Space Tourism: What’s the Big Deal?

Written by: Jason Garoutte

Privatized space travel or space tourism has become the new frontier in adventure and exploration, especially since NASA’s space program isn’t quite what it used to be. It is expected to become a billion dollar industry within the next decade, even though the cost of one of these adventures is as high as 40 million dollars.

So, what kind of adventure can you expect with that kind of money? Depending on the company, that kind of money will earn you an eight to eleven day trip to the International Space Station. Sounds great right? Sure, the view is one in a million, but if I’m going to spend 40 million dollars, I’d better be sipping Mai Tai’s on one of Saturn’s rings!

That will not happen. Not in my lifetime, especially not a journalist’s salary. For those that are ultra-wealthy, a trip to the heavens may just be the ultimate adventure. But would it be worth it?

Space Tourism

Only one spacecraft has ever traveled to the outer planets and it is unmanned. The Voyager 1 spacecraft, which was launched in 1977, is still traveling the outer limits of our solar system to this day. It is traveling at a speed of 3.6 Astronomical Units per year. An Astronomical Unit is defined as 92, 955, 807 miles or roughly the distance the Earth is from the Sun. Once the numbers are crunched, Voyager 1 is traveling at a staggering speed of 38, 179 m.p.h. Wow!

Companies like Space Adventures only have aircraft designed to travel up to speeds of Mach 3, which equates to approximately 2,250 m.p.h. So, should you want those Mai Tai’s with Saturn as your backdrop, it would take 50 years just to get there. And you thought the flight from Los Angeles to New York was long!

There is a bit of hope, should you just want to brag about traveling into space. These privatized companies are offering suborbital flights at only $200,000 per passenger. With that you will receive a two hour flight above the Kàrmàn Line, which is defined as the boundary of space at an altitude of 62 miles above Earth’s sea level. You will also experience three to six minutes of weightlessness and that one in a million view of our blue planet. Just don’t forget your camera.

If that sounds like an appealing adventure, then by all means, spend that hard earned money, travel to the heavens, and return with some amazing vacation photos. For those of us with meager salaries and average jobs, the closest we’ll probably ever get to the planets is through the lens of our backyard telescope.

Tourists experiencing zero gravity.

Tourists experiencing zero gravity.

 

Voyager 1 May Soon Cross into Inter-stellar Space

Voyager 1 May Soon Cross into Inter-stellar Space

by Jacqueline Dennison

Voyager 1 Space Probe

     Once a pioneer of our solar

system’s giant planets, NASA’s

Voyager 1 may soon be the first

man-made space probe to

venture beyond our Solar System

and into inter-stellar space.

     Recent data suggests that

Voyager has entered the outer

edge of the solar system, an area

teeming with charged particles

believed to have originated from

our neighboring stars. Readings of

particles from our own star have

slowed, another indication that Voyager is close to breaking the solar boundary.

Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at California Institute of Technology, has

given an optimistic view of Voyager’s journey. “The laws of physics say that

someday Voyager will become the first human-made object to enter interstellar

space, but we still do not know exactly when that someday will be,” said Stone.

“The latest data indicate that we are clearly in a new region where things are

changing more quickly. It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system’s

frontier.”

Voyager 1 is travelling through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer edge of the

solar system where charged particles from the Sun are very active.

“From January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of

about 25 percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering,”

said Stone. “More recently, we have seen very rapid escalation in that part of the

energy spectrum. Beginning on May 7, the cosmic ray hits have increased five percent

in a week and nine percent in a month.”

Since its launch in 1977, Voyager 1 has traveled to over 18 billion kilometers

from the Sun. Its sister probe, Voyager 2, is about 15 kilometers from the sun.

Between them, the two probes have visited the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus

and Neptune, as well as 48 moons. Both Voyagers each carry a gold-plated copper

record that plays various sounds from Earth, including greetings in 55 languages.

The golden records, put together by a committee headed by astronomer Carl Sagan,

were included for any extra-terrestrials who may come into contact with the Voyager

probes.

“When the Voyagers launched in 1977, the space age was all of 20 years old,”

said Stone. “Many of us on the team dreamed of reaching interstellar space, but we

really had no way of knowing how long a journey it would be — or if these two vehicles

that we invested so much time and energy in would operate long enough to reach it.”

When Voyager ventures into inter-stellar space, it will mark a milestone in

human space exploration.

 

 

Space: China’s New Frontier


Written by: Suleman Sultan

With NASA being practically shut down and Russia worrying about other things (like internal political problems) , who’s left to venture out into space besides private companies. We recently saw Space X make a successful attempt into space and to the International Space Station, but does this mean the age of governments venturing into space is over?

Maybe the traditional nations yes!

China recently sent a shuttle into space with the nation’s first female astronaut. The Shenzhou-9 launched early this week carrying 3 astronauts into space.

While China is a very late comer into the space exploration industry, it has entered into it at a very important time. With NASA out of the way and private companies slowly working their way around inexperience, China has the whole universe to itself, to put it lightly!

In Spetember of 2011 China had put into orbit the Tiagong-1 space lab module. When it sent the Shenzhou-9 it’s was to see if they could both dock together. In the end the mission was a success.

Regarding China’s space program and their first female astronaut a spokesperson recently stated that, “It will also further expand the social impact on human space missions and showcase the positive image of Chinese women.”

The Chinese not only have technological reasons to start their own space program but social reasons as well. If the Chinese monopolize the space industry, China will; as America became when it started its space program, the world leader in the engineering and sciences. As China develops space ships and space stations with telescopes of their own they will be seen as the masters of above. More importantly if other nations do not venture out into space themselves, they will be forced to either turn to private companies for help or turn to China.

NASA already aids private companies when it needs supplies for the Space Station. If Russia cannot supply the Space Station then they too will have to turn to China. This will inevitably affect international politics as well as the sciences. Scientists and engineers will then travel to China to work if they choose to go into the space industry, that’s if China lets them.

Not only does China have the will to venture into space but it’s ever increasing economy and population will be looking towards something new. With space open above, the Chinese have no obstacles but time, an obstacle that will soon become obsolete when their economy becomes the largest in the world.