Armadillo, Rocket Racing League and Spaceport America announced October 23rd that they will partner to begin commercial suborbital flights in 2010, at a customer price of $100,000 per seat.
In a press release, Armadillo Aerospace announced they will develop the reusable launch vehicles and provide ground support and equipment. The State of New Mexico will supply launch facility infrastructure and resources. Rocket Racing Technology Development, a wholly owned subsidiary of Rocket Racing Inc., will provide financing for, and business and operational management of, the partnership. Reservations, experience marketing, customer training and the coordination of the passengersÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ overall experience will be managed exclusively by a third partner company that will be announced when marketing efforts begin.
While this is good news for Armadillo and NewSpace in general, it will remain to be seen how stable and reliable John and team can make the vehicle, given their history and the problems QUAD ran into. I’m sure solutions can and will be found, but this is still rocket science after all.
WK2 Flights Expected
In related news, the White Knight 2 carrier craft is expected to start flight trials this month or early next month. The Personal Spaceflight blog says “WK2 has recently performed some high-speed taxi tests at Mojave, and the first flight of the aircraft is planned for 2-3 weeks.” After that, the first ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œcaptive carryÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â flights of SS2 and WK2 are scheduled to take place in June of 2009. Actual flight tests are scheduled to begin in late 2009 with at least 30 test flights expected.