Space travel possible for an astronomical price

Are you a little crazy for being locked up this year? Did you save your money for a pleasant long trip? Well, a company is selling tickets for a spacewalk this fall. And it will only cost around $ 250,000.

On May 22, Virgin Galactic successfully tested its first rocket shuttle, the VSS Unity, to the top of the atmosphere. The Unity was transported to high altitude by the Virgin Mothership (a misnomer if I have ever heard of one) and then released. With rockets alight, Unity flew 55 miles above the Earth’s surface, with only two pilots on board. For comparison, a jet airliner can reach around 20 miles high.

In addition to a test flight, Unity performed a microgravity experiment from NASA’s Flight Opportunities program, which enables partnerships between NASA and the commercial spaceflight industry.

NASA oversees agreements between commercial flight providers and researchers at universities, nonprofit institutes, and industry, where microgravity experiments can be performed in a suborbital space for testing. For example, a space-based surgical system designed to handle zero-G medical emergencies was on board Unity.

Before accepting paying customers, two more test flights are planned. Unity can accommodate six passengers and the next test flight is scheduled with four mission specialists in the cabin.

Kenneth hicks

While there is little information on what mission specialists will do, they likely need to verify passenger experience before hiring paying clients. A second test flight could include billionaire Sir Richard Branson, owner of Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic isn’t the only private company looking to get into space travel.

SpaceX, led by billionaire Elon Musk, is hosting a raffle for a seat on its Dragon spacecraft in conjunction with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Make a small donation to St. Jude and your name could be drawn!

The event is funded in part by fellow billionaire Jared Isaacman, who will enter orbit with 3 contest winners. The mission is scheduled to take off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida later this year.

Blue Origin, led by billionaire Jeff Bezos, plans to make its first crewed space flight on July 20, the date of the first moon landing. Their rocket, called New Shepard (named after astronaut Alan Shepard), will reach zero gravity three minutes after launch and re-enter the atmosphere three minutes later. The tender for a passenger seat on this first flight is open, with the offer currently at just $ 2.8 million.

If you think space travel is for the very rich, you are right. Guess I’ll stick to my summer vacation plans and just go on the roller coaster.

Kenneth Hicks is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio University in Athens.

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