First space flights from an Italian base soon Fabio Gigante reports
ITALY WILL soon have its own spaceport from which will depart spacecraft for suborbital tourist or commercial flights.
This will be the result of an agreement recently signed between the Italian company, Altec, owned by the Italian Space Agency and Thales Alenia Space and Virgin Galactic, the American aerospace company belonging to the Virgin Group tycoon, Richard Branson.
According to the Memorandum of Understanding the two companies will jointly evaluate the operational opportunities from one Italian spaceport for Virgin Galactic, to perform experimental suborbital flights, the training of astronauts and pilots, educational purposes and space tourism. The proposed collaboration would be based on the use of the Virgin Galactic space flight system, in particular the reusable spaceplane SpaceShipTwo and its aircraft carriers, White Knight-Two.
The White Knight-Two is the first phase of the system and takes off from a conventional airport carrying SpaceShipTwo to an altitude of about 15 000 metres, before releasing the ship and allowing the ignition of the rocket motor that will take it to the height of programmed operation.
The agreement also includes the construction of a dedicated space port on Italian territory, which will probably be made from an existing airport. The CEO of Virgin Galactic, George Whitesides, said he was "excited about this agreement with Altec and the opportunity to evaluate the use of the Space Virgin Galactic System, following the specific needs of Europe in the field of scientific research and astronaut training”.
“This agreement puts ALTEC in partnership with Virgin Galactic and enables it to carry out innovative activities in the field of space science experimentation, research and training," added the CEO of ALTEC, Vincenzo Giorgio.
"This move will meet the need our task steps in order to make progress in the initiative for the good of the country and the region. The Memorandum of Understanding is the recognition of the level reached by the technology for Virgin Galactic suborbital space flight, and the long experience and expertise in Italian activities in space and aerospace, ” said Roberto Battiston, president of the Italian Space Agency (ASI).
During the course of this year, experts of the two companies will evaluate, among Italy’s military airports, the most suitable site in one of the regions of Veneto, Puglia or Sardinia for a trip to return to the outside of Earth's atmosphere.
"We will begin the first space tours within two or three years," explained Vincenzo Giorgio, CEO of Altec............................ For the FULL ARTICLE please subscribe to our digital edition.