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12 Sep 2017

Britain joins tourism space race with successful Northumberland rocket launch

Britain has taken a big step in the space tourism race, with private firm Starchaser Industries successfully launching its first test flight of a reusable rocket.

Funded and built by the Manchester-based company, the 8.2m (27ft) Skybolt 2 test model was launched in Northumberland, where the carbon-fibre rocket reached 4,000ft (1,219m) before successfully coming back down to earth.

The rocket launch a significant step towards the development of rockets for use in space tourism in the future, though Starchaser has stiff competition, with the likes of Space X and Virgin Galactic making significant strides towards the goal of an operating space tourism industry.

“One of the things we want to do is make space tourism a reality, we want to be launching people into space and this rocket was carrying various systems and experiments that will allow us to do that,” said Starchaser managing director Alan Bennett, speaking to The Guardian.

In addition to its primary goal of creating a rocket capable of transporting people to and from space, the Skybolt 2 will also be used for education purposes. Supported by the University of Chester, the rocket will now tour schools across the country to engage young people and encourage them to pursue STEM subjects.

Starchaser’s next target is to build a rocket large enough to carry a person. The 12m (39ft) model, called Nova 2, is scheduled for launch in the next 18 months.

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