what-should-you-do-when-water-heater-leaking

What Should You Do When Water Heater Leaking

A dripping hot water heater might seem like just a minor problem, yet it can swiftly become a large problem. Even a percentage of water can trigger damage to your floorings, sub-floors, and walls. When your hot water heater is dripping, it may be a symptom of a much bigger trouble. In extreme cases, a tragic and also complete water heater failing can trigger a considerable flooding (antlisi udaton) that might result in hefty repair work bills and harmed personal effects.

1 – Shut off the fixture

The last thing you want to occur when working with your water is to burn yourself from the warm. Not the very best method to start a fixing. If your water heater is powered by electrical energy, you’ll have to turn it off utilizing the breaker. Search for your breaker box or panel, as well as look for the one that is connected with your hot water heater. Generally, it needs to be classified appropriately as “Water Heater.” Switch it off. If your hot water heater runs on gas, try to find your thermostat. On it, you ought to see three settings: Pilot, On, and also Off. Either turn the handle to “Off” or “Pilot.”.

2 Cut off the supply of water

Next off, you’ll need to look for the source of water that feeds right into your water heater. Search for the line that introduces your water heater and also the shut ff that regulates it. Once you have actually located it, transform the knob in the ideal instructions, to shut down the water system. Just as soon as this is done, ought to you begin the next action.

3 Drain pipes the tank

If your water heater includes a tank, you will certainly require to drain pipes the storage tank. Look under your hot water heater and find a valve where you can attach a hose pipe to it. Remember, don’t open it right now. Affix the hose and run it to a drainpipe somewhere else.

As soon as everything is embedded in area, just after that ought to you open up the valves to drain the water out of the containers. If you do not know what the valve looks like, consult your water heater handbook as well as requirements given by the manufacturer.

You might encounter an issue where the water isn’t draining pipes quickly or isn’t draining pipes whatsoever. That’s because you’re creating a vacuum cleaner inside the water tank itself, attempting to drain the water out. To repair this, seek a hot water faucet. Transform it on, as well as air will certainly take a trip via that tap right into your water tanks. And with that said, air replaces the vacuum cleaner, and also the water drains smoothly.

4 Get in touch with your plumbing professional

With that all done, your hot water heater is ready for diagnosis. Telephone up your plumber as well as inform him or her that your water heater is dripping and also requires fixing. They’ll come right over as well as have the problem repaired.

By following the steps we have actually provided you on preparing your hot water heater for repair work, you lowered the fixing process by a significant quantity of time. Not only that, but you have actually simply made your plumbing technician’s life easier by allowing him as well as her to quickly determine the root cause of the leakage as well as perform the repair.

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US, UK approve Roche's $4.3 bn purchase of gene therapy group Spark

US, UK approve Roche’s $4.3 bn purchase of gene therapy group Spark


The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “unconditionally cleared Roche’s pending acquisition of Spark”, the Swiss company said in a statement

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche said it had received the necessary approval from competition authorities to acquire US gene-therapy group Spark, after the two companies reached a multibillion-dollar deal earlier this year.

Founded in 2013, Spark Therapeutics specialises in a new and growing segment of medicine for genetic diseases such as blindness, haemophilia, and neurodegenerative conditions.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) “unconditionally cleared Roche’s pending acquisition of Spark”, the Swiss company said in a statement on Monday.

“All antitrust approvals required to complete the offer have now been received,” it said, after confirming earlier Monday that Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority had also cleared the pending acquisition.

Roche and Spark sealed the deal worth $4.3 billion (3.7 billion euros) in February.

In a separate statement, the FTC said it had made its decision “following an exhaustive, 10-month investigation” into potential competitive harm that could result from the move.

Spark’s biggest treatment under study is a therapy for haemophilia, a disorder where blood does not clot properly to stop bleeding.

“A key question in the investigation was whether Roche would have the incentive to delay or discontinue Spark’s developmental gene therapy for hemophilia A,” the FTC said.

“The evidence… did not indicate that Roche would have the incentive to delay or terminate” Spark’s therapy development, or affect Roche’s haemophilia drug Hemlibra, it concluded.

Roche stocks rose 1.18 percent to 304.10 Swiss Francs Monday on the Swiss stock exchange.


