07 April 2008

Virgin Galactic Space Tourism

Today’s entry intends to create a complete picture of the new trend in the global travel industry inspired from science fiction works such as 2001: A Space Odyssey. Space tourism is the latest phenomenon of tourists purchasing spaceflight packages for personal pleasure.

Yesterday we looked into Xcor and how their small aircraft called Lynx is set to face the current space tourism competition. Until now the only option space tourists had was to pay the "humble" $20 million fee for accessing the International Space Station through the Russian Space Agency. Soyuz spacecraft conducts the transportation and the package includes the unique, mind-blowing experience of looking at Earth from space, the status symbol element of the experience and experimentation with weightlessness.

Sir Richard Branson owner of Virgin Group isn’t someone keen on missing out on innovative and virgin commercial opportunities with huge monetary potentials. Hence, he spawned a new company called Virgin Galactic aiming to provide passengers with the opportunity to orbit over 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth on a reasonable price.
Sir Richard Branson trusted and consigned the task of developing SpaceShipTwo to Burt Rutan, owner of Scaled Composites and designer of the pioneering SpaceShipOne. Virgin Galactic's new suborbital craft will be an improved version, allowing 2 pilots and 6 passengers to be accommodated in a luxurious and comfortable environment. The whole experience will not last longer than 2.5 hours from liftoff to touchdown, and passengers will be allowed to release themselves from their seats and enjoy 6 minutes of zero gravity environment. Yes, it will be very much like clips from space stations we see on television where astronauts float freely in the cabin. I would definitely suggest you try the trick with the floating milk, priceless.
Virgin Galactic has announced revenues closing up to $30 million already in spaceflight bookings. The initial price is set to $200,000 and according to future plans prices will gradually decrease to reach the very "normal" sum of $20,000 (£10,000) after the first 400 passengers, as exclusivity and originality will seize being a factor in the equation. Sir Richard Branson accompanied by family members will be the first to take the trip and if you want your name to be listed along with names like Moby, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Hawking you should start saving.

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