Monday, February 20, 2006

Space tourism coming to Singapore

Singapore may not have a space program like neighbour Malaysia but very soon it will have an integrated spaceport that will offer suborbital spaceflights, as well as operate astronaut training facilities and a public education and interactive visitor center. Spaceport Singapore will be developed by Space Adventures, a company that has launched private explorers to space and a group of Singapore companies.

The focal point of the proposed Spaceport Singapore will be suborbital spaceflights. As each suborbital vehicle reaches its maximum altitude of 100 kilometers, passengers will experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness, all the while gazing at the blackness of space set against the horizon of Earth.

Spaceport Singapore, in addition to providing suborbital spaceflights, will offer a wide range of space and high-altitude experiences for those who wish to experience various aspects of astronaut training. These include parabolic flights that will allow passengers to experience the thrill of weightlessness, G-force training in a centrifuge, and simulated space walks in a neutral buoyancy tank. Visitors can fly in a variety of jet aircraft, enjoy the exhilarating flight simulators and interactive exhibit experiences, or simply learn about the history and technology of space travel.

The managers of the Spaceport project have been working with various Singapore agencies to make space tourism in Singapore a reality. One of them is the Singapore Tourism Board. It has been involved with the project for the past three years, facilitating technical discussions with other agencies required for this project and bridging negotiations over possible land sites for the Spaceport. The final location for Spaceport Singapore will be in the Changi Airport vicinity. The area will house flight operations as well as the Visitor Center and Training Facility. Spaceport Singapore managers have also met with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, to begin the process of obtaining the necessary approvals to introduce jet fighter, zero-gravity and suborbital spaceflights to the public.

Space tourists at Spaceport Singapore will be travelling in a suborbital space transportation system designed by Myasishchev Design Bureau, a leading Russian aerospace organization which has developed a wide-array of high performance aircraft and space systems. Called Explorer, it will have the capacity to transport up to five people to space and is designed to optimize the customer experience of space travel, while maintaining the highest degree of safety. The system consists of a flight-operational carrier aircraft, the M-55X, and a rocket spacecraft.

Besides Singapore, Space Adventures are also setting up another Spaceport in Ras Al-Khaimah, the northern of the seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates. The UAE Spaceport will be localted at the Ras Al-Khaimah International Airport, only an hour drive from Dubai.


primus said...

How much to be a space tourist? A million bucks?

hondacup said...

I cannot believe our governtment actually agreeing to something so experimental and dangerous as space tourism.

Myra Leong said...

anything to boost tourism in singapore. besides, the lives that will be in danger are only a select few of extremely rich people that can afford the space flight.

Shy said...

Let's get a good enough space transport ready and then proper guidelines on space travel first.

straydog said...

Heard that it cost less fuel to sent an object to space from the equator than from a higher latitude.

So both Malaysia and Singapore have the advantage of being close to the equator.

For Singapore, it has to be the sub-orbital flight since they are towed from a jet plane to a certain altitude before they fire the rockets.

There is no way we can ever launch any rockets from the ground, while it should still be ok for Malaysia to use a remote isolated spot to do this.

primus said...

So this Spaceport is only for suborbital flight right. Is it affordable for the public??

Geek God said...

The flight simulators and interactive exhibits will be affordable for all. Heeeee. Not so sure about the suborbital flight.

Space tourism is like air travel in its infancy - only for the very rich. Maybe come 50 years down the road, space travel will become affordable for the masses.

Sir Thomas said...

10 years ago, this kind of news may seem so science fiction to most of us.

Jasper Chen said...

It's just funny to think bungee jumping was banned years ago.