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ROCKET SCIENCE
Euro-US partners eye 'low-cost' space launcher: report

by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Feb 8, 2011
European technology firm Astrium is teaming up with US company Alliant to make a "low-cost" space rocket launcher that could one day take tourists into orbit, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

It said the companies plan a 300-foot (91-metre) launcher dubbed "Liberty" to take astronauts and scientific payloads into space for about $180 million (132 million euros) a time, 40 percent cheaper than some current launches.

The newspaper said the project's backers hope to gain funding from US space agency NASA for the project, which they say could lead eventually to commercial projects such as orbiting hotels for space tourists.

Astrium, a subsidiary of defence giant EADS, is the main maker of the Ariane commercial rocket, used to launch satellites. US firm Alliant Techsystems is a leading maker of space shuttles.

The companies hope to test the new "low-cost commercial launcher" as soon as 2013, the report said.



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