Archive for the ‘Analog Deathwatch’ Category

World’s Fourth Space Tourist Forced to Scrub Mission, First Woman May Go Instead

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

Daisuke Enomoto (a.k.a. Dice-K), a former executive at LiveDoor, Japan’s leading internet service provider and web portal, had to cancel his plans to fly with two Russian cosmonauts in a on Expedition 14 to the International Space Station, which was set to lift off on Sept. 14, 2006.

Russian Federal Space Agency Spokesmen Igor Panarin said that Enomoto "was deemed not ready to fly for exclusively medical reasons," but also hinted that the he might be able to join a later mission in the future. Had Enomoto gone on the flight, he would have been the world’s third space tourist and the first, self-funded tourist from Japan and Asia. According to Wikipedia, television journalist Toyohiro Akiyama who flew on Soyuz TM-11 in 1990 was the first Japanese or Asian space tourist, although, because the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) funded the trip, he is more prevelantly regarded as the world’s first space business traveller.

Enomoto’s most likely replacement would be Iranian-born U.S. businesswoman Anousheh Ansari, President, Founder, and CEO of telecom technologies inc. If she makes this flight, Ansari would be the first female space tourist; if she does not, a third Russian cosmonaut will most likely take the open seat.

Upselling Space Tourism

Monday, July 24th, 2006

Well, that didn’t take long. Even before the space tourism industry has taken off (no pun intended), there’s already a first class upgrade that is out of reach for us hoi polloi. From the AP:

You don’t have to be an astronaut anymore to experience walking in space. All you need is $35 million and the willingness to risk your life.

A private Virginia firm that already has sent three super-rich men to the international space station for $20 million each announced Friday it would offer an even rarer adventure: A stroll outside the space station for an extra $15 million.

"It is the holy grail of spaceflight; it’s something very few of the astronauts and cosmonauts have done," said Eric Anderson, chief executive of Space Adventures Ltd.

Added former NASA spacewalker Kathy Thornton, who is on the firm’s advisory board: "It’s just sort of the feeling of freedom, that you are your own satellite."

With the blessing of the Russian space agency, Space Adventures is arranging for the first spacewalking tourist to go into orbit in about a year or so, Anderson said. The trip would involve a launch in a Soyuz capsule, an eight-day stay aboard the international space station and a 90-minute spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit. An extra month would be added to the six-month cosmonaut training.

More information is available directly from the Space Adventures website, where they feature their advertising slug for the offering: "Think outside the spacecraft." 

Bezos Goes Orbital

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006

There’s a new player in the tourism-fueled race for space.

As we mentioned back in FebruaryAmazon founder Jeff Bezos has been fueling Blue Origin’s New Shepard Reusable Launch system, according to

[The] Blue Origin rocket concept is patterned after the DC-XA that was operated by NASA and the Department of Defense under the Reusable Launch Vehicle program. The flight vehicle was tested at White Sands during the summer of 1996, and demonstrated a 26-hour turnaround between its second and third flights, a first for any rocket. 

Evidence that Blue Origin is moving forward with the project came when the company filed a draft Environmental Assessment with the FAA for the company’s launch site north of Van Horn, Texas:

The more than 200-page draft EA is a necessary step required by the FAA/AST for Blue Origin to get the needed permits and/or licenses to fly their rocket hardware.

Blue Origin proposes to launch its reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) on suborbital, ballistic trajectories to altitudes in excess of 325,000 feet (99,060 meters) from a privately-owned space launch site in Culberson County, Texas.

As outlined in the EA, the Blue Origin launch site would be approximately 25 miles (40.2 kilometers) north of Van Horn, Texas. It lies within a larger, privately-owned property known as the Corn Ranch. Access to the proposed launch site is from Texas Highway 54, which is approximately five miles (8 kilometers) west of the proposed project’s center of operations.

Also on the group’s to do list at the site is putting in place a vehicle processing facility, a launch complex and vehicle landing and recovery area, as well as an astronaut training facility, and other minor support amenities…

"The strategy is to build the New Shepard suborbital vehicle incrementally, starting with low-altitude tests, progressing to higher-altitude testing, and culminating with commercial flights. Early testing would use prototype vehicles that are smaller and/or less capable than the proposed final design," according to the report. 