Roche to buy US gene therapy group Spark for $4.3 bn


© 2019 AFP

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What is a security door?

If you are thinking about a top-notch high protection door amongst among the most crucial qualities of the new burglar door need to be high security and safety. Worldwide market of the supposed security door (portes pyrasfaleias) has actually developed considerably over the pasted twenty years. What functions must a safe and protected door have to be taken into account to be a wonderful safety door?

Security Door

Costs top quality safety door is made entirely of steel core structure. It is not standard, as every home has its own specifications involved around defence risks included, in addition to it is covered externally with wood or numerous other materials for ornamental features. Absolutely, the higher the thickness of the sheeting as well as likewise the far much better the high quality of the elements with which it is produced, the higher will be resistance to strikes from the exterior.

Main aspects to be considered

Armoured doors are developed to be security doors suggesting that the structure as well as additionally door fallen leave is created is such a fashion in which is really tough to deform it. Framework can not be made as a simple steel box and it should have as a number of bending angles as possible to withstand possible attacks.

There’s an old myth that you can not fold up a solitary sheet of paper in fifty percent more than 7 times, since each time you make a layer, the thickness of the paper increases, as well as also swiftly requires difficult quantities of power to complete the layer.

  1. No matter just how solid your framework is, you call for high safety and security locks which has actually been examined to an extend to specify them as security as well as security lock
  2. The lock needs to be successfully installed and additionally shielded to make sure that outside adjustments is not quickly feasible
  3. Cylinder is the weakest factor of such door, therefore it needs to be guarded and protected from breaking, boring and also very easy availability to it
  4. Hinges might be the powerlessness, yet not if they are secured by locating pins on its side. Additionally if the hinges are reduced, door requires to continue to be in position

Arrangement

In order for there to be optimal support, the entire “door system” must be set up by an experienced and likewise competent instalments group. An efficient arrangement is one that makes it tough to eliminate the framework from the door, so it requires to be repaired to the wall surface at a number of factors in addition to with completely long bolts.

Verdicts

As the saying goes, “Avoidance is much better than therapy”. It can not be emphasized sufficient that investing in safety and safety and security is regularly a phenomenal choice, so as not to need to pay a great deal extra later (in both an economic along with emotional feeling). Despite just how reliable a digital alarm can be, it will certainly never are adequate without the security offered by top quality windows and doors, fitted with the best locks along with appropriate for the details requirements.

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How-to-Wear-the-Military-Fashion-Trend

How to Wear the Military Fashion Trend

One of the most effective quotes regarding female armed forces design outfit(gynaikeia rouxa) is the following: “I have actually constantly intended to live a male life in a body of ladies”- Diana Von, a popular fashion designer who puts the accent on masculine means of clothing and army style.

Army attire was used by ladies, also during the World War II, and ever since, is liked by the best pacesetters on the planet. It’s useful and makes it globally accepted by both, men and women. It seems that armed forces style never heads out of day. There is some magic in the military pieces of clothing, that make woman feel effective while wearing it. Therefore lots of celebrities favour military items of garments in their clothing and also leave breathtaking impacts.

Where The Armed Forces Design Originates From

The armed forces style came into existence after the WW1, as well as this is clarified by the reality that during the army activities the tailoring firms just approved the orders of fatigue clothes and had a deficiency of causal garments. During the ’60s, hippies were the initial to dress up in the armed forces design. Back then this signified demonstration against the Vietnam War. On top of that, its popularity was especially mosting likely to the top in ’80s, throughout which the functions of the usual day armed forces style were shaped and also the impact of this style also raised in female’s clothes.

How-to-Wear-the-Military-Fashion-Trend1

The Key Characteristics of Military Design

The key factor of choosing military design apparel items is the comfort the military uniforms typically have. Thus incorporating these variables with the general feminine silhouettes, we have what is called the military lady style. One more benefit of these appearances is their universality for the age, appropriating for any age.

One of the most crucial aspect of military fashion is maintaining the equilibrium and the harmony of the information. The major military shades are the tones of khaki, grey, and also brownish, can be found in the most diverse combinations. Matching these tones with a few other more vibrant as well as catchier tones is not actually suggested, though experiments are always welcome if you want to. As for the devices like headwear, you can pick a camouflage cap, or a high fur hat with a brief stack.

