Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Virgin Galactic May Dominate Space Tourism Industry

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Image: Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo drawing and drop-ship in flight, Credit: Virgin Galactic, via Space.com)

It isn't the fact that Virgin Galactic has a better marketing team, or that it is backed by a billionaire that may ensure its dominance of the space tourism industry. It also has nothing to do with how many future spaceports they will establish, as EADS Astrum may outnumber Virgin in the next decade.

It also has nothing to do with the fact that Virgin spacecraft may be safer than their various rivals (although that in it self is definitely icing on the cake!). The main reason Virgin Galactic may dominate the industry may be the fact that they may be giving passengers 30 minuets of weightlessness in space--five to ten times more than the competition.

(Space.com) What you get for your $200,000 includes three days of pre-flight preparation, bonding and training onsite at the spaceport.

The big day arrives with departure of the White Knight Two that cradles SpaceShipTwo, hauling the vehicle and passengers to 50,000 feet (15,240 meters) in altitude for release.

Space travelers will then be rocketed to around 360,000 feet (109,728 meters) in altitude, some 68 miles (109 kilometers) high. The pilots will glide the spaceship at just over stall speed to allow maximum time, around 30 minutes, for passengers to press their faces against large windows that offer a view of more than 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) in any direction. The suborbital journey ends with SpaceShipTwo gliding to a runway landing.

Note: Emphasis is of the editor, and not Space.com.

Virgin Galactic seems to have already secured well over 200 clients from 30 nations ranging from the US, Russia, Japan and even New Zealand!

By giving people the opportunity to experience 30 minuets of spacial bliss, Virgin may force the competition to either "keep up or keep out" of the market, improving the overall experience of space flight for everyone.

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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