Jim Benson Exits SpaceDev to Start Space Tourism Company

Dream Chaser: Heritage Hardware, a New Way of Doing Business
SpaceDev rolled out their Dream Chaser space plane this week. Image (Image credit: Jenifer Harrington)

WASHINGTON -- SpaceDevfounder Jim Benson has stepped down as chairman and chief technology officer ofthe Poway, Calif.-based company to launch a new commercial space tourismventure called Benson Space Company.

Benson, who said he intends to be "first-to-market" with aspaceship designed for suborbital and eventually orbital spaceflight, made hisannouncement Sept. 28, the same day Sir Richard Branson was set to unveil atthe Wired NEXTFest Forum in New York a full-scale mockup of SpaceShipTwo, asuborbital vehicle Branson's Virgin Galactic expects to have in service by late2008.

Benson said in a statement that his new company hadcompleted a first round of financing, raising an undisclosed sum, and hasrequested a proposal from SpaceDev for delivery of multiple Dreamchasersuborbital spaceships. Benson said he expects Benson Space Company to beSpaceDev's biggest customer for the Dreamchaser, a hybrid-rocket-propelledspaceship still in development.

"My biggest challenges over the next few months will beevaluating SpaceDev's response to our proposal request, negotiating thecontract for the development of our first spaceships, and completingsecond-round financing for this new venture," Benson said in the statement.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Editor-in-Chief, SpaceNews

Brian Berger is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews, a bi-weekly space industry news magazine, and SpaceNews.com. He joined SpaceNews covering NASA in 1998 and was named Senior Staff Writer in 2004 before becoming Deputy Editor in 2008. Brian's reporting on NASA's 2003 Columbia space shuttle accident and received the Communications Award from the National Space Club Huntsville Chapter in 2019. Brian received a bachelor's degree in magazine production and editing from Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.