In a move that must have struck simultaneous chords of fear and joy in the hearts of future commercial and tourist spaceflight providers, aerospace titan Boeing recently announced the intent to partner with Space Adventures to sell private seats on its newest orbital spacecraft, the CST-100. (This passes up Virgin Galactic’s and Armadillo Aerospace’s suborbital spacecraft, which will not achieve true orbit before quickly returning.) The craft, which will solicit NASA contracts to space in the wake of the shuttle’s retirement, is going head-to-head with SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft on what appears to be an increasingly-open commercial space market.
No word yet on pricing, but with seven seats per flight on what is promoted as a reusable spacecraft, expect these tickets to be the most affordable means to date to hitch a ride to the International Space Station.
Interestingly enough, Boeing has also recently partnered with Las Vegas aerospace lightning bolt Bigelow Aerospace, which is in the midst of building human-rated, expandable orbital modules for private space stations. The business case for private space is getting tighter with every passing week, it seems.
Is a 21st-Century space renaissance nigh?
It certainly looks promising.