EADS Eager To Enter the Space Tourism Market

 - June 20, 2007, 11:40 AM

EADS Astrium plans to move into the space tourism market, the company revealed. Rides, including three minutes of weightlessness at an altitude of 330,000 feet, are likely to cost upward of $200,000. The only route to space for non-astronauts today, a ride on the Russian Soyuz to the International Space Station, costs $25 million and involves “six months of horrible training,” the company said. The Astrium alternative would require just one week of preparation. The spaceplane would take off and climb to 39,000 feet using business-jet turbofan engines, then its liquid-fueled rocket would fire, propelling the craft to 200,000 feet in just 80 seconds. The spaceplane would leave the atmosphere on a ballistic trajectory. The pilot would be able to control the craft using small rocket thrusters before descending into the atmosphere and relighting the turbofan engines for landing. Development would take four years but will be delayed if there is no commercial investment, said the company.