Category Archives: Spaceflight & Parabolic Flight

Space tourism roundup – Oct.24.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to commercial human space travel (see also previous space tourism related posts):

** Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic move agonizingly slowly towards operational flights. After successful tests early this year (SpaceShipTwo in  February and New Shepard in May ), there seemed to be high momentum in both programs towards more frequent flights,  including New Shepard flights with people finally on board. However, neither program has flown since those tests.

Virgin Galactic has focused instead on outfitting the interior of the SpaceShipTwo with seats and other features needed for the spaceflight participants. VG has also been moving its base of operations from Mojave, California to Spaceport America in New Mexico (see entry below about the spaceport).  Blue has been upgrading the New Shepard for operational spaceflights. Both companies claim they will do a few more test flights and then start flying customers in 2020.

“The New Shepard booster lands during Mission NS-11 on May 2, 2019.” Credits: Blue Origin

Here are some misc. items about the state of the two programs:

** Under Armour debuts specially designed space wear for Virgin Galactic flyers:

** In July, Virgin Galactic announced plans to go public via a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH), a publicly traded company created solely to acquire a revenue producing company. The company claims a value of $1.5 billion.  By 2023 they project flying SpaceShipTwo vehicles 270 times per year and carrying over 600 people. Annual profits are predicted to reach $275M.

[ Update: VG statement on the shareholder approval: Virgin Galactic Completes Merger with Social Capital Hedosophia, Creating the World’s First and Only Publicly Traded Commercial Human Spaceflight Company – Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic (“VG”), a vertically integrated aerospace company, and Social Capital Hedosophia (“SCH”), a public investment vehicle, today announced the completion of their previously announced business combination. The resulting company is named Virgin Galactic Holdings, Inc. (“VGH”) and its common stock, units and warrants are expected to commence trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the new ticker symbol “SPCE”, ”SPCE.U” and “SPCE WS”, respectively, on October 28, 2019. The Company manufactures its space vehicles in Mojave, California, through its aerospace development subsidiary The Spaceship Company, with commercial operations centered at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

VG already has customer reservations from more than 600 people in 60 countries representing approximately $80 million in total collected deposits, and over $120 million of potential revenue. The completion of this merger and trading as a public company are the next milestones on the path towards building a thriving commercial service business and investing appropriately for the future.

]

This week the merger was approved by SCH shareholders:  Virgin Galactic merger wins shareholder approval – SpaceNews.com

[SCH] said it expects the merged company to start trading Oct. 28 under the Virgin Galactic name and the ticker symbol SPCE. Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson, speaking at a conference in Israel Oct. 23, said he planned to be at the exchange Oct. 28 to ring the opening bell, according to Israeli media reports.

The merger will make Virgin Galactic the first publicly traded company whose primary line of business is human spaceflight. Large aerospace companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman have long been traded on stock exchanges, but space is only a small part of their overall business.

Earlier items about the merger:

** Spaceport America declared ready for operations at open house event in August:

Virgin Galactic today revealed the first look at the interior fit-out of its Gateway to Space building at Spaceport America in New Mexico. The work completed showcased two floors of the building primarily focused on spaceflight operations, which also incorporates communal spaces designed for use in the future by Virgin Galactic customers, along with their friends and families. Completion of this interior work means the spaceport facility is now operationally functional and able to support Virgin Galactic’s flight requirements.

** Profile of a Virgin Galactic spaceflight participant: She was first Pakistani to visit the North and South poles. Now she’ll be the first in space – Orlando Sentinel

After travels to the North and South Poles and skydiving over Mount Everest, Namira Salim wants to go to the next level of adventure:

The Earthly accomplishments were fine, sure, but for Salim, whose dreams have turned skyward since birth, they just filled the gap while she waited to obtain the “first” she’s been after all along.

“I’ve been inspired to do more,” she told the Orlando Sentinel while on a trip to Cocoa Beach for the Apollo 11 moon landing 50th anniversary. “So first of all, I think I should go as far as possible on Earth before I break the orbit.”

That’s right — the “first” that Salim is seeking won’t take place on our planet at all, not really. She wants to become the first Pakistani to fly to space. And with her $200,000 ticket on Virgin Galactic’s suborbital flights, she’s well on her way.