One of the most preferred stylish sets of the armed forces looks is the one with flashy information, creating some very appropriate choices for strolls in the countryside, some tasks like drawback hiking, ancient excavations, as well as goes through the forests. Though there are no stiff limitations about the amount of the garments and the accessories of camouflage prints that are to be incorporated, certain moderate quantity is suggested.

Footwear is additionally important below working as a play pair for the garments. The stylish and also cute sandals may come to be a great complementation to such appearances. For the top comfortable and also great looks, you may likewise match the military design with casual, hence producing some unique and also imaginative options for everyday wear. The boots of this design are normally extremely high, adorned with some certain information. If your aim is to develop a womanly look, you require to pick the booties. For a daring appearance pick high, natural leather armed forces boots embellished with spurs, chains or switches. For laid-back appearances of ladylike images the lace up choices will certainly be optimal.

How-to-Wear-the-Military-Fashion-Trend2

Likewise, it is important not to overuse the outerwear alternatives, which in situation of being picked sensibly may create a total memorable impact for any period as well as occasion. An additional suggestion to follow is developing certain shade variety to stay clear of seeming boring and dull.

Matching the military pieces with the leading classy feminine dresses is a terrific method of developing the catchy counterbalance of the outfits that one of the most imaginative as well as superior appearances of yours need. An additional terrific suggestion to choose is using the military details for producing some informal outfits, therefore having appropriate search for such a wonderful variety of occasion as a bikers’ party or a rock performance.

The idea underlying the success of such looks is that army components are among the core factors of lots of subcultures and fads. The devices have a vital role in the army style as well, developing the fashionable influence you wish to make. Metallic options are specifically important in this aspect. Silver or golden buttons arranged with one or numerous rows, zippers, belts, shoulder bands, and so on are all consisted of in this variety.

Finally, there are also a couple of instances about what as well as exactly how you ‘d better refrain with this design. First of all, don’t overuse the military components, selecting an all-military alternative, which is possibly suitable for a costumes’ event however except sportswear. Likewise, there is no need to go with some baggy garments, specifically if they are picked with not that proper shade tones.

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Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz – Lonely Planet's travel blog

Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


How well do you know our home planet? © Dima Zel / Shutterstock

Do you know the name of the world’s third-highest mountain? Or in what year the euro was introduced as legal tender? Pit your wits against our toughest travel quiz to date – a thirty-question, all-encompassing behemoth of world trivia, with questions taken from Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz – our new title containing over 100 fun travel-themed quizzes for all ages.

So strap yourself in and prepare to put your world knowledge to the test. There’s no way you’ll score full marks, but how close can you come?

TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE

Find more quiz questions just like this in our book Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz, the perfect companion for any trip.



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Maria and Katerina, It’s all trip to me – Lonely Planet's travel blog

Maria and Katerina, It’s all trip to me – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Maria and Katerina exploring their home city of Athens © It’s all trip to me

While the life of a full-time traveller may seem like an idyllic existence, it’s not for everyone. Ties to home – from family responsibilities to a budding career – might keep us from committing to a nomadic way of living, but it certainly doesn’t mean travel is off the table.

We caught up with Pathfinders Maria and Katerina from It’s all trip to me to talk upcoming adventures, all things travel blogging and how to fit your trips around a nine-to-five.

Give us the low down on your blog…

Myself and photographer Katerina both love to travel and have always been very fond of consulting travel blogs to plan our trips. To us, a travel blog always seemed like a brilliant way to record our travel memories and help others create their own at the same time. So we combined our passions for writing and photography and here we are now, hoping to inspire people with full-time jobs like ourselves to travel more and see the world one trip at a time.

Describe your travel style in three words…

Immersive, budget-splurge-balanced, short-term.

Top three places you’ve visited?

That’s a really hard one but we’ll give it a shot. Tuscany in Italy, the Nile Valley in Egypt and London in the UK.

Catching the sunset in London Catching the sunset in London © It’s all trip to me

What destinations are on your 2019 bucket list?

We’ve already planned two separate trips to Poland (Warsaw and Krakow) as well as a trip to Istanbul, Turkey. We’ve just started planning our big 2019 trip: two weeks exploring the regions of Puglia and Basilicata in Southern Italy. A couple of short trips to London and Romania are also on the table as well as at least two Greek Islands in the summer. And towards the end of 2019 we are planning our first ever trip to Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand. It’s going to be an amazing year of travel magic!

