Suborbital Space Tourism Vehicle on Hold with Armadillo’s “Hibernation”

Armadillo Aerospace and Space Adventures had grand plans for a suborbital tourism vehicle that seem quite distant now with John Carmack’s announcement that his rocket building company has run out of money. Here’s a bit of pre-hibernation nostalgia for those who remember those optimistic days. For others who are just joining us, here’s what the present was supposed to look like. More evidence, if anyone needed it, that the future just ain’t what it used to be.

Sarah Brightman’s Flight to ISS Appears to Be Back on — Again


Good news, everyone! It looks like soprano Sarah Brightman will be flying to the International Space Station after all. Just like they announced nine months ago.

Ending months of crackling suspense that had millions (or thousands, hundreds, or maybe just scores –hard to say) of people around the world on the edge of their seats, Russian officials have appeared to re-announced what they once again say are firm plans to have the British recording star travel to ISS aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

“The sides will discuss in the near future the implementation of this project, including Sarah Brightman’s preparation for the flight and the program of her activities on board the orbital station,” the Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a statement.


Sarah Brightman Going to Space — One Way or the Other

sarah_brightmanAs Russian and American officials consider if and when to send sopranonaut Sarah Brightman into space, the British singer has hedged her bets by buying a less costly ride there.

Keeping all bases covered Miss Brightman, who has an estimated fortune of £30 million, already has a much cheaper ticket, just £125,000, for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic programme, which hopes to begin carrying commercial passengers into space next year. But the singer is said to be frustrated by the lack of any firm date….


Private Sector Seeks Profit, Adventure Beyond Earth Orbit

Credit: Golden Spike Company

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With human flights beyond Earth orbit not expected to occur for at least eight years, the private sector is increasingly eying deep space for a series of ambitious robotic and human missions for both adventure and profit.

Nine programs are currently underway that include robotic and human landings of the moon, human flybys of the moon and Mars, the mining of the moon and asteroids, and even a settlement on Mars. Backers of these initiatives include the X Prize Foundation, Google and its executives, and the world’s first space tourist, Dennis Tito.


America’s Rocket Renaissance

rutan_talkBy Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

During recent public talks, Scaled Composites Founder Burt Rutan has bemoaned the lack of recent rocket development in the United States. After the initial burst of creativity in the 1950’s and 1960’s, decades went by with very few new rockets being developed. He has also pointed to Scaled Composites’ SpaceShipTwo, SpaceX’s Dragon and Stratolaunch Systems air-launch project (which he worked on for 20 years) as the only serious developments in the field at present.

My first thought was: Burt’s wrong. There’s a lot more going on than just that. Including developments just down the flight line in Mojave that he somehow fails to mention. And my second thought was: well, just how wrong is Burt, exactly?

A lot, it turns out.


Space Adventures Books First Celebritynaut for Orbital Tourism Trip

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Wednesday’s announcement that international recording superstar Sarah Brightman will be flying to the International Space Station marked at major milestone for the Virginia-based Space Adventures: the company had finally booked a genuine celebritynaut for one of its orbital trips.

It was a far cry from 11 years ago, when a largely unknown former NASA engineer turned investment manager named Dennis Tito climbed aboard a Soyuz spacecraft for an eight-day trip to the International Space Station.

And the announcement comes at time when the excitement over the prospects of an extremely wealthy person paying an increasingly absurd amount of money to float around in space like any other regular astronaut has largely faded.


Sarah Brightman: The World’s First Sopranonaut

Sarah Brightman announces intention to become first ever global recording artist to take spaceflight
Space Adventures Press Release

Global recording artist and UNESCO Artist for Peace Ambassador, Sarah Brightman, announced today in Moscow her intention to launch on a future orbital spaceflight mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in partnership with Space Adventures, Ltd., the world’s leading space experiences company.

Brightman will be part of a three-person crew travelling to the ISS on board a Soyuz rocket. Once on the ISS, she will orbit the Earth 16 times daily and intends to become the first professional musician to sing from space. The final scheduling of her trip to the space station will be determined by Roscosmos and the ISS partners in the coming months.


Sarah Brightman Appears Headed for Space

Sarah Brightman. (Credit: Eckhard Pecher)

It appears that British recording artist Sarah Brightman will become the world’s next millionaut space tourist.

Space Adventures has announced an Oct. 10 press conference with Brightman in Moscow where the soprano will make a “groundbreaking” announcement. Brightman has been in negotiations with the Virginia-based company for a trip into space.

