Headlines > News > Malaysia may be first in Asia to launch tourists into space

Malaysia may be first in Asia to launch tourists into space

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Tue Nov 30, 2004 11:11 am
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chabot image(via hobbyspace.com) The Star Online: BY TEOH TEIK HOONG
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will be the first Asian country to operate a space tourism centre by 2010 if plans to build a multi-million ringgit spaceport facility in Perak takes off.

Bristol Spaceplanes Limited director David Ashford said it would take two years to develop a demonstrator of its sub-orbital space plane, two more to build a prototype and another two for flight-testing before passenger flights could start.

“Space tourism is an emerging industry and operational flights have not yet started anywhere in the world.

“The first spaceport with a fleet of five vehicles for passenger-carrying will be established at Mojave in the United States. They hope to start operating in 2007,” he said in an e-mail interview.

On Nov 12, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali was reported as saying that the company had approached the state to set up the RM480mil project to promote space tourism in Malaysia.

According to him, if the federal government gave the go-ahead, the company would build the launch pad for the RM100mil Ascender sub-orbital space plane at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport. Nearby land would also be acquired for the project.

Tajol Rosli had also said the Ascender, which could reach a maximum altitude of 100km, could take up to two crew members and two passengers.

For a whopping RM70,000 per person, the facility will make it possible for the public to take a 90-minute trip to outer space and back.

Ashford said the Ascender took off and landed like a conventional jet plane, so there would be no infrastructure costs other than those for building propellant storage facilities, which were not expensive.

On whether it would be a fully private-sector initiative, he said the company was in discussion with the Government but he expected the project to involve international collaboration.

“The idea is for Ipoh to become the first spaceport in Asia,” he said.

For more information on the Ascender, visit www.bristolspaceplanes.com.

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