Science & Technology

Pick a Rocket, Any Rocket


Another company is getting into the space tourism race, so would-be recreational astronauts will now be able to squabble about which experience of weightlessness is better over beers.

Xcor Aerospace Inc. announced Wednesday that it would enter the space tourism market with a rocket plane that would carry passengers for about $100,000 a ride. The Lynx will take off under its own power, carrying just a pilot and a single passenger, the Mojave, Calif., company said at a news conference in Beverly Hills. Each flight will reach an altitude of 200,000 feet, close enough to space that passengers will experience about 90 seconds of weightlessness. Flight testing of the Lynx is expected to begin in 2010.

The competition, a collaboration between British billionaire Richard Branson and aircraft designer Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites (also Mojave-based) is SpaceShipTwo, a bigger ship selling tickets at $200,000 a pop. Of course, customers stand to benefit as competition drives prices down out of the stratosphere more quickly.

The Lynx is planning to do up to four trips a day, to make up for the small capacity, so there will be plenty of chances to catch a flight on either spaceline.

More on the wacky, wacky world of space travel for fun and profit.