- General Background
Tourism has been regarded as a key area that contributes to the economic growth and development of this country. Tourism has had a massive impact on not only improving our economy but also in assisting with the alleviation of poverty in the country. Aside from having mind-blowing historical sites, aesthetic beaches and breathtaking wildlife, there is still need to further improve our tourism sector. In order to cut an edge over other competitive tourism destinations, it is vital to incorporate certain developments that will certainly captivate more tourists. One of the key areas that need to be exploited is the space tourism. Space tourism is simply defined as travelling from earth to space and back for purposes of either leisure, scientific research or recreation. Tourism within space is indeed captivating to the mind as many people seek to not only imagine how space is but to also be present in space. However, space tourism is essentially impossible if there are no space vehicles. In spite of a plethora of challenges being a tumbling block for the development of space vehicles, many are still hopeful and optimistic of visiting space someday. It is with this profound reason that this paper seeks to find out a number of space vehicles that have been recently developed with the sole purpose of promoting futuristic space tourism.
The space transport sector has been characterized with massive evolution ever since the heydays. Today’s advanced technology has led to the development of a wide array of different space vehicles with improved and efficient traits. This has since led to the introduction of space tourism which can further enhance the nation’s economic growth. Thus, introduction of new space vehicles will not only lead to many discoveries but this would also captivate a vast majority of people who seek to explore the space as part of their leisure activities. Some of the new space vehicles are as follows;
- Features and benefits of SpaceshipOne
SpaceshipOne marked the beginning of a new era of space travel and tourism. Developed and designed by the erudite engineer Burt Rutan, SpaceshipOne defined the state-of- the-art spacecraft. SpaceshipOne was developed for the key purpose of introducing commercial space flight where any ordinary person would have the golden chance of travelling from earth to suborbital space. Its ability to fly to an attitude of 100km from earth and back was in deed magnificent and something to behold. Furthermore, its ability to jet from earth to suborbital space and its safe arrival provided a safety assurance for all the potential customers who wished to explore space. Like normal aircrafts, SpaceshipOne is able to utilize flight controls to maneuver along lateral, vertical and longitudinal flight axes (Reddy et. al 1099-1100). The high-altitude spacecraft provides its pilot and passengers with stability which has been achieved by the presence of three electric motors. The three electric motors play a key role as they are used to adjust the trim rudders and horizontal stabilizers with the main intent of providing stability to the pilot as he is operating the spaceship in areas of high pressure. These motors operate by utilizing liquid nitrous oxide fuel hybrid propeller system which is considered to be safe and non toxic when exposed to humans. In addition, as the SpaceshipOne is flown to suborbital space which is characterized with vacuum and less air pressure, the spaceship is faced with a daunting challenge of less force. However, to overcome this challenge, SpaceshipOne has been designed with nozzles that release pressurized air which help in generating force in order for the pilot to be able to control the spaceship so as to maintain or change course. SpaceshipOne is also known to use a computerized system referred to as Tier One Navigation Unit (TONU) that usually provides a wide array of flight data inclusive of speeds, readouts and trajectories (Peeters 1630). The ability of SpaceshipOne to land safely after a flight is due to the presence of a nose skid which is usually curved, light and thin. The nose skid function as brakes in such a way that the pilot would be able to decelerate on the runway in any case the wheel brakes failed. Spaceshipone is also environmental friendly as the products produced during combustion are benign and non pollutant to the earth and space environment (Peeters 1630). In essence, the construction and development of SpaceshipOne has led to remarkable changes in the space tourism. This is due to the fact that it was the first ever commercial spacecraft that attracted a mass of customers who were captivated by its unique design and cost-effective opportunity for them to access and explore suborbital space.
- Features and benefits of White Knight
White Knight is a highly improved version of the ancient space vehicles as it can further take its passengers to a much higher altitude. White knight can simply be described as a twin-turbojet aircraft that highly resembled a plane as it is able to use normal airstrip to take off (Reddy et.al 1091 – 1092). White knight is a jet mother-ship that was specially designed for the primary purpose of launching SpaceshipOne to higher altitudes of approximately 15,000 meters before it separated from SpaceshipOne that was usually slung underneath (Travailo et. al 1-8). It took approximately 75 minutes for both the White Knight and SpaceshipOne to reach an attitude of 15,000 meters from the ground before the White Knight powerfully separated from the SpaceshipOne. The pilots were thus better prepared as they were able to access whether each part was working fine during the 75 minutes launch. The white knight has been equipped with a powerful set of jet engines that were convenient in launching the SpaceshipOne and powerfully retracting from it once it attained an altitude of 15,000 meters. The White Knight is characterized by a huge thrust-to-weight ratio that has been attributed by its light weight composite structure. The White Knight is endowed with both inboard and outboard speed brakes which have proved to be very efficient during landing or in case of emergency landing. In addition, the passengers in White Knight will get the wonderful opportunity of being able to witness the launch and separation of White Knight. This is due to the fact that both the spaceship and the white knight will launch and separate at the same exact height.
