Kuang-Chi Group, the Shenzhen-based technology company, is hoping to start making its mark in the New Space industry by announcing a partnership with NanoRacks LLC, to focus on the development of the company’s Near Space Traveler program outside of China.
The Traveler is a 2.5 metre cabin attached to a giant helium-filled balloon which is around 40 metres in diameter, that is capable of transporting six passengers up to 20 kilometres above Earth – about twice the height that a commercial airline flies at – in an area known as near space.
It should take around an half an hour to reach its maximum altitude and at that height, along with some fantastic views, passengers should be able to experience some zero gravity while the Traveler floats in the upper boundaries of our atmosphere for up to two hours.
The whole craft weights about two tonnes and has already undergone two unmanned test runs over New Zealand and China in the last few years — the second of which was reported to have housed a live turtle. The company hopes to complete a trial with humans on board by 2019.
With big companies such as Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic to compete against, KuangChi Science Limited are hoping to elbow their way into the space tourism industry now that their commercial space technology platforms are coming to fruition.
“We are nearing our goal of creating a space vehicle that can be used both for scientific research and provide commercial travel to Near Space,” noted Dr. Liu Ruopeng, the president and co-founder of Kuang-Chi. “Enabling Near Space travel to the general public is one of the dreams the founders of Kuang-Chi have had for many years. We welcome working with new partners to bring this dream to the market.”
“We are very excited to be working with Kuang-Chi on its Near Space Platform,” said NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. NanoRacks has steadily become a market leader in in-space services and operates the only commercial laboratory in outer space aboard the International Space Station (ISS).“
This commercial partnership will allow NanoRacks to now offer even more in-space opportunities for our growing customer base. And we look forward to establishing a world-class facility for the Traveler research program in an international location to be announced in the near future,” added Manber.
Not content with ‘just’ space tourism, KuangChi Science Limited have also acquired shares from Martin Aircraft Co. Ltd., the manufacturer of the world's first personal jetpack with plans to develop novel aerial transportation platforms akin to those associated with Iron Man.