European astronauts to urge suborbital tourism industry

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Club aims to nourish space industry throughout continent and encourage students

On 25 April an aerospace law meeting organised by the European Astronaut Club (ACE) will consider which of the region's legal authorities should be lobbied for legislative changes to encourage a European suborbital space tourism industry.

Created in 2005, ACE has eight European astronauts among its founding group of 15 members and its goal is to promote space exploration to the public and help bring about a European suborbital space tourism industry.

Since its founding, ACE has organised its pan-European Student Aerospace Challenge with sponsorship from Dassault, Safran and Thales. The challenge is to design a suborbital launch system that uses an Airbus carrier aircraft, using ACE's own Véhicule Suborbital Habité (VSH) concept as the point of departure for the design. The VSH is 11.7m (38.3ft) long, has a 9.3m wingspan, a dry mass of 6,200kg (13,600lb) and would carry 5,400kg of propellant.

The challenge has 109 students in 11 teams, who are mostly French, but ACE wants to include students from German and Italian universities. The teams are working on the propulsion system, avionics, auxiliary power sources, financial management and other technical and business model issues. On 4-5 July a review of the work to date will be conducted.

"We would like something like an America's Cup challenge to encourage the development of European suborbital vehicles," says ACE founder and former French astronaut and Mir mission veteran Jean-Pierre Haigneré. ESA has two suborbital projects under way, but neither is linked to ACE's activities.

 
© European Astronaut Club   

It is hoped ACE's suborbital launch system concept will inspire students