FAA official predicts space tourism within two years

The Associate Administrator of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation, in a testimony before the US House Subcommittee, predicts that space tourism is possible within the next two years.

“Several companies are currently designing, developing, and testing vehicles that will be capable of carrying people up to the edge of space, with maximum altitudes in excess of 100 kilometers,” said Dr. George C. Nield…in his opening statement. “Based on market studies, we expect to see this type of activity result in a billion dollar industry within the next 10 years.”

Ashton Kutcher is 500th Virgin Galactic passenger

Aston Kutcher became the 500th person to sign a contract to ride the Virgin Galactic into space.

On the Virgin blog, [Sir Richard] Branson writes that Kutcher said he is “thrilled” to be “among the first to cross the final frontier (and back)” with the space tourism company.

Kutcher, along with the other 499 paying astronauts, will shell out $200,000 for the five minute sub-orbital ride into space. Branson said on the blog that SpaceShipTwo is being prepared for flight tests perhaps as soon as later this year.

Colgan attempts to block testimony of former FAA inspector

Colgan Air is asking a judge to “block the testimony of a now-retired FAA inspector who went on the record criticizing the performance of Colgan Air’s pilots.”

Christopher Monteleon had been called to be deposed in the case by attorneys for the families of those fatally injured when the plane went down February 12th, 2009. As an FAA inspector in 2008, Monteleon had complained to his supervisors about the performance of Colgan’s pilots while training to fly the then-new Q400 turboprop airplanes, according to the Buffalo News. Court documents indicate that Monteleon said that the pilots were not well trained, were “too tired to fly,” and that Colgan had cut corners on safety to get the new airplanes flying.

(Photo: DWissman/Flickr Creative Commons)