Current Conversations: Civilians to partake in space travel

current conversationsBy KATIE BROWN 

Editor in chief 

One small flight for SpaceShip Two is one huge leap for the future of civilian space travel.

Billionaire Richard Branson’s company, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline co-owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJS, created a passenger-carrying space vehicle that completed its second test flight Sept. 5.

Humanity’s drive to put civilians into space is exciting and should be encouraged.

SpaceShipTwo is designed to carry six civilian passengers and two pilots into space for a two-hour excursion. This test flight brings Virgin Galactic one step closer to achieving their goal of becoming the first commercial spaceline, which would take paying passengers into space several times a day.

According to a CNN article published Sept. 5, SpaceShipTwo broke the sound barrier and climbed from 42,000 feet to 69,000 feet, the highest altitude and speed to date.

With the success of the latest test flight, Virgin Galactic hopes to begin taking those willing to pay $250,000 per ticket into space as early as 2014.

Humans have always possessed the desire to explore the universe, however the recent push to place civilians in space is novel. Not only have several hundred people signed up to take a trip on SpaceShipTwo, but over 100,000 people applied for a one-way trip to Mars via the Mars One project – an initiative to colonize Mars beginning in 2022.

Although humankind’s fascination with the stars has existed since the dawn of time, exploration of the universe first reached its inception in 1959 with Project Mercury, the first human spaceflight program of the United States. Since then, several countries have put astronauts in space on a regular basis.

Civilian space travel, although dangerous and expensive, puts humanity on the right path. The vastness of the universe begs to be explored, and if scientists discover safe ways for those with little to no training to travel, more people will have the opportunity to visit other planets.

The amount of civilian interest in space travel is exciting. The amount of danger and risk involved in trips from Earth remain substantial, but humankind’s desire to explore remains intact, an impressive and proud aspect of the human race.

Even though the amount of money and potential risk involved remains substantial, everyone should support or even take advantage of SpaceShipTwo’s flights into space; an increase in interested people and the creation of more ships like SpaceShipTwo could possibly lower the price of the trips.

Regardless, humanity’s desire to put explorers, astronauts and civilians into space should be supported by Earth’s population.