Swiss Space Systems is still on the market and is getting close to their first goal – offering zero G flights commercially.
Swiss Space Systems (S3) is Swiss company founded in Payerne in 2012 by former aircraft pilot of Swiss Air Force Pascal Jaussi (present CEO) and astronaut Claude Nicollier (Chairman). Company announced their plans on 2013: developing small launch vehicle with payload capacity at 250 kg which will be lifted on Airbus A300 converted to motherplane. Along with developing small spacecraft (named SOAR), company is also focused on zero G flights available for everyone who would like to feel microgravity on himself (or herself). Company also considers using SOAR spacecraft as supersonic plane for intercontinental flights. During last years company established offices in USA, Croatia and Spain along with S3 ZeroG company with goal to offer flights in reduced gravity performed on modified Airbus A340. Reduced gravity conditions will be achieved by performing 15 parabolas maneuvers on altitude of 10000 m with ascending and diving with 45° angle. During single maneuver crew and 70 passengers will remain in low gravity conditions (1.8G) for about 25 seconds.
On April 12, 2016, Company announced about acquiring Airbus A340-400 for S3 ZeroG. It is good news for all Customers who already preordered flights in 2015. Due the delay (first flights were scheduled for 2015), and company problems (according some sources S3 closed their office in Miami) there were gossips that S3 will cancel program and eventually switch only to developing SOAR. Now it seems that company is in good condition; Airbus A300 was acquired after new business partners were found. Now S3 ZeroG is based on cooperation between S3, Fert & Cie (Swiss event Management Company), International Travel Partnership (British independent travel Management Company) and Hi Fly (Portugal airlines). Last year was important for S3, which was forced to postpone their ZeroG campaign on 18 December 2015 what was preceded by entering new investors. Companies which decided to enter the venture were Chinese Capital Group RECON and D&B Group. Second company allowed opening S3 Middle East join subsidiary which will make possible acquiring flight certification for SOAR in United Arab Emirates.
SOAR which is similar to ESA Hermes spaceplane will be lifted on atop of modified (it is probably that for test flights recently bought A340-400 will be utilized) plane and once on altitude it will separate and start NK-39 (Russian made rocket engine). It will reach altitude of 80 km, release payload and return to Earth to land horizontally on conventional airfield. In 2013 S3 started cooperation with Bauman Moscow State Technical University and contracted RKK Energia to develop upper stage for SOAR which will make possible flights with 250 kg payload to orbit. First flight of SOAR is planned for 2018; probably one of the first missions will be CleanSpace One by Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. This small satellite (with weight of 30 kg) will be demonstrator of new technology which will help reducing number of space debris. CleanSpace One after reaching orbit will fly to piece of debris or inoperative satellite, grab it with deployable net and performed destructive reentry. During first mission it is planned to deorbit SwissCube satellites which reached end of their operational life.