Private space flights have become almost commonplace
The Antares rocket with the space vehicle-truck Cygnus was launched from wallops flight facility in Virginia on the US East coast. This is the second flight of Cygnus to the International space station and the first of eight scheduled flights that are under contract with the National Agency of Aeronautics and space will carry out a private firm Orbital Sciences.
The docking of Cygnus with the International space station is scheduled for Sunday, January 12th. The ship will deliver to the station’s scientific equipment, as well as clothing and food for the ISS crew.
Initially, the launch of Cygnus was scheduled for December 19, but the launch was postponed for technical reasons.
The launch was performed the next day after NASA announced the decision to extend its participation in the ISS project until 2024, that is four years longer than previously planned.
Today, however, flights of private vehicles is not a novelty. The first launch of “private owners” was completed on may 22, 2012, then the Dragon spacecraft headed successfully to the international space station. American South African-born entrepreneur Elon Musk, sold in 2002, he created PayPal, decade put to private ships plied the space. It took him less than $1 billion of private investment to a hitch, which NASA refused for lack of funds.
So far the only serious competitor to SpaceX in the market of space transportation is the company Orbital Sciences, was founded in 1982. For a long time, Orbital Sciences did space Photography, but several years ago changed the thrust of the activities on space transportation and signed the first contract with NASA. For the space Agency of the United States to find second partner in cargo transportation to the ISS was a strategically important task, as the competition will over time significantly reduce the cost of flights.
By the way, is not far off and the first tourist flights into space. Tour operator Virgin Galactic is already accepting pre-orders on suborbital space flights for the price of 200 thousand dollars per ticket. When it happens the first commercial flight of Virgin Galactic is unknown: date it has been several times postponed. Plan travel flight next: to disperse wheels aircraft WhiteKnightTwo raises the Shuttle SpaceShipTwo to a height of 16 km, after which it continues independently rise to the level of 100 km. Flight time equal to 2.5 hours, of which tourists 5 minutes will stay in a state of weightlessness. And of course, throughout the flight, no one stops to admire the wonderful view of the earth through the portholes.