Monday, September 27, 2004

Space Blogging - Private Companies

With SpaceshipOne set to launch on Wednesday for it's first of two flights to garner the Ansari X Prize it seems like a good day to roundup all of the private space ventures that are looking less like vaporware every day.

Burt Rutan and Paul Allen seem to have hit the Trifecta:
$10 Million X Prize. Check
$21.5 Million from Virgin. Check
An Undisclosed amount from DARPA to drop test the X-37. Check

Quote from the Virgin Deal, emphasis mine:
"It is expected that Virgin Galactic will formally commence the contractual and design phase of the project after the conclusion of the Ansari X Prize flights and start construction of the first spaceship, the ‘VSS ENTERPRISE’ in 2005."

Now, my little heart flutters at the idea that I have only 3 or 4 years to come up with $30000 for my orbital flight. Let me write that again because it was way too sweet not to repeat: for my ORBITAL flight. But wait, there's more. This stuff is closer to the vaporware end of the spectrum. However, if Branson's planning to orbit, he might as well be the courier service for the Budget Suites LEO division of Budget Suites America.
"Robert Bigelow, chief of Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, is apparently setting higher goals for private spaceflight endeavors with America's Space Prize, a $50 million race to build an orbital vehicle capable of carrying up to seven astronauts to an orbital outpost by the end of the decade, according to Aviation Week and Space Technology."

If you didn't read the link, Bigelow owns Budget Suites America and is attempting to launch inflatable hab modules into orbit. This is probably a good thing since Virgin Galactic probably won't have the space in their ships for everyone who wants to join the 'Zero-G Club'.