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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interorbital Systems Plans Crewed Capsule Launch from Spaceport Tonga in 2011

Mojave, California-based Interorbital Systems (IOS) announced Saturday that it is developing a two-person orbital crew module as an addition to its orbital tourism operations to loft in late 2011 aboard the company’s modular NEPTUNE 1000 rocket.

Two Interorbital Systems test pilots---Nebojsa Stanojevic, a 'Tweeting' Serbian, and Miroslav Ambrus-Kis, [vid], a 'Tweeting' Croatian, both of whom are seasoned explorers, will be aboard the NEPTUNE 1000 spacecraft. The test pilots are also a part of the Synergy Moon Team for the Google Lunar X-Prize.

The two-man capsule is designed to orbit the earth for approximately 12 hours or 8 orbits around the planet. For assured reentry, the spacecraft will be launched into a self-decaying orbit. The crew module, which has a launch escape system to ensure the pilots’ safety, will splash down Apollo-style on parachutes in the South Pacific Ocean near its launch location in the Kingdom of Tonga. The Spaceport Tonga is being readied by IOS for human and lunar robot flights.

The price for the Interorbital Systems spacecraft ride to orbit is expected to be $800,000 per person when commercial service begins in 2012. The BBC looks at IOS too. There appears to be no commercial plan to service the International Space Station (yet any way). More from the Croatian Times and


Terence Clark said...


Years of radio silence from IOS including no response to my direct emails and then this? The mind indeed boggles. It seems like Bigelow and Almaz bought into the game and suddenly we have an all in from private space. And 2011! And here I had all but given up hope for anyone but SpaceX.

Anonymous said...

Dude; you misspelled Nuptune ..

Antonio said...

"There appears no commercial plan to service the International Space Station (yet any way)."
Unless the Augustine Commission says different, the ISS is supposed to de-orbit around 2016, so they better hurry!

JackKennedy said...

Thank you for alerting me to the typo.

JackKennedy said...

The political probability of the United States de-orbiting the international space station in 2015 are about as high as American putting humans back on he moon that same year! None.

Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX, the European ATV, the Japanese HTV, and the Russian Progress will keep the station supplied. Crew-exchange however will be next to come as the ISS will be kept in orbit to at least 2020.

Personally, I beleive the space station partnership should be expanded to include the Chinese.

Terence Clark said...

"Personally, I beleive the space station partnership should be expanded to include the Chinese."

Totally and completely agreed, but I also see where the government is coming from in wanting to see the launch facilities and vehicles prior to launch. We not only saw the vehicles and the launch facility for the Soyuz, we have our astronauts cross-trained there. I think it's a reasonable expectation.

JackKennedy said...

"I also see where the [US]government is coming from in wanting to see the [Chinese] launch facilities and vehicles prior to launch. We not only saw the vehicles and the launch facility for the Soyuz, we have our astronauts cross-trained there. I think it's a reasonable expectation."

I too believe this 'a reasonable expectation.' Therefore, I suggest an 'icebreaker' flight by a Chinese taikonaut guest. That would be a great diplomacy start with the fledgling third national human space power.

I am just a space-struck political scientist at heart who believes in 'constructive engagement' as opposed to isolation (especially since they hold our national mortgage).

Anonymous said...

I work for NASA, and I can tell you that "wanting to see the launch facilities and vehicles prior to launch" stuff is hogwash. It is the Chinese that have been unwilling to participate (so far), preferring instead to go their own route. But they are starting to communicate with us more now, at least with unmanned spaceflight, so maybe that will change. Who knows.

The real analysis here is $800,000 per person, in a two-seat capsule. $1.6 million per flight? That's more than an order of magnitude less than SpaceX Bollocks, I say.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I gotta say, $800k per person just doesn't make any sense at all. It certainly isn't even close to cost, simply can't be.

Anonymous said...

A Croat and a Serb in space?

Sounds like a two-fer record:

1. First all-civilian orbital flight

2. First incident of cosmic ethnic cleansing


Robert Horning said...

I'll believe this when I see it. Virgin Galactic at least has a real vehicle that they are basing their flight plans off from, that clearly has flown and made it to space. SpaceX, the one derided in above comments, also has at least sent stuff "up there" that has something resembling a track record (debatable if it is good or not, but it is a record to compare).

This company has yet to show that they can send something up into space, and get it delivered to a stable orbit... I'll be impressed. Heck, I'll be impressed if they can duplicate Alan Shepard's first Mercury flight.

Until hardware is flying and demonstrated, I would treat companies like this with a grain of salt and consider them to be a dime a dozen. Enough companies now exist that are flying real hardware that it hardly seems worth the effort to track folks with vaporware that come by with such promises and no track record to deliver them. Putting von Braun into the advertisement implying an endorsement seems to be a new low even for commercial space enterprises.

This isn't to say that some dark horse might come along and surprise everybody. Such things can and occasionally do happen, but I don't buy it that these are going to be the folks that will get the job done.

Manned orbital spaceflight is enough of a challenge that government entities of major world powers have trouble getting this accomplished. Indeed, the number of different vehicles classes that have carried astronauts is still something you can count with two hands (a bit more than one hand, I suppose), and that includes more exotic things like the X-15 and Spaceship One that haven't quite been into orbit. And this company is going to join that club with a vehicle joining this lofty group of accomplished vehicles, and no previous flight?

I'm curious about FAA-AST licensing alone.

Terence Clark said...

They actually do have a good track record of sounding rocket flights with paying customers. They actually have a longer and stronger reputation that SpaceX at the moment and they may even outdo STS.

Now I do realize that taking sounding rocket engineering skills and sticking it into an orbital trajectory is going to be a challenge, but this isn't their first year of effort toward Neptune. These guys are not newbies. They've been around since before the XPrize and actually lament the time wasted during the XPrize days on suborbital when they could be working on Neptune.

As for man rating, I certainly have my questions with that one. That's a bigger leap. Then again, Falcon/Dragon is supposed to be man-rated in 2.5 years, why not Neptune in 2?

I'm even more nervious that flight 1 is intended to be manned. That wouldn't have been a good thing with Falcon, and I don't think it's a wise move here. But hey, if it's man-rated, there's nothing to my knowledge that says they can't do manned flight on day one.

"Manned orbital spaceflight is enough of a challenge that government entities of major world powers have trouble getting this accomplished."

I won't deny it's a challenge, but I do often question if it needs to be as challenging as it seems to be in the government programs. NASA has a hard time building anything on-time and on-budget, I'd hardly use them as a case study. It'll always be difficult, but if we are to ever do it regularly, things will need to change in that regard. That's not to say it's even possible, but I guess I'm a wide-eyed optimist in that respect.

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