Virgin Galactic has been getting a lot of the space tourism press in recent months, but now another company is gearing up for some high-profile tests of their own. XCOR Aerospace is a privately funded outfit that has been designing and constructing their Lynx space plane out in California's Mojave Desert.
XCOR CEO Jeff Greason has been a life-long fan of manned spaceflight, and the Lynx space plane will be his very first foray into the arena for himself. The Lynx Mark 1 is nearing completion and is expected to begin test flights next year. Once those have been completed, the Mark 1 will be capable of carrying one passenger at a time to an altitude of 40 miles — approximately the height at which shooting stars burn up.
The single passenger will sit in the cockpit right beside the pilot and will definitely have a unique experience. A year after the Mark 1 begins its passenger operations, the six-passenger Lynx Mark 2 will debut, with the capability of reaching altitudes of 62 miles.
XCOR has already sold more than 250 tickets to eager passengers-to-be, but there's still plenty of opportunity to secure a spot for yourself. Tickets will run you a smooth $100,000 — a steal when compared with the cost of a seat aboard Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo. And XCOR isn't stopping at suborbital flight: their next project will be an orbital vehicle, capable of making anyone who can afford it into a real astronaut.
Update: Thanks to XCOR's Bryan Campen for setting us straight on the Lynx Mark 2, which will indeed carry passengers one at a time rather than in larger numbers.