Tag: Space Tourism

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Spaceport America Opens Its Doors To Tourists

June 29, 2015 at 7:53 AM | by | ()

The test flights for Virgin Galactic might be on hold, but that’s not stopping its New Mexico facility Spaceport America from becoming the country’s latest tourist attraction. The $219 million facility is now open to the public, inviting guests who dream of outer space to get a taste here on terra firma. Dubbed the Spaceport America Experience, the facility's new tour includes the ability to check out life-size replicas of some of Virgin Galactic’s offerings, including SpaceShipTwo, view the 45,000-square foot terminals's hangar from a massive "Gateway Gallery," take a ride down the 12,000-foot runway, and try out a "G-shock simulator." Tours start off at a visitor center a bit removed from the actual facility, then a short bus trip takes guests on-site.

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Kennedy Space Center Just Broke Ground on a Cosmic New Attraction

June 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM | by | ()

Commonplace space tourism is still a thing of the future. But if you want to get up close and personal with the world of astronauts, you'll soon have a new option. A few days ago, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex broke ground on a new attraction, Heroes and Legends, slated to open in 2016. And it sounds like it'll be an intergalactic-inspired good time. A statement announcing the attraction promises guests "simulated holograms and augmented reality" via "an omnidirectional theater with 3D and special effects, designed to make guests feel as though they are floating in the vastness of space" with famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard. It concludes: "The new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame will serve as the culminating element of the attraction, allowing guests to interact virtually with nearly 100 astronaut heroes."

Plus: a snack shack serving Tang and Milky Way candies! (Kidding. Ba-dum-bum-ching!)

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Throwback Thursday: Pan Am's 'First Moon Flights Club'

November 6, 2014 at 3:14 PM | by | ()

Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.

A tourist trip to space wasn't just a science fiction fantasy for Pan Am, even though it may have seemed that way after their cameo as an airline-turned-spaceline in Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In the late 1960s, the Space Race and the Apollo programs had the United States daydreaming of travel beyond Florida or Paris. Pan Am channeled that enthusiasm for outer space into an alignment with their brand, founding the "First Moon Flights Club."

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Virgin Galactic Vows to Continue and is Already Building Another SpaceShipTwo

November 3, 2014 at 11:28 AM | by | ()

The accident immediately killed test co-pilot Michael Tyner Alsbury [memorial fund] and wounded pilot Peter Siebold, who emergency ejected and parachuted to the ground.

Preliminary NTSB reports note that no explosion occurred, and that an early deployment of the craft's feathering system—a function that adjusts SS2 into something of a shuttlecock shape for re-entry—may have been the cause of the spacecraft's breaking apart.

Many are wondering if this will shut down the program, but Richard Branson and Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides are clear in their statements that this tragedy is an obstacle, not an end. "Space is hard—but worth it. We will persevere and move forward together."

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Beyond Rocket Science: The 8 Incredible Details You Never Knew About Virgin Galactic

October 30, 2014 at 11:12 AM | by | ()

[Update: This feature was written and published prior to the tragic events of 31 October, 2014, when SpaceShipTwo suffered an "anomaly" and was lost, with one fatality.]

How about Paris for the weekend, or a two-week trip around Southeast Asia? Forget it—that'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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Forget London; UK Looks to Scotland for Possible Spaceport

July 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM | by | ()

We usually turn our attention towards New Mexico when it comes to space travel and space tourism, as that’s where Virgin Galactic has been preparing and planning for the last few years. However, there’s another spot to add to your space race map; the United Kingdom have their own sky-high dreams and they're focusing them on Scotland.

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Thumbs Up from the FAA for Virgin Galactic Flights to Space

June 2, 2014 at 12:01 PM | by | ()

We have been following the goings-on from the folks over at Virgin Galactic for quite some time, and it seems like only a matter of time before tickets are offered up for sale and passengers head towards the great beyond.

Things are getting one step closer, as Virgin Galactic recently submitted all kinds of paperwork and presentations to Uncle Sam and his buddies over at the Federal Aviation Administration. Thankfully everyone seems to be onboard with the plan, and that means we’re one step closer to taking off into outer space.

