Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial spaceline company - but when will its first spaceflight be and how much will it cost to travel to space?
Commercial spaceline Virgin Galactic is funded by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, its aim is to send incredibly rich tourists into space within the next few years.
Founded in 2004, the team includes rocket scientists, engineers and designers from around the world.
What can Virgin Galactic passengers expect?
Virgin Galactic passengers will depart from Spaceport America, the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport. It was opened in New Mexico in 2011.
WhiteKnightTwo, a jet-powered cargo aircraft, will climb to an altitude of 50,000 feet before releasing SpaceShipTwo, a spacecraft that will bring passengers on the final part of the journey.
SpaceShipTwo will travel at approximately three and a half times the speed of sound, propelling the vehicle and passengers to space.
“After the rocket motor has fired for around a minute, the pilots will safely shut it down,” Virgin Galactic say.
“Having just experienced a thrilling, dynamic rocket ride, the dramatic transition to silence and to true weightlessness will be a profound moment for our astronauts as they coast upwards towards space.”
The amateur astronauts will then leave their seats to experience weightlessness.
The whole experience is expected to last two hours. The spacecraft is expected to carry six passengers and two pilots.
Once SpaceShip Two has reentered the earth’s atmosphere, the vehicle’s wings will be returned to their normal configuration, and the spaceship will glide back to the original runway.
How high will Virgin Galactic go?
Virgin Galactic will carry passengers to an altitude of 110km (68 miles) to the edge of space. That’s over the Karman line (an altitude of 100km), which represents the boundary between the earth’s atmosphere and outer space.
When will the first commercial spaceflight be?
Branson initially hoped that Virgin Galactic would carry tourists into space by 2011, but now refuses to give a definitive launch date.
“Well we stopped giving dates,” he told The Telegraph in April.
“But I think I’d be very disappointed if we’re not into space with a test flight by the end of the year and I’m not into space myself next year and the programme isn’t well underway by the end of next year.”
A crash in 2014 CREDIT: REUTERS Three workers died in an explosion during testing of SpaceShipTwo in 2007.
In 2014, a Virgin Galactic spaceship exploded in mid-air, killing a test pilot and seriously injuring another.
Co-pilot Michael Alsbury died after inadvertently unlocking the spaceship’s braking mechanism 14 seconds too early during a test flight causing catastrophic structural failure, US safety investigators ruled. Test flights of SpaceShipTwo resumed in 2016.
How much will it cost to travel to space?
A lot, at least initially. A seat on a Virgin Galactic flight will cost you $250,000, which has to be paid up-front as a deposit.
More than 700 people have signed up so far, including celebrities Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher, Angelina Jolie, Tom Hanks and Paris Hilton, reports say.
By Mark Molloy - 19 JULY 2017 • 5:40PM
Marco Dolci did not set out to become a NASA engineer. Instead, like many of Dolci’s pursuits, the career path presented itself on his lifelong quest “to know” – that is, to answer any and every question that crosses his mind. As a boy, his never-ending stampede of questions became too much even for his ever-patient parents, so they presented him with a book, 1001 Questions and Answers on Planet Earth. But rather than satiate his quest for answers, it spurred him to seek more.
Today, Dolci still asks a multitude of questions, but the answers he finds through his own determination and curiosity, which have taken him from studies in linguistics to physics to aerospace engineering to robotics – and across the world, from his hometown of Lodi, Italy to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Dolci first came to the Laboratory in 2013 as part of the JPL Visiting Student Researchers Program, or JVSRP. Having just earned a master’s in physics, Dolci was pursuing a second master’s in aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic University of Milan when he entered and won a scholarship sponsored by the Italian Space Agency and the Italian Scientists and Scholars of North America Foundation. His prize: a paid internship at any North American laboratory. He says JPL was the obvious choice.
The answers might surprise you! From projects with scanning electron microscopes to skydiving, check out 10 of the coolest things NASA interns across the country did this semester!
Download here the PDF with the 10 coolest things NASA interns across the country did this semester!
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex created the offer to provide deeper context and understanding of the U.S. space program, by supporting the fourth and fifth-grade elementary school curriculums nationwide that include space exploration as an area of study.
