Virgin Galactic is making large strides in paving the way for space travel. In doing so, it seems to be meeting the pent-up demand of many starry-eyed customers awaiting their turn to live their life a la Star Trek style. Travel options are taking on a whole new dimension with space travel now even closer to launching off for those truly interested in experiencing zero gravity conditions.
Today marked the day Virgin Galactic tested their space vehicle in the Mojave Desert, where it reached “its highest altitude to date,” according to ABC News. While there has been no set date for Virgin Galactic’s first commercial flight, there have already been hundreds of space tourists who have provided their down payment for a ticket to sit and gaze amongst the stars.
In the Company of Zero Gravity
On Virgin Galactic’s site, over 600 customers, or “future astronauts,” are already within the Galactic community with seats booked to the tune of $250,000 per ticket. Travelling, as one might guess, will not be as simple as slipping into a car seat and going for a ride. Virgin Galactic’s website outlines the ways in which clients will be prepared for their space travel, and these include a pre-flight experience training program as well as a medical screening to ensure that all candidates are deemed healthy enough to fly. Space travel may not be as easy as travelling on Earth, but Virgin Galactic is paving the way to ensure all accommodations are being made in its exclusive club for future astronauts.
Beam Me Up, Scottie – The One Way Ticket
Virgin Galactic isn’t the only company offering to take passengers up into zero gravity. There’s a company that’s asking people to stay up there. When the Mars One Foundation, based in the Netherlands, unveiled their plans back in May 2012 to place “the first human colony on Mars,” over 200,000 people signed up in hopes for a one-way ticket to Mars starting in 2024.
The first round of cuts have occurred, leaving 1,058 astronaut candidates left to vie for the handful of coveted spots. One identified candidate is a PhD graduate from the University of Waterloo in Canada, who is amongst the 75 Canadians who made the first cut. For the final candidates selected, training for the colonization expedition will be gruelling – made up of eight years of training, according to Mars One. The trip to Mars itself will be seven to eight months long, and the astronauts will learn to become unswervingly self-sufficient to endure the journey as well as begin their habitation on Mars.
The reaction to the Mars One expedition has ranged from excitement to vocal doubts about the validity of the mission. The reactions are as diverse as the ages of some of the candidates who remain in the remaining selection pool.
Space Travel – The Last Frontier
For many who have travelled globe in its entirety, space travel is the next great frontier. The fascination with science fiction has been long-nurtured by books and TV shows of the past and present that have captured the imagination of millions. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Stargate SG-I, to name a few, have all put their unique spin on how the universe operates outside the confines of Earth and its gravitational pull. Space travel is now the modern-day Columbus journey. And amongst those who are paving the way in this journey include Mars One and Virgin Galactic, who are key players in igniting the world’s curiosity and thirst for space travel and exploration.
By Joscelyne Yu