A two-seater spaceship smaller than a private jet that will take people up for a 25-minute space flight, is being launched in Mojave today. According to the Lynx Mark 1's makers, Xcor Aerospace, the spacecraft is expected to be at the test-flight stage by 2010. The two-seater craft has room for one passenger besides the pilot and will be, I guess, one way for a wealthy passenger to discover just how lonely it is 38 miles above the earth. More info, plus an animated video, below.
"Our company's goal has always been to build rocket-powered vehicles that can be flown and operated like regular aircraft," says Xcor Aerospace president Jeffrey Greason, who claims that Lynx is relatively environmentally friendly: "They are fully reusable, burn cleanly, and release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors," he claims.
Unlike the space shuttle, which shuts off its engine and glides into land, the Lynx will have the ability to fire up its engines and re-attempt landing in the event of a borked descent. Fifty test flights have been scheduled, starting in 2010, and, once fully operational, the spacecraft is expected to make several flights per day.
The company will not be selling tickets directly but, rather, will be licensing flight sales to space-adventure tourism companies. There are already plans afoot for the Lynx Mark 2, which will allow space-heads to be in orbit for longer. Funding for the project comes from the Air Vehicles Directorate of the US Air Force Research Laboratory, as well as additional sources—as yet, un-named. [New Scientist]