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Space Travel For The General Public

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Adrian Musolino
Adrian Musolino

Space travel is now becoming a commercial entity, a reality to the general public, should you have a spare US$200,000 to spend that is. Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is opening up space to the public with a fascinating development in space tourism. 

Virgin Galactic will become the first commercial operation with an aircraft capable of sub-orbital flights, allowing us the chance of real space travel.

The SpaceShipTwo will fly passengers to an altitude over 100 kilometers allowing them to experience weightlessness for up to six minutes.

Virgin has been taking bookings for years now with the first flight booked for late this year before the public gets their chance in 2010. 

Already numerous famous and privileged individuals have booked their place as Virgin begins a widespread marketing campaign to inform the public of this remarkable venture. 

However, would you be prepared to pay US$200,000 for six minutes of weightlessness and the chance to see our world from outer space?

If you can burn that sort if money why not? 

Virgin has promised that it “will seek to reduce this price as fast and as far as possible, allowing many thousands of people to experience space for themselves.”

Let’s hope so. It will be a shame if, in generations time, this experience was restricted to a select few. 

A cut in the cost will depend on the return from the initial flights and reducing the costs of operation, not easy given the technology involved, especially ensuring the flights are safe. 

But it will also depend on possible competition from other aviation companies, not likely to be substantial. 

Other ventures are working on commercial passenger suborbital spaceflights but none have the commercial or brand recognition of Virgin. 

As one British businessman has done, you can use your Virgin frequent flyer points for a trip to space.  

Critics claim the flights will be “fossil fuel-burning space tourism flights” but Branson has promised the crafts will carry scientific instruments for gathering new data on climate change.

With Virgin also being heavily linked to buying the Honda Formula 1 team, Virgin is walking a fine line in convincing the public of its green credentials. 

But there is potential in such ventures, in exploring green technologies, which will eventually filter down into our road cars. 

The potential is enormous to not only ensure future sustainability but also in human development that includes our chance to be astronauts, even if it is only for six minutes.

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