Monday, December 07, 2009

Space Tourism

I continue to be astonished at the leaps we've made in space travel in my lifetime. Hell, I remember when the first monkey orbited the earth, and now Richard Branson, partnered with legendary aviation designer Burt Rutan, is going to be launching a commercial passenger spacecraft perhaps as soon as 2011. The pair, along with their families will fly the maiden voyage of SpaceShipTwo, which can carry six passengers and two pilots.
SpaceShipTwo will be carried aloft by White Knight Two and released at 50,000 feet. The craft's rocket engine then burns a combination of nitrous oxide and a rubber-based solid fuel to climb more than 65 miles above the Earth's surface.

After reaching the top of its trajectory, it will fall back into the atmosphere and glide to a landing like a normal airplane. Its descent is controlled by "feathering" its wings to maximize aerodynamic drag.

Virgin Galactic expects to spend more than $400 million for a fleet of five commercial spaceships and launch vehicles.
Even more astounding, they already have heavy competition for this new market. "A handful of entrepreneurs including Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, computer game programmer John Carmack and rocketeer Jeff Greason are building their own suborbital rockets with dreams of flying people out of the atmosphere." I'm betting Branson will be first though. The only sad part is that Steve Fossett didn't live to see it happen. He would have loved it, I think.

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]


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Blogger danps said...

Maybe we could all chip in and get a one way ticket for Rob Kindler.

8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Heck, he can afford his own ticket but maybe we can bribe Branson into leaving him in space. :)

9:59:00 AM  

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