In recent years some private enterprises have been approaching Space flight with a relatively low-cost philosophy, in great contrast with the one followed by government agencies in past years. In fact, some examples of small reusable airplane-like vehicles have been developed to perform sub-orbital missions, which could represent a first step towards a safer, more comfortable and less expensive access to Space in the near future. Main idea is to merge part of technological solutions developed for aeronautical and atmospheric re-entry purposes in order to design such vehicles. The Scaled Composite launched for the first time the Space Ship One (SS1) in 2004. The vehicle reached 100 km altitude on a suborbital trajectory 36 years after the X-15, developed by NASA at the turn of 50s and 60s. The company is presently test qualifying an enlarged version of the SS1, named SS2, which is intended to carry passengers for a shortduration Space flight at a fare of about 200 k$ with first commercial flights in early 2014. This suborbital flight should allow passengers to experiment weightlessness for a few minutes and to see a large area of the Earth, along with its curvature.
Last date updated on July, 2014