Revived ventures, new spaceports

As if the current crop of space tourism ventures, and the spaceports they plan to operate out of, aren’t enough, come a couple of developments. KRIS-TV in Corpus Christi, Texas, reports that Space Access is planning to offer suborbital tourism flights out of the city in the next future. If the name Space Access sounds familiar, it’s the same company, run by the same person, Steven Wurst, that was trying to develop a suborbital vehicle back during the RLV boom of the late 1990s. (I wrote an article about Space Access and other companies presenting at the Space Access ’99 conference in Phoenix for the now-defunct online publication SpaceViews in May 1999.) Space Access was then primarily pursing satellite launch, but it now appears focused on space tourism, although the report gives no information about the vehicle design other than the impression it is aircraft-like in some manner. While the online KRIS-TV article claims that flights “could begin as soon as January”, the actual video report, linked to from the article, indicates a 2011 start date for suborbital flights, which seems more realistic (or, at least, less unrealistic).

Meanwhile, Brian Feeney is pressing ahead with plans to develop a suborbital vehicle, also to serve the space tourism market. According to the Canadian Press, Feeney plans to select a site to build and launch his suborbital vehicle by the end of 2008. Several Ontario sites are mentioned, although an earlier report by the Toronto Sun put an emphasis on the Niagara region. This effort would presumably for the DreamSpace Group, announced last year but with little reported development since then (indeed, the company’s web site, which once had illustrations and other information, has reverted to a placeholder page from Network Solutions.)

The CP article gets commentary from Doug Welch, identified as a professor of physics and astronomy at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who is skeptical about timelines for space tourism ventures in general. “2011 sounds very unrealistic to me,” he said. “I’d be surprised if it would be before 2015, and if I had to put my own $20 on it, I’d say 2020.” Welch’s expertise in and knowledge of space tourism isn’t specified in the article. One wonders whether this is a case where a reporter picked an astronomy professor in the belief that he or she must therefore be knowledgeable about commercial space efforts; that’s like asking an electrical engineering professor to weigh in on the viability of Web 2.0 ventures…

4 comments to Revived ventures, new spaceports

  • J. Craig Beasley

    Space Access was supposed to get cranked up today, but their website shows no change. Do you have any insight?

  • [...] calls “SpaceGateWays”, with the first to be built south of Corpus Christi, Texas (as reported last week). It’s an interesting new venture, but it’s entering a crowded market with a new set of [...]

  • J. Craig Beasley

    Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee this morning, but I don’t understand your response. Regardless, it looks like their web presence has started, with a clunky interface. Apparently, they want you to fork over money FIRST, then you can work on the spacecraft that will carry you to space. I’m not sure how successful that will be, but i’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

  • J. Craig Beasley

    Carp. I really must not have had enough coffee! I understand your response now… Thanks!

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