Bored of the beach? Tired of the ski hills? Already visited the great cities, seven wonders and hotspots around the world? Here’s a cure for the been-there-done-that blues: space travel!
Yup, space tourism has finally become a reality where regular folk like you and I can blast off beyond the stratosphere, experience the thrill of zero gravity and gaze back at our humble planet down below (don’t forget the camera!). Uber-adventurer and aviation tycoon Richard Branson recently launched Virgin Galactic which will soon offer commercial space trips to civilians. The maiden voyage will take Branson, his kids and his parents on a journey to space. How do you top a family trip like that? Somehow a visit to Disneyland pales as an encore.
While you don’t need to be an astronaut, you do need to have an astronomical bank account – $200,000 for a two-hour space jaunt (and you thought air fares were bad). But oh, the bragging rights of an out-of-this-world experience like that. I wonder if they throw in a commemorative T-shirt or is that an optional extra you can pick up at the spaceport gift shop?
My first reaction to this news was that space tourism seems rather frivolous and environmentally questionable, but the carbon footprint of this voyage is less than a one-way flight from New York to London. Virgin Galactic has developed a cleaner, cheaper, safer spacecraft to allow more people to witness the beauty and fragility of our planet from that celestial perspective. Beyond the wow factor, this should reinvigorate interest in environmental protection and space exploration and have far-reaching scientific benefits as well.
There are already 300 paying customers signed up for this space trip with more and more bookings everyday. They plan to launch by 2011 and expand to 40 six-passenger spaceships for twice daily flights. As costs go down, this service will be more accessible to the masses. Branson talks of Virgin Space Hotels and joy rides around the moon. If anyone can pull this off, it’s him.
Personally I haven’t quite exhausted all the travel possibilities here on terra firma yet, and as a sea sickness sufferer I can’t even imagine voluntarily subjecting myself to space sickness. However, it is kind of exciting to think that the possibilities of space travel are starting to open up. It’s quite probable that my children will one day take a journey into space – a prospect that simultaneously thrills and chills me.
Who hasn’t dreamed about traveling to outer space at some point? Now that it’s not such a pipe dream, are you ready to boldly go where few have gone before?