Spaceflights now for sale; scary part is price

Virgin Galactic continues to get great media coverage across the world from articles similar to this in today’s Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Considering space travel on one of Virgin Galactic’s new ships?

The sales pitch goes like this: The first hour will be relatively painless, a graceful ascent in a spaceship attached to a mother ship. Once the vessels reach 50,000 feet, the ship containing you, five more tourists and two pilots will detach and fall for a moment.

Then, the thrusters will propel it up for 90 seconds, traveling three times the speed of sound. All of the spacecraft’s fuel will burn away, leaving its tanks empty.

The G-forces on your body will push your blood toward your feet. It is hoped that you won’t black out, but if you do, you’ll come to when you’re at zero gravity.

Once above the undefined line that delineates Earth from space, your craft will arch to a height of 360,000 feet for about four minutes. You will be weightless and have stunning views of Earth’s curvature, 1,000 miles in any direction.

And then gravity will beckon the vessel down to Earth, the human bodies within it feeling pressure six times their weight, sort of like a “big, hairy, fat cat sitting on your chest.”

Total approximate time: two hours and nine minutes. All this for only $200,000 — a lot of money to most folks, but a mere fraction of the millions spent by previous space tourists.

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