Keith's note: According to Waypoint2space.com "To go into space, step out of the vehicle, and float above the earth while reaching for the stars - but wondered if you have what it takes? For the first time in history, you can train like an astronaut using the most advanced facilities and equipment in the world. Operating from NASA's Johnson Space Center, we offer the definitive training experience with our fully comprehensive and immersive space training programs. These one-of-a-kind programs prepare you for spaceflight while you experience first hand what every astronaut has during their preparation for space. Additionally, SFP's are trained in accordance to our FAA Safety Approval ensuring a consistent level of spaceflight competency."
Sounds cool. But a closer look raises some important questions.
At the bottom of the webpage, under the heading "our industry", are the logos of Virgin Galactic, XCOR, Moon Express, SpaceX, Blue Origin, SNC, Boeing, and Excalibur Almaz. But no mention is made as to whether these companies endorse this business or use its services. They also list their address as "Johnson Space Center, 2101 NASA Parkway, Building 35, Suite 213, Houston, Texas 77058". This is inside the gate at JSC.
I sent inquiries to the company and got several responses from Kevin Heath (with cc: to his media people) - but he added this language to his responses:
"This electronic mail (including any attachments) may contain information that is privileged, confidential, and/or otherwise protected from disclosure to anyone other than its intended recipient(s). Any dissemination or use of this electronic email or its contents (including any attachments) by persons other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately by reply email so that we may correct our internal records. Please then delete the original message (including any attachments) in its entirety. Thank you."
(Apparently) he won't let me tell you what he said. Suffice it to say it was straightforward to confirm elsewhere that there is no agreement currently in place with NASA although discussions have been held. They put out a press release today announcing that they have FAA safety approval to teach some classes on Crew and Space Flight Participant Training but they have no deal in place with NASA to actually teach them at NASA or to use NASA facilities - as they claim on their website. Their Google+ page proclaims "At Waypoint 2 Space, we are proud to be the only Commercial Space Training Company in the world using NASA facilities. Operating from the global hub of space technology - NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas"
Indeed, they are charging $45,000 and are asking for money in advance (now), stating "Our Level 1 classes are accepting enrollment and are scheduled to begin in April 2014. At this time, we have limited enrollment with only 300 seats available. Due to limited availability, participants must pay in full to receive priority placement, including choice of seat - 1 to 300 - and flexible scheduling options."
So ... how is it that Waypoint2Space is selling services - services that it is not (yet) in a position to offer? 300 seats at $45,000 a seat is $13.5 million. What does NASA get from this deal? How can they advertise prices like this (and take deposits) without an agreement in place?
Don't get me wrong, I think the general concept is cool. Its just that the sequence of events seems to be incorrect.
"Waypoint 2 Space, an HTC client company, has already been impacted by NASA's shutdown. The company, which has seven employees, has a Space Act Agreement with Jacobs Technology Inc. for their technology, which trains space flight participants. In order to move forward with its technology development, Budzik explained that Waypoint 2 Space also needs a Space Act Agreement with NASA. Waypoint 2 Space was expecting to secure this agreement in the coming weeks, but, with the shutdown, it will probably be put off until the next year, which will significantly slow down its work progress."