Ashton Kutcher Will Get Himself Some ‘Space’

Virgin Galactic says uber-celebrity Ashton Kutcher is the company’s 500th customer to sign up for a suborbital trip into outer space.

Kutcher is arguably the highest-profile prospective spaceflier confirmed to be on Virgin Galactic’s list — although Tom Hanks, Katy Perry, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are reportedly on the list as well. Beyonce and Jay-Z are among other celebs considering a flight. The stars are reportedly all paying their own way, except for physicist Stephen Hawking, who is receiving a free ride courtesy of billionaire founder Richard Branson.

It’s way too early to put Kutcher’s flight on the calendar. SpaceShipTwo is still in the midst of free-glide flight tests, with rocket-powered test flights expected to begin this year.


The current plan calls for commercial flight operations to be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico. SpaceShipTwo, which is capable of carrying six passengers and two pilots, would be linked up to its wide-winged WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and brought up to an altitude of 50,000 feet. At that height, SpaceShipTwo would drop from its mothership and turn on its hybrid rocket engine. The blast would take the craft beyond 62 miles (100 kilometers), the internationally accepted boundary of outer space — a commanding height from which Kutcher and his fellow passengers could see the arc of planet Earth and the dark sky of space above.

There’d be a few minutes of weightlessness, and then the passengers would return to their seats for the descent. After weathering up to 6 G’s of acceleration, the fliers would glide down to the landing — and get their astronaut wings back at Spaceport America.

Source: Digg

Image: The Daily What

World’s Biggest Aircraft to Bring Passengers to Space

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen announced Tuesday his plan to create a company that will bring “airport-like operations” to private spaceflight –thanks to the world’s biggest aircraft.

The business magnate is teaming up with Burt Rutan, the aerospace engineer that developed the original SpaceShipOne — the first privately funded, manned rocket ship to fly beyond Earth’s atmosphere. Looking to build on that success, Stratolaunch Systems promises to bring greater safety, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility to space travel.

“For the first time since John Glenn, America cannot fly its own astronauts into space,” Allen said, noting the recent final flight by the space shuttle and the elimination of the Constellation program, which would have built a successor craft. “By the end of this decade, Stratolaunch will be putting spacecraft into orbit.”

The new space system will be focused on carrying commercial and government cargo into space, but Rutan and Allen hope it will eventually carry human cargo as well. The company’s motto: Any orbit, any time.

The idea between Stratolaunch’s “mobile-launch” system isn’t new. In fact, it’s similar to the one used for Rutan’s earlier craft SpaceShipOne, which requires a “mothership” to carry it into the air before it is released for air-launch. The biggest advantages of the air-launch-to-orbit system will be Stratolaunch’s quick turnaround between launches. This means  lower costs and more potential flights. The first test flight is planned for the beginning of 2016.

 

 

Source: Fox News

Image: Gizmodo.com