Countdown: Spain set for low-cost space trips
Alex Dunham · 13 Dec 2013, 14:39
Published: 13 Dec 2013 14:39 GMT+01:00
- Mystery 'meteor' flashes over Canary Islands (26 Aug 13)
- 'Spain to Space' balloon ride nears lift off (08 Jul 13)
- Spaniards eye one-way ticket to Mars (09 May 13)
A European aeronautical consortium announced on Thursday its plans to offer 'cheap' trips into space from the Canary island of Gran Canaria.
Their aim is to use a shuttle attached to an Airbus 300 aircraft rather than the costlier spacecraft employed in official space missions.
The unconventional spaceship will first take passengers 10,000 metres above earth level, from which point the shuttle would be detached from the plane and continue the voyage another 700km into space.
Up to four space tourists and two pilots will be able to embark on the trip before returning to the same cosmodrome in the city of Maspalomas.
Unlike regular spacecraft, both the plane and the space shuttle will be reusable after more than one voyage, Spanish newspaper El País reported.
Although ticket prices have not yet been announced, the recyclability of the spaceships’ essential components will reduce costs significantly.
The low-cost space trips will offer the same zero gravity experience as astronauts and only a handful of millionaire space tourists have had the luck to try out.
Swiss space company S3 is behind the ambitious initiative, having rounded up a number of European aeronautical companies with links to the European Space Agency.
The group announced that trial launches will take place in 2018 and the first official space tourism trips are likely to happen in 2020.
As for the choice of location, experts concur that the Canary Islands are a perfect choice to house the space hub due to their geographical location and booming tourism industry.