British firm hopes to loft tourists into space

Last Updated : 27 September 2010, 08:18 IST

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Starchaser boss Steve Bennett and astronaut Matt Shrewbridge hope to do so by 2015. However, the Manchester-based firm must first carry out a series of trials.

Currently, Russia's space agency has been taking tourists into space on payment.
The first 'milestone' in November will be testing their 20 feet Launch Escape System (LES) - a rescue pod that separates from the rocket if the spacecraft fails, reports the Daily Mail.

And next year they plan a manned launch test, firing the already-built 70 feet 'Starchaser 4' off the ground in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire. If successful, it will be the biggest rocket ever launched in Britain.

During both test flights - kept within the Earth's orbit - the LES will be controlled from the ground.  

Once Starchaser is fully operational, passenger-rockets will take off from Spaceport America near the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Starchaser owns 20 acres and buildings at the site, which will eventually become mission control for the amazing operation.

Two unnamed tourists have already paid 250,000 pounds each for the first seats and other places are available at 98,000 pounds (plus taxes).  
Tourists will be treated to a 23-minute sub-orbital flight 62 miles up, and will officially enter space.

Bennett, who runs the project from Starchaser's Manchester headquarters, explained: "A sub-orbital spaceflight is when the spacecraft reaches space, but does not enter into an orbit around the earth."

"It's a straight up and straight down flight following a large arc - like a a giant roller coaster ride without the wheels and tracks."

"Our customers will get to fly in a real rocket, wearing a real spacesuit and will undertake an authentic space mission just like the early astronauts did in the 1960s."
"They will see the blackness of outer space, the curvature of the earth and they will
feel weightless for a few minutes." 

Published 27 September 2010, 08:18 IST

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