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US space outfit promises The Right Stuff experience

Sub-orbital jaunt for $95k

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Brave souls looking for "The Right Stuff experience" can now buy tickets for a sub-orbital jaunt aboard the XCOR Lynx for a modest $95,000.

The Lynx suborbital vehicle. Pic: XCORXCOR has inked a deal with Arizona-based RocketShip Tours, which will handle Lynx bookings and has already taken a $20k deposit from its first customer - Danish investment banker Per Wimmer.

RocketShip Tours' founder, Jules Klar, enthused: “The natural evolution of human exploration knows no bounds. RocketShip Tours and XCOR have come together to usher in the private sector’s role in space exploration. There is no doubt that a new era of pioneering space enthusiasts is emerging."

Wimmer, who recently “made the first tandem skydive over Mt. Everest", explained: "I am going to fly aboard the Lynx because I want to experience space from a front row seat. My goal is to place the Dannebrog, the Danish flag, on the Moon one day. Flying to the edge of space aboard the Lynx will make me the first Dane to experience suborbital space flight and takes me one step closer to my ultimate goal.”

The intrepid banker will indeed have a front-row seat view of the action. Lynx passengers will sit beside the pilot "instead of in back, like cargo", as XCOR test pilot Col Rick Searfoss put it back in March.

Accordingly, RocketShip Tours promises an "awe-inspiring view of the curvature of Earth, the thin blue mantle of the atmosphere below, and inky blackness of space above" which will "provide participants with unforgettable memories beyond description".

Klar further effused: “This type of adventure is truly transcendent because it widens our horizons, and teaches us not only about the world we live in, but something about ourselves as well. I believe that the view from space aboard the Lynx will undoubtedly be positively life-changing in ways we can only dream of.”

While paying customers don't have to be "athletes" to experience the Lynx effect, they are subject to "a medical questionnaire and a screening performed by qualified aeronautic physicians". They'll also receive training in life support systems, flight physiology and familiarisation with their spacesuit provided by NASA contractor Orbital Outfitters.

The 8.5 metre (27.9ft) Lynx is designed to operate like a conventional aircraft, albeit with liquid fuel engines carrying the vehicle to roughly 61km (200,000ft) at a maximum speed of Mach 2 during the 30-minute flight. XCOR has a flight profile graphic here (pdf), and more on its technology here. ®

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