After two or three fabulous days of preparing with your crew – you're suited up and you're raring to go. The climb to 50,000 feet is marked with quiet contemplation but there's an air of confidence and eager anticipation.
Then the countdown to release, a brief moment of quiet before a wave of unimaginable but controlled power surges through the craft. You are instantly pinned back into your seat, overwhelmed but enthralled by the howl of the rocket motor and the eye- watering acceleration which, as you watch the read-out, has you traveling in a matter of seconds, at almost 2500mph, over 3 times the speed of sound.
As you hurtle through the edges of the atmosphere, the large windows show the cobalt blue sky turning to mauve and indigo and finally to black. You're on a high; this is really happening, you're loving it and you're coping well. You start to relax; but in an instant your senses are back on full alert, the world contained in your spaceship has completely transformed.
The rocket motor has been switched off and it is quiet. But it's not just quiet, it's QUIET. The silence of space is as awe inspiring as was the noise of the rocket just moments earlier. What's really getting your senses screaming now though, is that the gravity which has dominated every movement you've made since the day you were born is not there any more. There is no up and no down and you're out of your seat experiencing the freedom that even your dreams underestimated. After a graceful mid-space summersault you find yourself at a large window and what you see is a view that you've seen in countless images but the reality is so much more beautiful and provokes emotions that are strong but hard to define.
The blue map, curving into the black distance is familiar but has none of the usual marked boundaries. The incredibly narrow ribbon of atmosphere looks worryingly fragile. What you are looking at is the source of everything it means to be human, and it is home.
- Conceptual Image:
- Virgin Galactic astronaut enjoys
Zero G and spectacular views.
- Enjoy Zero G
- Astrobatics anyone? SpaceShipTwo's cabin will have lots of room for zero g fun.
Then you're back to your reclined seat and gravity is starting to return. The deceleration produces strong g forces, but you're lying down easing the intensity. You feel the feathered wings of the spacecraft producing a powerful drag as the thickness of the atmosphere increases, although out of the windows it still looks like space. The g forces quickly ease off and you hear the pilot announce the start of the glide home.
Later that evening, sitting with your astronaut wings, you know that life will never quite be the same again.