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How about Paris for the weekend, or a two-week trip around Southeast Asia? Forget itthat's so 2014, so terrestrial. Should Virgin Galactic have their way, 2015 will be the year you book a vacation of suborbital space travel, or perhaps a supersonic 45-minute flight from California to London.
This month SpaceShipTwo completed her 54th test flight, improving the odds that next year will indeed be the one to finally kick off space tourism. In fact, Virgin Galactic has already begun the big move from Mojave, CA to Las Cruces, NM, the latter being home to Spaceport America and, hopefully soon, flights to space full of paying passengers (6, to be specific, plus 2 pilots).
Seeing as the US treats spaceship technology with something of the same intense secrecy as defense technology, much of what Virgin Galactic's been up to out in their hangar in the California desert is hush-hush top secret. The 10th Anniversary of their Ansari X Prize win however opened up a small window for us to peek behind those massive doors. Here's what we can tell (and show!) you:
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Imagine having flown everywhere, but never actually anywhere. It's confusing, but it's the case for our editor, Cynthia, who recently headed out on her first private plane flight after years of commercial plane travel. Here's her story:
"It's just like driving a car," he said. "You won't ever look at flying the same way again."
Sid passed his hand down the wing, pausing here and there to look over and under, squinting with the sun's glare on what was a sparkling clear day in southern California. We were in a kind of parking lot, after all, except one that had us surrounded by private jets on the tarmac at Van Nuys Airport. And we were double-checking that all was well before setting off for a weekend trip, except that trip would be over mountains and cities in a teeny-tiny, seafoam green 1962 Beechcraft Bonanza V-Tail.
This would be my first flight in a private plane.
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As you get back into the swing of things on this Monday morning we thought we’d share a little bit of a video distraction. We realize you’re probably still working through the whole lose-an-hour effect of the recent switch back to daylight saving time.
What we have here is a combination that we haven’t seen before, but it makes perfect sense. A few pretty skilled individuals—known as the Takeover—find their way into an airplane graveyard in Mojave, CA and do the whole freerunning and parkour thing.
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Space. The final frontier. Or, more likely, the next logical frontier for travel.
We recently had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Michiel Mol, Founder and CEO of Space Expedition Corporation (SXC), a Netherlands-based company pioneering affordable and sustainable commercial space flight.
Mol has dreamt of traveling to space for as long as he can remember and is a self-described nerd. It was at the age of 11 that he caught his first glimpse of space, through a telescope he built himself. In 1993 Mol and friends established Lost Boys, now known as LBI, to develop software. Getting in on that industry's frontier has thus paved his way towards this ultimate goal of breaching yet another.
SXCs first operational spacecraft, the Lynx (built by XCOR Aerospace), is due to perform its test flight from SXC’s Mojave spaceport as soon as April this year, marking SXC's first solid step towards the goal of rocketing willing, paying travelers nearly 65 miles up and into the blackness above Earth. A year of testing will then ensue, with the first commercial flights scheduled for the latter half of 2014. SXC-built spaceports at both Mojave, CA and Curaçao are also due to open in 2017.