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Space Tourism: EADS Astrium to announce space tourism plans

EADS Astrium plans space tourism project, space hotel

12 June, 2007

EADS Astrium space tourim

Europe is all set to make its entry into space tourism.

EADS Astrium, Europe’s biggest maker of satellites and rockets, is expected to announce plans soon to carry tourists into space at the forthcoming Paris air show. The company plans to launch a spacecraft that will carry tourists out of the earth’s atmosphere for a brief ride at 3,000 miles per hour before taking them back to earth.

Europe stood on the sidelines, as it were, at the time of the space race between the United States and Russia during the Cold War. It was the huge costs involved that mainly kept Europe off the space race.

The first human to fly in space was Yuri Gagarin, the Soviet cosmonaut, who orbited the earth once in 1961. In 1969, Neil Armstrong of the United States became the first person to set foot on the moon.

Europe’s space programme, carried out through the European Space Agency, has confined itself to unmanned probes, such as the Giotto mission of 1986, which explored the tail of Halley’s comet. However, European astronauts – including Helen Sharman and Michael Foale of the United Kingdom – have flown on missions carried out by Russia and United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

A spokesman for EADS Astrium said the company’s space tourism project would be the first step in a plan to take space tourists into orbit and even to dock at a ‘space hotel.’

EADS Astrium is a part of a Franco-German group that has plants across Europe, including the United Kingdom, and also owns Airbus. It has been developing a space tourism project for seven years now with the Phoenix, a reusable craft. The prototype is 23 feet long, with a 12-foot wing span and an aluminum structure weighing just over a ton.

An advanced craft will be required to fly to a ‘space hotel’ which, like the International Space Station, would orbit 100 miles above the earth’s atmosphere. Spacecraft have to attain speeds of 17,000 miles per hour to get into low earth orbit, requiring enormous fuel consumption and consequent expense.





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