EADS Astrium Space Tourism Project

EADS Astrium Space Tourism Project

The EADS Astrium Space Tourism Project, also called EADS Astrium TBN according to some sources [Radio interview of French ESA astronaut Jean-François Clervoy, during the show of Jacques Pradel on Europe 1, June 21, 2007] , has been officially unveiled in Paris by EADS Astrium, the space subsidiary of the European consortium EADS, on June 13, 2007.cite web| url = http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/06/13/ap3818491.html| title = Planned Jet to Take Tourists Into Space| accessdate = 2007-06-14|date= 2007-06-13| publisher = Forbes] The project is the first space tourism entry by a major aerospace contractor. A scale one mock-up of the cockpit has been exhibited at the 2007 Paris Air Show and is now on display in the Concorde hall of the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace.

It is a rocket plane with a large wingspan, straight rearwards wing and a pair of canards. Astrium dévoile son projet d'avion-fusée "Le Figaro, June 14, 2007, Page 18] Propulsion is ensured by classical jet engines for the atmospheric phase and a methane - oxygen rocket engine for the space tourism phase. It can carry a pilot and four passengers. The dimensions and looks are somewhat similar to those of a business jet.

EADS Astrium hopes to start the development of this rocket plane by 2008, with the objective of a first flight in 2011. It has been announced that the Tunisian area of Tozeur could be used for the initial flights.cite web| url = http://www.canada.com/topics/news/en_francais/story.html?id=28a44b21-2daa-4c74-ada0-1adcb76b0072&k=68781| title = Tunis espère que le site de Tozeur sera retenu pour le lancement du futur avion spatial| accessdate = 2007-06-14|date= 2007-06-13| publisher = Canada.com]

EADS Astrium plans to raise public and private money for its project.

Origin of the project

The origin of the project is a proposal by a group of young French, German, British and Spanish engineers from EADS Astrium. It has been studied in great secrecy for two years and finally approved by the chairman of EADS Astrium, François Auque. The design is basically a copy of the Rocketplane XP conceptFact|date=May 2008. They looked at the main concepts under development and their studies showed that Rocketplane's jet and rocket combination made the most sense. [Europe's Tourist Rocket, Popular Science Magazine, October 2007, pg 41]

In the following months, a core team came up with a detailed concept and assembled the required expertise from different areas of Astrium and other EADS subsidiaries, such as Socata, as well as several external industry partners. The famous australian designer Marc Newson [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/06/15/arts/design18.php?page=1 The technical challenge of making space travel easy] "International Herald Tribune", June 17, 2007, By Alice Rawsthorn] , who earned his reputation in the field of aviation as Creative Director of Qantas, was also invited to join the project. [ [http://www.planet-aerospace.com/xml/en/frameset.xml?url=/pas/content/OF00000200000057/0/98/41660980.html Planet AeroSpace Issue 4/2007: EADS Astrium plans space tourism] ]

Flight profile

A: Ignition of rocket engine followed by turbofan shutdown
B: Shutdown of rocket engine. Acceleration 3 g. Start of Weightlessness phase.
C: Culmination
D: Beginning of atmospheric deceleration. Max acceleration 4.5 g.
E: Turbofan ignition. Transition to aeronautical mode.
After takeoff the plane reaches an altitude of 12 km. This classical aeronautical phase can last for 45 minutes. The pilot shuts down the jets and starts the methane oxygen rocket engine at the rear of the vehicle. The plane then raises along a vertical trajectory. For 90 seconds of flight with a top speed of Mach 3, the plane is rocketed upwards. The maximum acceleration is 3 "g" (30 m/s²). At an altitude of 60 km, the rocket engine is shut down and the plane continues to climb up to a maximum altitude of 100 km.

This is the weightlessness phase.

