PARIS AIR SHOW: Astrium restates commitment to suborbital flights

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EADS's space unit Astrium remains "totally convinced" of the market for suborbital flights, but the financial crisis has forced delays, says Astrium chief executive Francois Auque.

"There will be a market for suborbital flight, that is absolutely for sure," said Auque at a pre-show briefing. However, he admits that "nobody knows" when the market will emerge.

Auque said Astrium's suborbital flight concept was safe. "It is working," he added.

However, progress depends on Astrium finding investors. "Our intention is to have the project funded by private money," explained Auque. "The current financial environment is not extremely favourable, so there is a kind of pause."

Yet some work continues, claimed Auque. "We go on securing the key technological items in order to be ready when the financial landscape is more sunny."

Citing propulsion constraints, Auque estimates that first flight would follow five years after the launch of "full-speed development".