South Africans can now buy a ticket for a space flight from Orbital Horizon, which describes itself as an African company offering “space tourism and exploration”.
The company is part of the AfriSpace initiative, run by the non-profit African Space Institute (ASI), which has signed up as a payload integration specialist of Xcor Aerospace, which will offer space rides in its Lynx re-usable sub-orbital launch vehicle.
As such ASI, through Orbital Horizon, can start taking orders and facilitating the development and integration for commercial, educational and government suborbital research missions aboard the Lynx.
Capable of up to four flights per day, the Lynx is expected to provide up to 3three or four minutes of micro-gravity and/or exposure to the harsh environment of space.
“This is a win-win for all of us,” says Jeff Greason, CEO of Xcor. “Xcor will focus on what we do best, which is build and operate rocket powered vehicles, while our payload integration specialists will do what they do best, which is work closely with scientists and researchers and use their collective expertise to prepare payload missions to do real work in space.”
Brad Inggs, founder & president of the ASI, comments: “In South Africa, we are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to build up the emerging commercial space industry and provide related educational opportunities to our community, so being a payload integrator for the XCOR Lynx platform not only offers a leap forward allowing affordable access to space for African payloads but also allows us to further generate local skills and jobs in the region.”
The payload integration specialist firms will support a variety of scientific, educational and engineering objectives including: atmospheric science, physics, microgravity research, planetary science, earth observation, life sciences, education and public outreach, and others
Depending upon customer needs, the Lynx can carry as small as a 1kg (or smaller) payload as a “ride share” or “secondary payload”, and up to a 650kg large “primary” mission payload. Payloads may be carried as ride share or primary payloads in the Lynx pressurized cabin or be exposed to the unpressurized and harsh conditions of space.
In the future, small nanosatellites may also be launched from the Lynx vehicle using an expendable upper stage launcher of XCOR design allowing innovative low earth orbit satellite applications, constellations, and the testing of new and advanced technologies to be used on larger satellites and manned flight vehicles.