Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fly to Space All The Way!

And finally it is here! The dream of dreams, the vision which many of us have grown up to but could hardly think to achieve in real life- you can now pay to visit space! The first paying space tourist was Dennis Tito, who visited space nine years ago on a Soyuz rocket and stayed for seven days at the International Space Station(ISS). Though probably many might say it was easy for Tito who was a US rocket scientist before making a fortune through investment management. Being a passenger of the Russian space agency, Tito had to pay as high as an eight figure sum (some report around $20 million) for the privilege!

The cost was high and the number of seats limited; so in the past decade only six tourists had made it to zero gravity ground. But the story is different now. Reports say that by 2020, the space tourism industry could be a 700 million dollar business. For $200,000 every visit, you can now book a seat in the spaceship of Virgin Galactic, a company taken to heights by its billionaire owner, Sir Richard Branson.

Will Pomerantz of the X Prize Foundation, an institute that arranges for competitions to encourage commercial space travel says, "People grow up just fascinated by space travel. There are primitive emotions and instincts that drive people to it. It's loud, it's sexy and it is in some senses dangerous, so it gets a lot of people excited. But the people who got into this as a hobby are starting to realize that it needn't be just that."

Around $45 million has already been taken in by Virgin Galactic to reserve seats for spaceflights. Among the famous faces who plan to be on the first flights are Hollywood director, Brian Singer and former Dallas star, Victoria Principal.

The six passenger spacecraft called the Virgin SpaceShips (VSS) is the best funded and most advanced of the space tourism ventures. Burt Rutan, winner of the 2004 X Prize with Prototype has developed this space ship.

The VSS Enterprise will carry the passengers to an altitude of about 50,000 feet while being attached to a mothership. Then it will launch the rest of the way into space. The Independent reports, "Last Monday, both mothership and Enterprise flew up to that height together in a maiden test flight."

Other companies creating space ships for commercial space travel include California based Xcor, Armadillo Aerospace and Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame. Google is also reputed to fund an X Prize in order to send a robotic rover on the moon' the first commercial venture of a kind.

Looks like, holidaying in Mars and spending weekends in ISS are just years away!

Courtesy: The Independent, London


Kabya said...

*sigh* even time warping..and time travelling wont be late... :-D stephen hawkins will be ultimately there...the man of the century...moreover...chandrayaan found water...hence...I am going to moon next winter.... :D

the silent observer said...

hehe Well do tell me how the stay was..I have my plans of visiting Mars next winter! lol