Space tourism - from lofty dreams to commercial reality

July 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 14 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Space tourism has come a long way in a short time. The idea was just a dream in the 1990s, but recently, tourists have shelled out mega-bucks for a glimpse of the wild blue yonder.

Though only the rich can afford space travel today, experts predict prices will drop with new systems under development. Later this year, Virgin Galactic’s returnable Space-Ship-Two hopes to provide orbital round-trips for $200,000, and one-day, take vacationers to the moon.

By 2030, the Space Elevator, a revolutionary system under development now would climb up a nanotech-ribbon extending 62,000 miles from Earth to space and could transport passengers into the wild blue yonder for as low as $20,000 initially, then prices could drop to the $2,000-per-person range when multiple elevators become available.

As more people become space travelers, they will need a place to stay. Budget Suites of America owner Robert Bigelow has launched the first phase of a human-rated habitat module dubbed Sundancer, to an altitude of 250 nautical miles at an orbital inclination of 40 degrees. Once Sundancer is in position and verified safe, Bigelow will add more sections creating a full-scale lodging/industrial complex as early as the middle of next decade.

Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello says, “Once hotel companies start to build and operate orbital accommodations, they will be endlessly improving them and competing to build more exotic facilities”. We will see hotels that provide normal gravity for rooms, bars, and restaurants; and gravity-free areas for recreation and sports activities. (cont.)

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Virgin Galactic Unveils Space Tourism Mothership

July 30 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

On July 28th the ever-expanding, ever-hip, almost ubiquitous Virgin revealed the WhiteKnightTwo—a carrier ship that will ferry the still veiled SpaceShipTwo on its sub-orbital, space tourism flights.  SpaceShipTwo will be the first ship of the new Virgin Galactic—Virgins’ latest step on it’s quest for universal dominance.

Ferried by WhiteKnightTwo, SpaceShipTwo will be the first ever space tourism craft.  It will be capable of carrying six passengers and two pilots into a sub-orbit around the earth to see space, the Earth, and experience weightlessness.  WhiteKnightTwo Will be able to support up to four daily space flights and operate during both day and night. 

The fist flight of WhiteKnightTwo with SpaceShipTwo and passengers is expected to take place in Early 2010 and the BBC reports there are already 250 people have paid $200,000 to be on the first flights.  Before you grab your wallet, remember that each flight will remain at it’s top altitude of about 60 miles above the Earth’s surface for only about 6 minutes

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Poll: How many planets will someone born in the year 2000 visit?

March 05 2008 / by Marisa Vitols / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4

Our last community poll results are in! The question we asked, “If you consider the first person who will reach the age of 200, in approximately what year was he or she born?” received a total of 165 votes (as of today, March 5). Receiving 41.21% of the votes, the number one answer was “1950-1979”. Make sure to check out the interesting comment thread that followed!

Today’s new poll is about planetary exploration. The question is: How many planets will a child born in the year 2000 visit in his or her lifetime?

We encourage everyone to explain their decision in the comment thread below!

1) The person doesn’t literally have to step on the planet – as we know, planets can sometimes be very hot or very cold. They just have to somehow “land” on the planet for it to count.
2) The child is born and remains in the middle-class: your average Joe.
3) For the purposes of this poll we’ll be using the classical definition of planets (9 total) and not including moons or exoplanets.

How many planets will a child born in the year 2000 visit in his or her lifetime?

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