Space tourism firm to build spaceport in Persian Gulf

Originally at

Monday, Feb 20, 2006,Page 12

A day after Space Adventures announced it was in a venture to develop rocket ships for suborbital flights, the company said on Friday it plans to build a US$265 million spaceport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The commercial spaceport would be based in Ras Al-Khaimah near the southern end of the Persian Gulf, and the UAE government has made an initial investment of US$30 million, the Arlington, Virginia-based company said in a statement.

The spaceport announcement comes on the heels of Space Adventures’ new partnership with an investment firm founded by major sponsors of the Ansari X Prize to develop rocket ships for suborbital flights.

The agreement between Space Adventures and the Texas-based venture capital firm Prodea would help finance suborbital vehicles being designed and built by the Russian aerospace firm Myasishchev Design Bureau.

Space Adventures is best known for sending the first three space tourists to the orbiting international space station for a reported US$20 million a person.

Space Adventures’ jump into the infant suborbital flight industry comes at a time when several companies already are designing spaceships to take paying passengers on short trips up into space and then back to Earth without circling the globe.

Last December, British tycoon Richard Branson announced development of a US$225 million spaceport in southern New Mexico, which will be the headquarters of Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism company.

Virgin Galactic is contracting with Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites to develop a suborbital spaceship based on SpaceShipOne technology.

Flying out of Mojave, California, SpaceShipOne made history on June 21, 2004, as the first privately financed manned rocket to reach space.
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