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The starting pistol could be fired this year for space tourism, as an American company wants to be able to fly non-astronauts to the “edge of space”. An Austrian product will also be on board – the most lightweight eyewear in the universe and manufactured by Silhouette.
“The sky is no longer the limit.”
The experience of observing the Eath from space has been reserved up to now for astronauts, that is to say people who have undergone special training to prepare them for space. With the opening of the first commercial space airport “Spaceport America” in New Mexico on 17th October 2011, this dream is now coming closer for people who don’t have “Astronaut” on their business cards.
It will nevertheless remain an elitist pursuit, as the first tourist space flight will costs 200,000 US dollars, but possibly relatively affordable for the first impression of what it will look like “up there”. The flights to the “edge of space” are offered by the American space travel provider “Virgin Galactic”. A man with great vision is behind this company: Virgin Chief Executive Sir Richard Branson hopes to carry six passengers every week to a height of 110 kilometres and complete weightlessness from September 2012, piloted by two professionals. There is no fixed date yet for the first flight. Test flights are currently underway. The carrier aircraft “WhiteKnightTwo” together with “SpaceshipTwo” will travel to an altitude of around 15 kilometres during the test flights, where the mothership will decouple the spaceship that will then continue on at several times the speed of sound to an altitude of just under 110 kilometres. There passengers will be to enjoy a magnificent view of planet Earth through large portholes at zero gravity. The total flight will not last longer than 2.5 hours.
Every future space traveller will have to undergo medical tests and pass a three-day training course. This is also included in the price, as is the provision of a spacesuit. And the space tourists will also receive appropriate eyewear that will come from Linz-based Silhouette.
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