ESA ready to support European space tourism efforts

by | May 21, 2008 | ESA | 1 comment

The European Space Agency could provide human spaceflight services including astronaut training, engage in partnerships with European space tourism ventures and contribute to the development of the necessary pan-European related legal framework, according to its space tourism position paper published today

The position paper can be found here. The agency has already conducted its own studies with one project that looked at the feasibilty of an air launched system and another project that offered business plan support; the company that won that award was the UK’s Starchaser Industries. ESA has also managed a European Union space tourism study

Here is a rundown, with images, of the various declared European (and I do include the Russians in that description) suborbital ventures

Starchaser Industries is the only European space tourism company to have recieved funding from ESA to date. With operations in both the UK and the US the company has been looking to launch from New Mexico’s planned Spaceport America

EADS Astrium’s “space jet” is yet to be properly named and the company has yet to secure the €1 billion it estimates it would need to develop the vehicle and the European aerospace giant does not intend to fly services

Russia’s Myasishchev Design Bureau is working on a feasibility study for an air-launched suborbital tourism vehicle f
or an undisclosed Russian company

A consortium of European technology companies has been developing a single-stage suborbital spaceplane, they have completed some work but are still seeking financing

This is the European Astronaut Club’s (ACE) own Véhicule Suborbital Habité (VSH) concept. ACE is an organisation that exists to promote space exploration and help bring about a European space tourism industry 

The UK based-Spacefleet club organised a pan-European consortium to submit a proposal for the European Union’s Seventh Framework reseach programme but unfortunately the submission had to be abandoned. The club is still seeking investors

And finally I would describe the following as US-European joint ventures

This Myasishchev Design Bureau designed Explorer suborbital vehicle was to have been operated by the US company Space Adventures and launched by a Myasishchev M-55X but a lack of funds ended its development

And last but not least, maybe you would call it Anglo-US but knowing Sir Richard Branson’s pro-European leanings I think he would be happy to call Virgin Galactic a US-European collaboration

The ESA position paper has been published ahead of the International Academy of Astronautics’ symposium on private human access to space that is taking place in Arcachon, France next week. I will be attending so as long as I can find some internet access in the little seaside resort that is Arcachon, you can expect daily blogs from me from that event

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