A lot of travel bloggers quit their jobs to hit the road; you do things a bit differently. How do you fit your travels around your nine-to-five?

Who wouldn’t want to travel the world full-time? However, we can’t afford to do so – at least not at the moment. But we wouldn’t let our day jobs hinder neither our passion for travel nor our desire to blog about it. We make sure we spend all our vacation time (25 days per year), public holidays and as many weekends as possible travelling. We plan a two-week trip to someplace new once a year and a 10-day island vacation every August to recharge our batteries. Those aside, we also go on shorter trips either abroad or in Greece (where we’re based) throughout the year.

Andros in Greece is one of Maria and Katerina's top choices for an island escape Andros in Greece is one of Maria and Katerina’s top choices for an island escape © It’s all trip to me

What advice would you give someone who thinks they don’t have enough time to travel?

There is always time to travel! It all comes down to setting priorities and planning ahead. First of all, it’s important to save vacation time for travel. We know that sometimes life gets in the way and we may be tempted to use our vacation time to tend to unfinished business or simply stay at home and rest. We feel that vacation time is hard-earned and should be reserved for travel.

Secondly, when travelling on a tight schedule it’s very important to have pre-planned itineraries so as not to waste any valuable time during the trip itself. Lonely Planet guidebooks and travel blogs packed with tips and info are the best sources of inspiration and valuable tools for people with limited travel time.

And last but not least, travel requires adjusting to a new mentality and seeing things from a different perspective. It doesn’t have to take loads of money or time to travel. Start by playing tourist in your own hometown and discover all its hidden gems, the way we do in Athens. Then go on and plan weekend breaks or three-day getaways. Soon you will realise that you actually have time to plan that longer trip you always dreamt of.

Why do you love travel blogging?

Through travel blogging we’ve learnt more about ourselves and discovered skills we never knew we had, which are constantly developing. Our favourite part of travel blogging though, is that it offers us many opportunities to meet like-minded people from all over the world. No gift is greater than having friends across the globe!

If you’re a member of our Pathfinders community and would like to share your story, drop us an email at pathfinders@lonelyplanet.com and tell us what exciting things you’re up to on your blog.



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The most common plumbing emergencies

Overruning bathroom

Whether your toilet is clogged or has a malfunctioning float device, the very first step to take is turning off the water circulation. The water shutoff is located at the end of the water line on the side of the bathroom, as well as should be transformed completely counterclockwise. As soon as the water circulation into the bathroom is stopped, the blockage or device failure can be dealt with.

Unclogging a bathroom might be as simple as using company upright pressure with a plunger. More major obstructions might call for an auger, which can be utilized to fish out particles that is obstructing the flow of water. As soon as the obstruction is removed, reset the float system as well as activate the water valve.

Stopped-up sink drainpipe

The best way to prevent a clogged sink drainpipe is to prevent discarding oil, coffee premises, and other thick material down the tubes. Nevertheless, also the most cautious house owner often needs to handle this annoyance. If utilizing a plunger to clear product from the drainpipe does not work an auger (or “serpent’) might be needed. An auger is easy to use with a little practice as well as determination.

Ruptured pipelines

By much the most destructive plumbing emergency, a ruptured pipe can release up to 100 gallons in an 8 hour period. If a pipeline does ruptured, immediately closed off the water supply.

Dripping pipelines

Your technique to taking care of a leaky pipe depends on where specifically the water is leaking. If water leakages from the pipe, a rubber patch might do the technique.

Sump pump failing

If the sump pump is not working, get rid of the screen to see to it particles is not avoiding activity of the impeller. Your pump may not be obtaining enough electrical power or have a faulty float switch if the impeller is clear. If the pump has been running for a prolonged period of time, it might be closing down due to thermal overload.

Water heater malfunction

Common water heater issues consist of a dripping storage tank, water that is either too hot or as well cool, water that has a weird shade or odor, as well as noises coming from the hot water heater. Call a professional plumber for aid if the heating unit is leaking. If there is no leakage, purging the water container may solve color as well as smell troubles, as well as improve the heater’s efficiency.

