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Ticket into space
FRUSTRATED astronaut Ray Wright has set up a company to build three spacecraft designed to give tourists an experience of weightlessness and a view of the Earth from space.
The Spacefleet Project is no pipe dream and Dr Wright, 55, from Jackson Close, Devizes, has already costed the project and produced a business plan for the scheme.
The three planned craft will cost 260 million euros (roughly £190million) and would take three years to build. Fuelled by liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen, it would use photovoltaic cells to produce the electricity to synthesise the fuel and thus be the greenest spaceship in existence.
Dr Wright, a chemist working in the electricity generating industry, admits his infatuation with space flight goes back to his childhood and the lure of outer space never went away.
When billionaire Peter Diamandis offered a £10million prize for the best design for taking tourists into space, Dr Wright invested in one of the contenders, Space Transport Corporation.
Sadly, the bid was a failure and Dr Wright lost his investment, but he decided to take it further and floated the idea of the Spacefleet on the Internet.
He has now been joined by four directors - Clive Darby, business development and sales manager; aerospace and rocket propulsion engineers Raymond Wilkinson and Mark Sliphorst, and legal specialist Joris Luypaert.
They have numerous associates and supporters in the aerospace industry and public relations.
Dr Wright said: "We now have enough funding for a feasibility study. We cannot borrow money from a bank, or venture capital companies because they can't assess the risk."
So Dr Wright and his colleagues have set up an Internet club, which costs £45 a year to join.
The Spacefleet vehicles will be capable of carrying two pilots and eight passengers to 200 miles above the Earth, nearly three times higher than the space tourism vehicle planned by Richard Branson. It will be able to land on an airport runway and take off from an inclined ramp. Passengers will be charged about £100,000 for a day in outer space. For more information, go to the website www.spacefleet.org.uk