Then the plane gets down to 15 km at a high angle of attack, being progressively decelerated by the atmosphere; at this altitude, after transition to aeronautical mode, the jets are reignited to bring the plane back to a classical landing strip. [ [http://www.iafastro.org/fileadmin/template/main/Documents/Events/2007IAC/LBN5.pdf Description of the project] - Presentation at IAC 2007 Hyderabad by Christophe Chavagnac - Flight profile provided on page 7]


The total mass of the vehicle is 18 metric tons (39,700 lb) at takeoff. The plane has two jet engines, and an oxygen methane engine with a thrust of 30 tons. EADS Astrium se lance dans le tourisme spatial "Air & Cosmos", June 15, 2007, n° 2082 - Pages 150-151] The rocket engine uses the technology of the Vulcain (the main engine of Ariane 5), but is reusable thirty times and burns methane instead of hydrogen (hydrogen would require too much tank volume).

The cabin has a diameter of 2.3 m (7 ft 6 in), and provides 3 m³ (106 ft³) of cabin space to each passenger. The seats are attached to a pendular system which allows the acceleration to be perpendicular to the back of the passengers. They pivot around the attachment points so that the passengers are aligned rearside to the spacecraft x-axis (body aligned on Gx-axis) during launch acceleration and they are rearside on the negative z-axis during weightlessness and reentry. [ [http://www.personalspaceflight.info/2007/06/14/eads-reinvents-rocketplane/ EADS reinvents Rocketplane] ]

The plane is designed for ten years service at a flight rate of once a week. ]

Industrial organisation

The development will be led by EADS Astrium. Its technical responsibility currently resides with the CTO Robert Lainé.

A development cost of $1 billion has been announced by some sources. EADS Astrium plans to raise mostly private money for its project. One of the possible public investors mentioned by François Auque is the southern German state of Bavaria where the engines are to be produced. cite web| url = http://us.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/06/14/space.plane.ap/index.html| title = European company unveils space plane| accessdate = 2007-06-14|date= 2007-06-14| publisher = CNN] Astrium could produce up to 5 planes a year and have a fleet of 20 planes, which would require a production of 20 rocket engines a year. They do not exclude selling models to other entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson from Virgin Galactic.

The final assembly would be in France, while the other industrial facilities of Astrium would provide the rocket engines (Ottobrunn, Germany [http://www.flightglobal.com/articles/2007/06/21/215010/space-jets-turbofans-can-cope-with-vacuum-says-eads.html Space jet’s turbofans can cope with vacuum says EADS] Rob Coppinger Flightglobal.com June 21, 2007] ) or the carbon fiber structures (Spain). Other European industrial partners are associated with the project.

The target of Astrium is to secure 30% of the market of space tourism by 2020, 5000 passengers a year. L'entreprise veut associer capitaux publics et privés pour le financement "Le Figaro, June 14, 2007, Page 18]

The ticket price will be 200000 euros, including a round trip to the spaceport, training, and luxury accommodation in a theme park/resort.


The closest concept is the Rocketplane XP of Rocketplane Limited, Inc., which shares the same overall rocket plane principle. Other competitors include the SpaceShipTwo of Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin.


Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites, a competitor in space tourism to EADS, expressed scepticism towards the EADS Project.cite web| url = http://www.livescience.com/blogs/2007/06/13/burt-rutan-reaction-to-european-spaceliner/| title = Burt Rutan: Reaction to European Spaceliner| accessdate = 2007-06-15|date= 2007-06-13| publisher = Blog of Leonard David on livescience.com]

The reaction of the European Union's industry commissioner Günter Verheugen was also negative.cite web| url = http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/Display_news.asp?section=World_News&subsection=Rest+of+the+World&month=June2007&file=World_News2007061523649.xml| title = EU official balks at space tourism | accessdate = 2007-06-15|date= 2007-06-15| publisher = The Peninsula on line]


External links

* [http://www.astrium.eads.net Astrium web site]
* [http://www.astrium.eads.net/static/space-tourism-brochure.pdf Brochure]
* [http://www.marc-newson.com/ Marc Newson Ltd.]
* [http://www.iafastro.org/fileadmin/template/main/Documents/Events/2007IAC/LBN5.pdf Presentation of the project at the IAC 2007 in Hyderabad]
* [http://www.thespacereview.com/article/900/1 Analysis of the project by "The Space Review"]


The film has been made by [http://www.patfoch.com/ Patrick Foch] .
Hi res
* http://www.astrium.eads.net/static/eads-astrium-space-tourism-high.mpegLow res
* http://www.astrium.eads.net/static/eads-astrium-space-tourism-low.mpeg

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