White Knight Two which has Spaceship Two that is slung underneath it is described to have a wide array of advantages as opposed to White Knight One. White Knight Two is characterized by highly improved aerodynamics which utilizes the latest technologies. In addition, White Knight Two is described to have a massive open space that aside from being able to carry Spaceship Two, it can also carry many other additional payloads. Its ability to easily load and unload passengers makes it to be more efficient and appropriate for human beings. The cabin structure and windows of a white knight two has enhanced safety on the passengers who would no longer need to put on pressure suits for protection. Besides this, white knight two has been endowed with environmental control systems which protect the crew and passengers from being exposed to toxic conditions. White Knight two has been designed to be spacious in such a way that the six passengers would be able to freely float as soon as Spaceship Two reaches space.
White Knight is basically characterized by two crew doors that have dual seals and dual-pane windows, manual flight controls with three-axis electric form, pneumatic main gear retraction and a dual-bus electrical power system (Travail et.al 5-9). In addition, the White Knight has cockpit which permits only one pilot to operate. It also has remarkable fuel capacity of approximately 2,950 kilograms and a capacity to carry payloads weighing up to 3,600 kilograms (Travailo et.al 5-9).
- Quality requirements of space vehicles
In order to attract as many customers as possible, the quality of the space vehicles must always be at its peak. It is certain to say that customers are more captivated with the quality of services that they are being offered. It is with this profound reason that the quality of a space vehicle becomes a key aspect that also determines whether space tourism would thrive or not thrive in the future. One of the key aspects that are paramount and significant to the quality of services offered to space tourists is with regard to the safety of space travel. The design and amenities present in a space vehicle is a vital factor that is usually considered by a vast majority of potential space tourists. The space vehicles should thus be spacious enough in such a way that the passengers will be able to comfortably float in space (Bensoussa 1631-1638). The space vehicles should also be endowed with classy and beautiful sleeping and entertainment areas, as this would eventually attract more potential space tourists. In order to add to the quality of life, the commercial space travel agencies should ensure that the passengers have enough prepackaged food and food preparation systems that would match with the exact diet that is required while in space. It is also needless to say that there is always a high likelihood of passengers falling sick or nauseated while in space. The agency should ensure that the necessary medical requirements are available for the passengers to take. Medical care can further be improved by introduction of medical facilities within the orbital resorts. These medical facilities should be characterized with telemedicine capability so as to be able to efficiently diagnose disease and instruct o the most appropriate medical procedure.
In order to build the customer’s confidence and loyalty, the commercial space travel agency should ensure that the space vehicle’s crew members are competent and proficient. The crew members who include the astronauts, technicians and engineers should be well versed with both the normal operations and challenges that they are likely to face in space. This is due to the persistent attitude of fear that most people have on flying to space. Thus, in order for people and customers to surpass such fears, the commercial space travel company should at least assure them of their safety by employing the highly qualified and erudite space vehicle crews. Thus, the agency should continue playing its role of providing continuous training to its pilots and other personnel so as to ensure that their skills are well honed. This would ensure that the whole crew would be able to overcome any dubious challenge that is presented to them while in space. On the other hand, the potential passengers who have the intent of travelling through space should also be trained on how to behave while in space (Reddy et.al 1091 – 1100). A vast majority of customers would feel more confident when they are educated and trained on what to expect while on space and on how tele-presence and orbital facilities function.
- Involvement of the government
The cost of space travel is also an important aspect of space tourism. This is because; many potential customers would first look at the cost of purchasing a space travel ticket as opposed to the experience that would be gained in space. It is with this profound reason that many would quickly withdraw their ambitions and plans of ever visiting the space. It is therefore vital for the commercial space travel agencies to provide a fair cost that would ensure that most customers are both willing and able to pay so as to have an extraordinary experience. However, these remains to be a daunting task given the fact that the government does not in any way contribute significantly to the development of space vehicles (Travailo et. al 3-17). This has led to most aeronautic companies to struggle on their own so as to get funds that are needed to purchase the very expensive parts that are needed to build the space vehicle. This is because the government views that its participation funding would result to no significant economic benefits with regard to profitability levels (Travailo et. al 15-17).
In conclusion, continuous development and improvement of space vehicles is likely to lead to a massive transformation of space tourism. However, space tourism will only go a notch higher if the constructed space vehicles are demonstrated to be safe with the lowest probability of having accidents. In addition, the cost of space travel should be regulated in such a way that it could be affordable to the potential customers. The space vehicles should have health monitoring system and a filled oxygen gas system which can be used by the passengers so as to be able to survive even when exposed to abnormal conditions. Education and training programs is also paramount in providing the passengers with the knowledge and skills that will work out handy in their stay period in space.
Besides the majestic beauty of space, there are a myriad of benefits that can be discovered and retrieved from space. The space offers a higher probability of discovering beneficial resources that could be used on earth. Some of these resources which are eminently limited on earth include new sources of energy, water and access to unique minerals and compounds (Webber 139-143). To add to this, certain unique compounds found in space and on planets have been discovered to have medical properties, as they can be used as treatment options for certain diseases. This discovery indicates that there is still more compounds in space that are yet to be discovered as curatives for most of today’s diseases that remain to be incurable on earth (Webber 139-143). Thus, it is needless to say that the development of space vehicle will not only promote space tourism but would also result to a plethora of benefits inclusive of countless important discoveries.
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