LONG BEACH, Calif. — Private suborbital space planes built by two space tourism companies will likely launch some major test flights before this year is out, their builders say.
The commercial spaceflight company Virgin Galactic plans to launch its SpaceShipTwo spacecraft into space for the first time by the end of 2013. The company performed its first rocket-powered test flight in April. Meanwhile, the firm XCOR Aerospace is aiming for the inaugural non-spacebound flight of its Lynx vehicle during that same time period, officials from both companies said on Tuesday (May 21).
"We are on a path to hopefully be in outer space by the end of this year and be carrying commercial customers in the back of the vehicle on flights to outer space not too long after," Will Pomerantz, Virgin Galactic's vice president for special projects, told attendees at the Space Tech Expo here. "It has perhaps been a longer journey than any of us expected, as seems to happen with all of us in the aerospace industry. But we're incredibly pleased with where we are."