Will Space Tourism Sizzle or Fizzle?

SpaceShipTwo glides downward on its first test flight. (Photo: Mark Greenberg)

A new quarterly, New Space Magazine , has launched. It includes an article from Philip A. Janquart titled, “Space Tourism: Will it go far or fizzle out?” in which I’m quoted extensively. Some excerpts:

“Virgin has a lot of money and prestige behind it,” Messier told NewSpace Magazine. “They are, kind of, the Goliath of the industry right now. They just completed another test flight. It’ll be interesting to see how fast they can move with the aggressive schedule they have. One question is their engine: they still need to do a lot of testing.”

But, if Virgin Galactic is Goliath, XCOR and Armadillo are the “Davids” of the story.

“XCOR is a small, scrappy company,” said Messier. “XCOR is the expert at engines and I think they have a workable design and their funding now seems solid. They are looking at initial test flights by the end of 2011. There seems to be a lot of people interested in doing this (visiting space). The issue will be how good are the flights, reliability and a lot of other factors. But I think there is a market. Companies are also looking to the suborbital experiment market as part of their revenue stream”

There is also a sizable market developing for orbital flights. The Russians have been sending the very wealthy to the ISS (International Space Station) for years.

“The missing link is a commercial transport to low-Earth orbit,” Messier added. “It’s only about 250 miles up, but right now governments have a monopoly on it. Break that stranglehold, and you could see an explosion of commercial development in low-Earth orbit. In ten years, the space industry could be totally unrecognizable.

Read the full story.