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Space Tourism: Next Steps Taking Shape

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Wed Apr 27, 2005 9:20 am
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Space.com By Leonard David, Senior Space Writer: Ticket-to-ride commuter flights to the edge of space may not be too far off – with spaceliners departing several spaceports here in the United States.

New facts regarding the emerging personal space travel business were presented last week before the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in Washington, D.C.

Testifying before lawmakers and making the technical and business case for public space travel were Burt Rutan, chief of Scaled Composites of Mojave, California, joined by Will Whitehorn, President of Virgin Galactic – a space tourism venture that is a subsidiary of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

Last year, privately-financed, single-seat suborbital flights of SpaceShipOne were achieved, snagging the Ansari X Prize in the process. That $10 million purse was put in play to spur both suborbital and orbital public space transportation. SpaceShipOne was designed and built by Scaled Composites.

Also in 2004, a deal was struck between Mojave Aerospace Ventures, a joint venture formed by Rutan and billionaire Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, and the Virgin Group. For their part, Virgin has created a new subsidiary, Virgin Galactic, which has plans to contract Scaled Composites to build a fleet of suborbital vehicles based on the SpaceShipOne – but able to haul up to five passengers high above Earth.
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