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Space Adventures to Buy Launch Technology Firm

Japanese Space Tourist Trains for September Launch
Space tourist-to-be Daisuke "Dice-K" Enomoto of Japan sits inside a Russian Soyuz TMA spacecraft simulator. Enomoto is set to ride the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft to the International Space Station in September with the Expedition 14 crew. (Image credit: Space Adventures.)

The spaceflightexperience firm Space Adventures announced plans to buy Fountain Valley,California's Space Launch Corp. Tuesday to aid technology development for futurecommercial spacecraft.

TheVirginia-based Space Adventures - which brokers multi-million-dollar flights tothe International Space Station (ISS) for paying customers - said the mergerwill bring valuable technology and expertise to the table for future projects.

"We're nottalking about our long-term plans, but we are happy to have a wholly-ownedsubsidiary that has access to such valuable technology," Space Adventurespresident and CEO Eric Anderson told "It certainly hastechnologies that are very applicable to commercial human spaceflight."

Founded in1999, Space Launch Corp. focused its space efforts to develop launch systemsfor microsatellites. In 2003, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agencytapped the California firm to draw up plans for its air-launched RASCAL - or Responsive Access, Small Cargo,Affordable Launch - program. The RASCAL program was cancelled last year.

SpaceAdventures is working with the Houston-based firm Prodea to develop and sell afleet of air-launched Explorersuborbital spacecraft, and is a partner in planned spaceportsin the UnitedArab Emirates and Singapore.

The firmhas also announced plans for trips around the Moonaboard Russian-built Soyuz spacecraft, and offers fighter jet rides as well asaircraft flights that simulate weightlessness for thrill-seeking customers.

SpaceAdventures is also looking ahead to the launch of its next orbit-boundpassenger - Japanese entrepreneur DaisukeEnomoto - set to ride a Soyuz spacecraft to the space station withthe ISSExpedition 14 astronaut crew in mid-September.

"We'relooking forward to Mr. Enomoto's flight on Sept. 15," Anderson said. "We'revery happy and we're running along at full steam."

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