Virgin Galactic has already signed up 650 people to ride its transportation, including musician Justin Bieber and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Although only the rich and famous can ride, I hope that one day. Flights are more affordable for the general public.

Yesterday’s flight was more than just bragging. Suborbital flight also allows important scientific work. “Researchers use their own scientific flight is very, very valuable,” said Laura Forczyk of Astralytical, a space consulting company.During the first flight, the University of Florida conducted an experiment See how plants respond to microgravityFuture missions will study the behavior of dust on asteroids and practice techniques for performing operations in space.

Crucially, this can be led by the researchers themselves, such as Alan Stern from the Southwest Research Institute in Texas and the leadership of NASA’s New Horizons Pluto mission, rather than relying on remote systems or the International Space Station. Astronaut on board.For example, Stern will test an astronomical imaging system Used on the space shuttle before You can make useful observations of the solar system.

“For 150 years, there has been theoretically [asteroids] In the orbit of Mercury,” Stern said. “The best way to observe them is to see Twilight from space. On the space station, when you travel at a speed of 18,000 miles per hour, the twilight phenomenon will only last 30 seconds. But on SpaceShipTwo or New Shepard, this phenomenon can last for a few minutes. “

Of course, there are valid criticisms of the two billionaires competing in space during the pandemic — and many of us are unlikely to be able to afford this trip in the next few years. But including scientists, the naive Branson/Bezos competition should still pave the way for more people to come to power than ever before.

“It’s not just billionaires and rich people,” Forczyk said. “This may be the dawn of true commercial space tourism.”

“This shows that the commercial space is ready for prime time,” Williams added.


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