The race to put tourists into space has its first price competitor. Amsterdam-based Space Expedition Corporation (SXC) hopes to test its Lynx Mark II spaceship -built by the U.S.'s XCOR Aerospace-this April, putting it on track for a late 2014 inaugural flight, and into a neck-in-neck dash to the finish with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic to see who will launch paying guests first. "It will be close," predicts SXC CEO Michiel Mol.
What won't be so close will be the price tag for the initial passengers. Both SXC and Virgin Galactic will loft customers above the 100-kilometer boundary, coast weightless for five to six minutes with that life-affirming Spaceship Earth view, and glide back to planet. But while Branson's outfit will charge six passengers at a time $200,000 for the voyage, SXC hopes to make the trip one guest at a time, for a thrifty $100,000.
The company also hopes to begin sub-space flights to 42 kilometers on its Lynx Mark I later this year.