** An overview of space tourism prospects: The Coming of Space Tourism | Via Satellite

As timing for the first Earth-bound launches of space tourists grows near, the public, governments and the innovation sector continue to hold their collective breath.

Many predict that once the first space tourism mission starts flying, it will spur a lot of activity.

To Lopez-Urdiales, the world is currently in the second of three phases of space activity — the first began with government-sponsored programs like the Apollo program and continued to the present day, with space projects backed by billionaires. It’s only in the third phase — when a broader base of entrepreneurs with cool ideas are funded and can compete for market share — will space tourism be sustainable, he says.

“When that happens and the financial sector invests in not only the Musks of the world but also in folks like us, space tourism will truly take off,” he concludes.

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Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA,
and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age

Videos: “Space to Ground” ISS report – July.19.2019

This week’s episode of NASA’s Space to Ground reports on activities related to the  International Space Station:

** Astronaut Training: Then and Now

Mission training for astronauts reflects the missions themselves: rigorous. In the Apollo era, astronauts and engineers prepared for the unknown as much as possible, but knew how to improvise in unprecedented situations. Currently, we’ve set our sights on going further, and our modern technology has allowed us to train much more safely – all in pursuit of our next giant leap.

** Astronaut Moments: Drew Morgan

Description: Before launching to the International Space Station on the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind,” astronaut Drew Morgan was making his own giant leaps out of airplanes as part of his training.

** We Go as the Artemis Generation

We Go: To the Moon and on to Mars. Our generation, the Artemis generation, will explore farther than we’ve ever gone before. The Artemis program will send the first woman and next man to walk on the surface of the Moon and build a sustainable base to prepare for missions to Mars and beyond.

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Outpost in Orbit:
A Pictorial & Verbal History of the Space Station

Space transport roundup – June.25.2019

Following up on  yesterday’s roundup, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy successfully reached orbit and deployed a big batch of satellites on board. Three ISS crew members also made it back to Earth safely via their Soyuz spacecraft.

** SpaceX Falcon Heavy completes the company’s “most difficult launch ever”, as described by Elon Musk. While the center core rocket failed to make a successful landing, everything else went quite well, including the first-time capture of a nosecone fairing in a net. The biggest challenge – multiple firings of the upper stage engine after long coasting periods – went well. In total, 24 satellites were deployed.

The launch:

The landings of the two side boosters and the miss of the central core:

The fairing on the net of the SpaceX ship Ms. Tree (formerly Mr. Steven):

More at:

** The Planetary Society’s LightSail-2 finally makes it to orbit via the FH but the mission still has two hurdles ahead before the sail begins to accelerate from the push of sunlight. On July 2nd, the CubeSat is to be ejected from the Prox-1 carrier spacecraft and then about a week later the sail will be deployed: LightSail 2 Has Launched! | The Planetary Society

** Soyuz lands safely in Kazakstan with three ISS crew members:

“The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 59 crew members Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 Kazakh time (June 24 Eastern time). McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenko are returning after 204 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 58 and 59 crews onboard the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)” – NASA

Highlights of the departure from the station and the landing:

** Chinese Long March 3B rocket launches navigation satellite: China launches new BeiDou satellite – CGTN

China sent a new satellite of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in its southwestern province of Sichuan on Tuesday. Launched on board a Long March-3B carrier rocket, the satellite was sent to a inclined geosynchronous earth orbit.

More at Chinese Long March 3B lofts Beidou-3I2 – NASASpaceFlight.com.

** India-based Bellatrix Aerospace raises $3M for development of smallsat rocket launchers and satellite propulsion systems.

“This funding will help Bellatrix to space qualify our products soon. During the coming months, we will be subjecting our thrusters to rigorous ground qualification tests and also work on key innovations that will make our products stand out. We will also be expanding to key global locations,” Rohan Ganapathy, co-founder at Bellatrix said.

