A new player in space tourism
The Lynx two-seat suborbital vehicle being built by California-based XCOR Aerospace
A travel entrepreneur who introduced hundreds of thousands of Americans to European travel in the 1960s has taken luxury travel to new heights-the edge of space.
Jules Klar, founder of Phoenix, Arizona-based RocketShip Tours, has announced that his company will immediately begin selling rides to the edge of space for US$95,000 per flight—around half the cost of rival operators, Virgin Galactic. Participants will fly aboard the Lynx, a two-seat suborbital vehicle being built by California-based XCOR Aerospace.
‘Years ago, my dream was to introduce the world to new travel opportunities at prices that were consistent with a unique experience,’ said Klar. ‘In 1961 I created $5-A-Day Tours in partnership with Arthur Frommer that enabled thousands of Americans to see Europe at affordable prices.’
After moving to Arizona, Klar created Great American Travel, a high-end boutique operation specialising in luxury cruises and tours. ‘We’ve helped thousands of sophisticated adventurous travellers visit exotic destinations all over the world including Antarctica, where they developed a deeper appreciation for its beautiful, pristine and fragile environment. Today, I am very proud to announce this partnership with XCOR Aerospace to offer participants an out of this world experience-a front row seat to the edge of Space.’
‘The natural evolution of human exploration knows no bounds. RocketShip Tours and XCOR have come together to usher in the private sector’s role in space exploration. There is no doubt that a new era of pioneering space enthusiasts is emerging. In fact, prior to signing this agreement with RocketShip Tours, XCOR had already taken paid reservations for approximately 20 flights.’ said Klar.
The Lynx spacecraft’s flight profile.
XCOR Chief Test Pilot and three-time space shuttle pilot and commander, Rick Searfoss said the Lynx will carry people or payloads to the edges of space up to four times a day. Seated next to him in the co-pilot seat, participants will undoubtedly experience the thrill of a lifetime. The awe-inspiring view of the curvature of Earth, the thin blue mantle of the atmosphere below, and inky blackness of space above will provide participants with unforgettable memories beyond description.
XCOR officials discussed the technology used on the two-seat, fully reusable launch vehicle that takes off like an airplane, and lands the same way, while Chris Gilman of Orbital Outfitters, a NASA spacesuit contractor, demonstrated the spacesuit technology that will be worn by those flying in the Lynx. Gilman, winner of an Academy Award for special effects, said the suit is both lighter and safer than older NASA spacesuits.
Klar said he was inspired by the revolutionary Lynx suborbital vehicle because it offers participants a unique and intimately personal experience. ‘You’re sitting in a cockpit in the co-pilot’s seat beside your astronaut pilot, with a panoramic view of the stars above and Earth below. It is the ride of your life!’
‘I am going to fly aboard the Lynx because I want to experience space from a front row seat,’ said Danish investment banker Per Wimmer, who will take the first commercial flight aboard the Lynx. Wimmer, based in London, has already earned a reputation as a pioneering adventurer. He recently made the first tandem skydive over Mt. Everest.
Wimmer, who uses his adventures to promote various charities, says, ‘My goal is to place the Dannebrog, the Danish flag, on the Moon one day. Flying to the edge of space aboard the Lynx will make me the first Dane to experience suborbital space flight and takes me one step closer to my ultimate goal.’
First RocketShip Tours customer Per Wimmer of Denmark is awarded a ceremonial ticket by RocketShipTours CEO Jules Klar, after signing the final page of a contract to be the first Lynx space flight participant.
The total cost of the Lynx flight experience is US$95,000. A deposit of US$20,000 begins the process of assigning the participant to the qualification program. Klar said one does not have to be an athlete to fly aboard the Lynx, but the procedure will include a medical questionnaire and a screening performed by qualified aeronautic physicians. Instruction regarding life support systems, flight physiology, and other aspects of the Lynx suborbital flight will also be provided. ‘We want to ensure the experience is as safe as possible and that people are adequately trained and prepared.’
‘Since this is a suborbital launch, training will require familiarisation with the spacesuit and what will be experienced while sitting in the cockpit.’ Klar said. ‘We will provide deluxe accommodations for all those who share in ‘The Right Stuff’ experience we offer and become part of this historic stage in the evolution of human space flight.’
‘After the flight is concluded, participants will receive an HD DVD recording of their flight experience as well as other mementos,’ Klar said.
XCOR COO Andrew Nelson noted that RocketShip Tours’ announcement marks an important milestone in space exploration efforts. ‘American entrepreneurs are succeeding—we are bringing down the cost of space flight and making it affordable,’ said Nelson. ‘What is most astonishing is that competition has already reduced prices before a single vehicle has flown. What a fabulous holiday gift this is going to make for many people who thought they had everything.’
‘I’ve had a long career in travel, and I have found that we are not offering a destination, so much as we are offering an experience that appeals to the pioneering spirit inside all of us,’ said Klar. ‘This type of adventure is truly transcendent because it widens our horizons, and teaches us not only about the world we live in, but something about ourselves as well. I believe that the view from space aboard the Lynx will undoubtedly be positively life-changing in ways we can only dream of.’