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Virgin Galactic to Offer Space Cruise through Aurora Borealis

Spaceporthome Imagine what kind of spectacular show it would be like to fly into the heart of the Northern Lights. You may not have to imagine forever. Richard Branson has been busy thinking up new ways to get people excited about private space tourism, and he’s come up with something pretty spectacular. He’s offering to fly the affluent into the world’s biggest lightshow, the Aurora Borealis.

The New Mexico Virgin Galactic Spaceport isn't scheduled for completion until 2010, but Branson is already planning his next project from an Arctic launchpad located in the far north of Sweden in the small town of Kiruna. The Arctic location provides the town with unrivalled views of the spectacular phenomenon.

The aurora borealis is named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas. It often appears as a greenish glow with hints of red and purple. The green and red emissions come from atomic oxygen. Molecular nitrogen and nitrogen ions produce some of the low level red and very high blue /violet aurorae. The lights most often occur from September to October and from March to April.

The Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles from the magnetosphere, with atoms and molecules of the Earth's upper atmosphere. The particles originate from the sun and arrive at the vicinity of earth in the relatively low-energy solar wind. Magnetic reconnection accelerates the particles towards earth.

Kiruna already has an existing base called Esrange. Launching humans into an active aurora is more for excitement than science, but it has been deemed to be safe. Dr Olle Norberg, Esrange's director, said they’ve done the research. "Is there a build-up of charge on the spacecraft? What is the radiation dose that you would receive? Those studies came out saying it is safe to do this."

Safe, and undoubtedly an incredible view.

 
Posted by Rebecca Sato

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Related links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/dec/29/spaceexploration.northernlights
http://www.universetoday.com/2008/01/07/branson-wants-to-fly-space-tourists-into-the-northern-lights/
http://virtual.finland.fi/finfo/English/aurora_borealis.html

 

 

Comments

remember stephen king's "the langoliers"?

Go-go, Virgin! I swear I'll buy a ride right after I'll earn 2nd million
=)

How is the plane going to handle the radiation up there?

How is the plane going to handle the radiation up there?

Every flight comes with free sterilization!

This is another development that will significantly change our views of humans and our position on Earth. More on this in the recent article:

"Unconventional discoveries and theories help us prepare for an uncertain future" (AmericanChronicle.com, January 6, 2008) at ...

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=48123

Its all just a ploy to make billions in law suits when I sue NASA for polluting our orbit with "space junk".

Seeing as there are no laws that govern flights into space, and that space isn't technically "owned" by anyone. I could throw a shitload of rich people on one of my space craft and watch it get creamed by a piece of space junk , killing everyone aboard and then myself, along with families of the passengers could easily sue NASA for the deaths caused by their pollution which they have spent so long neglecting to rectify.

See, I'm smart - I can make money.

the sky won't be the only thing glowing after this trip.

the sky won't be the only thing glowing after this trip.

the sky won't be the only thing glowing after this trip.

I think this is one of the few times imo when privatization is a really good idea. Whether we think it’s necessary or not, we need to continue to develop new forms of space travel and technology to facilitate it. What the ppl whose only argument is “we have too many problems down here to be worrying about this,” they fail to understand the two most important implications of aeronautical research. The first is for national defense… it’s bad enough that nasa has to rely on Russia to ferry them to the ISS. If we keep going at this rate, our disadvantage will only grow as they continue to develop new technologies in their space program while we pump the brakes on ours. Is air and space superiority something you really want the Russians to have? It doesn’t seem like a good idea for any one country to have, let alone one whom we have a sketchy history with. The second is that with aeronautical research comes a flood of new technologies, most of which are very applicable to us down on earth. For example, if it wasn’t for nasa, we wouldn’t have the chips that we use for non-invasive biopsies, solar energy, and a whole litany of other things (http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html#Top has a good number of inventions that most of us don’t know came from our space program). And if you’re one of those ppl that are so skeptical (or cynical imo) that you still don’t think that any of the things on this list warrant a larger investment in a privatized space industry, just remember that while you sleep at night, you most likely have nasa to thank for that, too. If you use any type of home security system, chances are they use infrared and laser technology that came out of nasa’s research (just look at the adt home security infrared camera page. They even admit that the technology came from nasa!)

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