** Misc. space transport items:

  • Next Atlas 5 launch delayed by battery failure – Spaceflight Now – “The next launch of United Launch Alliance’s Atlas 5 rocket with the U.S. Air Force’s fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellite, previously scheduled for Thursday, has been delayed to no earlier than July 12 to replace a failed battery on the vehicle.”
  • STS-121 The Hardest Launch Part 4: Damage to the Heatshield | Wayne Hale’s Blog – The former Space Shuttle Program Manager recounts a case that illustrates the challenges in assessing risks for Shuttle launches in the aftermath of the Columbia loss.
  • SpaceRyde wants to make access to space more available and more affordable | TechCrunch – Canada’s SpaceRyde startup is developing a smallsat launch system using a high-altitude balloon platform. “Earlier this year, SpaceRyde launched a stratospheric balloon carrying a scaled down version of their launch platform and rocket in Northern Ontario, Canada. The test wasn’t a complete success – a modification to the off-the-shelf rocket engine they used didn’t work exactly as expected – but it did demonstrate that their in-flight launch platform orientation tech worked as intended, and Safari says the malfunction that did occur is relatively easy to fix.Next up for SpaceRyde is to work towards a full-scale demonstration of their platform, which Safari says should happen sometime next year….
  • Univ. of Washington rocketeers take the prize at Spaceport America Cup – GeekWire – Washington’s Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion won the top prize at this year’s Spaceport America Cup competition held at the NM spaceport. “The SARP team took the Judge’s Choice and Overall Winner Award at the world’s largest collegiate rocket engineering contest, which is run by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association and drew 120 teams from 14 countries. Each team is required to design, build and fly a rocket that can reach 10,000 feet or 30,000 feet, depending on the contest category.

** Raptor engine spotted at site of the Starship orbital demonstrator under construction in Florida.

Another Starship test vehicle is in construction at Boca Chica Beach facility and Elon says flights will take place at both places:

A comparison of the Starships in Florida and Texas:

Elon wants to speed up the Raptor and Starship program: SpaceX: Elon Musk Teases Rapid, Cheap Raptor Production to Get to Mars Fast | Inverse

SpaceX is planning to give its Mars-bound Raptor engine design a big production boost, CEO Elon Musk teased in a series of Twitter posts Monday. By the end of this year, Musk declared, the company is aiming to produce a new engine every 12 hours.

Musk suggested on Twitter that SpaceX is set to ramp up production for the engine “exponentially” soon. The sixth engine is almost done, and the firm is “aiming for an engine every 12 hours by end of year.” This should equate to around 500 engines per year, as Musk explained that a full year of production is around 70 percent of the peak daily rate.

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Safe Is Not an Option

“Cookies in Space”: Chocolate chip cookies to be first food baked in new ISS oven

DoubleTree by Hilton, Zero G Kitchen, and NanoRacks have partnered together to help introduce oven baking to the International Space Station, starting with chocolate chip cookies:

Cookies in Space:
DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookie to be First Food Baked in Space,
Sending Hilton Hospitality into Orbit

DoubleTree by Hilton to partner with Zero G Kitchen and NanoRacks to bring
its signature warm welcome to the International Space Station in historic scientific experiment

MCLEAN, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–DoubleTree by Hilton will take its iconic warm welcome to new heights when its famous chocolate chip Cookie becomes the first food baked in space inside a prototype oven designed to make long-duration space travel more hospitable.

Later this year, DoubleTree by Hilton will make aerospace history when a batch of DoubleTree Cookie dough is launched along with the prototype oven in a rocket bound for the International Space Station (ISS) as part of a landmark microgravity experiment. Working in partnership with Zero G Kitchen, which creates appliances for microgravity use in long-duration space flights, and NanoRacks, a leading provider of commercial access to space, Hilton will be the first hospitality company to participate in research aboard the space station.

That’s only fitting for a hotel brand that at the height of the Space Race announced plans for a hotel on the moon, said senior vice president and global brand head, DoubleTree by Hilton, Shawn McAteer.

“Hilton has long been an industry innovator, and as we celebrate our 100th year, we’re excited to send our hospitality into orbit,” McAteer said. “The simple gesture of a warm cookie welcome is a favorite of DoubleTree guests around the world, and now we are sharing that moment of hospitality as part of this experiment aboard the International Space Station.”

Ian and Jordana Fichtenbaum, the husband and wife team at Zero G Kitchen responsible for the space oven concept, said the DoubleTree Cookie was their first thought when they began imagining the creation of an oven to make space travel more comfortable.

