By Mike Bardsley
Space XC, Virgin Galatic, and KLM are getting into the market of space tourism. That is right folks I said it, space tourism. Currently Space XC and Virgin Atlantic project commercial flights into space to be available as soon as 2014 and 2012 respectively. All I can say about that is, wow that is really, really soon. These planes will reach a traveling speed of mach 3 within 3 minutes of take off and be traveling at a maximum altitude of 62 miles (for perspective, a commercial airplane traveling at 32,000 feet is at an altitude of about 6 miles).
Now before we get ahead of ourselves with this whole space tourism bit, I have a hard time accepting this as true “Star Trek” space flight or even NASA. But honestly who’s counting, or for that matter who wants to put the kabash on a pretty cool marketing tool. The term space tourism is a real attention grabber (Total Recall…anyone…nope..just me then..yep) in my mind even if they are being a little liberal with their interpretation of “space.”
However, these planes with names such as WhiteKnightTwo (Virgin Galactic) and Lynx (KLM) will offer passengers the experience of weightlessness as well as a view of Earth from way up high. While the projected costs of these flights are to range anywhere from $90K to $200K the future for the rest of us may not be too far off.
Now here is the best part – these advances in space tourism could mean that air travel time between terrestrial destinations will be drastically reduced. According to KLM, their ship could get halfway around the world in two hours. It is estimated that to travel from London to Tokyo will only take 1.5 hours. Now that is something I can get behind! Weightlesness, cool. View of earth, can see it on BBC or better yet Google Earth, but shortening the amount I have to sit on an airplane, SOLD!, I will take two please!!