Space Tourism Roundup

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Expanding on NooBee’s post (below) about the Oklahoma Spaceport, several pieces of news from last week are of interest to those closely following the growth of space tourism and its infrastructure.

"The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CCAS) is laying the groundwork here for the rules to govern flights out of Spaceport Singapore, a planned $115 million (SGD $191 million) project to offer suborbital spaceflights and a host of other experiences to adventure-seeking tourists," reports: 

Slated to open in 2009, Spaceport Singapore is the brainchild of a consortium of investors and the Virginia-based adventure tourism firm Space Adventures, which announced the project – alongside plans for a United Arab Emirates spaceport and a fleet of suborbital Explorer spacecraft– earlier this year.

Space Adventures and its chief competitor, Virgin Galactic have disputed claims that they are in a "new space race" for tourist dollars. Nonetheless its difficult for observers to refrain from comparing their progress on both spacecraft and spaceports.

Or at least, it’s hard for us to refrain, and we read with interest news reports last week that the state of New Mexico has chosen a Los Angeles firm to design and engineer the new spaceport in the Land of Enchantment. 

Virgin Galactic also revealed design details of its SpaceShipTwo craft last week. Observers wonder
if changes to the craft’s rocket fuel and apogee indicate the possibility of Virgin Galactic pursuing point-to-point suborbital travel.

Finally, the company that bills itself as "the SouthWest Airlines of outer space" reports that one of its customers, Seattle-based ZG Aerospace, is offering to send business cards into space this summer for $50 each.

Who said space tourism wouldn’t be available to the masses? 

UAE Man to be First Tourist in Space?

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

USA Today reports that the space tourism race is on– and one of the first tourists is ready for his journey:

 Adnan al-Maimani insists he isn’t looking to be a pioneer — he just dreams of looking down on Earth. So the 40-year-old entrepreneur is paying more than $100,000 to go on the first flight traveling to the edge of space from a Mideast nation.

The flight, which will travel about 62 miles toward space and give its passengers up to five minutes of weightlessness, is part of an American company’s plan to establish a spaceport in the northern tip of the United Arab Emirates.

Virginia-based Space Adventures — the only company to have successfully sent private citizens into space — won’t say when the flight will take place, only that it will be within a few years….

The journey has to wait until Space Adventures carries out plans it announced in February to build a commercial spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah, the most northern of seven emirates making up the United Arab Emirates….

Space Adventures, whose advisers include Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin and several shuttle astronauts, says 200 people have already made reservations for future suborbital spaceflights, although the program is still in a developing stage.

Space Adventures has a partnership with the Russian Federal Space Agency and previously sent American businessman Dennis Tito, scientist Gregory Olsen and South African Mark Shuttleworth on Russian rockets to the international space station. Each paid $20 million.

As we’ve reported before, Space Adventures is locked in a race with Virgin Galactic to bring the next wave of  of tourists, if not quite to the stars, then above the stratosphere. But as any tourist anywhere knows, getting there is easy. It’s finding decent lodging that’s the hard part.

 Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson is thinking that through, according to Hotels Magazine (link to story not available):

SIR Richard Branson is taking a giant leap for mankind by drawing up plans to build the worlds first space hotels, his space flight company Virgin Galactic has told The Business.

Alex Tai, its operations director, who will pilot Virgins first commercial space flight in 2008, has held talks with US hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow about the project, Virgin Galactics president Will Whitehorn confirmed.Bigelow Aerospace is developing inflatable pods it believes could receive the first space travellers by the end of the decade. Branson, Virgin Galactics chairman, revealed the space hotel discussions in Dubai last week.

Branson said: We are talking to people who are developing hotels for space. We are also talking to people who are developing launch craft to get hotels into space. People know that we can turn something that might seem a bit bizarre into a commercial reality. Personally, I think theres a demand for space hotels.