“Opening up the frontier of space means making it relatable to people’s everyday lives, and what could be more relatable than a freshly baked cookie?” said Ian Fichtenbaum, co-chef and co-founder, Zero G Kitchen. “When we first concepted the oven, we naturally thought of DoubleTree by Hilton and its signature Cookie. It is the perfect treat to bring a warm welcome to space.”

DoubleTree by Hilton is committed to inspiring the next generation of travelers to pursue careers in hospitality, so the brand will also partner with Scholastic to develop an educational program related to hospitality in space for 50,000 middle school classrooms across the United States. This supports Hilton’s Open Doors Pledge, the company’s commitment to connecting, preparing or employing at least one million young people by 2019 by helping them to reach their full potential. The program and accompanying curriculum, which includes a lesson and activity sheet, will focus on better understanding the challenges of living and working in space, and encourage students to think creatively about what innovations need to occur to ensure long-duration space travel is comfortable and hospitable.

To accompany these efforts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Scholastic will launch a student contest this fall asking U.S. middle school students to submit their own innovative proposal for making life in space more hospitable. Prizes will include a cash award, iPad and, for teachers, a complimentary stay at any DoubleTree by Hilton location. Full contest details and submission guidelines are available at www.scholastic.com/openingdoorsinspace.

Learn more about the launch and technology behind the oven by visiting www.cookiesinspace.com or www.newsroom.hilton.com/cookiesinspace.

About DoubleTree by Hilton: DoubleTree by Hilton is a fast-growing, global portfolio of more than 560 upscale hotels with more than 130,000 rooms across six continents. Over the past 50 years, DoubleTree by Hilton has maintained its philosophy that it’s the little things that make a big difference, from welcoming guests with its signature, warm DoubleTree Cookie, to serving the local community. Thanks to the dedication of its Team Members, DoubleTree by Hilton ensures the absolute best experiences for guests and continues to be a symbol of comfort through contemporary accommodations and amenities, including unique food and beverage experiences, state-of-the-art fitness offerings, and meetings and event spaces. Hilton Honors members who book directly through preferred Hilton channels have access to instant benefits. To make reservations, travelers may visit doubletree.com. Connect with DoubleTree by Hilton on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. Learn about the latest brand news at newsroom.hilton.com/doubletree.

About Hilton: Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 17 world-class brands comprising more than 5,700 properties with more than 923,000 rooms, in 113 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its mission to be the world’s most hospitable company, Hilton earned a spot on the 2018 world’s best workplaces list, and has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its 100-year history. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, more than 89 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy, plus enjoy instant benefits, including digital check-in with room selection, Digital Key, and Connected Room. Visit newsroom.hilton.com for more information.

About Zero G Kitchen LLC: Based in New York City, Zero G Kitchen was founded with a goal of building a kitchen in space, piece-by-piece, and offering its use to a variety of food researchers, educators and companies with an interest in the future of food and household appliances in space. Funded by its founders, Ian and Jordana Fichtenbaum, it is leading the way with its first appliance, a small oven.

About NanoRacks: NanoRacks LLC, an XO Markets company, is the world’s leading commercial space station company. NanoRacks believes commercial space utilization will enable innovation through in-space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, fiber optics – and more, allow for transformational Earth observation, and make space a key player in finding the solution to Earth’s problems.

Today, the company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research, and more –in over 30 nations worldwide. Since 2009, Texas-based NanoRacks has truly created new markets and ushered in a new era of in-space-services, dedicated to making space just another place to do business.

About Scholastic: To learn more about Scholastic, visit our media room at: mediaroom.scholastic.com.

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Outpost in Orbit:
A Pictorial & Verbal History of the Space Station

Space tourism roundup – June.4.2019

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images related to commercial human space travel:

** Beth Moses talks about her SpaceShipTwo flight and what she is doing to prepare others for such flights:

Describe to me the experience of being in space. We all saw that picture of you staring out the window in complete awe.

It was just magic and almost indescribable.

I felt very fortunate to fly where I did and the day I did. I felt like the Earth was so beautiful, but even more so than you can describe or can be imagined. I happened to fly on a day where we had snow on the mountains in the southwestern United States. And I remember vividly that appearance of glistening white mountaintops and blue Pacific Ocean and the green of the Earth. I told someone the other day I felt like Earth was wearing her diamonds for us that day, because it was so, so glistening and sharp.

