EDMONTON, Alberta – Bolide Airlines announced today at a press conference that it is placing in service a passenger version of the Boing X-37B unmanned spaceplane between the cities of Calgary and Edmonton in Alberta. This new version of the craft has been named informally the Musher in honor of its first commercial use in Canada. The first flight is planned for July 1, 2016.
Details of the spaceplane are sketchy, but according to a former Boing Phantom Works engineer, Victor Vector, it will carry at most four passengers. He said,
“The thing just isn’t very big and a lot of the cargo capacity will now be taken up by life support equipment and seats. Bring your own booze and snacks. Oh, and by the way, it doesn’t have any windows so passengers better not be claustrophobic.”
The spaceplane is launched into space by an Atlas V rocket provided by the United Lunch Alliance, a consortium of the Lackheed-Marvin and Boing companies. According to Wikipedia, the estimated cost per expendable rocket is US$223 million. Other preparations are underway. Bolide is now constructing a launch facility and mission control center off Glenmore Trail east of Calgary, just down the road from the Tim Horton’s. A runway at the Edmonton International Airport is being extended to 6,000 meters. Given the risky nature of a new venture like this, it is expected that service will be one-way for the foreseeable future. That is, return flights will have to be via conventional modes.
The normal flight time for commercial jet aircraft between the two cities is 50 minutes. Since the spaceplane has to make a complete orbit of the earth plus the time required for the boost and re-entry phases, the travel time will be at least 120 minutes. Bolide has yet to establish ticket prices, but industry sources estimate it will be $500,000,000 plus tax, take-off fee, landing fee, overflight fee, NORAD fee and a tip for the baggage handler.
Bob McKenzie, a reporter for the Edmonton Sled Dog Review asked, “Why would anyone pay such a huge amount of money for a trip that is more than twice as long as usual and is far more dangerous?” A Bolide spokesman, Mr. Orville N. Wilbur, replied, “Who wouldn’t want to say ‘I came on the spaceplane!’? And each passenger gets a souvenir honorary astronaut pin.”
Mr. Wilbur went on to say that the airline expects most of the passengers to be NDP politicians since they don’t give a shit about what anything costs and can charge it to the province.