The Summer of Mars is designed to not only pique their interest but [also] inspire the age group that experts estimate will be among the first astronauts to make the trip to Mars when that journey becomes not only possible but probable. The immersive, edutainment-style activities and experiences at the visitor complex are an effective way for kids to learn about the future of NASA as it pertains to Mars.
“Our aim is to inspire kids at this age with memorable space experiences and add a layer of excitement to what they are learning in school by bringing it to life,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. “When they leave here, we want them to be inspired by what they saw, heard and felt here, and wanting to learn more. We want them to feel connected to NASA’s Journey to Mars.”
The focus on Mars as the next space destination is incorporated as a theme throughout Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Activities with a Mars focus include the Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted live theater and interactive experience; the Journey to Space 3-D film in the IMAX® Theater; a special edition of Science on a Sphere about the Red Planet, a custom 3-D Eyes on the Universe presentation highlighting the last two decades of our robotic exploration on Mars; Cosmic Quest, an interactive game that includes missions to Mars, including building a Mars habitat; and Camp KSC, a series of week-long day camps, which has a Mars-focused curriculum.
OSIRIS-REx is zooming towards the asteroid Bennu. It's on a mission to collect a sample of asteroid "dirt" and send it back to Earth. Scientists hope to uncover the building blocks of life in the solar system. The spacecraft launched last summer, so what's it up to these days? International STEM Education Collaboration!
This unique collaborative Initiative in Brazil is the result of a partnership between the Kennedy Space Center International Academy, The Michaelis Foundation for Global Education and the Brazil Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Students ages 9 to 14 are attending classes with instructors trained in the United States on the key concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Four selected educational institutions in Brazil are hosting this STEM hands on practical and theoretical robotics and programming course.
For the first time in the country of Brazil, the course is based on NASA's OSIRIS-Rex mission, which sent a spacecraft into space to monitor and collect samples from the surface of the asteroid BENNU.
The "Asteroid Mission" program will be taught in the cities of Americana, Limeira, Ribeirao Preto and Sorocaba.
In addition to general asteroid science, students are learning about NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission. The University of Arizona leads the mission. In September 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft launched on its seven-year journey. This groundbreaking mission will grab a sample from a primitive carbonaceous asteroid and bring it back to Earth for analysis. That sample will be a scientific time capsule from 4.5 billion years ago!
The program provides theoretical classes on introduction to robotics, science and technology. The Mission 1 is taught by Vinícius Fantuche, a mechanical engineer and mission specialist at "The Asteroid Mission", which will present the NASA mission in detail. The practical classes are being held this week at the FACENS University Lab, and in the following weeks at the other selected partner schools under the coordination of Mr. José Carlos Filho, Program's country manager in Brazil. "We will divide the students into teams and each will have a (rover) robot. The mission will be to schedule it according to the activities defined in the day. We also have a real replica of the surface of an asteroid".
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx. Dante Lauretta is the mission's principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA's New Frontiers Program.
The Brazil-Florida Chamber of Commerce, BFCC, is a not-for-profit organization. BFCC has emerged as one of the most dynamic bilateral business catalysts in the nation in recent years.
For more information about the program, visit TheAsteroidMission.com
Credit: Cibele Santiago - Brazil Florida Chamber of Commerce
Billionaire investor Mark Cuban recently made waves when he predicted the first trillionaire in history would soon march onto the world's stage, leapfrogging even the wealthy likes of Bill Gates to get there. But the fortune he forecast is less important than its source: artificial intelligence.
Cuban believes the first person to master AI and its derivatives will corner a larger portion of the tech marketplace than anyone before. The tech guru caught many off guard when he stressed that critical thinking skills will be more important to future success than the technical skills we now prioritize. Initially, that might be shocking, but it makes sense when considering the full implications of AI.
The technical skills society currently holds in high regard, such as programming and data analysis, are prime targets for automation. Intelligent machines can perform these same tasks at a much higher volume and with much greater accuracy than even an army of tech professionals could.
Maintaining A Human Edge In An Automated World
The ability to wade through lines of code and speak in jumbles of jargon aren't qualities that will define the leaders of the future. To thrive, those at the top of tech companies must leverage the uniquely human aspects of their teams and talent.
That starts by understanding what is appropriate to automate and what would be better left to humans. For instance, some executives have embraced the idea of automated assistants. Efficiency might increase, but it would be much harder for executives to exercise judgment and instinct when they're so cut off from human contact.