Rocket Rides Coming to Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An Oklahoma-based company will offer
sub-orbital spacecraft flights to tourists by 2007, despite sky-high insurance rates and a shortage of engineers.

Rocketplane Limited Vice President David Urie says the risk involved in the venture has made subcontractors nervous and they're demanding insurance amounts, including $100 million for ground testing.

The Oklahoma City company has also had a difficult time recruiting engineersthe 25 to 30 engineers it needs in Oklahoma.

Even so, Urie said he expects the company's Rocketplane XP
spacecraft to be constructed by midsummer next year. The Rocketplane will take customers willing to pay between $150,000 and $200,000 on a 45-minute flight that reaches 330,000 feet above Earth.

The spacecraft take off from the old Clinton-Sherman Air Force
Base and land like an airplane but with a reusable rocket engine.