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dabs.com sponsors space ‘cement mixer’

Thunderbirds are go!

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Thunderbirds are go!

dabs.com is expanding horizons beyond the earth's atmosphere.

The online IT retailer has struck a "major sponsorship deal" with Cheshire-based Starchaser Industries Limited.

Starchaser (motto: The Sky is not the Limit) intends to be the first private organisation to fly people into space. At stake is the "X Prize" - a ten million dollar award for the first team to pull off the feat.

"We are so excited about this sponsorship program," enthuses Jonathan Wall, dabs.com S&M director. "Starchaser Industries are a dedicated team that we are proud to support and we have some great promotions to work with over the coming year."

Not everyone shares the vision. Experts quoted by the BBC condemn the project as "suicidal". Their concerns centre around the fact that "the Thunderbird capsule is actually a converted cement mixer, containing sheets of hardboard and a few computer joysticks."

Undaunted, Starchaser intends to test the rocket in 2001 - 2002 and go for launch in 2003. If you think you have right stuff, a seat is available for the knock-down price of £500,000. ®

Bootnote

Think you can beat Starchaser and dabs.com into space? Here's a bit of background info. on the X Prize:

The X PRIZE was founded on May 18, 1996 in St. Louis for the specific purpose of stimulating the creation of a new generation of launch vehicles designed to carry passengers into space.

RULES:
Requiring that the vehicle be privately funded and privately constructed means that a large government cannot come in and win the competition in a manner which does not lead to economically viable tourist capability.

We chose 100km altitude because it is beyond the official 50-miles that the US Air Force recognizes as "worthy of astronaut wings" but not so high that the reentry speed requires exotic heat shielding.

Requiring a vehicle which can fly three people means that X PRIZE registrants will be designing vehicles which can turn around after the competition and begin to generate revenue traffic following their certification.

Finally, requiring that the same vehicle fly twice within two weeks means that cost per reflight is only the cost of fuel and the limited "touch-labor" that can be applied in this short period of time. Therefore, we hope that cost per seat will be reasonable and affordable to many.

And this is what you're up against. The technical details of the Thunderbird include:

  • Overall Dimensions:
  • Height: 15,948mm (52 feet)
  • Diameter: 2,438mm (8 feet)
  • Finspan: Under review
  • Launch mass: 20,000 kg (44,000 lb)
  • Recovery: Steerable parasail
  • Propulsion: Liquid propellant engine
  • Propellant: LOX / Kerosine
  • Total impulse: Varies with mission
  • Max velocity: 1900 m/sec (6234 ft/sec)
  • Max altitude: Greater than 100 km (62 miles)
  • Launch date: August 2003
  • Location: TBA


Related links

The Starchaser homepage
X Prize

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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