Self-editing is overrated. Or is it?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

You know, they could fly me in this and somehow I'd still be late.

Finally, somebody has figured out the way to beat this whole "I gotta be somewhere in 2 hours and it's on the other side of the world" problem, and the answer has been staring us in the face the whole time!


Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic, which has been touting the prospect of "space tourism" in the form of short, expensive flights into space, is joining forces with none other than NASA to investigate the possibility of hypersonic rocketships that could carry passengers between New York and London. In a newly signed deal, the U.S. space agency will trade facilities and services with Branson’s company and explore further collaboration possibilities.

Virgin Galactic has exclusive rights to the spacecraft technologies of Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, whose SpaceShipOne was the first private craft to reach outer space. SpaceShipTwo, currently under construction, is due to begin testing next year; a rocket called (and I am not making this up) “The Mothership” boosts it through the atmosphere.

In the partnership, NASA will share technology, expertise and research facilities with Virgin; Virgin will let NASA test equipment and train astronauts onboard SpaceShipTwo.

NASA and Virgin Galactic have expressed interest in mutual exploration of space suits, heat shields, rocket motors, and hypersonic vehicles (aircraft capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound). Unlike the currently planned SpaceShip travel, which basically involved parabolic flight up and down again, hypersonic travel would be geared toward crossing longer distances - for example, covering the distance between New York and London in less than two hours (hello!), or about half the Concorde’s supersonic travel time.

Hypersonic travel will run into all the environmental and noise issues that Concorde encountered and isn’t likely to happen soon (or soon enough, if you’re me). Still, the new deal with NASA gives a lot more credence to Branson’s hopes of opening space travel to, if not the entire traveling population, at least a larger segment of it.

Man! Sign me up! Can we do the same thing to my car too? You would not believe the schedule that I have tomorrow….


Anonymous scotty said...

Can you imagine the layovers? "I'm sorry ladies and gentlemen, we'll be in orbit an extra 4 hours while we wait for cloud cover to lift. Our robo-stewardess will be through momentarily with more tubes of peanut-paste, and your choice of soft drink sac." If NASA scrubs a mission for a week because of lousy weather, can you imagine how United might eff this up?

3/01/2007 8:33 AM


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