Space Tourism
Jim Benson

Jim Benson Exits SpaceDev to Start Space Tourism Company
Space News Staff Writer
posted: 28 September 2006 03:43 pm ET

WASHINGTON -- SpaceDev founder Jim Benson has stepped down as chairman and chief technology officer of the Poway, Calif.-based company to launch a new commercial space tourism venture called Benson Space Company.

Benson, who said he intends to be "first-to-market" with a spaceship designed for suborbital and eventually orbital spaceflight, made his announcement Sept. 28, the same day Sir Richard Branson was set to unveil at the Wired NEXTFest Forum in New York a full-scale mockup of SpaceShipTwo, a suborbital vehicle Branson's Virgin Galactic expects to have in service by late 2008.

Benson said in a statement that his new company had completed a first round of financing, raising an undisclosed sum, and has requested a proposal from SpaceDev for delivery of multiple Dreamchaser suborbital spaceships. Benson said he expects Benson Space Company to be SpaceDev's biggest customer for the Dreamchaser, a hybrid-rocket-propelled spaceship still in development.

"My biggest challenges over the next few months will be evaluating SpaceDev's response to our proposal request, negotiating the contract for the development of our first spaceships, and completing second-round financing for this new venture," Benson said in the statement.

Related Links:


Virgin Galactic Spaceship One
Courtesy Derek Webber

Virgin Galactic is conglomerate of the Virgin Group of companies owned by flamboyant British businessman Sir Richard Branson.

Virgin Galactic

Space Tourism

SpaceDev Dream Chaser

Space Dev has been awarded a $330,000 contract from Benson Space Company to further develop the Dream Chaser suborbital and orbital commercial spacecraft. The Phase-1 contract will ready the vehicle and engine design specs for fabrication. A subsequent Phase-2 contract is expected to build the spacecraft for the initial test flights in late 2008, acoording to Jim Benson.

The vehicle design is based upon the HL-20 orbital spacecraft developed at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The Dream Chaser will be designed for 4 to 6 passangers to launch vertically and land horizontally in direct sight of onlookers. Former NASA astronaut Hoot Gibson has signed on with BensonSpace as chief test pilot.  - Spaceports Blog


Space Tourism

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