My writing project is a first-person narrative of the first manned mission to Pluto. This will be the first human mission to the icy dwarf planet Pluto. In hopes to figure out if there is liquid water underneath the frozen nitrogen, the pilot will experience many obstacles. Risks of solar flares from the sun. the particles ejected from the flare is extremely dangerous for a manned mission. Since the trip is very long the spacecraft must be equipped with protective shielding from radiation.
The spacecraft must use a lot of fuel to get out of both gravitational pulls from the earth and moon then with the use of the gravity from Jupiter to slingshot to a trajectory to Pluto, saving energy and allowing for optimal speed. The distance to Pluto is 4. 67 Billion miles away, energy must be efficient with the use of RTGs and solar panels. The solar panels must be able to rotate to reach optimal energy intake. The new technology used to travel space will be with the use of light sail technology.
Light sail uses the pressure of light to move the spacecraft without the use of fuel. Once arriving to Pluto, the Astronaut will face the freezing temperatures. The Astronaut will also have to conduct experiments on the icy surface using a subsurface radar sounding to see if there is indeed an ocean under the ice. Privatizing Low Earth Orbit Almost all human space flight has taken place in or below Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The distance from earth to LEO is approximately 160km to 2000km away.
Below this objects will experience a rapid altitude loss due to gravity and orbital decay from atmospheric drag (1). Above LEO is the Van Allen Radiation Belt which is a zone with charged particles, making it dangerous (1). Many satellites are in LEO including the International Space Station. However, with the US government looking for bigger and deeper missions it is well considered that LEO will be populated with private companies (2). The tourism industry is rapidly setting its eyes into the LEO. Space Adventures is a private company that has sent private individuals to space.
Another company is Virgin Galactic, which already has a long waiting list on their suborbital spaceflights (2). Space Adventures is a Virginia based, Space travel agency. This company has already sent seven private individuals to space. This is the only company so far to send self-funded individuals to LEO. The company’s goal is to create a welcoming environment to individuals to visit and explore space with safety and affordability in mind. (3) The cost is around 50 million dollars for a low tier trip. They have a variety of options for tourists with the right amount of capital.
Circumlunar mission involves a stay at the ISS for 10 days until a second rocket will launch the passenger in a lunar module which includes a living area and a propulsion section. The pricing varies on this option to be around 150 million dollars depending on what Soyuz spacecraft you choose (3). another option includes a brief stay in the ISS with a choice of a spacewalk just outside of the ISS. Currently the company uses Russian spaceship technology. Most of the travelling is done with a Soyuz spacecraft.
The training is all done at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center near Moscow, Russia (3). This center has a life size replica of the ISS underwater to give you training. Space Adventures They do use the ISS for their main hub for overnight stays and places for rest before and after going to the moon. The technology they are currently investing is a spacecraft that launches to LEO and after a short period descends back to earth. This would take place in just a day. This technology would make vacations to LEO very simple due to its straight up trajectory and straight down descent (3).
Richard Garriott is one of the seven who bought a ticket from Space Adventures. The ticket he bought set him back 30 million dollars. He was one of the first second generation space traveler to go to space (his father was an astronaut). He took the Soyuz TMA-13 to the ISS in 2008. He stayed on board the ISS for less than two weeks and conducted several educational experiments from different organizations. His main goal in doing this was to be a pioneer in expanding space travel for private individuals.
To be medically fit for space Richard had to go under a life-threatening surgery to remove a lobe of his liver that was slightly underperforming, but for a normal lifestyle the surgery was completely unnecessary. When asked after all he went through all the training and medical procedures to be fit for space travel his response was “My conception of the scale of the earth went from this ambiguous giant global thing to suddenly being finite and small. ” (Richard Garriott). He felt that space is just a natural next step for mankind due to how he was raised with his father as an astronaut. 4) The market place for Space Adventures is not for your average consumer, but nonetheless it is still an option for individuals with millions of dollars. Space Adventures also owns Zero Gravity Corporation. Zero G is a wildly popular company that sells tickets for five thousand dollars to experience weightlessness here on earth (4).
The company repurposed a Boeing 727 for customers to free fall inside the aircraft. The plane flies 45 degrees upward to 32,000 feet and then down 45 degrees creating a parabolic arc. The downward arc is where the customers will experience weightlessness (5). he plane in a 10-mile flight space allows you to experience zero gravity, lunar gravity, and Martian gravity depending on the arcs the plane performs. Space Adventures idea is this will bring new customers the passion and eagerness to continue the exploration of space. The second company is Virgin Galactic, a company within Virgin Group. The company plans on offering space tourist a chance to reach suborbital levels of about 100 km above earth.
The idea pushing the company is that human space exploration will lead to a better life on earth by realizing how precious our small blue planet is. 6) The company has been around since 2004. So far there has not been any public flights due to technical difficulties and a crash in 2014 which resulted in the death of one of their pilots. The crash happened due to difficulties with the feather wing system technology (7). The Wings have a special folding mechanism allowing them to change speeds depending on height. The technology used in achieving their goal is with the use of two spacecraft; the mothership called The White Knight and Spaceship 2.
The White Knight is a cargo aircraft equipped with a four jet-engine on two jet bodies attached by an inner wing. Spaceship 2 is a small reusable aircraft able to hold 8 people. Spaceship 2 is equipped with a hybrid rocket motor that has a solid and liquid rocket engine that uses solid fuel and an oxidizer (6). Spaceship 2’s main attraction is the ability to fold the wings vertically allowing the plane to fly like a capsule or a winged vehicle depending on the situation. This duality offers a smooth deacceleration and accurate landing. 6)
The two are first combined and flown off the ground. Once the combined aircraft reaches 50,000 feet, The White Knight releases Spaceship 2. Spaceship 2 then fires its rocket and shoots up 62 miles above earth. The crew will experience roughly a total of 4 minutes of weightlessness before going into descent. The Spaceship 2 was unveiled February 2016 with no clear timeline of when flights will start (6). The market place for Virgin Galactic looks impressive. already the company has 80 million dollars in fares and deposits for upcoming flights.
This is due to the primary reason of the cheap airfare of 250,000 dollars (compared to Space Adventures). The waitlist is more than the number of people who went to space (2). They have huge contracts with NASA, OneWeb, and Boom Technology. With contracts being given to SpaceX and Boeing by NASA for transportation from earth to the ISS it seems like a trend is starting. “Turning over low-earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission: sending humans to Mars. ” (Nasa admin. Charlie Bolden)
Now that Space travel in LEO is in the hands of private corporations the innovations will be tremendous (2). Professor Steven Hawking believes that private space tourism is vital to lower the cost of space travel and make it more acquirable to a larger number of individuals (8). Capitalism follows rules for profitability, and so to make profit new innovations like Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft and the Zero G plane will invite more customers. These orbital flights will bring in more investment for new technologies pulling the possibilities of space exploration much further.