The water shutoff is located at the bottom of the water line on the side of the bathroom, and must be transformed completely counterclockwise. Your method to dealing with a dripping pipe depends on where exactly the water is leaking. If water leakages from the pipe, a rubber patch might do the trick. Common water heating unit problems include a dripping container, water that is either also warm or also cold, water that has a weird color or smell, and also noises coming from the water heating unit. If there is no leak, purging the water tank may solve color and odor problems, as well as improve the heater’s effectiveness.

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Taiwan – Lonely Planet's travel blog

Taiwan – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Louise at the Longshan Temple in Taipei © Louise Bastock

Louise Bastock, Assistant Editor at Lonely Planet, recently returned from a trip to Taiwan.

Tell us more… When I used to think about Taiwan, the dominant images in my mind would be of its capital city Taipei, specifically the skyscraper-studded skyline against a blue or lilac sunset, or the twinkly Tokyo-esque lights of its streets and lanes. But, beyond this vast metropolis, there is so much more to discover. Blasted up from the ocean by volcanic activity, Taiwan is a fertile ground for breathtaking natural landscapes. With that in mind, I set off for northeastern Taiwan to explore the island’s capital as well as its wild wonders, and expand the image in my mind’s eye of what this tiny island nation has to offer – spoiler alert: a lot!

Taipei's skyline snapped from the top of Elephant Mountain Taipei’s skyline snapped from the top of Elephant Mountain © Louise Bastock

Good grub? The stand-out superstar of Taipei’s skyline is Taipei 101; formerly the world’s tallest building, it bursts through the high-rises like a futuristic bamboo shoot and was the perfect setting for dinner on our first night. Despite her humble origins, first operating from a Taipei back alley diner in 1977, the owner of Shin Yeh restaurant now commands the 85th floor of Taipei 101, serving up elegant, contemporary creations inspired by traditional Taiwanese home-style cooking.

Chefs making dumplings at Din Tai Fung, Taipei Delicate dumpling work at Din Tai Fung © Louise Bastock

Though seemingly a far cry from the glamour of Taipei 101, my second favourite meal was, surprisingly, at a shopping mall, beneath the tower itself. Prepare to battle wayward queues and huge crowds of hungry people if you want to eat at Din Tai Fung. This Michelin-starred restaurant (yes, you heard right, a Michelin-starred restaurant in a shopping mall) is famed for its xiǎolóng bāo (steamed pork dumplings), but, in all honesty, absolutely everything they brought to the table was insanely delicious. With windows looking into the kitchen, you can spend hours digesting your dumplings and watching the chefs meticulously craft these bite-sized beauties.

Northeastern Taiwan is a blanket of green forest Northeastern Taiwan is a blanket of green forest © Louise Bastock

Quintessential experience… With so much nature to see – from marble cliff faces to emerald oceans of forest – hiking is a quintessential experience in northeastern Taiwan. Our first taster was the 500-step slog up Elephant Mountain in Taipei – totally worth it to watch the sunset over the city and get my own snaps of the skyline. We also hit the hiking trails that lace through Taroko National Park (roughly a three-hour drive from Taipei). The scenery is wilder here and even though it can get blustery on the peaks, the strong wind does help disperse some of the eggy smell from the region’s sulphuric vents – a small price to pay for hiking around hot spring territory.

Louise's private hot pool at the Gaia Hotel Louise’s private hot pool at the Gaia Hotel © Louise Bastock

Any incredible accommodation? Speaking of hot springs: our last night was spent in the stunning Gaia Hotel, where each room came equipped with its own personal hot pool. After a long day of hiking and thigh-busting stair climbing (stairs are synonymous with hiking in Taiwan), it was a dream to be able to flop from bed to bath (grabbing a glass of wine en route) and recline in style in the comfort and privacy of my own room.

Louise jumping off a rock face into water Louise proving there is such a thing as TOO MUCH enthusiasm © Louise Bastock / Love Wilds Co., Ltd

If you do one thing… don a wetsuit and helmet and give river tracing a go. Known in other parts of the world as canyoning, this activity earns its more poetic moniker in Taiwan; without wishing to geek out too much, the landscapes here could easily have been plucked from the pages of Tolkein’s The Lord of The Rings (Rivendell, eat your heart out).

