I was reading in the latest issue of Popular Science about EADS Astrium, a company that's planning to build a spaceplane which is slated to begin passenger service in 2012...at approximately $275K per seat.
With only 4 seats, that's 1.1 million per flight, but with an estimated 1.3 billion in startup costs it'll take awhile just to break even...especially when taking operating expenses into account, however much those may be.
Anyway, according to Wikipedia, "In June 2007, EADS Astrium announced it would be entering the space tourism sector. On June 20th the company unveiled a model of the space rocket, a one-stage hybrid craft, utilising both jet and rocket engines. Carrying four passengers, the space jet would take off from regular airports using conventional jet engines. Once flying to the needed altitude the rockets would then be fired. When reaching its final altitude of 37 miles, passengers would experience weightlessness for three minutes."
Sounds pretty expensive for what you get.
Here's a picture:
It's loosely based on the Rocketplane:
Rocketplane, Inc. is "a commercial space transportation company focused on providing safe, reliable and low-cost access to space. With a diverse family of fully-reusable space vehicles and the ability to serve multiple space markets, the company is poised to redefine space transportation."
Armadillo Aerospace is "a small research and development team working on computer-controlled LOX/ethanol rocket vehicles, with an eye towards manned suborbital vehicle development in the coming years."
Their prototype is called the "Pixel":
Bigelow Aerospace, on the other hand, is "the leading private company for space habitat destinations. Featured in articles in Popular Science, Wired, The Economist, Reader's Digest, the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, The Los Angeles Times and more, Bigelow Aerospace is the only private company with habitable spacecraft currently in orbit, the Genesis I and Genesis II."
"Launched on July 12, 2006, from the ISC Kosmotras Space and Missile Complex in the Orenburg region of Russia, Genesis I ushered in a new era of private space vehicles. The spacecraft was designed to enter space and expand to increase its volume. A one-third scale model of the eventual modules, Genesis I contained various items, photos, and a NASA experiment. Shortly after launch, Genesis I expanded successfully and sent back extensive data and images to the North Las Vegas, Nevada, Mission Control Center."
"Las Vegas, NV 06/28/07 – Bigelow Aerospace has established contact with its second pathfinder spacecraft, Genesis II. Launched from Yasny, Russia, Mission Control in North Las Vegas, Nev., made first contact at 2:20 p.m. PDT."
Hello from Genesis II:
(A Fish-Eye View Of Earth)
And last, but not least is Virgin Galactic, which is the most recognized of the bunch.
From their site, "Virgin Galactic is the world's first spaceline. Giving you the groundbreaking opportunity to become one of the first ever non-professional astronauts. Virgin Galactic will own and operate its privately built spaceships, modelled on the remarkable, history-making SpaceShipOne":
"The press conference unveiling the design for Spaceport America, the New Mexico facility from which Virgin Galactic intends to launch paying customers on suborbital spaceflights, was originally going to be held on July 27. The day before, however, a tragic explosion killed three engineers at a test facility in California operated by Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites, the company building Virgin's spacecraft."
It's a dangerous business, but I'd sure like to try it out anyway...