Not an Astronaut but Want to Go to Mars? Hop a Flight on a Private Space Plane via the XCOR Aerospace Lynx at Kennedy Center!
Special attention to space tourism began with the visionary mind of Richard Bronson, who created the Virgin Galactic brand in the hopes of one day sending non-NASA-astronaut tourists into space; today, XCOR Aersopace is closer than ever to manufacturing and flying their privately owned brand of Lynx suborbital vehicles (read: Space Planes) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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"Up until now, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral have been known for launching rockets that carry satellites and NASA people. We want the Space Coast to be known as the place where any person who wants to launch in America comes here," announced Charles Bolden, a NASA Administrator during a press tour of the center's grounds shortly after the announcement of the XCOR project.
"We're trying to work with the state of Florida and the various economic development councils to bring business back to the Space Coast," said Bolden, "My hope is that we'll make it even more robust than it was before."
That bar is set pretty low, considering that XCOR will only be the second private customer to lease space at the Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. Its roommate is Starfighters, whose privately owned Lockheed F-104 supersonic jet vessel provides high-altitude training to their customers.
Still, NASA is doing its best to drum up business. In early August, they issued a formal request for proposals from any potential companies who could utilize their large runaway. XCOR, one of their customers, hopes to fly anyone who wants to into suborbital space unto 100 kilometers up!
XCOR anticipates being able to begin their test flights as early as the beginning of 2013. By 2018, they'll be flying their first round of customers into space. Till then, they're testing their first Lynx prototypes at their new R&D site in Mojave.
"I love Mojave," confessed XCOR founder and CEO Jeff Greason, "It's a fabulous place to do R&D and I expect it will be a fabulous place to operate, but ultimately we are running a business and where we decide to put different aspects of our business in the long term has to be based on where we find the best business conditions. It's a complicated weighing of all the factors involved but ultimately we decided that it was time to move the R&D operation of the company somewhere and Midland is the place that we chose.
How much will a ticket set you back? You may have to start saving now, as a seat on the Lynx costs $95,000 a head.
Though that may seem like a lot, Virgin Galactic charges $200,000 a person. We wonder what the Yelp reviews will look like.
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