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Take a trip into the light fantastic

Posted on Friday, 9 June, 2006 | Comment icon 5 comments

Image credit: NASA
"Sir Richard Branson's space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, plans to offer flights into the spectacular celestial display of the aurora borealis."

  View: Full article |  Source: Guardian Unlimited

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by IronGhost on 9 June, 2006, 16:16
We have many times launched unmanned rockets into displays of the aurora, so we know a lot about them. I fairly sure that human passangers would not see much when they are up there -- the visual effects would diminish the closer you get.The larger, more important aspect of this would be getting rank and file citizens into space on a routine basis. It's the first step toward a more robust space tourism industry.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 9 June, 2006, 16:51
I suspect that the visual effect you would get from inside the aurora would be stunning. The view out of the window would be of dancing colours as far as the eye can see.I agree with your point on space tourism. As more people experience sub-orbitl spaceflight the demand for affordable orbital spaceflight will grow. This will force down the cost of launch into orbit. The knock on benefit of this would be that the cost of space exploration will also fall.
Comment icon #3 Posted by IronGhost on 9 June, 2006, 17:13
You might be right about the visual effects, Waspie.But the space tourism thing is exciting. One company is contemplating using one of the space shuttles huge empty primary fuel tanks for conversion into a kind of space station. It would actually be a very large interior space, and modifying it is feasible.People could experience zero-g for as along as they want. There could even be zerp-g "swimming pools" -- huge blobs of water suspended in mid-air that you could swim in and out of.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 9 June, 2006, 17:42
I've just spent a while trying to find an image of an aurora, taken from inside, by a sounding rocket, but I have failed I think this plan is unlikely now. the idea was to keep the tank attached to a shuttle a little longer and drag it into orbit with the shuttle. Of course this was at the cost of payload onboard the orbiter. However with the shuttles being retired in 2010 this is almost cetainly not going to happen.Another idea that has been put forward is inflatable, disposable space hotels. They would be inflated once in orbit. After being used a few times their orbit would simply be ... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by snuffypuffer on 9 June, 2006, 17:42
This would certainly be something to see. Unfortunately I'll be able to afford a flight somewhere around 2152.

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