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The Final Frontier: Space Tourism is Almost Here

John on November 30, 2009 at 10:29 pm

From Wired, this is a sample, but the whole thing is worth reading (if you care about this sort of thing):

The sun is high, the sky clear as only desert sky can be, the sleek and curving bubble of Spaceport America rising from the scrub, 45 miles from Las Cruces. On the flight line perches a crazy-looking twin-fuselaged aircraft cradling a spaceship — the three sharp noses call to mind its nickname: Triceratops. You’re going to space, and you know it. You’ll get a full mission profile briefing, a medical check, and a session in the simulator. Then you’ll be strapped into a seat at the end of a long arm and spun in a centrifuge, subject to the three g’s you’ll experience sitting upright for takeoff and six g’s you’ll feel while lying down for reentry. You’ll climb into the WhiteKnightTwo mother ship and fly to nearly 50,000 feet, learn to unbuckle and refasten your seat belts, and even make a few zero-g parabolic flights, all with your designated SpaceShipTwo pilots (who will suss out their passengers’ physical and mental capacity to handle the experience).

Finally, the day of your flight arrives. Earth’s curvature will just begin to be visible after a long, spiral climb attached to WhiteKnightTwo; above will be a crown of blackness. When the pilot releases the spacecraft, the mother ship will appear to rise above as you drop away. Six seconds after the rocket motor ignites, you’ll be traveling at three times the speed of sound, perched on a high-energy Roman candle, hurtling into space, up there in the black void, subject to forces few humans have ever experienced.

As you approach the apogee of the flight, and for a few minutes after, you will simply be freed from gravity, falling through space. A touch of the thrusters orients the ship in whatever direction the pilot chooses — you’ll be flying backward or sideways. You might notice the intense silence, since there’s no noise in space and the craft won’t be running any whirring, clanking mechanical parts. On reentry, you’ll be able to hear the distinct pings of single molecules of helium and hydrogen hitting the carbon-fiber vessel as it begins to encounter the atmosphere.

If Virgin Galactic is looking for any bloggers/Guinea Pigs to take a flight and write about it, I’m in. Seriously. E-mail me. (That didn’t sound too desperate, did it?)

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Category: Science & Tech |

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