The American company Virgin Galactic has tested the SpaceShipTwo Unit model tourist spacecraft. Judging by the first reviews of the pilots and the flight engineer, the test flight was successful, but there is still no detailed analysis of the ship's operation. It is the assessment of all the recorded indicators that will make it possible to find out whether all the decisions in the ship's design were successful. During a test conducted on May 1 in the Mojave Desert in California, the main task was to test the company's developed tail swing system, which will provide preparation for landing. The ship's engine has not yet been started: the device was docked to the carrier during flights.
The trials that Virgin Galactic has been conducting over the past two years is the de facto return of British billionaire Richard Branson's company to life after the tragic events of 2014. Then, during a test flight, the SpaceShipTwo began to fall apart. As a result of the accident, one pilot was killed and the second was injured: several fractures and numerous bruises. The results of the investigation boiled down to the fact that the pilot's mistake was the cause of the fatal failure of the test: he started the braking system too early. However, the reputation of the company, which was called the likely leader in private space tourism in the mid-2000s, has suffered significantly.
After the incident, the company began developing a new spacecraft. The staff took a course towards creating a safety system for pilots, transferring a much larger number of functions and an additional control system to computers. During 2016, Virgin Galactic conducted several tests of the modified ship, which were successful. The company again invites those who wish to climb to an altitude of about 100 kilometers for a few minutes and feel weightlessness.
There are quite a lot of people who want to go on the first tourist flight on a Virgin Galactic ship with the pilot and five more passengers - about 700, according to media reports. The trip will cost $ 250,000. The famous British physicist Stephen Hawking may become one of the passengers. Branson himself suggested that Hawking make the space flight that the scientist dreamed of.
“I thought no one would take me into space,” he said. "But Richard Branson offered me a seat on the Virgin Galactic ship, and I immediately agreed."
Virgin Galactic will conduct many more tests before the first launch of the ship with tourists and, quite possibly, will lose the lead in organizing walks to the edge of the earth's atmosphere. So, the company Blue Origin of the founder of Amazon. om Jeff Bezos recently unveiled a capsule for space tourists to the public. In addition, to date, his ship has been tested during at least five test launches. It should be noted that all these launches took place without the participation of pilots. According to experts, such a result still cannot be called a guaranteed success. The company's goal from the point of view of space tourism is to take those who wish to an altitude of about 100 km, give them a few minutes to feel weightlessness, and return them to Earth.
The Bezos company seems to be in no rush to launch. So far, no timeframes or prices have been named, and Bezos has officially entered into an agreement only for the launch of satellites with Eutelsat Communications SA. The company also announced that the devices of its production could be used for scientific research. Nevertheless, the development of the New Glenn apparatus is planned to be completed during this year. According to representatives of Blue Origin, the rocket with which the launch will be carried out will be able to return to Earth and be used repeatedly.
In this regard, SpaceX's plans are perhaps the most famous. The many launches of the Falcon 9 rocket testify to significant development success. The company's plans for space tourism are no less ambitious. At the end of February, Musk announced that two enthusiasts were ready to fly around the moon in his ships. The company has planned this enterprise in the coming years, and only a few months are given for the remaining debugging of recreational space transport. Already in 2018, the first test of the launch of the passenger ship Dragon without a crew and passengers will pass, then a manned flight will be carried out, and a little later, as expected, tourists will also go on a voyage around the Earth's satellite.
The issue that worries both the public and specialists in this field is security. A single incident with the Virgin Galactic ship significantly undermined the company's credibility. Blue Origin has not yet risked announcing deals with potential customers. Elon Musk emphasized that, despite the preparatory training that will allow future travelers to feel confident, SpaceX employees and tourists themselves understand how unpredictable their flight can be.
Experts differ on what date should be considered the beginning of the era of private space tourism. On the one hand, plans for such flights are already being actively implemented, as evidenced by the tests of the ships. This allows a number of specialists to call 2018 the year of the start of space tourism. On the other hand, many are skeptical about the possibility of sending tourists to the upper atmosphere, and even more so to fly around the moon in the near future. So enthusiasts who have expressed a desire to fly into space and have already made a deposit can wait for their dream to come true for another ten years.
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Strategies, problems and prospects for the development of ecotourism in Primorye in modern conditions, IV A. V. Galanin, L. M. Dolgaleva Botanical Garden-Institute FEB RAS, Ladivostok Institute of Technology and