I’m a rocket man. Well, no I’m not, but maybe now I wanna be

By Phil Plait | February 28, 2007 11:33 am

I am terrified at the thought of riding in a rocket, but after seeing this video I’m considering getting a ticket.

This rocks, it totally rocks. It’s very realistic (though it doesn’t show passengers puking or panicking), and advertising like this might make a lot of people change their minds about commercial spaceflight.

Note to Richard Branson: put a cabin in the back of SS2 that is big enough for two people (say, three meters across) with lots of windows, and make sure there are plenty of brackets, bungee cords, and cushioning on all six walls (a clock counting down to the return to weight might prove useful as well, but play that as it goes). Charge three times the standard fare. You’ll make a lot more money, guaranteed.

Tip o’ the space helmet to Space Pragmatism.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, Science

Comments (25)

  1. Matt J

    Science pwns j00! No, seriously, science is the freaking coolest thing ever! The ancient civilizations of the earth would be literally calling this type of stuff “godlike” because it’s so far beyond where human beings started out from, in terms of everything related to human civilization and knowledge. Ordinary schmoes like me will one day be paying about $1,000 (or the equivalent amount of inflated future dollars) for a 4-person vacation to the Lunar Disneyworld, which you KNOW they’ll build.

  2. Quiet_Desperation

    >>>Lunar Disneyworld

    Can we have a Lunar Magic Mountain? Better rides.

    >>> The ancient civilizations of the earth would be literally calling this
    >>> type of stuff “godlike”

    Only because Sneferu, in 2601 B.C., failed miserably in his attempt to launch a granite space probe into low Earth orbit using date palm logs and tidal changes of the Nile River.

    That nut! Even his pyramids went wrong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bent_Pyramid), and he *totally* married his way to the throne.

  3. Will. M

    I think the “Disneyland” comment is apt; this is merely an expensive – a VERY expensive – carnival ride, and available only to those folks who have LOTS of free cash. I’ll wait for the real thing: a trip to the moon or Mars, when those flights become routine and faciliies are available. Sand skiing or boarding on some Martian slopes – WOW!

  4. Chip

    Burt Rutan Rules! The man is a genius.

    It’s a very cool video however going up into low-Earth orbit just to float around seems kind of frivolous. It can be done now for a lot less, in a big conventional airplane in a shallow dive.

    What would really be cool is to move in stages:
    1. Larger aircraft takes rocket up and detaches.
    2. Rocket blasts up into orbit.
    3. Rocket rendezvous with Big (orbiting) Planetary Ship. (Not even on the drawing board…um..I mean, not even in the computers. (I’m still flying in an open cockpit, sorry.)
    4. Big Planetary Ship moves out on five year round trip to Mars.
    5. In Mars orbit, Big Planetary Ship detaches landing craft for Mars adventure …well, you get the picture.

  5. Grand Lunar

    Pretty cool, albeit beyond my price range!

    Of course, I wouldn’t mind a ride on the Ares 1, especially for a lunar mission! Hmmm, wonder if THAT could be the next step in space tourism.

  6. Mark Martin

    I personally would rather enjoy an afternoon of multiple short free-fall sessions in a hollowed-out airplane for a few grand than spend many times that amount for a single session only a few minutes long. Go to YouTube and search under “zero-g”. There are videos of people playing with free-fall it in Cessnas for next to nothing.

  7. Gary Ansorge

    Hmmm, chemical rockets,,,I think I’ll wait for a three-G magnetic launch track. The whole idea of riding a 6,000,000 lb thrust chemical rocket into space, with all it’s attendant pumps, injectors and other mechanical gadjets subject to failure is just a bit too iffy for me.

    Maybe after we’ve figuered out how dark energy works we can develop real space drives or anti gravity. THAT would be a real kick in the head, or rather pants,,,

    Gary 7

  8. Ugly helmets though, reminded me of “Phantom of the Paradise”.

  9. Rob

    Is it just me or is there some homage to the Thunderbirds in the opening sequences?

  10. kingnor

    we’re sailors on the moon, we carry a harpoon, but thar ain’t no whales so we tell tall tails and sing this whalein’ toon!!

  11. kingnor

    whalers, whalers on the moon. not sailors. that would be stupid.

  12. Robert

    From the video, it looks like they don’t expect that Burt is going to be able to fix that pesky roll on assent problem that bugged the flights on SS1.

  13. ioresult

    BA said: “it doesn’t show passengers puking”. Oh yeah? then where do you think all that golden color on the helmets comes from? Surely not an _outside_ coating?

  14. bassmanpete

    If I could afford to go I’d be going for the view, not to experience weightlessness. Anyway, at least if I puke down here I know it’s going to move away from me, not float around &… YUK :)

  15. Moose

    Phil, re: the rear cabin idea…

    It’s called Virgin Galactic, not LosingYourInnocence Galactic.

  16. Irishman

    Yeah, Phil, took me a minute to figure that one out. 😉 Also, the “not panicking” makes sense because they’re all supposed to be trained on the ground prior to flight, but the “not puking” thing seems significant. Those helmets don’t look “barf bag” compliant.

  17. I just read on CNN that Stephen Hawking is going on the Zero Gravity Corp’s Vomit Comet.

    And int he same article Richard Branson is stated as saying Hawking has a seat waiting for him on that Virgin Galactic Spaceship2.

  18. Ran a biplane sightseeing and air combat business for 15 years and people always made stupid jokes about puking. Very few people did it. Saw several people advertise mile-high flights and get lots of press for offering such. Very few people did it.

    But I’d be thrilled if could do either above 100 kilometers.

  19. Irishman

    Tailspin Tommy, don’t know much about your business, but the “Vomit Comet” is named such for a reason. 70 – 100 cycles between 0 and 2 gees every couple minutes does wear on the stomach – so much so that anti-nausea drugs are provided. Also, it is a common if not frequent curse of astronauts upon hitting space to spend the first few hours adjusting. Given that air sickness bags are a common provision on commercial airplanes, I would expect Virgin Galactic (or whomever) to at least provide for the possibility in-flight sickness will occur, whether or not it is frequent.

  20. Tom

    A friend flew on Zero-G and said that Zero-G researched it and it was the repitition that caused the problem. Zero-G flights only do 10 parabolas, which cuts the puke factor quite a bit.

    Can’t wait until we have some data on the single 4-5 minute parabola!

  21. TravisM

    The 62 mile high club Phill? Bungies!? LOL! That’s just the greatest thing I’ve heard you allude to EVER!

  22. Art

    I heard Rutan speak at a conference — he brought video of the SpaceShipOne flight and all I could think was “I want to go — NOW!”


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