Near Earth Orbit Vacations

POPSCI – “The entry-level trip is the short-but-sweet suborbital flight. You fly more or less straight up at least 62 miles—the boundary between Earth and space, according to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale—snap a few selfies, and come straight back down. At the peak of the flight you’ll experience a few minutes of weightlessness, see the sky turn black, and finally find out for yourself whether the Earth is round or flat.

Virgin Galactic has been promising to provide this sort of service “this year or next year” for a decade, but this year they might actually deliver. The company is currently conducting the final tests of its VSS Unity spaceplane in New Mexico, and in a presentation to shareholders last fall said that it was targeting summer of 2020 for the first passenger flight. Virgin Galactic has taken deposits from 600 would-be astronauts and will charge $250,000 per seat. While it’s initially targeting clients worth at least $10 million, it expects that economies of scale will soon push down the price, opening the experience to those worth $1 to $5 million, according to the presentation.”

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