Probably over the past years you’ve heard Richard Benson talk about his company Virgin Galactic, and how this is the door to space-tourism or even Jeff Bezos with Blue Origin’s flights that open up space for everyone. But what’s the physical principle behind these novel flights?
Sub-orbital flight is a type of spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches outer space but it’s still under the influence of the gravitational body from which it was launched. Consider that reaching the International Space Station requires orbital flight, thus high speeds and altitude (about 410 km), while sub-orbital flights you may reach altitudes of about 100 km and speeds of Mach 3.
Being not a standard type of flight, passengers are not looking to travel from point A to B, but actually reaching space and heading back to Earth. This all seems a new thing, but the very first to perform a sub-orbital flight where the Germans during WWII (with the VII rocket) and the idea of space tourism is a topic that has been in the air since 1945, where a British company started proposing the idea.
Blue Origin has already successfully performed commercial spaceflights since 2021 and Virgin Galactic has recently tested their technology, with the successful flight from Unity25 on May 25th and would be starting to take tourists as early as June. Would you like to be one of those tourists in the future?