We spent a whole afternoon wading through the Sa Po Dang river in Hualien, jumping off huge boulders, squeezing through tight crevices and scaling small waterfalls before stopping for tea, snacks and snorkelling around a secluded turquoise pool. It’s a fantastic way to not just view the landscapes from afar, but to get in amongst them and experience them up-close.

Louise eating at huge portion of chocolate ice cream at the Modern Toilet Cafe Shocked and a little squeamish, Louise was ultimately delighted at her dinner © Louise Bastock

Bizarre encounter… From fine dining in spellbinding landmarks, soaking in my private hot spring and revelling in Mother Nature’s gifts, I leave you with Taipei’s epic toilet cafe! Enlisting every faucet – oops, I mean facet – of bathroom decor, the Modern Toilet Restaurant is a veritable playground for anyone with a sense of humour – and, at times, a strong stomach. After excusing myself from the table to use the actual bathroom, I was crying with laughter on my return to find on my delicately chosen chocolate ice cream piled in huge swirls, sprinkled with all manner of brown biscuits goodies, came served in a yellow porcelain squat toilet. If, like me, you think this might just be the best place in the whole world, bag yourself a souvenir from their shop which sells all manner of poop-themed paraphernalia.

Louise Bastock travelled to Taiwan with support from the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and China Airlines. Lonely Planet contributors do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.



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are the stars our destination? – Lonely Planet's travel blog

are the stars our destination? – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


Wonderings: rambles through and reflections on travel… this month, James Kay considers tourism’s final frontier: space © Joe Davis / Lonely Planet

Aside from a few forays to France, the furthest my maternal grandparents travelled was Pembrokeshire, Wales (repeat visits to a wind-buffeted static caravan in Croes-goch, if you must know). Just a generation later, my parents’ peregrinations had encompassed most of Western Europe.

As of writing, I’ve visited about 50 countries (I counted them up once, but have forgotten the total), most of them during two spells of backpacking – first across the US, then around the world – plus others as and when the opportunity arose.

My wife has been to twice that number of destinations, and I’d wager that a significant proportion of the people who comprise Lonely Planet’s extended community – staff and contributors, followers and fans – have led equally footloose lives.

The trend continues, too: my son, four, and daughter, one, have already visited many more places than my grandparents did in their entire lives. In fact, Harvey probably covered more miles in utero than they managed in total.

Our expanding horizons

You can visualise each generation’s expanding horizons as a series of concentric circles, like ripples spreading out from a stone dropped in a pond; assuming that trend doesn’t go into reverse (which is possible, of course, given variables like climate change), where will the edge of my children’s known universe lie? Just as I have explored the far side of this planet, might they explore the far side of another world?

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. As it often does, the stuff of science fiction has become the stuff of science fact: the race for space is more competitive now than it has been at any time since Neil Armstrong took that famous first step on the surface of the Moon, an epoch-defining moment that happened 50 years ago this July.

An astronaut walking on the Moon with the Earth rising in the background Neil Armstrong set foot on the Moon 50 years ago; what’s the next ‘giant leap for mankind’? © Caspar Benson / Getty Images

From moonshots to Mars

The US government recently vowed to revisit our lonesome natural satellite within five years, but the real action is arguably elsewhere as a trio of companies bankrolled by billionaires – Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Elon Musk’s SpaceX – compete to conquer the final frontier.

The obstacles are formidable; the progress is remarkable. Whether or not we witness commercial space travel take off in 2019 (in both senses of the phrase), the expert analysis of Stanford University’s Professor G. Scott Hubbard – a former director of NASA’s Ames Research Center – suggests that we stand on the threshold of a new era.

After the moonshot, the US wants to send astronauts to Mars. And then? Because we won’t stop there. Michael Collins, who piloted the Apollo 11 Command Module around the Moon as Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin bounded across its sterile surface, expressed this ever so well: ‘It’s human nature to stretch, to go, to see, to understand,’ he said. ‘Exploration is not a choice, really; it’s an imperative.’

Or as another Buzz might say: to infinity and beyond.

