EADS Astrium puts its “space jet” on hold indefinitley

by | Mar 24, 2009 | Commercial human spaceflight, Personal spaceflight, Space tourism, Suborbital, Technology | 2 comments

AstriumW445.jpg

credit: Astrium / caption: the world’s financial downturn has grounded Astrium’s space jet suborbital  spaceplane

Hyperbola had heard that EADS Astrium had shelved for the time being its aspirations for the suborbital market and now the European space company has confirmed the rumour to this blog with the following statement: “The world economic situation has created a difficult near term environment in which to finalise ongoing discussions with investors. Astrium is to temporarily slow down the technical activities focusing on core risk mitigation for the project. The [space jet] team achieved impressive results in the pre-development phase particularly in the field of propulsion technology. Astrium sees suborbital flight as a promising area because of the emerging space tourism market.”Hyperbola understands that the decision came in January and an internal communique communicated the above statement for external enquiries about the project

Flightglobal.com first reported about space jet back at the Paris air show in 2007 and while there was able to provide more detailed techncial information about the vehicle and its development. Then in January last year Flight reported that the funding was still eluding Astrium, which with a €1 bilion price tag was not too surprising

In October 2008 Astrium’s space tourism programme manager Christophe Chavagnac told Flight he would not talk about the project until the vehicle was rolled out, an event that must now seem very distant with the state of the financial markets

You can watch Chavagnac’s presentation about the space jet at the 3rd International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety conference in Rome from last october in this Hyperbola blog post entry

It had always been a bit odd that Astrium’s project was not a part of the European Space Agency and European Union’s space tourism related projects

An Astrium media relations official told Hyperbola last year that the company was sincere about the project and that he had expressed fears to management about it being seen as simply a re-branding effort when the company changed its name from Space to Astrium

I guess now all that is academic and one more potential competitor to Virgin Galactic has, for the time being, bitten the dust

And I would imagine that Astrium’s deputy chief technical officer is now unlikely to have much to say at this Royal Aeronautical Society space tourism conference in London in June 

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