operate much like a commercial aircraft. Its liquid fuel engines will provide the enhanced safety, durability, reliability and maintainability that keep operating costs low,” the Company’s CEO, Jeff Greason had said in press release, with one of the pilots claiming that this would be the greatest ride off Earth.
Greason added that against the common perception, the space craft is very environmental friendly; fully reusable, will burn cleanly, and will release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors.
With its successful launch, XCOR will enter into the emerging space tourism market that is estimated to be above half a billion dollars.