A relaxed regulatory environment and increasing development in the fledgling space tourism industry may lead to opportunities for privately owned passenger-carrying space vehicles by the end of the decade, suggested government and industry officials at space-related hearings and conferences in February.
In its determination of probable cause, the NTSB implicated a history of stability issues at high Mach speeds in the April 26, 2003, crash of Sino Swearingen’s number-one SJ30-2 prototype. Company test pilot Carroll Beeler was killed in the accident.
In the race for space tourism dollars, Oklahoma-based Rocketplane is vying for a head start by refurbishing hardy Learjet 25 airframes as the platforms for suborbital reusable launch vehicles capable of carrying up to four people to altitudes of 330,000 feet.
Two teams, one American and one Canadian, are poised to capture the Ansari X Prize by mid-October, having announced initial launch dates of their privately funded suborbital space vehicles within days of each other.
Legendary 1950s/1960s test pilot Scott Crossfield died alone in his Cessna T210 when it crashed in Georgia on April 19. He was 84.
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