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February 18, 2011

Virgin Galactic to offer private trips to space

Starting next year, Virgin Galactic plans to fly tourists to the edge of space, or about 60 miles above the Earth's surface. Passengers will experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the Earth.
This new industry could change the entire field of astronomy. As space travel becomes a more accessible venture more astronomers can get a closer look at the objects they're studying. There are also plans to eventually build a station for visitors.

The most important benefit of this new industry will be the price. People will be able to pay very little compared to overall launch costs. The more scientists sent to space the more experiments they can perform. As the they understand more about the science of space, they can infer more about the planets, stars, and other celestial objects.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/12/virgin-galatic-nasa-orbital-sciences.html

Posted by stoneswt at February 18, 2011 06:47 PM

Comments

Wow, this sounds very cool. It would give people a whole new way to view our own world and maybe see what humans are actually doing to our world. However, the article did not mention how long this new idea has been worked on, which could mean that the first actually tourist plane won't fly for a couple of more years.

Posted by: nelalam at February 20, 2011 02:03 PM

they're going to start the flights next year
around 400 people have already signed up

Posted by: stoneswt at February 20, 2011 03:53 PM

This is exciting, but it sounds a lot like the vomit comet or a type of maneuver you can do in a small plane. The visitor station part seems like a far off idea, but when it comes to fruition that would be awesome. I wonder what the visitor station would mean to more permanent stations like the ISS in terms of projects and experiments.

Posted by: emmatula at February 20, 2011 11:20 PM

According to Wikipedia, the US defines "space" as starting at 50 miles up (i.e., you get to be called an astronaut). On the other hand, the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale says that you have to reach 62 miles and a certain speed to keep your lift. I like this one better. So, if they reach 62 miles, it sounds like space to me.

Posted by: christoq at February 21, 2011 10:41 AM

Hopefully it is 62 miles up, although 50 miles isn't too bad either. I think this is a great idea, not only because it could offer people both perspective and a unique experience, but it could also serve as a test run for something much larger. As humans continue to deplete much of what keeps Earth "alive" (for example, the atmosphere), scientists, as we have learned, are avidly searching for other habitable worlds. Considering we have not yet made any discoveries (over a relatively long period of time), we might not find another habitable planet before Earth runs its course. With this in mind, we look to other sources of survival: living in space. The Virgin Galactic could serve as the first ever test run of what the future holds for the entire population on Earth.

Posted by: ccastel at February 21, 2011 10:10 PM

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