Thursday, March 31, 2005

Space Tourism News: The Flashy and the Low Key

Two companies made news this past week with announcements of their space tourism plans. Virgin Galactic's celebrity boss, Richard Branson, announced that his company's plans for commercial spaceflights are complete. Virgin Galactic's jump into space tourism was announced with great fanfare last year when Space Ship One flew into space.

Meanwhile, in Southern California's bedroom community of Temecula, Aeraspace Corporation unveiled an animation of its commercial space rocket. Aeraspace has contracted with the United States Air Force and Cape Canaveral to send vertically-launched rockets into space carrying commercial passengers. Their plans include a highly ambitious goal of launching the first commercial flight in 2006 and manufacturing one rocket each month after that.

Thanks to a world-class PR campaign, everybody on Earth has heard of Branson and his plans to fly into space. Who's ever heard of Aeraspace? Their website doesn't tell a whole lot about themselves. And Temecula? To Southern Californians Temecula is known more for it's relatively low housing costs, wineries, balloon rides, and being located about halfway between San Diego and Riverside. Who'd have thought commercial space tourism would be developing there? But if Aeraspace pulls this off, they'll beat Virgin Galactic by two years and Temecula will never be the same.



Items like this make me feel like a kid again ... Growing up in the 1960s and early 1970s, I had truly thought I'd have had the opportunity to, at the very least, visit space, if not actually live in outer space.

Still, I've got my fingers crossed that this is really more than just pie-in-the-sky flummery. After downloading the videos and perusing the site, it seems a mite sketchy to me. No significant names that I know of were attached (at least that I could find), and I thought the CGI pieces were a bit amateurish (not to mention the fact that, while the launch is nicely shown, the return vehicle, which supposedly lands on a nearby runway or airfield, isn't shown or even mentioned within the promo clips).

Still, I can't help but get excited by something like this. I'm not sure I can afford it, but rest assured, I'll be entering any and every contest to get up there (in fact, the site, in the FAQs, even mentions that route as a way to get on the earliest flights).

Thanks for pointing this one out ... I sure hope it flies!
I'm with you on this. I'm excited by the prospect of commercial space tourism. I too thought the Aeraspace website was a little sketchy. Time will tell if they're for real.
Your blog is great! It's hard to find blogs with good content and people talking about temecula these days! I have a secret temecula exposed if you want to come check it out
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