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Space Travel

Space Travel

Followers of Richard Branson and Elon Musk are fully aware of their efforts to take commercial flights into space. Virgin Galactic completed its first successful solo glide above the Mojave desert this week, the first since the fatal test flight in 2014 which killed one pilot and left the other badly injured.[1]  Musk’s SpaceX is also in the news, as this week’s indications are that it is on target to resume launches just three months after a rocket exploded at Cape Canaveral.{2]

Less glamorous but just as interesting is the proposal by Prestwick Airport in Glasgow to offer hyper sonic flights to passengers.[3]  They may not be going to Mars but they will be flying faster than Concorde and that is quite a feather in Scotland’s cap if it comes off.

Representatives of the Houston Spaceport were in Scotland on Tuesday to sign an MOU with Prestwick.  Under the agreement, both parties will exchange know-how and expertise in a bid to bring competitively-priced space travel within the reach of the many.  With its existing advantages of long runways and coastal take-off routes, Prestwick believes not just that it could be the first UK spaceport for rockets and satellites but that it could become operational by the end of the decade.  A mere £1m of investment is required to achieve this ambition, according to a feasibility study.

Virgin will charge its passengers a quarter of a million dollars to reach the edge of space, Elon Musk hopes to reach Mars for $150,000 per ticket and Bloon of Spain will charge €110,000 to take clients 22 miles above the earth in a high-altitude balloon.

Naveen Jain is more ambitious still.  He hopes to be able to sell return tickets to the moon for a mere $10,000 within the next ten years.  His company, Moon Express, founded in 2010, is the only private company with a licence to land on the Moon.

Prestwick has not revealed what it expects its hyper sonic travellers to pay but, no matter what Opec agrees, it looks as though high-altitude air travel prices are on their way down.

[1] Virgin Galactic takes first solo glide flight since 2014 crash
[2] 3 Months After Explosion, SpaceX Plans to Launch Rocket Bearing Satellites
[3] Space travel from Scotland by end of decade as Prestwick secures Nasa tie-in