The Grand Tour redux

So will my children ever enjoy a Grand Tour of the Solar System, as envisaged in NASA’s charming Visions of the Future posters? (Do check them out.) Will they stand in the shadow of Mars’ Olympus Mons, which rears to more than twice the height of Everest? Will they gape at the raging auroras of Jupiter, hundreds of times more powerful than our own Northern Lights? Will they sail the methane lakes of Titan, Saturn’s most enigmatic moon?

Alas, no. If it comes to pass, such a journey would be the preserve of a privileged few for many generations; just as the original Grand Tour of Europe was restricted to the aristocracy, so a round-trip of our galactic neighbours would remain beyond the reach of all but a coterie of plutocrats for the foreseeable future.

There’s a fair chance, however, that my children’s generation will see the curvature of the Earth from a sub-orbital flight, and some of them might, just might, leave a footprint on the Moon (thanks to Wallace and Gromit, Harvey already spends a lot of time speculating about this possibility).

A young boy looks at the surface of a planet from the window of a spaceship Will our children’s children evolve into a spacefaring species? © James Whitaker / Getty Images

A mote of dust

In his exquisite book Pale Blue Dot, Carl Sagan predicts we will eventually evolve into a spacefaring species, exploring the Milky Way in much the same way as we once sailed this planet’s uncharted seas. But there is nothing triumphalist about his vision; in fact, that dot – the Earth photographed from the Voyager 1 spacecraft; ‘a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam’ as Sagan describes it – proves to be a profoundly humbling sight.

It’s a stance shared by the UK’s current Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, who argues that we should avoid the term ‘space tourism’ altogether. According to Rees, that formula of words gives us an excuse to ignore the perilous predicament of our planet, misleadingly implying that we could start again elsewhere once this world has been utterly exploited and exhausted.

Space excites me; perhaps it excites you, too. I think that’s because, from Star Trek to Star Wars, our culture often depicts it in a way that fits neatly into a traveller’s conceptual model: it’s the realm of the new exotic, the absolute last word when it comes to getting off the beaten track we call… home.

You can no more suppress our species’ longing to reach the stars than prevent a curious child from exploring the boundaries of its world. Sooner or later, we will boldly go – and not just astronauts or the ultra-rich, but ordinary people like me and you. But when we do, amid all the excitement, let’s not forget our point of origin.

In the words of Sagan from 25 years ago, let’s remember that: ‘Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves … Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.’

A lonely planet indeed.



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Professor G. Scott Hubbard on space tourism – Lonely Planet's travel blog

Professor G. Scott Hubbard on space tourism – Lonely Planet’s travel blog


In this guest post, Stanford University’s Professor G. Scott Hubbard – former Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, founding editor-in-chief of the New Space journal, and author of Exploring Mars: Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery – looks at whether the travel industry is heading for the final frontier.

Having been active in the US space program for 45 years, both with NASA and now Stanford, I’ve seen many proposals suggesting that personal space travel is right around the corner. While this topic has been discussed in science fiction for more than 60 years, making such an experience a reality has been hampered by significant obstacles, both technical and financial. However, during the last decade or two, the world has seen the emergence of wealthy space entrepreneurs who have hired top-notch engineers. Those teams may well now be on the verge of creating space travel for the (well-heeled) extreme adventurer.

Will you ever see this view from a spaceship’s window? © Michael Hopkins / NASA

Where is outer space?

The usual definition is that space begins at 100 kilometres/60 miles above the surface of the Earth where air is almost non-existent, and the clutch of gravity can be escaped. As a practical matter, NASA awards astronaut wings for any pilot that exceeds 50 miles even if he/she does not orbit Earth. (This is called a sub-orbital flight). For comparison, the US Space Shuttle flew at about 300 kilometres/188 miles); the International Space Station (ISS) orbits Earth at 250 miles; from the Earth to the Moon averages about 238,000 miles, and Mars is nearly 140 million miles away! All of these distances and destinations represent some form of space travel, but as you might imagine, the degree of difficulty increases radically the further one goes. As of this writing, over 500 people have been to space as defined above; the vast majority (355) on the Shuttle. But only 18 people have flown to the Moon. And of those, only 12 have walked on the lunar surface. No human has ever travelled to Mars.

What is a space tourist?

