You want to be a space tourist, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos will travel into space this month. Here’s what you need to know if you’re contemplating your own suborbital journey, from a conversation with the man who trains Virgin Galactic’s space tourists.
Richard Branson will fly into space on Virgin Galactic’s newly approved rocket in nine days, surpassing Jeff Bezos, his brother, and veteran aviator Wally Funk in about a week. Branson and Bezos have officially raised the bucket list for multi-million dollar club activities. If you are also interested in commercial space tourism, you are not alone. In fact, if you’re only thinking about it now, you’re actually behind a lot of the rich and famous.
In Southampton, Pennsylvania, hundreds of people, including all future Virgin Galactic amateur astronauts, have trained for commercial spaceflight in the only FAA-approved high-performance human centrifuge in the Western Hemisphere, and hundreds more are scheduled to take turns. . in the next few months. The National Center for Aerospace Research and Training houses that centrifuge and offers commercial space training programs to introduce potential space travelers to the gravitational forces they will experience in real flight. It also teaches them how to deal with that physical experience. Protocol sat down with NASTAR COO Glenn King to learn what it takes for the average person to prepare for a trip into space.
space tourist flight
Technically, there are no legal rules or regulations for commercial space flight. While NASA astronauts can train for two years or more for their missions, all the FAA requires of commercial and non-governmental missions is that people receive some kind of training, although that could be just a video of half-hour security. according to King. Instead, it allows commercial companies to set their own rules, and King said that is the reason he expects commercial space flight to become increasingly common in the coming years.
But while some establishments do their own training, most hire NASTAR, which has been working with the people who will fly Virgin Galactic, Axiom (the company that plans the luxury satellite hotels), SpaceX, and the flights of other companies this year. and years later. . NASTAR has just finished training SpaceX’s “Inspiration4” crew, which, if launched as planned in September, will travel in the first vehicle to orbit Earth and visit the International Space Station with only commercial hobby tourists on board.
“Our centrifuge spins at different [revolutions per minute] to replicate the G-forces. We can program that machine to deliver exactly the same G-forces with the exact same requirements as the vehicles,” King said.
The main difference between space flight and airplane travel is the “G-force” or acceleration you feel in your body. Human bodies on Earth experience 1 G, which keeps our feet on the ground. The acceleration and angle required to break out of Earth’s orbit create G-forces that are many times the weight of our own bodies (3 G to 5 G, generally), an experience that can be both physically and psychologically alarming and even dangerous.
People can train for this experience by increasing their body’s tolerance in the centrifuge. The NASTAR machine simulates different types of takeoffs based on the rocket in question; For people preparing for Virgin Galactic flights, for example, the centrifuge will simulate the feel of a horizontal liftoff slowly tilting vertically (compared to rockets that shoot vertically upward from liftoff). The company also adds audio and visual cues that replicate what people will see and hear on their actual flight.
“People who go into space go through this training program to understand what they are going to go through. They have to understand that this is not like a commercial airline flight, this is extremely different,” King said. “If you’ve ever been on a roller coaster at an amusement park, coming off the bottom of the curves, just for a very short period, you’re experiencing G-forces.”
Real astronauts are often chosen in part for their extraordinary physical condition and mental health; people with different levels of health, heart conditions, or other illnesses or disabilities would generally be disqualified from consideration for space flight. In addition to their regular training, NASTAR has also developed certification programs with medical monitoring to train people with varying degrees of health problems, both to certify their safety and to prepare them to manage their conditions while in space.
“I only trained people with prosthetic devices, diabetes, pacemakers – normally in the past they were all disqualifying, but now with proper training, conditioning, and monitoring, you can be sure,” King said. “I have not come across a disqualifying factor yet. I have just finished training an Argentine man who has had polio since he was a child.”
King hopes that medical monitoring tools will allow space companies to expand their customer base. He envisions a future where this type of training is commonplace and where people with the media can take suborbital flights to travel from the US to Australia, or to orbiting satellite hotels like the one Axiom plans to develop. Hundreds of people, maybe thousands in all, have already purchased their tickets for when this future becomes a reality. The planned SpaceX spacecraft (the spacecraft Elon Musk wants to use for trips to Mars, which is already being developed and tested in Texas) will be so large that 100 people could easily fit inside it, according to King.
“As it becomes more common and the price goes lower and lower, more and more people will start making these trips. People will go from point A to point B on Earth in less than an hour,” King said.
Space travel tourism future
Space travel tourism future ! The future of space tourism is behind us. Whether you want to experience Earth from the Moon, see the other side of the Moon, travel to other planets, or simply travel to space, commercial space travel companies are eager to turn your money into an unforgettable space vacation.
Civilian space flights are a reality today, and anyone with enough pockets can put their name on a list of space travelers.
This is the predictable timeline of space travel for years to come. Which of the space travel opportunities would you consider taking advantage of?