Week 8: Space & Abstract - by Adam Parker

I think I can safely say that at least 90% of kids dreamed of being an astronaut and venturing into space. That might be an exaggeration, but I bet a lot of them did. At least that was the case for me. But as I grew up and realized how difficult is was to actually go to space, I gradually changed career fields. Even those people who go through years of training to be an astronaut usually don’t get to go to space. Which is why I chose Plan B: wait till something like Virgin Galactic came around and make enough money to buy a ticket.

If you don’t know already, Virgin Galactic is going to be one of the first companies to offer spaceflight to the public. Now I for one think this is just the start of something incredible. Just like most new things, spaceflight will start out ridiculously expensive. As of now, tickets for the first Virgin Galactic flight are going for a meager $200,000 (I hope they include a free picture of you in space for that price). But down the line, ticket prices will decrease, spaceflight technology will become cheaper, and more spacecrafts will be manufactured. If all goes as planned, we could definitely be looking at spaceports around the world. For now, all Virgin Galactic flights depart from Mojave Spaceport in the Mojave Dessert, CA. In the future, all spaceflights will leave from Spaceport America in New Mexico (picture below).

Virgin Galactic flights and space travel plans are currently being tested with the SpaceShipOne, built and flown in 2004, but future plans reveal that public spaceflight will use the SpaceShipTwo (pictured below).

Now it might just be me, but I think it’s truly awesome that we could realistically be able to buy a ticket to space.  In the future, in addition to going to museums and other normal places, students could actually be taking field trips into space. If you want to learn more about the design of the SpaceShipTwo and the details of how everything would function, check out this Virgin Galactic video:

SpaceShipTwo - Animation

I kind of feel that Virgin Galactic is not getting enough press these days. Maybe it’s because I don’t watch or read the news, but I still feel people should be aware of this impending space venture. The first official public space flight is planned to take place in 2010 and by then I’m sure more people will know about it. For now, Virgin Galactic is sticking with “sub-orbital” space flights, which as far as I know means the flight will not make a full revolution around the earth. In the future, Virgin Galactic will begin manufacturing spacecrafts with the ability to make a full orbit around the Earth. The question is, once spaceflight becomes cheap enough how many other companies will form to compete with Virgin? We won’t know for a while, but it can only mean one thing: progress.

To check out recent Virgin Galactic news and more about the company, their website has tons of useful information:

Virgin Galactic - Home Page

And finally, to get your 200 grand ticket, check out this link:

Reservations

Final Project Proposal:

As of now, I am sticking with my midterm project of building a virtual reality sphere which will digitally take users into space and popular destinations around the world. In my midterm project I went over the basics of the design of the sphere and the user interaction, but I would like to go further in depth with how the user will navigate around the earth and in space. Also, it has come to my attention that more realistic versions of my project exist in places like UC Santa Barbara. I would like to research these similar creations and compare and contrast them to my project ideas.

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