How Will Space Tourism Look (and Feel)?

Travel Blog  •  Eva Holland  •  10.08.10 | 1:30 PM ET

With Virgin Galactic’s planned launch drawing nearer, World Hum contributor Terry Ward takes a look at the aircraft that will soon be carrying the first paying civilians beyond Earth’s atmosphere:

In order to imagine how Virgin Galactic’s brand of space travel will work, you have to get images of a classic NASA shuttle launch out of your head. Instead of a land-based launch, Virgin Galactic’s system involves a mothership, called the Virgin Mothership Eve (VMSEve). The innovative aircraft, also designed by Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, is the largest all-carbon composite aviation vehicle ever built and, according to Virgin Galactic, the most fuel efficient of its size.

The VMSEve, a twin fuselage aircraft with one enormous wingspan that stretches 140 feet across, is the vehicle that will carry SpaceShipTwo into the upper reaches of the atmosphere. SpaceShipTwo will be positioned under the wing, between the mothership’s fuselages, for the ride up. From an altitude of over 50,000 feet, the spaceship will be launched from the mothership, using its own rocket power to reach its destination of 68 miles above the Earth’s surface. The most recent test flights, Attenborough says, had a pilot inside the spaceship “taking the last preparations for the first solo flight of the spaceship.”

There’s no firm date set yet for Virgin Galactic’s debut, but 2012 looks likely. When they do launch, we hope they’ll remember our advice about the five songs that have no business being played in space.

Eva Holland is co-editor of World Hum. She is a former associate editor at Up Here and Up Here Business magazines, and a contributor to Vela. She's based in Canada's Yukon territory.

1 Comment for How Will Space Tourism Look (and Feel)?

Mitchell J Schultz 10.14.10 | 2:59 PM ET

Virgin Galactic is certainly making headlines and has a sensational flight plan ahead, however, lets not as of yet speculate on whether XCOR’s Lynx won’t start their commercial flights earlier. As safety is always first, however, XCOR’s EZ-rocket has already flown successfuly 66 times and that was the Lynx predesessor. NASA tests with XCOR last month were excellent and an early 2012 launch is planned.
If you are not as familiar yet with Lynx, it only carries one passenger at a time, however, seated next to former shuttle commander and pilot Col. Rick Searfoss, who calls it “The Right Stuff” from the 60’s movie about the seven Mercury Astronauts.
We call it ‘The Unltimate Space Flight’ as sitting in the co-pilots seat, experiencing weightlessness, G-forces, viewing the Earth from the edge of space and all for $95,000 less than half the cost of Virgin’s $200,000 it’s sure going to give Branson a ride for his money!
Already some participants have registered that are also registered on Virgin Galactics list so they will be assured to become one of the earliest civilians to take a private space flight into space.

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