Passenger Spaceflights to Take Off Soon

April 12, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1, flight (n.) [flahyt] – a journey on an aircraft
Example: The flight from Japan to the US takes hours.

2. reservation (n.) [rez-er-vey-shuhn] – an arrangement to save something (e.g. a seat, room or table) for later use
Example: The family made a flight reservation for their family trip next month.

3. contract (n.) [kon-trakt] – a written agreement between two or more people
Example: The employee’s contract says he must work for five years in the company.

4. risky (adj.) [ris-kee] – uncertain; having the possibility to fail
Example: Putting up a new company with little money is risky.

5. tourism (n.) [toor-iz-uhm] – the business of providing service for tourists
Example:  Natural rivers help in promoting tourism.

Read the text below.

Commercial spaceflights may soon be reality, as several US space firms are already planning flights within the next few years.

Space companies such as Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace are planning test flights with their spaceships this year. Virgin Galactic will be launching “SpaceShipTwo,” and has received almost 500 reservations for flights beginning in 2013.  XCOR Aerospace, meanwhile, is finishing its rocketplane called “Lynx.”

SpaceShipTwo can carry six passengers and two pilots at $200,000 per ride, while Lynx can carry one passenger and one pilot at $95,000 per flight.

The spaceships will climb to 62 miles (100km) above Earth, enough for passengers to experience near zero gravity and to see the Earth against black space. Aside from people, research equipment from science and business organizations will be flown to space.

NASA also helps in promoting these industries by collaborating with these firms. Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace are among seven hired by NASA to do spaceflight research. NASA paid them a total of $10 million for two-year contracts, which experts say gave a boost to the commercial space industry.

At present, only seven people have reached space using their own money, paying between $20 million and $35 million each. However, experts say spaceflight will eventually become cheaper.

Although some believe spaceflight is a risky business, others are more hopeful that commercial spaceflights can open new economic opportunities, not only in education and research but also in tourism and entertainment.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         What do you think motivated the passengers to sign up for the space flights?
·         Would you say space tourism will be a strong business in the future? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         How can space exploration help solve problems in Earth?
·         Do you think there is a need to make space flight commercial?


April 12, 2012