11:20 AM

Just what the world needs

Space Adventures – best known for sending space tourists to the International Space Station for $20 million a pop – has announced plans to build a $265 million spaceport in the United Arab Emirates. The commercial spaceport would be based in Ras Al-Khaimah, with the UAE government has making an investment of $30 million in the project.

Space Adventures and a Texas venture capital firm called Prodea will also help finance suborbital vehicles being built by Myasishchev Design Bureau, a Russian aerospace firm.

This is today’s further proof that the fledgling suborbital flight industry is heating up in 2006. Recently, the U.K.’s Richard Branson announced a $225 million spaceport to be built in New Mexico, which will be the headquarters of Branson's Virgin Galactic space tourism company. VG has already contracted with Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites to develop a suborbital spaceship based on SpaceShipOne technology.

Coming in the heels of the news that Bush and Co. wants to hand operation of seven large U.S. seaports over to a UAE company – when it’s been documented that the UAE has had past ties to the financing of terrorist groups – this development is interesting. Do we really want countries in the volatile Middle East having the capabilities of launching big, big rockets? I guess it’ll be fine so long as we are all best buds…but get them pissed at us and I must say, for them to have that kind of rocket capability is a touch disturbing.

Or, maybe I am being way too paranoid?

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