Based on the success of the SpaceShipOne (SS1) suborbital craft’s ascent on June 21 (AIN, July, page 2)–becoming the first privately funded manned spacecraft to reach 100 km (328,000 feet)–designer Burt Rutan is confident that he and his company, Mojave, Calif.-based Scaled Composites, will win the $10 million Ansari X Prize by year-end.
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.
U.S.-based TGV Rockets has completed test firings of a 30,000-pound-class throttleable rocket engine that uses JP-8 kerosene fuel. The first phase of testing was conducted over the past two months at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The second phase, focused on gaining more information on the performance of the JP-8 fuel, is under way.
Israel launched another reconnaissance satellite last week as military tensions increase in the Middle East. After lifting off from the Palmachim range at 2:40 local time on June 11, the Shavit three-stage launcher successfully delivered the 300-kilogram Ofeq-7 into a low-Earth, elliptical orbit. Once in orbit, Ofeq-7 unfurled its solar array that should give it a minimum life of four years.
EADS Astrium’s plans to move into the space tourism market, revealed last week to a VIP audience and represented here by a full-scale mockup of a hybrid spaceplane’s forward fuselage and its business-jet-like cabin, depend on raising money from the private sector.
Atlanta-based Precision Aviation Group (PAG) has agreed in principal to acquire Pegasus Aircraft Components of Richmond, British Columbia. The purchase will allow PAG to upgrade services to its customers operating Bell, Sikorsky, Eurocopter and MD/Hughes helicopters in the expanding Canadian market.
Rocket Engineering of Spokane, Wash.–the company involved in the Piper Malibu JetProp DLX Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A conversion–is at it again. This time Rocket has been quietly working for the past two years on a P&WC PT6A-35-powered Beechcraft Duke BE60 conversion.
Mojave, Calif., is a unique place. As they drive north on State Highway 14, approaching the small burg of approximately 3,700 people, visitors first notice the hundreds of blades turning in windmill farms on hillsides to the west of town. Across the highway, dozens of jetliner tails sprout from the desert floor, idling in storage in the arid desert air at Mojave Airport.
For many years, companies such as Space Expeditions, Space Adventures and even some airlines have been seriously talking about lofting paying passengers into space on privately operated (non-governmental) vehicles. When Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize on Oct. 5, 2004, it dawned on people that this idea was a real near-term probability.
SkyTrac Systems of Kelowna, British Columbia, has won a contract from AirDat, a U.S. company, to provide Iridium ISAT-100 satellite system hardware as an upgrade to AirDat’s airborne meteorological data reporting system.