News, Science, Technology

“Lots Of Room For Zero-G Fun” On New Commercial Spacecraft

SpaceShipTwo Virgin GalacticMore than 500 people—including American actor Ashton Kutcher—will become “astronauts” next year.

They have each paid $200,000 for a two-hour flight on SpaceShipTwo.

The aircraft will take them very high and very fast—in fact, they will break the sound barrier.

A British company called Virgin Galactic, which is owned by a well-known and famously daring billionaire named Sir Richard Branson, tested its new aircraft last week.

During the test, the spacecraft flew 69,000 feet high over the Mojave Desert, in the U.S.

SpaceShipTwo will take passengers, six at a time, into the atmosphere at 2,500 miles per hour—more than three times the speed of sound.

Passengers will experience a lack of gravity. During the flight they’ll be able to leave their seat and do a mid-air summersault, according to Virgin’s website.

“SpaceShipTwo’s cabin will have lots of room for zero g fun,” the website says.

(Zero g means “no gravity.”)

The airline says it expects to sell at least 600 tickets in its first two years.

The first flights are scheduled for 2014.

Related links

Check out Virgin Galactic’s website, which offers a very poetic description of a flight aboard SpaceShipTwo.

By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
During the flight, passengers will be approximately 69,000 feet over earth. How long is 1 foot, 5 feet, 10 feet and 20 feet? Now can you imagine how long 69,000 feet would be!

At 69,000 feet above earth, imagine what this experience would be like. Use your imagination to describe what  the passengers would see, hear and feel.

Reading Prompt: Variety of Texts
The company that owns the SpaceShipTwo is Virgin Galactic. The company is owned by a very famous man, Sir Richard Branson. Have you heard of him before? If not, use the Internet to find out why he is so famous. What interesting (and sometimes risky) things has he done?

Read a variety of literary texts, graphic texts and informational texts (OME, Reading: 1.1).

Read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts, graphic texts and informational texts (OME, Reading: 1.1).

Grammar Feature: Poetic language
The related link in the article connects you to Virgin Galactic’s website. The description of the flight is described by journalist, Joyce Grant, as “poetic”. Either read the description or have someone read it to you and discuss what makes it poetic. What poetic language is used?