Space tourism
Lesson Date : 2019-01-07


  • Space tourism
  • On December 13, an unusual double-cabin aircraft took off from California's Mojave Desert, in the U.S.
  • Called WhiteKnightTwo, it carried a smaller spaceplane called VSS Unity.
  • High in the air, the spaceplane separated from the larger aircraft.
  • It traveled upwards at a speed of 4,000 kilometers per hour for about 60 seconds.
  • This is 2.9 times the speed of sound.
  • The spaceplane reached a height of 82.7 kilometers.
  • It was a test flight.
  • The two pilots then guided the spaceplane back to the ground.
  • The Virgin Galactic Company designed and built WhiteKnightTwo and the VSS Unity (VSS stands for Virgen spaceplane).
  • Sir Richard Branson founded the company 14 years ago.
  • He wanted to take tourists into space.
  • The company has had several difficulties and delays.
  • Four years ago, one of its spaceplanes crashed on a test flight.
  • One the pilots died and the other was badly injured.
  • Virgin Galactic spaceplanes have completed several successful test flights during the last two years.
  • The latest test was the first to reach a height of 80 kilometers.
  • Sir Richard now says that he hopes to start space tourism flights in 2019.
  • These flights will go to a height of 110 kilometers, or above the Kármán line.
  • The Kármán line is the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and space.
  • It was named after Theodore von Kármán (1881 – 1963).
  • He calculated that at a height of 83.6 kilometers the air becomes too thin to support a jet aircraft.
  • Above the Kármán line, the Virgin Galactic's spaceplane's passengers will be able to float in zero gravity for about five minutes.
  • The passengers will also be able see the curvature of the Earth and the dark color of outer space.
  • The trip, from take off to landing, will last for about one and half hours.
  • Two other companies also have plans to take tourist into space.
  • They are called Blue Origin and SpaceX.
  • Jeff Bezos, the boss of Amazon Company, founded Blue Origin 18 years ago.
  • Elon Musk set up SpaceX in 2002.
  • He also started the Tesla Company, which makes electric cars and trucks.
  • Blue Origin's latest test flight was five months ago.
  • Its rocket will take a passenger capsule to a height of 119 kilometers.
  • The company is expected to start its passenger flights next year.
  • SpaceX plans to take passengers on a trip around the far side of the Moon.
  • These flights may not be ready until 2023.
  • Virgin Galactic says that 600 people have already booked seats on its spaceplanes.
  • The cost for a ticket is $250,000.
  • Blue Origin and SpaceX have not announced their prices.
  • Yet, SpaceX said that a Japanese billionaire would be its first passenger.