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Space tourism is one step closer

The advent of low cost air travel in the 1970s led many Brits to fly for the first time, and the budget airline boom led by easyJet in the 1990s had a booster effect. Now the next stage looks likely to be space tourism and the billionaire behind Amazon, who is one of the leading figures in the new industry's development, has given a glimpse of the future.

At his headquarters in Texas a few weeks ago, Jeff Bezos unveiled his much-anticipated space tourism rocket called the New Shepard. It is hoped the six-person capsule will soon take the first space tourists and allow them to experience four minutes of complete weightlessness flying high above the planet.

Views

The cabin of the New Shepard is arranged so that all passengers sit facing the outside to get the maximum views. A spokesperson at the press conference in Van Horn, Texas said that the windows of the New Shepard will be the largest of any spacecraft yet flown. Every passenger will have their own window and these are specially designed to offer panoramic views from ground to space by turning the head very slightly.

Aviation Week also reported that there is a solid-fuel abort motor “centred in the circular structure like a cylindrical coffee table”.

Social media

Space flight will probably present the best-ever selfie opportunities and the New Shepard cabin has been designed for passengers to share their suborbital experiences on social media, with cameras positioned around the cabin capturing every moment of the experience.

Bezos’ space tourism operation is called Blue Origin and the New Shepard is the latest advance to be unveiled after the company became the first to successfully reuse a rocket booster a few years ago.

The very first space tourists could take off in 2018, according to Bezos, if human test flights scheduled for the end of this year are successful. He said that the company expects to start selling tickets to space tourists “when we’re closer to commercial operations”.

If you’re thinking of travelling abroad this year, be sure to organise your Specialist Travel Insurance in advance.

Date Created: 20 April 2017

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