All of the people cited above had extensive training and were a member of some nation’s space program. Currently, only the US, Russia and China have the independent ability to launch someone into space. The notion of a private citizen with little or no special training going to space went from science fiction to fact with the trip by billionaire Dennis Tito to the ISS in 2001, aboard a Russian vehicle. A total of seven people have made this journey for a reported cost of USD$20m to $40m per trip. Clearly, this expense is out of the reach of all but the ultra-wealthy. So what about some less ambitious (and less expensive) trip to space – the travel to 50 to 60 miles in a so-called sub-orbital trajectory?

Virgin Galactic's SpaceshipTwo Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo takes off for a suborbital test flight © GENE BLEVINS / Getty Images

Who’s in the game?

Space tourism as a trip to the edge of space (50 to 60 miles) with immediate return received a major boost with the Ansari X-Prize, which awarded $10m to any non-government group that could ‘build and launch a spacecraft capable of carrying three people to 100 kilometres above the Earth’s surface, twice within two weeks’. The prize was won in 2004 by a team funded by billionaire Paul Allen (the co-founder of Microsoft) using a design by the iconoclastic engineer Burt Rutan. The team was joined by another billionaire – Richard Branson of Virgin Group fame. Shortly after winning, Branson announced that a new company, Virgin Galactic, using the Rutan design, would soon begin offering sub-orbital flights for six people (and two pilots), providing four minutes of weightlessness. Another company, XCOR Aerospace, formed during the same period, began to develop a smaller vehicle that would carry one pilot and passenger. Finally, the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos founder of Amazon, quietly created the company Blue Origin with similar goals in 2000. In the sparse public reports from Blue Origin, their first market is sub-orbital tourism, followed by orbital flight and trips to the Moon. Bezos has said he is spending about $1bn a year on Blue Origin.

What’s the price point?

Virgin Galactic has given a price of about $200,000 per person. XCOR Aerospace (which has since suspended operations) planned to provide a similar flight for reportedly $50,000. (Independent surveys have indicated that extreme adventure with a price tag of $50,000 would begin to attract a great deal of interest.) Blue Origin’s price tag is said to be $250,000. It is worth noting that the other high-profile space entrepreneur, Elon Musk and his company SpaceX, has not entered the sub-orbital business. However, in a public speech in 2016 (which you can read in New Space for free), Musk predicted he would be able to send individuals to Mars for about $140,000.

People watch as a SpaceX rocket takes off from Canaveral National Seashore People watch as a SpaceX rocket takes off from Canaveral National Seashore © Paul Hennessy / Getty Images

What are the risks?

Travel to space is inherently risky, but then so is climbing Mt Everest. During the 135 flights of the Shuttle program, there were two major accidents with loss of crew and vehicle: Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. By that measure, the chance of dying in a trip to orbit is around 1 ½%. One would assume that a sub-orbital flight would be safer, but the initial flights of Branson’s Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo have already produced one test pilot fatality. High-speed rocketry with propulsion of controlled chemical explosions is still a challenge. In addition, there are the biomedical risks of subjecting a ‘normal’ population to some of the rigours of space travel: high accelerations up to eight times Earth’s gravity, weightlessness where some experience debilitating space sickness and greater than average radiation exposure. Fortunately, experiments by Dr James Vanderploeg from the University of Texas indicate that individuals of ages 18 to 85 with a variety of common issues (artificial joints, controlled hypertension, pacemaker implants, etc) can easily withstand simulated trips using ground centrifuges and parabolic aeroplane flights. This can also be read in New Space.

When will this happen?

The sub-orbital space tourism community has collectively been surprised that it is now almost 15 years since the X-Prize was won, yet there are no regular flights of SpaceShipTwo or the New Shephard of Blue Origin. The answer mostly lies in the realm of technical issues; in a way, it is ‘rocket science’. Virgin Galactic has struggled to find a propulsion system that will operate smoothly to propel the six passengers to at least 50 miles. However, a very recent successful test in February of 2019 gives an indication that Virgin Galactic may be almost ready. Blue Origin has been very secretive about their progress, but it appears from test flights that the New Shephard is also nearing operational status.

Barring another accident, I think 2019 will see the first tourist flights to the edge of space and back. All it will take is $200,000 and the willingness to sign an ‘informed consent’ document!

To find out more about space entrepreneurship and innovation, check out the New Space journal. Professor Hubbard’s book, Exploring Mars: Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery, is available from the University of Arizona Press, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.



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