In 2004, Burt Rutan predicted a vibrant future for commercial suborbital spaceflight. Thirteen years after SpaceShipOne nabbed the Ansari X Prize, suborbital space tourism has yet to take off.
Scientists are increasingly interested in making use of private space capabilities, including the promise of faster and less expensive space missions, but are struggling to identify funding to make those missions possible.
Virgin Galactic performed another glide flight of SpaceShipTwo June 1 as the company suggested it was nearing a new phase in the test program of the suborbital spaceplane.
Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson said April 28 he remained optimistic that the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle will carry him and other customers into space, but declined to give a specific schedule about when those flights might begin.
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said April 5 that his company was still hoping to start flying people on suborbital space tourism flights by the end of next year, while suggesting crewed test flights will not start this year as previously planned.
Virgin Galactic’s second SpaceShipTwo suborbital spaceplane performed its second free flight Dec. 22 as the company prepares to enter a critical year in the vehicle’s long-delayed development.
Virgin Galactic is planning to begin glide flight tests of its second SpaceShipTwo next Tuesday, almost exactly two years after a fatal test flight of its first suborbital spaceplane.
With the FAA restricted from developing safety regulations for people on commercial human spacecraft, an industry standards organization is moving ahead with plans to establish a committee to develop a voluntary set of standards.
Blue Origin carried out a successful test of the abort system of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle Oct. 5, managing to safely land both the vehicle’s crew capsule and propulsion module.
Blue Origin plans to conduct the next flight of its New Shepard suborbital vehicle in October, a launch that the company’s founder says will test the vehicle’s abort system.
NASA announced June 2 that it has awarded a contract to Blue Origin to perform suborbital research flights as part of the agency’s Flight Opportunities program.
XCOR Aerospace, a company best known for attempting to build a reusable suborbital spaceplane, has laid off a significant fraction of its workforce to focus its resources instead on development of a rocket engine.