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Wow. FAA Paperwork Delays May Block Virgin Galactic Debut.

January 30, 2014 at 12:20 PM | by | ()

Fearless prediction: this is going to get solved before it becomes a problem. There are too many famous people involved, there is too much money at stake, and the optics would be catastrophic. Can you imagine how this would play out in the media? "Washington DC has become so inefficient that it's blocking actual real life we're-living-in-the-future space tourism."

Federal agencies can be cumbersome and individual bureacrats can be petty. But if the FAA actually jams up the launch of a Virgin Galactic space jet - which people say might actually happen - we can finally and safely assume that literally nobody is in charge of anything any more. Seriously. It would look so horrible that we don't understand how anyone is even allowed to go on the record saying it's a possibility.

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'Space Race' is One Reality Show You'll Want to Watch

October 8, 2013 at 9:22 AM | by | ()

You know we like to follow the goings on of Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Galactic project, and now we’ll be able to do from the comfort of our couch. Virgin Galactic is teaming up with the mastermind behind shows like Survivor and The Voice—Mark Burnett—to launch a reality show to give away a ride into space.

Details are limited at this point, but we’d imagine that things would follow the basic premise of pretty much all reality shows. Unique personalities, wacky competitions, and plenty of drama should lead to a show worthy of a spot on our DVR. We do know that the show will be called "Space Race," and the big winner will get a ride aboard SpaceShipTwo.

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Virgin Galactic Zooms through 'Cold Flow' Test to Inch Closer to Space

April 23, 2013 at 9:51 AM | by | ()

We haven’t heard that much from Virgin Galactic recently, but that doesn’t mean the space ship team hasn’t been hard at work behind the scenes. They’re still doing their very best to ensure that space tourism becomes a reality sooner than later. That’s definitely good, since from what it sounds like, the space flight carrier already has more than a few customers on the books and ready to go.

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip Two just finished its latest round of testing, and thankfully things all went according to plan. The latest aerial endeavor was known as a "cold flow” test. They haven't lit the rocket engines on this sucker just yet, but it means they've completed pretty much everything else—so that means they’re ready for the next step. The ship’s contrail was even visible for the first time, so now we know how awesome the thing will look like when it blasts away from earth.

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Virgin Galactic Sorta Sets a Date for Space Flights in 2013

February 16, 2012 at 2:59 PM | by | ()

It’s not exactly time to bust out the celebration champagne just yet, but it sounds like Virgin Galactic is starting to make some serious progress in the commercial space race. There’s been roughly 75 test flights of WhiteKnightTwo—that’s the carrier plane—as well as several SpaceShipTwo voyages.

SpaceShipTwo will eventually do its thing as the suborbital space ship, and its been doing its best to glide back down to the ground after being dropped high in the sky from WhiteKnightTwo.

The real excitement and testing is going to come as soon as this summer, as that’s when they’ll fire up the rockets to send SpaceShipTwo a little bit higher into the sky. The goal is to eventually reach around 62 miles or so above the earth, where paying passengers can get a glimpse of the curvature of globe, the darkness of space, and experience sweet, sweet weightlessness. If all goes well it sounds like this might be possible by the end of the year, but it would only be the spaceship making the journey—no paying passengers just yet.

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Hey, Who Wants to Go to Space in a Giant Hot Air Balloon?

August 29, 2011 at 3:39 PM | by | ()

As part of our ongoing effort to track space tourism competition—because how else is the price ever going to drop enough so we can afford it—please turn your attention to the bloon.

Designed by Spanish entrepreneur Jose Lopez-Urdiales, the bloon is a sub-orbital device (kind of) that takes people to space (in a manner of speaking) and is scheduled to start flying in 2013 (theoretically). We're hedging on this description because the bloon isn't so much a spaceship like we've all become used to, as much as it is a really big hot air balloon.

The project webpage is reasonably slick, though the branding is kind of gratingly New Agey. There's lots of hand waving about going to "a place where borders do not really exist" and "where creation becomes real," with a promise to "help awaken consciousness of the unique, fragile beauty of our planet" so that you can become "one with your home planet." If we didn't know better we'd think it was kind of a parody, but other parts of the site seem reasonably straightforward.

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