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Surprising Science

Space Tourism

Wealthy tourists are lining up to buy seats on a Virgin Galactic rocket propelled aircraft that will go so high it’s passengers will experience total weightlessness.

“For a mere $200,000, wealthy funseekers will be able to enjoy a few minutes’ weightlessness, staring out at the curve of the Earth from under a black sky. Currently in the final stages of construction, SpaceShipTwo is expected to make its first test flights in the early months of 2010. A small, rocket-propelled, shuttle-like vehicle around the size of a light aircraft, SpaceShipTwo will be carried to 50,000 feet above sea level – 20,000 feet higher than most airliners – by its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo. Once there, SpaceShipTwo’s own rocket engine will fire, launching the little ship to the boundary between the atmosphere and the vacuum of space at three times the speed of sound. After the engines are cut off, they will enter free-fall, experiencing total weightlessness for several minutes. WhiteKnightTwo has been undergoing flight tests since December last year. So far 300 people have paid in full for their ticket, while a further 82,000 have registered their interest on Virgin Galactic’s website.”


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