21 July 2007

Scaled Composites Succumbs - Big Defense Takes Over

One of the sad footnotes to the Space Face is that the big guys are likely to win. With EADS already announcing its Astrium's Division project for a CTOL (Conventional Take Off and Landing) based Space Plane for Space Tourism, it wasn’t long before one of the big 3 US Contractors decided that this was something they wanted into.

Northrop Grumman Corp agreed July 5th and announced July 20th the agreed purchase of the remaining shares it didn’t own. According to news reports the share holding rose from 20% to 100% with (subject to US government approval) final effect from August 2007. Quietly the other players have been evaluating the market. It is well known that Boeing has been cooperating with the Russians in this area for some time. Lockheed Martin is keeping Mum on the subject. I believe that we will see a small further number of these projects seeing the light of day. Who is to say that Textron (owner of Cessna Aircraft) will not be entering the race. Not to mention Bombardier (Owner of Canadair and Learjet). Indeed the latter's Learjet 25 is the basis for a low cost entry by Rocketplane Ltd based in Oklahoma State.

The obvious impact is that competition will drive down the pricing to reasonable levels from the current astronomical $30-$40 million (For Space Adventures trips to the ISS) to $180,000 for a flight on SpaceShip 2 with reservations maxed out for approximately the first 5 years of service. Most of these reservations are backed by 100% prepayment. The first time there is an accident of course people will be heading for the hills, but in the mean time this is the equivalent of the Concorde Travel experience.

I might just sign up



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