Would-be astronauts train for the world’s first suborbital space tourism flight
As early as next year, if you are one of a lucky few, you may find yourself strapped in a six-passenger rocket some 50,000 feet above the Earth’s surface, bracing yourself as it disengages from the specially designed jet plane mothership, and shoots cannon-like 60 miles up into suborbital space at three times the speed of sound. If all goes well, you'll then get to unbuckle and float in zero gravity for a full fifteen minutes, spying on the earth’s curvature, all of North America and the Pacific Ocean.
This scenario is what Virgin Galactic is banking on. So much so that though the rocket is still unfinished they are already putting their first-picked passengers through flight training. And that is how Wilson da Silva, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Cosmos (the biggest-selling science magazine in Australia) found himself in Philly last month at the National Aerospace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center strapped into one of the most advanced centrifuge simulators on Earth shouting words that we cannot print here as 6 Gs of force pressed down upon him.
But first, some background.