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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apofraxeis-athina

Leach fields: How they work & proper maintenance

Leach fields: How they work & proper maintenance

A leach field is a sewage system ( αποφραξεις αθηνα )that is attached to every drain in your home. These drains may get backed up with solid waste when they should drain out liquid waste. The reason it becomes solid is simply because over time all of the liquid soaps, detergents and actual waste builds up.  As a homeowner,  you want to prevent this from happening and keep it running smoothly to avoid destruction.

Maintaining your drainage system is very important. If not treated properly, it may abruptly malfunction. Foul odors, swampy lawns, and back-up in your tubs and toilets may occur. This is preventable with proper care and maintenance by using a granular product. This will help you avoid expensive repair costs on your leach field and possible lawn repair. Both can be very costly and you may even have to leave your home for a few days.

The fact that you have a leach field is not the issue. This system is just as good as any other type of drainage system. Nonetheless, you use your leach field system more than you realize. When you do laundry, when you use the shower, toilet, sink, etc. Without knowing it, you’re slowly building up solid waste while doing these day-to-day activities. By adding  treating your leach field to your routine, you can avoid any problems.

I would never literally go into my leach field and clean it out, nor would I want to pay thousands of dollars for a restoration or repair job. But I will do my research and find the proper product within the industry of septic treatments. And find the easiest most efficient product on the market.

Regardless of the price it has to be more cost effective then paying a professional.  I have not chosen a product yet, but I have realized that for my leach field a liquid treatment is probably a poor choice because liquid detergents, soaps and shampoos are what’s adding to the build up of solid waste. I may be wrong, but it sounds about right to me.

So my goal is for whomever has a leach field to hopefully follow me and research and add information about the products we end up finding to treat our leach field drain system. Because no matter how rich or poor you are, we all want to save money and protect our homes. So lets do the proper research and end up figuring out the leader in leach field treatment.

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ydravlikos

24 hours emergency plumbers in Athens, Greece

24 hours emergency plumbers in Athens, Greece

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Summers Too Hot? Winters Too Cold?

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Garbage Disposals

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Water Heaters

Seem like your house can not keep your water hot? Maybe it is time for a new water heater.

Drain Cleaning

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Time for a plumbing upgrade? Improve your homes value by installing any of these new fixtures.

Bathroom Remodeling

Update your bathroom bringing it into the new age with a refreshing new look.

Welcome to 24 Texnikoi Athina

24 Texnikoi Athina has been serving the Athens area for over 25 years providing excellent full-service residential and commercial plumbing and HVAC. We pride ourself in providing elite, top quality service, all at an affordable price.

Why Hire a Professional Plumber?

Some people may lean towards DIY when it comes to plumbing. If you are not an experienced expert in plumbing you could be costing yourself tons of money in the long run. Installing or incorrectly fixing a plumbing problem can lead to leaks or a burst, which will double or triple your cost to get the problem solved. Having a professional handle the job will give you the ease of mind that it will be performed correctly at an affordable price. Enjoy your free time instead of wasting it on plumbing, let 24 Texnikoi Athina do all the hard work for you.

Summers Too Hot? Winters Too Cold? Time for a Change

Do you find yourself in unbearable conditions due to the extremes of weather. Your Summers are too hot, and Winters too cold? It may be time for you to get a HVAC unit. The benefits of having an HVAC unit are more then just keeping your house at a regulated temperature all year around. Upgrading or installing a new HVAC unit instantly increases the value you your home.

Before You Choose a Contractor, You Must Read ThisWith all of the contractor choices that you have, it can be hard to narrow down to the right one for you. We want to make your job easier in finding a contractor. It is vital that you get at least three quotes from three contractors. Let each contractor know that you are getting several different quotes. This will reduce the price of the job, while improving the service.

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From the time that you hire Acosta Plumbing and HVAC until your are satisfied with our service, we will provide you the best quality of service in the industry, period, every employee, every step of the way. We measure our success not in dollars and cents, not even the number of customers served, but in the number of fully satisfied, happy customers.

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Google-Places

The good effects of Google place optimisation

One of the best things that Google ever introduced was the Google places feature which has now replaced its local business center.

You can notice an obvious change in the name; look and even the results have come to control and lead the search results for all of its localized queries. It is highly essential for businesses of today to make use of Google places to avoid being missing out on all of the traffic and leads. There are so many reasons as to why Google place is advantageous for a business.

As a SEO Agency we have a Google Places account for the reasons of local SEO optimisation.

First of all, it is important to understand that this feature is absolutely free. When you’re Google places listing are optimized properly, it will enable your business listing to appear on the first page of Google. This has now replaced directory listings that would cost a thousand times more.

Google places have the liberty to let you offer discounts as well as coupons on a once a day, once a month, or even once a week basis. When you display your company’s information such as website links, physical mailing address, mobile or contact number, customers will be able to find you much more quickly and get all the information that they need. The best part of Google place is that it could be accessed by everyone who has a mobile phone and a computer is no longer necessary.

 

To have a good Google place listing mean more traffic and more customers. The next best thing is that you need not have a physical retail location to be accepted by Google places. Having good reviews and customer testimonials can help you move up in terms of rankings as well. When you have such high rankings, Google places will help you get more targeted customers within a short period of time in contrast to other traditional organic methods.

More importantly, you will be able to easily achieve your financial goals and it will become much easier for customers to find your business and contact you directly if there is a need for information. This means more money and more awareness spread in the shortest time frame possible. Google place is a very useful feature that was introduced a couple of years ago and Google plus is also another new feature that has been added to social media that is taking businesses by storm.

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