It just took my breath away. It was amazing

“The face you make when you look back on Earth from space. Our Chief Astronaut Instructor, Beth Moses, is the 571st person to fly to space and the first woman to fly on board a commercial spaceship.” – Virgin Galactic

Clash: Compare the real flight to the simulations.

Moses: The Gz [force through the head] was of a much lower duration. I reached our expected Gz on boost and re-entry, but was pleasantly surprised at how short it was. It just ramps up and then ramps off. You take a breath and realize, ‘Oh this is high G,’ and you take another breath and say, ‘Oh, this is high G.’ By the time you’ve finished your second breath, it’s done, and you’re back to normal G. The Gz felt like the centrifuge, but the Gx [force through the chest] I didn’t perceive as strongly as I did in the centrifuge. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because I was so happy to be going up. So Gz felt like the NASTAR centrifuge, Gx did not. Both maximums were about 3.6.

Clash: Will you fly again?

Moses: I would love to go back up, but I also want to get future astronauts up there as fast as possible. So it depends on what we still have to test, how many test flights we have and for what reasons. We’re actually still mapping that out. But I will not nominate myself. There are lots of other skill-sets and factors that need to be tested, so I will train other folks to do those tests. I’m not trying to blindly hog evaluations. But if there are evaluations that need my particular skill-set, I might fly again. We’re still working that out.

** Richard Branson remains steadfastly upbeat about Virgin Galactic’s prospects: Richard Branson: We’re at the dawn of new era of space exploration (Opinion) – Richard Branson/CNN

I said after the flight on December 13, as I stood with our pilots, Frederick “CJ” Sturckow and Mark “Forger” Stucky, that when you set off on important adventures, exceptional people come forward to join the journey — people who are consistently by your side and on your side, people who share your dreams and people who help make them reality. Reaching space has been the ultimate team effort.

It is evident that we are finally at the dawn of a new age of space exploration, which will see reusable space vehicles built and operated by commercially successful private companies, transforming our business and personal lives in ways that we have yet to comprehend fully.

Standing on the flight line, I could hear my dad in the back of my mind saying, as he often did, “Isn’t life wonderful?”

** Land Rover designed the Astronaut Edition Range Rover just for “Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut customers”:

** Suborbital space tourism will be a lot safer than climbing Mt. Everest, thankfully: Everest deaths: Four reasons why this climbing season went wrong – BBC News

Over the past two decades, the average annual death rate of climbers on Mount Everest has remained at about six.

But this spring, at least 10 people have already been reported dead or missing on the world’s highest peak.

This is also the season that saw a record 381 climbing permits issued by the Nepalese government.

In reality, this means about 600 people were preparing to embark on the climb, with permit holders accompanied by support staff up the mountain.

** Virgin Galactic & Blue Origin near space tourism operations. VG is currently installing the interior seating in a SpaceShipTwo rocketplane and plans to begin flying customers this year. Blue Origin expects to fly people on the New Shepard for the first time in 2019, though ticket sales have yet to begun. So suborbital space tourism may finally get off the ground this year:  Suborbital space tourism nears its make-or-break moment – The Space Review

After the Ansari X Prize was won in October of 2004, I was sure that there would be regular space tourism services available by 2008. (I lost a bet, in fact, that there would be services by then.) Here it is 15 years later and I’m still waiting to see routine flights of public citizens to the edge of space.

This is disappointing for sure but it is hardly unusual that a technology takes a lot longer than expected to reach the market.

I enjoy listening to Jonathan Strickland on the TechStuff Podcast tell captivating stories behind the development and commercialization of technologies. He explains the science and engineering in a clear and straight-forward manner while also drawing fine verbal portraits of the fascinating characters involved and vividly depicting the often bitter and complex battles among them.

Many of the technologies we take for granted today saw decades pass between the initial key invention(s) and commercial success. I just listened, for example, to a podcast about compact audio cassette tapes and another on video cassettes. (These are in a series from Strickland on the development of media starting with records and films.) While not nearly as challenging as high altitude rocket transportation, there was still a considerable gap between the initial invention of flexible audio tape in Germany in the 1930s and high-fidelity audio cassettes in the 1970s.  The first video tape recorders appeared in the 1950s but the first successful home video recorders didn’t appear until the mid-1970s.

