Space Tourism a Step Closer
The development of commercial space tourism has taken another leap forward as California-based space flight company XCOR Aerospace announced the creation of an East Coast base in Florida, with plans to introduce commercial spaceflights by 2014.
In progress since 2008, XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx spaceplane can carry a pilot and passenger for a 30-minute, 330,000 ft suborbital flight. The Lynx’s configuration is more like that of a commercial aircraft, allowing horizontal take-off and landing. It is capable of up to four flights per day, requiring only a brief turnaround between trips. Flights will launch from the company’s operational centres in Florida and California, and from the Caribbean island of Curacao.
At $95,000, Lynx’s tickets are relatively affordable, compared to competitors. Virgin Galactic’s space flight (see Stylus thread Virgin Open Gateway to Space) costs $200,000, while UK-based Excalibur Almaz’s month-long voyage is an estimated $150m per person.
The recent success of the SpaceX Dragon in the US, which became the first commercial space craft to successfully attach to the International Space Station in May 2012, is indicative of the developing commercial space flight industry. Lynx’s shorter flight time and cheaper ticket price may signal a move towards more affordable space tourism that is accessible to the wider population.