Space Adventures has booked eight trips to the International Space Station for seven wealthy adventurers aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The company is also trying to fill a second seat for a circum-lunar flight, for which tickets costs $150 million apiece. The moon flight is set to take place by early 2017.

Details of the press conference follow after the break.


Sarah Brightman: Singer and Space Tourist?

Sarah Brightman. (Credit: Eckhard Pecher)

Some news on  the ISS space tourism front, which has been largely silent since Guy Laliberte visited th station back in 2009:

British singer Sarah Brightman may be the next paying passenger to ride a Russian rocket to the International Space Station, sources familiar with the negotiations said Wednesday.

If the trip happens, Brightman, 52, would make the journey in 2015, the Interfax news agency reported, citing an unidentified official in the Russian space industry. A source familiar with Brightman’s side of the negotiations confirmed to NBC News that talks were under way, but stressed that they were at an early stage….

Brightman — who rose to fame starring in the original London and New York casts of “The Phantom of the Opera” — visited Russia about a month ago and received the approval of a medical commission to begin training at the Cosmonaut Training Center outside Moscow, the source added…

Sources have said the space station’s partners are considering a plan to send two space fliers into orbit in 2015 for almost a year, instead of the usual six months. The logistics involved in that experiment would open up an opportunity for two short-term visitors to the station — visitors who could include paying passengers such as Brightman.

Read the full story.

Video: Eric Anderson Urges National Conversation on Space

Eric Anderson wants a national conversation about the future of space exploration. It’s an interesting plea because Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich started exactly that a few weeks ago by announcing plans for a moon base by 2021. Mitt Romney, the candidate whom Anderson is advising, mocked the idea while proposing no alternatives of his own. The end result of that conversation was a SNL sketch called, “Newt Gingrich: Moon President.” That was good for Mitt, although it painted Newt and the broader space community that supports the goal as, if you’ll excuse the phrase, loony.

So, Anderson now wants to start a new national conversation. That might be easier to do if Romney had a strategy. Instead, he has merely described a process by which he would figure out his policy, which involves forming an advisory board that includes Anderson, Mike Griffin, Scott Pace and Eugene Cernan. In other words, Top. Men. That’s not much on which to base a national conversation. Perhaps Anderson will go into more detail in future videos.


CSF Chairman Anderson Backs Romney, Attacks Obama as Ineffective

Mitt Romney. (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

Jeff Foust over at Space Politics has interviewed Eric Anderson, the Space Adventures CEO and Commercial Spaceflight Federation chairman who is serving on Mitt Romney’s space advisory board. Anderson and seven other members of the group signed an open letter last week supporting Romney and harshly criticizing the Obama Administration’s space policy.

Anderson says he’s had several one-on-one conversations with the candidate, who has expressed his enthusiasm for private sector human spaceflight development. He also defended Romney’s lack of specific solutions while pointing to the candidate’s business background as evidence of his support of commercial space solutions.

“You must remember, Mitt Romney is a very experienced businessman. People in business of course believe in private industry! They know that if you can find goods and services in the private sector then clearly those would be preferable to the government recreating that capability,” he told Foust.


Video: Space Adventures Circumlunar Tourism Flight Slips Another Year

Space Adventures CEO Eric Anderson gives an update on his company’s plans for commercial circum-lunar flights. Actually, the only real updates are that the flight has slipped from late 2015 to early 2017 since their last estimate in May, and that they still haven’t sold the second $150 million ticket they need to make the flight possible (but they’re close).

They also want to launch it in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire as a tribute to the late Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. I guess that works. They won’t make their planned 2015 launch date, and the 30th anniversary of Challenger and 45th anniversary of Soyuz 11 in 2016 don’t really fit thematically, so why not commemorate Apollo 1. And it sounds a lot better than we’ve slipped another 13 or 14 months just in less than a year and we still haven’t sold that other ticket.

Space Team Romney: Pace, Griffin, Cernan and Anderson

Former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin

In a move destined to anger NewSpace advocates, Mitt Romney has released a letter of support signed by eight space leaders, including prominent commercial space critics Mike Griffin, Scott Pace and Gene Cernan. Pace, in fact, is chairman of the Romney Space Policy Advisory Group.

“We have watched with dismay as President Obama dismantled the structure that was guiding both the government and commercial space sectors, while providing no purpose or vision or mission,” the signers wrote. “This failure of leadership has thrust the space program into disarray and triggered a dangerous erosion of our technical workforce and capabilities. In short, we have a space program unworthy of a great nation.”