EADS Astrium (Stand H23) is displaying a model of its proposed Space Plane, which would require seven years of development between actual program launch and first commercial flight.
Britain’s AeroSpace, Defence and Security (ADS) trade association is making
its airshow debut here in Dubai this week (UK Pavilion, Stand W128A). The group formally began operations last month following the merger of the Society of British Aerospace Companies, the Association of Police and Public Security Suppliers and the Defence Manufacturers Association.
“The launch of a new era in space travel” is the bold claim of EADS Astrium for its Spaceplane, a model of which stands at the company’s booth (C220). Unlike space tourism proposals that involve a space element taken aloft beneath a ‘mother’ aircraft, the Astrium Spaceplane would operate from any airport or airfield that grants permission.
EADS Astrium plans to move into the space tourism market, the company revealed. Rides, including three minutes of weightlessness at an altitude of 330,000 feet, are likely to cost upward of $200,000. The only route to space for non-astronauts today, a ride on the Russian Soyuz to the International Space Station, costs $25 million and involves “six months of horrible training,” the company said.
Iridium, the Bethesda, Maryland-based satellite communications provider, has signed an agreement with Astrium Services that will see the latter, an EADS, subsidiary, becoming a value-added reseller of satellite communication equipment and services to its civil and defense customers worldwide.
EADS Astrium’s plans to move into the space tourism market, revealed last week to a VIP audience and represented here by a full-scale mockup of a hybrid spaceplane’s forward fuselage and its business-jet-like cabin, depend on raising money from the private sector.