Space tourism official says industry can survive a crash

Space tourism companies can survive the inevitable disaster if they warn passengers of the risks that a privately operated rocket ship could crash, an executive of one of the leading firms said Friday.

“God forbid it should happen on the first flight. Hopefully it’s many, many years out,” said Alex Tai, chief operating officer for British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space venture.

Tai said customers who are given an honest assessment of the risks won’t be able to successfully sue operators after a crash. And he said the public understands the danger of space travel after two disasters involving NASA-operated space shuttles.

Virgin Galactic plans to begin test flights next year and carry the first paying customers — $200,000 per seat — in late 2009 or early 2010.

A competitor, Benson Space Co., still plans for a 2009 launch even after Chairman James W. Benson announced Friday that the company will redesign its Dream Chaser spaceship to make it lighter and more aerodynamic. The change came after five months of study and underscored the state of flux in the emerging space tourism business.

Soure:  Associated Press

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One Response to “Space tourism official says industry can survive a crash”

  1. Jim Benson Says:

    We decided to go for an elegantly simple and practical design for a commercial suborbital vehicle, rather than try to use a more complex vehicle for both suborbital and orbital uses. We still plan to use SpaceDev’s safe hybrid rocket motors, proven on Paul Allen’s SpaceShipOne.

    SpaceDev will continue to develop the Dream Chaser, based NASA’s HL-20 lifting body, ideal for orbital re-entries.

    Jim Benson
    Benson Space Company

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