February 23 2006

The Space Race became an important part of the cultural and technological rivalry between the USSR and the United States during the1960's and the early part of the 70's.  Aside from a few fuzzy photographs taken by the Mars rovers, the final frontier has since yielded very little excitement.  To date, only 3 civilians have been able to finance their multi-million dollar voyage to the International Space Station. Yet, with the recent advent of the Ansari X Prize (formerly known as the X-Prize), the solar system got a lot more interesting with the possibility of affordable suborbital voyages for the rest of us. Space Adventures has just announced the construction of two earth-based Spaceports that will offer suborbital spaceflights, as well as astronaut training facilities.  The first facility will be located in Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates, while Singapore's Changi Airport will grow  to accommodate the second Spaceport. The main attraction at both facilities will be suborbital voyages, that will "take passengers to an altitude of 100 kilometers, allowing them to experience up to five minutes of continuous weightlessness, all the while gazing at the blackness of space set against the horizon of Earth". Space Adventures has yet to announce how much these voyages will cost tourists, but they are adamant that they will be affordable. by Harold C

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