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Space Travel Guide

Virgin Galactic
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Space Travel Guide

story by: Tom Ricketts

Space: The ‘Final Frontier’, or your next adventure holiday?

There’s probably not a single one of us who hasn’t dreamed of leading an X-Wing attack against a Star Destroyer, beaming aboard the USS Enterprise as it prepares for warp speed, or perhaps just experiencing weightlessness aboard an ordinary old NASA shuttle. It’s perhaps the ultimate travel experience, and with Virgin Galactic and House of Travel, it no longer needs to be a dream!

Now don’t go reaching for your phasers and lightsabers quite yet… Virgin Galactic are still perfecting their spaceship. However, House of Travel already have eight Future Astronauts (FA's) booked, and are taking details for the next batch, so you can still become one of New Zealand’s very first astronauts! 

How does it all work?
Well it’s all very technical of course, but put simply, it’ll be similar to a NASA launch. The major difference is that instead of being strapped to the side of a rocket, your spaceship will be attached to a specially built launch-plane which will deliver you to the upper reaches of the atmosphere. From there you’ll unhitch and blast your way through the ozone layer and into space. You’ll have a precious few minutes up there, but it’ll be plenty of time to unstrap yourselves from you seats and float about the spaceship, as well as taking in views of the planet. Your spaceship then turns for home and glides all the way back to the spaceport.

What’s the spaceship like?
It’s actually just a little thing, but you’re not going to be in it long so it doesn’t need to be as big as the NASA shuttles. The spaceship will take just two pilots and six passengers per trip. There is however, plenty of room to do all those mid-space backflips and flying manoeuvres! It’ll also have large windows for all your Earth viewing pleasure.

Who can go?
Anyone! Sir Richard Branson’s (the owner of Virgin) dream is that everyone should be experience space travel. That being said, you do need to be over 18 and you do need to be reasonably fit. Your body will be going through some major G Forces, so there’s a three day training program to undertake before your flight.

How much is it?
The full spaceflight experience including all the training etc, costs USD$250,000. Deposits start at USD$20,000. As the whole thing isn't guaranteed yet, the costs are currently 95% refundable.

Where does it happen?
The spaceport is located in the Mojave Desert, New Mexico, just a couple states over from California. As it is the US, you’ll need to meet their normal visa requirements to travel there. However, as testing progresses, more and more spaceports are being planned and built around the world, even in New Zealand! So by the time the flights are up and running, there could well be more options available.

Is it safe?
This concept really is going beyond where man has stepped before, so it certainly has its risks. But Virgin Galactic are absolutely committed to making it safe, and to prove it, Sir Richard himself is going to be aboard the very first commercial flight.

How do I book?
House of Travel are proud to be the only Accredited Space Agents (ASA) in New Zealand. Virgin Galatic have one group of Future Astronauts ready to go, and will be opening up to more bookings as the program develops. Register your interest with one of our ASA's below and they'll ensure you're kept up to date with all the latest developments...

House of Travel Botany Junction
Corner Te Irirangi Drive and Ormiston Road, Auckland
Ph: 09 273 3330
Fax: 09 273 3331
Email accredited space agent Katrina Cole
House of Travel Stephen Parsons
Corner Main Street and The Square, Palmerston North
Ph: 06 356 7051
Fax: 06 354 7120
Email accredited space agent Stephen Parsons 

 
 


 
House of Travel Tauranga
Corner Willow and Spring Streets, Tauranga
Ph: 07 577 0235
Fax: 07 577 6975
Email accredited space agent Shane Kennedy  
House of Travel Nelson
256 Trafalgar Street, Nelson
Ph: 03 546 8780
Fax: 03 546 8766
Email accredited space agent Jeff Leckey

House of Travel Lakers (Invercargill)
36-40 Kelvin St, Invercargill 
Ph: 03 214 3500
Fax: 03 214 3509
Email accredited space agent Tony Laker
   
     
Join the eight other New Zealand Future Astronauts (making us one of the highest countries per capita) and really show off our adventurous Kiwi nature!

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