For years people have dreamed about space travel for the masses. But now Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has unveiled his SpaceShip Two. It may seem like something out of a Star Trek series, but it seems like in just 2 or 3 years time, it will be possible for man to travel to outer space for reasons other than science, namely to be a space tourist. The project reports to have had $400 million invested in it by Sir Richard Branson and already has 300 interested parties ready to get sent up into space.
So how much will it cost? I can’t imagine that taking a holiday in space will be cheap! And, no, I would be right in assuming so as it will cost around $200,000 for a 3 days travel package including all the necessary training which I guess is quite a considerable amount bearing in mind that this not something the health and safety people can turn their backs on.
Some of the would be partakers in the plan include none other than the legend that is Stephen Hawking and a 90 year old (yes 90!) enviro-theorist James Lovelock. There are doubts though, that the gargantuan investment will pay off for Virgin and Sir Richard Branson. How many people are there that can afford to or even want to get shot up beyond the atmosphere? Would you feel safe? So it’s yet to be seen what sort of market there is for this branch of tourism, although they envisage the price reductions as the service develops and is opened up to more people’s budgets.
Of course the proposition is exciting, and testing will begin in 2011 if all goes to plan. The thought of going on holiday not just to another time zone, but 100 kilometres (62 miles) into outer space.
Each ship is designed to carry 6 passengers at a time plus 2 pilots which I guess are kind of vital for the trip. Not only will there be holiday makers on board, but whilst in space it is claimed that they will carry out some scientific experiments which does put the potential for some sort of reward for Virgin Galactic if the tourism market isn’t what they expected.
Anyway, today was the unveiling of their Spaceship Two. And I must say, from the pictures that have been posted all over the internet, it looks mighty impressive. The shuttles look uber-futuristic, which is a sign of the times we live in I suppose. What is traditionally seen as futuristic is constantly being reached nowadays and this is another example of how we are moving ever closer to the world depicted in some of the milder Sci-Fi movies.
So what do you think? If you had the money would you be tempted to take the plunge into outer space? Would you feel safe on the first trip or would you have to wait to see how others get on? After all, the landing procedure is known as ‘care free’ which doesn’t sound particularly inspirational to me. There are plenty of people in the world who won’t even go on a roller coaster out of fear. So what about the thought of being shot through out of Earth’s atmosphere at ludicrous speeds. Personally, I can’t afford it, but the prospect of what Virgin Galactic could begin in terms of commercial space flight is somewhat stimulating!