Tourist spaceship prototype unveiled in Britain


London : The London Eye gives you a bird’s eye-view of the city at 440 feet. How would you like to go higher, say, 440,000 feet?

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A prototype of the craft you would ride for such a space venture was unveiled in Salford Tuesday. The rocket maker, Steve Bennett, says it is possible in the very near future for tourists to take a ride in outer space.

Trust him, he is Britain’s answer to NASA and he builds rockets for a living. The amateur scientist runs the Space Technology Laboratory at the University of Salford. The three-seater capsule, Nova II, is powered by fuel that is made partly from recycled tyres.

If his project is successful people will pay up to £100,000 so they can enjoy a 20 minute flight from a launch site in America.

Next September he hopes to give his 58ft craft an unmanned launch to test its safety systems. Assuming that it goes without a hitch, he will build an even bigger rocket capable of taking passengers 62 miles into space at a speed of 3,500 mph.

“Nova II qualifies as the biggest rocket ever created and flown from the UK mainland,” The Telegraph quoted him as saying.

“Early next year we will set out on a nationwide tour of schools across the country and we hope some of those pupils will join us for the launch in September 2009.

Bennett may have to sell off parts of his company in order to find the next £7 million he needs to fund his dream. He has already acquired a 20 acre plot in New Mexico and hopes to develop the site as a space port.

In July 1999, Bennett launched a rocket on Dartmoor. The craft rose 200 feet, fell back to the earth and set a hillside on fire. However, last year his 22-foot rocket Starchaser reached 19,000 feet and landed safely by parachute.