7 August 2002
- Tourism (Good)
XCOR Aerospace Targets Space Tourism
“Xerus” spaceplane to offer sub-orbital passenger flights
by Patrick Collins
XCOR Aerospace, the rocket development company, partnered with Space Adventures, the US space tourism travel agency, has recently announced its new “Xerus” project to develop a sub-orbital rocket-plane capable of making passenger flights to an altitude of 100 km.

XCOR has already made great progress toward establishing ongoing reusability of rocket plane operations, most recently by flying their piloted, fully-reusable EZ-Rocket airplane twice in one day. Recognising the potential of space tourism, XCOR may indeed become the major source for low-cost reusable space vehicles and components. All it would take is a single multimillionaire with a moment of inspiration to get the Xerus prototype flying.

Unfortunately in 2002 we’re in the third successive year of clearing up the massive wasted investments of the late-90s “dot-com mania.” Consequently investors have literally trillions fewer dollars to invest today than they had a few years ago. Nevertheless, there are always investors who are looking for the next promising field. And unlike internet communications, for which demand was so over-estimated that only 3% of US capacity is reportedly being used--hence the red ink--space tourism has literally limitless potential for growth.

Furthermore, the world economy, as well as US economy, needs space tourism: As the recession begins to bite more deeply, it will become clear to more and more people that industries which have moved to China will not return. The United States and other countries are not going to recover economically by going backwards; they have to go forwards and develop new industries. Passenger space travel is going to become the shining jewel of future development, the key to growth in the 21st Century.

We wish the XCOR team the best of luck with Xerus and their other great projects.
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Patrick Collins 7 August 2002
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