Space Operations, Inc. announced plans today to build a two-seat manned orbital spacecraft for commercial and government use. The company plans a test launch in early to mid-2012, with a regular flight schedule beginning in late 2012 or early 2013.
The Eclipse spacecraft will utilize the highly successful legacy Gemini technology that was developed by NASA to allow SOI to bring this product to market in a very short time frame.
"We will incorporate modern materials and the latest proven technologies into the design to improve performance. This design was flown successfully 13 times back in the sixties, 10 of those missions were manned," said James Hopkins, company CTO.
"The technology will allow for making land recoveries and quick refurbishment of the capsule for reuse in future missions," said Hopkins. In addition to the crew, the Eclipse will be able to carry up to 10,000 pounds of cargo into orbit. The company will utilize the services of other commercial rocket manufacturers to launch the spacecraft.
"America needs a manned space flight capability based here in the U.S. now, not in four or five years," said Craig Russell, company CEO. A former Air Force pilot and retired airline pilot, Russell has been developing the business model for five years. "We identified the prime contractor and sub-contractors to build the vehicle last year.
The company will use the spacecraft to service different sectors in the orbital space market including satellite servicing and repair, satellite deployment, space tourism, space station construction/re-supply, and space debris de-orbit.
There's no doubt that the space work force in the Huntsville region will be ready and able to meet the challenge of our schedule," said Russell. Local businessman and Huntsville native Chris Gattis was selected as president and will run the day-to-day operations of the company. "Mr. Gattis has a history of success in company operations and we are fortunate to have him on our management team," Russell said.
The company is seeking investors who are interested in commercial orbital space flight as well as individuals and businesses who will purchase seats on the first few flights. "The purpose of the first few missions will depend on who is first to put a deposit on the seats," said Gattis. "We are going to space in 2012, and we're looking for others to go with us."
[b]About Space Operations, Inc.[/b]
Space Operations Inc.
(SOI) is located in Madison, Alabama near NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.