A single-seat prototype suborbital capsule has been unveiled by Manchester, UK-based Starchaser. The 200kg (440lb), 3m (10ft)-high Nova II craft is part of the company's bid to win the $10 million X-Prize by carrying a three- person crew on consecutive suborbital flights by 2005.

The prototype capsule will be used for aircraft drop tests in Arizona and may be launched this year on an atmospheric test flight aboard Starchaser's Nova booster.

Scaled Composites will unveil its contender on 18 April. The company has been flight testing the high-altitude "mother ship" aircraft and conducting capsule drop tests and rocket propulsion trials.

Source: Flight International