Virgin Galactic, the Richard Branson project designed to allow ordinary people to fly in space is moving close to a launch date, this according to Live Science, which also reports that those willing to pay the $200,00 fee will be in for quite a ride.
All launches of the space vehicle will take place out of a special launch facility called Spaceport America in New Mexico. But before passengers will be allowed to board, they must first undergo some pre-flight training which will occur at the site over a three day period prior to launch. There they will be taught such things as the importance of following instructions (orders) and how not to bang your head when floating around in zero-gravity.
On launch day, passengers will be buckled in, and the craft, which will be affixed below a converted airplane will take off. After about an hour, the Virgin Galactic spacecraft and its passengers will disengage from the airplane and drift for a moment to allow time to be far clear of the airplane. Then, the real action begins as the rocket engine fires and pushes the craft to the near edge of space, some 62 miles up from the surface of the Earth. During this stage, the passengers will feel close to three times heavier than they would on Earth, luckily, it will only last for about a minute and a half.
Next, the spacecraft and all aboard drift for about three or four minutes; this is the part of the trip all the passengers have paid to be a part of. It’s during this three or four minutes that they are allowed to unbuckle and move around the craft, weightless, drifting about to look out the windows and laugh at one another as they float around. Then, the captain will instruct everyone to return to their seats for the ride home. This is where the training comes in, as those that fail to return to their seats won’t be able to as the g-forces will push them into a prone position on floor.
The return trip should be enough to get the heart going once again as the vehicle speeds back to Earth and all aboard pray that they are able to land safely. They won’t have to wait long though as the entire trip back down shouldn’t take more than a half hour.
All in all it should be quite a trip, passengers will get to see a view of our planet that very few have seen before; the full globe, in all its beautiful splendor.
Virgin Atlantic has already sold tickets to fill the first flight, which is expected to fly sometime next year.