Technological devices typically involve multiple sub-technologies that must work well together as a system. Finding the optimum combination of technologies that synergize into an affordable, practical product seldom happens on the first try. Instead an evolutionary competition occurs with the fittest combo eventually winning after a long struggle that leaves behind a trail of failed designs and bankrupted companies.

In the mid-2000s, there was at least a half-dozen companies making serious efforts at a suborbital vehicle for space tourism. There was no grand overarching roadblock that a few keen outsiders saw that the companies didn’t. Rather, each encountered particular individualized hurdles that tripped them up.

For example, Virgin Galactic could have developed a SpaceShip 1.5 vehicle that involved modest improvements to the 3-seat SpaceShipOne and starting flying within a couple of years after the XPRIZE. Burt Rutan has said he had customers requesting flights on the SpaceShipOne. Instead, VG decided to jump straight to an elaborate 8-person vehicle. Unfortunately, the company ran into tremendous difficulties in scaling up the hybrid rocket motor used on the SS1 and even today does not have a motor that can send the SS2 above 100 km, which was the altitude boundary for the XPRIZE.

XCOR made good progress on low-cost, reliable liquid-fueled rocket engines but could not raise sufficient funding to bring the Lynx spaceplane to fruition. Rocketplane Ltd.‘s design based on a converted Learjet turned out not to be viable and by the time they changed the design they were out of money. Similarly, TGV Rockets fell short of funding to build the Michelle-B, a vertical takeoff and landing rocket vehicle similar to Blue’s New Shepard.

Blue Origin had plenty of funding but, after flying a couple of prototype vehicles, the company decided to focus on developing a new liquid hydrogen propulsion system that could be used for the booster of a suborbital vehicle and also for the upper stage of an orbital launcher. A highly reusable LOX/LH2 engine is no trivial technology so there’s little surprise it took them a few years to develop.

The suborbital space tourism story is just another confirmation that a new technology needs multiple entrants, all trying their hardest to make their designs work.

So, if the SpaceShipTwo and New Shepard vehicles do start flying regularly, does that guarantee a successful space tourism business? No, of course, not. No untried business is a guaranteed success. However, there are many positive signs.

For example, several hundred people have signed up for SS2 flights and most have waited patiently for many years. Only a few percent canceled after the 2014 accident and many of these dropped out not because of safety concerns but because they were discouraged by the additional years of waiting to fly.

If 600 people each year attempt to scale Mt. Everest, despite an annual average of 6 deaths, just to brag about the ordeal they overcame, we can be sure there will be no shortage of customers willing to pay for the totally unique thrill of riding a rocket straight up to the edge of space and encountering the awesome view of a glittering cosmos above and a glistening Earth below.

** A UBS Global Research view of commercial space travel:

** Russia’s KosmoKurs (КосмоКурс) is developing a suborbital vertical takeoff and landing rocket vehicle similar to Blue Origin’s New Shepard and also intended for tourism services. Like the New Shepard, up to six passengers would ride in a capsule that detaches from a booster and returns via parachutes. The goal is to build the vehicle by 2023.

** A customer for a Circumlunar Mission offered by Space Adventures wanted his deposit back as delays grew ever longer: Space Adventures reaches settlement with would-be lunar tourist – SpaceNews.com

[Harald] McPike, an Austrian businessman and adventurer who lives in the Bahamas, filed the original suit in May 2017, seeking the return of a $7 million deposit he paid to Space Adventures for a $150 million seat on a Soyuz mission that would go around the moon, and additional damages. The defendants in the suit included Space Adventures; Tom Shelley, the company’s president; and Eric Anderson, the company’s chairman and chief executive.

According to McPike’s suit, he contacted Space Adventures in July 2012 about the possibility of flying on a mission around the moon that the company had been promoting for several years. In March 2013, he signed an agreement committing to participate in such a mission, and paid an initial deposit of $7 million towards the $150 million total price with the expectation that the mission would take place within six years.

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Space 2.0: How Private Spaceflight, a Resurgent NASA,
and International Partners are Creating a New Space Age