Space tourism is close to becoming a reality. Virgin Galactic is going ahead with its final tests before they launch the maiden commercial flight. Other entrepreneurs are also now taking the concept seriously and arranging large investments to enable them to be a significant player in the sector and take a portion of the potential market. Arizona based Space Transport and Recovery Systems (STAR) is looking to mobilize funds for the development of it spacecraft Hermes. It is a reusable, suborbital spacecraft. They are hopeful of raising the funding through Kickstarter.
A full scale prototype of Hermes spacecraft has already been built. The prototype has been tested on small-scale engines measuring 2- and 3-inches (5 and 7.6 cm) in diameter. This is perhaps the most ambitious project that has come to Kickstarter so far. If it is successful then Hermes will be able to compete directly with Virgin Galactic and Space Adventures in space travel for carrying private passengers and payloads into space. The basic design and construction of Hermes is based on NASA’s Space Shuttle. However, it is much smaller in size. Hermes would harly be one quarter of the NASA shuttle which has now been retired.
Hermes would be using hybrid rocket propulsion system which is known as the “Enabling Hybrid Rocket Propulsion System” (EHRPS). The new funding will be used for scaling up the testing with a full-scale 10-inch (25.4 cm) engine core. Ultimately, Hermes will be using multiple cores for propulsion. Hermes has put together a team with vast experience in space transportation system research, design and prototype development. According to their estimates they would be requiring about $4 million to get the Hermes spacecraft ready for its first commercial flight. Taking into account the investment and the operational cost of a space flight a potential passenger may be able to book a seat on Hermes for $150,000.