Virgin Galactic and the 40th Anniversary of That Other Moonwalk
The untimely death of Michael Jackson has adults of a certain generation remembering the days of the moonwalk craze. But for those with a few more candles to blow out on the birthday cake, the term "moonwalk" conjures up the name of a different iconic American entirely: Neil Armstrong.
The 40th anniversary of the first moonwalk is swiftly approaching: July 20, 2009. And although it's been long in the making, Virgin Galactic moves ever closer to making a space journey a reality for private citizens willing to spend $200,000. (A bargain, really, considering that arranging private space travel today costs about $20 million.) On May 28, 2009, Virgin Galactic announced the successful completion of the first phase of tests of the rocket motor that will propel space tourists up, up and away.
There are still more tests to go, but at this point, the plan is to start sending passengers into space as soon as late 2010. (Delays are very likely, so no need to go into an oxygen-free environment just yet -- don't hold your breath.) There's no moonwalking in the cards, but there is traveling at 3,000 miles an hour to 70 miles above the earth's surface, experiencing weightlessness and a view of more than 1,000 miles in all directions.
If you want to get to this before the been-there-done-that's set in -- at current tally, there are 300 people from 42 countries waiting for their turn -- it's worth signing up early. You can accomplish this exclusively through luxury travel pros Virtuoso, who are the first "Accredited Space Agents."
In fact, Virtuoso founder Matthew D. Upchurch is a candidate to be among the first to make the trip. Whether he's on the very first flight will be determined by a lottery -- he's got a 1 in 14 chance. But hey, the odds of reaching the moon at all forty years ago had to be longer than that.