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|SXC will start test flights with Lynx late summer|
|Friday, 8 February 2013 08:44|
WILLEMSTAD — “This is really pioneering work but once the test flights start late summer with spacecraft Lynx it will become reality. Everything is on schedule”, said one of the initiators of Space Expedition Curaçao (SXC), Michiel Mol. When the initiators visited the island last week they announced that the draft legislation, which is to make the commercial spaceflights possible from Hato in 2014, will be presented to the Parliament for approval early April. SXC has meanwhile sold over 200 tickets.“These are exciting times and we recently understood from the ‘Timmers group’ (experts formulating the space legislation for Curaçao) that everything is running smoothly and that the legislation can indeed be presented to the Parliament within short. Of course, this is a wonderful opportunity for Curaçao to become famous worldwide. Considering it regards top-class innovation this could have a bonus effect, an economic advantage for Curaçao. It will then be the first country, outside the United States, with a space legislation and spaceport. Of course, in drawing up the legislation the experts studied the space legislation of the United States”, said former commander of the air forces/co-founder of SXC, Ben Droste.
As the spaceflights will take off vertically on Curaçao, there will be common grounds with normal air traffic, whereby the airport serves as point of departure. For the formulation of this space legislation the group of experts appealed to the expertise of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Dutch government and a Dutch space law’ professor, Frans von der Dunk, who is associated with the Law Faculty of the University of Nebraska. Besides Van der Dunk, the team consists of aviation jurists Tim Timmers and Jan Willem Storm from ‘s Gravesande.
Questions about ITAR-permit
Following an informal meeting last week between the SXC-initiators and several parliamentarians, party leader of Pais, Alex Rosaria, queried the status of the export permit for spacecraft Lynx from America to the island. According to Rosaria, ‘the success of this project depends entirely on the US issuing Curaçao an International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR)-permit’. Rosaria stated he understood from both the American Chargé d’Affaires in The Hague and the Consul General in Willemstad that the ITAR-permit has never been issued for a territory outside the US. Considering it regards rocket technology, it falls under a strict export regime.
On this matter SXC-initiator Harry van Hulten stated in the past: “In that case we will have to negotiate with the American government before the Lynx spacecraft can be exported. A huge advantage, of course, is the presence of the US Consulate, the US FOL-soldiers and the Dutch soldiers on the island. Eventually, the developer and owner of the spacecraft Lynx – XCOR – will have to take the lead to get the spacecraft on the island, just like we have to make sure that the space legislation has been arranged. In principle, we don’t really foresee problems with this because it’s similar to exporting for example an F-16 aircraft.” He also stated more large actors are seizing on the developments of the commercial space travel, for instance Boeing with the CST-100 spacecraft and the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (EAD). This increases the lobby not to have the commercial space travel fall under the ITAR.
Maurice Adriaens, director of the Curaçao Airport Holding (CAH), stated the following on this matter: “One may assume, of course, that considering the vast experience in the military world of both Mr. Droste, as former commander of the air forces, and Van Hulten, as F-16 fighter pilot and test pilot, are experts and have anticipated a solution for this matter.” Referring to the unique character of the project, Droste doesn’t think a precedent exists just yet on the American government issuing an ITAR-permit. “As I understood the questions from parliamentarian Rosaria were presented to Minister of Economic Development, Steven Martina (recommended by Pais), we will await the minister’s answers. Of course, we’re assuming they will approach us on this matter in due course’, said Droste.
One of the questions from the parliamentarians during the meeting last week regarded possible noise pollution. According to SXC, the sound produced by the four rockets – each with a diameter of a Cola-bottle – will be similar to that of a DC-9 or a MD-80. These aircrafts already fly to and from Curaçao. To minimize the noise pollution the spacecraft will take off from Hato and fly several kilometers over open sea before starting the vertical flight.
The large-scale marketing campaign from Axe, producer of men’s perfume, attracts attention worldwide for the space project. As the Amigoe reported earlier, Axe raffles off 22 tickets for Space Expedition Curaçao (SXC) under the motto ‘Leave a man, return a hero’. From the campaign held in 75 different countries 108 persons will be selected for a three-day space camp, the Axe Apollo Space Academy (AASA). The training will be led by Buzz Aldrin, one of the first astronauts to walk on the moon. Mol stated: “The 108 chosen persons will also follow our training and after many tests the last 22 winners of the tickets will be selected. The worldwide attention, the positive spin-off, is incredible. It regards a 120-million dollars campaign, the most expensive campaign ever from Axe, and or course attracts attention worldwide. Axe, known for its very sexy advertisements, focusing on the young male target group, asked ‘What is the ultimate ‘cool’ profession?’ during a brainstorm session. Much to our surprise the answer was astronaut. We were of course pleasantly surprised that our small company was approached for this spectacular undertaking.”