Tonight, starting at two in the morning (Belgian time), Elon Musk’s SpaceX company will send a crew of four tourists for a three-day stay at nearly 500 km altitude around the earth, none of which between them is not a professional astronaut. A new tourist flight to Space but which has nothing to do with the flea jumps of a few minutes, in weightlessness, on the border with space made, this summer, by billionaires Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin).
First difference, the flight will last three days, but it is estimated that the time to adapt to weightlessness is two to three days, that is to say the time of the stay. If one of the passengers is sick (and it is common, there would be a one in two chance that a human would suffer from space sickness even if he is a very well trained pilot), he is not going to pass. a very pleasant trip.
There is an important part of risk in this flight, even if the non-professional crew underwent a training of six months with the “tortures” like the centrifuge or the parabolic flight in weightlessness in an airplane which one inflicts on the candidates. astronauts.
Biological experiments on board and an astronaut with a prosthesis
Christian Barbier, project manager at the Liège Space Center explains:“These tourists will take biological experiments. They will not only look at the Earth from the dome installed at the top of the dome, there will be scientific work. Besides the billionaire who paid 200 million dollars for this trip, he There is a scientist who was an astronaut candidate but was not chosen. So she has a certain background. They are not ordinary citizens either. Both are experienced pilots. “
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Another difference with the two summer tourist flights is the presence of a young nurse who has a prosthesis after being treated for bone cancer in childhood. “This is not anecdotal, in the last call for applications from ESA (the European Space Agency)”: continues our expert, “there was already a desire to integrate astronauts with physical disabilities.”
It is the private sector that takes care of everything
When they put on their spacesuits, the four space tourists will not do so in the premises of NASA but in those of SpaceX. If the US space agency will broadcast the takeoff live, media monitoring of the rest of the mission will be handled by Elon Musk’s company and probably Netflix. In short, it is an unprecedented tourist flight at high altitude, higher than the international space station, the view will be breathtaking on the blue planet and the curvature of the earth, without an appointment with the ISS.