Global aviation giant Boeing has confirmed it will enter the space tourism market, with flights beginning as soon as 2015.
In a link-up with NASA, passengers would be offered flights aboard Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft, with destinations including the International Space Station (ISS).
Departures would likely be from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Current NASA plans call for four space station crew members to reach the ISS in each journey, which would leave up to three seats available for space tourists.
When launched, the flights would become the first to give non-professional astronauts the chance to go into orbit aboard a spacecraft launched from the United States.
Seven earlier space tourists have made visits to the space station, riding in Russian Soyuz capsules.
Competitor Virgin Galactic plans to offer sub-orbital spaceflights to the public in the next two-to-three years.
Boeing will offer flights to the International Space Station
Boeing has not yet set a price per seat for spaceflight participants, but will do so when full-scale development is under way.
The company continues to advance its design for the CST-100 spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement. The spacecraft will be able to fly on multiple launch vehicles and is expected to be operational by 2015.
Tickets for the venture will be marketed by Virginia-based Space Adventures.
“By combining our talents, we can better offer safe, affordable transportation to commercial spaceflight customers,” explained Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Space Exploration division.
“If NASA and the international partners continue to accommodate commercial spaceflight participants on ISS, this agreement will be in concert with the NASA administrator’s stated intent to promote space commerce in low Earth orbit.”
Space Adventures will market tickets for the trips
Space Adventures has successfully contracted and flown seven spaceflight participants on eight missions to the International Space Station.
“We are excited about the potential to offer flights on Boeing’s spacecraft,” added Eric Anderson, co-founder and chairman of Space Adventures.
“With our customer experience and Boeing’s heritage in human spaceflight, our goal is not only to benefit the individuals who fly to space, but also to help make the resources of space available to the commercial sector by bringing the value from space back to Earth.”
Space Adventures is the only company that provides orbital spaceflight opportunities to the world marketplace.
The company offers a spectrum of programming that ranges from terrestrial weightless flights to orbital missions and flights to the edge of space.