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Unknown new British company will fly space tourists in five years

Private vaporware: A new and previously completely unknown British rocket company, Starchaser, has claimed today that it will be flying tourists into space within three to five years.

How do I know this is vaporware and won’t happen? Besides the fact that I’ve never heard of this company before and that the story above includes a lot of fishy details (such as the head of the company has apparently most spent his time building large model rockets), there was this one quote:

The flight will only take an hour and will see the rocket reach around 330,000ft – ten times the average cruising altitude for an aeroplane flight.

An hour is too short for an orbital flight, and is much too long for a suborbital flight at 330,000 feet. In other words, something here is just not right. Regardless, I hope my cynicism here turns out to be wrong, and this company joins the new competition to lower costs into space.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Matt in AZ

    I remember these guys! They had a rocket (or maybe a mockup) on display at the 2007 X-Prize cup at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. It looked a bit small for a 100km launch of a person, though. The plan at the time was for the capsule to descend with a paraglider-type chute, landing somewhat horizontally. I hadn’t heard a thing about them since. Looking at the photo in the link above, it’s the exact same rocket – so they’ve made zero visible progress in 9 years. Here’s a few photos I took of it there:

    Interestingly enough, just a few dozen yards away, was an early manufacturing test article of a SpaceX Dragon capsule. A lot has changed in 9 years with that!

  • Localfluff

    Matt in AZ
    Maybe one could, as a swindler, earn money by painting a trunk of wood white, put a hat and some fins on it, and drive around with it on a truck to pretend being doing space. Some enthusiasts and politicians will readily donate, imagining they help space flight. After having been released from jail, for unrelated crimes, they brought this thing out of the garage again.

  • mark m

    The web link to Starchaser for those interested is Their main focus seems to be educational outreach and Retail, having kep’t an eye of them over the years Elon will be on Mars long before they get into orbit.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I note the word “orbit” appears only in the headline. Given the general standard of journalistic malpractice these days, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Nothing in the text of the article or the reported remarks of the company CEO suggest anything but a sub-orbital flight. The CEO even uses the word “hop.”

    That said, I’m in rough agreement with ZimmerBob about the likelihood of these folks getting any other folks off the ground.

  • Edward

    Matt in AZ wrote: “The plan at the time was for the capsule to descend with a paraglider-type chute, landing somewhat horizontally.”

    This might explain the extra time of the flight. It could take a while to glide the last few kilometers back. Their website says a flight should take about 20 minutes: “This will enable the capsule to be flown back to the launch area for a controlled soft landing some 20 minutes after lift off.”

    If they already have a rocket and capsule ready for test, then they may be able to make their five-year start date, if testing goes well. Blue Origin has been testing their New Shepard system for about four years, and they seem to be a year or so away from starting their own operations. Blue Origin has been working on for New Shepard over a decade.

  • Matt in AZ

    Edward: “If they already have a rocket and capsule ready for test” – that’s usually the catch, isn’t it?

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