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Is Flying To Space The Coolest Thing Humans Have Ever Done?
If you are into space technology, then you might have already heard the names like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos a couple of times in the last few weeks. These are some of the first non-astronauts to go to space and come back to Earth using their rocket-like machines.
Space travel is currently the thing that billionaire boys are planning to bring into the mainstream, using a different approach. The concept and technology used by Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are very different, hence, a private space traveler will get a different experience altogether.
What Is Space Travel?
Just a few decades ago going on a plane was considered something that only an elitist with a lot of money can do. However, the terms have taken a shift in the last few years, where anyone with just a few thousand rupees can now fly between 33,000 and 42,000 feet of altitude (at the time of cruising).
Though you are flying in space, it is only considered as space-traveling if you cross the Karman Line (100KM or 330,000 feet above sea level). Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin are not actually the first set of companies to take private astronauts to space, as Russians made private space travel back in 2001.
However, these two American brands are likely to take space traveling to the next level, and space tourism is likely to get a lot cheaper in the coming years, just like the aviation industry. As of now, there are only over 600 people who have gone over the space (above 50 Miles of altitude), and these two brands like to send a similar number of people to space and get them a space badge.
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Space Using Virgin Galactic?
If you are a millionaire or billionaire, then you might be able to afford a trip to space using Virgin Galactic space tourism for $250,000, which roughly translates to around 1.8 crores in Indian rupees. However, as of now, there are only a limited number of planned trips, hence, you might also want a bit of a connection/reference to be on that elite list.
Virgin Galactic also looks a lot like an airplane rather than a rocket. In fact, it does look like a single airplane designed by combining three airplanes. In fact, it also needs to have a pilot to look after some aspects of the flight, which is a lot different than the Blue Origin's New Shepard
With Virgin Galactic, you also get to stay in space for an extended period, albeit, at a slightly lower altitude when compared to Blue Origin. The Virgin Galactic actually does not fly till the Karman Line, and it can only reach the maximum altitude of 80KM, which is considered as space by NASA, and people who reach that altitude will be awarded with space wings, which is a physical badge.
The whole journey on the Virgin Galactic Spaceship takes around 2.5 hours, hence, you get to stay in the space for an extended period, especially when compared to the Blue Origin. Even at the altitude of 80KM, you get to experience zero gravity and you also get to experience Mach 4 speeds and up to 6G (six times more gravitational force).
How Much Does It Cost To Go To Space Using Blue Origin?
When Blue Origin auctioned one of the first seats on the New Shepard, someone bid for as much as $28 million, which is a whopping 2,08,39,70,000 or 208 crore Indian rupees, a lot of money for just 11 minutes of experience. Yes, unlike Virgin Galactic's space travel, the New Shepard just takes 11 minutes for the complete journey.
Even with the Blue Origin's New Shepard, one can experience zero gravity and up to Mach 4 speed along. New Shepard can actually go beyond the Karman Line and in its first trip with Jeff Bezos, it reached up to 107KM or 351,210 feet of altitude, which is internationally acclaimed as space.
Blue Origin's New Shepard is a fully automated spacecraft, and everything has controlled a computer, hence, there is no need for a pilot. This also looks a lot like a typical rocket, where the booster is reusable, which should reduce the cost-per-trip.
What's The Outcome Of Private Space Travel?
Space travel was once limited to the actual scientists, where highly skilled people were sent to the space to study and make humans life better. However, a private space traveler has nothing to worry about, as they go to space purely for pleasure.
Given the fuel used by these vehicles, it is likely to pollute the space if it gets mainstream and I don't see anything that useful outcome for humanity, other than the fact that it will make that person happy and make him feel elite. This makes me believe that private space travel is not the coolest thing that humans have done.