Space Adventures, the “space experiences company” I mentioned in my Oct. 2, 2005, post, announced Thursday that it plans to build a spaceport in the United Arab Emirates. The spaceport will be based in Ras Al-Khaimah near the southern end of the Persian Gulf, less than an hour drive from Dubai. Other potential locations include Asia, specifically Singapore, and North America. The total estimated cost of the global spaceport development project is at least $265 million.
Space Adventures said that the UAE government has made an initial investment of $30 million and that His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi of Ras Al-Khaimah, along with the UAE Department of Civilian Aviation, have granted clearance to operate suborbital spaceflights in their air space. Various other parties will fund the total project, as well.
“As a global leader of tourism, the United Arab Emirates is an ideal location for a spaceport,” said Eric Anderson, President and CEO of Space Adventures. “Suborbital flights will offer millions of people the opportunity to experience the greatest adventure available, space travel. We are honored to partner with His Highness Sheikh Saud.”
“I am proud to announce Ras Al-Khaimah as the site where suborbital commercial space travel will begin and flourish,” said His Highness Sheikh Saud. “After we initiate operations here, we look forward to expanding operations outside of the United Arab Emirates. We are most excited about spearheading this multi-billion dollar industry.”
Now, don’t get this confused with the spaceport that Virgin Galactic is building in New Mexico, which I mentioned in my Jan. 19, 2006, post. That one will only cost $225 million. 🙂