Next Space Race Underway -- Orbit...

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SpaceDev Says It Has A Plan

SpaceDev, the California company that built the hybrid rocket motor that drove SpaceShipOne, says it has just about completed its plan for a safe, affordable launch system -- the SpaceDev Dream Chaser -- that could carry six passengers into low earth orbit. CEO Jim Benson said he believes the company can "quickly develop a safe and affordable space transportation system based on existing propulsion technologies and vehicle designs." While the initial target is the space tourism market, SpaceDev says its project also could provide routine, safe and affordable access to the International Space Station for NASA. SpaceDev's plan calls for multiple manned suborbital test flights by 2008, and manned test flights to orbit by 2010. "We believe we can reduce cost, risk and time to market for commercially viable human space transport," Benson said. The launch-system propulsion modules would be scaled-up versions of the motor used on SpaceShipOne. SpaceDev says it has experience in rapidly and successfully developing innovative space technologies, and it could design and develop a complete human spaceflight system for a fraction of what the large aerospace companies are expected to charge NASA. SpaceDev first unveiled its preliminary plans for a suborbital Dream Chaser last September.