Space travel devotees don’t have to wait a moment longer to book their trip. Andrew Nelson, CEO of XCOR, the aerospace company behind the creation of the Lynx space vehicle, announced that Space Expedition Exploration was setting up shop and taking orders for one heck of trip – the first commercial space flights. The company is open for orders, and so far, they have commitments from 70 people paying $95K each for a 60-minute suborbital space flight.
The reusable shuttle can take off and land from any normal runway. Initial plans call for takeoff and landing include two separate space ports – takeoff from Curacao, an island in the Dutch Caribbean, and landing in the Mojave Desert. The space shuttle will hold the pilot and one passenger. The quick jaunt lets the passenger experience the G-force of takeoff, the weightlessness of space, and a Google map-like view of Earth’s crust. With a glass canopy providing sweeping views, the Lynx’s trajectory is basically straight up to 100km above earth in about four minutes. That’s followed by a six minute weightless glide and a slow gliding descent back down to the runway. Four booster rockets and a mixture of pure kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel power the shuttle.
To whet your appetite and give you the full $95K experience, the party starts long before the actual flight. Experiences leading up to the flight include a G-Centrifuge ride, a trip to the Netherlands for a spin in the Desdamona flight simulator and a little jaunt as a passenger on fighter jet are included in the price, as well as a flight suit and vacation in Curacao.
While the other 99% may wait for the prices to come down to earth, it’s fascinating to see the migration of the space program move from a government initiative to a worldwide private sector experience. SpaceX has a sales force, a heavy Dutch-based management group including support from KLM. Me, I’m afraid I’ll need to wait for the press junket, but my bags are packed.