"Singapore is one of the best-connected countries in the world. It is home to one of the world's busiest air and sea ports. Singapore, with its superior geographical and economic infrastructure, is primed to be the hub of a new, revolutionary form of travel - in space," said Eric Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Space Adventures.
The company, which arranged orbital flights for U.S. businessman Dennis Tito in April 2001, and South African Internet tycoon Mark Shuttleworth in April 2002 - both via Russian spacecraft to the International Space Station - said the focal point of Spaceport Singapore will be sub-orbital spaceflights. As the companys Explorer spacecraft reaches its maximum altitude of 100 kilometers (64 miles), its maximum of five passengers will experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness.
"Countries around the world are only just realizing the enormous commercial possibilities of space tourism, Anderson said. The market potential for sub-orbital spaceflights alone is estimated at $1 billion annually.
The company said it has been working with the Singapore Tourism Board for the past three years, to facilitate technical discussions with other agencies required for the project and to handle negotiations over possible land sites.
"Space Adventures and the consortium have given Singapore a big vote of confidence as a choice tourism investment location, said Lim Neo Chian, deputy chairman and chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board. Pending the finalization of funds that are expected in the near future, we are optimistic that Spaceport Singapore will quickly become a reality."
In its statement announcing the venture, Space Adventures said it plans to offer parabolic flights to allow passengers to experience weightlessness, G-force training in a centrifuge, and simulated space walks in a neutral buoyancy tank, in addition to the sub-orbital flights. Visitors to Spaceport Singapore also would be able to fly aboard a variety of jet aircraft.
"We identified Singapore as an ideal location for a spaceport, as it has the right combination of foresight, entrepreneurialism and technological sophistication to support a project such as this," said Michael Lyon, managing director of the project. "We have met with the relevant agencies, including the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, to begin the process of obtaining the necessary approvals.
Myasishchev Design Bureau, the Russian aerospace organization, designed the Explorer, and its lifting body, called the M-55X.
Spaceport Singapore will cost an estimated minimum of $115 million, to be funded by a consortium of Singapore investors, and by Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, the Crown Prince of Ras Al-Khaimah, who last week announced he had partnered with Space Adventures on a spaceport in his country, part of the United Arab Emirates. KPMG Corporate Finance in Singapore also has begun to raise funds for the project.
The consortium includes Octtane Pte, Batey Pte Ltd., Lyon Capital Inc., DP Architects, ST Medical and KPMG Corporate Finance, along with Space Adventures.