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article imageVirgin Galactic to Offer Space Cruise through Aurora Borealis

By Chris V. Thangham     Jan 10, 2008 in Environment
Richard Branson’s upcoming project, the New Mexico Virgin Galactic Spaceport, will be completed by 2010 but already the billionaire is planning to send commercial flights into the heart of the Aurora Borealis very soon.
The ambitious Branson wants to create the first commercial airline offering space flights and he is building a Virgin Galactic Spaceport in New Mexico, which is scheduled to be completed by 2010. The Virgin founder has another plan in mind and wants to send passengers to see the Aurora Borealis by sending spaceships to its center.
The Virgin company will build an Arctic launch pad located in the small town of Kiruna in the northern part of Sweden. The town of Kiruna offers one of the best views of Aurora Borealis, so it will be an ideal location for this Virgin project.
Aurora borealis often appears as a greenish glow (or sometimes a faint red), as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction. The aurora borealis is also called the northern [polar] lights, as it is only visible in the North sky from the Northern Hemisphere. The aurora borealis most often occurs from September to October and from March to April.
Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles found in the magnetosphere, with atoms and molecules of the Earth's upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km). These particles originate from the sun and depending on the solar winds that reaches the magnetosphere the Aurora Borealis shows varying light patterns in the sky.
They will use a spacecraft something like SpaceShipTwo and its mothership, WhiteKnightTwo. The latter will be used to launch the SpaceShip Two into space.
It will accommodate 6 passengers and two pilots.
Is it safe to see this at close proximity? The answer is yes, according to Dr. Olle Norberg, Esrange base’s director. He claims they have done enough research and they have found out that the spacecraft and its passengers will cope with the build-up charges and radiation effect from the aurora borealis. The Esrange base is located in Kiruna.
Only the affluent can afford to go see the aurora borealis with Virgin spacecraft for now. Scientists and nature lovers would love to see this in person. Are you ready for this space cruise?
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