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SFS News: Virgin Galactic to Send Passengers Though the Nort

Posted by: Rob Goldsmith - Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:09 am
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SFS News: Virgin Galactic to Send Passengers Though the Nort 
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Post SFS News: Virgin Galactic to Send Passengers Though the Nort   Posted on: Sat Dec 29, 2007 11:09 am
Following our recent story covering Virgin Galactic’s January announcement found Here. They have managed to capture the imagination of millions of people yet again. There had been rumours surrounding this proposal however now it seems the rumours could soon be a reality. Virgin Galactic have announced they wish to fly humans through and above the Northern Lights.

The company hopes to begin commercial space flights from a purpose-built spaceport in New Mexico in 2010, but flights from Kiruna should follow soon afterwards. Once they are up and running, Virgin Galactic expects to be flying about 5,000 passengers a year.

The cost of a flight will be about £100,000 ($200,000) a ticket for the two-hour flight. Customers will be able to fly into the aurora borealis (the northern lights), something that no human has done before.

Will Whitehorn, Sir Richard's right-hand man and president of Virgin Galactic recently came up with the novel idea. "When I asked the question 18 months ago, 'what about flying into [the northern lights]?' everybody said, 'possible, but we don't know what the view would look like'," he said.

Scientists at Esrange (Swedish Space Corporation) have been flying rockets into the aurora since the 1960s, but no one has put a camera on board before, let alone a person, because it was of no scientific interest. (Visit them at http://www.ssc.se/)

Dr Olle Norberg, Esrange's director, is convinced that it will be safe to fly into their midst.

"Is there a build-up of charge on the spacecraft? What is the radiation dose that you would receive? Those studies came out saying it is safe to do this," he said. Esrange scientists plan to launch a rocket in November with three cameras on board to find out what being inside the aurora actually looks like.

To learn more about Virgin Galactic please visit http://virgingalactic.com/

Also see the Swedish Space Corporation’s site at http://www.ssc.se/

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