While Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic is moving steadily along the space tourism trail, Space Adventures, Ltd, - featured regularly on Gizmag - is currently the only company skyrocketing people into space (and bringing them home again). It has even placed “privateers” in the International Space Station. The company has just announced that it has joined forces with Armadillo Aerospace, LLC, makers of reusable rocket-powered vehicles, to market and sell exclusive trips on Armadillo Aerospace’s future suborbital spaceflight vehicles, currently in development.

At present, Space Adventures offers sub-orbital flights (62 miles or 100km above Earth) for US$102,000.

President and CEO of Space Adventures, Eric Anderson, said he would provide more details next month about what the decision will mean for public access to space.

Space Adventures, located in Vienna, Virginia, and an office in Moscow, has organized flights to the final frontier for the world's first private space explorers. It offers a variety of programs including a trip around the moon, Zero-Gravity flights, cosmonaut training, spaceflight qualification programs and reservations on future suborbital spacecrafts.

The company's advisory board includes some very big names, like Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, Shuttle astronauts Sam Durrance, Tom Jones, Byron Lichtenberg, Norm Thagard, Kathy Thornton, Pierre Thuot, Charles Walker, Skylab/Shuttle astronaut Owen Garriott and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Usachev.

“A decade of research and development has gotten us to the point where we can credibly talk about commercial passenger experiences. Everything is coming together – there is enough clarity in the technical, regulatory, and market factors that it is the right time to form a solid partnership with Space Adventures to help us take things through to commercial operation,” said John Carmack, president and CTO of Armadillo Aerospace.

Founded in 2000, Armadillo Aerospace is a leading developer of reusable rocket-powered vehicles, having conducted more than 200 flight tests spread over a dozen different vehicles. The company works with NASA and the US Air Force, and has flown vehicles at every X-Prize Cup event.

The company is currently taking reservations for its sub-orbital space flights.

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