UP Aerospace plans to launch the SpaceLoft XL rocket from Spaceport America, a remote desert launch site near the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, early on Monday.
The telephone pole-sized rocket will carry around 50 items of payload – including a bag of Cheerios, some cremated remains and several high school science projects – on a brief suborbital flight 70 miles (110 km) above Earth.
The rocket is not the first privately funded bid to reach for the stars, UP Aerospace says the brief 13-minute flight will inaugurate a new era that puts space within reach of large numbers of paying customers.
Two years ago, SpaceShipOne brushed the edge of space with a man on board, scooping up a $10 million prize for its backers.
Eric Knight, the UP Aerospace chief executive, said clients could buy payload space starting at a few hundred dollars for items weighing a few grams, rising to “many tens of thousands of dollars” for larger pieces of cargo.
“This is the first time that a company has allowed direct access to space for the public,” Knight said.
“It’s low cost, it can be regularly scheduled, [and] it’s the way it’s going to be done by the commercial sector in the future.”
The rocket, which is plastered with sponsors’ logos, underwent a series of final pre-flight checks by engineers on Sunday.
The firm has nine commercial flights booked over the next 12 months.