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: © 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.

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