Japanese company developing suborbital mini-shuttle

The competiion heats up: A private Japanese company is developing a sub-orbital mini-shuttle capable of carrying up to eight people, and hope to fly it by 2023.

An unmanned trial run of the prototype to an altitude of 100 kilometers is scheduled for 2018, and if a manned mission is successfully achieved by 2020, the company hopes to commence its space travel enterprise by the end of 2023. The price of a trip into space is aimed to be about 14 million yen — which is approximately 70 percent of that announced by American company Virgin Galactic. PD Aerospace aims to take passengers to an altitude of 100 kilometers, where they will be able to enjoy a “zero-gravity floating experience” for about 5 minutes, before returning to Earth.

They are entering this competition very late. Considering how slowly Virgin Galactic has moved, though, they still might beat them into orbit.